MadFriars Player of the Week: INF Brandon Dixon, El Paso
Just when you think Brandon Dixon has reached the apex of productivity, he somehow manages to find even more ways to defy expectations. A week after earning player of the week recognition, he did it again. Even by Pacific Coast League standards, Dixon’s production has been ridiculous. For the week, he hit .500/.571/1.136, and homered in four consecutive games while extending his hitting streak to 19 games. In just 20 games with El Paso, Dixon has homered 10 times while posting a 1.381 OPS that translates to a wRC+ of 222 since his promotion. Overall, he’s hit 20 homers in 46 games on the year between San Antonio, El Paso, and a single rehab game in the ACL.
MadFriars Pitcher of the Week: LHP Jay Groome, El Paso
Left-hander Jay Groome turned in his best start as a Padres prospect on Saturday night. Groome pitched six scoreless innings, allowing just three hits. He struck out six batters and did not allow a free pass – just the second time he’s achieved that feat with the Chihuahuas. In eight starts since joining the organization, Groome is 2-2 with a 3.48 ERA while averaging just over five innings a start. On the year, which he opened in Double-A for the Red Sox organization, the 23-year-old has thrown a career-high 134 innings in his first significant exposure to the upper minors. He has one year of options remaining.
El Paso Chihuahuas (Beat Round Rock Express 5-1)
Top Performers: El Paso had to go 5-1 on the week to keep their one game lead over the second-place Dodgers. They will host the Dodgers for six games this week before one final three game series. With another 5-1 week, El Paso would clinch a playoff berth. Reiss Knehr, who was sent back down from San Diego last weekend, pitched four scoreless on Wednesday, then came back out on Sunday and tossed another scoreless inning of relief. The 25-year-old out of Fordham has bounced between the rotation and relief work in both Triple-A and the majors this year. … Eguy Rosario also rejoined the Chihuahuas this week after his first taste of action in the big leagues. His first game back saw him go 2-for-4 with a double and the 23-year-old infielder collected a hit in all three games he played. … Kyle Martin contributed seven hits including four doubles on the week. He also scored five times and walked six times. … While he did not have an overly fantastic week, OF Thomas Milone delivered a walk-off hit on Sunday to help the club keep their one-game advantage.
Top Prospects and Others of Note: Righty Michel Baez appeared in three games over the week. He allowed two runs on three hits in three innings. … Fellow 40-player roster hurler Jose Castillo appeared in two games, allowing a run on two hits in 1.2 innings, and striking out two. … RHP Nabil Crismatt was sent to El Paso last Monday and did not appear in a game. … Ryan Weathers pitched in three games in a week for the first time all season. He gave up a run in his first appearance before turning in two scoreless appearances on Friday and Sunday. (Ben Davey)
San Antonio Missions (Lost to Amarillo Sod Poodles, 1-5)
Top Performers: The Missions finished the regular season with a dismal showing at home against Amarillo. They lost five of six, scoring just 18 runs in the six-game series. The Missions went 5-11 in September and the late-season slide resulted in the squad finishing at .500. … Despite the Missions’ offensive shortcomings, outfielder Tirso Ornelas had a great series at the plate, as the ever-streaky hitter finished on a positive note. Ornelas went 8-for-16 with a double, a homer and three RBI in three games. The left-handed hitting Ornelas finished 2022 with seven homers – one off of his career-high. Overall, his slash-line of .288/.355/.408 which is just below league average. He did strike out in a career-low 17.3% of his plate appearances. … Infielder Connor Hollis finished a strong season up with another strong week at the plate. Hollis went 8-for-23 with a homer in the series against Amarillo. The strong finish helped Hollis hit .333 with the Missions, giving him the Texas League batting crown. Hollis’ accomplishment is especially impressive, considering the Rays released him at the end of spring training. He doesn’t possess a ton of power but he has shown a good hit tool and the ability to play all over the infield. … Right-hander Thomas Eshelman made his final regular season start on Thursday and pitched five scoreless innings. Eshelman, the consummate pitch-to-contact hurler, allowed just a pair of hits and walked two without notching a strikeout. The veteran had the second-lowest walk rate in the Texas League (minimum 70 innings) while also having the second-lowest swinging strike percentage. While he’s far from dominant, he throws strikes and was able to eat up innings for a roster that didn’t feature a ton of big-time prospects.
Top Prospects and Others of Note: First baseman Yorman Rodriguez went 4-for-20 in the series to close out his finest professional season. Rodriguez connected for three doubles and drove in a pair of runs. The 25-year-old set a new career-high with 15 homers. He showed improved approach in the final two months of the season, as evidenced by an 11% walk rate but he hit just .239 down the stretch. … Right-hander Brandon Komar was the only Missions’ pitcher to complete six innings when he achieved the feat on Saturday, earning the Missions’ only win of the week in the process. Komar started the year with the TinCaps, eating innings out of the bullpen but earned a promotion to San Antonio and has been a fixture in their rotation down the stretch. He finished September with a 1.65 ERA in 16.1 innings. (Kevin Charity)
Lake Elsinore Storm (3-0 on the week; advanced to Cal League Championships)
Top Performers: The Storm blew through the Division Series championship with a pair of victories over Inland Empire, then opened the best-of-three Championship series with a laugher over Fresno. Along the way, they scored 32 runs fueled by the same contributors who helped them to the best record in the regular season. Jackson Merrill went 9-for-14 with four doubles in the middle of the Elsinore lineup, adding a pair of walks and stealing three bases in as many attempts. With only one strikeout in 15 plate appearances, the dominant performance equated to a 1.733 OPS in limited action. … Marcos Castañon, who was the Cal League home run leader for the year, kept it going with two more round-trippers in 15 trips to the plate. … Griffin Doersching continued to hit the ball hard, knocking a pair of homers in the division series opener and then adding a double against Fresno. Overall, the big man collected 14 total bases in 13 at-bats. Encouragingly, he struck out only three times along the way and connected on a pair of breaking balls. … As strong as the offense was, Victor Lizarraga led an equally strong showing for the pitching staff. The 18-year-old got the game one start and struck out nine over 5.2 innings of two-run ball. He’ll likely get the chance to take the ball again Tuesday.
Top Prospects and Others of Note: Duncan Snider gave up just one earned run over 4.2 innings in the clincher over the 66ers, but ran up against his pitch limit so couldn’t come away with the victory. The 24-year-old, signed to his first affiliated contract in June, has been a great story for Elsinore all year. … Righty Will Geerdes gave up just one earned run over seven innings of work in a pair of outings on the week. The undrafted free agent out of the University of Virginia fought command a bit during the regular season, but showed potential to work as a multi-inning reliever or starter next year. … With Samuel Zavala hitting the injured list with a broken hamate bone, Albert Fabian was added back to the Storm roster last Wednesday and went 3-for-8 in the final two games of the week. (David Jay)