Chihuahuas 17, Salt Lake Bees 13
Key Statistics: SS Matthew Batten, 3-for-6, 2 2B, 3 RBI; RF Brandon Dixon, 2-for-4, 4 R, 2 HR (3, 4), 4 RBI; BB; DH Yorman Rodriguez, 3-for-5, 3 R, 2B; PH-C Michael Cantu, 2-for-2, 2B, 5 RBI; Jantzen Witte, 2-for-4, HR (2), RBI; LHP Jay Groome, 4.1 IP, 9 H, 8 ER, 3 BB, K; LHP Drew Pomeranz, 0.1 IP. 3 H, 3 ER, BB; RHP Aaron Brooks (W, 1-0) IP, H, 2 K; RHP Domingo Tapia, IP, BB, 3 K
Prospect Watch: The Chihuahuas returned home from a rough road trip in Tacoma Tuesday night and played a wild one, even by PCL standards. El Paso scored 17 runs over the final six innings and held off the Bees to take game one of the series. … Matthew Batten broke out of an 0-for-11 slump with a three-hit night that included a pair of doubles. The 27-year-old infielder has typically been a consistent performer at the Triple-A level but he has gotten off to an unusually slow start in 2023. His night at the plate raised his batting average above the Mendoza line to .205. Despite the slow start with the bat, he’s drawn walks at an impressive enough clip to post a .361 on-base percentage. … Right fielder Brandon Dixon had another multi-homer effort on Tuesday. He blasted a pair of shots, scored four runs, and drove in four as well. It was Dixon’s second multi-homer game of the season. The veteran hasn’t been able to find the same success with the Padres that he has found in El Paso, but his power and versatility will likely continue to earn him opportunities to contribute to the big-league club. Overall, Dixon is hitting .325/.440/.700 with the Chihuahuas in 2023. … As El Paso manager Philip Wellman said in his interview with John Conniff, Yorman Rodriguez may be a man without a position but he can hit. That sentiment rang true Tuesday as the 25-year-old singled twice and doubled to raise his average to .350. Last season, Rodriguez hit a career-high 15 homers with the Missions. The power isn’t necessarily going to be part of his game but he makes consistent, hard contact. In 70 plate appearances, he’s struck out just six times. … Michael Cantu came into the game as a pinch-hitter for Pedro Severino and proceeded to have the best game of his professional career. The 27-year-old drew a pair of bases-loaded walks in his first two plate appearances, singled in a run, and ended his night with a two-run double to center. When all was said and done, Cantu had his first multi-hit game of the season and drove in a career-high five runs. The former Texas Longhorn hasn’t hit much during his time in the system but he is lauded for his leadership ability and his willingness to do anything the club needs. … While the offense hummed along, the pitching staff had their share of hiccups. Most notably, Jay Groome turned in another rough start, allowing eight earned runs on nine hits, three walks and just one strikeout in 4.1 innings. Groome has struggled mightily in his last two starts after a very good outing against Albuquerque. Over his last two starts, Groome has allowed 14 earned runs in nine innings. During that stretch, he’s walked eight, struck out just five, and allowed four homers. It’s difficult for a pitcher to be successful in the PCL when they struggle to throw strikes. … Rehabbing big leaguer Drew Pomeranz‘s results were not good as he made his first appearance at Triple-A. Pomeranz recorded just one out and allowed three runs on three hits with a walk. While the big-league bullpen could use him, his velocity is well off the 94 mph he averaged on his fastball in when he last pitched in 2021.
Northwest Arkansas Naturals 8, Missions 3
Key Statistics: 1B Pedro Castellanos, 2-for-5; RF Tirso Ornelas, 2-for-3, R, BB, 2B, RBI; DH Juan Fernandez, 2-for-3, R, RBI; RHP Nolan Watson (L, 0-1) 5 IP, 5 H, 2 R (1 ER), K; RHP Justin Lopez, IP, H, BB, 2 K
Prospect Watch: The Missions returned home and kept things close until the Naturals pulled away with a five-run eighth inning. … First baseman Pedro Castellanos, who swung a hot bat last week, kept things going at home with a pair of singles. The infielder raised his batting average to .200 – an impressive feat after opening the season in a 2-for-29 slump. The former Red Sox farmhand hit 13 homers in each of the previous two seasons. He signed with the Padres as a minor league free agent in the off-season. … Right fielder Tirso Ornelas ended a 1-for-16 slump with a pair of hits. He singled, doubled, drew a walk, and drove in a run. The 23-year-old outfielder is off to a .216/.344/.373 start to the season. … Righthander Nolan Watson turned in another solid start but he took the loss, as he left trailing 1-0. The Indianapolis native completed five innings and allowed a pair of runs, only one of which was earned. He didn’t walk a batter and struck out just one. The former Royals first-rounder hasn’t missed bats this season but he’s been exceptional at preventing runs. In fact, the runs he allowed on Tuesday were the first scored against him in four outings, leaving him with a sparkling 0.64 ERA after 14 innings.
