Chihuahuas 10, Sacramento River Cats 8
Key Statistics: RF Fernando Tatis Jr., 1-for-2, 2 BB, RBI, SB (1); LF-RF Taylor Kohlwey, 3-for-4, 2 R, HR (1), 5 RBI, BB; CF Luis Liberato, 2-for-4, 2 R, BB, 2B; RHP Reiss Knehr, 3 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, BB, 4 K; RHP Eric Hanhold (W, 1-0) 2 IP, K; RHP Angel Felipe (S, 1) IP, 2 K.
Prospect Watch: The Chihuahuas opened up their first road trip of the season with a win in Sacramento. In the era of the pitch clock and quick games, this PCL classic was three hours and 19 minutes. … The top story in the system and perhaps all of minor league baseball was the start of Fernando Tatis Jr.‘s rehab assignment. The 24-year-old superstar walked in his first two plate appearaces and didn’t receive anything he could hit. In his third trip, Tatis smoked a groundball that was converted into a run-scoring double play. The ball left the bat at 106 mph, the highest exit velocity recorded in the game. He capped his night with an RBI single before exiting after seven innings. Tatis can play in up to 15 games in the minors while he finishes his PED suspension. He should continue to get regular at-bats for the Chihuahuas over the next two weeks. … Outfielder Taylor Kohlwey paced the El Paso offense with three hits, including a homer and a career-high five RBI. The homer traveled 374 feet to right field. Initially, it appeared that River Cats outfielder Heliot Ramos made a home run-robbing grab at the wall but it just cleared his glove. The 28-year-old outfielder narrowly missed making the Padres’ roster after a good spring with the big league club. Through the first four games, the Wisconsin native is off to a .294/.368/.647 start. In 240 career games for El Paso, he owns an .837 OPS.
After making a one-inning relief outing in last week’s series, righty Reiss Knehr got the start and struggled a bit. The former Fordham Ram allowed three runs on five hits in three innings, walking one and striking out four. In four innings this year, Knehr has struck out five but owns a 9.00 ERA. His fastball and change-up had very little separation on Tuesday, helping opposing hitters stay in a groove against him. … In the later innings, El Paso’s bullpen shut down the River Cats offense. The most impressive work was done by Eric Hanhold. Hanhold, 29, breezed through the seventh and eighth inning and did not allow a baserunner. The righty saw MLB action in 2018 with the Mets and again in 2021 with the Orioles, appearing in 13 games between the two stops. After spending all of last year in Triple-A for the Pirates, he signed with the Padres this winter. He allowed just one earned run in five innings in Spring Training. … Hard-throwing Angel Felipe closed the game in the ninth, earning his first save of the year. Felipe pitched around an error and struck out a pair of hitters while topping out at 97 mph. The former Ray is an intriguing arm who has the stuff to be an impact pitcher in the late innings. He’s struck out five of the seven hitters he has faced to start the 2023 campaign.
Transaction Notes: After he cleared waivers on Monday, Michel Baez was officially put on the Development List Tuesday. The minor league procedural move, which must last a minimum of seven days, is generally used to allow a player to work at the club’s Peoria Sports Complex.
Housekeeping: Subscribers can check out this interview with Victor Lizarraga, who will likely be the youngest pitcher to open in the Midwest League on Thursday. It’s the latest as John finishes out his profiles from Spring Training. … With the rest of the minor leagues getting underway on Thursday, we’ll have season profiles for the other three squads up on the site Wednesday afternoon.