The Missions are playing good baseball, capped by the club’s no-hitter on Sunday and El Paso has added plenty of interesting names to follow. Meanwhile, the Single-A affiliates are struggling through a rough stretch.
MadFriars Player of the Week: Matt Batten
Batten, 26, had the week of his life at the plate in the series against the Sacramento River Cats. The versatile infielder hit three homers in the series and produced a slash-line of .400/.556/.900. Batten drew seven walks and struck out just three times in 27 plate appearances. The former 32nd-round pick has never flashed much power at the plate but he has been a valuable contributor for El Paso over the last two years. Batten’s .909 OPS this season is about 150 points higher than his career average.
MadFriars Pitcher of the Week: Matt Waldron
While his rotation-mates teamed up for the best overall performance of the week, Waldron turned in the best individual outing in the system. The 25-year-old really had the knuckle ball dancing as he worked six shutout innings on Thursday night, though it wasn’t good enough to earn a win. The former Nebraska Cornhusker allowed just two hits and walked one, striking out six. Waldron has been hit hard at times this year but he seems to have figured things out over the last few starts. Over his last three starts, Waldron has allowed just three runs in 15.2 innings, with five walks and 20 strikeouts.
El Paso Chihuahuas Week in Review (Split series against Sacramento)
Top Performers: The Chihuahuas split their home series, despite a few great offensive performances. Shortstop CJ Abrams made his presence felt in Triple-A, blasting three home runs in his first 11 innings. He fell back down to earth a bit, and finished his first week in Triple-A hitting .217/.308/.609 with three home runs and three stolen bases. … Not to be outdone, fellow top 100 prospect Luis Campusano had a multi-hit game in each of his four starts. He finished the week 8-for-18, three doubles, his first triple of the year and a homer. With four walks, he finished with a .444/.545/.888 line. … CF Shogo Akiyama had seven hits in his first four games with El Paso, including hitting his first stateside home run. The 34 year-old hit .245/.357/.297 in two years with the Reds before the club released him during spring training. Infielder Eguy Rosario also collected seven hits and walked four times on the week. After a slow start, he has reached base in all but one game this month. With Abrams and Campy hitting behind him, he should continue to see a lot of fastballs to hit.
Top Prospects and Others of Note: OF/DH Brent Rooker returned from the IL after a shoulder injury kept him sidelined for nearly a month. He ended up hitting .240/.240/.520, but the club had no bigger hit than his walk off three-run home run on Saturday night. … It was a tough week for pitchers. As a team the Chihuahuas allowed 57 runs in the six game series (9.5 runs per game). LHP Ryan Weathers surrendered seven runs in five innings, while RHP Reiss Knehr gave up five runs with five walks in just 4.1 innings. The only good start of the week came from rehabbing LHP Blake Snell who struck out seven while allowing one run over five innings. … RHP Jesse Scholtens had his worst game of the year, allowing four runs in five innings. The minor league veteran still leads the team with a stellar 2.65 ERA, and is second on the team to Knehr in strikeouts. …C Brett Sullivan continues to make the most out of having to split playing time behind the plate. Sullivan had five hits in 13 at-bats, including a great 3-for-4 game on Friday with a double, triple, and five RBI. (Ben Davey)
San Antonio Missions Week in Review (Won series against Arkansas 4-2)
Top Performers: The Missions claimed another series win and have been playing arguably their best ball in May, going 8-5 for the month. The highlight, of course, was Sunday’s 4-0 win, which began as Lake Bachar‘s first game since August 28, 2019, and ended as the 15th nine-inning no-hitter in Missions history. Moises Lugo earned the win with three perfect innings of relief, and Carlos Belen and Kevin Kopps finished the combined no-no for San Antonio. It was Lugo’s second appearance of the series after he allowed one run in 2.2 innings on Monday. Belen had allowed three earned runs in a pair of innings on Tuesday, and Kopps added 1.1 innings of scoreless work on Tuesday. In a week the Missions won a series without hitting a home run, the clear offensive standout was Esteury Ruiz. Ruiz, who has shined all season long, slashed .440/.464/.520 in 25 at-bats. Catcher Juan Fernandez went 8-for-12 in four games played with six RBI. The 23-year-old is now batting .390 in 41 at-bats for the season. Outside of the no-hitter, Matt Waldron was among the shining stars of the series, tossing six scoreless innings, and Osvaldo Hernandez threw 3.1 innings in two appearances without a run.
