Storm players are future Padres

The San Diego Padres recently placed catcher Michael Barrett on the disabled list and called up former Lake Elsinore Storm catcher Colt Morton, who had been with the Class AA San Antonio Missions before his promotion to the Padres.

Morton gives the Padres five former Storm players, not including those who were with Lake Elsinore on rehabilitation assignments. In addition to Morton, Jake Peavy, Khalil Greene, Justin Germano, and Paul McAnulty, Storm alumni include Padres coaches Darren Balsley and Craig Colbert.

The promise of future major league stars in Class A baseball is kept, although which specific players reach the majors is to be determined.

Some become stars in the majors and others have brief stints, while some professional careers are exclusively within the minor leagues. Some players are traded to other organizations before reaching the majors while others are used for trades while with the parent club.

The Storm became a San Diego Padres affiliate in 2001, although the first former Storm player to appear in a game for the Padres was George Arias, who was traded to the San Diego organization when the Angels acquired Rickey Henderson in 1997.

Arias made his Padres debut on September 4, 1997, rejoined the Padres after the September 1998 roster expansion, and was the team’s third baseman to start the 1999 season before being replaced by Phil Nevin.

The Padres and Angels switched California League affiliations for 2001 (more accurately the Lake Elsinore Storm and the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes exchanged major league affiliations), and the initial Storm roster included two former Padres.

Rudy Seanez, whose first stint with the Padres was in 1993, started the season with the Storm on a rehabilitation assignment. When he was ready to pitch to major league batters, Seanez became the first former Storm player from the Padres era to play for San Diego.

The other former Padre to begin the 2001 season with the Storm was Xavier Nady, who had been selected in the June 2000 draft. Negotiations with the Cal third baseman were slow, and by the time a contract was signed the rosters had already been expanded.

Nady was placed on the major league roster, made a pinch-hit appearance, and singled. He then returned to the minors for the normal course of player development, starting his Storm career with a 1.000 batting average in professional baseball. He returned to the Padres in 2003.

Nady’s 2000 appearance made him the 56th player to appear in a game for the Padres that year, tying a major league record. The Padres broke that record with 59 players in 2002, and at one time ten San Diego pitchers were on the disabled list.

On April 26 the Padres promoted pitcher Ben Howard, making him the first former Storm player to reach the Padres through the standard development process. Although Howard was returned to Class AA Mobile on May 8, two days later the Padres called up pitcher Dennis Tankersley.

When the Padres sent Tankersley down on June 11, they promoted pitchers Oliver Perez and J.J. Trujillo. Perez stayed with the Padres for the rest of 2002, although part of that time was on the disabled list.

Perez was briefly sent to the minors in early 2003 and returned to the Padres until being sent to Pittsburgh in the trade which brought Brian Giles to San Diego.

Trujillo was sent down on June 21, and the Padres called up pitchers Jake Peavy and Eric Cyr. Other than a rehabilitation assignment, Peavy has been with the Padres ever since.

Howard, Tankersley, Perez, Trujillo, Peavy and Cyr all pitched for the 2001 Lake Elsinore Storm.

The Storm pitching coach that year was Balsley, who became the Padres pitching coach in May 2003 after the Padres fired Greg Booker. Colbert, who was the manager of the Storm in 2001, became the Padres bench coach for the 2007 season.

Another of the 59 Padres players in 2002 was pitcher Doug Nickle, who had been with the Storm when they were an Angels affiliate. Nickle was claimed off waivers from St. Louis in late August and spent the final weeks of the season with San Diego.

The Padres drafted Greene in June 2002, and the shortstop finished that year with Lake Elsinore. He was called up to the Padres in September 2003 and has remained with San Diego ever since.

In addition to Greene and Nady, one other former Storm player has been a regular field player for the Padres. Second baseman Josh Barfield spent 2006 with San Diego before being traded to Cleveland in exchange for Kevin Kouzmanoff.

Other than those on rehabilitation assignments, there are no guarantees as to who will be the first 2008 Storm player to reach the Padres. Based on history, however, at least one of them likely will.

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