MadFriars Player of the Week: Preston Tucker, El Paso
Preston Tucker is our MadFriars Player of the Week for the second time this season. In four games, Tucker went 7-for-15 with two doubles, a homer, and three RBI. Overall, he produced a 1.329 OPS during El Paso’s series in Round Rock. The 32-year-old big league veteran ranks fifth in the PCL with a 1.052 OPS on the season, producing well against both right- and left-handed pitching.
MadFriars Pitcher of the Week: Jairo Iriarte, Fort Wayne
Iriarte was about as easy as a selection as you can imagine. The righthander pitched the first six innings of the TinCaps’ combined no-hitter. Iriarte dominated, getting outs with all three of his pitches and racking up eight strikeouts in his first start this year without a walk. The 21-year-old now sports a 1.73 ERA on the year and is holding Midwest League hitters to a .165 average.
Chihuahuas (split series at Round Rock)
Top Performers: Jose Iglesias became the first player this year and only the fifth in Chihuahuas history to hit for the cycle on Wednesday. In addition to his first triple and home run of the season, the shortstop with a decade of big league service time batted .320/.320/.560 on the week. … Anderson Espinoza turned in the most dominant start of the week on Tuesday, allowing four hits and one run over six dominant innings. It was the first time he’s gone six inning in back-to-back starts in over five years. However, Espinoza returned for the series finale on Sunday and had issues finding the plate. He walked two and hit two over 2.2 innings, allowing three runs. Despite the bad start, Espinoza still has a 2.79 ERA over four May starts.
Top Prospects and Others of Note: Jose Castillo, who was activated off the IL and optioned to El Paso Monday, made three appearances during the week. Two were dominant and one horrific. On the bright side, he struck out five in 2.1 innings. The downside saw him give up four earned runs in a third of an inning on Friday. … Former Padre fan favorite Nabil Chrismatt started his rehab by appearing in two games, allowing one run over 3.1 innings. … Jay Groome was effective even if he still struggled to find home plate. Groome allowed just one run over 4.2 innings but walked four and struck out only two. In May, Groome has walked 16 over 18.2 innings. … Ray Kerr still has not allowed a run this month. In three games over the week, he allowed one hit, two walks, and struck out three. … After two fantastic starts, Matt Waldron came crashing back to earth. He allowed five earned runs on 11 hits over 3.1 innings. In Waldron’s nine starts this year, he has allowed five-plus runs five times, and fewer than two runs in his other four outings. … David Dahl, who was also optioned to El Paso this week, had six hits over five games. He had a double, walked once, and struck out once. Since his rehab started with El Paso, Dahl has hit .270/.308/.378. … Another outfielder among the last cuts of spring, Taylor Kohlwey got off to a miserable start to the season. TK has heated up recently and went 6-for-17, with a double, home run, four walks, and five runs scored. In May, Kohlwey has a .421 on-base percentage. (Ben Davey)
Missions (Split series at Midland)
Top Performers: The San Antonio offense broke out a bit this week, putting up 27 runs in Midland and getting multiple solid contributions. While Connor Hollis only appeared in four games, he made the most of it, posting a .571/.667/.786 line in 18 plate appearances. The utility man only struck out once while drawing three walks and getting hit by a pitch, and he also swiped a pair of bases. … Like Hollis, the team’s top pitching performer of the week also signed as a minor league free agent in 2022 and is in a return performance for the Missions. Nolan Watson spun an absolute gem, tossing seven scoreless innings with a season-high six strikeouts. The 26-year-old righty has held opponents to a .192 average on the year despite 22 strikeouts in 35.1 innings on his way to a 1.27 ERA. The Royals’ first-round pick out of an Indiana high school way back in 2015, Watson has cut his walk rate almost in half, down to just 5.2% this year.
