Chihuahuas 6, Salt Lake Bees 3
Key Statistics: SS CJ Abrams, 2-for-4, R, BB; CF Luis Liberato, 1-for-4, HR (6), R, 4 RBI; RHP Reiss Knehr, 3 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, BB, 2 K; LHP Ray Kerr, IP, H, 2 BB, 2 K; RHP Kyle Tyler, 2 IP, BB, 2 K; RHP Tayler Scott (S, 3) 1.1 IP, K
Prospect Watch: The Chihuahuas and the Salt Lake Bees were one of five games on the Triple-A docket for Memorial Day. In their first match-up since 2019, El Paso used a grand slam to get past the Angels’ top farm club. … That grand slam came off of the bat of outfielder Luis Liberato – one of just four hits El Paso had Monday night. Liberato, 26, has struggled for most of his first season in the organization. He has six homers this year, but his .256 on-base percentage is tied for the lowest among qualified hitters. … C.J. Abrams extended his hitting streak to six games with a multi-hit effort. He was back at his familiar shortstop position after starting in center field on Sunday. Abrams’ hitting streak has raised his average from .173 to .269. … RHP Reiss Knehr started and labored through three innings. Knehr threw 66 pitches – 39 for strikes – and allowed three earned runs. The 25-year-old has struggled in to two glaring ways this season. Knehr’s 29.3% homer to fly ball ratio is the highest in the PCL. He’s allowed 13 homers – the second-most in the Pacific Coast League. Knehr has also struggled with his command, walking 5.6 batters per nine innings pitched – the fourth-highest total in the PCL. While opposing hitters are only batting .251, a respectable total in the hitter-friendly environments in Pacific Coast League, that many walks and fly balls aren’t a recipe for success. … RHP Kyle Tyler pitched two shutout innings to earn his first victory as a Padre farmhand at the expense of his former organization, who designated him twice this spring. Tyler, 25, has given up just four hits in 13.1 innings of work, but has walked a batter per inning. He will need to rectify that in order to have a chance to get back to the big leagues.
Roster Move: There was one move in the Padres’ system that impacted El Paso. The Chihuahuas received INF/OF Reinaldo Ilarraza from the TinCaps and sent INF Kelvin Melean to Fort Wayne. With Taylor Kohlwey and Matthew Batten sidelined on the COVID list, Ilarraza should give them a little versatility. At the plate, Ilarraza has had a miserable season, hitting just .028/.205/.028 with the TinCaps. In case you were wondering about the math, Ilarraza was 1-for-36 in Fort Wayne.
Melean started the year in extended spring training before being promoted to El Paso. In 16 games with the Chihuahuas, he was hitting .255/.321/.319.
MadFriars Player of the Week: OF Nomar Mazara, El Paso
Mazara, 27, had a monster week for the Chihuahuas. He hit .500/.522/.955 with four doubles, two homers, and seven RBI to lead the Chihuahuas’ attack. The former big-leaguer has been the best hitter in the PCL this season. He leads the league with a 1.095 OPS and a .454 on-base percentage. If the former Ranger, Tiger, and White Sox can continue to produce, he could become a viable option for the big league outfield.
MadFriars Pitcher of the Week: LHP Jackson Wolf, Fort Wayne
Jackson Wolf made two starts last week, with his last being especially dominant. Wolf started on Tuesday and allowed three runs in 5.2 innings, racking up eight strikeouts – a career-high up to that point. On Sunday, Wolf struck out 11 to shatter his personal best strikeout record. Wolf pitched into the seventh inning and allowed just one run on two hits. In 12.2 innings last week, Wolf produced a 2.92 ERA with four walks and 19 strikeouts.
El Paso Chihuahuas Week In Review: (Won series over Sugar Land 4-2)
Top Performers: As is often the case in Triple-A, the top performers were on offense. The Chihuahuas scored 64 runs in their six game series despite one shutout loss. Matthew Batten, arguably the top hitter in the PCL over the last month, went on the IL on Friday. He did score runs in both Tuesday and Wednesday’s games, and will finish the month with a .306/.462/.681 line. … Top prospect C.J. Abrams burst out of his slump by collecting a hit in every game and going 10-for-22, with 10 runs scored and a pair of stolen bases. With a triple, homer and three walks, that equates to a .455/.520/.682 line. Possibly more important for the long term, Abrams made his first start ever in center field. … LF Brent Rooker made four starts on the week and hit four home runs, though just two other hits. While the ball carries extremely well in El Paso, Rooker has hammered 440+ foot home runs that would be gone even at the stingiest of ballparks. … Rehabbing outfielder Matt Beaty made four starts, going hitless in two and 7-for-10 in the other two. Beaty is still listed on El Paso’s roster but hasn’t appeared in a game since Friday. … The only pitcher to make the list LHP Jose Castillo got into three games, allowed three baserunners but no runs, and struck out three. While these numbers don’t jump off the page consider the staff gave up 52 runs. Working three times in a week gets him closer to being ready for MLB duties. He has only appeared in back-to-back games once this year, but look for that to be his last hurdle to climb before he starts banging on the door for the majors.
