If your ever in Southern California during the baseball season, make sure you get to a Lake Elsinore Storm game. These folks put on one of the best game day experiences in all of minor league baseball. From Charlie Sheen Night (complete with a Charlie Sheen Bobblehead giveaway), to the Grounds Crew Gorilla’s in game antics to All You Can Eat Wacky Weenie Wednesdays and so much more the Storm continue to draw fans in droves to Lake Elsinore Diamond to see the San Diego Padres High-A affiliate play. The Storm are among the teams up for the 2011 Larry MacPhail Award for outstanding promotional work that will be awarded at the 2011 Baseball Winter Meetings in Dallas. The video below is a highlight reel of the team’s marketing and promotions initiatives from the 2011 season and is a blast to watch.
The Stockton Ports, the High-A affiliate of the Oakland Athletics took home the 2011 California League North Division championship with a series win over the Modesto Nuts. Check out this video of the post game celebration. 46 year old manager Webster Garrison, who was a career 0-9 with a walk in his five game major league career with the A’s back in 1996, shows his young ball club that he still has some dance moves left over from his playing days. Following the show by Garrison, the team continues the party pounding out a rhythm beat on stools, buckets, laundry baskets, and anything else they can find. It’s pretty cool. The Ports went on to lose to the Lake Elsinore Storm in California League finals.
He was not a Seattle Mariners Top 15 Organizational Prospect to begin the season, but what Vinnie Catricala has become is perhaps the most under the radar prospect currently at the Double-A or Triple-A level. The numbers he has put up between the High-A High Desert Mavericks and the Double-A Jackson Generals in 2011 are eye popping. The 22 year old is hitting a combined .348 with 46 Doubles, 4 Triples, 22 Home Runs, 101 RBI’s, and 16 Stolen Bases. The most impressive thing is Catricala has hit for a higher slugging percentage after leaving the hitter friendly California League and moving to the Southern League which houses some of the best pitching prospects in the game. In the story link below you will find an in depth interview with Catricala conducted by Rick Randall, a must follow on twitter @RandallBall. In the piece Catricala talks about flying under the radar in high school, playing for the University of Hawaii, learning to play the outfield after being a corner infielder most of his playing career, his hitting approach, and much more. It’s an outstanding read that will introduce you to a must watch prospect heading into the 2012 season.
SeattleClubhouse Q&A: Vinnie Catricala — Seattle Clubhouse
One of the more pleasant surprises of the Los Angeles Dodgers farm system in 2011 has been the continued development of Angelo Songco. The 22 year old is currently hitting .310 with 38 Doubles, 3 Triples, 25 Home Runs, and 93 RBI’s for the High-A Rancho Cucamonga Quakes. The Doubles and Home Run totals are both good enough for second in the California League and he is currently fourth in RBI’s. Songco spent 2010 with the Low-A Great Lakes Loons where he hit .274 with 30 Doubles, 6 Triples, 15 Home Runs, and 71RBI’s. The 6’0″ left handed hitter was a fourth round pick of the Dodgers in the 2009 draft out of Loyola Marymount University. In the story, Songco talks about his focus on hitting for average, how a move from the outfield to first base has helped his hitting approach and getting to play home games in front of his family.
Songco proving to be an average hitter — SBSun.com
The Padres may have a breakout second base prospect in the form of 20 year old Jonathan Galvez. The native of the Dominican Republic is batting .300 with 25 Doubles, 5 Triples, 8 Home Runs, and 60 Rbi’s for High-A Lake Elsinore in the California League. Galvez has also been very effective on the bases stealing 29 in 35 attempts. All of those offensive numbers are career highs, except for Home Runs, he is two off of last year’s total of 10. In the story, Galvez talks about working hard to improve defensive skills (40 errors in 2010) so they match his hitting prowess and the joy his family felt when he originally signed with the Padres.
Since being drafted by the Colorado Rockies in the second round of the 2009 draft out of El Toro High School in California, all Nolan Arenado has done is hit. The 20 year old is a career .307 and is currently blistering the California League to a tune of a .310 average with 24 Doubles, 1 Triple, 11 Home Runs, and 74 RBI’s as a member of the Modesto Nuts. Among the most impressive stats from Arenado’s career thus far is that he’s struck out in just 108 of his 924 career at-bats, a rate of just over 11 percent. Equally as impressive is that over 37 percent of his hits go for extra bases. Arenado played in the 2011 Futures Game and did what he does best, hitting a double off Royals pitching prospect Kelvin Herrera. We hope you enjoy our Q&A with Nolan Arenado.
TPA: What was it like being around all of the best prospects in baseball at the Futures Game?
Nolan Arenado: It was a blast. It felt so good being around players you hear and read about, and some of them I know personally, like my high school classmate Austin Romine of the Yankees.
TPA: What were some of the things you will take with you from the Futures Game experience?
Nolan Arenado: We were treated so well. All of the attention on us was nice. Playing for such a big crowd was awesome and Chase Field is a great ballpark. It was an honor representing the Rockies. You never know if an opportunity like this will come up again, so I just tried to enjoy every minute.
TPA: After a slow start to the season offensively in 2011, you’ve been one of the hottest bats in the minors over the last month or so. What adjustments did you make to help lead to your recent success?
Nolan Arenado: I did start out slow but I didn’t panic. I made some small tweaks to my swing. I have since tried to stay consistent with what I’m doing at the plate.
TPA: What type of approach and swing thought do you take with you to the plate?
Nolan Arenado: I want to drive the ball. I look for a fastball to hit. I try to do what the situation dictates, and not try to do too much.
TPA: You did a bunch of Perfect Game events when you were in high school, describe that experience, and how seeing the some of the best prep pitching in the country at the time helped prepare you for pro ball?
Nolan Arenado: Perfect Game was a good experience. The more I did them, the more confidence I got. You definitely improve when you play against better competition.
TPA: What’s been your biggest challenge thus far in your pro career?
Nolan Arenado: It is a long season. So, staying consistent in my hitting is a challenge at times.
TPA: Being from Southern California what has it been like getting to play some of your road games this year in cities close to home?
Nolan Arenado: That’s one of the best parts. I’ve been lucky to have my family and friends come out and watch me play. Their support means a lot.
TPA: What has been your best memory so far as a pro?
Nolan Arenado: I am going to have to say the Futures Game so far. I had extended family come out as well, and it was great seeing them. On the field, meeting and talking to pro players was unforgettable. Also, another highlight was working out with Tulo this past winter.
Check out the clips below to see some of what Arenado experienced while at the Futures Games
Arenado’s Double In The Game
Arenado’s Fan Fest Interview with MLB.com
Another Futures Game Interview With MLB.com