San Diego Padres Minor League Report - July 19th
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PORTLAND BEAVERS - It is clear that the Beavers have emerged from pushovers to serious contenders all in the span of two weeks. They have currently put together five consecutive victories, allowing no more than four runs in any of those contests. A quick look at the standings reveals that Portland is 49-46 overall and only 2 1/2 games out of first place in the Northern Division of the Pacific Coast League. The top team in the division is Tacoma, and the Beavers will take on the Rainiers in a four-game homestand beginning July 19th. The fact that the Portland is within striking distance of Tacoma at this point is surprising considering that not a single active player for the team ranks among the top 40 batters in the league with regard to average. MOBILE BAYBEARS - Mobile split a double-header with West Tenon on July 17th and had an opportunity to rest on the 18th. Three of the last four games for the squad have ended in defeat, and the BayBears are in desperate need of a spark. They are just 8-14 overall which leaves them six games out of first place in the Southern League's West Division. The only team that is below Mobile in the division is 7-15 Montgomery. As hard as it is to believe, no regular player for Mobile is batting over .246 at present. One of the team's top pitchers is Chris Rojas, as the 6-2 righty has surrendered only one earned run in his last two starts combined. Unfortunately, the horrendous offense has overshadowed the contributions of Rojas. The team did get some honors this past week as Josh Barfield slugged his way to the league's player of the week while Mike Thompson was tabbed pitcher of the week. LAKE ELSINORE STORM - The Storm got off to a rough start in this second half of the season, but the last two weeks have been outstanding to say the least. The squad has won six straight games and nine of the last 10 outings to pull within one game of Lancaster for first place in the South Division of the California League. Although there are only 10 teams in the entire league, Lake Elsinore is one of five teams with 14 victories thus far. Considering how well the Storm is played lately, it is extremely hard to believe that not a single player is batting .300 or better for the team this season. Clearly, pitching and defense has been the key to success. Jon Huber has been outstanding in a starting role, as he has not allowed more than two earned runs in his last five outings. FT. WAYNE WIZARDS - Thanks to a hard-fought 6-5 victory over Peoria last time out, Ft. Wayne is now 14-8 overall and in first place in the Eastern Division of the Midwest League by 2 1/2 games. Three of the last four outings for the Wizards have resulted in victory, but nine of the next 11 games for the squad will take place on the road. Not a single player is batting .300 or above for Ft. Wayne this season, a fact that is somewhat hard to believe considering the success of the team to date. Drew Macias had three hits in the squad's most recent win over Peoria, and he is now hitting at a .296 clip. Fernando Valenzuela dropped to .298 after putting forth a 1-for-5 effort in that contest. EUGENE EMERALDS - At 12-18, the Emeralds are the last place team in the West Division of the Northwest League. Three of the last four outings and six of the last eight for the team have resulted in defeat, and there is now six games separating Eugene and the top team in the division, Everett. Speaking of Everett, it knocked off the Emeralds on July 18th by a score of 7-5 in the first of what will be six straight contests between the ball clubs. The fact that no every day player for Eugene is batting over .271 this season is a major reason that the squad is currently residing in the basement. As of last week, reliever Mike Ekstrom hadn't given up a run in 12 1/3 innings of action. Unfortunately for the 6-2 righty, he was touched for three earned runs in 2 2/3 innings of action last time out. Fellow hurler Alfredo Fernandez was named Northwest Player of the Week for the period ending July 18th. Fernandez worked five innings in his last outing, allowing just one hit while striking out six.