Reno Aces 15, Chihuahuas 6

Key Stats: 2B Tim Lopes 2-for-3, HR (9), 2 BB; RF Luis Liberato 2-for-3, 2B, BB; LHP Jay Groome 0.2 IP, 3 H, 5 ER, 1 K, 3 BB, HB; RHP Reiss Knehr 1.1 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 3 K; LHP Jose Castillo 1 IP, 1 H, 1 BB; RHP Angel Felipe 1 IP, 1 K, 1 BB

Jay Groome has had a rough second stint in El Paso. (Photo: Jorge Salgado)

Prospect Watch: Jay Groome‘s nightmare season continued as the big lefty failed to get out of the first inning. Groome has struggled to find any rhythm in El Paso this season after a strong showing in late 2022 when the Padres acquired him from Boston. He walked three more, hit a batter, and allowed three hits, including a loud homer. Over 11 starts at Triple-A this year, the 24-year-old has made it past five innings just twice and has walked 38 in 47.2 innings while also allowing a .330 average. He landed just three of his 13 breaking balls in the strike zone. … The Chihuahuas turned to Johnny All-Staff after Groome was chased after just two outs, relying on eight more arms to get through the game. Angel Felipe, who worked the ninth, was the only reliever who didn’t allow multiple batters to reach. The 25-year-old righty dialed his sinker up to 99 mph but continued to fight his command. While he’s struck out 30 in 18.2 innings this year, opponents are hitting a solid .253 against him and have drawn 13 walks. … Infielder Tim Lopes had his second big game of the series, collecting a pair of hits and two walks hitting in the cleanup spot. The 28-year-old connected on his ninth homer of the season and is on track to pass his career high of 13 around the halfway point in the season. While he is primarily a second baseman, Lopes has appeared everywhere except catcher and first base over his 11-year career.

Efrain Contreras is finding his groove in San Antonio. (Photo: San Antonio Missions)

Amarillo Sod Poodles 9, Missions 3

Key Stats: LF Daniel Johnson 3-for-3, BB, SB (7); 3B Juan Fernandez 2-for-4; C Michael De la Cruz 2-for-4, 2B, PB; RHP Efrain Contreras 4 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 7 K, 1 BB; RHP Henry Henry 1 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 1 K, 1 BB

Prospect Watch: The Missions had 1-0 and 3-2 leads in the game, but Amarillo pulled away late to claim the series finale. Daniel Johnson reached base four times for San Antonio, collecting three singles and a walk. The 27-year-old, signed as a minor league free agent last winter like many of his roster-mates in San Antonio, got off to a slow start to the year but has put together a .278/.333/.361 line this month. … Korry Howell had one of the Missions’ two doubles on the day. In five games since returning from the IL, the talented outfielder has reached a .409 clip. … Starter Efrain Contreras cruised through his first three innings, allowing just one hit. In the fourth, though, the Sod Poodles got to him for a pair of runs on a double and homer. The 23-year-old finished the day after 69 pitches, 43 for strikes. The righty continues to rack up impressive strikeout totals, setting down seven Amarillo hitters Sunday, but still carries an inflated ERA on the year because of some early season struggles. In May, he’s pitched to a 3.86 mark with a 31:8 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 23.1 innings.

Jackson Merrill has hit in nine of his last 11 games. (Photo: Jeff Nycz)

Lansing Lugnuts 2, TinCaps 1

Key Stats: SS Jackson Merrill 2-for-4; 3B Marcos Castañon 1-for-4, 2B; RHP Victor Lizarraga 4 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 3 K, HBP; RHP Raul Brito 2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 K

Prospect Watch: The TinCaps managed just six hits and scored one run as they dropped the series finale Sunday afternoon. Jackson Merrill picked up two more hits batting in the leadoff spot and now has a .825 OPS with just two strikeouts in 25 plate appearances since sliding to the top of the order. The left-handed batter beat out a slow chopper to first base, then lined a ball up the middle for his second single. Now 20 years old, the shortstop has hit in nine of 11 games since returning from his second bout with a stomach flu but has just a double and two triples over 48 at-bats in that stretch. … Victor Lizarraga, who left his last start early and then missed his next turn in the rotation because of the same virus, threw four innings as he shook off a bit of rust. The 19-year-old righty allowed two runs on five hits and tossed 40 of 61 pitches for strikes. … Raul Brito, who began his professional career with the Marlins with Lizarraga, was just 12 years old, worked two scoreless innings to close out the game. The 26-year-old righty signed as a free agent this offseason after pitching parts of the 2019, 2021, and 2022 seasons in the Midwest League. He’s held opponents to a .125 average in 10.1 innings since joining the TinCaps earlier this month.

Quakes 3, Storm 2

Key Stats: CF Samuel Zavala 1-for-4; RF Nick Vogt 1-for-3, 2B, SB (1); RHP Miguel Mendez 4 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 5 K, 2 BB; RHP David Morgan 3 IP, 1 H, 2 K

Prospect Watch: The Storm were held hitless until the eighth and dropped the series finale to settle for a split with the Quakes. Outfielder Nick Vogt led off the eighth with a double to break up the no-no. The 22-year-old outfielder promptly stole third and was able to come around to score when the throw sailed to the outfield. Vogt, a seventh-round pick out of UC Santa Barbara last year, has a .718 OPS through 12 games after joining the Storm from extended in early May. … Center fielder Samuel Zavala had a two-out RBI single in the ninth, extending his hitting streak to five games. … Miguel Mendez turned in his second impressive start since he was assigned to Lake Elsinore. The 20-year-old righty struck out five of the first seven batters he faced and didn’t allow a hit until a leadoff double in the fourth inning. Mendez struggled with command in the ACL last summer in his stateside debut, but in the early going this year, he is getting impressive results. Signed out of the Dominican Republic as an 18-year-old, Mendez has allowed three hits and three walks while striking out nine in eight innings. … Orange County native David Morgan followed Mendez with three one-hit innings of his own. The 23-year-old, signed as an undrafted free agent out of tiny NAIA school Hope International last summer, sports a 2.35 ERA since getting to the Cal League a month ago. Sunday’s outing was his longest yet working in a multi-inning relief role.

Posted by David Jay

David has written for MadFriars since 2005, has published articles in Baseball America, written a monthly column for FoxSports San Diego and appeared on numerous radio programs and podcasts. He may be best known on the island of Guam for his photos of Trae Santos that appeared in the Pacific Daily News.

Leave a Reply