Level: The San Diego Padres High-A affiliate in the California League is mainly comprised of second and third year players – some of the hitters have never experienced full season ball. While Lake Elsinore is a pitcher's park, many of the other venues throughout the league favor the hitters. The Storm batters swatted 22 more home runs on the road.
Player of the Year:
When Forsythe was promoted, he was in the midst of a 32-game on-base streak and he extended it to 38 games in San Antonio – one of two streaks that has lasted at least 38 games since he has entered professional ball. Forsythe did it all in Lake Elsinore, showing a patient approach that netted him 61 walks compared to 48 strikeouts while clubbing 24 extra base hits in 66 games. He has a plan and does not mind hitting from behind in the count.
Despite a dismal August when he hit .173, the leadoff hitter did his job, leading the team with 95 runs scored while placing fifth in the league with 33 stolen bases and sixth in hits with 158. He became better at driving pitches, notching 35 extra base hits. He was the Storm's best hitter with runners in scoring position, hitting .374 on the season to give him 63 RBI – an impressive number for someone batting first in the order. An outstanding defender, Chalk has a well-rounded game and has improved with the stick in hand.
Player of the Year:
Forsythe, 22, led the team in batting average and on-base percentage while playing a solid third base. In 66 games, he had 76 hits, nearly one-third of them for extra bases and 61 walks in addition to scoring 46 runs; he was productive. Also, he was the only member of the Storm this year to walk more times than he struck out, 61-to-48. It's sometimes easy to forget that this was the University of Arkansas' product first year in professional ball and he made it all the way to Double-A. He will go into the off-season as one of the organization's top prospects.
Chalk, 23, saw every aspect of his game improve from last year, most notably his slugging percentage, which increased by nearly 60 points. He has not suddenly morphed into a home run hitter, but is now a hitter than can use his plus speed to shoot the ball into the gaps, as his 12 triples indicated. The Clemson grad stole 33 bases in 41 attempts and the only negative to really find in his game this year is you would like to see his power translate into a few more walks than the 41-to-72 walk-to-strikeout ratio he posted.
Others of Note: Matt Clark led the organization with over 101 RBI and 24 homers across two leagues. The towering first baseman had a lot of opportunities to drive in runs with Fort Wayne but capitalized more frequently in Lake Elsinore with his .324 average with runners in scoring position, as opposed to his .218 mark in the same situations in Low-A. Beamer Weems was hitting .284 after 82 games before batting .134 in August. His bat still showed significant improvement and the batting average dive was likely because of lost weight and strength during the long year. His patience at the plate was fantastic through the year. Luis Martinez, like Weems, was always thought of as a defender first. He was better prepared at the plate in 2009 and had a plan of attack that he could adjust as needed. He also went where the ball was pitched more frequently, resulting in a .300 season average.
Manager's Comments: "He was very durable. He has speed, bunts well, and just needs to work on keeping the ball out of the air." - manager Carlos Lezcano on Brad Chalk
Top Prospect: Logan Forsythe
Sporting an uncanny eye and the ability to hit the gaps with regularity, Forsythe is a rare find that combines on-base percentage with the ability to slug. With a great foundation for hitting, his power numbers should continue to blossom as he matures. He may have the best two-strike approach in the system. As a result, however, there are times when he gets too passive and doesn't offer at hittable pitches early in the count. He could be more aggressive with runners in scoring position but that will come with experience.
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