MadFriars Player of the Week: 1B/LF Nathan Martorella, Fort Wayne
The TinCaps have struggled overall this year but Nathan Martorella has been excellent. Last week was no exception. The first baseman and sometimes left fielder paced the TinCaps offensive attack, hitting .286/.423/.571 with three doubles and a homer. He had two hits in each of the first two games of the series. Overall, the former Cal Bear has been outstanding but he has really turned things on in May, hitting .308/.431/.641 this month while walking more than he’s struck out.
MadFriars Pitcher of the Week: RHP Anderson Espinoza, El Paso
Espinoza, 25, came into his start last week with an ERA at nine and a WHIP over two. At least for one start, the former top prospect rediscovered his old form. Espinoza completed six innings and didn’t allow a run. Sugar Land managed just two hits and he struck out a season-high eight. Espinoza had not completed six innings in a game since May, 2016, before he joined the Padres organization the first time.
El Paso Chihuahuas (lost at Sugar Land 1-5)
Top Performers: Despite losing all but one game in the series, the Chihuahuas still scored 25 runs. First basrman Alfonso Rivas collected eight hits on the week including two doubles, a triple, and a home run. Rivas led the team with 15 total bases over the six games. To top off the week Rivas stole his second base of the season. With 17 extra-base hits already this season, he’s just one off his total for all of last season between Triple-A and the big leagues with the Cubs last season. Nearly two months into the season, Rivas’s 1.006 OPS is almost 200 points above his previous career high. … Beyond Espinoza’s performance, Matt Waldron pitched five shutout innings with seven strikeouts, and for the first time this season did not walk a batter. In two starts this month Waldron has a 0.84 ERA with 14 strikeouts in 10.2 innings.
Top Prospects and Others of Note: Rehabbing outfielder David Dahl appeared in three games, collecting multi-hit games in each of the first two before going hitless Sunday. Two of the three games have featured Dahl as the centerfielder for El Paso. … Lefty Jose Castillo made his own rehab debut. After a scoreless first outing, he gave up a run on both Friday and Sunday. …. Ray Kerr has taken over as the team’s de facto closer. With the team losing five of six there weren’t many opportunities for him but he did convert his only save chance. He threw two scoreless innings striking out three. Since his demotion from San Diego, Kerr has allowed just one hit over five innings while striking out nine. … It was another tough week for Jay Groome, who almost broke camp with the Padres. The lefty allowed four runs on seven hits and four walks over four innings. This marks the fifth time in his last seven starts that Groome has allowed at least four earned runs. … Brandon Dixon went hitless in the series going 0-for-21 with eight walks and nine strikeouts. … Rangel Ravelo had a hit in four of the five games he played including two home runs. He also had eight walks to give him a .439 OBP for the season. (Ben Davey)
San Antonio Missions (Beat Corpus Christi, 5-2)
Top performers: Righty Efrain Contreras turned in one of the system’s best starts of the year, striking out eight over six scoreless innings in which he gave up just three hits to pick up his first win of the year. The big-bodied hurler flashed his curve ball more effectively than he had in any other start this year and didn’t allow a walk. After a brutal start to the year, the righthander has struck out 11 against just one walk in 10 May innings. … At the plate, only Pedro Castellanos topped an OPS of .800, as three of his six hits went for extra-innings. The big first baseman didn’t draw a walk in the series, leading to an odd .286/.286/.524 line for the week.
Top Prospects and Others of Note: Jackson Wolf almost matched Contreras’s production, allowing just one run over seven innings and striking out eight. The lefty retired the final 14 batters he faced and didn’t issue a walk on the day. He’s posted a stellar 44:8 strikeout-to-walk ratio through 28.2 innings while showing a bit more life on his fastball than he had last year. … While Seth Mayberry allowed two earned runs over 3.2 innings in his two outings, the righty also recorded eight strikeouts along the way. The 22-year-old Virginian is holding opponents to a .190 average on the year. … The Missions bullpen as a unit was fantastic in the series, giving up just four earned runs over 23.1 innings while striking out 36 Hooks batters. … Conversely, the offense managed just 23 runs in seven games and continues to bring up the rear in the Texas League in virtually every category. Only Ripken Reyes matched Castellanos’s three extra-base hits in the series, riding a pair of doubles and a triple to a modest .429 slugging percentage. The 26-year-old switch-hitter has appeared primarily at second base defensively this year after splitting time between there and all three outfield spots in 2022. … Connor Hollis collected the Missions’ only other home run, but struck out seven times and had just one other hit on his way to a .613 OPS that was, somehow, better than the club’s overall mark for the week. (David Jay)
Fort Wayne TinCaps (Lost to Beloit Sky Carp 4-2)
Top Performers: Nathan Martorella, 22, hit three doubles and a home run with five walks in 26 plate appearances, all while moving out to left field for the series defensively. The left-handed batter has power to all fields and a solid approach at the plate. At 6-foot-1, 230 pounds, he is a better athlete than advertised. …Adam Mazur replaced Jairo Iriarte when Friday’s suspended game resumed Saturday and showed why he might be the top pitcher in Fort Wayne. Mazur hit 97 and showed up a plus slider to go along with a good changeup and developing curve in 4.1 innings, giving up only a single run while striking out three against one walk. Iriarte’s start was cut short, but in two innings, and also flashed electric stuff. Batters seemed unable to catch up with his fastball or were swinging under it.
