MadFriars' Preview: 2012 Lake Elsinore Storm

Synopsis: Offensively the Fort Wayne team that is moving to Lake Elsinore was the most exciting group that was in San Diego's organization last year, a great mix of speed and power. If the starting pitching can hold, this will be not only a very fun team to watch but hopefully an indicator of the future in PETCO.

Three Strikes with Randy Smith Padres Director of Player Development and International Scouting.

What has improved from Cory Spangenberg's game from last season?

Randy Smith: For him its just maturity and getting better in all facets of the game. I always thought he could make all the plays he needed to make at second but now it just looks a little smoother. Everything is there for Cory, he just needs to go out and play.

Rymer Liriano is one of the more talented prospects the Padres have had in a long time. What is the area you most want to see him improve upon this year?

Randy Smith: Mainly picking up where he left off; consistency and plate discipline. Also he can really get hard on himself and we have really seen improvement with him in that area. You have to remember he's only twenty so there is still a lot of room for growth.

Kevin Quackenbush had one of the better debuts of anyone last year with Eugene and Fort Wayne. What makes him so effective?

Randy Smith: He has very good command of his fastball as well as a decent slider. But the biggest thing with Kevin is that it is a really hard pitch to pick up, he just has so much deception with his pitches.

2012 Projected Lineup:

1b Connor PowersSP Mark Hardy
2b Cory Spangenberg SP Matt Jackson
SS B.J. Guinn SP Matt Andriese
3b Chris Bisson SP Mark Pope
CEddy RodriguezSP Burch Smith
RF Rymer Liriano RP Matt Branham
CF Rico Noel RP Robert Lara
LF Domoromo/Williams RP Kevin Quackenbush

MadFriars' Top 20 Prospects in Lake Elsinore: Rymer Liriano (#6) and Cory Spangenberg (#7)

Catch a Rising Star: Rymer Liriano and Cory Spangenberg: Liriano is one of the true five-tool talents not only in the organization, but in baseball. The Padres have tried to push him ahead for two straight years only to see him return, and thrive, where he was supposed to be. There is nothing he really can't do on the baseball field, he just needs to be more consistent.

Spangenberg hit .316/.419/.418 between Eugene and Fort Wayne.

Spangenburg, if he plays as he did last year, shouldn't be long in Lake Elsinore. Offensively he has a complete game with plus speed and could even have an outside shot of being in San Diego in 2013.

Starting Pitching: Mark Hardy is the quintessential crafty lefty; he doesn't particularly throw hard but still finds ways to get people out and eat innings. He had a 96/32 K/BB ratio and threw 129.1 innings in the Midwest League in 2011. LSU's Matt Jackson battled injuries for most of the year but when he was healthy did perform with 68 strikeouts in 64.1 innings pitched for a 5-1 record and a 1.93 ERA for the TinCaps. Matt Andriese was easily the most polished pitcher the Padres got in last year's draft. In eight starts, he only gave up seven earned runs as he held the opposition to a .197 batting average in the Northwest League. Mark Pope, whom San Diego drafted out of Georgia Tech in last year's draft, also put up solid numbers in Eugene earning a trip to the California desert. He has a nice three pitch combination and last year held the opposition to a .239 batting average. The wild card is Burch Smith out of the University of Oklahoma for whom the team went over slot in the fourteenth round to sign to last year. The big right-hander is pretty much going straight from the Big-12 to the Cal League (he threw two innings in the Arizona League). With the talent the organization has on the mound, its impressive he is where he landed.

Andriese was the MadFriars' Pitcher of the Year in Eugene.

Pen: Outside of Spangenberg, Kevin Quakenbush had the best debut of any Padres' prospect going 18 for 19 in save opportunities. But the big numbers were a 0.64 ERA and 71 punchouts in 42 innings pitched between two levels. That tends to get people's attention. Robert Lara is a converted catcher who showed some ability holding the opposition to a .239 batting average. Branham will be the long man out of the pen after being a starter last year for the TinCaps.

Infield: For people who talked about how boring San Diego's games are I encourage anyone to take the trip north this season and see the Storm and possibly the future of the Padres. When healthy, Spangenburg, Bisson and Guinn are all plus runners and make anything hit on the ground to the left side a bang-bang play or they will be standing on first. Last year the three of them combined for 80 steals. Both Bisson and Guinn hit much better in the second half, particularly Bisson who had a .430 OBP once he moved to third base when Spangenburg took over second base. 1b Connor Powers was the surprise of the organization last year with a .961 OPS and looked even better in the spring.

Guinn will be the everyday shortstop after he comes off of the disabled list. As of now Michael Wing, a Rule V pickup from the Angels will start the year at shortstop.

Catching: Eddy Rodriguez put up some nice numbers with the Storm last year hitting .272/.329/.487. His backup Rocky Gale hit better than expected with the TinCaps and is a quality receiver behind the dish.

Outfield: Any talk on the Storm outfield will begin with Liriano. Last year in addition to being the Midwest League MVP he led the team in extra-base hits with 50 and 65 stolen bases in 85 attempts. He has the ability to play center but should see most of his time in right except when Rico Noel gets a day off. After starting 2011 with the Storm Noel struggled but found his stroke in Fort Wayne. In camp the Padres have converted him into a switch-hitter to take advantage of his speed where he stole 62 bases in 69 attempts between the TinCaps and the Storm. Domoromo was one of the leaders in hits for the Midwest League as a teenager before he slowed down at the end. The organization loves his work ethic and intelligence and believes that they will see much more power this year. Everett Williams was a high draft pick in 2009 and had a so-so debut in Fort Wayne in 2010 and lost all of last year to injury. He has the ability to play center and more than a few are still enamored with his bat.

On the Spot: Everett Williams. In 511 plate appearances Williams has a career .249/.337/.380 line which isn't going to cut it for a corner outfielder and the Padres' second overall selection in the 2009 draft.

To be fair, last year cost him some important development time but he is either going to have hit with more power or show he can play center to have a chance.

Under the Radar: Connor Powers. Despite hitting .338/.422/.538 and being the main reason why teams had to pitch to Liriano, at twenty-four he's not going to get most prospect mavens that excited.

There is one big exception to that analysis is that Powers can really, really hit. If he puts up a full-season of what he did last year, Powers who can also play third and left field, is always going to find a place to play.

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