Here is your San Diego Padres’ minor league review of the 2018 El Paso Chihuahuas.
The Chihuahuas enjoyed a fun season filled with winning streaks and top prospects coming through town.
They finished 82-57 and PCL Pacific Southern division champs. The team won the division by 11 games, aided by a 17-game home winning streak towards the end of the season. El Paso was bested in a best-of-five series with Fresno in the semifinals, losing in five games after battling back to tie the series after falling behind 0-2.
El Paso was in the middle of the pack when it came to team hitting, batting .268 for the season, 10th out of 16 PCL teams. Franmil Reyes played the first 58 games of his season in El Paso and slugged 16 home runs, which still finished tied for the team lead. Luis Urias was a mainstay in that lineup up until the very end when the Padres gave him the call on August 28. He finished sixth in the PCL with 133 hits and 14th in wRC+ with 127. He validated his lofty prospect ranking with a solid season in Triple-A.
Francisco Mejia came into town in late July as part of the Brad Hand trade. He stepped right in and produced for the Chihuahuas, batting .328 with seven home runs in 31 games for El Paso.
Javy Guerra had a disappointing season in his first year in Triple-A. He struggled to keep his strikeout rate below 36% with an average down in the .220s. He still may end up getting quality time at shortstop early next season but his 2018 campaign at the plate was not encouraging.
It’s tough to talk about El Paso’s success this year without mentioning veterans Brett Nicholas and Allen Craig, who combined for 213 hits and 29 home runs. The Chihuahuas had success at the plate and having the 21st (Mejia) and 22nd (Urias) ranked prospects in all of baseball certainly helped.
As a team, El Paso was fifth in the PCL with a 4.20 ERA and third in team WHIP with a 1.35. Walker Lockett led the way for El Paso, tossing a team high 133 1/3 innings and 118 strikeouts. Brett Kennedy was the standout, with a 2.72 ERA and a 10-0 record in 16 starts. Both eventually made their major league debuts later in the season.
Kyle McGrath led the team with 43 appearances along with a solid 2.75 ERA. Other Chihuahuas that pitched well and earned themselves a promotion to the big leagues were Trey Wingenter (40 games, 3.45 ERA), Colten Brewer (37 games, 3.75 ERA) and perhaps the most notable one, Robert Stock, who has now appeared in 26 games for the Padres with a stellar 2.29 ERA. He first pitched 24 games in El Paso with a 1.59 ERA.
Rowan Wick became perhaps the best part of their bullpen, leading the team with nine saves and a 1.99 ERA.
This was one of the best teams in the Pacific Coast League for a reason. They touted a few of the best hitting prospects in baseball and backed it up with solid pitching. Urias led the offensive attack and the Chihuahuas were always on the radar thanks to his exploits. Unfortunately, they fell short in the playoffs but they still won their third consecutive division title.