As we have for the past four years, we're providing monthly updates on the top performers at every level of the Padres minor league system over at Fox Sports San Diego. These updates are not revisions of our preseason top prospect rankings, but rather news about recent performances worthy of attention.
El Paso Chihuahuas (Triple-A)
After a trio of young stars who are now in the Padres’ everyday lineup led last year’s team to the Pacific Coast League title, this year’s club features a group of more veteran position players. However, the pitching staff has more depth and should help the 2017 team compete again.
Free agent signee Jamie Romak entered the year as the active minor league home run leader, and he’s only extended his lead as a Chihuahua. The 30-year-old, who spent last year in Japan, had a minors-best 11 homers in April on his way to a stellar .372/.413/.860 line. In 22 games, he had 19 extra-base hits. Limited to first base at the big league level, Romak’s path to Petco Park is extremely tight, but he is not yet in the class of Mike Hessman. Cory Spangenberg’s assignment to El Paso to work on the conversion to third base didn’t last the entirety of the first month, as his bat forced the issue. The veteran of two big-league seasons posted a .403 on-base percentage and struck out in only 11 percent of his plate appearances.
Coming into the year, Walker Lockett and Dinelson Lamet figured to headline the starting rotation. While Lockett ran hot and cold for the month, Lamet was nothing short of stellar. The big righty posted a 0.45 ERA in four starts, striking out 28 while allowing only 21 runners over 20 innings of work, including a franchise record-setting 13 strikeout performance on April 20.
As good as Lamet was, one-time Dodger top prospect Matt Magill nearly matched him, giving up only five earned runs in as many starts. The 27-year-old, who was the minor league strikeout leader in 2012, only whiffed 20 in his 29 innings, but posted a sub-1.00 WHIP as opponents managed only a .210 average against him. Fellow minor league free agent Logan Bawcom helped anchor the El Paso bullpen, striking out 15 in 12.1 innings.