Chihuahuas (Lost series to Albuquerque Isotopes 1-5)

Daniel Johnson exploded for a 1.402 OPS this week. (Photo: Jorge Salgado)

Top Performers: As the Chihuahuas limped toward the end of the season, which  finishes on the road in Sugar Land this week, Daniel Johnson, 27, continued his assault on the Pacific Coast League. In five games against Albuquerque, he posted a 1.402 OPS as he slammed El Paso’s only two  home runs of the week and hit a triple with three doubles and a lone single. He stole two bases in three attempts and walked once to go along with six RBI. Johnson pushed his season numbers with El Paso to a .325/.423/.667 in 22 games. … The numbers weren’t eye-popping, but Aaron Leasher made two starts and nearly doubled the output of any other Chihuahua pitcher by throwing 11 innings with a 4.09 ERA. Although the lefty gave up five earned runs, the opposition only hit .194 against him. Leasher has a 3.86 ERA for September in 21 innings across four starts.

Aaron Leasher has a 3.86 ERA in September. (Photo: Jorge Salgado)

Top Prospects and Others of Note: Tirso Ornelas, 23, had seven hits in six games and a .423 OBP for the week with three extra-base hits. On track for minor league free agency if he isn’t added to the 40-player roster, Ornelas is in the midst of his most productive season since signing as a 16-year-old out of Tijuana in 2016. … Even with the big weeks from Johnson and Ornelas, El Paso posted an OPS of only .684. Against that backdrop, Chandler Seagle‘s 4-for-14 week in four starts was a solid contribution. The 27-year-old, who may be the best defensive catcher in the Padres’ system, will come up a few games short of the career high he set last year with San Antonio. … Jose Espada, 26, continues to excel in his swing role between the rotation and bullpen. Against the Isotopes, he did both jobs, posting a 2.45 ERA in 3.2 innings, only giving up a single run with five strikeouts. On the negative side, he did walk four batters and hit one. … Sean Poppen, 29, made two scoreless appearances in his three innings this week. … Adrian Morejon, 24, made three appearances, throwing an inning in each outing and giving up a run while striking out two against one walk. (John Conniff)

Cole Cummings had another big week. (Photo: San Antonio Missions)

Missions (Split series vs. Springfield 3-3) 

Top Performers:  The Missions offense was powered by Cole Cummings, who slashed .333/.391/.667, good for a healthy 1.058 OPS. The 2021 undrafted free agent out of UC Santa Barbara hit a pair of home runs in the series and is slashing .300/.386/.700 in 50 at-bats in September. … On the mound, Henry Henry made the most of his three appearances in the series, throwing 5.2 scoreless innings. The 24-year-old, who returned to the system after reaching minor league free agency last winter, is 3-4 with a 5.19 ERA in 50.1 innings pitched in 2023.

Top Prospects and Others of Note:  Graham Pauley continued his fast rise through the system, posting a .273 average and .955 OPS in the series. The Duke product hit a pair of home runs and drove in four runs and now is batting .321 with a .931 OPS in 81 at-bats since being promoted to San Antonio. … Speaking of fast risers, Homer Bush Jr. went 10-for-22 (.455) with a .955 OPS in the series, and the 2023 fourth-rounder is batting .421 with a .921 OPS in 28 at-bats since joining the Missions from Lake Elsinore. … Connor Hollis went 9-for-21 (.429), continuing a resurgent September in which the Houston product is batting .410 with a .970 OPS in 39 at-bats. … Adam Mazur earned a win with five innings in which the righty allowed only one unearned run. The 22-year-old owns a 4.03 ERA and 43:7 K: BB in 38 innings pitched for the Missions. … Fellow midseason promotion Robby Snelling also won, throwing five one-run innings and striking out three. The southpaw is 2-0 with a 1.56 ERA and 19 strikeouts in 17.1 innings since arriving in San Antonio. He’ll get the nod to start the playoff opener in Amarillo on Tuesday. (Mark Wilkens)

Homer Bush is hitting .421 in Double-A. (Photo: San Antonio Missions)

TinCaps (Lost in a best-of-three series to Great Lakes 1-2)

Samuel Zavala launches a home run to win the first playoff game for the TinCaps. (Photo: Adam Gaddy)

Top Performers: Fort Wayne put themselves in a position to advance to the Midwest League Championship Series with a win in game one at home, but couldn’t close out the series. With one swing of the bat, Samuel Zavala gave the TinCaps breathing room in the series opener, growing a two-run lead to five. That three-run home run by the 19-year-old was even more astonishing considering he had missed the last few regular season games with an oblique strain. It was his only hit in the series, as he went 1-for-7 with a walk. Still, the home run was the biggest hit of the year for a team that hadn’t made the playoffs in six years.  … Austin Krob almost saved the season for the TInCaps. With the TinCaps already down two in the fourth inning of Game 3, Krob escaped a two-on, no-out jam and threw three scoreless innings to give the offense a chance to get back into the game. The TCU alum finished the regular season with a sparking 2.72 ERA over 109.1 innings at two levels with 124 strikeouts.

Henry Baez got the ball in Game 1. (Photo: Adam Gaddy)

Top Prospects and Others of Note: The TinCaps had six extra-base hits in the series. Three of them by Tyler Robertson. The 23-year-old was the only player to record a hit in all three games. He was also the only player to have multiple extra-base hits and the only TinCap to score more than one run. While playoff stats will not count towards his overall stat line, the former 14th-round selection finished his first professional campaign hitting a respectable .284/.359/.451 with 31 stolen bases….  In the pivotal do-or-die Game 3, the TinCaps turned to top prospect Dylan Lesko. Unfortunately, the command wasn’t there for Lesko, who fought through the first few innings before he was removed in favor of Krob in the fourth. Lesko ended the after giving up a pair of runs on four hits and two walks over 3+ innings. Lesko finished his abbreviated first season with a 5.45 ERA and 52 strikeouts over 33 innings. His best numbers on the year came with Fort Wayne, where he struck out 20 in 12 innings, though he also walked 11.  … Henry Baez was given the ball in Game 1 fresh off allowing five earned runs over three innings in his regular season finale. The 20-year-old was able to fight through command issues to shut down the Loons. Baez tossed four scoreless innings with four strikeouts, but had to work around three hits and five walks.  The ace of the Storm staff for much of the year, Baez finished his first full campaign with a 3.84 ERA with 99 strikeouts in 98.1 innings. … The games were kept close because of outstanding work by the bullpen. No name stood out more than Carter Loewen. The former University of Hawaii standout struck out five over three scoreless innings in the series, only allowing one baserunner. Loewen, who had his own TJ in April of 2021, finishes his first healthy campaign with a 2.20 ERA and 58 strikeouts over 49 innings. (Ben Davey)

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.


  1. Thank you to ALL the MadFriar contributors. Love your informative writings! It is so great to read your game updates and terrific interviews with players, prospects and team coaches and managers. Love my Padres, their affiliates and MadFriars are the best at giving true fans of the entire organization something to cheer. Great year for the MadFriar team!


    1. Thank you so much, all of us really appreciate it. john


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