MadFriars Player of the Week: OF Oscar Mercado, El Paso

It’s well documented that El Paso is one of the most hitter-friendly parks in all minor league baseball. Even with that caveat, what Oscar Mercado did last Week was very impressive. The veteran outfielder started all six games and connected on a staggering five homers on his way to a 1.524 OPS. Mercado had a pair of multi-homer games, slugging a couple of bombs on Friday, and he capped off the series with two more on Sunday. Over the final four games of the series, Mercado knocked in 13 runs. Since joining the organization as a minor league free agent, the big league veteran outfielder has been hitting .304/.372/.543. 

Henry Baez has been among the system’s breakout performers in 2023. (Photo: Robert Escalante)

MadFriars Pitcher of the Week: RHP Henry Baez, Lake Elsinore

For the second straight week, Henry Baez turned in the best outing of any pitcher in the Padres system. After working into the eighth inning two weeks ago, Baez put up zeroes in six innings of work. He allowed just two hits, walking one and striking out six. Storm manager Pete Zamora raved about Baez’s evolution into the staff ace of the Storm after Thursday’s game. The 20-year-old has a 3.24 ERA this season for the Storm. 

Chihuahuas (Won series over Sugar Land 4-2)

As impressive as Mercado’s power display was, Rangel Ravelo actually outproduced him, if a bit more quietly. The 31-year-old first baseman went 10-for-19 with a pair of doubles and two homers, good for an OPS of 1.556 on the Week. The right-handed hitter, who got brief auditions with the Cardinals in 2019 and 2020, has played in the Pacific Coast League for parts of seven seasons going back to 2015, tallying a .854 OPS across almost 500 games. … Less than a month after a pair of rough outings when he failed to record an out, lefty Aaron Leasher turned in his best start in over a year. The 27-year-old system veteran gave up just one hit over five scoreless innings to pick up the win as the Chihuahuas struggled to make a complete turn through the rotation. Leasher only struck out two but – often when he’s on – induced plenty of weak contact from the Space Cowboys.

Brett Sullivan has had plenty to celebrate through the season. (Photo: Jorge Salgado)

Top Prospects and Others of Note: Brett Sullivan went 9-for-18 on the Week without striking out in the series. After struggling offensively as the backup catcher for the Padres earlier this year, the 29-year-old now has a .973 OPS with El Paso, easily on track for his best career production. … Taylor Kohlwey reached 11 times in his five games, good for a .571 on-base percentage. Since returning to Triple-A after his first cup of coffee in the majors, he’s posting an OPS above 1.000. … Eguy Rosario, who officially came off the big league IL and was optioned to El Paso earlier this month, had a rough series, going 4-for-20 without an extra-base hit and five strikeouts against the cross-state rivals. … Over a pair of outings, Aaron Brooks tossed four scoreless innings and struck out five. The 33-year-old Southern California native has contributed in a multi-inning relief role for El Paso after signing as a minor league free agent last winter. … Adrian Morejon, working on his latest rehab assignment, made a pair of scoreless relief appearances and struck out three. The lefty labored in his first outing but looked close to a return in his next game. … Sean Reynolds, acquired at the deadline to provide relief depth on the 40-player roster, has had a nightmare debut with the organization. In the series with Sugar Land, the 6-foot-8 righty walked six and allowed six runs – only two earned – while recording just two outs. He’ll look to get back on track after delivering solid production in the Marlins organization earlier this year. (David Jay)

Missions (Split series at Springfield 3-3)

Daniel Johnson has been a major contributor over the second half of the season. (Photo: Vashaun Newman)

Top Performers:  The standout at the plate for the Missions was once again Daniel Johnson, as the veteran outfielder went 7-for-16 (.438) with three home runs and nine runs batted in. The 28-year-old outfielder has hit 13 home runs in 340 at-bats in 2023, all with San Antonio. … On the mound, Kevin Kopps made the most of his two appearances, picking up a three-inning win and a save for a total of four scoreless innings in the series. Kopps, the Padres’ third-round pick in the 2021 draft, has only allowed one unearned run in seven innings in August.

