MadFriars Player of the Week: Max Ferguson
Ferguson has been an on-base machine this year at the top of the Storm lineup but has taken his game to another level in June and he had arguably the best series of his career last week against the Quakes. In five games, Ferguson went 8-for-21 with a double, two triples, a homer, and seven stolen bases, adding to his professional baseball-leading total of 51. Ferguson scored 11 runs in the five games he played, giving him a league-leading 63 in 2022. The versatile defender has an on-base percentage of .403 and his 20% walk rate is the second-highest in the circuit.
MadFriars Pitcher of the Week, LHP Luke Westphal
Westphal, 33, has bounced back-and-forth between the El Paso rotation and bullpen in 2022, giving the team quality innings wherever they put him. On Saturday, he delivered his best outing of the season. In five innings, Westphal allowed just one earned run, walking one and striking out a career-high 11 batters. The former Atlantic League hurler was signed last season to help a battered Chihuahuas pitching staff and he did enough for the organization to bring him back in 2022. In 20.2 innings this month, Westphal has pitched to a 2.18 ERA.
El Paso Chihuahuas (Split series at Sacramento with the River Cats)
Top Performers: Anytime the Chihuahuas (40-32) play away from El Paso, the offensive numbers decrease. With C.J. Abrams back in the majors, and Esteury Ruiz coming back to earth, the team at times struggled to score runs on their swing through California. For the second week in a row, Taylor Kohlwey led the production. The outfielder/first baseman hit .316/.409/.579 for the week, leading the team with six runs and five RBIs. He is making a strong case to be the player of the month hitting .407/.455/.678 with only a few days left in the month. … Right behind Kohlwey, is outfielder Brent Rooker, who led the team with two home runs and hit a robust .291/.343/.625 for the week. On the season he has maintained a near-identical OPS against both right- and left-handed pitching.
Two former MLB pitchers trying to get back to the show led the pitching staff behind Westphal. Lefty Jose Castillo appeared in three games, including two innings on Sunday, and didn’t allow a run over four innings. He only walked one and struck out five. … Former Cy Young top 10 finisher right-hander Dinelson Lamet also did not allow an earned run over 2.1 innings while striking out five. He did pick up the loss on Saturday after allowing the placed runner to score in extras.
Key prospects and others of note: While Ruiz has cooled off, he still managed to pick up six hits on the week, hitting .250/.333/.375. Surprisingly, he did not steal a base over the week, and has fallen behind Ferguson in their two-man race to lead baseball in stolen bases. … Luis Campusano appears to be finding his stroke again. The catcher picked up eight hits, including two doubles, to hit .421/.421/.526 on the week. Those were just his third and fourth extra base hits for the month. Only reason red flag was a 42% strikeout rate. … Always of note is the active player closest to 3,000 hits, Robinson Canó. Canó hit .348/.400/.391 on the week. When the 39-year-old was let go and then re-signed, the organization said he needed time and regular at-bats to try to find his swing. It looks like he might be getting there, pushing his production up toward league average. … Both Reiss Knehr and Ryan Weathers are still stuck in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde seasons. Weathers appeared to be turning a corner on Tuesday when he had a no hitter going into the sixth inning, but then gave up five runs and walked five in six innings Sunday. Knehr meanwhile tossed 6.2 scoreless innings without a walk in the majors, including two scoreless frames in Colorado. He then returned to a fairly pitcher friendly environment in Sacramento and gave up five earned runs over 2.2 innings with five walks and two strikeouts. (Ben Davey)
San Antonio Missions (Won series at Wichita Wind Surge 4-2)
Top Performers: What an eventful week for the Missions, who not only won their eighth series of the season, but also clinched a postseason berth, and secured manager Phillip Wellman’s 300th franchise victory, helping him become the fifth manager in the club’s 134-year history of the franchise to reach that threshold. Offensively, they were led by Thomas Milone, who slashed .400/.409/.800 in 20 at-bats, with a pair of home runs and 8 RBIs. The 27-year-old outfielder came into the week with just one homer on the year. … Connor Kaiser recorded another solid series, batting .368 with a home run and five RBI in 19 at-bats. … On the mound, Reggie Lawson continued a resurgent 2022, allowing one run in 6.2 innings of work to earn the win while walking two and striking out six. In four June starts, Lawson is 3-0 with a 1.27 ERA. Opponents are hitting just .157 against the 24-year-old righty for the month despite a more solid than spectacular 20:9 strikeout-to-walk ratio. … Thomas Eshelman also earned a win with five innings of two-run ball and was recently promoted to El Paso. He’s now 3-5 with a 4.79 ERA on the season.
