Oklahoma City Dodgers 4, Chihuahuas 1
Key Statistics: RF Brian O’Grady. 2-for-3. R, 2B, HR (4), RBI, BB; 1B Patrick Kivlehan, 2-for-4, 2 2B; 2B Gosuke Katoh, 2-for-4; RHP Evan Miller, 3.1 IP, 2 H, ER, BB, 4 K; RHP Chase Johnson, 2.2 IP, 3 H, K; RHP James Norwood (L, 1-2) IP, 2 H, 2 ER, 2 K.
Prospect Watch: El Paso dropped their fourth straight game to Oklahoma City and has lost nine of the last ten. … Outfielder Brian O’Grady had two more hits to extend his Triple-A hitting streak to nine games. He homered in the first inning, a blast that accounted for all of the Chihuahuas’ scoring. O’Grady is 6-for-13 with two homers, a triple, and a double since being optioned back to El Paso last week. … Patrick Kivlehan had two more hits Monday, as the veteran outfielder is finding his way out of a slow start. Kivlehan is 8-for-13 over the last three games, improving his batting average from .197 to .250 during that span. The veteran has also found his power stroke – he finished the month of May with six home runs. Kivlehan hit 32 homers during the 2019 minor league season between three teams, with the majority coming at the Triple-A level. … RHP Evan Miller got the start in what equated to a bullpen game for El Paso. It was the first professional start for Miller, whose first 137 professional appearances came as a reliever. Miller pitched well, getting into the fourth inning and allowing just one run on a pair of hits. The 26-year-old has been a solid performer throughout his career in the minors and that has continued through the first month of the 2021 season. He has a 2.00 ERA with 18 strikeouts in 18 innings this year for El Paso.
With the rest of the system off on Mondays, let’s take a look at the week-in-review.
San Antonio Missions Week-in-review (Won four-of-six games against Northwest Arkansas).
Top Prospects: Infielder C.J. Abrams returned to the lineup Sunday after leaving a game on May 22 with a leg injury. He went 0-for-4 in the loss to Northwest Arkansas. Abrams finished May hitting .286/.367/.443. … LHP Osvaldo Hernandez made two starts in the series and pitched well Tuesday before struggling Sunday. Hernandez allowed just one unearned run in four innings, walking one and striking out three Tuesday night. On Sunday, the Cuban-born southpaw was pounded for six earned runs including five homers – two from Bobby Witt Jr., the Royals’ top prospect. Hernandez got through four innings and tied a season-high with six strikeouts if you are looking for a silver lining. Hernandez has struggled this year, pitching to an 8.00 ERA in 18 innings, with opposing hitters batting .312 against him.
Keep an Eye On: It was a banner week for outfielder Jack Suwinski, who had the best stretch of his professional career over the last six days. Suwinski earned Double-A Central Player of the Week by hitting .450/.542/1.000 with a pair of homers, a triple, and four doubles. The 22-year-old’s dominant week raised his overall slash-line to .265/.359/.603. His wRC+ of 162 ranks eighth in the league. Suwinski’s strikeout rate is hovering around 30% but he has made some strides after a slow start to the season.
Fort Wayne TinCaps Week-in-Review (Split series against South Bend at three wins each).
Top Prospects: Tirso Ornelas had a good series against South Bend, hitting .278/.350/.389 with two doubles and four RBI in the six-game set. The 21-year-old outfielder had a solid first month of the season, especially when you consider that he started 0-for-16. Since that rough start, Ornelas is hitting .288/.354/.441 with a 124 wRC+ and an excellent K-rate of 13.8%. The home run swing hasn’t developed yet but he is tied for the league lead with nine doubles. … RHP Anderson Espinoza bounced back after a rough outing and pitched two scoreless innings Thursday, allowing just one hit while striking out three. Espinoza’s velocity was the same as it has been all season (94-96 mph) and he looked strong overall. Espinoza will continue to be limited to short bursts for the near future, with perhaps an opportunity to get extendedin the summer.
Keep an Eye On: Outfielder Agustin Ruiz‘s power development has been one of the bright spots in the system in May. Ruiz hit two homers in the series against South Bend raising his total to six on the season. Those six homers are tied for second in the High-A Central League with five other players. Overall, Ruiz is hitting .221/.322/.481 with a solid 12.2% walk rate. … Catcher Jonny Homza had a good week, hitting .316/.409/.474 with a 14% walk rate. The 21-year-old is off to a good start, despite striking out in a third of his plate appearances. Homza has an elite 16% walk rate that ranks seventh in the league. If he can make progress with his K-rate, he could establish himself as an intriguing prospect this summer.
Lake Elsinore Storm Week-in-Review (Lost four of six to the San Jose Giants).
Top Prospects: The Storm won the first two games of the six-game series before losing the final four. … Outfielder Robert Hassell III had a quiet series, hitting .263/.348/.316 with a double, three walks and, four RBI. Hassell had an excellent first month of the season, showing a keen eye at the plate and the ability to control the strike zone. Through the season’s first month, he is hitting .264/.383/.448 with a pair of homers and seven steals. … Outfielder Joshua Mears had a rough series in the Bay Area, going 3-for-18 with six walks. He made headlines in the series opener by stealing second, third, and home after drawing a walk. The young outfielder has struggled to make contact this season; his 43% K-rate is the fifth-highest in the league. Despite the punchouts, Mears’ offensive production is 29% above league average.
Keep an eye on: LHP Noel Vela. In 2019, Vela spent his third consecutive season in the AZL and he struggled immensely. The southpaw pitched to a 10.45 ERA in just 10.1 innings. This year has been a different story. Vela had the best outing of his career Sunday when he completed five innings for the first time as a professional. He gave up two runs, only one earned, with five strikeouts. In 18.2 innings for the Storm, Vela has a 3.38 ERA while averaging 12 strikeouts per nine innings. The Storm staff has struggled a bit this season but Vela has been the most pleasant surprise during the season’s first month. He was drafted by the Padres in 2017 in the 28th round out of high school in deep Southern Texas, well off the typical scoutting trail.