Reno Aces 13, Chihuahuas 7
Key Statistics: 1B Alfonso Rivas, 1-for-3, 2 R, 2 BB; LF Preston Tucker, 3-for-5, 2 2B, HR (7), 4 RBI; C Kevin Plawecki, 1-for-3, 2 BB, RBI; LHP Jay Groome (L, 1-4) 4.2 IP, 9 H, 8 ER, 5 BB, 6 K; RHP Nabil Crismatt, 1.1 IP, H, 2 ER, BB
Prospect Watch: El Paso led 3-2 after four innings, but Reno used an eight-run fifth inning to cruise to a blowout win in the series opener. … Reigning MadFriars Player of the Week Preston Tucker is well on his way to earning the recognition for a second straight week. The left fielder doubled twice and launched his seventh homer of the year in the loss. Tucker was the only El Paso hitter to notch an extra-base hit. His homer Sunday and another on Tuesday marked the second time Tucker has homered in consecutive games this month. The 32-year-old hasn’t appeared in a big league game since 2018, but his play with El Paso makes a return to the big leagues a distinct possibility. In addition to the power he’s flashed, Tucker has walked more times than he has struck out (22 walks vs. 20 strikeouts). If there is a concern about Tucker’s production, one could point to his home/road splits. Tucker has cleaned up at home (.382/.452/.800) while struggling on the road (.222/.453/.356). … Organizational newcomer Kevin Plawecki singled, drew two walks, and drove in a run in the Chihuahuas’ loss. The veteran catcher was signed last week after Pedro Severino opted out of his contract with the Padres. The 32-year-old veteran has racked up frequent flyer miles this season. He began 2023 in spring training with Pittsburgh before being released on March 27. He signed with the Washington Nationals and played in 24 games with Triple-A Rochester, hitting .256/.351/.341 before being released last Tuesday. Plawecki has never hit much but has played in 447 games in parts of eight big league seasons. He gives the organization a solid depth option should the need arise for another backstop. … Lefthander Jay Groome struggled again Tuesday night and took his fourth loss of the year. Groome worked into the fifth inning but allowed eight runs on nine hits, walking five and striking out six. Among qualifiers, Groome has the second-highest ERA (8.04) in the Pacific Coast League. After allowing 14 baserunners against Reno, Groome has a league-worst 2.04 WHIP. In his cameo at the end of last season with El Paso, opposing hitters batted .267 against Groome; this season, that mark is up to .323. Groome has also had a major issue with command. Last season, he walked 19 batters in 51.1 innings with the Chihuahuas; this season, he’s walked a staggering 35 batters in 47 innings. Groome has shown flashes this season, but the consistency he showed last season has eluded him in 2023.
Missions 14, Amarillo Sod Poodles 4
Key Statistics: RF Tirso Ornelas, 2-for-4, R, BB; LF Daniel Johnson, 2-for-2, 4 R, 2 BB, 2 RBI, SB (6); C Michael De La Cruz, 3-for-3, 3 R, 2B; SS Connor Hollis, 2-for-4, R, 2 RBI; RHP Efrain Contreras, 4.2 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 8 K; RHP Lake Bachar (W, 2-0) 1.1 IP, K; RHP Michel Baez, 2 IP, 3 H, ER, BB, 4 K
Prospect Watch: The Missions opened a homestand with a blowout win against Amarillo, scoring a season-high 14 runs in the victory. … Catcher Michael De La Cruz had three hits, including a double. The former Blue Jays and Tigers farmhand turned 30 last week. Despite his age and experience, De La Cruz has never amassed more than 300 plate appearances in his previous nine professional seasons. The veteran catcher has been the offensive end of a platoon with Chandler Seagle. Overall, De La Cruz is hitting .253/.380/.400. … Shortstop Connor Hollis had a pair of hits and drove in two runs. The multi-hit effort extended Hollis’ hitting streak to five games. During the hitting streak, Hollis has seen his batting average rise from .171 to .228. … Veteran outfielder Daniel Johnson had two hits, drew two walks, and scored four runs. Johnson is tied for the team lead with Connor Hollis in runs scored with 18. … Right-hander Efrain Contreras steamrolled through the Sod Poodles lineup before fading in the fifth. Through the first four innings, Contreras held Amarillo scoreless, racking up seven strikeouts. Contreras got two outs in the fifth before allowing three consecutive baserunners to reach. While the overall line doesn’t look pretty, Contreras was effective for most of his outings. After a rough April, Contreras has a 3.72 ERA in four May starts. In 19.1 May innings, Contreras has struck out 24 batters.
