Las Vegas Aviators 11, Chihuahuas 7
Key Statistics: DH Brett Sullivan, 4-for-4, 2 R, HR (4), 2 RBI, BB; SS Tim Lopes, 2-for-4, BB, RBI; 2B Max Schrock, 2-for-5, 2 RBI; RHP Pedro Avila, 4 IP, 6 H, 5 ER, 2 BB, 4 K; RHP Nick Hernandez, IP, K; LHP Aaron Leasher, 2 IP, H, 2 BB
Prospect Watch: After being interrupted by a pair of pitchers’ duels, your normal PCL match-up returned Friday with the two teams combining for 18 runs and 24 hits. Much like Thursday, El Paso came up on the short end of the stick, losing at home. The Chihuahuas have lost six of seven to open July. … At the plate, Brett Sullivan was the catalyst, as the left-handed hitting catcher had four hits, including his fourth homer of the season. The four-hit affair extended the 29-year-old’s hitting streak to five games. While El Paso has struggled this month, Sullivan has swung a hot bat, hitting .450/.577/.700. … Pedro Avila pitched three shutout innings last week for the Padres in a game in Cincinnati. He was promptly rewarded with a ticket back to El Paso. However, Avila did not have the same magic working for him on Friday. The righthander pitched four innings and allowed five runs on six hits, walking two and striking out four. Avila has had a rough season in Triple-A but turned things around a bit in June. The biggest issue for Avila this year is that he has simply been more hittable, even though his velocity has been virtually the same as it was last season. In 2022, the PCL hit just .232 off of him. This season, that mark is all the way up to .318. Add in control issues, and it’s a recipe for an ERA approaching nine in the hitter-friendly PCL.
Roster Moves: Prior to Friday’s game, the Padres signed outfielder Oscar Mercado to a minor league contract and assigned him to El Paso. The 28-year-old got Rookie of the Year votes back in 2019 when he hit 15 homers from Cleveland. Since then, he’s bounced around a bit, but brings 298 games of big-league experience to the organization. He cleared waivers and opted to refuse a minor league assignment from the Cardinals earlier in the week.
Missions 5, Corpus Christi Hooks 2
Key Statistics: C Michael De La Cruz, 3-for-5, RBI; LF Pedro Castellanos, 2-for-4, R, RBI; 2B Ripken Reyes, 1-for-3, R, RBI, BB; LHP Jackson Wolf (W, 8-7) 7 IP, 4 H, ER, BB, 11 K; RHP Jose Quezada (S, 1) IP, K
Prospect Watch: The Missions came up with a few timely hits and a dominant pitching performance to win against Corpus Christi on the road. … Jackson Wolf was the story in this one, as the lefthander absolutely mowed down the Hooks with ease. Wolf pitched seven innings for the second time this season and earned his eighth win in the process. The 24-year-old tied his career high with 11 strikeouts while walking just one batter. Wolf now leads the Texas League with 98 strikeouts and his WHIP of 1.00 is tops in the circuit as well. The former West Virginia hurler has hit his stride since the end of May. Since his start on May 26, Wolf has thrown at least five innings in all eight of his starts and pitched to a 2.49 ERA over 47 innings. In that span he’s walked 11 batters while punching out 49. … 30-year-old catcher Michael De La Cruz had three singles and drove in a run. The backstop has been in professional baseball since 2013 but has yet to get any big league time. While not a prospect at this point in his career, he’s been a steady offensive contributor for the Missions, delivering a 286/.358/.418 slash line. … Righty Jose Quezada pitched the ninth to notch his fourth save of the year. He struck out a batter in a clean inning of work. The former Texas Tech reliever suffered through a brutal April but was quite good in June after returning from the injured list. While his season ERA sits at 5.40, he allowed eight runs in 5.2 innings in April. He has 20 strikeouts in 18.1 innings for the Missions this season.
