After sending many of the year’s top performers out at the trade deadline, the Padres system muddled through August. While the lower levels were bolstered by a group of college draftees, the upper minors needed to get creative with positions and pitching load management to get through the final full month of the season. As always, this monthly review is not intended as a revision of our Top 20 prospect list, but rather a point-in-time look at who has been performing.
El Paso Chihuahuas (Pacific Coast League)
With the season in its final month, El Paso remains in third place, three and a half games behind first-place Oklahoma City. Despite the Chihuahuas seeing major turnover over the past month, they were still a respectable 12-13 in August. In El Paso, they face the OKC Dodgers one more time, September 20-25.
Even with much of the club’s offensive firepower spending at least part of the month in the big leagues, the team was once again led by their hitters. Eguy Rosario became the first player in Chihuahuas history to record a 20/20 season. While he finished the month in San Diego, he hit .342/.396/.595 in 19 games for El Paso. His five home runs and three stolen bases were just enough to get him to that plateau. … Speaking of players currently in San Diego, Luis Campusano finally started to heat up before his call-up. He hit .289/.345/.566 in August with six home runs. It took him until July 6 to hit six home runs on the season, so hitting six in a month was a major improvement for the Padres’ top-catching prospect. … The Chihuahuas were buoyed by consistent help from two of their more veteran players, CJ Hinojosa (.326/.421/.424) and Brett Sullivan (.278/.351/.506).
On the hill, El Paso finally saw some stabilization from their starters, thanks in large part to 6-foot-6 lefty Jay Groome and Pedro Avila. Groome, who was acquired in the Eric Hosmer deal, pitched to a 3.55 ERA over five starts with El Paso. Avila had a 3.97 ERA over five starts but gave up a combined two earned runs over his last three starts of the month. After allowing 16 earned runs over his first three starts of the month, Ryan Weathers moved to the pen. In August, he finished with a 7.94 ERA allowing 20 earned runs in 22.2 innings. (Ben Davey)
El Paso Player of the Month: Eguy Rosario
El Paso Pitcher of the Month: Pedro Avila
San Antonio Missions (Texas League)
The Missions are in last place in the division with a 27-31 record in the second half of the season, but qualified for the playoffs by winning the first half division title with a 38-29 record. San Antonio saw some key players promoted to El Paso at the trade deadline, and have been working to find a consistent rotation in preparation for the postseason.
Offense was a struggle for San Antonio in August, with Connor Hollis and Brandon Dixon being promoted to El Paso. Hollis, who hit .346 with two home runs in 26 at-bats for San Antonio in August, has returned for the stretch run, but Dixon remains in Triple-A after batting .469 with a 1.125 OPS in 32 at-bats for the Missions. For the bulk of the month, Juan Fernandez kept the offense going. Fernandez, nominally a catcher, has made the transition to third base, playing it very well while hitting .344 with five doubles and a pair of triples and collecting 20 RBI in August. … Tirso Ornelas contributed solidly in August as well, batting .271 with a .792 OPS, homering once and driving in 12 runs.
On the mound, San Antonio has seen most of its success (and innings) out of the bullpen, led by Moises Lugo, who made six appearances in August with a 0.63 ERA, 18 strikeouts, and four walks prior to being promoted to Triple-A El Paso. … Lake Bachar has stepped up in a relief role, posting a 3-0 record, 1.74 ERA, and striking out 11 while walking three in 10.1 innings. Bachar also earned three saves. … Kevin Kopps threw 11.2 innings in eight appearances, including his first career start as an opener, posting a 3.86 ERA and striking out 16 while walking four.
San Antonio Player of the Month: Juan Fernandez
San Antonio Pitcher of the Month: Lake Bachar
Fort Wayne TinCaps (Midwest League)
The TinCaps remain firmly in the basement with a 22-38 second half record and –76 run differential. Offense has been hard to come by in Fort Wayne, with only 240 runs scored in the second half of the season.
