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The Journal Gazette

  • Rachel Von Stroup | The Journal Gazette Fort Wayne’s Omar Cruz pitches in the first inning against Great Lakes Loons at Parkview Field on Saturday night.

  • Rachel Von Stroup | The Journal Gazette The TinCaps' Dwanya Williams-Sutton catches a pop fly during the second inning against Great Lakes Loons at Parkview Field on Saturday night.

  • Rachel Von Stroup | The Journal Gazette The TinCaps’ Agustin Ruiz lands safely on second as the Loons’ Luke Heyer watches for the ball during the first inning at Parkview Field on Saturday night.

  • Rachel Von Stroup | The Journal Gazette The TinCaps' Omar Cruz stretches before pitching the ball in the second inning against Great Lakes Loons at Parkview Field on Saturday night.

Sunday, June 30, 2019 1:00 am

TinCaps Great Lakes

TinCaps' progress excites Padres

Parent club's executive sees bright future

DYLAN SINN | The Journal Gazette

TinCaps vs. Great Lakes

Where: Parkview Field

When: 3:05 p.m.

Pitchers: Angel Acevedo (TinCaps) vs. Jose Chacin (Loons)

TV: Xfinity 81

Radio: 1380 AM, 100.9 FM

The TinCaps have had plenty of eyes on them this week.

It's the first summer homestand of the season, and the warm weather has brought in some of the largest crowds of the season at Parkview Field. In addition, however, several members of the San Diego Padres' upper-level baseball management chose this week to visit and see the talent in Fort Wayne.

Padres director of player development Sam Geaney was impressed by what he saw.

“Definitely excited by a lot of the things I'm seeing on the field,” Geaney said. “We definitely expect many of the players here to get better as the season goes along, as they get comfortable in many cases with their first full season of Low-A baseball.

“We expect better things for a lot of these guys in the second half, as well as collectively. ... Definitely proud of the work the staff has done here.”

The rest of the brass had left by Saturday, but Geaney stuck around and was there when the TinCaps lost to the Great Lakes Loons 7-6 in 10 innings in front of an announced crowd of 6,288.

The Loons (4-5) won their sixth game in seven June matchups against the TinCaps (3-6) behind the second career two-home-run game from first baseman Dillon Paulson. Paulson drove in three runs and added a single for a three-hit night, his first since May 22.

The powerful Paulson hit the first of his two home runs against TinCaps starter Omar Cruz in the first inning, a two-run shot that put Great Lakes in front 2-0 just two batters into the game. It was a rough start for the 20-year-old Cruz, who was making his Midwest League debut and went walk-home run-walk to the first three hitters he faced before settling in.

The left-hander, who was called up from short-season Tri-City on Friday, eventually worked 3 2/3 innings, giving up three runs on three hits while striking out five. Geaney said fans can be optimistic about Cruz's potential.

“Omar is hopefully the next in the line of young left-handed pitchers (coming up through the organization,” Geaney said. “What you'll see is a very lively fastball and probably bringing two secondary pitches, his changeup and his curveball, that are probably even a little advanced for what you see (in the Midwest League).”

Geaney said he'd seen Cruz at Tri-City just a week earlier and in that outing, Cruz's first nine outs came via strikeout. The lefty got a no-decision Saturday.

The Padres executive saw plenty of good starting pitching performances while he was in Fort Wayne, as well. Joey Cantillo and Ryan Weathers each turned in shut-down outings, and Geaney said the TinCaps' starting pitching is a team strength.

“(I've been) very pleased,” he said of the Fort Wayne rotation. “They've gone out and thrown the ball over the plate, continued to work to find that fastball command, starting to develop reliable secondary pitchers.

“There's a lot of teenagers (in the rotation) here. ... A handful of young 19-year-olds who are having very, very nice starts to their full-season debuts.”

Geaney is expecting big second halves from Cantillo and Weathers, as well as reliever Carlos Belen.

dsinn@jg.net