Monday, May 5, 2008

Planet Padres goes to Lake Elsinore

On May 3rd 2008, Planet Padres took it's first farm roadie. We were granted our Media Credentials and together with Todd Kaufmann, a beat writer for, we headed up to the Diamond.

The parking lot was filled with the smells and sounds of tailgating. Dads and kids played 3 flies up while they waited for the BBQ to be hot. A crowd started to swell down the main walkway leading to the front gates listening to live music and preparing to enter the ballpark. It's little league day and kids of all ages in their team jerseys were running excited all over the place somehow avoiding the rest of foot traffic as the weave in and out of masses.


There truly is something different/special about minor league baseball that sets it apart from the bigs. I tried to put my finger on it, and what I came up with is that if feels more like a family outing than a structured event. It's smaller, more intimate, you are close enough to many of the players to actually make eye contact, prices are realistic for entire families to go and enjoy more than once a season, and the sounds remind us of playing, not just watching. For many of us this type of venue also takes us back to a time and level of play that we got close to, even if never achieved, and that makes it feel as if we almost share or have something in common with those players on the field.

I entered the ballpark, and was met with a picture perfect baseball fan scene. Freshly cut green grass, players warming up down each foul line, vendors offering their goods, the smell of the BBQ in RF and the thrum of the masses quickly moving to the bottom of field level hoping to catch a glimpse or maybe an autograph of their favorite player/prospect.

Kellen Kulbacki, recently up from Ft. Wayne, got the start in RF and also recorded his first hit of A+ ball. In the 3rd inning he took a fastball off the Rt/Cf wall for a double, missing a HR by maybe a foot. In the few AB's I saw during this game I really liked his approach, and swing. I will keep an eye on this kid as he progresses, and continue to report on him on my next trip out. He appeared to be able to handle RF, but to be fair he really wasn't tested either in fielding or with his arm, so again I'll keep my eyes open regarding this guy.
Nath Culp was on the bump for the Storm. He's a
very solid left hander who threw a fastball ranging between 85-86mph and had offspeed pitches he mixed in well in the 73-75mph range. For the most part he kept hitters in check and off balance. To the left is a series of pictures showing his approach on the mound. I must have taken 4 separate series like this, and it was nearly impossible to see any difference, as his windup and follow through were very consistent.

-In the 3rd High Desert broke through on a double off the bat of Bonilla, who then stole 3rd and came home on a throwing error by Mitch Canham.
-In the bottom of the 4th the Storm tied it up on a bomb to LF off the bat of Sam Carter his 4th of the season.
-Unfortunately that would be the end of the scoring for the Storm, and High Desert would tack on 2 more runs for the 3-1 win this night.
-Mitch Canham was removed in the 4th inning, but there was no discussion as to why.

-Eric Sogard singled in the 7th and continues his onslaught of A-ball pitching. He's now got his stats up .402ba /.510obp /.556slg, in 117 AB's. Keep your eyes out for this guy to get a promotion to San Antonio soon.

So to say the least the trip was outstanding, and I would recommend to anyone/everyone to make it a point to get out to see the Lake Elsinore Storm play at least once this year. If you don't you're truly missing out on what baseball is supposed to be.

I want to send out a special thanks to Steve Smaldone (Dir. of Public Relations), and the Storm staff that I had the pleasure of visiting with. They were very helpful, nice, courteous and made my visit to their little home away from home memorable. So thanks again Storm, we'll be seeing you soon.

By T. Pichierri
Final 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
High Desert
0 0 1 0 0 1 1 0 0
3 5 2
Lake Elsinore
0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0
1 8 1
Recap Box Audio
W: A. Cotter (1-0, 3.45); L: N. Culp (2-1, 3.44); SV: M. Wagner (2)
HR: HDM: C. Minaker (4). LAK: S. Carter (4).

Play Ball !!!

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