Key prospects and others of note: Tirso Ornelas went 7-for-25 with an RBI for a .280 average in the series. … Korry Howell has continued to heat up, batting .353 with a home run to raise his season OPS to .876. … San Antonio also got a strong week of play from their trio of catchers, with Yorman Rodriguez batting .346 with a home run and 4 RBIs, Juan Fernandez batting .333 with an RBI, and Chandler Seagle slugging a pair of doubles and driving in three runs. … Michel Baez threw 3.1 shutout innings in two appearances, earning a win. The big righty has struck out 12 in nine innings since officially coming off the IL early in the month. … Matt Waldron contributed four solid innings in his return from the IL, allowing an unearned run while striking out four. … Henry Henry threw three scoreless innings in two appearances in the series, reducing his June ERA to 4.66. … Alek Jacob is now 3-0 with a 1.14 ERA in 31.2 innings pitched across 19 appearances after throwing two scoreless innings on the week. … Angel Felipe earned his eighth save in one of his two shutout outings in the series. (Mark Wilkens)
Fort Wayne TinCaps (Lost series with Great Lakes Loons 1-5)
Top Performers: Corey Rosier had a big week with eight hits including a triple and a home run, to go along with four walks for a .320/.414/.520 slash-line. He also added three stolen bases to his tally. Rosier, who came over from Seattle with Ray Kerr in the Adam Frazier trade, has boosted his batting average for the month to .273, but stayed consistent with a .368 on-base percentage for the year. He’s remained a threat on the bases, where his 21 stolen bases are good for fourth in the league. … Lucas Dunn, who got off to a slow start after his promotion to High-A, showed exceptional ability to get on-base with a .300/.481/.300 line for the week. The versatile defender struck out six times in 27 trips to the plate. … On the mound, Noel Vela impressed in his one start, throwing six shutout innings, while lefty Robert Gasser gave up three-run home in his first inning, then tossed four scoreless innings with nine punch outs before allowing a pair of unearned runs. Vela finished the first half with a 3.04 ERA in 56.1 innings, which was good enough for sixth in the league, and Gasser ended up eleventh at 4.15. Gasser is third on the circuit with 89 strikeouts.
Key prospects and others of note: By his standards, Robert Hassell III, 20, had a rather pedestrian week at .269/.310/.308, but he still finished the first-half leading the Midwest League with a .311 batting average, and eighth in on-base percentage and 11th in slugging percentage. The outfielder also stole 19 bases without getting caught, which was good enough for seventh in the league. It’s tough to imagine him in Fort Wayne for much longer. … Ryan Bergert struck out six over four one-run innings and Efraín Contreras gave up one run in three innings as both were solid in short stints for the week. … Jackson Wolf had the week off as the Padres work to give starters across Single-A down time through the middle of the season, but he finished the first half tenth in the league in strikeouts at 73 with a 4.37 ERA. (John Conniff)
Lake Elsinore Storm Week in Review (Beat Rancho Cucamonga, 4-2).
