MadFriars Player of the Week: OF Luis Liberato, El Paso
There were some excellent offensive performances in the system last week but no one hit better than Chihuahuas outfielder Luis Liberato. Liberato hit .409/.552/.682 with three doubles, a homer, five RBI, and seven walks. His OPS for the week was an impressive 1.234. The former Mariners farmhand has completely shaken off a rough first two months after signing as a minor league free agent and has put up some outstanding numbers with the Chihuahuas. Since June 1, the 26-year-old is hitting .318/.416/.642 with 12 homers and 37 RBI. His offensive output during that time has been 56% above league-average.
MadFriars Pitcher of the Week: RHP Jose Espada, Fort Wayne
It’s not every day that a former Milwaukee Milkman earns Pitcher of the Week honors, but that’s what happened for Espada. The 25-year-old righty was signed out of the American Association earlier this summer by the organization to fill a much-needed hole in the TinCaps rotation. He did his best work last week, throwing a season-high six scoreless innings. He gave up just one hit, walked three, and struck out 10 – a career-high in affiliated ball. Espada was drafted way back in 2015 by the Blue Jays but reached free agency this winter and failed to latch on with an affiliated ballclub. He has a 2.97 ERA in 33.1 innings with the TinCaps, to go with 50 strikeouts.
El Paso Chihuahuas (Lost at Oklahoma City Dodgers 2-4)
Top Performers: 3B Connor Hollis found his footing. After struggling after his promotion from Double-A, Hollis had eight hits over the final five games in the series including a double, triple, and stolen base. …. With Luis Campusano now in San Diego, Cam Gallagher has taken over the starting catching job in El Paso and flourished offensively. He went 6-for-11 on the week with a home run and only one strikeout. His overall numbers (.224/.274/.403) are far from impressive, but he is a solid defensive catcher which always has value. … Prior to his major league call-up on Friday, 2B Eguy Rosario had five hits including a double and home run for El Paso in the first three games of the series. Eguy will finish the month with a .342/.396/.595 PCL stat line.
Top Prospects and Others of Note: Rehabbing MLB pitcher Pierce Johnson started his Triple-A program. After throwing a scoreless inning Tuesday, he allowed a run on two hits on Friday. … Against first place OKC, LHP Jay Groome had a solid but unspectacular start. He allowed three runs in 5.2 innings walking three and striking out three. Considering OKC averaged eight runs a game, a three-run outing was a solid start for the former 12th overall pick. … LHP Ryan Weathers had a similar outing. He allowed three runs over five innings striking out seven. He came back out of the pen on Sunday and allowed a run in an inning of work. … RHP Michel Baez continues to rebound after a disastrous August 10 appearance when he allowed eight earned runs and recorded one out. The big righty threw two more scoreless innings this week with three strikeouts. His ERA still sits at 10.32. (Ben Davey)
San Antonio Missions (Beat Midland RockHounds, 4-2)
Top Performers: There were quite a few notable offensive performances in the home series win over Midland, led by Webster Rivas, who not only slugged three doubles, but he scored seven runs, walked six times, and slashed .400/.556/.550 in 20 at-bats. Rivas is batting .263 with a .769 OPS in 152 at-bats for the Missions in 2022. … Brandon Dixon continues to thrive since returning from injury, hitting a home run and driving in four runs in 17 at-bats, batting .353. Dixon is batting .355 with 10 home runs in 107 at-bats this season. … Juan Fernandez drove in seven runs while batting .409 in 22 at-bats. The versatile Fernandez is batting .294 with a .713 OPS in 326 at-bats.
On the mound, Lake Bachar went 2-0 in the series, picking up wins in both of his appearances, tossing four scoreless innings. Bachar, a fifth round pick in 2016, is 5-2 with a 5.63 ERA and 37 strikeouts in 40 innings as he works his way back from injury. … Osvaldo Hernandez made three scoreless appearances, throwing 3.1 innings, walking none and striking out three. Hernandez has struck out 40 and walked 17 in 50.2 innings in 2022, his first season primarily in the bullpen. … Moises Lugo went five innings without allowing a run, striking out seven and walking one in his two appearances. The 23-year-old Lugo has been a star in the Missions bullpen, going 6-0 with a 2.74 ERA while striking out 85 in 62.1 innings.
