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An All-Star Summer: The Case for Lake Elsinore 

If you’re a die-hard Padres fan, then you’re probably familiar with San Diego’s organizational depth chart and exciting top prospects.

Yes, the team still has prospects! Despite the great decimation of the farm system of 2014-2015, the organization has made strides in restocking the rosters down in the minors which has surely caught the eyes of even the most fickle Friar fanatic. And one’s interest in prospects, of course, typically coincides with an intimate knowledge of the Padres’ minor league affiliates.

You know — the teams with the Padres of tomorrow. The “Future Friars,” if you will.

Whether you’ve got your eyes on Austin Hedges or Hunter Renfroe with the El Paso Chihuahuas, or maybe last year’s top draft pick Austin Smith with the Fort Wayne TinCaps, there’s plenty to look for in the Padres minor league system.

“But wait!” you might be saying to yourself. “El Paso is in Texas, an 11-hour drive from San Diego! And I don’t even know where Fort Wayne is!” Fear not Friar Faithful, for you’re not alone – nobody knows where Fort Wayne is.

It’s in Indiana.

Sure, a good handful of the team’s top prospects are an unreasonable distance away from San Diego which, oddly enough, is where most Padres fans live. Fortunately for San Diegans, there is one Padres affiliate that is but a stone’s throw from Petco Park. A really, really strong throw, but a throw nonetheless. I am of course talking about the Lake Elsinore Storm.

Less than an hour’s drive from Northern San Diego sits The Diamond, a world class minor league ballpark that is sure to entertain baseball fans of all ages. The Diamond is home to the Padres’ Single-A Advanced California League affiliate that has produced four Divisional Titles (2001, 2005, 2007, 2011) and two California League Championships (2001, 2011) since San Diego became the parent club in 2001.

Lake Elsinore is also currently home to one of MLB’s top prospects in shortstop Javier Guerra, who was ranked at no. 54 on MLB Pipeline’s Top 100 Prospects and also ranked as the Padres’ no. 1 prospect of 2016 by MadFriars. Guerra signed as an international free agent in 2012 at the age of 16 and is considered by many to be the most valuable piece of the trade that sent former Padres’ closer Craig Kimbrel to Boston.

Guerra is also joined in Lake Elsinore by fellow Padres Top Prospect LHP Jose Torres (no. 20 on the Club’s Top 30), INF Luis Urias (no. 28), and OF Franchy Cordero (no. 30). Given the handful of tremendous talent sitting at the Diamond this season, 2016 should fare out to be a great year for the Storm.

On top of the organization’s own talent filled team, the Diamond will also play host to the 2016 California-Carolina League All-Star Game on June 21st. Almost seven years after the Storm last hosted the California/Carolina league game in 2009, Lake Elsinore is fortunate enough to host the All-Star Game during the California League’s historic 75th season. This honor will coincide with a number of promotions and special events as the Storm will be celebrating the upcoming Mid-Summer Classic all season long. The bottom line is that there is plenty of talent to be seen up North!

And even if high-caliber baseball isn’t your thing, the Lake Elsinore Storm are renowned for their fantastic promotional giveaways and wacky in-game antics. Who else but the Lake Elsinore Storm would come up with the idea of hosting a homerun derby off of an aircraft carrier? As with any other good minor league team, the Storm have some great promotions lined up this year. Promotions like Good Karma / Margarita Mondays – where you can name your ticket price and also enjoy $3 margaritas – and Tacos and Tallboys Tuesdays – where fans can buy $3 tacos and $3 tallboys (beer) while also enjoying 2-for-1 tickets.

There’s also Thirsty Thursday, which shouldn’t need an explanation given all of the craft beer lovers down in San Diego.

With a plethora of promotions and a solid chance at the California League playoffs, there’s a lot to love in Lake Elsinore this year. Plus, when you walk out onto the concourse you may be greeted by a loveable green (yes, green!) dog named ‘Thunder,’ a giant anthropomorphic rabbit named ‘Jackpot,’ a man in a brilliantly bedazzled jacket named ‘Zick,’ or even a speedy squirrel named ‘Ace.’

He’s the fastest squirrel in the world, I’ll have you know.

The Diamond is more than just a gem – it’s the epicenter for an All-Star Summer in Southern California. So why not head up north to catch a Storm game?

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About the author: Ian Edward Russell Smith

Ian is a former writer for the San Diego Padres, having worked as the Padres' "In-Season Blogger" during the 2015 season. Ian wrote as a member of the Friarhood's writing staff between parts of 2013-2015, writing over 100 articles over that span. In addition to being a writer, Ian is also a recent graduate of California Western School of Law in San Diego, having earned a Juris Doctor, as well as his Bachelor of Arts in Political Science/Law & Society from the University of California, Riverside. Be sure to follow Ian on Twitter (@SDRedBull8) to see what other ramblings he's posted about the Padres, San Diego, and baseball in general!