MadFriars Player of the Week: Graham Pauley, Fort Wayne
It was quite a week for infielder Graham Pauley. The 22-year-old won Midwest Player of the Week honors and was the top performer in the Padres system, hitting an astounding .417/.440/.917 with three doubles, three homers, and 11 RBI. The former Duke Blue Devil collected multiple hits in four of six games. As we’ve written about seemingly daily, Pauley has flashed power he’d never shown before since being promoted to the TinCaps. After taking an on-base first approach in Elsinore that led to a league-best .422 on-base percentage, in 122 Midwest League at-bats, Pauley has slammed 12 homers.
MadFriars Pitcher of the Week: Henry Baez, Lake Elsinore
It’s time to put a little respect on Henry Baez‘s name. The 20-year-old righthander hasn’t gotten a lot of hype this year, thanks to sharing the Storm rotation with Dylan Lesko, Robby Snelling, and Austin Krob, however, Baez has quietly been excellent. He hit a high point in Modesto, working into the eighth inning, but thanks to a lack of run support, he took the hardest of hard-luck losses. He retired the first nine batters he faced and carried a two-hit shutout into through seven innings. Still cruising, he became the first Storm starter to come out for the eighth inning this year. He ultimately gave way after a hit batter and walk, and saw one of those runners come in to score. He walked one and struck out four in a 93 pitch masterpiece. In 16 games (13 starts) for the Storm this season, he has a 3.49 ERA.
Chihuahuas (Lost series at Salt Lake City, 2-4)
Top Performers: Oscar Mercado, 28, had a big week in Utah as he hit three home runs in six games for a .304/.385/.739 line in 25 plate appearances. Mercado, a former second-round selection of the St. Louis Cardinals in 2013, has 973 career plate appearances, posting his best results in his rookie year with Cleveland in 2019, where he hit 15 home runs and posted a .761 OPS. The outfielder returned to the Cardinals this year, and he played well in 20 games and 32 plate appearances, where he posted a solid batting average of .290. Still, he did not do much in on-base at .313 and less with slugging at .387 before San Diego signed him as a minor league free agent. … Anderson Espinoza, 25, had one of his better outings all year as he went seven innings and gave up just a single run despite only having a pair of strikeouts against three walks and four hits. On the season, he has thrown 85.1 innings for a 5.59 ERA with 77 strikeouts but 55 walks.
Top Prospects and Others of Note: Ray-Patrick Didder, 28, collected six hits, three of them doubles, to go along with three walks and a pair of RBIs in the four games he played on his way to a 1.350 OPS. … Taylor Kohlwey, 29, had a .500 on-base percentage in 20 plate appearances, and Brett Sullivan, 29, another player who has spent some time in San Diego this season, hit .333 in 13 plate appearances with a home run. … Righthander Nick Hernandez, 28, got in three games and didn’t allow a run in four innings with six strikeouts against no walks. Hernandez came over as a minor league free agent out of the Astros organization last winter after spending most of last season with Triple-A Sugar Land, where he posted a 3.92 ERA in 59.2 innings. (John Conniff)
Missions (Won series at Arkansas 6-0)
Top Performers: The Missions picked up their first six-game series sweep since May of 2019 and did so courtesy of some powerful performances. At the plate, San Antonio was led by Marcos Castañon, who went 11-for-28 (.393) with three doubles and scored six runs in the series. The UC Santa Barbara product is batting .325 with an impressive .839 OPS in 80 at-bats since being promoted from Fort Wayne. … On the mound, Ryan Bergert earned the win in his lone appearance in the series, throwing 5.2 scoreless innings while striking out eight batters. The 23-year-old righty is 1-1 with a 2.65 ERA in 17 innings since being promoted to San Antonio, striking out 19 while walking eight.
Top Prospects and Others of Note: Jared Kollar continued to shine with a stellar start, allowing just one hit over six innings in his first outing before ending the series with a rough outing in which he gave up three runs in 2.2 frames. The 25-year-old righty is 1-1 with a 4.50 ERA in 28 innings despite only 18 strikeouts since being promoted from the TinCaps. … Bobby Milacki earned a win in both of his appearances last week, throwing 5.2 combined scoreless innings. The 26-year-old swingman has earned a 4.23 ERA in 10 appearances (four starts) for San Antonio, striking out 27 and walking 10 in 27.2 innings. … Jackson Merrill went 4-for-20 with two doubles and a home run in the series. The shortstop is batting .294 with a .796 OPS in 85 at-bats since being promoted to the Missions. After drawing just two walks in his first 15 games with the club, the 20-year-old had four in the series with the Travelers. … Ripken Reyes went 4-for-13 (.308) with two doubles and six walks, good for a 1.087 OPS in the series. Reyes owns a .440 OBP on the year, thanks in large part to 49 walks and being hit by 41 pitches in 382 plate appearances. … Daniel Johnson matched Castañon’s .893 OPS, though he got there with just a .200 average thanks to a pair of homers and five walks on the week. (Mark Wilkens)
TInCaps (Split series with Great Lakes)
Top Performers: Another week, another great start for lefthander Robby Snelling. The top prospect threw five innings of one-run ball, striking out seven. Over his last two starts, Snelling has allowed one run over 11 innings with 16 strikeouts and no walks. His FIP (2.33) and xFIP (2.87) numbers are even better in High-A than in Low-A. Snelling is 8-2 between the two levels, with a 1.91 ERA and 10.5 K/9. ,,, Catcher Juan Zabala had a monster week for the TinCaps. Zabala homered in back-to-back games on Saturday and Sunday and hit .400/.455/1.100 for the series. The former Dodger farmhand didn’t collect more than two homers in any of his first five professional seasons. He now has five on the season. The catcher also had an impressive two steals on the week and now has seven on the season.
