Ray-Patrick Didder has been running away from the competition. (Photo: Jorge Salgado)

MadFriars Player of the Week: INF Ray-Patrick Didder, El Paso

Ray-Patrick Didder extended his best career stretch, smoking the ball this week in Reno for a 1.244 OPS. The 28-year-old Aruba native sent three balls out of Greater Nevada Field as he built on his stellar .391/.536/.703 line from August. He had nine hits and five walks for a .484 on-base percentage and stole a pair of bases. In Didder’s tenth year in professional baseball with four different organizations, he’s having his best stretch with the bat by far. After hitting .198 in 190 trips to the plate in San Antonio to begin the year, his .308/.445/.With El Paso, 581 line in 146 plate appearances, has tracked more than 300 points above his career OPS.

Victor Lizaraga. (Photo: Adam Gaddy)

MadFriars Pitcher of the Week: RHP Victor Lizarraga, Fort Wayne

There was a slew of terrific performances in the system last week, but Victor Lizarraga continued his late-season surge on Sunday. The 19-year-old righty pitched six shutout innings against the South Bend Cubs in the TinCaps’ home regular-season finale. He allowed just three hits and struck out a season-high nine batters without allowing a walk. The righty hasn’t had the same success in High-A as he amassed last season, but he is finishing the season on a high note. He has allowed just three runs over his last 16 innings. 

Chihuahuas (Lost Series to Reno Aces, 2-4)

Top Performers: El Paso is the only of the four Padres affiliates that don’t go into the week with a real chance to qualify for the playoffs, with the Sun City squad nine games out in the PCL East with three series left to play. … Jose Espada made the most of his two appearances, holding the opposition scoreless in 4.1 innings with six punchouts against no walks. Espada, 26, was originally in the Blue Jays organization but signed with the Padres out of the Frontier League last year. He’s put together an excellent season in long relief and with an occasional spot start for San Antonio and El Paso with a 3.01 ERA and 98 strikeouts in 74.2 innings. … Eguy Rosario had one of his best weeks since coming off of his leg injury earlier this year, hitting .360 with eight RBI in six games, including a big three-run home run and five RBI night on Saturday. The 24-year-old infielder has edged his OPS up to .764 in 41 games for El Paso.

Adrian Morejon had a solid week. (Photo: Jorge Salgado)

Top Prospects and Others of Note: Tirso Ornelas, 23, hit .333 for the week with a pair of extra-base hits. He had a 22-game hitting streak between San Antonio and El Paso that finally ended on Sunday. … Brandon Dixon had another strong week, hitting .364 with a pair of doubles and a home run with a couple of walks. Dixon, 31, has not matched his monster numbers from last season, but his .275/.357/.527 slash line with 24 extra-base hits in 55 games is more than respectable. … Adrian Morejon, 24, made a start and one relief appearance in the series, allowing one run over four innings with four strikeouts and one walk. … Kevin Kopps, 26, a third-round pick in the 2021 draft, got his first Triple-A save and didn’t allow a run or a walk in three innings of work to go along with three strikeouts. (John Conniff)

Robby Snelling dazzled over five hitless innings. (Photo: Ed Bailey/Wichita Wind Surge)

Missions (Split Series at Wichita 3-3)

Top Performers: The Missions got a huge week from Graham Pauley, who began the season in Lake Elsinore and now finds himself, two levels later, going 8-for-19 (.421) with four doubles and a home run, good for a 1.289 OPS. The Duke product also walked three times without striking out in the series and has posted a .856 OPS in 42 at-bats since being promoted to San Antonio. … On the mound, Robby Snelling delivered his best performance yet at the Double-A level, striking out nine batters in five no-hit innings. The 19-year-old lefty is 10-3 with a 1.80 ERA on the season across three levels, and 1-0 with a 1.04 ERA in two starts with San Antonio.

Ryan Bergert struck out eight batters on Friday. (Photo:Ed Bailey)

Top Prospects and Others of Note: Cole Cummings‘ 1.087 OPS was San Antonio’s second-highest in the series, as the UC Santa Barbara product hit two home runs and a double while batting .294 for the week. … Jackson Merrill collected two doubles and a home run in the series, posting a .711 OPS. … Marcos Castañon hit .333 with a .952 OPS, hitting a pair of homers, raising his total for the 2023 season to 16 and three since being promoted to the Missions. … Ryan Bergert tossed six scoreless innings, allowing just three hits while striking out eight batters and walking one. The strong outing improved his ERA to 2.08 in 39 innings since he joined San Antonio. Texas League opponents have hit just .176 against him. … Adam Mazur and Jairo Iriarte each had solid outings this trip through the rotation. Mazur, 22, gave up a pair of runs while striking out five over six innings. He’s walked only three hitters in 28.1 frames with San Antonio. Iriarte, who hadn’t gone thee innings since his promotion from Fort Wayne in early July, allowed one run over four innings and struck out six. He’ll likely finish the season with fewer than 100 innings of work.  (Mark Wilkens)

TinCaps (Beat South Bend Cubs 5-1)

