Is El Paso's success delaying Padres auditions?

Chihuahuas reach PCL championship series for second straight year

Is El Paso's success delaying Padres auditions?

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

The defending Pacific Coast League Champion El Paso Chihuahuas completed a three-game sweep of Reno Friday night to earn a berth in the Triple-A PCL Championship Series for a second straight season.

The Chihuahuas will face either Memphis or Colorado Springs when the best of five PCL title series begins on Sept. 12 in the ballpark of the Atlantic Division champions. El Paso is scheduled to host games Sept. 15, 16 and 17 -- the last two to be played only if needed.

Congratulations Chihuahuas!

But are the Padres paying a price for El Paso's success?

Last year, the Padres made a conscious decision to leave the "core four" prospects -- Manuel Margot, Austin Hedges, Carlos Asuaje and Hunter Renfroe -- in El Paso through the end of the Triple-A playoffs so that they could experience being in the playoffs together.

This year, however, there are not four top-tier prospects in El Paso. Renfroe did return to El Paso late in the season for a refresher course and played a pivotal role in the Chihuahuas' late-season charge to a third straight Pacific South division title.

Padres manager Andy Green said the Padres this year would promote players before the end of the PCL playoffs on an as-needed basis. For example, relief pitchers Kyle McGrath and Jose Valdez and starter Jordan Lyles got the call on Sept. 1, because the Padres desperately needed to add pitching depth.

But as Green recently said, the Padres don't really need six outfielders here to have three sitting. And the Padres are already working an infield rotation with Yangervis Solarte, Cory Spangenberg, Carlos Asuaje and Erick Aybar.

If needed, Green said the Padres would promote players from El Paso this season before the end of the PCL playoffs. Thus far, there has been no need. The Padres want to take a longer look at Jabari Blash in right. Manuel Margot and Jose Pirela are regulars in the other two spots. Matt Szczur and Spangenberg are there in reserve.

The only anticipated addition from El Paso would be Renfroe.

But Green as recently as Friday said there are no guarantees that Renfroe will return this season.

"We haven't answered the question of who gets called up," said Green. "Hunter has done some things that we've asked him to do. And he's done them well. I've said we feel very positive about him in the future, but right now we've remained kind of non-committal about who our callups are going to be when the playoff series are over."

That, of course, could change with an injury.

But for right now, Renfroe is a Chihuahua. Here's hoping he leads El Paso to another title.

Noteworthy:

• PadresOnDeck: Class A Fort Wayne hosts Dayton Saturday night in the opening game of the Midwest League's best-of-three Eastern Division finals. Double-A San Antonio has a 2-1 lead in the Texas League semifinals.

• The Padres snapped Arizona's 13-game winning streak Friday night with a 10-6 win. A week ago today, the Padres won the first of three straight games against the Dodgers.

• CF Margot was 3-for-5 with a double and a triple Friday for four RBIs. That is a career-high for the rookie, who twice before had three RBIs in a game. Margot is 5-for-8 in his last two games with four RBIs and two runs scored, ending a 4-for-36 slump.

• 1B Wil Myers is 17-for-53 (.321) over his past 13 games to raise his batting average from a season low .232 to .243. He is 12-for-27 in his past seven games with two doubles, a triple, a home run, six RBIs and four runs scored.