Tacoma Rainiers 2, Chihuahuas 1

Key Statistics: CF Luis Liberato 2-4, 2B; 3B Yorman Rodriguez 2-3, 2B, RBI; 1B Alfonso Rivas 1-3, BB; RHP Matt Waldron 6 IP, 3 H, 2 BB, 7 K; LHP Tom Cosgrove 1 IP; RHP Moises Lugo (L, 0-1) 0.2 IP, 2 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, K

Matt Waldron threw six shutout innings on Saturday. (Photo: Jorge Salgado)

Prospect Watch: The Chihuahuas took a 1-0 lead into the eighth inning thanks to a stellar pitching performance by Matt Waldron. Coming on to hold the advantage, Moises Lugo got a leadoff fly ball that was misplayed into a double, then issued back-to-back walks one out later. Lugo got his only two called strikes of the night on a strikeout, but gave up a hard-hit single to plate two run that gave Tacoma the winning margin. … Last Sunday, Waldron struggled in his third straight start. In his post-game interview, Chihuahuas manager Phillip Wellman talked about the difficulty of finding consistency with the kuckleball while noting how much work Waldron put in. Saturday, the 26-year-old relied more on his other offerings, only tossing the knuckleball for about a quarter of his 91 pitches. It’s the least he’s used his bread-and-butter pitch this year as he kept Tacoma batters off-balance all game. Waldron matched his season high with seven strikeouts and allowed just three hits.  … Tom Cosgrove worked another scoreless frame, getting a pop out, weak grounder, and lazy fly ball on a total of just nine pitches. He has yet to allow a hit or run through seven appearances this season, though he’s had to work around four walks. He was put on the 40-man roster in the winter and is making a case to be next in line for a big league promotion.

Missions 10, Corpus Christi Hooks 7 (10 innings)

Key Statistics: 2B Ripken Reyes 2-5, BB, SB (2); SS Connor Hollis 1-4, 2 BB; RF Tirso Ornelas 0-3, 3 BB; 3B Juan Fernandez 3-5, 2 RBI, BB; LF Daniel Johnson 3-6, HR (1) 5 RBI; 1B Pedro Castellanos 1-5 HR (3), RBI; C Michael De La Cruz 1-5, HR (1) , RBI; RHP Efrain Contreras 3.1 IP, 6 H, 5 ER, BB, 4 K, 2 HR; RHP Jose Espada 2.1 IP, 1 H, ER, BB, 4 K HR; LHP Jared Koenig (W, 1-0) 1.2 IP, 1 H, 1 ER, 2 K

Prospect Watch: The Missions offense got three of them home runs – including a grand slam in the tenth inning – and took advantage of 12 walks for their third straight win and now have won four of five games against the Houston Astros affiliate. … Ripken Reyes, in his second game back from the Development List, had another strong game reaching base three times from the leadoff spot and stealing two bags. Last season between Fort Wayne and San Antonio, the switch-hitter batted .233/.369/.321 between the two levels. … Daniel Johnson, 27, hit the big blast in extra-innings, an opposite-field grand slam that put the game out of reach in the tenth. His first homer of the year capped a three-hit game that added over 200 points to his OPS for the season. The left-handed outfielder played in three different organizations last year before signing as a minor league free agent in the offseason. He logged big league experience with Cleveland in 2020 and 2021. … Efrain Contreras struggled again on Saturday, giving up five earned runs over 3.1 innings. Through the first two innings, he recorded three strikeouts and had allowed just one hit, but he opened the third allowing three straight hits before UC San Diego product Shay Whitcomb unloaded on a 1-0 fastball in the middle of the plate. The 23-year-old righty, who came off the 40-man this winter, has surrendered 12 runs in nine innings across four starts to open his first year in Double-A. … Jose Espada turned in another solid multi-inning relief outing for the Missions, allowing one run over 2.1 frames. After working as a starter in Fort Wayne after he signed with organization last summer, the 26-year-old has held the opposition to a .105 batting average over 11.1 innings for a 3.18 ERA coming out of the bullpen for the Missions. Two of the four hits he’s allowed have been homers.

