Jose Azocar has been on fire in Triple-A. (Photo: Jorge Salgado)

EL PASO — The Chihuahuas were up 8-3 after five innings. The Reno Aces returned fire with eight runs in the seventh, before El Paso put four runs on the board to take back the lead 12-11.

Welcome to the Pacific Coast Lea … excuse me, Triple-A West.

After the big seventh inning, Parker Markel came in and shut the door for the Chihuahuas getting the save with the final six outs of the game, with a big assist from his catcher Luis Campusano who threw out a would-be base-stealer for the second out in the ninth inning.

While it may not have been a great game for pitchers, the sheer offensive output was impressive, especially from El Paso. The Chihuahuas rapped out 14 hits and drew nine walks, but the big story for Padres fans was Campusano, who hit his 12th homer of the year and made hard contact most of the night.  

Campusano came into the game with a slash line of .309/.380/.576 10 home runs and 31 RBI since June 1. Defensively he can be very good, as he showed in the ninth inning, but still needs to be more consistent. The bat, however, is there right now. 

Luis Campusano has been making loud contact this season. (Photo: Jorge Salgado).

In the first inning, he hit a home run to dead center and just missed another one to right field in his next at-bat.  In his third plate appearance, he hit a rocket to the left fielder for a single and finished off the day 2-5.  Even a ground out to the third baseman seemed to explode off of his bat.

“What he’s doing right now, he’s major league ready,” said El Paso manager Edwin Rodriguez before the game.  “The scary part is he is just going to continue to get better.  We are talking about a catcher with plus defensive ability and plus power.  

“That’s really scary.”

By the end of the year, one of the bright spots for the organization might be the signing of minor league free agent Jose Azocar, from the Detroit Tigers organization.  He hit .276/.360/.432 in a pitcher-friendly park in San Antonio and has been on fire in Triple-A since his promotion hitting .389/.450/.778 coming into the game with seven extra-base hits in his first seven games.

“What I’ve seen so far I like,” said a smiling Rodriguez.  ‘He is a major league center fielder with a very good arm, good speed and seems like he handles pitches very well. He uses the whole field and can hit velocity and breaking pitches.

“Someone is going to give him a chance because he will play in the big leagues for a long time.”

El Paso Notes:  Adrian Martinez makes his Triple-A debut Tuesday after a strong season with Double-A San Antonio with a 7-3 record and a 2.34 ERA in 13 starts and 80.2 innings. The Mexicali native features a four-seam fastball that sits 91-94 and has touched 97, a hard sinker to go along with a slider and a changeup. It’s difficult not to see Martinez as the organization’s best near-term internal starting option below the major league level.

Posted by John Conniff

John grew up in Poway and has written for MadFriars since 2004. He has written articles for Baseball America, FoxSports San Diego, the El Paso Times, San Antonio Express-News, Amarillo Globe-News, Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette and Pacific Daily News in addition to appearing on numerous radio programs and podcasts. He can also break down the best places to eat for all five of the affiliates. There is no best place to eat in Peoria, Arizona.

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