Justin Lopez in action with the TinCaps. (Photo: Jeff Nycz).

With El Paso off, the Missions, Storm, and TinCaps combined to score 22 runs on 33 hits.  They were led by a trio of outfielders in Esteury Ruiz, Jack Suwinski, and Robert Hassell III who each helped lead their team to victories.

Chihuahuas (8-9): The Chihuahuas are riding a six-game losing streak, but will open a series against the last place Oklahoma City Dodgers Thursday.  The Chihuahuas will give the ball to former Texas League All-Star (2018) Jerry Keel.

Jose Azocar had another multi-hit night on Tuesday. (Photo: Joe Alexander)

Missions 10, Northwest Arkansas Naturals 7

Key Stats: LHP Aaron Leasher 4.2 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 3 BB, 6 K; LF Esteury Ruiz 2-for-4, HR (1), 3 RS, 2 RBI, BB, SB (4); DH Brad Zunica 2-for-3, 2 RS, 2 RBI, 2B, BB, HBP; CF Jose Azocar 2-for-6, 2B, RS, RBI; 2B Eguy Rosario 2-for-5, 2 RBI; RF Jack Suwinski 2-for-5, HR (4), 2B, 2 RBI

Prospect Watch: No Abrams, no problem.  With Abrams still out of the lineup, the Missions poured out one of their most complete offensive outbursts.  Eight different Missions had a hit, six different scored a run, and six different had at least one RBI.  The biggest plays of the night came from outfielder Esteury Ruiz, who showed why the Padres were so excited to trade for him four years ago (Ruiz, Matt Strahm and Travis Wood for Brandon Mauer, Ryan Buchter, and Trevor Cahill).  Not only did Ruiz hit his first home run of the year but he also stole his fourth bag and walked.  While the power and speed have been a staple of his game, the better control of the strike zone will be the biggest takeaway for Ruiz from this first month.  He was averaging roughly a 4:1 K:BB ratio in his career, this month the number has dropped to 2:1 (16 K:8 BB).  Ruiz can be an absolute nightmare for pitchers on the basepaths so the more contact and walks he is drawing, the more chances for steals, and runs he will create. … After a solid 2018 campaign where he repeated Fort Wayne,  Jack Suwinski was hoping to build on that success in the hitter-friendly California League.  Not only did that success not come, but he was striking out at nearly a 10% higher rate, and he hit his fewest extra-base hits as a professional.  In 17 games so far in Double-A, Suwinski already has nine extra-base hits that equal the number that he had in his last 40 games with the Storm in 2019. Suwinski’s big night raised his OPS to .871 which now leads the Missions.

Moises Lugo was on the mound for Fort Wayne on Wednesday. (Photo: Jeff Nycz)

South Bend Cubs 5, TinCaps 3

Key Stats: RHP Moises Lugo 5 IP, 2 H, ER, BB, 4 K; 1B Luis Almanzar 3-for-4, 2 2B; SS Justin Lopez 2-for-4, 2 2B; DH Agustin Ruiz 1-for-4, RS, RBI, BB

Prospect Watch: Moises Lugo had arguably his best start as a professional tonight tossing five innings (a new career-high), and allowing only three baserunners.  The 22- year-old Dominican, made the jump from the AZL to High A Fort Wayne and hasn’t missed a beat.  He allowed back-to-back singles to start the game, and then retired 15 of the next 16 batters, never allowing a runner past first. … One of the biggest reasons for the TinCaps struggles this season (7-12) has been a lack of consistency.  They had a runner in scoring position in six of the nine innings, managed 14 baserunners, five extra-base hits, and two steals, but struggled to get that big hit with RISP.  Justin Lopez had two doubles in the game and extended his hit streak to six games.  However, it was his first multi-hit game of the streak, and only his second extra-base hit, so his average and OPS have only gone up about 50 points during this streak (to .200 and .647). …  Luis Almanzar has arguably been the most consistent hitter on the TinCaps.  He collected his first three-hit game of the year while also collecting his first multi extra-base hit game.  The big money J-2 signee (who notably was given more of a bonus that Luis Patino), is now hitting 283 with a .774 OPS.  While 52 plate appearances is still a small sample size, that OPS is nearly .200 points higher than his career OPS, and hopefully, a continued sign that the now 21-year-old has turned a corner.

Storm 9, San Jose Giants 3

Key Stats: CF Robert Hassell III 2-for-3, 3 RBI, BB; SS Jordy Barley 1-for-5, RS, SB (11); RF Josh Mears 0-for-2, 2 RS, 2 BB; LHP Gabe Morales 3 IP, 3 H, BB, 4 K; RHP Felix Minjarez (W, 1-0) 4.2 IP, H, 4 K;

Prospect Watch: After two days off Robert Hassell III was back in center field and led the team to their second straight win over San Jose..  The Padres’ top outfield prospect collected his third multi-hit game in his last four starts, including a big hit early that put the Storm on top. In addition to the production at the plate, it was the first time in a week that Hassell did not strike out.  In talking to scouts, the biggest concern with Hassell was that he would sacrifice his elite ability to cover the zone and make contact for added power.  Thus far Hassell has nine extra-base hits in 17 games, and 22 strikeouts (16 walks).  The power, walks, average, arm, and speed have all been there.  Now it is a matter of lowering that strikeout percentage to take him into that elite level of prospect. .. Speaking of speed, infielder Jordy Barley has been a demon on the basepaths.  The 21-year-old, who has never had more than 14 stolen bases in a season (8 caught stealing), already is a perfect 11-11 through 20 games. Those 11 stolen bases put him second in the league, trailing only Fresno’s Zac Veen, who was the assumed pick of the Padres when he fell to them in last year’s draft.  Veen was the scout’s pick because of his perceived ability to hit for substantially more power even if his average and strikouet/walk ratio’s are not as good as Hassell’s.  Three weeks in the season Hassell leads Veen in nearly every offensive category including triples and home runs.  It will be an interesting battle between the two first-round talents through both this season and their minor league careers.

Posted by Ben Davey

Writer for MadFriars since 2011. San Diego raised. Grossmont alum. Die hard SD and sports fan. Currently keeping my day job as an AP Chemistry Teacher.

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