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This Week in the Minors: Royals prospects heating up (or already hot) all over system

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Impressive pitching at all levels; Starling hurt; wHIT Merrifield; Vallot debuts at Lexington.

Casey Kotchman's hopes for a comeback look good after another strong week for Omaha. And he never strikes out.
Casey Kotchman's hopes for a comeback look good after another strong week for Omaha. And he never strikes out.
Minda Haas

This is our weekly look at notable performances from all over the system, from big-name prospects and less heralded guys alike. This week, pitchers came alive and put in quite a few impressive games. It looks like the guys at the lower minors are getting stretched out into longer starts, and doing well in them.

Omaha's section includes Monday's results, because they played in the morning and I was there. Everyone else is just through Sunday's action, as usual.

AAA Omaha Storm Chasers (17-14)

schedule | roster

The highlight of the Chasers' week, as a team, was the combined 20 runs they scored Monday afternoon in a doubleheader against first-place Oklahoma City.

John Lamb started the first of the doubleheader, and it was his strongest start of the season. He struck out eight over six innings, and walked just one. He also picked off a runner at 1st, a rarity given his struggles with controlling baserunners. Lamb also pitched six strong innings last Tuesday.

Whit Merrifield had six hits on Monday alone, including two doubles. He's now batting .325, and playing more than capably at second base, where he's been slotted more and more.

Over on the comeback trail, Casey Kotchman piled on 13 hits this week. Kotchman has also only struck out four times in the 16 games sine he joined the team.

Heating up this week are Jose Martinez, an outfielder with a very.....long.....swing, as well as perhaps Rey Fuentes, who is seeing more time in center thanks to Brett Eibner's hamstring injury. Speaking of Eibner, he left for Arizona to work on that injury.

Infielder Gabriel Noriega suffered a potentially season-ending hand injury, necessitating the promotions of both Dusty Coleman and Kenny Diekroeger for the middle infield. Moises Sierra hurt a hamstring, but is considered day-to-day and may not need to be placed on the disabled list at all. UPDATE: Sierra was placed on the DL today after all.

Right-handed starter Aaron Brooks, who may figure into the big league roster soon with all the injury and strife up there, struck out 9 Oklahoma City Dodgers in six innings on Friday.

AA Northwest Arkansas Naturals (19-11)

schedule | roster

Bubba Starling homered three times this week, as chronicled by Kevin Shaun.

Unfortunately, Starling injured a hamstring the instant he started hitting at his new level. He lost a six-game hit streak when he came out of the game on Sunday. As of 8:30 this morning, he's still listed on the roster as active, though Andy McCullough tweeted that he is likely headed for the disabled list.

I hope to feature Balbino Fuenmayor every week, because his is the best name in the org by far. He had another solid week, bringing his line up to .352/.402/.528 in mostly full-time 1B duty. (oh AND he snuck in two home runs on Monday, his fifth and sixth of the year. That's technically for next week, but: two homers!)

Andy Ferguson's 0.85 ERA is second in the Texas League (among starters) only to Astros first-rounder Lance McCullers. In Ferguson's start last Monday, he struck out nine in six innings.

A-Adv. Wilmington Blue Rocks (16-13)

schedule | roster

The Blue Rocks ran into some crummy weather this week, with several games being moved around due to rain. Logan Moon led their mostly-flat bats with six hits, including a triple. Moon, the right-handed outfielder, is now batting .295/.345/.346. Last year, in the Appy League, he put together a line of .332/.357/ .447 and frequently appeared in this space.

On Saturday, Luke Farrell struck out seven batters in five innings, with no walks and only one run yielded.

A Lexington Legends (13-17)

schedule | roster

Chase Vallot, who is a wee infant at 18 years old, headed to Lexington to start his season, and picked up two hits in his first game at that level. Fellow tot Foster Griffin, age 19, was also added to the Legends roster. Griffin started on Saturday, lasting five innings but giving up four earned runs. He struck out two and walked two. Both Vallot and Griffin were first round choices by the Royals in the 2014 draft.

Ryan O'Hearn contined to warm up, hitting 2 dingers and a double  this week, to bring his season slashes up to .273/.331/.500 through 29 games.

Starting pitcher Torey Deshazier continued his nice season by picking up the 'W' in a five-inning start on Friday. Overall, he's got a 2.63 ERA in 27.1 total innings (some starts, some long relief). Deshazier was relieved on Friday by Pedro Fernandez, who struck out six RiverDogs in three innings. Not to be outdone, righty Ashton Goudeau matched that K total the next night, also in three innings of relief.

Did any of you attend any Royals minor league games this week? Who'd you see, and who should your fellow Royals Reviewers be watching?