It was 610 days in between games for Fort Wayne. I am not sure how we lasted when 610 minutes seemed like the distant future, and being stuck in traffic for just 610 seconds is enough to drive even the most patient people insane. But baseball is back! My last farm report discussed Ryan Weathers rebounding in Fort Wayne, Luis Campusano hitting his stride in Lake Elsinore, Hudson Potts leading the Sod Poodles to a win, and Travis Jankowski leading a comeback win for El Paso after Bryan Mitchell walked half the batters he faced. A lot has changed in 610 days, but even after all the trades and the layoffs, this looks to be another exciting year of minor league games and watching talent bloom.
Chihuahuas: The Chihuahuas begin their season Thursday with a six game series in Tacoma. While an opening day starter has yet to be announced, all eyes are on #1 pitching prospect MacKenzie Gore toeing the rubber Friday.
Corpus Christi Hooks 4, Missions 2
Prospect Watch: Two games in, the daily CJ Abrams watch is off to a good start. The top offensive prospect in the Padres system reached base twice and proceeded to steal second twice. He did strike out in his other two at bats, but that was a recurring trend for the offense as every Mission’s player struck out at least once, and the team whiffed 17 times in the game. Expect high strikeout numbers to be a trend throughout minor league ball as the hitters attempt to shake off the rust of a nearly 18 month absence. A majority of the strikeouts were on curveballs, where hitters look unable to adjust. … Speaking of curveballs, that was the only pitch Adrian Martinez was able to throw for a strike early in the game. His fastball was missing by a good foot each way, but he was still able to get through three innings thanks to an above average curve and change that had hitters fooled. … As mentioned in the season preview, the Missions’ most intriguing pitching prospect might be RHP Mason Fox. His curveball is spinning at a Bauer-esque 3000+ RPM (without the aide of a mystery substance), and like the Padres’ Austin Adams, he relies on the breaking ball most of the time. Fox had 56 strikeouts in just 32.2 innings in 2019. He was given a few brief outings in Spring Training and the results were similar. When he can locate the pitch, it is unhittable. When he can’t, it makes it painful to watch.
TinCaps 4, West Michigan Whitecaps 2
Prospect Watch: If you are reading this and think “Matt Waldron, why does that name sound familiar?” That’s because Waldron was the Player To Be Named Later in the Mike Clevinger deal. The 24-year-old jumped over Low A to make his first appearance in the organization at High-A. He sat 91-93 all game with good horizontal movement. However, his most devastating pitch was his changeup that sat at 78 mph. A majority of the strikeouts, including one of last year’s top draft pick Spencer Torkelson, came on offspeed pitches. … RHP Edwuin Bencomo came in after and proceeded to strike out nine of the 14 batters he faced. The joys of watching minor league ball, his change, slider, and fastball were all clocked at the same speed (85 mph). Whatever the actual speeds were, the Whitecaps could not make contact. … With last year’s draft only being five rounds, there were bound to be some diamonds that went unsigned. One of those might be Canadian Carter Loewen who was signed after pitching for the University of Hawaii (nice shift in climate). The 6’4” righthander made his professional debut with locks flowing like Mike Clevinger, recorded the game-ending strikeout on a 96 mph fastball. Not a bad debut. … RHP Anderson Espinoza will make his first start in five years Thursdayfor the TinCaps. Expect him to work on a strict pitch count as the Padres try to work him back in.
Storm 11, Visalia Rawhide 5
Key Stats: RHP Carlos Guarate 4 IP, 4 H, ER, 6 K; CF Robert Hassell III 1-for-5, 2B, RS, 2 K; 3B Euribiel Angeles 1-for-5, HR (1), 3 RBI, 2 RS; SS Jordy Barley 1-for-5, RS, RBI; C Brandon Valenzuela 2-for-3, 2 RS, RBI, 2 BB; 2B Ripken Reyes 1-for-2, 2 RS, 2 RBI, 2 BB, 2B
Prospect Watch: CF Robert Hassell III collected his first professional hit, a double. Its hard to remember that even though he was making appearances on the big league spring training squad, he had never appeared in an actual game. Hassell did strike out twice, but strikeouts have been a theme up and down the league the last two days. The Storm scored 11 runs, but also struck out 13 times. … One thing AJ Preller is known for is signing foreign born players and watching them blossom. Euribiel Angeles hours to continue that trend. The 18-year-old hit .301/.359/.376 in the DSL in 2019, earning praise for his eye at the plate (9.6% K rate). The biggest question was whether he would grow into more power. In just his second game in the States, Angeles picked up his first career home run, a three-run shot. Not bad for any player, especially one who is nearly a year younger than the next youngest on the team. In all, a promising start for a player worth keeping an eye on for those who will make the trek up the 15 to watch the Storm.