Chihuahuas 4, Round Rock Express 2
Key Statistics: CF John Andreoli, 2-for-4, R; SS Pedro Florimon, 1-for-3, 2 RBI; C Luis Campusano, 0-for-2, R, 2 BB; LHP Jerry Keel (W, 1-0) 5.2 IP, 4 H, ER, 3 BB, 2 K; RHP Aaron Northcraft, 1.1 IP. 3 K; RHP Sam McWilliams (organizational debut) 0.2 IP. ER, 3 BB; RHP Mason Thompson (S, 5) IP, 2 K.
Prospect Watch: Marcus Pond was in Round Rock covering the game. Read his recap here.
San Antonio Missions Week-in-Review (went 4-2 in Springfield)
Top Prospects: Infielder CJ Abrams had a strong series, hitting .350/.391/.350 in five games. All of Abrams’ seven hits in the series were singles. The 20-year-old Abrams also stole a pair of bases, scored six runs, drove in three, and struck out just three times in 23 plate appearances. Abrams is carrying a 123 wRC+ this season which ranks 23rd out of 72 qualifiers in the Double-A Central League. … After a disastrous start to end May, LHP Osvaldo Hernandez bounced back a bit against Springfield on Saturday night. Hernandez tiptoed around four walks and kept Springfield off the board for 5.2 innings. Hernandez clearly didn’t have his best stuff but it was encouraging to see him pitch well enough to win. The 23-year-old has struggled in his first voyage into Double-A, particularly with preventing the long ball. He’s allowed seven homers in 24.2 innings this year, although five of those came in one start.
The Breakout is in Session: There are few bigger surprises in the system this year than the breakout of outfielder Jack Suwinksi. Suwinski, 22, struggled in High-A Lake Elsinore in 2019, posting a woeful .208/.303/.350 slash-line with a 30% K-rate. Fast forward to 2021 and Suwinski has been the most productive hitter in the system. In the series against Springfield, Suwinksi hit two homers and drove in five runs. Suwinski hasn’t reduced his strikeout rate significantly but his fly balls are leaving the yard at a significantly higher rate than they did in 2019. That could be the result of a swing change or perhaps he added strength since we last saw him with the Storm. There is one thing for certain; he is clearly a different hitter than we saw in 2019. Suwinksi is 4th in the league with a .982 OPS.
Keep an Eye on: Infielder Eguy Rosario. After a dreadful start to the season, the versatile infielder has seemingly found his way. Rosario pounded Cardinals pitching all week, hitting .391/.440/.739 last week with two doubles, two homers to go with nine RBI. On May 22, Rosario went 0-for-3 to drop his batting line to .122/.200/.146; since then, he has a blistering slash-line of .362/.404/.660. When you add it all up, Rosario has pulled his offensive production to league-average. The glaring issue with Rosario continues to be consistent contact. His 35.3% K-rate ranks seventh-highest in the league, even with some recent improvement. If Rosario continues to hit at this pace, he gives the team an interesting depth option – either in a trade or to help out the big league club – in the not-too-distant future.
Fort Wayne TinCaps Week-in-Review (split six-game series against the Cedar Rapids Kernels)
Top Prospects: Outfielder Tirso Ornelas had a quiet series, although he did hit safely in four of the five games he started. Overall, Ornelas went 4-for-16, with a double and a pair of walks. Ornelas is third in the league with ten doubles but he has yet to homer in 2021. Ornelas’ overall slash-line of .239/.316/.382 is below league-average but he is making contact consistently and has still shown a good approach at the plate. … RHP Anderson Espinoza started Wednesday night and had his best outing of the season, working a season-high three innings. Espinoza touched 97 mph with his fastball and retired all nine hitters he faced, with three strikeouts. Espinoza looked free and easy and resembled the guy that was once the number one prospect in the system. Hopefully, Espinoza will be able to build off of the outing and pitch deeper into games as the summer progresses.
The Breakout is in Session: LHP Ethan Elliott had one of his worst outings of the year on Thursday night and it was still pretty darn good. The 6-foot-4 lefty allowed a pair of runs – both on solo home runs – in six innings of work. Elliott, 24, walked just one batter while striking out nine. If there is one concern in Elliott’s excellent campaign, it’s been his propensity for allowing the long ball. Elliott’s 1.73 HR/9 is the third-highest in the league. The six homers he has allowed are tied for the league lead. Other than that, Elliott has dominated the competition. He leads the High-A Central League in K/9 (13.79), K% (42.9%), K-BB% (35.7), opposing batting average (.143), and is second in the league with a 1.76 ERA.
Keep an Eye on: Catcher/infielder Jonny Homza continued to pound the ball last week and has been the most dangerous TinCap at the plate all season. In five games last week, Homza went 8-for-21 with three doubles, a triple and seven RBI. Homza’s .860 OPS is second on the TinCaps behind Agustin Ruiz.
Lake Elsinore Storm Week-in-Review (Split a six-game series in Stockton)
Top Prospects: The Storm lost the first three games of the series in Stockton before coming back to win the next three. … Outfielder Robert Hassell III had an excellent series for the Storm, hitting .333/.357/.593 while playing all six games. Hassell had four doubles and hit his third homer of the year in Stockton. Perhaps most impressively, Hassell struck out just twice in 27 plate appearances. Hassell, 19, has been extremely productive all year for the Storm and his 137 wRC+ ranks seventh in the league. Hassell’s K-rate is also down to a solid 20.1% which is the 11th lowest in the Low-A West League. … Outfielder Joshua Mears had a rough series in Northern California, notching just one hit in 22 plate appearances. Mears has struggled most of the year to make contact and it was perhaps most apparent in this series. The 20-year-old slugger struck out nine times in the five games he played and his K-rate increased to 42.6% which ranks sixth in the league. Mears has tremendous raw power but he will need to make more contact for it to play in games.
The Breakout is in Session: LHP Noel Vela has seemingly come out of nowhere to develop into an interesting prospect. Vela pitched Saturday and worked a career-high six innings, allowing just one run on one hit while punching out 11. Vela, 22, spent three years pitching in the Arizona League before COVID-19 wiped out the 2020 season. In 2021, has a sparkling 2.92 ERA, with his FIP checking in at 2.51 to show Vela isn’t getting lucky. He’s seventh in the league with a K/9 of 13.14. The Padres drafted Vela, one of the youngest players in his class, in the 28th round in 2017. It’s still very early in the minor league season but it appears the patience with Vela is starting to pay off.
Keep an Eye on: RHP Michell Miliano. If you like gaudy strikeout numbers, Miliano is your guy. He has looked dominant at times for the Storm and has struggled with location at others. Among Low-A West pitchers who have thrown at least 10 innings this season, Miliano’s K/9 ranks second in the league at 18.85. He has struck out nearly 45% of the batters he has faced this season. With the dominance, you also get the erratic. Miliano’s BB/9 is the ninth highest of any pitcher in the league (min. 10 innings). Miliano will likely never develop plus command but his ability to leverage his split-finger fastball to post ridiculous strikeout numbers makes him one of the most interesting arms on a very young Storm pitching staff.