The San Diego Padres’ affiliates went a perfect 3-0 on Tuesday as the 2021 minor league season opened.
Here is the first of our nightly recaps of the system.
El Paso Chihuahuas
(season starts Thursday in Tacoma)
San Antonio Missions (Won 8-3)
CJ Abrams- (2-for-5) 2 2B, Run, RBI, BB
Reiss Knehr- 5 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 5 K (87 pitches- 57 strikes)
Robbie Podorsky- (4-for-5) 2 Runs, RBI
Juan Fernandez- (3-for-5) RBI, BB, K
The Missions started the 2021 season on the road in Corpus Christie against the Hooks. Reiss Knehr started the game and went five innings for the win. The 24-year-old, right-handed pitcher struck out five batters in the game, allowing two earned runs. The Missions’ bullpen did their job as they threw four innings, only allowing one earned run as Sam Williams was touched up for a solo homer in the 6th inning. Carlos Belen, Tom Cosgrove, and Pedro Avila all threw shutout innings in the win. Belen is a converted infielder who throws a hard sinker and is an interesting story. Avila is coming off Tommy Johns surgery and could be an option for the major league club eventually. Offensively, the Missions totaled 13 hits in the game. Robbie Podorsky went 4-for-5 out of the 9th spot in the order, scoring two runs and driving in one. Podorsky brings a terrific speed element to the game and is a fan favorite for his size. The 5-foot-8 sparkplug is a fun player to watch. Catcher Juan Fernandez went 3-for-5 with a walk, and CJ Abrams went 2-for-5 with two doubles, including a hustle double down the right-field line. The Missions look to keep the ball rolling on Wednesday against the Hooks.
Fort Wayne TinCaps (Won 8-0)
Ethan Elliott- 4 IP, 1 H, 2 BB, 9 K (74 pitches/50 strikes)
Justin Lopez- (1-for-4) HR, 3 RBI, Run, K
Dwanya Williams-Sutton- (0-for-1) 2 BB, HBP, 3 Runs, K
Jonny Homza- (1-for-3) 2 BB, 3 Runs, 2 K’s
It was a rainy night in Fort Wayne for the TinCaps home opener, but that did not dampen the mood of the 2,046 fans who came out to Parkview Field. The TinCaps’ pitching staff put on a show, and the offense made the most out of their five hits in the game. Ethan Elliott struck out nine batters in four scoreless innings of work. The 24-year-old lefty allowed just one hit and two walks on the night. He is a 1oth round pick in 2019 and had an impressive debut that season with Tri-City recording 1.77 ERA and a 0.87 WHIP in 35.2 innings pitched. Elliott is a name to monitor this season. Felix Minjarez earned the win for the TinCaps as he threw two scoreless innings, striking out four batters. Austin Smith, A.J. Preller’s first MLB Draft picks as a member of the Padres, pitched in the game. Smith pitched two scoreless innings, striking out three. Cody Tyler threw the last frame for the TinCaps and was perfect. The offense did not get much, but Justin Lopez did slam a homer to right field. The ball went 397 feet and was registered as 101 mph off the bat. Lopez is still only 20 and could break out in 2021. The team walked 11 times in the game, and that was a huge factor for the TinCaps. Dwanya Williams-Sutton, an OBP machine, walked twice and was hit by a pitch. The outfielder scored three runs and is really undervalued right now. Catcher Jonny Homza walked twice and scored two runs in his 2021 debut.
Lake Elsinore Storm (Won 8-7)
Matthew Acosta- (2-for-4) HR, 3 RBI, Run
Ripken Reyes- (3-for-3) Run, RBI, BB
Brandon Valenzuela– (1-for-3) 2 RBI, R, 2 BB
Jose Garcia– 1 IP, 2 Ks, Save (10 pitches/7 strikes)
The Lake Elsinore Storm begins their season with a six-game series in Visalia against the Diamondbacks affiliate. On Tuesday, 22-year-old Levi Thomas started the game for the Storm. The 4th round draft pick out of Troy in 2020 went three innings, allowing two earned runs. The small in stature right-handed pitcher struck out six in the game while walking two batters. Thomas threw 60 pitches in the game and gave way to Nick Thwaits, who went three innings, allowing four earned runs. Thwaits is a 15th round pick in 2018 out of high school and has a plus arm. Michell Miliano earned the win for Lake Elsinore as he two innings allowing just a solo homer on the day while striking out four. Miliano is 21 and is a pitching prospect to keep an eye on in 2021. The hitting hero on the day for the Storm was Matthew Acosta, who slugged a go-ahead two-run homer in the 8th inning, making it an 8-7 game in favor of Lake Elsinore. The blast capped off a 2-for-4 night for the outfielder out of USC. Ripken Reyes went 3-for-3 out of the nine-spot in the lineup to contribute. The former USD Torrero played second base for the Storm and is a scrappy ballplayer with skill across the board. Gilberto Vizcarra went 2-for-4 as the DH, and Brandon Valenzuela smashed a homer in the 3rd inning. Left-handed pitcher Jose Garcia earned the save with a perfect 9th inning.
El Paso- Off
San Antonio- A. Martinez
Fort Wayne- TBD
Lake Elsinore- TBD