Top Prospects And Others of Note: Four innings of one-run ball from Reggie Lawson was a great sight, as the righty had struggled in through his first four starts in his return from injury. 2021 draftee Alek Jacob toss two scoreless innings, lowering his ERA across two levels to 2.20. Tirso Ornelas had a rough one, going 2-for-19 with a double and an RBI for the series, now slashing .240/.274/.330 for the season. (Mark Wilkens)
Fort Wayne TinCaps Week in Review (Lost series at South Bend 1-5)
Top Performers: At the start of the year we thought the TinCaps might be the most talented team in the system, but they are scufffling with three wins against 15 losses in their last three series. … Offensively, there is huge dropoff after Robert Hassell III, mainly on just putting balls in play. After Hassell’s .346 batting average, the next highest among qualified hitters is Ripken Reyes at .231. The team is at least drawing some walks to push their on-base percentage up to eighth in the Midwest League. For the week, Corey Rosier drew five walks and connected on a triple and homer, yielding a .741 OPS despite a .227 average … The highlight of the week, by far, for Fort Wayne was the performance of lefty Noel Vela, 23, who gave the TinCaps their sole win. Vela threw six shutout innings on Thursday with eight punchouts and now leads the Midwest League in ERA at 0.34. The South Texan has dramatically improved his command and control and has now issued only one walk in his last two starts after allowing 13 in his first four. … Aussie Jarryd Dale has hit well in his last ten games, .268/.333/.317 after a very rough April and has shown tremendous range defensively at shortstop.
Top Prospects And Others of Note: Joshua Mears is still struggling to make consistent contact and struck out in nearly half of his plate appearances against South Bend. Right now the problem appears to be more pitch recognition than anything mechanical. … The three college pitchers taken in last year’s draft – Robert Gasser, Jackson Wolf and Ryan Bergert – have had varrying degrees of success. We interviewed both Wolf and Bergert this week and will have an interview with Gasser later this week. (John Conniff)
Lake Elsinore Storm Week in Review (Lost series at San Jose 1-5)
Top Perfomers: The Storm won the opener of their six-game tilt in San Jose, then proceeded to lose the next five to the Giants. Storm pitching allowed 45 runs in those final five games. … While the pitching struggled, the Storm offense hasn’t been the same without James Wood and Jackson Merrill. The Storm mustered just 21 runs in the series. The Storm did receive excellent production once again from infielder Lucas Dunn, who posted an .856 OPS and connected on a pair of doubles and drove in a pair. Dunn, 23, leads the Storm with a 144 wRC+, a mark that ranks ninth in the circuit. … First baseman Carlos Luis paced the Storm offensive attack with a .993 OPS. The left-handed hitting corner infielder went 6-for-15 with a double and a pair of walks. The 22-year-old has been in the Padres organization since 2017 but this is the first time he has been able to tap into the potential he has at the plate. Luis is hitting .284/.348/.457 with a career-high two home runs. Luis has demolished balls in batting practice so the power is there, he will just need to continue to find a way to let it fly in games.
Top Prospects and Others of Note: There is an old baseball cliché that states that you can’t steal first base. Max Ferguson learned that lesson in San Jose. We’ve written extensively about the infielder/outfielder’s prowess on the basepaths this year but Ferguson suffered through a brutal series against the Giants. Ferguson went 0-for-16, with a walk and zero stolen bases, a far cry from what he’s done to every other team in the Cal League. Ferguson leads the league with 26 steals – nine more than the next player but he is just 3-for-33 at the plate in May. Ferguson’s overall slash-line is buoyed by a walk-rate north of 20% but he will need to start hitting more to be a factor. … LHP Adrian Morejon made a pair of starts up north in his return from Tommy John surgery. Morejon looked good on Tuesday but struggled a bit on Sunday, recording just one out before being pulled. Obviously, results aren’t important with rehab outings but surely the Padres would have liked to see Morejon work a bit deeper into the game. He threw 33 pitches before being pulled with one out in the first inning. … RHP Jairo Iriarte, 20, started for the Storm on Thursday and turned in the best outing of the week. Iriarte threw a career-high 5.2 innings and allowed just one run on two hits, walking two and striking out five. The righty struggled mightily last season in a brief cameo in the Cal League but this season it has been a different story. Opposing batters are hitting just .165 against him after hitting nearly .500 in limited exposure last year. (Kevin Charity)