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This Week in the Minors: Great pitching all over; Finnegan to AA, Hendriks dominates

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Pitchers at nearly every level turned in great starts this week. New acquisition Liam Hendriks K'd 12 in 7 innings for Omaha, and more.

New Royals pickup Liam Hendriks was impressive, to say the least, in his Omaha debut.
New Royals pickup Liam Hendriks was impressive, to say the least, in his Omaha debut.
Minda Haas

This is our weekly look at notable performances from all over the system, from big-name prospects and less heralded guys alike. Compiled with love by Minda, who was extremely ill this weekend and possibly not prepared to type words that make sense.

IDAHO FALLS (22-23, 6 GB):

Wander Franco (3B) had his first bit of struggle this week, going hitless in a 3 of 5 games and even earning a Golden Sombrero on Monday. His line still stands at .347/.407/.582, so he's not toast or anything, but we'll keep an eye on him.

Outfielder Brandon Downes, drafted this year from the University of Virginia, had a great week. He had 4 multi-hit games, including 2 with 3 hits and 1 4-hit night. Through his first 17 games, he is hitting .364/.380/.511, but has struck out 20 times against just one walk.

Sugar Ray Marimon pitched for the first time since hitting Omaha's disabled list a few weeks back. He struck out 3 batters in 3 innings, giving up 4 hits and 1 run. But it was right-hander Mike Jeffreys who had the top pitching performance of the week for the Chukars, throwing 6 3-hit innings on Saturday, with 7 Ks and 1 walk.

BURLINGTON (19-22, 6.5 GB)

The B-Royals' best start on the mound this week from Niklas Stephenson, in his 2nd year with Burlington. He threw 7 innings on Tuesday, giving up just 3 hits and no earned runs. He doesn't strike out a ton of guys (6.5/9), but has cut his walks to 1.3/9 this season.

Logan Moon lost an 8-game hit streak yesterday, but had a great week anyhow, with 9 hits scattered between Monday and Saturday. The right fielder has only walked 7 times all season. Does that bother you, gentle readers? (It doesn't bother me that much.)

LEXINGTON (45-67, so many GB)

Alec Mills pitched two very nice games this week, fresh up from Idaho Falls. In total, he threw 11 innings, surrendering just 6 hits and 2 runs. He also struck out 12 and walked 4.


Righty Luke Farrell struck out 10 guys in 5 innings, which is just bananas. Matt Alvarez ended the week with an 8 K, 2-hit performance in 5 innings on Sunday.  It was only his 4th start of the season.

Dexter Kjerstad was a single shy of the cycle on Monday, and went on to collect 7 more hits the rest of the week. Kjerstad was a 50th-round draft choice back in 2010, but is logging his first pro season now. His hot week brought his line up to .282/.336/.451.

WILMINGTON (53-55, 6 GB)

Pitching! Glenn Sparkman Sparkman'd again this week, with two good starts. Tuesday, he went 7 innings with 7 Ks, no walks, and 2 ER. He followed it up with 5 1-run innings yesterday.

Sean Manaea had a nice start of his own on Saturday, with 7.1 shutout innings, with 7 Ks and 1 walk.

Brandon Finnegan finally gave up his first earned run as a professional. BUST. (Kidding, you guys.) He was promoted to AA on Friday, so I look forward to scooting him to that section next week!

Bubba Starling had solitary hits in 5 of his last 6 games, including 3 doubles and his 9th homer of the season.

NORTHWEST ARKANSAS

A weird thing happened with NWArk this week. By "a weird thing," I mean "nobody had a spectacular week." Mitch "MITCH" Maier appeared in a couple of games, and hit in two of them. Mitch!

Chelsor Cuthbert had a pair of two-hit games, and hit his 10th home run.

Hunter Dozier's bat has been kind of sleepy lately.

OMAHA (60-54, first place)

The Chasers are in first place, but they are also at the part of the season where their rotation is a little cobbled-together. They've leaned heavily on Buddy Baumann in the last couple weeks, and brought Chris Dwyer back out of the pen in what, by all accounts, is a temporary move.

New Guy Liam Hendriks ought to help that situation, if his first Omaha start was any indication. He struck out 12 Redbirds on Friday night, gave up no walks and 7 hits in 7 innings.

On Wednesday, John Lamb struggled a little bit in the first inning or so, got a mound visit from pitching coach Larry Carter, than retired the next 17 guys. He struck out the side in the 7th, and dialed the fastball up to 93 by some accounts, 94 by others.

Whit Merrifield failed to reach base in two different games this week, which is significant because Whit Merrifield is always on all kinds of bases. (By the way, he's also a good storyteller. Did you guys listen to him on Clubhouse Conversation this week?)

Carlos Peguero homered twice yesterday, capping off a week in which he collected hits in every game but one, and hit two other home runs.

Whose performance this week is most encouraging or discouraging to you?