Lake Elsinore, Calif. — While San Diego Padres prospect Adrian Morejon showed a tantalizing glimpse of his abilities, the Storm dropped their second home game of the season, 11-3 Friday night.
Morejon worked over the JetHawks through the first two frames, relying on a fastball consistently at 94-95 that he spotted up and down in the zone. After two flyouts to open the game, the 19-year-old issued a full-count walk to Rockies prospect Colton Welker. He then came back with a first-pitch change to the lefty clean-up hitter before getting a lazy pop to escape the frame.
Tyler Nevin led off the second with a single, but Morejon then went strikeout, pop-up, strikeout, in quick succession. He showed a sharp curve around 78-80 with the change sitting at 82-83.
While he generally shows an advanced mound presence, Morejon got a little sloppy in the third. After hitting the nine-hole batter to open the frame, the lefty gave up back-to-back singles to plate a run. With men at the corners, Morejon picked off the trail runner. But big first baseman Brad Zunica dropped the ball for an error allowing a second run to score.
“It was good to see him struggling for a second, then coming back and making adjustments,” said Storm manager Edwin Rodriguez. “He didn’t do that the last time he pitched.”
Morejon gave up his loudest contact in the fourth when his velocity faded just a bit. He opened the frame giving up a homer just over the big right field wall and also yielded a two-out double to the left-center gap. After the messy frames, he came back and opened the fifth with back-to-back strikeouts. But when he surrendered a single on his 86th pitch of the night, he was done.
“He was a little bit inconsistent with the release point tonight,” said Rodriguez. “But a kid like that, some days he’s going to show it, and some days it’s not going to be there. We want him to use the breaking ball, but the fastball definitely was there.”
Austin Smith finished off the fifth and retired the first six hitters he faced. But with two outs in the seventh, he allowed a walk, single and double.
Things then got out of hand in the eighth. Smith allowed a pair of singles around a strikeout before giving way to big righty Dauris Valdez. The hard-throwing Dominican had no feel at all in a disappointing outing. He hit his first batter and issued a pair of walks before getting the hook. Edwin Rodriguez called on Blake Rogers to stanch the bleeding, but all three inherited runners and one of Rogers’ own came around before the frame was over.
Offensively, the Storm never got much going against Lancaster. They plated their first run in the second inning on a bases loaded passed ball, but could do no further damage.Â In the fourth, Buddy Reed poked a two-run double to left, but was thrown out trying to stretch it into a double. They put only one more man in scoring position the rest of the night.
Reed finished with a pair of singles and a walk, his second multi-hit game of the season. All six of his hits have been singles.
Hudson Potts also collected two more hits and has a .333 average in the early going. After he walked in only four percent of his plate appearances last year, the 19-year-old worked many deeper counts in spring training and drew plenty of free passes. Since the season started, though, Potts has not walked in 34 trips to the plate. He did go to a three-ball count Friday, but jumped on a fastball for a hit.
Had Chris Baker not suffered a concussion in spring training, infielder Kelvin Melean might not have started the year with the Storm. But the 19-year-old Venezuelan is now 5-for-10 in three games. Signed out of Venezuela in 2015, he made his stateside debut with Tri-City last year and posted a .570 OPS. … Catcher Luis Torrens was initially in the line-up, but was pulled back after batting practice. He warmed up pitchers between innings as needed, so it appears nothing serious is going on. Marcus Greene, originally slated to DH, worked behind the plate instead. The 23-year-old, born in nearby Pomona, is one of several hitters in the middle of the Storm lineup off to a slow start. He’s 1-for-10 in three games. … The Rockies used their 2015 Competitive Balance pick to select Tyler Nevin, son of Phil, out of Poway High School. The corner infielder went 4-for-5 on the night and is off to a fast .364/.400/.465 start in 36 trips to the plate.