Top Prospects and Others of Note: Kevin Kopps allowed one run in four innings in his two appearances including a spot start/opener role in a bullpen game, striking out seven and walking one. Kopps is 1-1 with a 4.13 ERA and 51 strikeouts in 48 innings of work. … Tirso Ornelas walked six times while only striking out twice, batting .360 in 25 at-bats while driving in four runs. Ornelas is batting .293 with 6 home runs and 47 RBIs in 386 at-bats for San Antonio. … Joshua Mears went 4-for-24 (.167) in his first week of Double-A action, but two of those four hits left the yard. As a microcosm of Mears’ season, he also struck out 13 times, but his prodigious power gave him a .676 OPS for the week. (Mark Wilkens)
Fort Wayne TinCaps (Lost at Great Lakes Loons 2-4)
Top Performers: Converted infielder Anthony Vilar, 23, had a big week with four hits in four games and five walks for a .400/.600/.400 slash line. The Padres drafted Vilar out of the University of Miami in the 15th round in 2021 as a catcher. For the Hurricanes, the left-handed hitter hit .275/.398/.391 in his junior year as an infielder. He’s getting an opportunity to play in August and already has more plate appearances this month ( 41) than any other for a .324/.439/.382 slash line. Agustin Ruiz, 22, who had a solid year in 2021 for Fort Wayne but struggled after a demotion from San Antonio this year, hit a pair of home runs for a .375/.476/.750 line on the week. The Mexican has hit just .205/.333/.386 in 201 plate appearances since coming back to the TinCaps. … Right-hander Nick Thwaits, 23, finished off Espada’s strong start, and might have been even more impressive. The Ohio high school product threw three perfect innings and only needed 27 pitches to get nine outs. It was the third time this month Thwaits worked three scoreless innings.
Top Prospects and Others of Note: Ryan Bergert, 22, had an impressive start striking out eight over five shutout innings. The right-hander from West Virginia University has had an impressive strikeout to walk ratio this year of 119 to 38 in 94.1 innings but has been too hitable when he’s been in the zone. Opponents have collected 114 hits as they’ve gotten to him for a 5.92 ERA. … Right-hander Luis Madrazo, 24, had a nice week in relief with seven strikeouts in five innings in his two appearances. The 6-foot-4 Cuban walked five but still only gave up one run. (John Conniff)
Lake Elsinore Storm (Lost at Inland Empire 66ers 1-5)
Top Performers: The Storm finished up a 12-game road trip with a rough showing against Inland Empire. The Storm lost three one-run games in the first four of the series. With a chance to at least salvage a split, they were blown out in the final two games of the series. The Storm are 26-26 in the second half of the season, six games behind Inland Empire, who seems poised to win the second half title. The Storm won the first half, so it appears the clubs will see each other in the Cal League playoffs. … Another series, another power display from Storm third baseman Marcos Castañon. The 23-year-old went 7-for-21 with two homers, four RBI, a double, and six RBI. With 12 games left, the former UCSB star has a chance to eclipse the 21 Low-A homers that an 18-year-old Fernando Tatis Jr. produced for the TinCaps
in 2017. The last Storm player to hit more than 21 homers in a season was Austin Allen, who launched 22 homers in 2017 as well. … Infielder Graham Pauley joined the Storm as the ACL wrapped up and he had a nice debut in the Cal League. Pauley hit .348/.400/.522 in his first six games in full-season ball with a double, homer, and a team-high six RBI. The 21-year-old infielder started all 54 games for Duke University in his final collegiate season and hit .292/.402/.495 with nine homers. … Righty Will Geerdes made the start on Sunday and did his part to lead the Storm to victory. The 22-year-old undrafted free agent out of the University of Virginia pitched five innings and allowed just one unearned run on two hits with a walk and eight strikeouts. Geerdes worked primarily as a reliever in his final college season, starting just two games. He’s started a pair of games with the Storm (3 total appearances) and has a 5.79 ERA to start his pro career.
Top Prospects and Others of Note: Shortstop Jackson Merrill had a quiet week for the Storm, hitting .240/.240/.360 with a double, a triple, and four RBI. Merrill has been quite good in August, hitting .297/.354/.451 with two homers and 16 RBI. … The game of baseball can be a humbling experience. No one over the last few weeks has experienced the peaks and valleys like Storm first baseman Griffin Doersching. After slugging six homers in Stockton and earning our MadFriars Player of the Week in the process. against Inland Empire, Doersching went 2-for-21 with 11 strikeouts. The big first baseman has shown impressive power
in his pro debut with the Storm after having a good year in his final college season with Oklahoma State. Despite the rough week, Doersching is still carrying an OPS above 1.000 since joining the Padres’ organization. … Righty Victor Lizarraga started Thursday and he pitched six solid innings. The 18-year-old allowed just one run on four hits with one walk and six strikeouts. It was a nice bounce-back for Lizarraga, as he had one of his worst outings two weeks ago against Rancho Cucamonga. In 83 innings with the Storm, Lizarraga has a 6-3 record with a 3.58 ERA. (Kevin Charity)