As the minor league season reaches its penultimate month, Mark Wilkens and Ben Davey take a look at the top performers of July, which saw eight players on the Updated MadFriars Top 20, C.J. Abrams (1), Robert Hassell III (2), MacKenzie Gore (3), James Wood (5), Esteury Ruiz (7), Victor Acosta (11), Robert Gasser (12) and Corey Rosier (16) along with Jarlin Susana and Max Ferguson, who probably would have been on next year’s list, moved at the trade deadline to strengthen the big club. This list is not a revision to our updated top prospects rankings but a point-in-time snapshot of the top performers.
El Paso Chihuahuas (Pacific Coast League)
With the season more than halfway over, the Chihuahuas find themselves at 54-45, good for second place in the PCL West, five games back of the Dodgers. With promotions, injuries, and poor play, the Chihuahuas had their first losing month on the campaign.
The team was once again carried by the offense. Infielder Eguy Rosario had a monster first few weeks of July before falling back to Earth a bit to finish the month, hitting .364/.449/.670. He led the team in hits (32), runs (22), RBI (26), and stolen bases (six). Now traded outfielder Brent Rooker hit .311/.427/.689 with six home runs and 19 RBI in 17 games. His 1.116 OPS was just behind Rosario for the team lead. With the trades of both Rooker and Esteury Ruiz to Milwaukee, Taylor Kohlwey shot up the outfield depth charts. Kohlwey had an off month, hitting .273/.387/.352. … Luis Campusano had an even rougher go as the 23-year-old hit just .217/.289/.348 for his worst month in over a year.
The pitching was a rollercoaster all month. Only Reiss Knehr avoided the up-and-down ride. Working primarily out of the bullpen, Knehr tossed 11.2 innings, allowing just one earned run and a 14:6 strikeout-to-walk ratio. … Michel Baez appeared in six games and had four scoreless outings. However, a three-run outing on July 10 in just a third of an inning ballooned his ERA to an ugly looking 8.31 for the month. … After two stellar months, lefty Jose Castillo was human again as his K/9 rate dipped from 13.5 in June to 7.88 in July. … The good news for former first-round lefty Ryan Weathers is that July was his best month this season. The bad news is it was still a 4.81 ERA and a 1.64 WHIP. Still, he went at least six innings in his final three starts of the month, including a six-inning shutout to end July.
El Paso Player of the Month: Eguy Rosario
El Paso Pitcher of the Month: Reiss Knehr
San Antonio Missions (Texas League)
The playoffs-bound Missions had an up-and-down July, going 11-13, and are now 14-15 in the second half of the season. Overall, they still lead the South Division with a 52-44 record.
Consistently leading the way at the top of the order was Connor Hollis, who posted a .348/.455/.457 slash line, with 10 doubles and 13 RBIs. Hollis’ .324 average had him just off the lead for the 2022 Texas League batting title at the end of the month. … Thomas Milone, another free agent pickup before the 2022 season, hit four home runs in July and recorded a .813 OPS while driving in 16 runs. Milone is batting .265 with seven home runs in 2022. The solid months helped Hollis and Milone earn promotions to El Paso in the wake of the system-altering trade deadline. … A familiar face for Padres fans, Webster Rivas slashed .306/.432/.458 while driving in 18 runs and scoring 17 himself. Rivas is batting .295 in 78 at-bats since being sent to San Antonio from El Paso. … Tirso Ornelas slugged a pair of home runs while slashing .330/.388/.489 and driving in 18 runs.
On the mound, Nolan Watson went 1-1 with a 4.58 ERA in four starts, striking out 20 batters in 17.2 innings while walking six. Watson is 3-4 with a 5.49 ERA and 67 strikeouts in 64.1 innings this season for the Missions. … 2021 draftee Kevin Kopps posted a 1.42 ERA in nine appearances, striking out 11 and walking four in 12.2 innings of work, earning one save. The Arkansas alum is 1-1 with a 4.21 ERA in 30 appearances, striking out 35 in 36.1 innings. … Coronado High’s own Fred Schlichtholz went 0-1 with a 1.35 ERA in 13.1 innings over nine appearances, striking out 18 batters while walking only three. The lefty owns a 1.02 ERA in 13 appearances for San Antonio in 2022. … Jose Quezada recorded a 1-1 record in eight appearances to go along with a 0.82 ERA, striking out 14 and walking two batters in 11 innings. Quezada has a 4.42 ERA in 18.1 innings over 15 appearances in 2022.
San Antonio Missions Player of the Month: Connor Hollis
San Antonio Missions Pitcher of the Month: Jose Quezada
Fort Wayne TinCaps (Midwest League)
With a 13-11 month of July, the TinCaps had one of their better months on the calendar, as they remain close to the East Division basement with a 41-56 record.
With the trade deadline passing, two of Fort Wayne’s best July hitters moved on to other organizations. Corey Rosier, now a member of the Red Sox system, slashed .375/.427/.569 in 72 July at-bats with two home runs, two doubles, and three triples. In addition, the speedy outfielder stole nine bases. … Robert Hassell III, now with the Nationals organization, slashed .283/.397/.491 with five doubles and a pair of home runs. …Former USD Torero Adam Kerner went 6-for-17(.353) with two doubles and six runs batted in. The second-year catcher is batting .255 in 55 at-bats for Fort Wayne in 2022.
