Chihuahuas 7, Sugar Land Space Cowboys 2

Key Statistics: DH Luis Campusano 1-for-2, HR (1), 2 BB, 2 RBI; 1B Alfonso Rivas 1-for-3, HR (9), 2 RBI, BB; 3B Jantzen Witte 2-for-4, 2B; 2B Max Schrock 1-for-4, HR (3), 2 RBI; LHP Jay Groome (W, 2-6) 5 IP, 4 H, R, 3 BB, 10 K; RHP Nick Hernandez 2 IP BB, K; LHP Aaron Leasher 1 IP 2 BB, 2 K; RHP Robert Suarez 1 IP H, R, BB

Jay Groome had one of his better starts of the year. (Photo: Jorge Salgado)

Prospect Watch: After posting an ERA of 9.29 through the first three months of the season, Jay Groome made his second consecutive strong start, giving up only a run and striking out a season-high 10 batters on the road. Groome’s two- and four-seam fastballs were in the low 90s for the evening, but both his slider and curve were effective to go along with a change that kept hitters off-balance. He’s still missing the zone with plenty of pitches, only 51 of his 90 pitches were strikes, but he is seeing a big step in the right direction over the last two outings. … Robert Suarez came in for the ninth inning for his first Triple-A appearance of the season, and while his velocity was good with an average of 96.5 on the 14 four-seam fastballs he threw, his command wasn’t as only 10 of the 21 pitches he threw were for strikes. Suarez also threw seven sliders to the five batters he faced. … Offensively, the Chihuahuas got six of their seven runs through two-run home runs, with Alfonso Rivas, Max Schrock, and Luis Campusano all going deep. On a rehab assignment between the ACL and the PCL, Campusano is hitting .286/.423/571 in 26 plate appearances. The backstop had a big blast to left-center field tonight for his first home run since his thumb surgery. … After going into the All-Star Break having lost 11 of 13 games, El Paso has a chance to sweep the three-game series on the road.

Northwest Arkansas Naturals 4, Missions 1

Key Statistics: DH Brandon Valenzuela 2-for-4; LF Daniel Johnson 1-for-2, 2 BB; SS Jackson Merrill 1-for-4, 2B; LHP Jackson Wolf 5 IP 4 H, 1 R, 6 K; RHP Jairo Iriarte 2 IP, 3 K; RHP Kevin Kopps 1 IP, 2 H, 1 R (0 ER), 2 K

Jairo Iriarte made his Double-A debut on Saturday. (Photo: Joe Alexander)

Prospect Watch: Despite another stellar performance by Jackson Wolf, the Missions went down at home as the offense managed only five hits. It was Wolf’s third straight start allowing only one run, and he now has a 1.50 ERA with 22 strikeouts while only walking three in 18.1 innings of work this month. His fastball velocity is in the low 90s, but the opposition still has difficulty picking up the ball, and his slider and curveball have improved from last year. … Jairo Iriarte made his Double-A debut, working in relief for the first time this season. The hard-throwing righty struck out three over two clean innings. With the TinCaps, he had a 3.10 ERA in 61 innings with 77 strikeouts against 28 walks. Iriarte throws his fastball in the high 90s, but what makes it so difficult to hit is its carry – or induced vertical break – that has batters swinging underneath it. Jonathan Mathews, his manager in Fort Wayne, thought he had “the best stuff in the [Midwest] league.” If the organization has him working out of the bullpen, there may be a plan to use him in that spot for the big league team this season while still seeing him as a starter long-term. … Brandon Valenzuela had two more hits and has produced well in his first ten games in Double-A. The 22-year-old catcher has a .905 OPS in 38 plate appearances. The most noticeable statistic is his .436 on-base percentage with three-extra base hits. The Missions, with Valenzuela and Chandler Seagle, may have the best defensive-catching combination in the organization.

Great Lake Loons 6, TinCaps 3

Key Statistics: LF Nathan Martorella 2-for-2, 2 BB, HR (14), 2 RBI; 1B Carlos Luis 2-for-4, 2B, RBI; RHP Victor Lizaraga (L, 1-5) 4.1 IP 3 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 6 K; RHP Chris Lincoln 1.1 IP 2 BB, K; RHP Jose Geraldo 1.1 IP 2 H, 2 K

Another solid day at the plate for Nathan Martorella. (Photo: Jeff Nycz)

Prospect Watch: Victor Lizarraga set down the first 13 Loons hitters before, with one out in the fifth inning, the wheels came off. Lizarraga lost the perfect game on a single, then followed by issuing a pair of walks, another single and hitting a batter before a third single chased him from the game. The 19-year-old Tijuana native has been pitching better, going six innings in his two previous starts after a rough start to his year. Lizaraga doesn’t have a fastball that will light up a radar gun, but he has excellent command and a quality changeup. This year, his challenge has been to improve his breaking pitches within the zone and get batters to chase. … Offensively, Nathan Martorella and Carlos Luis collected the TinCaps’ only four hits. Martorella connected on his 14th homer of the year and is now tied for the league lead in home runs and RBIs (61), and is third with an OPS of .851. His two walks Saturday gave him 50 for the season and put him at fourth in the league. The former Cal Berkeley star has mainly played first base, but made his 17th start in left field.