Top Prospects and Others of Note:  Tirso Ornelas has made the most of his playing time since returning to San Antonio after a brief stint in El Paso, going 8-for-19 (.421) in the series with a double and a pair of home runs. In 264 at-bats with the Missions, Ornelas has shined with a .854 OPS. … Jackson Merrill slashed .300/.348/.500 with four doubles and four runs batted in. In 384 at-bats between Fort Wayne and San Antonio, Merrill is slashing .284/.324/.451. … Adam Mazur is transitioning well back into the starting rotation after a stint in the bullpen, throwing three innings of one-run ball in his lone start in the series. The 22-year-old righty has struck out 18 batters and walked three in 12.2 innings since being promoted to the Missions. (Mark Wilkens)

TInCaps (Split series at Lansing Lugnuts)

Robby Snelling continues to impress. (Photo: Adam Gaddy)

Top Performers: Robby Snelling picked up his fourth win for Fort Wayne and ninth overall when he allowed one unearned run over five innings Tuesday. Over his last three starts, the Padres’ second pick from last year’s draft has given up just one earned run over 16 innings on 12 hits while posting a stellar 20:2 strikeout-to-walk ratio. In 80.1 innings across both Single-A levels, Snelling has a 1.79 ERA and a 10.3 K/9.  The 19-year-old has not allowed more than three earned runs in any of his 17 starts. … Jakob Marsee, who grew up just over an hour away from Lansing, made his return something special.  In the six-game series, Marsee had five multi-hit games, hit a home run, and stole three bases in the other game. The left-handed outfielder claimed league Player of the Week honors by hitting .565/.630/.957 with nine runs scored, five stolen bases, a double, triple, and two home runs. He is one of only six players in all minor and major league baseball with at least 10 home runs and 40 or more stolen bases. On the season, Marsee has a 139 wRC+ while posting more walks than strikeouts and being one of the hardest players in High-A to strike out with a 16% K rate.

Top Prospects and Others of Note: Ethan Salas, widely landing among the top 10 prospects in the game on midseason list updates, collected two hits in four games in the first week after his promotion to Fort Wayne. While stats-wise, it was a week to forget, Salas holding his own against players five and six years older is another sign of how advanced he is.  Across the two leagues, the 17-year-old phenom is hitting .255/.333/.457 in 52 games. … After being all-world for the last few weeks, Graham Pauley came back to Earth… a bit.  Pauley had six hits in six games with one home run.  Prior to this week, Pauley had been averaging over two home runs a week. Despite the only moderate Week, Pauley is still hitting .279/.344/.585 in 39 games with Fort Wayne. … After spending the season’s first three months on the IL, utilityman Jarryd Dale finally returned to action. The 22-year-old got into his first two games with the TinCaps, going 3-for-8 with a double and a home run.  He is hitting .375/.444/.875 in the very small sample size. … While first baseman Nathan Martorella couldn’t add to his team-leading home run total, he collected three doubles on the Week, giving him 24 total. His hit on Wednesday snapped a 3-for-30 slump that saw him get only one extra-base hit over the eight-game stretch. … Infielder Nerwillian Cedeno reached base safely in every game this Week with seven hits and four walks. The 21-year-old now has a 10-game on-base streak. He scored four runs and stole two bags.  Over the last three weeks, he has a .404 OBP. … Both lefty Austin Krob and righthander Victor Lizzaraga had starts they would want to forget. Krob allowed seven runs over four innings, surrendering three home runs. He had allowed just six earned runs over his previous five starts combined.  Meanwhile, 19-year-old Lizzaraga allowed five earned runs over three innings, walking four without a strikeout.  … Righty Tyler Morgan went straight to High-A Fort Wayne to open his career after the Padres drafted him in the 14th round. After tossing a scoreless outing in his first appearance, Morgan appeared in three games last week, including a start on Sunday.  All told he went 4.1 innings, allowing five runs on five hits, walking four, and striking out three. (Ben Davey)

Storm (lost series to Visalia Rawhide, 4-2)

Samuel Zavala locks in. (Photo: Gail Verderico/IG @baseball_gail)

Top Performers: The Storm returned to Lake Elsinore after a grueling 12-game trek to Northern California. With playoff hopes dwindling, the Storm lost four of six to Visalia, a team they dominated regularly in the first half. The Storm are six games out of a playoff spot with 24 games left. The good news is that the team they are chasing in the standings – the Inland Empire 66ers – are rolling down Interstate 15 for a crucial six-game series. … At the plate, the Storm offense struggled for a second consecutive week, but some players stood out. Homer Bush Jr. was promoted to Single-A to start the Week and immediately made his presence known. Bush Jr. went 1-for-3 in his Storm debut and finished the Week with a .294/.478/.529 slash-line. Storm manager Pete Zamora talked about the lightning and thunder Bush Jr. brings – lighting on the basepaths and thunder in his bat. He connected on a homer Friday night that he took the opposite way. … Outfielder Samuel Zavala had a nice week, hitting .316/.519/.579 with two doubles, a homer and six RBI. Zavala also walked seven times to add to his league-leading total. In 95 games, Zavala has walked 85 times. With 24 games left this season, Zavala has a chance to eclipse 100 walks in 2023. … Despite the losses, the Storm got some very good starting pitching this Week. One of the best outings came from a bit of an unknown in Jose Luis Reyes. Reyes started on Wednesday night and worked into the sixth inning but did not ultimately factor in the decision. He allowed just one run on three hits, walking two and striking out nine. After opening the season in the ACL, Reyes has a 3.00 ERA in 18 innings for the Storm. 