Jackson Wolf went 2-2 with a 3.71 ERA in five starts in July, striking out 30 while walking six in 26.2 innings. The 2021 draftee is 5-6 with a 4.40 ERA and 106 strikeouts in 88 innings on the year. … Noel Vela went 2-1 with a 3.51 ERA in his five July starts, striking out 26 batters while walking nine in 25.2 innings. Vela is 6-6 with a 3.59 ERA in 2022 and has struck out 98 batters in 82.2 innings. … Ramon Perez earned two saves in seven appearances to go along with a 2.84 ERA, striking out 12 and walking two in 6.1 innings. Perez is 0-4 with a 6.12 ERA in 24 appearances on the year.
Fort Wayne TinCaps Player of the Month: Corey Rosier
Fort Wayne TinCaps Pitcher of the Month: Jackson Wolf
Lake Elsinore Storm (California League)
After clinching a playoff spot in the first half, the Storm continued their hot stretch with another winning month. The club lost six in a row in the middle of the month but managed to rebound with a five-game win streak to end July with a 13-11 record.
The offense in July began and ended with now traded James Wood. The 19-year-old hit .356/.463/.656 on the month with 16 extra-base hits, 23 RBI, and six stolen bases for good measure. In his tenure with the club, he had a .931 OPS against RHP and a 1.119 OPS against southpaws. … While Wood dominated, he was far from the only player to have a good month of July. Third baseman Marcos Castañon hit .312/.413/.602 on the month with 12 doubles, five homers, and 24 RBI. The Padres’ 12th-round pick last year has improved his OPS every month from .682 in April to .804 in May, .920 in June, and the strong 1.015 in July. … Infielder Wyatt Hoffman contributed a .269/.345/.404 line as a backup contributor for the month.
If the hitters revolved around Wood, the pitching staff centered around their ace Garrett Hawkins. Hawkins caught all of our attention after dominating in Lake Elsinore in April but came down hard in May/June. The righty from Saskatchewan posted a stellar 0.95 ERA as the club managed his workload across four starts in the month. The 22-year-old held opponents to a .167 average and posted nearly 11 K/9. Hawkins now has 100 strikeouts on the year, third in the league. … After a rough June, Aaron Holiday bounced back with a 1.38 ERA with 18 strikeouts across 13 innings. The 22-year-old righty, acquired with Sean Manaea from Oakland this spring, had posted sub-2 ERAs in April and May before it ballooned to 11.08 in June. … Victor Lizarraga, the former Montgomery High pitcher, delivered another strong month, turning in a 2.55 ERA and 18 K in 17.2 innings. While he hasn’t put up the raw numbers of some others, he’s 18-year-old pitching to a 3.39 ERA in the hitter-friendly Cal League.
Lake Elsinore Player of the Month: James Wood
Lake Elsinore Pitcher of the Month: Garrett Hawkins
While the organization awaited the arrival of new draftees and an atypically-large undrafted free agent class, the group in the desert continued to put up some strong results. Outfielder Ruben Salinas, 19, was the top performer in July, delivering a .333/.405/.520 line across 75 at-bats. The product of Ensenada swung and missed a bit more than ideal but did plenty of damage on his contact. … Samuel Zavala, whose season had been waylaid by hamstring issues, finally got back into action and quickly contributed. Despite a .235 average, he drew enough walks and connected on a pair of extra-base hits to fuel a .910 OPS across his six games. … Victor Acosta, who got off to a slow start to the year, rebounded nicely with a .790 OPS for the month and was sent to the Cincinnati Reds for super-utility man Brandon Drury at the trade deadline.
With strong workload limits at play, few pitchers in the ACL get a chance to really shine over a month. But Jarlin Susana – who was also traded to Washington as part of the Juan Soto/Josh Bell deal and, according to The Athletic’s Jim Bowden, will be an overall top 30 prospect in all of baseball next year – struck out 25 hitters across 14.2 innings while holding opponents to a .140 average. … While his stuff and stature don’t quite match Susana’s, Henry Baez had a stellar showing of his own. The 19-year-old righty posted a 1.53 ERA while holding batters to a .150 average in 17.2 frames. The 2019 signee had a strong 22:5 strikeout-to-walk ratio. … Lefty Javier Chacon held hitters in check to the tune of a .186 average while striking out 20 in 15 innings across four appearances. The 19-year-old Cuban signed last January has had a strong campaign in the desert.
ACL Player of the Month: Ruben Salinas
ACL Pitcher of the Month: Jarlin Susana
MadFriars Player of the Month: James Wood
While adding Juan Soto to the big league club is an unquestionable improvement, the organization must have had some trepidation about including the big man in the hefty return they sent to Washington. Through his first year of professional baseball, the 6-foot-7 talent has a 1.003 OPS. After missing time with a wrist injury, he simply demolished the Cal League in his final month in the system, showing all the tools to be a star.
MadFriars Pitcher of the Month: Garrett Hawkins
It was a tough month for plenty of the arms in the organization, but Hawkins continued a strong debut campaign for Lake Elsinore even has his workload dialed back. The big righty, who the club nabbed in the ninth round last year after his strong showing in the draft league, opened the month with seven no-hit innings, showcasing his stellar fastball/change combo, and had two more scoreless outings to finish out the month.