Esteury Ruiz Padres prospect batting for Fort Wayne TinCaps

Esteury Ruiz leads the Midwest League in stolen bases with 48. Photo: Jeff Nycz.

El Paso finally lost at home while the Missions had one of their better offensive nights of the year. Lake Elsinore and Fort Wayne both come away with victories but the Dust Devils drop two on Saturday night.

Tacoma Rainers 5, Chihuahuas 4 (10 innings)

Key Statistics: C Francisco Mejia 2-5, 3B, HR(6), 2 RBI; 3B Dusty Coleman 2-4, 2 RBI; LF Shane Peterson 2-5;  LHP Logan Allen 5.2 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 5 K, 2 HR; LHP Kyle McGrath (L, 7-3) 2.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R (0 ER), 2 K

Francisco Mejia has six home runs in 29 games for El Paso. Photo: Ivan Pierre Aguirre

Prospect Watch:  Tonight’s loss ended El Paso’s 17-game home winning streak, the longest in franchise history. The Chihuahuas’ last home loss was on July 20. … In his first 29 games with the Padres’ organization, Francisco Mejia has six home runs for a .301/.341/.540 slash line.  So far, the only position he has played in the field is behind the plate, with three games as a designated hitter.  He is on the 40-man roster so it’s likely he will be in San Diego no later than the conclusion of El Paso’s season. … In his first four starts in Triple-A, Logan Allen gave up a total of two earned runs in 22 innings for a 0.82 ERA with a 21: 11 strikeout-to-base-on-balls ratio.  Saturday he appeared to struggle with his command, needing 102 pitches to throw five and two-thirds. Allen has produced his best year as a professional, but at 148.2 innings, might hit his innings limit before the Chihuahuas end their playoff run.

Missions 12, Corpus Christi Hooks 8

Key Statistics: CF Buddy Reed 2-5, SB (18); LF Josh Naylor 2-5, HR(17), 3 RBI; 1B Kyle Overstreet 3-5; C Webster Rivas 1-4, HR (4), 3 RBI, BB; SS Rudy Giron 1-3, HR (1), 2 RBI, BB; RHP Lake Bachar 4.0 IP 5 H 6 R 6 ER 3 BB K; RHP Trevor Megill 2.0 IP 2 H; RHP Elliot Ashbeck (BS, 2)(W, 1-2) 1.0 IP 4 H 2 R 2 ER 2 K

Prospect Watch: San Antonio ended a four-game losing streak and still has an outside chance of making the Texas League playoffs .despite a last-place record in the second half of the season. Ironically, they could clinch if they lose Sunday …The big news for Padres’ fans is that Buddy Reed had his third straight multi-hit game and has pushed his batting average up nearly 30 points since Wednesday. The switch-hitter had a breakout campaign in Lake Elsinore with a .324/.371/.549 slash line and was in the Future’s Game, but has struggled since coming up to Double-A.  He stole his 18th bag tonight in 21 attempts with the Missions, which gives him  51 in 61 attempts on the year between two levels. … Josh Naylor might be wearing down some with all of the extra pre-game work that he has been putting in to improve in the outfield, but is still having one of the better seasons in the league despite being one of the youngest players in the Texas League at 21. He’s fourth in the organization with 17 home runs and has 63 walks against 69 strikeouts to go along with a .382 on-base percentage.

Storm 5, Lancaster JetHawks 1

Key Statistics:  CF Edward Olivares 2-4, 2B, RBI; DH Luis Torrens 2-4, 2 RBI; RHP Ronald Bolaños (W, 6-9) 5.0 IP 4 H R ER BB 4 K; RHP Hansel Rodriguez 1.2 IP 2 H BB 4 K; RHP Darius Valdez (S, 13) 1.1 IP BB K

Prospect Watch: Edward Olivares continued his strong finish to the season, adding two more hits including his 25th double. He’s hitting .300/.349/.467 in the second half after posting a .257/.298/.401 line in the first. … Hansel Rodriguez was one of the better relief pitchers in the Padres’ organization in 2017, but was on the shelf until early August with injuries.  He had another strong outing, but his command still isn’t all the way back with five walks in 9.1 innings.  If he can return to form, his fastball/slider combination has been very effective since moving to the bullpen midway through last year. He’ll have the chance to get extra work in the high-profile Arizona Fall League. … Shortstop Chris Baker was 0-for-2 with a pair of walks tonight.  Since coming back from a concussion Baker has hit well in the second half with a .267/.302/.391 mark and might be in line to be the opening day shortstop in Double-A next season.

