Urias, Chihuahuas sluggers make PCL heel

Padres No. 2 prospect smacks team's 201st homer of season

Baseball's No. 20 overall prospect Luis Urias parked his 19th homer of the season. (Jorge Salgado/El Paso Chihuahuas)

By Katie Woo / MiLB.com | July 19, 2019 3:18 AM

Triple-A El Paso has 42 games remaining in the regular season. The Chihuahuas have already bashed 201 homers, the most in the Pacific Coast League in the 21st century.

Ty France, Jose Pirela, Aderlin Rodriguez and Luis Urias went yard for El Paso on Thursday to top the 2017 Fresno team's mark en route to a 7-4 win over Reno. The Chihuahuas became the first professional team in the Minors to reach 200 home runs this season, accomplishing the feat in 98 games. 

Video: El Paso sets homer record

The Triple-A affiliate of the Padres has been slugging dingers at a pace that might not be so surprising for the top-ranked farm system in the game. Michael Gettys tops the squad with 22 homers, with San Diego's No. 27 prospect France two behind. Second-ranked Urias has 19, Jose Pirela stands one in back of him while Esteban Quiroz, Jacob Scavuzzo and Jason Vosler are tied with 15. Padres No. 14 prospect Austin Allen has a dozen and Josh Naylor, who is up with San Diego, has 10.

That might seem ironic for a team that tries to stay clear from swinging for the fences.

"We have really good hitters who happen to hit homers," El Paso manager Edwin Rodriguez said. "Our hitting coach, Morgan Burkhart, tells them to try to stay away from home runs, to just hit the ball.

"They are good hitters with power to all fields. So [they] just try to be good hitters. The home runs will come."

Gameday box score 

That they did. France and Pirela got Thursday's long ball party started early. The third baseman smoked a two-out solo shot to right-center field and the right fielder followed with a blast to left. 

Three frames later, Aderlin Rodriguez uncorked a first-pitch, two-run shot to right for El Paso's 200th dinger for the season, only the second team in the past 19 seasons to accomplish the feat in the Pacific Coast League. 

Then came Urias, who showed no signs of the left shoulder discomfort that sidelined him last week. MLB.com's No. 20 overall prospect ripped a two-run homer to right on a 3-1 count in the seventh.

"I've been around for many years and this is the first time that anyone in the lineup can hit a home run at any time," the skipper laughed. "It's fun to watch."

2019 MiLB include

The Chihuahuas need 217 taters to tie Class A Advanced Lancaster's single-season team record in this century. Passing the California League squad would give El Paso the most Minor League home runs in a season since 2005. Edwin Rodriguez believes his team will surpass that total. But they won't be talking about it until they do. 

"If you asked any of our players they're going to say the same -- we don't talk about it," he said. "It's reachable and I think we can do it. And I'm sure someone will call us and let us know when we do."

The Omaha Golden Spikes bashed 231 long balls in the Pacific Coast League in 1999. And back in 1974, when the fence was 250 feet from home plate, Sacramento smacked 305.

In other scoring action for the Chihuahuas, Gettys tripled while France notched his third mult-hit game in his last five contests. 

For the Aces, D-backs No. 11 prospect Andy Young launched a two-run homer and Juniel Querecuto went 3-for-5 with a double and a run scored.

Katie Woo is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @katiejwoo. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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