Albuquerque Isotopes 4, Chihuahuas 3
Key Statistics: 1B Taylor Kohlwey, 1-for-3, BB, 2 RBI; DH Brett Sullivan, 2-for-3, BB, 2B; LF Tirso Ornelas, 2-for-4, R; LHP Jay Groome, 6 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 7 K; RHP Domingo Tapia, IP, 2 BB; RHP Jake Sanchez (L, 1-4) 0.2 IP, 2 H, ER, K
Prospect Watch: El Paso lost to Albuquerque on a two-out walk-off single Friday night. The usually potent Chihuahuas offensive attack managed just one extra-base hit in the setback. … For just the third time this season, El Paso received a quality start from struggling lefty Jay Groome. The former first-round pick worked six innings for the second consecutive start and allowed three earned runs on four hits. Perhaps more importantly, Groome walked just two batters and struck out seven. Friday’s outing broke up a rather dubious statistical feat for the lefty; it was the first time in 12 starts that Groome walked fewer than three batters. The walks have been an absolute killer all season for Groome, who has walked a PCL-high 56 batters in 71.2 innings. The solid outing lowered Groome’s ERA to a still-ghastly 9.29. The Padres will hope the big lefty can find the groove he had last season after coming over to the organization in the Eric Hosmer deal. … Tirso Ornelas singled twice — his first two hits since joining the Chihuahuas. The 23-year-old broke out in San Antonio over the last month, hitting .378/.434/.656 before being promoted for his second stint in El Paso. If Ornelas can continue to flash the power in El Paso that he did in San Antonio, he could play himself into his first big-league opportunity.
Missions 10, Frisco RoughRiders 3
Key Statistics: DH Michael De La Cruz, 2-for-5, R, 2B; 3B Juan Fernandez, 3-for-4, 2 R, 2B; C Brandon Valenzuela, 2-for-3, 3 R, BB, 2 2B; LF Kervin Pichardo, 3-for-4, R, HR (2), 6 RBI; RHP Jared Kollar, 4.2 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 6 K; RHP Justin Lopez (W, 1-0) 2.1 IP, 2 H, ER, BB, K
Prospect Watch: After losing the series opener Wednesday night, the Missions have won two straight over their counterparts from Frisco. … The big blow offensively came off the bat of utility man Kervin Pichardo, who blasted a three-run homer off Jack Leiter, the number two overall pick in the 2021 MLB Draft. Pichardo had three hits and drove in a career-high six runs. The 21-year-old from the Bronx has seen time with the Missions and TinCaps this year after starting the year in extended spring training. Between the two stops, he has driven in 21 runs in 41 games, with 11 runs coming in two big games and 10 in the other 39 games he’s played. He has played six positions defensively this year. … Catcher Brandon Valenzuela had a pair of doubles, walked, and scored three runs. After a rough campaign with the TinCaps last season, Valenzuela repeated the level to start 2023 and put up a .828 OPS to top his breakout 2021 campaign. Valenzuela has been much more aggressive in his approach at the plate this year, and that has been a positive development, as he looked passive at times last year. Since joining the Missions, the Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico native has reached base six times in 11 plate appearances. … Jared Kollar made his first Double-A start and fared well but couldn’t get through the fifth to pick up the win. In 4.2 innings, he allowed a pair of runs on four hits, walking three and striking out six. An undrafted free agent out of Rutgers last year, the righty who turns 25 this month has been one of the big surprises of the system this year. He appeared in nine games (seven starts) with the TinCaps and pitched to a 1.86 ERA that was backed up by a 2.14 FIP. His specialty has been control; he walked only six batters in 37.2 innings with Fort Wayne. With the upper minors starved for pitching depth, Kollar has earned the opportunity to take on the Texas League. If he can continue to throw strikes consistently, he is someone to watch.
Game One: Lake County Captains 4, TinCaps 2 (7 innings)
Key Statistics: SS Jackson Merrill, 2-for-3, 2 R, BB, 2 HR (8, 9), 2 RBI; LF Albert Fabian, 1-for-3; Juan Zabala, 1-for-3; RHP Adam Mazur (L, 3-1) 5 IP, 8 H, 3 ER, 4 K
Game Two: TinCaps 4, Lake County Captains 2
Key Statistics: 2B Graham Pauley, 1-for-3, R; RF Lucas Dunn, 2-for-2, R, BB; LF Albert Fabian, 1-for-3, R, HR (1), 4 RBI; LHP Bodi Rascon, 4 IP, 2 H, 3 BB, 7 K; RHP Carter Loewen (W, 1-0) IP, BB, 2 K; RHP Will Geerdes (S, 1) IP
Prospect Watch: The TinCaps got in two games against the Captains, losing the first one but bouncing back in game two to keep their overall record at .500. … In game one, shortstop Jackson Merrill provided all the offense as he connected on a pair of solo homers. The homers were his eighth and ninth of the campaign. It was the second time in his professional career that Merrill connected on two home runs in a game. He also accomplished the feat last August 31 while playing with the Storm. The 20-year-old shortstop finished June hitting .259/.296/.435 on five homers. Merrill has made consistent contact all season, but his overall OPS has suffered a bit because of a low walk rate. Coming into play Friday, Merrill has walked in just 4.9% of his plate appearances — the sixth-lowest mark in the Midwest League. Overall,Merrill’ss offensive output has been about league average, but it looks considerably better after he struggled in April and dealt with an illness in early May. He went 0-for-3 in the nightcap. … All of the runs in game two came off the bat of newly-promoted Albert Fabian, who swatted a seventh-inning grand slam to propel Fort Wayne to a victory. The 21-year-old outfielder and sometimes first baseman is getting a second crack at the Midwest League after struggling down the stretch last season. He returned to Lake Elsinore at the start of the year and hit 12 homers with the Storm to go with a league-leading 58 RBI. If Fabian can make more consistent contact this time around, he should give the TinCaps another big bat in the middle of the order. … Righty Adam Mazur started the first game and took the loss. The former Iowa hurler allowed three runs on a season-high eight hits over five innings. He punched out four batters without allowing a walk. While the outing was poor byMazur’ss standards, he has been excellent in his first full pro season.He’ss pitched to a sparkling 2.08 ERA in 52 innings for the TinCaps this season. … Lefthander Bodi Rascon started the second game and turned in a solid effort but did not factor in the decision. Rascon pitched the first four innings and did not allow a run. Rascon did walk three but minimized the damage with a career-high seven strikeouts. The 22-year-old lefty has struggled with command at times, but his stuff has played as well as it ever has this year. He is averaging more than a strikeout per inning, and opponents are hitting just .238 against him. In 16.1 innings with Fort Wayne last year, Midwest League foes throttled him to the tune of a .338 batting average. Rascon was drafted back in 2019, and while his development has been methodical, he has shown great improvement this year. Righty Will Geerdes picked up the save in his first appearance since joining the club from Lake Elsinore earlier in the week. The 23-year-old, another of a productive group of undrafted free agents the organization signed last summer, needed just six pitches to set the Captains down in order. The University of Virginia product struck out 41 in 33.1 innings for Lake Elsinore this year.
