Storm Notebook '15

LAKE ELSINORE - Thoughts and observations from the team just up the I-15.

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SImply put it’s been a tough season in Lake Elsinore. Top prospects RHP Zech Lemond and 2B Fernando Perez have struggled and the starting pitching overall just never came around.

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A bright spot this season has been the mid-season call-up of OF Nick Torres, who has seen time in both right and left field. After hitting .326/.378/.462 in Low-A Fort Wayne the 2014 fourth round selection from Cal-Poly San Louis Obispo has put up good numbers with the Storm .291/.324/.433 without any real protection in the lineup. Torres strong performance this season, after a so-so debut in short-season Eugene last year has solidified his chances to be in Double-A San Antonio’s outfield for 2016.

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Despite getting a boatload of abuse from my fellow MadFriars’ colleagues I am a fan of Chase Jensen - and it’s nothing against Chase from the rest of the guys; just a way to get at me. Jensen got off to a tough start in Fort Wayne but since coming to Lake Elsinore he has blasted five home runs in 144 plate appearances to go along with a .283 batting average and has turned around his season.

At six-foot-four and 200 pounds he is big for a shortstop, but defensively as part-time announcer Tyler Zickel noted, he can make all the plays in the field. He could emerge as a better option than Jose Rondon next year in Double-A San Antonio or at the very least can also play second and third.

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RHP Ryan Butler is back in Lake Elsinore but on an innings limit. The seventh round pick out of UNC-Wilmington in 2014 put up some impressive performances in Lake Elsinore before being promoted to Double-A San Antonio. However, a tired arm felled him after four starts.

Ryan returned to the Storm after missing two months of the season. He had a hiccup in his first game but is starting to round back into shape. When he’s healthy and fully stretched out he can throw a mid-90’s fastball well into the later parts of the game and may be the top prospect at Double-A and above for the Padres.

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Along with Torres, catcher Ryan Miller has been another success story for the Storm. He has 26 extra-base hits in 257 plate appearances and has by all accounts continued to improve in his defensive mechanics and game calling ability. The swing will need some work to succeed at upper levels but the power and athleticism are an interesting mix.

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Center Fielder Auston Bousfield, in his first full pro-season, has seen his production drop off in the second half and looked noticeably slimmer from his listed 185 pounds in the spring. Bousfield still looked like the player we have seen all along, a player that does a little bit of everything well - just a little more tired after 100 games.

It will be interesting to see if a promotion to Double-A San Antonio re-charges the batteries.

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RHP Zech Lemond has been moved back to the bullpen, where he was a star at Rice University, and so far it appears to be taking after four games. In 13 innings he has given up one earned run and struck out nine against only two walks.

As a starter he was 3-10 with a 6.39 ERA.

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RHP Kyle Lloyd is also a pitcher whose stuff is better suited for the bullpen than as a starter. Lloyd is still striking a batter an inning, but has one dominant pitch, his fork ball, and his other pitches are inconsistent.

Lloyd is a legitimate six-foot-four and at least 235 pounds has a real chance to make the big leagues as a power arm coming out of the pen and should be in that role in Double-A.

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Finally, we get a lot of questions about Donavan Tate, the much maligned former top draft pick in 2009. Although he is hitting only .218 Tate looked and performed better r on the field than I have seen in years.

He is coming back from a full year away from the game, and in batting practice at least, it is easy to see why he was once a top draft pick with his easy power and quick bat. I’m not sure what the future may or may not hold for Donavan, but his head and life are in the right place - just hope it carries over onto the field next season.


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