Top Performers: The Storm wrapped up a playoff spot earlier in the week, winning the first-half title in the Cal League South Division. Lake Elsinore’s offense performed nicely, scoring 69 runs in the series, an average of 11.5 runs a game. … Outfielder Justin Farmer‘s .209 season average may not draw much attention from a quick scan of box scores, but he was outstanding in the series against Rancho Cucamonga. The 23-year-old outfielder went 6-for-19 in six games, with a double, two homers, eight RBI, and 10 walks. Farmer was one of eight Storm hitters that produced an OPS north of 1.000 in the series. In 65 games, Farmer has 10 homers and 22 stolen bases, giving him a decent shot at being a 20/20 player for the Storm if he remains with the club throughout the season. … Catcher Juan Zabala only appeared in three games but when he played, he produced. In 11 plate appearances, Zabala hit for the cycle; he had a pair of singles, a double, a triple, a homer, and seven RBI. Zabala was acquired by the Padres earlier in June from the Dodgers organization. He’s been an organization role player throughout his career and he’s already played with the Missions and Storm in his brief time in the Padres organization. … Carlos Luis‘s emergence at the plate has been a big reason the Storm offense has thrived in 2022. Luis pounded Quakes pitching all week, hitting .417/.483/.708, with two doubles, a triple, a homer, and nine RBI. Through the season’s first half, Luis is fourth in the Cal League in batting average (.314). He’s also fourth in the circuit with 50 RBIs. The left-handed-hitting Luis is finally starting to tap into his immense raw power in game action. He has five homers this season after having just three in his previous four seasons. He will be a player to watch going forward. … Right-hander Alan Mundo pitched six scoreless innings out of the bullpen, including one of the best performances by a Storm pitcher this year. Last Tuesday, Mundo came out of the ‘pen and tossed five shutout innings to earn the win. He allowed just two baserunners and struck out four batters. He came back on Sunday and tossed a scoreless frame, walking a pair and striking out two to pick up his first save of the year. The 22-year-old from the Mexican state of Chihuahua has functioned as a multi-inning reliever for the Storm this season and he’s been excellent overall. In 36 innings, Mundo has struck out 51 batters to go with a 3.00 ERA.
Key Prospects and others of note: Outfielder James Wood didn’t have a particularly outstanding series but he put up solid results and hit a monstrous homer on Sunday that may have struck the Lake Elsinore Casino and Hotel. Overall, Wood put up a.825 OPS – solid results indeed, but just the ninth-best mark from a Storm offense that was an absolute powerhouse. Wood is finally healthy after missing time with a wrist injury. He’s worth the drive to Lake Elsinore if you haven’t had a chance to see him play. … Infielder Marcos Castañon had a nice series, hitting .250/.550/.583 with a homer and seven walks in 19 plate appearances. The San Bernardino native has enjoyed playing near his hometown in his first full professional season. Overall, Castañon has a 113 wRC+ despite losing playing time to Nerwillian Cedeño and Lucas Dunn, before his promotion to Fort Wayne. He’s shown an excellent eye at the plate and has some good pop for a middle infielder. (Kevin Charity)
Top Performers: Outfielder Ruben Salinas turned up the heat this week, going 5-for-12 with a pair of doubles. The 19-year-old from Baja California now sports an .871 OPS on the year. After a rash of strikeouts early, he only recorded four in 13 plate appearances this week. … Henry Baez tossed four innings without allowing an earned run on Monday night, working around three walks. Over his last two outings, the live-armed righty has given up just five hits while striking out 11 in eight innings of work.
Key prospects and others of note: Jackson Merrill and Gilberto Vizcarra each made loud contact on their rehab assignments from Lake Elsinore. In four games after getting underway last Tuesday, Merrill is 8-for-10 with four extra-base hits. Vizcarra, now in his third week of working back from injury, went 5-for-9 with a pair of doubles in his three games. Both should be on their way back out of the complex shortly. … After a slow start to the year, Victor Acosta had a strong showing on the week going 4-for-12 with a double. … Reinier Parra tossed 3.1 scoreless innings across two outings, racking up five strikeouts along the way. … Riley Yeatman continued to bounce back from a rough start in the desert, striking out five in 3.2 innings of one-run ball. (David Jay)
ACL Padres 7, Brewers Gold 3 (F/7 innings)
Key Stats: CF Eddy Beltre 0-for-2, 2 BB, SB (6); SS Jackson Merrill 1-for-2, SB (2); DH Victor Acosta 2-for-3, 2B; 2B Reinaldo Ilarazza 1-for-1, HR (1); RHP Henry Baez 4 IP, 4 H, 1 R (0 ER), 4 K, 3 BB; RHP Walki Lezan 3 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 4 K, 1 BB