Last week represented the first full week of action in the minors, as all four full-season squads played six games. There were a ton of standout performances, although they weren’t necessarily from the players you’d expect. Let’s take a look at the best performances of the week.
MadFriars Player of the Week: INF/OF Max Ferguson, Lake Elsinore.
There were a few performances that were worthy of Player of the Week honors, but Max Ferguson stood out while sparking the Storm to a series victory over Visalia. For the week, Ferguson hit .444/.621/.556 with two doubles, 5 RBI, 10 walks, and just two strikeouts in 28 plate appearances. In addition, he ran all over Visalia, stealing nine bases without being caught. The versatile infielder/outfielder can play all over the diamond and played mostly in center field while James Wood has been held out of the lineup with a hand/wrist issue. Through the first two weeks of the season, Ferguson ranks 11th in the Cal League in wRC+ (153), and his 27.5% walk-rate ranks second in the circuit. He has 11 stolen bases to lead the league. For more information on Ferguson, check out our Q&A with the Storm infielder about his first full season as a pro.
MadFriars Pitcher of the Week (week ending April 17): RHP Jesse Scholtens, El Paso.
Scholtens, 28, started Thursday night and pitched five scoreless innings in a game El Paso ultimately won. The former ninth-rounder scattered just three hits while walking one and striking out a season-high six batters. The 6-foot-4 right-hander is in El Paso for a third stint and thus far the results have been sparkling. Scholtens has not allowed a run in his first 12 innings in 2022 while averaging a strikeout per inning. He’s currently not on the 40-man roster but if he continues to perform capability, he could be a candidate to make his big league debut at some point this season.
El Paso Chihuahuas Week in Review (split series against Oklahoma City, 3-3).
Top Performers: Catcher Luis Campusano had a big week, going 9-for-17, with two doubles and a homer in four games played. Campusano struck out just once in those 17 plate appearances. Without a place to play in the big leagues, Campusano continues to prove that there isn’t much more for him to do in the minors. He posted an OPS north of .900 in El Paso last season and that came after a slow start. For now, Campusano just needs to focus on what he can control and continue to pound PCL pitching until his next big league opportunity comes. … Outfielder/designated hitter Brent Rooker had a nice week, hitting .294/.429/.706 with a pair of homers. The slugger was acquired just before opening day in the Chris Paddack/Taylor Rogers swap. The power potential has always been apparent throughout Rooker’s career but he will need to make more consistent contact. He struck out nine times in 21 plate appearances last week – a tally that tied for third-most in the league.
Top Prospects and Others of Note: LHP Ryan Weathers started on Tuesday which means he got the opportunity to start twice during the week. Overall Weathers’s results were mixed. He worked 3.1 innings in both but looked much sharper on Sunday. Overall, Weathers pitched to a 0-1 record, with a 5.40 ERA in two starts. He allowed nine hits and five walks over 6.2 innings. … LHP Aaron Leasher had a strong start, working five innings Wednesday to earn his first victory of the season. Leasher allowed five hits and a walk while striking out three batters. He made a cameo in El Paso last year and struggled a bit before missing the last month of the season with an arm injury. Leasher doesn’t possess big-time stuff but he’s been a capable starter in the system since being drafted in 2017. … Eguy Rosario had a rough week for the Chihuahuas, hitting just .208/.231/.375 with a homer in six games played. Through his first two weeks playing at the Triple-A level, Rosario’s 36% K-rate is the sixth-highest in the circuit. The 22-year-old has routinely been able to make adjustments as the season wears on so look for him to bounce back in future updates.
MadFriars El Paso Player of the Week: Catcher Luis Campusano.
MadFriars El Paso Pitcher of the Week: RHP Jesse Scholtens.
San Antonio Missions Week in Review (swept by the Frisco RoughRiders, 0-6).
Top Performers: The week was not kind to the Missions; they were swept at home by the Frisco RoughRiders. … Outfielder Robbie Podorsky played in four games and continued to do what he always does; hit and get on base. The fleet-footed outfielder hit .455/.500/.636 with a pair of doubles in the series. The former 25th-round pick has a .324 batting average in 194 career games. He doesn’t possess much power but he has been a very steady player when he has been able to avoid injuries. … Esteury Ruiz did his part offensively, but the hitters behind him were silent for much of last week. Ruiz walked nine times in 25 plate appearances and stole seven bases on his way to a fantastic .313/.593/.438 slash-line. In addition to the spark at the top of the lineup, Ruiz struck out just three times in 25 plate appearances. Through the first two weeks of the season, Ruiz is third in the league with a wRC+ of 218. His ten walks are tied for the league lead and he is atop the Texas League leaderboard in stolen bases with seven. If the changes in plate discipline are real, Ruiz could regain his status as a prized prospect. He is still just 22 and he has enough raw power to play in a big-league outfield.
