Salt Lake City Bees 14, Chihuahuas 10

Key Statistics: RF Adam Engel 3-5, 2B, HR (2), 3 RBI; DH Tim Lopes 3-5; 1B Rangel Ravelo 3-3, RBI; 3B Jantzen Witte 2-5; 2B Matthew Batten 3-5, 2B, RBI; CF Luis Liberato 2-5, 3 RBI; RHP Matt Waldron (L, 0-3) 4.1 IP, 10 H, 8 R (7 ER), BB, 8 K, 4 HR; RHP Michel Baez 1.2 IP, 2 H, 5 R (3 ER), 2 BB, HR; RHP Moises Lugo 1 IP

Tim Lopes had another strong night for El Paso. (Photo: Jorge Salgado)

Prospect Watch: The ball was flying in Southwest University Park as El Paso outhit the Bees 19 to 14, but Salt Lake hit five home runs to the Chihuahuas’ one. … Matt Waldron had a great night in Tacoma last week, but Saturday he gave up seven earned runs on four homers while throwing 106 pitches to get through just 4.1 innings. Salt Lake hitters swung at just 29% of the knuckle balls he threw Saturday, instead waiting to attack his more traditional offerings. … Rehabbing outfielder Adam Engel, 31, officially finished the night with a double and homer among his three hits. His double actually cleared the left-center field fence, but the umpiring crew missed it, leading to Phillip Wellman’s first ejection as Chihuahuas manager. Wellman tossed his helmet and made the entire umpiring crew aware of his disagreement before turning the team over to bench coach Steve Montz. For Engel, it was the first multi-hit game in 11 on his rehab assignment. The 31-year-old is hitting just .190/.271/.429 in 44 plate appearances, but he’s made much better contact over the last few games.

Efrain Contreras threw five no-hit innings on Saturday. (Photo: San Antonio Missions)

Northwest Arkansas Naturals 11, Missions 10 (12 innings)

Key Statistics: 1B Pedro Castellanos 2-6, HR (4, GS), 5 RBI; SS Luis Aviles, Jr. 2-4, BB; PH Juan Fernandez 1-1, RBI; RHP Efrain Contreras 5.0 IP IP 3 BB 6 K; RHP Justin Lopez 2.0 IP H 2 K; LHP C.D. Pelham 0.2 IP, 2 H 3 R 2 BB K; RHP Nick Hernandez 0.2 IP 4 H 4 R K; LHP Jared Koenig 1.2 IP H R BB 2 K; RHP Jose Espada (L, 0-1 2.0 Ip 3 H 3 R 4 K

Prospect Watch: Five innings of no-hit ball by Efrain Contreras and two shutout innings by Justin Lopez carried the Missions into the eighth inning with a 7-0 lead.  Then, the wheels fell off. San Antonio’s bullpen coughed up three runs in the eighth, four in the ninth, and at least one in each of three extra innings. While the Missions answered in the 10th and 11th, the Naturals set them down in order in the bottom of the 12th to snap San Antonio’s three game winning streak. The Missions had won seven of their last nine. … After struggling badly through his first four outings, Contreras asserted himself Saturday by striking out the side in the first. By the time he was done, he turned in one of the best starts of his career. The Ciudad Juarez native threw 86 pitches, 52 for strikes, and struck out six. The 23-year-old righty was non-tendered by the Padres last winter, but quickly signed a minor league deal to stay in the organization without occupying a 40-player roster spot. … Pedro Castellanos, 25, who signed as a minor league free agent from the Boston Red Sox organization in the offseason, smoked a grand slam to left to cap the Missions’ seven-run second inning, then singled in the tying run in the 10th. The 6-foot-3 first baseman, politely listed 244-pounds, has a career .292/.340/.431 slash line in seven minor league seasons. … Converted shortstop Justin Lopez had one of his better appearances since moving to the mound last summer. The 22-year-old, who didn’t get out of Single-A in five seasons as a position player, tossed two scoreless frames in his longest outing of the season, and, more importantly, didn’t issue a walk for the second time in his six appearances. Working with a mid-90s fastball with good carry and a hard slider, Lopez owns a 9:5 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 7.1 innings this year.