Inland Empire 66ers 9, Storm 2
Key Statistics: C Ethan Salas, 2-for-3, 2 2B, RBI, SB (3); 1B Griffin Doersching, 1-for-4, R; LHP Miguel Cienfuegos 3 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, BB, 4 K; RHP Nick Thwaits, IP, H; LHP Fernando Sanchez (L, 2-4) 3 IP, H, ER, 2 BB, K
Prospect Watch: The 66ers scored six runs over the final three innings to beat the Storm for the second night in a row. The series is split at two each. … Ethan Salas had a pair of doubles and stole his third base of the season. The 17-year-old prospect just finished his first full month in professional baseball. Although the numbers look rough, a lot of context goes beyond a box score. The Venezuelan teenager has navigated a pitching staff with several players far older than him, and he’s faced better pitchhe’sthan almost any 17-year-old in recent memory. He finished June with a .190/.311/.321 slash-line, but he has connected on two homers, shown a good approach, and has not allowed a couple of bad at-bats to deter his confidence. While many fans may have expected him to hit the ground running, the fact that he has handled the attention and the competition has been impressive. … Miguel Cienfuegos made another start and allowed a pair of runs in three innings of work. He walked two and struck out four. The 26-year-old is with the Storm on a rehab assignment, but appears to be stretched out enough to return to the swingman role he had with the TinCaps in April. The Laval, Quebec native has allowed four runs in seven innings with the Storm since joining the club last week.
Roster Move: Speaking of rehabbing pitchers, the Storm received right-hander Gabe Mosser, who was rehabbing in the ACL. Mosser started five games for the Missions last year before going down to surgery. Mosser has logged 12 innings with the ACL Padres this season.
ACL Padres 7, ACL Mariners 6 (7 innings)
Key Statistics: RF Juan Murillo, 4-for-4, 2 3B, 2 RBI; 1B Romeo Sanabria, 2-for-4, RBI; LHP Zack Qin, 4.2 IP, 2 H, ER, 3 BB, 6 K; RHP Jhosep Chirinos (W, 1-1) 1.2 IP, H, ER, 2 BB, 3 K
Prospect Watch: The ACL bunch pounded out 12 hits to slip past the ACL Mariners in the battle of the Peoria Sports Complex. … In tonight’s edition oftonight’sh Sample Siz”s,” we bring you Juan “urillo. The 20-year-old came into Friday’s game, hittinFriday’s219/.297/.313 slash-line in 37 plate appearances. On Friday, Murillo went bonkers with four hits, including a pair of triples. He also drove in a pair of runs. The perfect night at the plate raised Murillo’s batting liMurillo’sore robust .306/.366/.500 line. The Cuban-born outfielder put up a 130 wRC+ last year in the desert and could earn an opportunity to advance to Lake Elsinore after they promoted Graham Pauley and Albert Fabian to Fort Wayne. … Romeo Sanabria has been the most productive of the hitters still with the ACL Padres, and Friday night was no exception. Sanabria had a pair of singles and drove in a run. In 18 games in the desert, the Miami native is hitting .333/.429/.621 with three homers and 20 RBI. He was drafted in the 18th round last year out of Indian River State Junior College in Florida. … 17-year-old Zack Qin pitched in relief and had another solid outing. The native of Beijing, China, pitched 4.2 innings and allowed just one run on two hits. He walked three batters and struck out six. After a poor debut on June 3, Qin has allowed just three runs over his last 11.1 innings pitched. While he’s walked nine inhe’st span, he’s also punched ohe’s3. The young lefty hasn’t shown a ton hasn’tocity yet, but he has shown some promise early this season. Even after the draft takes place next week, Qin will be one of the more interesting players in the desert. … Korry Howell and Nerwilian Cedeño each had a hit as they both work through their first week of injury rehab. Cedeño had a single, walk, and stole his first base. The 21-year-old switch-hitting middle infielder logged his first full game in his fourth start in the desert. He’ll provide a bHe’llost to Fort Wayne’s offense wWayne’sgets back. Howell, who re-injured his throwing shoulder when he dove for a ball in the outfield in San Antonio, has appeared as the DH in both of his games this week.
Roster Notes: Catcher Jared Alvarez-Lopez was sent to the ACL on rehab. The 22-year-old has been on the injured list all season after spending last year with the Storm.