Chihuahuas 7, Tacoma Rainiers 6

Anderson Espinoza struck out 12 on Wednesday. (Photo: Jorge Salgado)

Key Stats: RHP Anderson Espinoza (W, 3-2) 6 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 12 K; RHP Reiss Knehr IP, H, K; 2B Tim Lopes 1-for-5, HR (12), 2 RBI, SB (19); CF Jose Azocar 2-for-4, HR (3), 2 RS, 2 RBI; DH Brett Sullivan 1-for-3, 2B, R, RBI, BB; 3B Jantzen Witte 2-for-4, 2B, R, RBI; C Kevin Plawecki 2-for-3, R, 2B, RBI

Prospect Watch:  In Anderson Espinoza‘s five outings before Wednesday night, he struck out just 11 batters in 22 innings pitched. On Wednesday, he set a new career-high with 12 strikeouts in six solid innings. His fastball, which used to sit in the mid- to upper-90s, has sat at 92-94 mph for most of the season. However, what he lost in velocity, he gained in movement. His fastball, which acts more like a sinker, generated a 34% whiff rate on the night. He combined it with a low-80s slider to keep hitters from making hard contact. When he can locate his pitches for strikes, like he did tonight, Espinoza is capable of gettingstrong results. … Center fielder Jose Azocar picked up his third minor league home run of the year as part of a multi-hit game. While his career MLB slugging percentage is just .320, Azocar has posted a .440 mark in El Paso this season and .466 in 89 career PCL games. While he will never be a power hitter, showing enough pop to keep outfielders honest could give Azocar a better platform to return to San Diego. … Second baseman Tim Lopes swatted his 12th home run on the season — a new professional high for the veteran. He hit 11 homers in each of the last three full seasons. The 28-year-old, whose .880 OPS is good for 24th in the league, is on pace for 25 home runs and 40 stolen bases.

Missions 5, Midland Rockhounds 0

Key Stats: RHP Efrain Contreras (W, 4-4), 5 IP, 3 H, 3 BB, 8 K; RHP Alek Jacob 2 IP, H, 4 K; RF Tirso Ornelas 1-for-4, HR (9), 2 RBI; LF Cole Cummings 1-for-2, R, BB, RBI; SS Ray-Patrick Didder 2-for-3, R, RBI

Efrain Contreras got the win at the Wolff. (Photo: Joe Alexander)

Prospect Watch: The road to recovery after Tommy John surgery is never a straight line and it can often take two to three years before a pitcher is entirely back after the surgery. Tonight was a night that showed what righty Efrain Contreras could be like fully back. For the third time this year, Contreras threw five scoreless innings. This time, he did so while tying his season-high with eight strikeouts. Like Espinoza, who had the surgery twice, Contreras will often struggle to find the command of his breaking pitches now, over two years removed from the surgery. Even when he does miss, he still gets plenty of whiffs. He has a 12.15 K/9 rate this month and an 11.3 rate on the season. … Also tying a season-high in strikeouts was righty Alek Jacob. The sidewinding righty struck out four and gave up a hit and a hit-by-pitch over two scoreless frames. In nine innings this month, Jacob has not given up a run while allowing only seven baserunners and striking out 11. Jacob has not allowed a run since May 5, a span of 11 outings and 19.2 innings. He currently holds a 0.74 ERA on the season. … For the fourth time in five games, right fielder Tirso Ornelas went deep. The home run gave him nine on the season, which sets a new career high before the season’s halfway mark. In June, he is hitting .372/.430/.692. That .692 would be the highest monthly slugging percentage of his career. His six home runs in June, with over a week left, put him just one short of equaling his total across 112 games for all of 2022 with San Antonio. … The win clinched the first-half division championship for the Missions, the only affiliate with a winning record.

TinCaps 7, South Bend Cubs 1

Jackson Merrill hit home run number seven. (Photo: Jeff Nycz)

Key Stats: RHP Adam Mazur (W, 3-0), 5 IP, 3 H, ER, 2 BB, 4 K; SS Jackson Merrill 1-for-5, HR (7), 2 R, 2 RBI; CF Jakob Marsee 3-for-5, R, RBI, 2B; 3B Marcos Castanon 2-for-5, 2B, 2 RBI; C Juan Zabala, 2-for-4, 2B, 2 R

Prospect Watch: Continuing the trend of fantastic outings, righthander Adam Mazur allowed just one run over five innings. Unlike the others, Mazur did not have his best stuff working for him. He walked back-to-back batters in the second and had problems locating his pitches all night. Still, since returning from a virus on May 6, Mazur has thrown 41 innings and allowed just six earned runs, seven walks, and 33 strikeouts. That dominance has pushed his season numbers to a 0.94 WHIP and 1.72 ERA. He is currently four innings short of appearing at the top of league leader boards. … Shortstop Jackson Merrill hit his seventh home run on the season to get the scoring started and give the TinCaps all the runs they would need. While it was the only hit on the night, he would also reach on an error and later score. Merrill now has seven extra-base hits in the month. That number is noteworthy because it gives him more extra-base hits than strikeouts in June. He has gone 40 plate appearances since his last strikeout on June 10. … While his stats on the season don’t necessarily track with his ranking as the team’s top prospect and a top-25 prospect in all of baseball, his ability to fight off difficult pitches, especially with two strikes, is one of the best in the game and Merrill is just 20. … Center fielder Jakob Marsee had his first three-hit game since April 19 and has hit in six of the last seven games, including four multi-hit games. The recent success has boosted his average for the month to .294. If he can continue to make consistent productive contact, Marsee, who is already in the Midwest League top ten in walks, OBP, stolen bases, and K-rate, will give the TinCaps an incredibly dynamic one-two punch at the top of the lineup.

Rancho Cucamonga Quakes 4, Storm 2

Jagger Haynes in action earlier in the year. (Photo: Justin Jett Pickard)

Key Statistics: C Ethan Salas 0-for-3, RBI, BB, K, PB; CF Samuel Zavala 1-for-4, R; LHP 3B Devin Ortiz 1-for-2, 2 BB; Jagger Haynes 3.1 IP, 3 H, 2 R (1 ER), 2 BB, 4 K; RHP Manuel Castro 3.2 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 7 K, 1 BB

Prospect Watch: The Storm managed two runs despite collecting only two singles and going 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position.    Third baseman Devin Ortiz reached base three times for the first time as a professional. He has reached base five times over the last two games, going 3-for-6 with two walks. … The main story for the Storm tonight was the return of southpaw Jagger Haynes. Haynes is now closing in on two years post-Tommy John surgery and the Padres have been slowly letting go of the reins. He went four innings for the first time on June 7, but a blister ended that outing and he missed his next start. Appearing after a two-week hiatus Wednesday, Haynes again worked into the fourth inning. However, he allowed two of the three batters he faced that inning to reach base before being removed after a career-high 56 pitches. The Padres will try to get his innings total, which now sits at 21.1, up over 60. In his two June starts, Haynes has only allowed that one earned run in 7.1 innings and now has a 3.80 ERA on the year.

The ACL Padres were not in action Wednesday.

Posted by Ben Davey

Writer for MadFriars since 2011. San Diego raised. Grossmont alum. Die hard SD and sports fan. Currently keeping my day job as an AP Chemistry Teacher.

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