Top Prospects and Others of Note: RHP Thomas Eshelman pitched a seven-inning complete game but it wasn’t exactly a dominant performance. The 27-year-old veteran allowed four runs on 12 hits in his seven innings of work. Eshelman struck out just two during the performance but he only threw 87 pitches and helped preserve the pitching staff in the second game of a scheduled doubleheader. The former Oriole was born in Carlsbad and went to college at Cal State Fullerton. … RHP Kevin Kopps got into a pair of games and threw two scoreless innings, striking out a pair. The 25-year-old didn’t get a chance to pitch with a lead but he shut down the opposition when given the chance. He has not allowed a run in three innings this season. … LHP Gabe Morales pitched Wednesday night and shut down Frisco’s offense. The 23-year-old southpaw fired 3.1 innings allowing a hit and a walk while striking out a pair. Morales has worked as a starter in the past but he seems to have found his niche as a multi-inning reliever capable of shutting down the opposition through one turn in the lineup. In 5.1 innings this year, opponents are hitting just .059 against the lefty.
MadFriars San Antonio Player of the Week: OF Esteury Ruiz.
MadFriars San Antonio Pitcher of the Week: LHP Gabe Morales.
Fort Wayne TinCaps Week in Review (won series against the South Bend Cubs, 4-2).
Top Performers: The TinCaps used an eighth-inning grand slam from Justin Lopez to win the series against their rivals from South Bend. … The grand slam put the exclamation on a nice week for the 21-year-old Lopez. The switch-hitting infielder hit .357/.438/.786 with a double, triple, to go with his homer. Lopez started the season on the San Antonio roster but was moved back to Fort Wayne after Euribiel Angeles was traded to the A’s in the Sean Manaea deal. Lopez has some power and is good defensively but he has generally struggled to get on base throughout his time in the system. If Lopez can refine his approach, he is an interesting guy to watch. … Outfielder Robert Hassell III had a big week, hitting .375/.400/.500 with a homer and five stolen bases. The top prospect has been aggressive at the plate and has shown some power despite playing in the cold that the Midwest League has offered through the first two weeks of the season. Through the first nine games of the season, Hassell is hitting .400/.447.571 with two homers. … Outfielder Corey Rosier was an on-base machine out of the leadoff spot for the TinCaps last week. Rosier hit .263/.462/.421 with a double, triple, and seven walks. Through the first two weeks of the season, the speedy outfielder is second in the league with a 28.2% walk-rate (TinCaps catcher Brandon Valenzuela leads the circuit with a 31% walk-rate). In the early stage of the season, Rosier’s K-rate has risen significantly (from 14% last year to 23% this season) but that number should go down as the 22-year-old gets more at-bats in the Midwest League.
Top Prospects and Others of Note: LHP Noel Vela started on Sunday and threw 3.2 innings without allowing a run. Vela allowed two hits, walked three batters, and struck out five. The southpaw has dramatically improved over the last two seasons and has established himself as a legitimate pitching prospect. He runs his fastball up in the mid-90s and has a good change and curve. He will need to improve his command to work deeper into games but the stuff is there. … RHP Alek Jacob came into yesterday’s game and earned the win by gobbling up innings late in the game. The side-winding righty from Gonzaga pitched 2.1 innings yesterday and allowed just two hits while striking out five. The right-hander also pitched last Thursday and struck out the side in his only inning of work. Jacob doesn’t throw hard but he has confounded hitters since joining the organization last year. In 6.1 innings this season, Jakob has allowed just three hits while striking out 13 batters without walking anyone.
MadFriars Fort Wayne Player of the Week: INF Justin Lopez.
MadFriars Fort Wayne Pitcher of the Week: RHP Alek Jacob.
Lake Elsinore Storm Week in Review (won series against the Visalia Rawhide, 4-2).
Top Performers: Perhaps the biggest beneficiary of Max Ferguson’s base running exploits was Lucas Dunn, who hit .364/.481/.636 with two doubles, two triples, and a staggering 12 RBI in six games. Dunn’s bat was a big reason the Storm averaged over seven runs per game through the week. The former Louisville star is tied for the league lead with 12 RBI. Through the season’s first two weeks, Dunn is hitting .276/.432/.483 out of the gate for the Storm. … Infielder Marcos Castanon had three extra-base hits, including a booming home run to left-center last week for Lake Elsinore. The Inland Empire native went to high school in Rialto and attended UC Santa Barbara. In four games last week, the versatile infielder hit .357/.500/.714.
Top Prospects and Others of Note: 2021 first-round pick Jackson Merrill had a solid week but got lost in the shuffle a bit with Ferguson and Dunn stealing the headlines. Merrill, 18, hit .348/.423/.348 with a pair of steals and two RBI. Merrill did not have an extra-base hit in the series against Visalia but he made consistent contact all week. His 12.2% K-rate is the third-lowest in the Cal League through the season’s first two weeks. … RHP Jairo Iriarte made a relief outing on Thursday night against Visalia and blew away the Rawhide with ease. The 20-year-old righty from Venezuela pitched four innings of hitless baseball, walking one and striking out seven. Iriarte made a brief cameo in the Cal League last summer and allowed 27 earned runs in nine innings pitched. The young righty throws in the mid-90s and has looked like a different pitcher in the early portion of the season. … LHP Ben Miller pitched twice last week and allowed an unearned run in four innings of work. He was especially effective Sunday, working two hitless innings while walking a pair. Miller, 22, is from Stockton, California. He signed with the Padres last year as an undrafted free agent out of San Joaquin Delta Junior College.
MadFriars Lake Elsinore Player of the Week: INF/OF Max Ferguson.
MadFriars Lake Elsinore Pitcher of the Week: RHP Jairo Iriarte.