LAKE ELSINORE, Calif. — As the minor league season gets underway Thursday night, the Lake Elsinore Storm is certainly one of the teams that Padres’ fans will have an eye on. The team worked out Tuesday afternoon and gathered around for Lake Elsinore’s annual media day.
The Storm feature four players who cracked the cumulative MadFriars Top 20 list for this season, including two of the top ten in starting pitchers MacKenzie Gore and Luis Patiño. Beyond those two, there are plenty of reasons to watch the Storm in 2019.
“From a pitching standpoint, at least, we have a lot of starters who are going to fill up the zone and not walk a guy,” said starter Tom Cosgrove, who will start opening night against Inland Empire on the road.
“We also have a bullpen that doesn’t give up many runs, as I saw in the Midwest League last year, so it’s going to be exciting. Then we have a lot of good young infielders that are kind of electric and fun to play with. I think we are going to have a good time.”
For the start of the season at least, the Storm will deploy a six-man rotation that will feature Cosgrove, Gore, Patino, Aaron Leasher, Mason Thompson, and Ronald Bolaños. Gore, 20, is looking to continue his upward trajectory after a year where he battled blister issues. Gore expects the team to play together, in order for guys to experience individual success.
“I think we just have to play the game the right way and if we win baseball games, then we will all be playing up to our potential, “ said MacKenzie Gore.
“But when we start trying to play for stats, then we will not win games and will not play as well as we can.”
Gore pitched to a 4.45 ERA with Fort Wayne last year but he struck out 74 batters in 60 innings and pitched better than his stats would indicate. He will go Friday night, which tentatively sets him up to pitch Lake Elsinore’s home opener a week from Thursday.
In the bullpen, the Storm headliner will be Dylan Coleman — the Padres’ 4th-round pick in last year’s draft. Coleman was a starter in college but pitched out of the bullpen for Fort Wayne and Tri-City a season ago. He possesses a high-90’s fastball and could be a fast riser through the system.
On the position player side, the incredibly young Lake Elsinore infield will be a large storyline to follow. Eguy Rosario, who played all of last year with the Storm will see some time at third, with Gabriel Arias at short and Estuery Ruiz at second. In the spring, all Rosario and Ruiz moved around between second and third and that will likely be the plan in the regular season. Olivier Basabe, who played well in the Northwest League a season ago, will see time at first. Jalen Washington, who is listed as a catcher on the club, will also see some time at first.
The Storm outfield will feature Tirso Ornelas, Jeisson Rosario and Jack Suwinski to start. Ornelas missed a chunk of the season with an injury but looked good during the spring. Rosario should be able to get on base at a high clip at the top of the order.
Behind the dish, Luis Campusano figures to get most of the reps, with Jalen Washington spelling him a few times a week.
The Storm opening day roster features six teenagers on the opening day roster but it seems like the young team is already developing chemistry.
“I think the time we spent together throughout the spring [where we] played well together helped,” said catcher Jalen Washington.
“I’ve noticed early on that there is a lot of chemistry and excitement throughout the clubhouse — everyone is meshing pretty well early on, which last year in Fort Wayne — I don’t know if it was because it was people’s first year but there wasn’t as much glue and chemistry as we feel there is right now.”
Lake Elsinore will open with a four-game set against Inland Empire before traveling to Lancaster for three games.