MadFriars Player of the Week: OF Preston Tucker, El Paso.
Have a week, Preston Tucker! The Chihuahuas outfielder had a massive week against first-place Oklahoma City, helping El Paso to a series win. Tucker homered twice last Wednesday and added a homer each on Thursday and Saturday. Overall, the former Astros, Atlanta, and Reds outfielder hit .412/.474/1.235 with four homers, two doubles, five RBI, and seven runs. Tucker’s massive week moved him up the PCL leaderboard. He’s third in the league with a 1.125 OPS and sixth in the league with a .467 on-base percentage. Tucker homered just once in April. Defensively, Tucker can play both corner outfield spots, but has primarily seen action in left.
MadFriars Pitcher of the Week: LHP Robby Snelling, Lake Elsinore
The calendar may have flipped to May but the California League has not figured out how to handle Storm lefty Robby Snelling. For the third straight outing, Snelling completed five innings. However, he dominated a Quakes club that won four of six against the Storm and is 19-8 overall. Snelling kept Rancho Cucamonga off the scoreboard and he allowed just one hit. He walked one and struck out nine. In five Cal League starts, opposing batters are hitting just .143 against the 19-year-old lefty. He’s pitched to a 0.86 ERA overall this season.
El Paso Chihuahuas (Won series over Oklahoma City Dodgers 4-2)
Top Performers: Alfonso Rivas, 26, hit .421/.450/.632 against the top team in the PCL. The former University of Arizona Wildcat was with the Chicago Cubs most of last year, hitting .235/.322/.307. The lefthanded first baseman has an OPS of 1.028 so far in his first exposure with his home-town organization. … Matt Waldron’s knuckleball continues to be a work in progress, and this week the news was good in his start at home, where he had seven strikeouts against a pair of walks in 5.2 innings. On the year, it’s still not pretty with an 0-3 record and an 8.01 ERA, but in the minors, it’s about the progress a player is making – especially true for someone trying to figure out how to mix a knuckleball with a low 90s fastball.
Top Prospects and Others of Note: Tim Lopes, and Brandon Dixon also had big weeks, each posting an OPS over 1,000. Dixon, another University of Arizona guy, has been hot all year and wasn’t far behind Rivas with a .350/.364/.650. Going back to last season, the corner bat has 20 homers in 42 games with the Chihuahuas. … Lopes was a surprise standout in spring training who has continued his solid play into the regular season. This week, he posted a .313/.353/.677 line with a pair of home runs and is on track for a career high in home runs. … Although Matthew Batten only hit .222, he posted an on-base percentage of .391, stole a pair of bases in two attempts, and had three doubles and a home run for a .222/.391/.556 line. … Jay Groome had one excellent start and one not-so-great one in the nine innings he threw this week for a 5.00 ERA. He had 16 strikeouts and only gave up four hits, but the eight walks hurt, five of which were in his second game, where he only made it through three innings after throwing six shutout innings in his first outing. … Ray Kerr didn’t give up a run, hit, or walk in his three appearances and three innings of work this week to earn a pair of saves while striking out six. His bullpen mate Angel Felipe was nearly as dominant, throwing three scoreless frames in three games for strikeouts against a hit and a walk. (John Conniff)
San Antonio Missions (Lost series at Tulsa 1-5)
Top Performers: In a week when the Missions got outscored 33 to 11 and only a victory in the series finale kept them from getting swept, standouts were a bit few and far between. Duncan Snider turned in the strongest start of the series, allowing one run over a season-high five innings. The 25-year-old righty had one rough outing early in the year, but otherwise has allowed just three earned runs on 12 hits in 18 innings. … Jorge Oña only had 12 at-bats against Tulsa, but still paced the Missions with three extra-base hits. The corner outfielder finished the week with a .333/.385/.583 line, adding 145 points to his OPS for the season.