TinCaps 5, West Michigan Whitecaps 3
Key Statistics: 3B Marcos Castañon, 1-for-3, 2 R, HR (12), RBI, BB; 1B Nathan Martorella, 3-for-4, 2B, 3 RBI; 2B Graham Pauley, 2-for-4, R, HR (3), RBI; RHP Ryan Bergert (W, 5-2), 5 IP, 4 H, ER, 5 K; LHP Bodi Rascon (S,1) 4 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 4 K
Prospect Watch: Break up the Fort Wayne TinCaps. The TinCaps won their sixth in a row with another win against West Michigan. Fort Wayne is 10-3 in the second half and their +27 run differential is the best in the league. … Third baseman Marcos Castañon connected on his 12th homer of the year, a solo shot in the first inning. The former UC Santa Barbara continues to prove that the power he showed last year in the Cal League was not a fluke. Castañon’s 12 homers rank fourth in the league, tied with teammate Nathan Martorella on the Midwest League leaderboard. While his walk rate has been cut in half this season, he’s striking out in just 21% of his plate appearances. He has done a lot of damage against left-handed pitching, hitting a robust .412/.476/.745 with four homers in 51 at-bats. … Martorella had three hits of his own, including a double. He also drove in three runs. The former Cal first baseman is second in the league with 56 RBI and he ranks seventh on the circuit with a .461 slugging percentage. … Graham Pauley burst on the Midwest League scene on June 29 with a two-homer game in his TinCaps debut. Since then, the former Duke Blue Devil has been a little quiet. However, his bat returned to form on Friday, and the left-handed hitting Pauley connected on his third homer in the Midwest League and seventh overall. After producing a .882 OPS with the Storm, Pauley has pushed his OPS up to a .782 mark with the TinCaps. … Righty Ryan Bergert put together another solid start, pitching five innings to earn his fifth win of the year. The former West Virginia starter went five innings and allowed a run on five hits. He struck out five without allowing a walk. Bergert walked at least one batter in each of his first 12 outings. In his last two appearances, Bergert has thrown 10 total innings without one. The righty struggled in his first attempt at the Midwest League last year but he’s been stellar in 2023. His five innings lowered his ERA to 2.63 in 61.2 innings. … Bodi Rascon piggybacked with Bergert to get work going into the All-Star break and pitched the final four innings to earn his first professional save. He allowed a pair of runs in four innings of work. The lefty walked two and struck out four. In 46 innings of work, Rascon has a 4.50 ERA.
Storm 11, Visalia Rawhide 5
Key Statistics: RF Tyler Robertson, 2-for-6, 2 R, HR (2), RBI; CF Samuel Zavala, 3-for-4, 3 R, BB; DH Ethan Salas, 3-for-4, R, 3B, BB, 2 RBI; C Oswaldo Linares, 3-for-5, 2 RBI; LHP Miguel Cienfuegos (W, 1-1) 5 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, BB, 7 K; RHP Nick Thwaits, 2 IP, H, 2 BB, K
Prospect Watch: A night after scoring 18 runs, the Storm came back with 11 Friday for a second straight rout of the Rawhide. … Right fielder Tyler Robertson had a pair of hits, including his second homer of the year. The speedy Robertson has been a spark plug since returning from a hamstring injury. He has hit safely in all five games since returning and has reached base in all but one of his 27 games for the Storm this year. He’s also stolen three bases without being caught. With the Storm’s two most productive hitters in Pauley and Albert Fabian getting promoted, players like Kai Murphy and Robertson have made the most of their opportunities. The former Louisiana-Lafayette star is hitting .298/.400/.423 with Lake Elsinore this season. … After he homered in three straight games, the Rawhide kept Ethan Salas in the yard. The bad news for them is that he had three hits, including a triple that landed on the warning track deep in right-center. Salas is 7-for-16 in the series with four homers and the triple. The 17-year-old also extended his hitting streak to seven games. After struggling a bit in June, Salas is off to a torrid .450/.542/1.200 start in July. Joining Salas’ three-hit club were Samuel Zavala and Oswaldo Linares, who each singled three times. Zavala raised his OPS back over .800. While much has been written about Ethan Salas this season, one must remember that Zavala is just 18 himself. He’s part of the young core of the Storm that will fuel their attempt to defend the Cal League crown down the stretch. … Linares had three hits, as the 20-year-old has looked much more comfortable at the plate in his second stint with the Storm this year. He is 9-for-27 with the Storm since being promoted from the ACL.
ACL Dodgers 4, ACL Padres 1
Key Statistics: 2B Alain Camou, 2-for-4; DH Luis Campusano, 0-for-3, BB; RHP Braden Nett (L, 0-2) 2 IP, 3 H, ER, 2 BB, 4 K; RHP Robert Suarez, IP, H, K
Prospect Watch: The ACL squad went 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position and lost the ACL version of the Dodgers. … Offensively, second baseman Alain Camou had a pair of singles in the loss. The 19-year-old infielder produced a .870 OPS last season in the DSL. This season, in his first season back home in the United States, he is hitting .303/.400/.393. … Luis Campusano started at designated hitter and went hitless in three at-bats although he did draw a walk. With the minor leagues shutting down during the all-star break, Campusano will need to wait a few days to get into game action after Saturday’s ACL tilt. He caught on Thursday and is a good bet to catch Saturday. He will likely need some additional time behind the dish before he is a candidate to return to the big leagues. … Robert Suarez pitched a scoreless inning as the reliever inches closer to helping out a beleaguered big league bullpen. He allowed a hit and struck out a batter. … It was a busy day for rehabbers in both dugouts at Camelback Friday as Ken Giles worked a scoreless inning and Chris Taylor collected one of the three hits that righty Braden Nett allowed in his two innings of work.