MadFriars Player of the Week: OF Albert Fabian, Lake Elsinore.
There have been plenty of good stories in the Padres’ system but Albert Fabian’s emergence has to be one of the most surprising. The 20-year-old did not make the Storm’s opening day roster but he was pressed into duty after injuries to James Wood and Tyler Malone and the release of Pierce Jones. Based on Fabian’s paltry .569 OPS in the Arizona League last summer, there was little reason to think he was poised for a breakout. But sometimes players come from nowhere.
In the series against the Quakes, Fabian connected on three homers, including a multi-homer game on Wednesday night. For the week, the 20-year-old led the Lake Elsinore offense with a 1.217 OPS, slugging .773 in the process. Through 117 plate appearances with the Storm, Fabian is hitting .257/.342/.475, good for a wRC+ of 114.
MadFriars Pitcher of the Week: RHP Matt Waldron, San Antonio.
A COVID-19 outbreak canceled the final two games of the series against Tulsa, but Waldron’s outing was the best in the system. Waldron started Tuesday night and kept the Drillers in check. Waldron completed six shutout innings, allowing just three hits, and one walk while striking out four. The dominant start completed a remarkable May for Waldron as the former Nebraska Cornhusker went 1-0, with a 1.31 ERA in four starts. In 20.2 innings, Waldron allowed just 13 hits and three earned runs, all of which came in his first start of the month. It remains to be seen when Waldron will make his next start; he was placed on the seven-day injured list before the Saturday game that was ultimately canceled.
Around the System
El Paso Chihuahuas (Won series 4-2 at Salt Lake City)
Top Performers: Another winning week pushed the Chihuahuas higher above the .500 mark to 30-24 on the year. After scoring nine runs five times the week prior, they succeeded without scoring more than six in any contest in Salt Lake. CF Shogo Akiyama is still playing part time, but when he has played he’s been a strong contributor. He went 6-for-13 (.462) on the week with a home run and is now hitting .343/.378/.529 since joining the organization. … Akiyama has split time with CF Luis Liberato, who also had an outstanding week. Liberato led the team with a 9-for-22 week (.409) including three doubles, two triples, and two home runs. The last home run, off former Padre Gerardo Reyes on June 4, broke a ninth inning tie. … INF Matt Batten came off the IL and picked up where he left off. In his only game had two hits including a home run. … LHP Jose Castillo only pitched in two games this week. He gave up no runs on two hits with a strikeout in 1.2 innings. He has now gone 13.1 innings in the PCL without allowing an earned run.
Top Prospects and Others of Note: SS C.J. Abrams went 6-for-22 with a double and a stolen base. He reached base safely in all five games, with only one strikeout all week. More relevant long-term news for Padres’ fans is that he made another appearance in center field. … C Luis Campusano had another down week, finishing 5-for-24 (.208) with two doubles. Most of his production came in back-to-back games, when he went 4-for-9 with a double and three RBI as a key contributor. … Despite playing in a somewhat neutral park, it was another forgettable week for the top pitchers. LHP Ryan Weathers struck out six in 4.1 innings, but when he missed location, the Salt Lake hitters punished him. He ended up giving up six earned runs on 10 hits before being pulled in the fifth. … RHP Reiss Knehr was removed after three from his start Monday despite only allowing three runs on four hits. He has a 9.00 ERA or higher in three of his last four starts. On Saturday, El Paso threw Knehr from the bullpen. He threw two scoreless innings with a couple strikeouts, which could be a confidence boosting outing. (Ben Davey)
San Antonio Missions (Won series against Tulsa 3-1)
Top Performers: With several players out of action and the series being scrapped, it wasn’t a very complete week for the Missions, but the lineups they got on the field played pretty good ball. Esteury Ruiz continued his stellar year, slashing .357/.438/.643 in the series with a home run and four stolen bases. … Chandler Seagle caught three of the games, and made the most of it, going 5-for-8 for a .625 average and driving in a run as the defensive stalwart continues to make strides at the plate. … In addition to Waldron’s strong outing, Thomas Eshelman threw five innings of two-run ball, striking out three while walking one batter. … Several San Antonio relievers had scoreless weeks, likely helped some by the lighter workload. Carlos Belen stands out for gaving the Missions 2.1 innings of shutout ball, allowing two hits and no free passes.
