EL PASO, Texas – The Chihuahuas continued to punish the Las Vegas 51s with a 12-hit barrage Sunday, a day after tying the record for their biggest come from behind win. Catcher Raffy Lopez fell a triple short of the cycle and center fielder Travis Jankowski stole a pair of bases to go along with a double and three RBI.
But the star of the game was highly-regarded pitching prospect Eric Lauer.
The lefty threw 97 pitches, 59 of them for strikes over six innings. He struck out ten while allowing only three hits and two walks.
“Fastball command was there, and the biggest thing was keeping my shoulders in line. My curveball was coming out well which really helped,” said Lauer. “When I’m not tilting and just staying in line, my pitches are much more effective.”
Lauer, a first-round pick out of Kent State in 2016, has significantly improved his breaking pitches from last season. His curveball, in particular, has emerged to give him another soft pitch along with his change to complement his hard slider and four-seam fastball. The fastball sat in the 90-93 MPH range.
“He was outstanding,” said El Paso manager Rod Barajas. “He had a really good fastball that he was able to elevate and go in and out. He had all of his pitches working today.
“He had his slider, curve, and changeup going today. He was able to able to throw a 74 mph curve early in the count which accomplishes two things. One, it gets him ahead. Two, it slows the hitters down instead of just seeing hard fastballs and hard sliders.”
The Chihuahuas offense continued to break out of the slump they endured Thursday and Friday. They have outscored the 51s 21-0 over the last 16 innings. Travis Jankowski, 27, who was once a top prospect in the Padres organization, led a list of many who starred Sunday. He appears to be on the rebound after a slow start.
“We are trying to get him back to driving the ball more,” Barajas said. “Morgan [Burkhart, the Chihuahuas batting coach] was his hitting coach in San Antonio in 2015 when he had a big year. He was looking at videos from that year and saw that Travis was kind of getting away from what he was doing then.
“He didn’t have any hits yesterday, but he had some good at-bats and is recognizing pitches better. Hopefully, we can keep things going in the right direction.”
Shortstop Javy Guerra continues to hit, collecting his third triple in two days. First baseman/catcher Brett Nicholas, recently acquired from the Texas Rangers, looked particularly impressive at the plate with two doubles, a hit, and a walk.
El Paso Prospect Notes: Both Luis Urias and Franmil Reyes had regularly scheduled days off. … Six-foot-seven reliever Trey Wingenterâs command still seems a little off, but he was able to get out of a bases-loaded jam without allowing a run and recorded a pair of strikeouts. … Right-hand pitcher Walker Lockett takes the ball Monday for the series finale which will start at 11:00 local time.