Olivier Basabe led the offense until he hit the injured list. The utility infielder slugged three home runs, posted a 1.214 OPS, and drove in 10 runs despite only 33 at-bats. … Joshua Mears was also a powerful hitter in a small sample size, homering four times and driving in eight runs in 50 at-bats, posting a .941 OPS prior to being promoted to San Antonio. … Agustin Ruiz only slashed .234/.318/.442, but drove in 14 runs in 77 at-bats.
On the mound, Jackson Wolf was transcendent, earning a 2.92 ERA in four starts, and striking out 22 batters in 24.2 innings while walking eight, and taking a hard-luck 1-2 record for the month. The big lefty pitched into the sixth inning in each of his four starts and held opponents to a .153 average. … Nick Thwaits was excellent in relief, with a 1.93 ERA in 14 innings, striking out nine while only issuing one free pass in his six August appearances. … Gabe Morales struck out 21 batters in 12.1 innings, earning a 2.92 ERA in five appearances.
Fort Wayne TinCaps Player of the Month: Olivier Basabe
Fort Wayne TinCaps Pitcher of the Month: Jackson Wolf
Lake Elsinore Storm (California League)
Oh, what a difference a month makes. The Storm’s final game in July saw a four-hit performance by James Wood and a start from Bodi Rascon. Of the ten players who started that contest, only Jackson Merrill and Marcos Castañon were in the lineup for the last game of August. The Storm had more turnover between trades and promotions than any other team, but they still finished the month 12-14.
The two players that are still on the team were the offensive heroes all month long. Merrill hit .317/.367/.515 in August, leading the team with 23 RBI in 22 games. … Castañon hit .287/.425/.584 and paced the team with nine home runs on the month. He walked 24 times in 26 games, giving him 79 free passes on the season to lead the California League. … 2022 college draft picks also saw plenty of success in August. Sixth-round pick outfielder Jakob Marsee hit .286/.474/.464 with four home runs in less than two weeks with the team, while 13th-rounder Graham Pauley hit .367/.441/.633 in the same time frame.
While the offense continued to put up runs, the pitching staff had a hard time pitching effectively in the California League heat. Top prospect Victor Lizzaraga didn’t pitch for two weeks after allowing six earned runs in a start against the Quakes. He came back strong with a six-inning one-run performance on August 25. He finished the month with a 4.32 ERA and 16 strikeouts in 16.2 innings. … After missing so much of the season with injuries, it was nice to see lefty Ryan Och back with the Storm. He had a 3.38 ERA in six August games with 18 strikeouts in 10.2 innings. Unfortunately, as the Storm were trying to stretch him out, he left his August 24 game grabbing his right arm and was quickly placed back on the IL. … As a pleasant surprise, the Padres signed another large pitcher, 6-foot-7 righthander Duncan Snider last month, and he has been leading the rotation, especially since the promotion of Garrett Hawkins to Fort Wayne. In four of his five starts this month, Snider had a 2.78 ERA, striking out 30 in four starts (22.2 innings). (Ben Davey)
Lake Elsinore Storm Player of the Month: Marcos Castañon
Lake Elsinore Storm Pitcher of the Month: Ryan Och
System Player of the Month: Marcos Castañon
The Padres drafted Castañon out of UC Santa Barbara in the 12th wound last year, after the San Bernardino native had a breakout season for the Gauchos. The 23-year-old right-hander’s big month pushed his home run total to 22, the highest total for a Padres’ low-A player in 40 years. In addition to the power, he’s been patient enough at the plate to keep his on-base percentage at .400 on the year, providing a balanced offensive profile wherever he has appeared in the Storm lineup.
System Pitcher of the Month: Jackson Wolf
The West Virginia University product consolidated many of the mechanical changes he’d worked on throughout the season in August, posting his best ERA of the year. The Ohio native finished the month with his second professional seven inning outing and earned a promotion to San Antonio for the final stretch of the season. His height and unique arm slot make Wolf a tough match-up and will keep him on the radar as a starting option heading into his second full season next year.