Las Vegas Aviators 7, Chihuahuas 4
Key Statistics: C Austin Nola, 1-for-1, HR (1), 2 RBI, 2 BB; CF Robbie Podorsky, 1-for-3, R, 2B; DH Luis Campusano, 1-for-4, R; LHP Aaron Leasher (L, 0-1) 1.2 IP, 5 H, 6 ER, 3 BB; RHP Parker Markel, 3.1 IP, 2 H, ER, BB, 4 K; RHP Jordan Guerrero, 3 IP, 2 H, 3 K.
Prospect Watch: The Chihuahuas fell behind early and couldn’t come back in the heat of the Vegas desert. … Austin Nola started behind the plate and homered and walked twice before being pulled late. Nola has played in 10 games with El Paso, seeing time at first and designated hitter in addition to his work behind the plate. Nola should be close to returning to big league action in the coming days. For what it is worth, Nola is hitting .286/.412/.393 with El Paso. … Lefty Aaron Leasher made his Triple-A debut a few days after being promoted and suffice to say it didn’t go well. Leasher ran into trouble in the first and gave up a grand slam. He recorded just five outs before being pulled. He allowed six runs, five hits, and three walks in his 1.2 innings of work. The 25-year-old left-hander pitched well in San Antonio, earning the promotion after pitching to a 2.39 ERA in six June starts. … The bullpen did an excellent job after Leasher left as Parker Markel and Jordan Guerrero allowed just one run in 6.1 innings of work. Markel threw 3.1 innings and allowed a solo homer and two hits. The 30-year-old has 20 games of big-league experience with the Pirates and the Mariners. Command has been a big issue for him (BB/9 of 7.98) but he is averaging 15 strikeouts per nine innings. … Guerrero tossed three shutout innings to keep El Paso in the game. The 24-year-old pitched well in May but he allowed 12 earned runs in 10 June innings. So far in July, he’s been excellent, posting a 2.89 ERA with 11 strikeouts in 9.1 frames.
If you missed it earlier this week, we had an interview with Leasher in which he talked about what he needs to do to be effective.
ACL Brewers Gold 13, ACL Padres 1
Key Stats: RHP Brett Kennedy (L, 0-1), 2.2 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 5 K; RHP Luarbert Arias, 1.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K; SS Charlis Aquino, 2-for-5, R; CF Pierce Jones, 1-for-4, RBI; C Matias Polanco, 1-for-4; LF Cristian Heredia, 0-for-3, BB;
Prospect Watch: The start went to Brett Kennedy, who is on a rehab assignment from El Paso. Kennedy, a 26-year-old righty who made six starts for the Padres in 2018, showed mostly 88-92 mph but reached 93 mph multiple times in the third inning. The command, however, was inconsistent, leading to a pair of walks and some solidly-barreled hits by the Brewers. … Kennedy was replaced by Luarbert Arias, who worked out of a jam in the third and pitched a scoreless fourth. Arias, part of the 2017 signing class, threw a consistent 90-92 mph and hit his spots in his second straight scoreless outing for the ACL team. … The blazing speed of Charlis Aquino was on display again as he beat out an infield single, and later scored the team’s only run. It was a multi-faceted night for Matias Polanco, who notched a base hit and also picked off a runner at first from behind the plate. … The first two plate appearances for Cristian Heredia brought solid contact, only to fall into the glove of a Brewers defender making a play. In the third, however, Heredia turned the tables, making a spectacular leaping grab for the third out, scuttling a Brewers rally and stranding the runners Arias inherited. Heredia, a player with the unique distinction of being from Madrid, Spain, is appropriately enough nicknamed “España” by teammates.
The Padres and first-round pick Jackson Merrill officially agreed to a deal, with Merrill taking a $1.8 million signing bonus that came in about $780,000 below slot value. That money and other savings in the first 10 rounds will be needed to sign second-rounder James Wood. We talked to Merrill before he signed his contract. He’ll be working at the complex in Peoria and should be active on the roster in the coming days.
San Antonio Missions Week in Review (went 2-4 last week against Corpus Christi).