Great Lakes Loons 4, TinCaps 2
Key Statistics: SS Jackson Merrill, 1-for-5; 3B Marcos Castañon, 1-for-2, R, 2 BB; 1B Nathan Martorella, 1-for-3, R, BB, RBI; LHP Bodi Rascon, 5 IP, 2 H, 3 BB, 6 K; RHP Aaron Holiday (L, 1-2) 2 IP, 2 H, 2 R, ER, 2 BB, 3 K
Prospect Watch: After losing five of six in Peoria, the TinCaps returned home looking to get off to a good start. They led 2-0 through six innings but the bullpen couldn’t hold the lead and they lost to Great Lakes. The loss dropped Fort Wayne to 4-12. … Despite the loss, the big story of the day in the Summit City was the return of Jackson Merrill. The now 20-year-old missed the last four games with an illness. He had a single in five at-bats. He struck out twice; it was the first multi-strikeout game of the season for the top prospect. … The TinCaps offense has been inconsistent this season, but Marcos Castañon has done his part at the dish. The 24-year-old reached base three times, with a single and two walks in the loss. The hit extended his hitting streak to six games. In 15 games with the TinCaps, Castañon has a .938 OPS. … After a poor start that ended with a collision near the mound in his last outing, southpaw Bodi Rascon bounced back and pitched five shutout innings. The 22-year-old allowed two hits, walked three batters, and struck out six batters. It was the second time in three trips to the mound that Rascon has not allowed a run. He’s racked up 12 strikeouts in just 8.2 innings this year.
Storm 7, Visalia Rawhide 1
Key Statistics: 3B Graham Pauley, 1-for-2, R, 2 BB, SB (3); DH Albert Fabian, 2-for-4, R, HR (2), 4 RBI; LF Kai Murphy, 1-for-3, R, BB; RHP Henry Baez (W, 2-0) 5 IP, 2 H, ER, 2 BB, 7 K; RHP Dwayne Matos, 3 IP, 3 BB, 2 K; RHP Carter Loewen, IP, 2 K
Prospect Watch: The Storm hit the road and won easily in Visalia to improve their record to 11-5. They are the only team in the system with a winning record. … Designated hitter Albert Fabian carried the Storm offense Tuesday and was the only Lake Elsinore hitter with more than one hit. He launched a two-run homer around the right-field foul pole in the sixth inning and singled in a pair of runs in the eighth inning. The 21-year-old broke out with the Storm last season, earning a late-season promotion to Fort Wayne. He struggled to make contact with the TinCaps and is back in Lake Elsinore looking to reestablish his power stroke. Through 14 games, Fabian is hitting .288/.339/.442. … Righthander Henry Baez got the start and dominated the Rawhide lineup, earning his second win of the season. The 20-year-old twirled five innings and allowed just one run on two hits, walking a pair and striking out seven. While it is still early in the season, Baez has looked like a breakout candidate for the Storm. In 11 innings, he’s allowed just seven hits and a pair of runs with 16 strikeouts. His command has looked spotty at times but his stuff has been very impressive. … Righthander Carter Loewen pitched the final inning of the game, striking out two. The former Hawaii reliever opened the season on the Storm roster but was sent back to Arizona shortly after the season began. He had Tommy John surgery in 2021 and missed most of last season. He’s healthy now and should get plenty of opportunity to pitch out of the back of the Storm bullpen.
Roster Moves: There were a few transactions on Tuesday in the system. With Loewen’s return to the Storm roster, lefthanded swingman Jesus Gonzalez was promoted to Fort Wayne. Gonzalez takes the spot of Reinier Parra, who had joined the team from the ACL during last week’s roster crunch. In El Paso, Sean Poppen was placed on the Development List.