Top Prospects and Others of Note: Adrian Morejon threw two scoreless innings to finish his rehab assignment. The lefty was activated from IL and optioned to El Paso Monday. … Michel Baez threw one inning of scoreless baseball to wrap up a rehab of his own and will return to San Antonio upon his own activation. … Dinelson Lamet allowed a run on two hits in one appearance, throwing 1.2 innings as the righty continues to work his way back into form. … Outfielder Tirso Ornelas hit .545 with an RBI in 11 at-bats. (Mark Wilkens)
Fort Wayne TinCaps(Split series at Great Lakes Loons, 3-3)
Top Performers: This week, the offensive star is former UCLA Bruin and Helix High star Jack Stronach, who hit .357 and posted a .471 on-base percentage. Three of his five hits were doubles. … Lucas Dunn, who saw time at first and third base, continued his strong year after his promotion from Lake Elsinore and blasted a pair of home runs, including a grand slam on Saturday, while posting a .360 OBP. … Right-hander Ryan Bergert continues to rack up strikeout totals on the mound with 54 against only 16 walks in 41.1 innings. After recording eight against in 4.1 innings this week, he is still searching for his first win. Bergert has excellent stuff; the key now is just getting him deeper into games.
Top Prospects of Note: Catcher Brandon Valenzuela may be coming out of his season-long slump. The 21-year-old had a strong week at .333/.400/.500 with a home run in 20 plate appearances. … Coming into the season, the TinCaps had the best outfield in the system with Robert Hassell III, Corey Rosier, and Joshua Mears. Both Hassell and Rosier are on the COVID-19 list, and Joshua Mears is back in the Arizona Complex League to get back on track. … Lefty Noel Vela continues to strike out batters, but this past week he was 1-2 in two starts with 12 strikeouts in 6.2 innings, but also seven walks. … RHP Dwayne Matos pitched well coming out of the bullpen in two appearances and 4.2 innings with seven punch-outs against no walks. (John Conniff)
Lake Elsinore Storm (split series at Rancho Cucamonga Quakes, 3-3)
Top Performers: The Storm had a chance to win the series on Sunday. but rehabbing LHP Clayton Kershaw kept the offense in check for the most part and Lake Elsinore came away with the split. The Storm have a two-game lead on Rancho Cucamonga for first place in the South Division of the California League. … While Albert Fabian took home the Player of the Week award, outfielder Justin Farmer made a compelling case of his own. Farmer blasted two homers, including one off Kershaw. The 23-year-old out of Florida International hit .286/.423/.571 while playing all six games of the series against the Quakes. … RHP Aaron Holiday made a pair of relief outings and continued to mow down Cal League hitters. Holiday’s best work came on Saturday night when he shut down the Quakes for three innings. Holiday allowed just one hit, one walk and struck out six. The former A’s prospect has quietly been the most dominant pitcher to suit up for the Storm this season. In 21.2 innings, Holiday has pitched to a 1.25 ERA to go with 30 strikeouts.
Top Prospects and Others of Note: The versatile Max Ferguson had a quiet series, hitting just .185/.241/.296 in six games. When he was on base, Ferguson continued to wreak havoc by stealing three bags without getting caught. Ferguson hasn’t shown much in the power department, but has a good eye at the plate and the ability to change the game on the basepaths. Ferguson leads the Cal League with 37 steals in 40 attempts, and buoyed by a 22% walk rate, the former Tennessee star has an excellent .402 on-base percentage. … RHP Victor Lizarraga made the start Saturday night and earned his second win of the season. The 18-year-old pitched five innings and allowed two runs on four hits. The righty was a bit inconsistent in May which isn’t entirely unexpected. Lizarraga is essentially the age of a high school senior pitching against much older competition. He’s more than held his own this year. Through 38.2 innings, Lizarraga has a 3.72 ERA in 2022.
ACL Padres got underway
The rookie league club in Peoria lost their season opener Monday night. You can read up on some of the names to know on the squad here, and we’ll have full daily and weekly coverage of them going forward.