Game 1: Great Lakes Loons 2, TinCaps 0 (7 innings)

Key Statistics: 2B Lucas Dunn 1-3; 1B Thomas Martorella 1-3; RHP Jairo Iriarte (L, 0-1) 3.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R, ER, 3 BB, 6 K; RHP Bobby Milacki  3.0 IP, 2 H, 3 BB, 4 K; RHP Adam Smith 1.0 IP K

Game 2: TinCaps 5, Great Lake Loons 2 (7 innings)

Key Statistics: CF Jakob Marsee 1-3, BB; SS Jackson Merrill 0-1, 3 BB; RF Joshua Mears 2-3, HR (3) 3 RBI; C Colton Bender 0-1, 2 BB; RHP Ryan Bergert (W, 1-1) 5.0 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 3 BB, 5 K

Joshua Mears locks in on a pitch. (Photo: Fort Wayne TinCaps)

Prospect Watch: In the opener, Jairo Iriarte recorded six of his nine outs by strikeout and only gave up one earned run, but it wasn’t enough as the TinCaps offense managed only a pair of singles. Iriarte, our thirteenth-ranked prospect coming into the season, has gotten plenty of bad swings from High-A hitters when he’s been in the zone, racking up 23 strikeouts in 13 innings. However, he has been prone to wildness, issuing a season-high three walks on Saturday and he labored through 77 pitches. While he started the day hitting the upper-90s with his fastball, he was down to 93-94 by the end of his day. … Fort Wayne bounced back in the nightcap with a strong pitching performance by Ryan Bergert and a big three-run home run by Joshua Mears, 22, in the third inning to put the TinCaps up for good. … Mears’ strikeout rate continues to hover north of 40%, but there are signs of improvement. In the fifth inning, he showed a solid two-strike approach and got a break when his ground ball hit second base and flew over the infielder’s head for a single. At 6-foot-3 and an athletic 235 pounds, he is capable of doing insane damage to the baseball if he generates increased contact. … Bergert, who used his riding fastball to punch out 129 batters in 103.1 innings last year, but also gave up 124 hits and walked 42 as he struggled for consistency with his secondary stuff, is off to a strong start in his Midwest League return. The 23-year-old righty is holding opponents to a .184 batting average with 16 strikeouts through 14 innings while posting a 2.57 ERA. … Jakob Marsee, 21, was held off the bases in the opener but had a single and walk in the nightcap to keep his hold on tenth in the Midwest League with a .419 on-base percentage. He’s reached in 17 of his 20 games and has been playing a solid center field defensively. 

Storm 9 Visalia Rawhide, 0

Manuel Castro generates great life on his fastball. (Photo: Robert Escalante)

Key Statistics: 3B Graham Pauley 3-3, 2B, RBI, 2 BB; DH Albert Fabian 2-5, 2B, 3 RBI; RHP Manuel Castro (W, 1-0) 6 IP, 2 H, 3 K; RHP David Morgan 2 IP, 1 H, K; RHP Carter Loewen 1 IP, 1 H, K

Prospect Watch: The Storm were up 2-0 in the eighth inning, broke the game open with four runs, and added on three more in the ninth to win their sixth straight contest. With a league-best 2.44 ERA and an offense that’s one off the league lead in runs scored, Elsinore are off to a 15-5 start. … Starter Manuel Castro, 20, held the Rawhide to just two hits as he cruised and needed just 66 pitches to get through six innings, The righty has had an excellent month, holding the opposition to a .167 batting average in his second go-around with the Storm. After throwing an ugly 9.66 ERA in 31.2 innings last year, the undersized hurler from Gusave, Mexico, with a big fastball has posted a 1.29 ERA in 14 innings. … Graham Pauley, 22, continues to be the team’s early offensive star, adding three hits and a pair of walks on Saturday. The left-handed hitting former Duke standout is hitting .394/.500/.591 and is leading the team in hits, walks, and RBI. He has only played third base and DH this year, but last year he also saw time at second base and left field as he and the organization work to find him a defensive home.

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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