Top Performers: Victor Lizarraga’s dominant outing Sunday gave the TinCaps five wins over the Cubs and pushed them into first place with one week left in the regular season. They will face third-place Dayton, hoping to clinch their first playoff spot in six years. … In his first start at Parkview Field, top pick Dylan Lesko looked every bit like an ace. The righty tossed a five-inning shutout, allowing just one hit. He struck out a career-high nine batters in the game and earned his first professional win. While he did still show signs of rust as he continued to come back from Tommy John surgery, Lesko never faltered if he fell behind and walked a batter. Lesko now has 47 strikeouts in 29 innings across three levels in his first season. … Griffin Doersching was the offensive catalyst behind the team earning five straight victories. Doersching homered in back-to-back games on Thursday and Friday and finished the week with six hits, four RBI, and four runs in four games. Drafted out of Oklahoma State, the big first baseman is hitting .300/.323/.600 over his first few weeks with Fort Wayne.

Dylan Lesko dialed it up in his Summit City debut. (Photo: Jeff Nycz)

Top Prospects and Others of Note: Behind Lesko, the top prospect currently in Fort Wayne is Samuel Zavala. The 19-year-old outfielder’s misery in Fort Wayne continued this week. While he finally got his first two hits for Fort Wayne on Saturday, they came after going hitless in his first 32 at-bats in High-A. He finished the week 2-for-22 week with one walk and six strikeouts. After 36 extra-base hits with Lake Elsinore, Zavala is still waiting for his first as a TinCap. … Henry Baez, one of the system’s breakout stars, made his third start for Fort Wayne the best one yet. He allowed two runs over 4.2 innings, tying a career-high by striking out eight batters and did not walk a batter. This was his second strong outing since getting hit hard in his first High-A appearance.  … Austin Krob set a career-high with 11 strikeouts in a winning effort.The crafty lefty spun 6.2 innings of two-run ball, walking two. Krob has now struck out 26 batters over his last 18 innings. …  Nerwilian Cedeño was feeling it at the beginning of the week-long series. The infielder hit a single, double, and home run in the first few games before failing to reach base over the weekend. … Carter Loewen made a statement, allowing one run over 4.2 innings while striking out six. After missing the better part of two years recovering from Tommy John surgery, Loewen looked 100% back. He was sitting in the mid-90s, with an improved change as he picked up a win and also earned a save. … As good as Loewen looked, TinCaps closer Cole Paplham might have been even better. The 23-year-old allowed one baserunner over his three innings of work. He struck out four and picked up his fourth save in as many chances.  … Outfielder Tyler Robertson started the week off with a pair of multi-hit outings. He then collected three more hits on Saturday before wrapping it up with a leadoff home run on Sunday. Across two leagues, Robertson is hitting .273/.350/.430 in his debut campaign after the Padres drafted him in the 14th round last summer. (Ben Davey)

Storm (Beat San Jose Giants 4-2)

Nik McClaughry. (Photo: Robert Escalante)

Top Performers: The Storm took four of six from a struggling Giants team in their final home series of the season. In Northern California, the red-hot Modesto Nuts swept first-place Inland Empire 66ers to help the Storm pick up four games in the standings and set up a showdown for a playoff spot. On Tuesday, the Storm and the 66ers will start a six-game series in San Bernardino. The Storm must win four to win the second-half title outright. … Infielder Nik McClaughry had the best week of his professional career. The former University of Arizona infielder went 6-for-16 with two doubles, a triple, and the first homer of his career. Overall, the 23-year-old hit .375/.474/.813 in six games. … The Storm received another fantastic outing last week from righty Enmanuel Pinales, who has quietly put together a string of excellent outings. Pinales worked seven innings on Saturday, allowing two runs on two hits. He walked two and struck out five. Pinales has worked 20 innings over his last three starts, pitching to a 2.25 ERA. He’s walked four and struck out 13 batters in that timespan. 

Enmanuel Pinales has delivered in his first taste of full-season baseball. (Photo: Robert Escalante)

Top Prospects and Others of Note: In addition to Pinales’ brilliance, the Storm had two starters throw five innings and not allow an earned run. Miguel Mendez started on Tuesday and pitched five shutout innings. The righty has hit 97 mph with his fastball, but he’s sometimes battled with command this season. Still, at just 21, he is a player to watch going forward. … Former undrafted free agent Braden Nett pitched five shutout innings on Friday. He walked four batters but used six strikeouts to overcome his command issues. The Missouri native struck out 41 batters in 36 innings between the ACL and two starts with the Storm. … Center fielder Dillon Head played in three games, and he gave the Storm the series win with a walk-off single in Sunday’s series finale. The 18-year-old went 4-for-11 with an RBI. He struck out just one time in 12 plate appearances. … Catcher Oswaldo Linares played in four games, going 5-for-12 with three walks. After an excellent July, the 20-year-old catcher has faded in his first full season of competition. Even with last week’s standout performance, he posted a .545 OPS in August. … Homer Bush Jr. had a quiet series, going just 2-for-15. Despite the slow series at the plate, he continues to play fantastic outfield defense and run the bases well. It’s very early in his professional career, but Bush Jr. has been an impactful player in every facet of the game. (Kevin Charity)

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