Top Prospects and Others of Note: After a pair of rough outings, Dylan Lesko righted the ship in a big way last Friday. In perhaps his finest outing all season, Lesko dominated the Rawhide for four innings. After allowing a single on the game’s first pitch, the 19-year-old locked in. Showing his fastball that sat in the 93-94 mph range and a devastating changeup and curveball, Lesko toyed with the Rawhide lineup. In four innings of work, Lesko didn’t allow a run.

“What I saw from him [Friday] was he’d make a big fastball miss, and he’d be able to get back in the strike zone,” said Storm manager Pete Zamora after Friday’s game. “In Modesto, he was getting a little excited; things were happening, and it took him a couple of pitches to get back in the strike zone. [Friday] he missed with a couple of pitches, but he’d get right back in there and had the swing-and-miss stuff.”

He walked one and struck out seven, leaving after 56 pitches. Lesko’s 5.25 ERA with the Storm isn’t impressive, but the stuff and potential absolutely are. … With Ethan Salas promoted to Fort Wayne, one player that directly benefitted was Victor Duarte. The lightly-used backup catcher got into four games last week, seeing action behind the dish and at first base. Duarte went 5-for-15 with an RBI and even added a couple of stolen bases to his ledger. The 22-year-old catcher has a .345 on-base percentage for Lake Elsinore this season. … On the surface, first baseman Griffin Doersching didn’t have a great week. He finished the Visalia series with a .671 OPS. However, he was the victim of some very bad luck. On Friday, Doersching hit the ball hard in three of his plate appearances and had just one single to show for it. He hit just .188 on balls in play in the six-game set. On top of that, Doersching struck out just twice in 20 plate appearances. (Kevin Charity)

ACL Padres (2-3 on the Week)

Top Performers: For the second consecutive week, Braden Nett dominated. The righty allowed just two hits over five innings while striking out five in his outing Saturday. After starting the year on the IL, Nett, 21, was slow to get going in June, but he’s allowed only four runs over his last 21.1 innings while striking out 26. The Missouri native, signed as an undrafted free agent last summer, has a big fastball but has fought command at times. … One of only two players to appear in all five games, Romeo Sanabria continued his stellar campaign in the desert, going 7-for-18. While his .950 OPS for the Week was, by his standards, not especially remarkable, it kept him atop the league leaderboards in multiple categories.

Dillon Head got off to a fast start in the desert. (Photo: Jerry Espinoza)

Top Prospects and Others of Note: First-rounder Dillon Head went 5-for-14 in his second full Week since getting underway as a professional. The 18-year-old from the Chicago area drew four walks and struck out just twice in 19 plate appearances. … Fellow outfielder Braedon Karpathios drew only three walks in his four games but also went 4-for-10 in his first Week back in the complex league. The 20-year-old, another junior college undrafted free agent from last summer, has gotten two different stints in Lake Elsinore this year and, while he walked at an unheard of 31% rate, hit just .194. In Arizona, he’s hitting .346 while still drawing more walks than strikeouts. … Righty Alejandro Lugo worked three scoreless innings Friday, allowing only one hit while striking out four. The 20-year-old, who signed all the way back in 2018 and missed the 2022 season working back from surgery, has struck out 41 in 27 innings this year. … Zack Qin struck out six over four innings in his start Tuesday, matching his season high. The 18-year-old lefty continues to show flashes in his first professional season but has a 5.81 ERA across 31 innings.

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  1. […] Cleveland Guardians. With the El Paso Chihuahuas, the Padres Triple-A club, Mercado is fresh off a huge week, one in which he had 13 RBI and a pair of multi-homer games, per […]


  2. […] Cleveland Guardians. With the El Paso Chihuahuas, the Padres Triple-A club, Mercado is fresh off a huge week, one in which he had 13 RBI and a pair of multi-homer games, per […]


  3. […] Guardians. With the El Paso Chihuahuas, the Padres Triple-A club, Mercado is refreshing off a big week, 1 in which he experienced 13 RBI and a pair of multi-homer game titles, for every […]


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