Allen off to pro-ball best start at Fort Wayne

Tejada, Stevens homer as Lake Elsinore begins 4-1

Bill Center, longtime sportswriter for U-T San Diego, is an employee of the Padres.

The hottest hitter in the Minor Leagues -- or all professional baseball for that matter -- belongs to the Padres.

Catcher Austin Allen is off to a 14-for-18 start with Class A Fort Wayne.

Allen, 22, the Padres fourth-round Draft pick last June out of Florida Tech, was 3-for-4 Monday night as the TinCaps scored a 4-2 win at Great Lakes.

Each of the Padres Class A teams are off to good starts. Fort Wayne is 3-2 and leads the Minor Leagues with 58 hits in five games. Class A Advanced Lake Elsinore took an 8-4 win at High Desert on Monday night and is off to a 4-1 start without having played a home game.

The 6-foot-4, 225-pound, left-handed-hitting Allen has at least one hit in each of the TinCaps' first five games. He has three straight three-hit games after opening the season with a four-hit game.

Allen has two doubles and a homer with two walks for five RBIs and six runs scored. He has struck out once.

Allen has a .778 batting average, a .800 on-base percentage, a 1.056 slugging percentage and a 1.856 OPS.

Allen is not the only hot hitter at Fort Wayne. First baseman Brad Zunica is off to a .500 start with two homers.

And a pair of two-run homers by right fielder Luis Tejada and designated hitter River Stevens accounted for all the Fort Wayne runs Monday night. Tejada was 2-for-4. Stevens was 1-for-3 with a steal.

Starting right-handed pitcher Enyel De Los Santos, 20, allowed two runs on four hits with seven strikeouts in 3 2/3 innings in his debut in the Padres' organization. He was acquired with Double-A San Antonio middle infielder Nelson Ward from Seattle for reliever Joaquin Benoit last November.

Left-hander Will Headean (1-0, 0.00 ERA) followed De Los Santos and allowed no runs on two hits with two strikeouts in 3 1/3 innings to get credit for the win. Right-hander Louis Distasio earned the save, allowing two hits with three strikeouts in two scoreless innings.

Meanwhile, rehabbing right-hander Brandon Morrow made his first start and outfielders Edwin Moreno and Franmil Reyes homered in Lake Elsinore's win.

Morrow, who was 2-0 with a 2.73 ERA for the Padres last April before shoulder problems shut him down for the rest of the season, allowed four runs on five hits and two walks with three strikeouts in 5 1/3 innings. Left-hander Brad Wieck struck out four in a perfect 1 2/3 innings to get the win. Left-hander Jose Torres struck out one in two perfect innings to close out the win.

Moreno (.286) was 3-for-5 with two runs scored. C Jose Ruiz (.267) was 2-for-4 with two RBIs and a run scored.

There was considerable movement in the Padres' farm system Monday. Infielder Casey McElroy and right-handed pitcher Greg Reynolds joined Triple-A El Paso from extended spring camp. Infielder Mike Olt was transferred from El Paso to San Antonio. The Missions released infielder Duanel Jones.

At Fort Wayne, pitcher Nick Monroe was promoted from extended spring camp while pitcher Emmanuel Ramirez was sent to extended spring camp.

Around the farm
Triple-A El Paso (1-3): TACOMA 6, Chihuahuas 3: DH Alex Dickerson (.222) was 2-for-4 with his first homer of the season. 2B Carlos Asuaje (.364) also homered in three at-bats. SS Jemile Weeks (.182) was 2-for-4 with a triple. Starter Reynolds allowed three runs on six hits and four walks in 3 2/3 innings. LHP Frank Graces allowed an unearned run on a hit and a walk with three strikeouts in 2 2/3 innings.

Double-A San Antonio (2-3): Tulsa 10, MISSIONS 1: RF Yeison Asencio (.278) was 2-for-4. Starting RHP Johnny Hellweg allowed three runs on seven hits and a walk in 4 2/3 innings to suffer the loss.