Marcos Castañon hit his third home run of the year. (Photo: Fort Wayne TinCaps)

TinCaps 11, Peoria Chiefs 4

Key Statistics: 3B Marcos Castañon 3-4, 2B, HR (3), BB; 1B Nathan Martorella 4-5, 2B, RBI; C Brandon Valenzuela 3-5, 2B, 3B 3 RBI; Joshua Mears 2-5, SB; RHP Ryan Bergert 4 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 5 K; RHP Aaron Holiday (W, 1-1) 2.1 IP, 3 K; LHP Jason Blanchard 2 IP, 3 H, 1 R (0 ER), 5 K, 1 BB

Brandon Valenzuela had a big hit to help break the game open in the eighth inning. (Photo: Fort Wayne TinCaps)

Prospect Watch: After dropping both ends of Friday’s doubleheader, the TinCaps bounced back to end a four-game losing streak against the Chiefs. Down 3-1, Fort Wayne broke the game open in the eighth inning with nine runs as they got a two-run double from Nathan Martorella, a three-run triple by Brandon Valenzuela, and capped off by a two-run opposite field home run from Marcos Castañon. The trio combined to go 10-for-14 with a walk on the day and have led the TinCaps offense in Jackson Merrill‘s absence. … Ryan Bergert stretched out to four innings in his second start of the year and only allowed a run. The 23-year-old righty wasn’t especially efficient, needing 74 pitches to get through the outing with three walks and five strikeouts. He’s holding the opposition to only a .188 average in his second pass at the Midwest League. … After a tough offensive year in 2022, Valenzuela is off to a good strong .294/.333/.471 start in five games this year. The Padres were impressed with his offseason conditioning work and were looking for a bounceback from one of the stronger defensive catchers in the system. … The TinCaps got quality relief outings from Aaron Holiday and Jason Blanchard. Holiday, part of the Sean Manaea trade last spring, put up solid numbers in Lake Elsinore in 2022 with 74 strikeouts against 24 walks in 57 innings. The Old Dominion University product worked 2.1 perfect innings with three strikeouts. After a rough first outing to the year, he’s given up just two hits and struck out nine in 7.1 innings through his last three appearances.

Modesto Nuts 8, Storm 5

Key Statistics: LF Tyler Robertson 3-4; C Anthony Vilar 1-3, 2B, RBI; 1B Griffin Doersching 1-3, HR (1), BB, 2 RBI; RH Manuel Castro 3 IP, 3 H, 2 R (1 ER), 1 K,1 BB; LHP Javier Chacon 2 IP, 1 H, 1 ER, 2 K, 4 BB; RHP Dylan Nedved (L, 0-1) 1.2 IP, 4 H, 4 R, BB, K; RHP Cole Paplham 1 IP, 2 K

Prospect Watch: A five-run seventh inning sank the Storm against Modesto. Elsinore will play to even the series in Sunday’s finale. … The Storm are getting strong performances early on from several unheralded players. After another three-hit game Saturday, Tyler Robertson, 23, is second on the team with 18 hits and is slashing .367/.439/.490. The 14th-round pick last year out of the University of Louisiana-Lafayette, Robertson is a premium athlete who is leading the Cal League with eight stolen bases in as many attempts. He’s made much more consistent contact in the organization than he did as an amateur, striking out just six times in 58 plate appearances this year. … Anthony Vilar, 24, had a double and walk Saturday to maintain his hot start. Getting an opportunity to play daily with the Storm, the University of Miami product is hitting .345/.525/.793. On the season, he has walked (11) more than he has struck out (9). … Manuel Castro worked three solid innings for a Storm pitching staff that keeps turning out quality appearances in pitch-limited outings. The 20-year-old righty out of Mexico allowed singles to the first three batters he faced and then compounded it with an error as he tried to cover the plate on a wild pitch. He recovered nicely, finishing the day by retiring six in a row over his final two frames. Castro, whose explosive fastball is one of the best on the talented staff, tossed 51 pitches in his third appearance of the year.

Posted by John Conniff

John grew up in Poway and has written for MadFriars since 2004. He has written articles for Baseball America, FoxSports San Diego, the El Paso Times, San Antonio Express-News, Amarillo Globe-News, Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette and Pacific Daily News in addition to appearing on numerous radio programs and podcasts. He can also break down the best places to eat for all five of the affiliates. There is no best place to eat in Peoria, Arizona.

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