Lake Elsinore Storm Notebook

Lake Elsinore, CA: The Storm squad is chock full of question marks, despite fielding a team that is largely comprised of the 101-win Midwest League champions.

Yefri Carvajal leads the charge since his potential has not matched the output. Production is the name of the game for the still young Dominican prospect, but the clock is definitely ticking.

Regular playing time in right field is on the agenda for the 21-year-old. In a prospect-rich farm system in terms of outfield talent, Carvajal needs to make an impact.

Strangely enough, he is more concerned with good at-bats than power.

"I don't care about homers and doubles – I want to hit for a high average and the rest will just happen," Carvajal said.

He understands more than ever that he needs to carry over the plate discipline he has shown at times, especially in instructs, into the regular season. Pitch selection is vital, Carvajal noted.

While Carvajal said he is not under pressure, he appeared tense during batting practice.

Allan Dykstra is amongst those that must provide early answers. The first baseman has a ton of raw strength but struggled during the 2009 season. A remake of his swing led to a lot of angst – the bright spot was seeing it pay off during a strong August.

Now, the towering San Diego native is looking to bring that success into this season. He is being counted upon heavily and should murder the California League. A slow start, however, could bring about more questions for another former first rounder.

"He is in a position to drive in runs for us and has to get off to a fast start," manager Carlos Lezcano said.

Drew Cumberland is an exciting prospect that is a perfect fit for the Petco Park philosophy. He does all the little things well, understands the strike zone, can run, and plays solid defense.

His mark has always been surrounding his health – or lack thereof. Staying healthy for an entire season is critical for the shortstop.

"They had a meeting me with this year – they think I still have that football mentality sometimes," Cumberland said. "This year is going to be a good year – injury-free."

On the pitching front, Nick Schmidt hit a wall in his rehabilitation program last season with the Storm. While that is understandable in his first year coming back from major surgery, the track record in the Padres farm system for recovering pitchers is not good. Schmidt must buck that trend.

The positive thing is the coaching staff was impressed with his work ethic and vows he will return to the form that saw him picked in the middle of round one. All the intangibles are there but the command must follow – that falls on Schmid't shoulders.

"I definitely hit a wall," Schmidt said. "I felt good but the ball wasn't going where I wanted it to. In this league, there is little room for error."

How will Jorge Reyes handle the challenge of the California League after seeing just a handful of innings in Eugene last season?

The right-hander has the stuff but his mental toughness will be challenged. When he found out he would be going to Lake Elsinore to begin the year, he was a tad nervous about the park factor – the Cal League is known for its hitter-friendly yards.

Alexis Lara had a tremendous second half in 2009. He was a key contributor to the bullpen and drove some of their success in the back half of the bullpen.

As his confidence soared, so did the crispness of his pitches. Will that continue if he is hit around?

Lara is still more of a thrower than a pitcher. His max-effort persona could lead to trouble.

"I would rather throw hard and see if they can hit me than go at 90 percent," Lara said.

It will be a turning point for several prospects, including some that are not mentioned here. If answers can be provided in a positive light, the Storm can challenge for the California League championship.

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