There were some positive developments across the organization as Michel Baez and Adrian Morejon appeared in games in Peoria while Reggie Lawson made his first start on a mound in nearly a year in San Antonio. In the Midwest League, Joshua Mears hit two balls nearly 1000 feet, as the TinCaps get a nice win on the road.
Las Vegas Aviators 12, Chihuahuas 5
Key Statistics: RHP Reiss Knehr 5.2 IP,7 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 7 K; RHP Wen-Hua Sung 1.2 IP, 2 H, 2 BB, 2 K; SS Matthew Batten 2-for-5, 3B, 2 RS; 2B Eguy Rosario 1-for-3, HR (2), 2 RBI, BB; C Luis Campusano 2-for-5, RBICF Luis Liberato 2-for-4, HR (2), 2 RBI
Prospect Watch: Reiss Knehr hasn’t had the white-hot start he had last year. Through three starts he has pitched to a 6.14 ERA and sports a 1.36 WHIP. However, he has improved in every start. He pitched into the sixth inning Wednesday night, as his slider was an especially effective weapon. His seven strikeouts also tied his career-high, a number last reached last July. Last season Knehr showed he could be an MLB caliber pitcher but is currently so far down the depth chart that you probably forgot he was still in El Paso. … Second baseman Eguy Rosario broke an 0-for-14 streak by reaching base safely three times Wednesday and hit his second home run of the season. Eguy has always been a contact-first hitter (23% K-rate last year),but the added pressure of being in contention for a big-league roster spot might have caused him to press a bit. After four hits in his first game, Rosario struck out 11 times in the next four games. Small sample sizes always throw off the numbers but it was encouraging to see Rosario not chase and take two important walks. … The top prospect on the team, Luis Campusano had another multi-hit game. In the young season (eight games) he is hitting .400/.417/.543. He also threw out a runner trying to steal second.
Amarillo Sod Poodles 7, Missions 4
Key Statistics: RHP Reggie Lawson 2.2 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 3 BB; RHP Kevin Kopps IP, 1 K; CF Esteury Ruiz 2-for-3 RBI, BB, SB (8); LF Tirso Ornelas 1-for-3, 2 RS, BB; 2B Korry Howell 1-for-3, 2B, RS, RBI, BB
Prospect Watch: After winning their opening series against Corpus Christi, the Missions have dropped eight straight. … While Reggie Lawson’s line was far from impressive, the more impressive feat was just making it back on the mound at all. Lawson has had to endure several injuries that have steadily derailed the former 71st overall pick from the 2016 draft. He appeared in just four games last season with San Antonio. On Wednesday night, Lawson escaped the first two innings without damage before being roughed up in the third. He finished with 56 pitches and 29 strikes. Assuming the High Desert native stays healthy, he should make his next appearance next Tuesday. … After another two-hit game, Esteury Ruiz has reached base safely in all 11 games he has played this season. Ruiz now has 15 hits and 11 walks and boasts a remarkable .405/.560/.730 line with eight stolen bases. He was caught on the basepaths for just the first time Wednesday. … Kevin Kopps tossed another perfect inning. In four innings thus far, Kopps has only allowed two baserunners while striking out four.
TinCaps 9, Lansing Lugnuts 7
Prospect Watch: Joshua Mears showed Wednesday exactly why the Padres are so high on him. He doesn’t just hit home runs, he hits LONG home runs. When he connects, he destroys the ball. Of his 12 hits this year, 10 have been for extra bases. What will determine his success at the upper levels and majors is not his power, but rather his baility to identify and make contact with pitches. In A-Ball, even for a power hitter, K-rates above 30% is worrying. Last year, Mears’ struck out 39% of the time. He then started this year striking out 12 times in his first 21 plate appearances. While he has improved over the last week, it’s brought his K% down to 35.4%. … Speaking of rising up the prospect boards, Robert Gasser has an outside chance to be the top pitching prospect in the organization when MacKenzie Gore graduates. Gasser, who like Lawson, was drafted with the 71st overall pick, had his second consecutive good outing, after a horrific opening day. While his 3.97 ERA is still inflated because of the opening start, he is averaging 13.5 K/9 innings which would be top-five in the Midwest League among starters. Gasser has seen his fastball play up thanks to above-average movement. He topped out at 95 mph, but his movement makes it a nightmare for hitters. His slider has also shown signs of being a devastating pitch, but High-A it is about learning control and being able to throw everything for a strike. … Not that he is an afterthought but former first-round pick Robert Hassell III had two more hits and is now hitting .409/.438/.568 this season. In contrast to Mears, Hassell has only struck out in 14.6% of plate appearances this season.
Storm 8, Fresno Grizzlies 6
Prospect Watch: With James Wood still out, most of the prospect pressure in Elsinore has fallen on Jackson Merrill, and the 19-year-old certainly hasn’t wilted. In 10 starts, he has five multi-hit games and his .440 OBP has him reaching base multiple times a game. … Pierce Jones, who was selected as perhaps the Padres’ last-ever 26th-round pick had a grand night. Jones hit his first home run of the season — a grand slam — to give the Storm an early 4-0 lead. While it is relevant that Jones is only playing as much as he is because of the injury to Wood, he is making the most out of his playing time. Jones is hitting .242/.359/.455 on the young season. Look for him to make a push even when Wood is back. … Arguably the top player on the team not named Merrill or Wood is Max Ferguson. Ferguson was a 2021 pre-season All-American in college, but struggled a bit and fell to the Padres in the fifth round. Thus far this season, he has done exactly what he was known for. After one hit Wednesday to extend his season-long on-base streak, he’s hitting .306, with 12 walks in 10 games for a .469 OBP. He also leads the league with 10 stolen bases. He’s done this while bouncing between 2B (his position at Tennessee) and outfield (his position in high school). Similar to Ruiz and Rosario, the Padres seem intent on getting these types of players comfortable playing in the infield or outfield.