Top Prospects and Others of Note: Outfielder Daniel Johnson posted an .893 OPS across 23 plate appearances on the week, by far his strongest showing of the year. The 28-year-old, who collected big league service time in 2020 and 2021, is working to get his on-base percentage back up to .300 on the year. … While it was just 12 plate appearances, Jorge Oña had four hits including a homer for a .333/.333/.586 line. … Ripken Reyes continued to provide a spark at the top of the Missions lineup, reaching base at a .400 clip in 28 plate appearances. … Jose Espada and Alek Jacob were both strong out of the bullpen to help the Missions in a week when their starters struggled. Jacob, who was late getting started this year, is finding his footing again. The 24-year-old struck out 5 over 3.2 scoreless innings in a pair of outings in Midland and pushed his ERA down to 1.59. Espada came on in relief Friday night and dealt 3.2 one-hit innings of his own while striking out five. Originally drafted by the Blue Jays in the fifth round back in 2015 and signed by the Padres out of the American Association last summer, Espada has been effective as a multi-inning reliever for San Antonio. Through 27 innings in 12 appearances, the 26-year-old has 34 strikeouts. (David Jay)
TinCaps (Won series at Dayton 4-2)
Top Performers: Beyond the stellar outing by Iriarte, who featured heavily in our interview with TinCaps manager Jonathan Mathews, Bobby Milacki, 26, had a strong claim for the week’s top performance. The Lake Havasu, Arizona native pitched 6.2 scoreless innings across two outings with 11 strikeouts against no walks and five hits. After stints with the Minnesota Twins, Washington Nationals, and out of affiliated ball, the second-generation pitcher signed with San Diego in the off-season as a minor league free agent. … Carlos Luis, 23, only appeared in three games and had 14 plate appearances, but he made them count as he slashed .538/.571/.846 with a home run and a double. The left-handed hitting infielder has been in the Padres’ organization since 2017 and has mainly seen time as a DH this year, but could see more time in the field as the organization makes the first wave of moves of the season in coming weeks.
Top Prospects and Others of Note: Adam Mazur, 22, was nearly as impressive as Iriarte, throwing six shutout innings and only allowing three hits. After the draft, pundits stated that Mazur had four very good pitches rather than one outstanding pitch. His fastball, touching 97 mph, might change that perception slightly. … Ethan Routzahn, 25, was the hero of Saturday’s game throwing four shutout innings in relief of Ryan Bergert, 23, who gave up a run in his four-inning start. … At the plate, Nathan Martorella, 22, continues to punish the ball as the former Cal Bear had an OPS of .961 for the week, yielding a grand slam and seven RBI. … Jackson Merrill, 20, had his best week so far, leading the squad in hits with eight hits including a double and triple as he hit .348. … Marcos Castañon, 24, keeps producing as he slashed .304/.360/.522. Castañon is second on the team in total bases with 63, to Martorella’s 67. (John Conniff)
Storm (Lost to Inland Empire 1-2)
The Storm’s games over the weekend were postponed due to an incident where two workers installing a new dryer in the home clubhouse were injured in an explosion. There is no update in terms of when those games will be made. The 66ers are slated to return to The Diamond on June 27-July 2 and August 15-20.
Top Performers: Power-hitting outfielder/first baseman Albert Fabian hit well in the three games he played, going 3-for-10 with a homer, double, and three RBI. The 21-year-old has shown the pop he did last season in the Cal League but a paltry 4% walk rate has impeded his production. In his first stint with the Storm, Fabian walked in 10% of his plate appearances. Despite ranking in the top five in the Cal League in homers, Fabian’s overall offensive production is just six percent above league average. If Fabian can be more selective, his power potential makes him an interesting player to watch. … Righthander Henry Baez continued his excellent run through his first full season in the Cal League. Baez earned the victory Tuesday in his longest start of the year, giving up one run over 5.2 innings. In six starts, Baez has a 2.49 ERA. The 20-year-old has been a bit heavy with the walks but the stuff he possesses has definitely played in the Cal League.
Top Prospects and Others of Note: Samuel Zavala continues to hit, going 4-for-11 with a homer and a pair of RBI. After a slow start, Zavala has improved upon the production he had last year in his brief stint with the Storm. The 18-year-old has a .400 on-base percentage and four homers in 142 plate appearances. … Former seventh-rounder Nick Vogt didn’t make the Storm out of spring training and in fact, he wasn’t one of the first call-ups when the Storm needed position players. However, since being brought up to replace Kai Murphy, the former UC Santa Barbara outfielder went 3-for-10 and connected on his first homer of his professional career. In a small sample, Vogt has produced league-average offensive numbers with Lake Elsinore. … Graham Pauley had a rare quiet series although to be fair, he only played in three games. Pauley hit .182/.357/.273 with three walks. Despite the slow start to the series, Pauley is leading the Cal League with a .336 batting average. He also has the lowest K-rate (10.7%) on the circuit. … Righty Miguel Mendez started Wednesday and impressed in his Storm debut. The 20-year-old fired four innings and allowed just one hit, striking out four. Mendez saw time with the ACL club last year and made one appearance with Fort Wayne. His stuff looked impressive and he will be an interesting player to track. … Henry Williams struck out four over two scoreless innings in his second start since joining the Storm. The 21-year-old righty, who had Tommy John surgery before the Padres made him their third-round pick last summer, will be brought along slowly. (Kevin Charity)
Rookie League Updates
The Arizona Complex League and Dominican Summer League will both open play on Monday, June 5. For the first time, the Padres will field a second club in the DSL.