TinCaps 10, West Michigan Whitecaps 3

Key Statistics: LF Jack Suwinski 2-6, RBI; SS Gabriel Arias 3-5, RBI, SB; RF Agustin Ruiz 2-5, 2 2B, 2 RBI; DH Esteury Ruiz 2-3, 2B; 3 RBI, 2 BB; 3 SB; Jalen Washington 2-5; 2B Kelvin Melean 3-5, RBI; RHP Henry Henry (W, 1-1) 7.0 IP 4 H 2 R BB K.

Prospect Watch: With tonight’s win, the TinCaps need only to win one of their next two games to secure their ninth playoff appearance in ten years. … Esteury Ruiz, 19, swiped three bases to give him a league-leading 48, the most for a TinCaps player since Mallex Smith stole 64 in a half-season in 2013. Ruiz, who was acquired with Matt Stahm from Kansas City last year at the trade deadline, has had some challenges in the field this season with 25 errors between second and third base, mainly on his throws. Offensively, he’s done some interesting things with 37 extra-base hits to go along with his 48 stolen bases. The key now will be able to improve upon his plate discipline to cut down from his 140 strikeouts in 469 plate appearances. … Jack Suwinski is continuing on the tear that he went on in August with two hits Saturday.  In August Suwinski had the second-highest OPS in the Midwest League at 1.069. … Gabriel Arias has now had an extra-base hit in 12 of his last 17 games . … Henry Henry went seven innings for the second time this season – the last. coming in Tri-City. The 19-year-old had much better feel than his previous start, when he needed 71 pitches to go 4 1/3 innings.  Saturday, he threw 79 to go seven. and was only the fourth Fort Wayne starter to go seven innings all year. Henry has shifted to throwing from the stretch all the time, simplifying some of the mechanics he was struggling with in his first stint with the TinCaps in April.

Game 1: Everett AquaSox  5, Dust Devils 2

Key Statistics: CF Angel Solarte 2-3; RF Luis Asuncion 1-3, HR (5), RBI; RHP Cole Bellinger (L, 1-6) 4.0 IP 5 H 3 R 3 ER 3 BB 5 K 2 HR

Game 2: Everett AquaSox 3, Dust Devils 1

Key Statistics: DH Nick Gatewood 1-3, 2B, RBI; RHP Jefferson Garcia (L, 0-1) 3.0 IP 5 H 3 R 3 ER 3 BB 4 K, RHP Carlos Belen 1.0 IP BB

Carlos Belen started the year as a position player for Fort Wayne and now is pitching for Tri-City. Photo: Mike Wilson

Prospect Watch: Tri-City dropped a pair as they struggled to generate offense. … In the opener, the best news of the night was the debut of Angel Solarte, who had a pair of hits in his Northwest League debut.  With Agustin Ruiz sent on to Fort Wayne and Grant Little and Tucupita Marcano out of the Dust Devils lineup with minor injuries, Solarte joined the club despite a .219/.286/.318 slash line in his professional debut in the Arizona League. Then again, at 17, Solarte would be a junior in high school … After a very good and posting a 2.45 ERA in 18.1 innings with 13 strikeouts against six walks in August, Cole Bellinger had a rough outing. The 18-year-old righty finishes the year with a 5.38 ERA.  … In the second game, Nick Gatewood had the lone hit for Tri-City. … Carlos Belen was the TinCaps’ everyday first baseman for the first 45 games of the year and hit .219. The organization finally turned him into a pitcher and the change has been remarkably smooth. He had 19 strikeouts in 15.2 innings against seven walks in the AZL and tonight posted his second straight hitless, scoreless outing. It will be interesting to see how much he can do with a full off-season devoted to pitching.

Posted by John Conniff

John grew up in Poway and has written for MadFriars since 2004. He has written articles for Baseball America, FoxSports San Diego, the El Paso Times, San Antonio Express-News, Amarillo Globe-News, Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette and Pacific Daily News in addition to appearing on numerous radio programs and podcasts. He can also break down the best places to eat for all five of the affiliates. There is no best place to eat in Peoria, Arizona.

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