Top Prospects and Others of Note: With the TinCaps short-handed, Cole Cummings made the most of his 15 plate appearances with five hits, two doubles, and a triple. Justin Farmer posted a .333/.478/.444 in 23 plate appearances and swiped four bases in as many attempts. Lucas Dunn had eight hits in six games, and Marcos Castañon had seven, including a pair of doubles. … Bodi Rascon and Ryan Bergert turned in solid pitching performances on Sunday. Rascon threw four innings and only gave up a run, while Bergert finished with three shutout innings. (John Conniff)
Lake Elsinore Storm (lost at San Jose Giants, 5-1)
Top Performers: The Storm had a dismal week in San Jose, losing five of six, including three one-run games. The Storm offense sputtered to a collective .211/.353/.279 line against the Giants. Since a hot start to begin the year, the Storm are 3-9 over their last 12 games. … Despite the offensive struggles, Samuel Zavala had another productive series at the plate. The 18-year-old outfielder didn’t have an extra-base hit in the series but he produced a .873 OPS that included five walks in six games. Zavala has completely shaken off a slow start and has become a key cog in the Storm offensive attack. Through 128 plate appearances with the Storm, Zavala has an excellent 16.4% walk rate and his overall production is 20 percent above league average. … Lefthander Robby Snelling pitched on Friday night and worked into the sixth inning for the first time as a professional, but did not factor in the decision. Snelling allowed a pair of earned runs in 5.2 innings, walking two but striking out just one batter. Despite the lack of swing-and-miss stuff last week, that has not been a problem for the young lefty. Snelling has struck out 26.7% of the hitters he has faced this year – the third-highest mark among qualifiers in the Cal League.
Top Prospects and Others of Note: Much like Zavala, third baseman Graham Pauley didn’t flash any power but he had another solid week at the plate. Pauley played all six games in the series and hit .263/.462/.316. Pauley continues to show outstanding patience at the plate and his ability to make consistent contact is outstanding. The former Duke infielder has struck out in just 10% of his plate appearances – the lowest mark in the Cal League. His swinging strike percentage of 6.5% is also the best mark in the league. The Storm infielder doesn’t possess a ton of power but with his bat-to-ball skills and patience, he is a legitimate threat in the Storm lineup. … Shortstop Rosman Verdugo had a quiet series, hitting just .174/.269/.261. After a decent April, Verdugo has struggled at the plate in May, albeit with a few encouraging signs of progress. The 18-year-old has struck out in just 15.7% of his plate appearances this month after punching out in 32.1% of his plate appearances in April. He’s also increased his walk rate from nine percent in April to 11.8% in May. Verdugo is hitting just .235 on balls in play in May which has masked the improved approach. Assuming that approach continues, Verdugo could be on the verge of a breakthrough. … Righthander Kobe Robinson looked good in his weekly outing Sunday but he did not factor in the decision. After taking over for starting pitcher Austin Krob, Robinson spun 3.1 innings of scoreless ball to go with five strikeouts. Because Robinson pitches the middle innings of his appearances, he has four wins in his six appearances. Overall, he has a 2.25 ERA in 16 innings. … Righthander Henry Williams made his professional debut last Thursday and took the loss. The Duke product allowed three unearned runs in two innings, walking one and striking out one. Williams was drafted in the third round last year and is making his way back from Tommy John surgery. Lake Elsinore has deployed a six-man rotation this season so watch for Williams to throw a few innings weekly. (Kevin Charity)