Top Prospects and Others of Note: Lefty Jackson Wolf made two starts in Tulsa. The first didn’t go well, but he rebounded with four solid innings on Sunday. The 2021 fourth-rounder struck out 10 over his six innings of work, extending his team-best season total to 36. … Efrain Contreras made his second straight strong outing, giving up one earned run on two hits over four innings while tossing 66 pitches. The big-bodied righty, who re-signed with the Padres in the offseason after clearing the 40-player roster spot, has turned in his two longest outings of the year in his last two appearances. … Righty Kevin Kopps had a pair of scoreless outings out of the bullpen. The 26-year-old reliever, who struggled with walks in his first full professional season last summer, has bounced back nicely this season. (David Jay)
Fort Wayne TInCaps (Won series at Lake County 4-2)
Top Performers: The TinCaps won their first series of 2023 and all it took was two rainouts and a pair of doubleheaders. First baseman Nathan Martorella hit a whopping .333/.440/.722 on the week, with two home runs, seven RBI, and five walks. The former Cal Bear has not gone more than two games without a hit this season. … On the mound, righty Jairo Iriarte tossed five scoreless innings. He struck out seven while only allowing one hit and three walks. Over his last three outings, the 21-year-old hurler has allowed two runs over 12 innings (1.50 ERA), while striking out 20.
Top Prospects and Others of Note: Shortstop Jackson Merrill reached base safely in five of six games in his return to action. He hit .304/.320/.522 with his first home run in three weeks. … Brandon Valenzuela made the most of the three games he played, homering twice and adding two hits in the third contest for a .444/.545/1.111 line on the week. The switch-hitting backstop now leads the club with a 1.057 OPS on the season, albeit in 11 games. … Third baseman Marcos Castañon looks to be finding his power stroke. He had another two home runs and seven RBI while hitting .250/.320/.550 and is now tied for the team lead with five home runs and 18 RBI on the year. … Center fielder Jakob Marsee hit .273/.429/.455 with four stolen bases. His 11 stolen bases are more than double the total of any other player on the team. … Righthander Ryan Bergert allowed one run on two hits over four innings. The 2021 draftee has now struck out 21 batters in 18 innings for the TinCaps on the year with a 2.25 ERA. … Victor Lizarraga tossed five innings, allowing only one run on three hits. The righty walked two and struck out three. This was his first outing of 5-plus innings in his fourth start. … Adam Mazur made his first start in nearly three weeks and did not allow an earned run over four innings. The Padres’ second-round pick last summer allowed three hits and a walk without striking out a batter. Last year’s second-round pick has a 2.70 ERA on the year. …Outfielder Joshua Mears went on the IL with a wrist injury. (Ben Davey)
Lake Elsinore Storm (Lost series to Rancho Cucamonga, 4-2)
Top Performers: The Storm lost their series first series of the year against first-place Rancho Cucamonga but it could have been much worse. Thanks to an epic comeback on Sunday, the Storm salvaged the finale. By virtue of that win, they only lost one game in the standings. … Samuel Zavala had another solid week, leading the Storm in OPS. Overall, the 18-year-old hit .286/.389/.571 with a double, a homer, and three RBI. After a slow start, Zavala has found his groove. Over the last two weeks, Zavala is hitting .333/.452/.576 with a 16% walk rate and production 78% better than the league average. … The Storm have had an excellent run of starting pitching this year and lefthander Austin Krob was excellent in Sunday’s finale. The former TCU hurler pitched six innings and allowed just a run on four hits but he did not factor in the decision. The former 12th-rounder has walked his fair share of hitters but he’s been very difficult to hit in his second Cal League stint. Cal League batters are hitting just .186 off of Krob and he’s struck out nearly 30% of the batters he has faced.
Top Prospects and Others of Note: It was another banner week for Graham Pauley, who continues to be an on-base machine. Pauley produced a .941 OPS and reached base at a .520 clip to overtake teammate Anthony Vilar as the league leader in on-base percentage. The former Duke Blue Devil has a .491 on-base percentage in his first full professional season. … For the first time this year, an opposing pitching staff neutralized Vilar, who went just 1-for-15, although he did walk eight times. His continued patience resulted in an odd .067/.375/.067 slash-line. … Albert Fabian capped off the series with a three-run, walk-off homer in the Storm’s comeback on Sunday. Fabian was the only Storm player to notch more than one homer in the series and his .619 slugging percentage led the team last week. Fabian has shown a much more aggressive approach this season in the Cal League but the results have been mixed. On one hand, Fabian has reduced his K-rate from his stint with the Storm last year but his offensive production has been hindered by a paltry 3% walk rate. However, Fabian has the ability to make loud contact and he could eclipse the 16 homers he hit last season between Lake Elsinore and Fort Wayne.… On Tuesday, Henry Baez pitched five solid innings allowing just one run on three hits. Baez has had consecutive outings in which he has gone five innings, allowing just one run. The excellent work has led to Baez pitching to a 1.80 in 16 innings this season.