MacKenzie Gore pitching in El Paso

MacKenzie Gore is still working to find his rhythm for El Paso. (Photo: Jorge Salgado)

Sugar Land Skeeters 7, Chihuahuas 2

Key Statistics: CF John Andreoli, 1-for-4, R, HR (2), RBI; LF Gosuke Katoh, 1-for-4, R, HR (1), RBI; 1B Nick Tanielu, 3-for-4; LHP MacKenzie Gore, 3 IP, H, 5 BB, 4 K; LHP Nick Ramirez (L, 0-1) IP, 2 H, 2 R, 2 K; RHP Jesse Scholtens, 2 IP, H, ER, 3 K.

Prospect Watch: The Chihuahuas dropped their fifth straight game and fell to .500 overall. … Gosuke Katoh hit his first homer as a member of the Padres’ organization in the loss. Over the last week, Katoh is 7-for-20 with two doubles and three walks. Katoh is hitting .279/.367/.419 which is roughly league average in the Pacif … I mean Triple-A West League. … Nick Tanielu had three hits, including a pair of singles off of a rehabbing Jake Odorizzi. The 28-year-old hit 19 homers with Round Rock in 2019 but has gotten off to a slow start in his first month with El Paso, although he seems to have found his stride. Tanielu does have three multi-hit games in his last five starts and has seen his batting average increase nearly 100 points to .207. … LHP MacKenzie Gore made the start in less than ideal weather conditions and the results were very mixed. On one front, Gore pitched three shutout innings, allowing just one hit and struck out four. However, he walked five and one can’t help but be concerned about the top prospect. Gore threw 65 pitches – only 31 for strikes. In four starts this season, Gore has allowed 31 baserunners in 16.2 innings. While there is some pessimism in the Padres’ fanbase about Gore’s development, it’s easy to forget that he is just 22-years-old. Professional baseball is a results-driven business but Gore still has time to figure out the formula that made him so dominant in High-A in 2019.

Kyle Overstreet has been on a tear for San Antonio. (Photo: Reynaldo Holguin)

San Antonio Missions Week-in-Review (Lost five-of-six to Frisco)

Top Prospects: It was another productive week for CJ Abrams, who posted a .400 on-base percentage last week against Frisco. The bigger story is that the 20-year-old left the game on Saturday night with what appeared to be a leg injury. He didn’t play Sunday and as of press time, there has not been an update on his status. Through three weeks this season, Abrams is hitting .303/.387/.470. His K-rate is 24% which ranks 24th out of 79 eligible players in the Double-A Central League. … After a productive series last week, Esteury Ruiz struggled mightily in his first series at Wolff Stadium. He went 1-for-18 in five games and failed to notch an extra-base hit. If there is a silver lining to take away from his rough series, it appears that Ruiz had incredibly bad luck. He struck out just twice in five games and had a .071 BABIP. Ruiz’s overall results are underwhelming but his improvement in controlling the strike zone is apparent. He has lowered his K-rate to 22.6% (down from 26.6% in High-A in ’19) and he has doubled his walk rate. Ruiz will need to find his power stroke this year since he has transitioned to the outfield full-time in 2021.

Keep an Eye On: Kyle Overstreet has been in the Padres’ organization since 2015 but has yet to advance past the Double-A level. Overstreet is in Double-A for his third tour of duty and so far he has been the Missions’ best offensive weapon. Overstreet’s 149 wRC+ leads the team, ranking slightly ahead of Abrams. Overstreet and Abrams are the only two Missions’ hitters who had produced offense above the league average through the season’s first three weeks. The former Alabama star plays the corner infield positions and can catch, which will always give him a chance to get to the next level.

Matt Waldron is performing well in his first year in the organization. (Photo: Jeff Nycz)

Fort Wayne TinCaps Week-in-Review: (split the six-game series with the Lansing Lugnuts)

Top Prospects: The TinCaps had an extremely inconsistent series against Lansing, scoring 31 runs in their three wins and five runs in the three losses. … Despite the uneven play from Fort Wayne, Tirso Ornelas had his best week since 2018 when he played for the Low-A TinCaps. The Tijuana native went 9-for-20 with five doubles and just three strikeouts. Ornelas hit safely in all five games, including multi-hit games in three of them. Ornelas got off to a slow start but has hit better with each passing week. Overall, Ornelas’ slash-line of .222/.288/.352 doesn’t look great on paper but it seems like the adjustments the organization made a few years ago are starting to pay off. … RHP Anderson Espinoza started Friday night and struggled in his first appearance in 15 days. The Venezuelan native allowed five runs while recording just two outs. If there is a silver lining, it is that Espinoza didn’t give up a ton of hard contact. Like we mentioned Friday, it’s more about health than results at this point of the game. As we move closer to the summer, it will be interesting to see if the organization will allow him to pitch deeper into games. … After a good opening week, infielder Justin Lopez has struggled to find his footing. He does have a current four-game hitting streak going into Tuesday’s action but outside of that, he has not found any consistency at the plate. Lopez has struck out in 35% of his plate appearances which would be a career-high for the 21-year-old. Lopez has all of the tools defensively but has never posted an on-base percentage above .300 in his career.

Keep an Eye on: RHP Matt Waldron. The 24-year-old is a little old for the level but his early-season results have been promising. Waldron was acquired in the Mike Clevinger blockbuster last summer and like most minor leaguers, he didn’t pitch in 2020. Waldron started Sunday and struck out eight in five innings of work. He has walked just three batters in 19.2 innings while striking out 22. Waldron’s 29.3% K-rate ranks tenth in the circuit (teammates Ethan Elliott and Edwuin Bencomo rank #1 and #2 respectively).

Interview: John Conniff posted an interview (subscription required) with TinCaps Jonny Homza, Homza has made tremendous strides behind the plate in recent years.

Jordy Barley in action with the Storm in 2021. (Photo: Lake Elsinore Storm)

Lake Elsinore Storm Week-in-Review: (lost four-of-six to the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes)

Top Prospects: Shortstop Jordy Barley got hot in the last three games of the series, going 7-for-13 with two doubles and two stolen bases. The talented shortstop has been inconsistent this year, especially defensively where he has made 10 errors in 18 games, most of them at shortstop. Through three weeks, the 21-year-old is hitting a solid .276/.321/.447 while reducing his strikeout rate to 23.5% which is in the league’s top-20. … Outfielder Robert Hassell III had a quiet series that included his first day off of 2021. Hassell went 5-for-22, scoring four runs and driving in a pair. Hassell only walked once in the series after drawing 14 in the first two series of the year. Hassell’s overall slash-line of .265/.393/.485 is 40% above the league-average in the Low-A West League. … Outfielder Joshua Mears only played in three games last week but his results were quite encouraging. Mears had four hits in 10 plate appearances, including a pair of doubles. The outfielder is still striking out north of 40% but he is producing despite of the punchouts. Overall, he is hitting .256/.407/.419 – 36% above league-average.

Keep an Eye on: Infielder/outfielder Jarryd Dale. The 20-year-old Australian has been the Storm’s best offensive weapon the last few weeks. Dale hit his first professional homer last Wednesday and had a two-run triple on Sunday. Dale started all six games and hit .333/.407/.625 against the Dodgers’ affiliate. Dale is Rule 5 eligible this winter and while he seems like a long-shot to be added to the 40-man, a versatile defender with plus-speed and developing power could be enticing to other organizations.

Posted by Kevin Charity

Kevin Charity has written for MadFriars since 2015 and has had work featured on Fox Sports San Diego. He is a lifelong San Diego native and is looking forward to seeing the current wave of prospects thrive in San Diego.

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