Top Prospects and Others of Note: Coming off his best start of the season, a seven-inning shutout, southpaw Austin Krob this time couldn’t make it out of the fifth inning. His defense let him down as he allowed five runs, though only two were earned, with four walks over 4.1 innings. Even with a bad start, Krob still has a 2.32 ERA over 81.1 innings this season. … After having to start two games in a four-day stretch, lefthander Miguel Cienfuegos was back to his normal routine. He allowed one run on three hits over five innings with four strikeouts. In 34.1 innings with Fort Wayne, Cienfuegos has a 2.88 ERA, and hitters are hitting .208 off of him. … Cienfuegos’s heavier workload was due to righty Victor Lizarraga going on the seven-day injured list. Lizarraga came back in time to make his start this week, but it did not go as planned. He allowed three runs on four hits in one inning. It very well could have been worse, but Pauley turned a nice double play to limit the damage. … The team’s stolen base and OBP leader continued to excel at those two things. While Jakob Marsee only had four hits over six games, he walked nine times, which was good enough for a .536 OBP on the week, and stole two more bags. Marsee is only hitting .247 on the season but leads the league in walks leading to a nearly .400 OBP. … Kai Murphy had six hits over the first three games. He hit .375/.421/.438 on the week and is hitting .268/.326/.341 in the 11 games since his promotion. … Albert Fabian had three starts on the week. The team won all three games, losing every game he didn’t start. He hit .375/.455/.500 on the week and is hitting .247/.337/.395 on the season. … Nerwilian Cedeño started all six games on the week, reaching base 10 times. As he continues to work his way back from an early-season wrist injury the 21-year-old middle infielder is continuing to look for his power stroke; he has just seven extra-base hits in 28 games since rejoining the TinCaps. (Ben Davey)
Storm (Lost series against the Modesto Nuts, 5-1)
Top Performers: The Storm had arguably their worst series of 2023. They lost five of six to the Modesto Nuts and scored just 14 runs. To make matters worse, 10 of those runs were scored in their only series win. Collectively, Lake Elsinore hit just .174/.270/.258 on the week – good for a .528 OPS. … Outfielder Braeden Karpathios had an .800 OPS, best among players who appeared in more than three games. Most of his damage came via base on balls. The 20-year-old outfielder drew six walks in 16 plate appearances. Thanks to his keen eye at the plate, he finished the week with a weird .200/.500/.300 slash-line. In 28 games, Karpathios has a fantastic wRC+ of 121, but his offensive output is a bit strange. Buoyed by a 31% walk rate, he’s reached base at a .453 clip. However, he’s hitting just .194 and slugging just .236. While a 31% walk rate is not sustainable long-term, his eye at the plate makes him an interesting player to watch down the stretch. … Righty Enmanuel Pinales made a pair of outings for the Storm, including a start on Sunday. Collectively, he pitched 4.2 innings and didn’t allow a run. He walked a pair of batters and struck out six. The 22-year-old started the year in the ACL, but he’s made the most of his opportunity since being promoted to Lake Elsinore. He has not allowed a run in 10 innings with the Storm.
Top Prospects and Others of Note: Outfielder Nick Vogt connected on a pair of homers – the only two the Storm hit in the series. The former UC Santa Barbara outfielder finished the week with a .798 OPS. Since July 1, the 23-year-old has had an OPS north of .800. … It was an especially brutal week for the club’s top prospects. After winning the Cal League Player of the Month for July, catcher Ethan Salas went 1-for-20 with a double and nine strikeouts on the week. Despite the rough series, the 17-year-old sports a solid .267/.350/.480 slash-line in 48 games. … Samuel Zavala finished the week with a .624 OPS with two doubles and two RBI. After posting a 1.099 OPS in July, the 19-year-old will look to rebound as the Storm return home for a 12-game homestand this week and next. … Righty Dylan Lesko made his third Single-A start on Friday night and took the loss. The young righty allowed four runs in three innings. The former first-rounder has allowed seven runs in eight innings with the Storm this year. (Kevin Charity)
ACL Padres (3-2 on the week)
Top Performers: Braden Nett turned in the performance of the year for the ACL pitching staff, tossing six no-hit innings without a walk. Only an error behind him kept him from facing the minimum number of hitters as he struck out six. The 21-year-old, signed as an undrafted free agent out of junior college in Missouri last summer, has fought his command as he works back from a season-opening injury, but the hard-throwing righty has struck out 27 in 21.1 innings. … Homer Bush, Jr. continued his torrid professional debut, going 9-for-19 and swiping four bases – three of them in Monday night’s 9-3 win over the Reds. The 21-year-old outfielder sports a 1.123 OPS through his first 12 games in the system after the Padres made him their fourth-round selection in July’s draft. He’s had a complete performance so far, walking as often as he’s struck out and stealing 10 bases without getting caught.
Top Prospects and Others of Note: Daniel Montesino had the sort of loud production week that the organization has been hoping for for several months. The 19-year-old corner outfielder and first baseman was 6-for-12 and struck out just once while drawing five walks. Montesino has just a .632 OPS without a homer through his first 33 games of the year. … In his first week of professional ball, Padres’ first-rounder Dillon Head went 5-for-19, with four of his hits going for extra-bases. The 18-year-old from Chicago has slotted into center field, pushing Bush to the corners. … One-time big-leaguer Michel Baez tossed three scorelss innings over a pair of appearances, striking out five as he works to come back from the latest in a long litany of injury list stints. The 27-year-old was removed from the 40-player roster at the end of spring training. (David Jay)