Top Prospects: It was a quiet week for the top prospects for the Missions and the team lost four of six games as a result. Eguy Rosario hit .217/.321/.478 in the six-game set but went hitless in three contests. Overall, Rosario has been excellent for San Antonio this season, especially when you consider his poor start. The 21-year-old is hitting .269/.363/.454 with eight homers, one off of his career-high. Rosario has made tremendous strides with his approach at the plate and his increased power makes him a very interesting guy to watch as the trade deadline approaches. … Outfielder Jack Suwinski recovered a bit this week after a very slow start to the month. The 22-year-old went 5-for-27 with eight walks and a homer that was his first extra-base hit in July. Despite the hiccup in the power department, Suwinski has a .397 on-base percentage this month, thanks to a robust 20.7% walk rate.
Others of Note: While the dearth of starting pitching in the upper minors is a concern, righty Adrian Martinez continues to make himself an option for the big league club. Martinez started Saturday and earned the victory, tossing five shutout innings in the win. Martinez, 24, has arguably been the best pitcher in the system in July, posting a 3-0 record with a 0.53 in 17 innings. He started the season as a swingman for the Missions but with Leasher’s promotion, he is the best starter San Antonio has at their disposal. … Outfielder Jose Azocar might not be a prospect in a traditional sense but he’s still a name to watch. As we have mentioned, Azocar signed in the off-season after spending his first seven professional seasons with the Tigers. In the six-game set against Corpus Christi, Azocar hit .375/.444/.625. Azocar has made strides with his plate discipline and he’s capable of handling center field.
Fort Wayne TinCaps Week in Review (Split six-game series with West Michigan)
Top Prospects: After hitting safely in the first two games of the series, Tirso Ornelas went 0-for-14 in the final four. If there is a silver lining, Ornelas struck out just twice during the hitless stretch. Ornelas hasn’t had a big offensive year but he still leads the High-A Central League with 21 doubles. On the flip side, Ornelas’s overall production is 13 percent below league average and he has hit just one homer. His plate discipline has been solid, but he will need to tap into his power more to be productive. … Outfielder Agustin Ruiz had a quiet series, hitting .217/.250/.217 with a strikeout rate hovering close to 30%. Ruiz produced in the season’s first two months but he has struggled to a .217/.273/.250 line with no homers in 65 plate appearances this month. His 10 homers rank ninth in the circuit and lead the TinCaps.
Others of Note: Anderson Espinoza returned from his 10-game suspension and pitched well Saturday night. Espinoza tied a season-high with three innings and fired his fifth scoreless appearance of the year. The 23-year-old did not allow a hit and walked just one, striking out a pair. Espinoza’s overall numbers aren’t pretty (5.89 ERA, 4.30 BB/9) but he has remained healthy which is the number one priority for a talented pitcher coming off of his second Tommy John surgery. … Espinoza’s suspension allowed LHP Erik Sabrowski to enter the rotation and thus far he has taken advantage. Sabrowski, 23, got the win on Sunday, pitching five innings of two-run ball. The left-hander has struck out nearly 14 batters per nine innings to go with a sparkling 1.88 ERA in 24 innings. He has a fastball that tops out at 93mph and an excellent curve.
Lake Elsinore Storm Week in Review (went 4-2 against Visalia).
Top Prospects: The Storm were able to win four games against Visalia last week which almost feels like a disappointment, considering Visalia has a winning percentage of .242 this season. … Outfielder Joshua Mears had a monster series for the Storm, hitting .480/.567/.920 with two doubles and three homers. The 20-year-old outfielder has been an absolute monster for the Storm in July, hitting .408/.482/.878 while reducing his strikeout rate to 26.7%. The strikeouts have been an issue at times for the toolsy outfielder but his power has been on full display this month. Assuming the trend continues, Mears’ raw power might be the loudest tool in the Padres’ entire farm system. Joshua Mears with a manageable K-rate is a development to dream on. … Robert Hassell III had another excellent series, hitting .500/.613/.625 with three doubles and nine runs scored. Hassell only struck out four times in 31 plate appearances against the Rawhide. Like Mears, Hassell is amid a breakout in July. In 76 plate appearances this month, the former first-rounder is hitting .400/.487/.523 with a robust 14.5% walk rate and a paltry 15.8% strikeout rate.
Others of note: Infielder Euribiel Angeles had his 21-game hitting streak snapped during the series but he bounced back with a hit in Sunday’s game. Despite his impressive streak ending, Angeles hit .300/.500/.600 with a pair of doubles. Angeles has drastically improved his walk rate this month and his production has hit another level. Angeles is hitting .407/.507/.627 in July – good for a 197wRC+. While the 19-year-old hasn’t shown a ton of power, his contact skills have been impressive and his production is perhaps the biggest surprise of the system.