Roster Moves: Over the last two days, the Padres have made several roster moves that impacted the Missions’ roster. The Padres released left-handed reliever Fred Schlichtholz and veteran infielders Brantley Bell, and Luis Aviles Jr. The 27-year-old Schlichtholz was the Padres’ 13th-round pick in 2017. In his six seasons in the system, the former Coronado High star appeared in 145 games, pitching to a 3.52 ERA. … The Padres signed Bell and Aviles Jr. in the offseason as free agents. Neither player broke out offensively. … The Missions activated Korry Howell from the injured list for Tuesday’s game, and he drew a pair of walks in his return to action. In addition, lefthander Aaron Leasher was activated and sent to San Antonio, Cole Cummings was promoted from Fort Wayne, and righthander Edwuin Bencomo came off the Development List and was transferred to Fort Wayne.
Lansing Lugnuts 11, TinCaps 4
Key Statistics: 1B Nathan Martorella, 2-for-3, R, 2 BB, 2B; C Brandon Valenzuela, 2-for-5, R, 2B, RBI; RF Joshua Mears, 2-for-3, RBI; RHP Jairo Iriarte (L, 2-3) 4 IP, 7 H, 6 ER, 2 BB, 2 K; RHP Keegan Collett, 2 IP, BB, K
Prospect Watch: The TinCaps returned home after a series win in Dayton, but Fort Wayne allowed five runs in the fourth inning and dropped the series opener. … First baseman Nathan Martorella reached base four times as the Padres’ fifth-round pick last summer continues to crush Midwest League pitching. Martorella singled, doubled, and drew two walks for his third consecutive multi-hit effort. After a solid April, the Fort Wayne first baseman has terrorized the circuit, hitting .328/.456/.623 in May. … Right fielder Joshua Mears singled twice and drove in a run. Perhaps more importantly, it was just the second time in 21 games that Mears didn’t record a strikeout. The powerful right fielder had a two-week stint on the injured list earlier this month but has otherwise received regular at-bats. In 52 games last season with Fort Wayne, Mears had a .815 OPS. Even with Tuesday’s multi-hit effort, Mears’ OPS stands at .691. If you are looking for silver linings, Mears had improved his K-rate slightly. Last season, Mears punched out in 43.5% of his plate appearances in a TinCaps uniform; this season, that number sits at 39.4%. … After pitching six hitless innings last week, right-hander Jairo Iriarte had his first poor start of the year. The hard-throwing starter allowed a season-high six runs on seven hits. He walked two and struck out two. The rough outing almost doubled Iriarte’s ERA, as it jumped from 1.73 coming into Tuesday night to 3.30. Despite the setback, the righty has significantly improved this season. He will be asked to continue to show better command with his fastball as he moves up in the system and on prospect lists.
Storm 4, Rancho Cucamonga Quakes 3 (10 innings)
Key Statistics: LF Nick Vogt, 1-for-4, HR (2), RBI; 1B Griffin Doersching, 2-for-4, R, 2B, RBI; SS Rosman Verdugo, 1-for-3, BB, RBI; LHP Adrian Morejon, 0.1 IP, 2 BB, K; LHP Austin Krob, 4.1 IP, 4 H, 2 BB, 6 K; RHP Kobe Robinson (W, 5-0) 3 IP, H, 3 K
Prospect Watch: After having their last three games postponed due to an accident at The Diamond, the Storm hit the road for a series against first-place Rancho Cucamonga. The Storm manufactured an extra-innings run and won the series opener at LoanMart Field. … First baseman Griffin Doersching had a pair of hits, including his ninth double of the year. After a miserable April, Doersching has been rock solid in May. Tuesday’s multi-hit affair raised his OPS to .855 this month. … Left fielder Nick Vogt led off the game in fashion, smacking his second homer of the year. The 22-year-old is hitting .235/.350/.412 in nine games with the Storm. … Adrian Morejon began his path back to the big leagues Tuesday night, but struggled in his start. Morejon started off well, striking out the first batter of the game. He walked the next two, also on full counts, and was pulled from the after 18 pitches – just seven for strikes. Morejon was diagnosed with a left elbow strain on March 30. … Austin Krob took over for Morejon and, after a walk of his own to load the bases, immediately induced a double play to escape the jam. Krob continued the outing and threw 4.1 shutout innings. Krob allowed four hits, walking two and striking out six Quakes. The 22-year-old has flown under the radar a bit this season, but is someone to watch. Krob lowered his ERA to 1.86 over 29 innings this season. He’s struck out 36 batters while holding opponents to a .190 average. … Righthander Kobe Robinson kept the Quakes off the board over the final three innings, earning his league-leading fifth win. Robinson allowed just one hit while striking out three. His most impressive work came in the tenth inning with the automatic runner on second base; Robinson induced a double play on a lineout and recorded a flyout to escape the jam. The 22-year-old righty has worked once weekly as a multi-inning reliever, typically throwing 2-3 innings at a time.