Top Prospects and Others of Note: C Luis Campusano had possibly his worst week of the year, but still hit .250/.333/.375 and only struck out twice. Not only is his .343/.421/.556 numbers impressive but his 17 strikeouts in 26 games show off his plus eye at strike zone recognition. … The good news for LHP Ryan Weathers is that he pitched into the sixth inning and earned the win. The bad news, he also gave up four runs on eight hits and only collected three strikeouts. Since a really strong first start of the month, Weathers has struggled badly. … RHP Reiss Knehr saw his ERA for the year climb over 7.00 after giving up seven earned runs in four innings. … Finally, on the positive note, LHP Ray Kerr, got into three games this week, and just like Castillo gave up three baserunners. Unlike Castillo, Kerr struck out five and gave up a run. Kerr has an upper-90s fastball from the left side that can be unhittable if he can locate it. (Ben Davey)
San Antonio Missions Week In Review: (Split series at Frisco 3-3)
Top Performers: What a week for Esteury Ruiz who continues to turn heads in a breakout 2022 season. Ruiz slashed .364/.423/.864 for the week, with five of his eight hits going for extra bags, including three home runs. Ruiz, who also stole four bases, is slashing .343/.476/.608 for the year in 166 at-bats. … Yorman Rodriguez was also on fire, connecting for a pair of home runs of his own while slashing .476/.455/.810 for the week. Seeing time at catcher, first base, and DH, Rodriguez is batting an impressive .317 with six home runs and an .842 OPS in 161 at-bats on the season. … Connor Hollis joined Rodriguez in the .400 Club last week. The former Rays farmhand hit .423 and also managed two home runs. Hollis’ five home runs on the season match his 2021 total and is his highest since seven in rookie ball in 2018.
On the mound, Thomas Eschelman’s 5.2 innings of three-run ball (two earned) was one of the strongest starting performances of the week for San Antonio. The Carlsbad native walked none while striking out four. … Matt Waldron threw four innings of one-run ball, with the run being unearned. The knuckleballer has a 1.84 ERA in 14.2 May innings. … Angel Felipe threw a pair of shutout innings, earning a win while walking one and striking out four.
Top Prospects And Others of Note: With a .273 slugging percentage for the week, Tirso Ornales continues to have an uneven season punctuated by a lack of power. In 124 at-bats, he’s batting .242 with a pair of home runs and 11 RBI. … Kevin Kopps made two appearances for a total of an inning, getting an out on Wednesday, and then two more outs on Friday while allowing a run. The righty has a 7.36 ERA in 7.1 innings for May, with six walks and 11 strikeouts, bringing his ERA for the season to 5.02. … On a brighter note, Adrian Morejon is dealing in a rehab assignment. He made two appearances and tossed three scoreless innings, walking one and striking out four. (Mark Wilkens)
Fort Wayne TinCaps Week in Review (Lost series against Quad Cities, 4-2)
Top Performers: Robert Hassell III, sat two games of the series, and went 4-for-15 with a double and a walk against the River Bandits. After hitting .408/.471/.645 in April, he has struggled to a .220/.290/.286 line in May. … Olivier Basabe collected six singles for a .316/.364/.316 slash line, and Jack Stronach, formerly of UCLA and Helix High , hit .357/.471/.429. Corey Rosier did what Corey Rosier does: get on base (.375 on-base percentage), steal bases (4), and score runs (4). .. On the mound, 6-foot-7 lefty Jackson Wolf was the star with 19 strikeouts against four walks in two starts and 12.1 innings, including a gem on Sunday. RHP Brandon Komar pitched well in relief with seven strikeouts in 3.1 innings with no walks or hits.
Others of Note: As noted in Monday’s Daily, the Padres are sending longtime Fort Wayne infielder Justin Lopez back to Peoria to transition to pitchomg. Although Lopez is only 22, he has been with both the Low-A and High-A TinCaps since 2018. .. There have been no updates on when Joshua Mears will return to the team after being placed on the Development List. In his last 11 games, Mears had 20 strikeouts with a .162/.304/.270 slash line after blasting seven home runs in April with a .563 slugging percentage. (John Conniff)
Lake Elsinore Storm Week in Review (Won series against Inland Empire 66ers, 4-2).
Top Prospects: The Storm won both games of a doubleheader Sunday to take the series against the 66ers. … As we’ve mentioned before, when Max Ferguson is going well, the Storm offense hums along nicely. Last week, the Storm won four of six with Ferguson pacing the attack. Ferguson played in all six games and hit .300/.462/.500 and scored six runs. Ferguson also connected on his first homer as a professional on Sunday. With one day left in May, Ferguson leads the Cal League with 40 runs and his .426 on-base percentage leads the club and is seventh in the Cal League. … RHP Victor Lizarraga started one game and completed six innings for the first time as a professional. Lizarraga, still just 18, has had an up-and-down season – not surprising considering he’s the age of a high school senior pitching in Low-A. Lizarraga’s previous two outings were a bit rough but when he has been on, he’s been one of the most exciting pitching prospects in the system.
Others of Note: LHP Bodi Rascon had his best outing of the season on Thursday, pitching 5.2 innings to earn his first win of the season. The 21-year-old lefty has been a bit inconsistent this year, but will look to bulid on last week’s start. He has a 4.62 ERA in seven outings (five starts) this season. … RHP Kobe Robinson started Thursday night and struck out a career-high nine batters in four innings of work. Robinson, 21, has bounced back and forth between the rotation and bullpen this season but has thrown at least two innings in every appearance. In 13 May innings, Robinson has racked up 21 strikeouts in 13 innings, to go with a 2.08 ERA. (Kevin Charity).