Hassell debuts, but TinCaps rally comes up short


FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Despite three top-20 Padres prospects making their High-A debuts, including the 2020 MLB Draft’s eighth overall pick Robert Hassell III, the Fort Wayne TinCaps fell 8-6 to the Dayton Dragons (Cincinnati Reds affiliate) in the series finale at Parkview Field on Sunday.

Dueling one-two-three innings from Fort Wayne’s Carlos Guarate and Dayton’s Carson Spiers made way for offense in the second. In the top half of the inning, the Dragons (53-49) jumped out to a lead on an RBI single from first baseman Alex McGarry. In the bottom of the frame, the TinCaps (49-53) equalized on an RBI double to center field from left fielder Luis Almanzar. The hit was Almanzar’s second run-producing extra base hit in 24 hours, after an RBI triple on Saturday night.

Fort Wayne jumped out to a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the third thanks to an RBI single from catcher Brandon Valenzuela. Valenzuela, the No. 19 prospect in the system, made his TinCaps debut on Sunday afternoon along with Hassell, the No. 47 prospect in all of baseball, and Padres No. 13 prospect Euribiel Angeles. The trio became the three highest-rated prospects on Fort Wayne’s roster, according to MLB.com.

In the fourth, Dayton retook the lead with back-to-back run-producing hits when catcher Eric Yang singled and second baseman Jonathan Willems followed with a double down the third base line.

The ‘Caps tied the game, 3-3, in the bottom of fifth after Valenzuela walked and shortstop Justin Lopez pummeled a double to right-center field to score the Fort Wayne catcher. The two-bagger was Lopez’s 21st of the year, which ranks eighth in High-A Central.

Two wild pitches plated a pair for Dayton in the sixth, and a double play ball in the seventh extended the Dragons’ lead to 6-3. In the bottom of the seventh, walks loaded the bases for the TinCaps before Lopez plated two with a single to left field. The two-run knock was his third hit of the day, and it cut the TinCap deficit to one.

The Dragons gave themselves insurance with two more in the top of the ninth on a wild pitch and a single from Yang. Lopez drove in his fourth run of the game with a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the inning, but the comeback bid halted after that. Lopez now has 58 RBIs on the season, ranking seventh in the league.

Hassell drew a walk and scored a run. Angeles singled, walked, and scored a run. In addition to his RBI single, Valenzuela also walked twice.

The TinCaps are off Monday, then play up in Midland, Mich., next week. Fort Wayne finishes its 2021 Parkview Field schedule from Sept. 7-12 against the Lansing Lugnuts (Oakland A’s affiliate).

Next Game: Tuesday, Aug. 31 @ Great Lakes (7:05 p.m.)

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