Summary

The Lake Elsinore Storm will once again feature several San Diego Padres top prospects just up I-15. Once the full pitching staff is there, Lake Elsinore will have three starters from the MadFriars Top 20 along with some serious power on the corners from  Hudson Potts and Brad Zunica.

Three Strikes with Sam Geaney, Padres Director of Player Development:

1) What has Adrian Morejon improved on in the offseason?

Sam Geaney:  He had a tremendous offseason. First, he got significantly stronger and leaner. We have always been intrigued by his athleticism and now, we are really starting to see it play out. He made a lot of progress in his first season both baseball-wise and maturing mentally, really learning the type of discipline and work ethic needed to make it on the major league level.

We have asked him to make a few changes mechanically and it has really helped his curve ball. Without a doubt, it has become much more consistent and I expect it to complement a good fastball and a plus change.

2) We were really impressed with Hudson Potts, particularly in his plate discipline during the spring.  Is that one of the aspects of his game that impressed you the most?

Sam Geaney: That is something that we picked up on too. He had some very good at-bats this spring and really looked like he has not missed a beat from the second half of 2017. He has a much better idea of what he is trying to do at the plate than he did at the beginning of last year.

3) Luis Torrens was on the big league roster for the entire 2017 campaign.  Why the decision to send him to High-A?

Sam Geaney: Right now, the most important thing for Luis is just getting him every day reps and we thought this level was the best place to accomplish it. Being in the big leagues gave him a unique experience in learning how to prepare for a game on an elite level even though he was not playing much. We are anxious to see how that translates now that he will be back playing against players in his own age range.

2018 Lake Elsinore Storm Projected Lineup

1B       Brad Zunica*                          RF       Jorge Ona
2B       Eguy Rosario                          CF       Buddy Reed*
3B       Hudson Potts                          LF       Edward Olivares
SS        Ruddy Giron
C         Luis Torrens

* indicates left-handed or switch-hitter

SP        Adrian Morejon                      RP       Dauris Valdez
SP        Reggie Lawson                      RP       David Bednar
SP        Pedro Avila                            RP       Hansel Rodriguez
SP        Ronald Bolanos
SP        Lake Bachar
SP        Emmanuel Ramirez

MadFriarsTop 20 Prospects at Lake Elsinore Storm

Adrian Morejon (#6), Hudson Potts (#11), Jorge Ona (#18) and Edward Olivares (#20). RHPs Michel Baez (#3) and Chris Paddack (#15) will begin the year with the Storm when they join the team in a few weeks.

Catch a Rising Star(s): Michel Baez, Adrian Morejon and Chris Paddack all looked very good in Spring Training and depending how the first half goes, could all be in Double-A San Antonio by the second half. Morejon, 19, is probably the most complete pitcher now, Baez, 22, has the highest ceiling and Paddack, 22, is the wild card. If his curve can develop to go along with maybe the best changeup in the system, the Texas native could be on his way back to the Lone Star state.

Lake Elsinore Storm Pitching Staff

Starters: The Storm will begin the year with a six-man staff with Bolanos and Ramirez going to the bullpen once Baez and Paddack arrive. Reggie Lawson, 20, possesses an easy mid-90s fastball, but was up and down at Fort Wayne, often struggling the second and third times through the lineup. It’s an aggressive assignment. The stuff is there, it’s just a question of translating it into games. Pedro Avila, 21, had a very good year with the TinCaps last year. After a rough early stint with the Storm, he found his groove by pounding his three pitches into the strike zone more consistently. Lake Bachar, 22, looked good this winter in Australia and the former two-sport competitor will attempt to refine his game more this year at the Diamond.

Pen: Hansel Rodriguez, 21, acquired for Melvin Upton in 2016, found his niche as a reliever when the Padres told him to focus on his fastball and slider. His slider got tighter, and the velocity on his fastball moved into the mid-90s range. He struck out 44 in 26 innings against only five walks after becoming the closer on July 3. David Bednar, 23, was a late round draft pick from Lafayette College who had success at both Fort Wayne and with the Storm in 2017 with 81 strikeouts in 61.1 innings. Giant six-foot-eight righty Dauris Valdez, 22, has a very good fastball, when it’s going where it’s intended. If he control it like the Padres are expecting him too, he will be a weapon.

Lake Elsinore Storm Position players

Catching: Torrens will get the majority of the reps as he makes up for a year of lost playing time. Expect to see Marcus Greene, 23, who had a good offensive year in Fort Wayne, split time between between the dish, first base and DH.

Padres prospect Hudson Potts bats for the Fort Wayne Tincaps

Hudson Potts gets out of the box (Photo: Jeff Nycz)

Infield: The infield will have some definite power on the corners with Hudson Potts, 19, and Brad Zunica, 22. Potts may have hit the quietest 20 home runs in TinCaps history with so much attention focused on Fernando Tatis, Jr. He improved significantly in the second half, hitting 18 homers after June 1, and is an underrated defender. The six-foot-six Zunica battled injuries last season and took a while to incorporate changes quiet his set-up at the plate. He had a very big June when he was the organization’s player of the month and may be the biggest – both figuratively and literally – sleeper in the system. Eguy Rosario,18, started the year in Fort Wayne, but finished in the AZL hitting .282/363/.422. Between the two levels he stole 33 bags in 45 attempts. He’s going to get a shot at playing every day and if he can take a more mature approach than last year, he has the ability to make the most of it. Ruddy Giron, 21, will get the reps at shortstop until Chris Baker comes back back from a concussion that he suffered towards the end of Spring Training. Giron has struggled at the plate the past two years after a big 2015 debut.

Outfield: The Storm will rotate center field between Buddy Reed, a second round pick out of Florida in 2016, and Edward Olivares, whom they acquired from the Blue Jays for Yangervis Solarte this winter. Olivares, 22, showed better defensive ability than advertised in the spring along with good power. The switch-hitting Reed, 23, is still more of an athlete than a baseball player, but is a plus defender in the field. Jorge Ona, 21, suffered a multitude of minor injuries to his hand and wrist last season with the TinCaps, but is completely healthy coming into the year. The Padres expect to see more power from him in 2018.

On the Spot

Austin Smith, 21, was the first draft pick by the A.J. Preller regime. Thus far, he looks like the rare miss. Smith struggled in two years as a starter with the TinCaps before being sent down to short-season Tri-City to become a reliever. The organization hopes that a move to the pen will play more to his strength throwing the fastball and require less of his secondary pitches.

Under the Radar

Hudson Potts is a top prospect but can get somewhat loss when casual fans start tossing around names of players they are most excited about in the organization. He improved as much as anyone in the organization last year. Watching him in the second half and spring, it seems the game has really slowed down for him. A big first half could send the 19-year to Double-A by the summer.

Posted by John Conniff

John grew up in Poway and has written for MadFriars since 2004. He has written articles for Baseball America, FoxSports San Diego, the El Paso Times, San Antonio Express-News, Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette and Pacific Daily News in addition to appearing on numerous radio programs and podcasts. He can also break down the best places to eat for all five of the affiliates. There is no best place to eat in Peoria, Arizona.

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