For the first time since their inaugural 2014 season, the El Paso Chihuahuas will not be playing postseason baseball.
The Triple-A affiliate of the San Diego Padres won 80 games, their second highest total in their six-season history in El Paso.
But it was not enough to hold off the Las Vegas Aviators.
The Triple-A affiliate of the Oakland A’s clinched the division crown Sept. 1, but not before giving the Chihuahuas every opportunity to pass them in the standings during the final week of the regular season.
El Paso closed to within one game of first place, but the team’s luck finally ran out against the Sacramento River Cats.
I will remember the 2019 Chihuahuas as one of the best offensive teams ever to play professional baseball.
They set a new PCL record with 256 home runs and their .302 batting average, 1,474 hits, and 918 RBIs led the league.
Ty France, MVP
Ty France was named PCL Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player after he hit .399 with 27 home runs and 89 RBIs in just 76 games for the Chihuahuas. Those numbers are staggering since France played just more than half a season with El Paso. In 49 games with the Padres, France is batting .231, but his hitting ability in Triple-A has put him into the discussion for the Padres’ second baseman of the future.
France was not the only offensive star for El Paso this season.
Michael Gettys set a new career high with 31 home runs, while Austin Allen, Aderlin Rodriguez, Seth Mejias-Breen, Luis Urias, Josh Naylor, Matt Batten, Jason Vosler and Esteban Quiroz all had terrific performances at the plate in 2019.
For much of the season, it looked like the Chihuahuas offense would carry the team into the playoffs despite subpar pitching. Ultimately, that caught up with them over the final month of the season.
Cal Quantrill and Dinelson Lamet were the only starters to have an earned run average under five, but they both combined for only 10 starts. Dillon Overton was the team’s most consistent starting pitcher and he won 10 games despite having an ERA of 5.46 and opposing players hitting .300 against him. Jerry Keel and Dietrich Enns combined for 21 wins, but they often had trouble keeping the baseball in the park.
If you look ahead to 2020, the Chihuahuas could have talented young pitchers like McKenzie Gore, Luis Patino, Adrian Morejon, Michel Baez and Nick Margevicius in their rotation. Gore, Patino, Morejon, and Baez are among the best prospects in the Padres system, while Margevicius spent the first few months of this season starting for San Diego.
None have pitched in Triple-A and some could begin 2020 in El Paso if they do not make the Padres roster.
It will be interesting to follow since San Diego is not afraid to challenge their top young prospects. Both Fernando Tatis Jr. and Chris Paddock skipped Triple-A and have shined as rookies for the Padres this season.
Since 1997, Steve Kaplowitz has hosted “Sportstalk” from 4 to 7 p.m. weekdays on 600 ESPN El Paso. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.