Storm 3, Fresno Grizzlies 2 (F/10 innings)

Key Statistics:  RF Tyler Robertson 3-for-5, 2B, RBI, SB (17); CF Samuel Zavala 1-for-3, 2B, RBI, 2 BB; DH Nick Vogt 3-for-5, RBI, SB; LF Kai Murphy 1-for-4, 2B, BB; SS Rosman Verdugo 1-for-3, 2B, BB; C Ethan Salas 0-for-5, R; RHP Miguel Mendez 4.0 IP, 2 H, 2 BB, 4 K; RHP Nick Thwaits 2.0 IP, H, R, BB, K; RHP Thomas Balboni, Jr. (W, 2-3) 1.0 IP K

Tyler Robertson has been a threat at the plate. (Photo: Robert Escalante)

Prospect Watch: Nick Vogt singled home Ethan Salas for the game-winning hit as the Storm evened the series with Fresno at one game each. … Tyler Robertson, 23, a 14th-round selection out of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette last year, had three hits to push his average with the Storm up to .322. The 6-foot-4, 200 pound corner outfielder, who can also play some center, leads the team in OPS at .889 and has stolen 17 bases in 18 attempts in 30 games with the Storm. … After hitting .173 in May, Rosman Verdugo pushed his batting average up to .276 in June, and this month, he has been on fire, hitting .344/.432/.594. The Ensenada, Mexico native is only 18 and has seen most of his time in the field at shortstop after playing all around the infield last year in the ACL. … With a pair of walks, Samuel Zavala now has a league-leading 61 and is fifth in the league with a .405 on-base percentage.

ACL Padres 10, ACL Diamondbacks 2

Key Statistics: 3B Alain Camou 2-for-5, 2B, RBI; RF Juan Murillo 2-for-4, BB, RBI; SS Spence Coffman 2-for-5, RBI; LF Jose Sanabria 1-for-4, BB, 3B, 2 RBI; RHP Dylan Lesko 1.2 IP 3 H, 2 R, BB, 3 K; RHP Seth Mayberry 1 IP, RHP Braden Nett 3 IP H, 2 BB, 5 K; RHP Henry Martinez 3 IP, BB, K

Dylan Lesko was the Padres’ top pick in the 2022 draft. (Photo: Jerry Espinoza)

Prospect Watch: Dylan Lesko made his fourth start and struck out three of the eight batters he faced, but also gave up three singles before being replaced with two outs in the second inning. So far, the results at this level are an afterthought, with the main concern being to increase his innings steadily. At times as he comes back from his pre-draft Tommy John surgery, he has run his fastball up to 97 mph with an 81 mph changeup. If things continue to proceed on schedule, he’s still likely on track to make his Low-A debut in  August. … The ACL Padres have had some solid performances in the oppressive heat of the Peoria Sports Complex. We’ve written about slugging first baseman Romeo Sanabria, among the leaders in several ACL categories, but others have also emerged this year. Alain Camou, 19, born in Phoenix but signed as an international free agent from the Dominican Republic in 2022, has been impressive this year with a .295 batting average and a walk rate of 14.3 percent. The power has yet to come, with just nine extra-base hits in 117 plate appearances, but his bat-to-ball skills show promise. … Cuban native Juan Murillo, 20, is having his second strong year in the ACL with a .322/.387/.515 slash line as mostly a corner outfielder but can also play some center. The right-handed hitter should be an opportunity in Lake Elsinore before the end of the year. … Seth Mayberry, who has been on the San Antonio IL for a month, retired all three batters he faced in a rehab outing. He is likely to rejoin the Missions quickly.

Posted by John Conniff

John grew up in Poway and has written for MadFriars since 2004. He has written articles for Baseball America, FoxSports San Diego, the El Paso Times, San Antonio Express-News, Amarillo Globe-News, Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette and Pacific Daily News in addition to appearing on numerous radio programs and podcasts. He can also break down the best places to eat for all five of the affiliates. There is no best place to eat in Peoria, Arizona.

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