Las Vegas Aviators 5, Chihuahuas 2

Key Statistics: 1B Aderlin Rodriguez 2-4, 2B; CF Luis Liberato 1-3, BB; 2B Matthew Batten 2-4; C Brett Sullivan 1-4 HR (1) 2 RBI; LHP Luke Westphal 4 IP, 2 H, BB, 3 K; RHP Tyler Higgins (L, 0-2) 1 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 2 K

Prospect Watch: El Paso got four shutout innings from lefty Luke Westphal, 33, whom they signed from High Point in the Atlantic League last year. In 2021 he threw 49.1 innings for the Chihuahuas with a 5.40 ERA. The Aviators have now won three out of the first five games in Las Vegas. … Matthew Batten’s two hits tonight gives him a slash line of .308/.373/.385, and 13 games into the season, he’s already played four different defensive positions (left field, second and third base, and shortstop). Still, he has yet to pitch, which the 27-year-old did five times last year. … With Luis Campusano not in the lineup, Brett Sullivan, 28, had a nice game behind the plate. The left-handed hitter, who came over in the Victor Caratini trade with Milwaukee, hit his first home run in the Padres’ organization and threw out a runner attempting to steal.

Missions 15, Amarillo Sod Poodles 11

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Key Statistics: DH Esteury Ruiz 3-5, 2B, RBI, BB; CF Robbie Podorsky 3-5, 2B, 3B, RBI; 1B Brandon Dixon 3-5, 4 HR (5) 4 RBI; LF Tirso Ornelas 3-6, 3 RBI; SS Chris Given 2-5, 2B; 2B Korry Howell 2-5 3B HR (2) 2 RBI; 3B Connor Hollis 3-5 RBI; RHP Thomas Eschelman 3.1 IP, 8 H, 8 R (6 ER), 2 K, HR; LHP Tom Cosgrove (W, 1-0) 1.2 IP, 1 BB, 3 K; RHP Angel Felipe (S,1) 1.1 IP, 2 H, BB, K

Prospect Watch: San Antonio stopped their ten-game losing streak with a pinball machine victory at Hodgetown. The clubs have combined for 47 runs in the past two games, so you might say that the park favors offense. So far this season, Esteury Ruiz and Robbie Podorsky have been the stars for the Missions. Saturday, the first two hitters in San Antonio’s order were on base seven times, had three extra-base hits and scored seven runs. … Tirso Ornelas, 22, has only extra-base hit, a homer, in 41 plate appearances, but he is posting a .308/.357/.385 line. … Korry Howell, 23, the other prospect acquired in the trade with Milwaukee, has struggled so far, but he hit his second home run, his first triple for the Missions Saturday. With the Brewers, he was mainly an outfielder. With San Antonio, he’s also played in center and right field at shortstop and second base. Second might be the best position for him defensively.

Robert Hassell III continues to make loud, frequent contact. (Photo: Jeff Nycz).

Game 1: TinCaps 13, Lansing Lugnuts 9 (7 Innings)

Key Statistics: CF Joshua Mears 2-4, 2 HR (7), 4 RBI; SS Jarryd Dale 2-4, 2B, RBI; 1B Olivier Basabe 2-4, HR (1) RBI; LHP Jackson Wolf 4 IP, 7 H, 5 ER, BB, 5 K; RHP Sam Keating 0.2 IP, 2 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, K, HR; RHP Felix Minjarez 2.1 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 2 K, 2 HR

Game 2: TinCaps 6, Lansing Lugnuts 2 (7 Innings)

Key Statistics: LF Corey Rosier 1-4, HR (1) RBI; CF Robert Hassell III 2-3, 2 HR (4), 2 RBI; 3B Justin Lopez 2-3; C Adam Kerner 1-3, 2B; 2B Ripken Reyes 2-3, HR (2), 2 RBI; LHP Noel Vela 3.1 IP, 4 H, 2 R (1 ER) 3 BB, 5 K; Alek Jacob (W, 3-0) 2.2 IP, 1 H, 3 K; LHP Ryan Och 1 IP, BB, K.

Joshua Mears in the opener against Lansing on Wednesday night. (Photo: Natasha Daniels Team Photographer, Lansing Lugnuts).

Prospect Watch: Fort Wayne swept the doubleheader and has now won four out of five on the road in Lansing. They hit total of seven home runs on the night, with Joshua Mears connecting on a pair in Game 1 and Robert Hassell III adding two more by in the nightcap. .. In 59 plate appearances Mears, 21, has struck out 22 times, but that’s all we say to can dampen the hype – other than the ubiquitous small sample size. He has a .275/.373/.784 slash line. He is leading the Midwest League with seven home runs, ranks second with five doubles, and leads the league in slugging percentage. For defensive versatility, he was in center while Hassell was the DH in the first game. Although Mears’s 37.2% strikeout rate raises red flags about his ability to make contact at upper levels, it’s down from last year’s 39.2% at Lake Elsinore, and there is a lot to be excited about. How hot is Mears? In 2017 Fernando Tatis set the franchise record for the TInCaps with 21 home runs in 117 games and 518 plate appearances. If Mears is healthy, he could be there by mid-season. … In Game 2, Hassell showed off his own abilities, hitting his first home run to left, then pulling a shot down the line. Hassell’s .389 batting average is third in the Midwest League, and his 1.063 OPS is good for fifth. He has also added eight stolen bases in as many attempts, good for second on the circuit. … To round out the outfield, Corey Rosier hit his first home run of the year. He’s only hitting .211 but has a .434 on-base percentage, leads the league with 15 walks, and is 5-of-6 in stolen base attempts. Last year in Low-A with Modesto, he hit .390/.461/.585 in 141 plate appearances.

James Wood has smashed three home runs in four games this season. (Photo: Jerry Espinoza).

Storm 8Fresno Grizzlies 6

Key Statistics:  LF James Wood 1-3, HR (3), 4 RBI; SS Jackson Merrill 2-5, HR (1); DH Lucas Dunn 2-3, 2 2B, RBI, 2 BB; 1B Carlos Luiz 2-5 2 2B; RHP Garrett Hawkins (W, 1-0) 5 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 6 K; LHP Ben Miller (S,1) 2 IP, 3 H, K

Lucas Dunn is fourth in the Cal League in OBP. (Photo: Jerry Espinoza).

Prospect Watch: In his second game back after sitting 10 days as a precaution to rest a sore wrist, James Wood, 19, blasted a grand slam to right-center field in the second inning to put the Storm up 5-0. He was followed by his one-time travel ball teammate in Maryland, Jackson Merrill, who hit his first professional home run. The home team came back from an 8-1 deficit in the sixth inning to make it close, but the Storm has taken three of the first four games from the Grizzlies with a doubleheader scheduled for Sunday. In four games and 20 plate appearances this year, Wood has six hits, a double, three home runs and five walks. As Mark Conner noted in our pre-season preview of the Storm, you will see something new every day with him that is impressive. Merrill is now second in the California League in batting average at .389. … Garrett Hawkins, 22, had his third straight quality outing. The 6-foot-5, 230-pounder from the University of British Columbia was a ninth-round pick last year and was our Pitcher of the Year in the ACL with 27 strikeouts in 15.1 innings. This year Hawkins has 19 in 13.1 innings against only one walk and eight his for a 2.03 ERA. … Lucas Dunn had another nice night, reaching base four more times. Last year’s eighth-round pick out of the University of Louisville is fourth in the Cal League with a .473 on-base percentage and tied for second in both doubles (4) and triples (2). He’s split time between first, second and third base but hasn’t yet caught even though the Padres were working with him there during Spring Training.

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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