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This Week in the Minors: Starling and Toups streaking, Eibner mashing

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This week we take a look at a few guys on the short list for big league opportunities, as well as players who got promoted within the lower levels.

Are you, dear reader among those calling for a Brett Eibner callup? He's batting .290/.350/.491.
Are you, dear reader among those calling for a Brett Eibner callup? He's batting .290/.350/.491.
Minda Haas

This is our weekly look at notable performances from all over the system, from big-name prospects and less heralded guys alike. As always, it's Omaha-heavy, because that's where I am.

AAA Omaha Storm Chasers (49-41)

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The thought behind Christian Colon's demotion to Omaha was that he needed to play every day. Since being sent down, he has hit in every game, an 8-game streak.

Another middle infielder, Angel Franco, was briefly a Storm Chaser after completing a rehab stint in Arizona for a knee problem. After two games, he was sent back to Northwest Arkansas, though that may be a way to keep him playing since Omaha's on break. We'll see if he's re-promoted after the break or not.

You may have seen Balbino Fuenmayor playing in the Futures Game on Sunday, but in the days before that he was destroying baseballs for Omaha. On Friday he hit two home runs, to go along with the five doubles he had already racked up since his Independence Day promotion.

The night that Alex Gordon got hurt, Brett Eibner drove in five runs for Omaha. He even hit a home run after hearing about not only the injury, but that he wasn't the club's top choice for a potential callup. (Whit Merrifield was pulled from the game as the "just in case" move. I saw this happen, and everyone - including Eibner - was insanely happy for Merrifield, no reservations. I love this team.) Eibner's line on the season is now .290/.350/.491.

As for Merrifield, he wasn't called up after all, but he did have a decent week in addition to learning he is that high on the org's totem pole. He had three multi-hit games, with three doubles and a triple. The superutility man played at first base, second base, third base, and left field this week.

Kris Medlen made another rehab start for Omaha on Friday. He struck out seven and didn't walk anyone in 5.2 innings, but he also gave up three solo home runs.

Right-handed reliever Mike Mariot extended his Triple-A scoreless innings streak with four more shutout frames this week (two outings of two innings apiece). His last run was surrendered on May 19.

We'll close this section with John Lamb, ever the favorite among fans hoping to see new faces in Kansas City. Lamb struck out 10 batters in five innings on Thursday, with one walk and two runs given up. A concern about Lamb is efficiency. He always seems to pile up the pitch count, and this start was no exception, as he took 98 pitches to get through five. On the season, he averages about 16.4 pitches per inning.

AA Northwest Arkansas Naturals (44-42)

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Kyle Zimmer pitched twice this week, holding opponents scoreless both times. On Tuesday, he struck out three and allowed just two singles in two innings. During a double header on Friday, he struck out two and walked two in a one-inning outing. In every appearance at two levels this season, Zimmer has walked either zero or two batters.

The bad news is, Bubba Starling lost a 12-game hit streak on Sunday. The good news is, Bubba Starling had a 12-game hit streak. During the streak, which started on June 26, Starling hit three doubles and his 4th home run as a Natural. He also had a golden sombrero in there, on the 27th.

Super-speedster Terrance Gore had a 3-hit game this week, and a 4-hit game. All hits were singles. Gore also stole two more bases, maintaining his lead in the Texas League.

22-year-old middle infielder Ramon Torres was promoted to AA last Tuesday, and hit safely in four of his first five games at the new level.

On the DL:

  • RHP Reid Redman since May 9, retroactive to May 8. He had Tommy John surgery and is out for the year.
  • RHP Glenn Sparkman since April 30, last I heard he is expected to return sometime this month.
  • RHP Brooks Pounders has begun pitching in Arizona
  • Outfielder Mike Bianucci was suspended 80 games for PEDs and is on the Restricted List.

A-Adv. Wilmington Blue Rocks (47-39)

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Shortstop Humberto Arteaga was promoted from Lexington to Wilmington this week. Also promoted were 20-year-old right fielder Elier Hernandez and 22-year-old catcher Luis Villegas.

Third baseman Mauricio Ramos has been quite steady over the last month and a half. He stayed at Low A for all of last season, but is hitting better at High A so far in 2015, making me wonder if he should get a midseason promotion. He's slashing .294/.345/.422.

Right-hander Jake Junis chipped in two more strong starts this week. The first was six innings, with one run allowed, one walk, and one striekout. The second was seven innings long, with two runs, six Ks, and one walk. Fellow righty Zachary Lovvorn saved one of his best starts of the season for his Wilmington debut, throwing just 87 pitches through seven innings, while giving up three runs on five strikeouts and no walks.

Sean Manaea struggled Thursday, giving up six runs in 3.2 innings in a game that was suspended by rain. It may yet get worse - there was an inherited runner on third base for reliever Yender Caramo when the game was banged.

Matthew Strahm pulled a total Strahm move* on Tuesday, striking out eight batters in six innings. His K/9 in five games since his promotion to Wilmington is 15.2.

*a thing that totally exists, as of right now

A Lexington Legends (40-45)

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Corey Toups is hitting out of his dang mind these days, piling up 11 hits since we last checked in on him. The week is part of a 12-game hit streak for the middle infielder from Sam Houston State.

Ryan O'Hearn (who we are contractually obligated to mention was Toups' college roommate) hit two more home runs this week, giving him 19 on the season and keeping him well atop the league leaderboard in that category. He also hit six singles this week, and also drew FOUR WALKS in one game, in a 15-inning contest on Saturday.

Luis Valenzuela, a 21-year-old Dominican infielder, has been in pro ball since 2012 but is getting his first taste of any level higher than rookie ball. He was hitless in his first two games with the Legends, but in the four games since then, he's got eight hits, including a double and a triple.

Rookie Burlington Royals (11-9)

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Outfielder Ben Johnson, drafted in the 11th round this year, had 11 hits this week, including three consecutive multi-hit games.

Second baseman Austin Bailey, also drafted last month, hit his 2nd home run of the young season this week, along with a bunch of singles to give him a line of .294/.333/.412.

Ashe Russell gave up five hits to the Bristol Pirates, but held them to one run in his three innings on Friday. It was the first earned run surrendered in Russell's young pro career.

Rookie Idaho Falls Chukars (7-18)

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Center fielder Amalani Fukofuka  is on a 12-game hit streak, during which he's hit a triple and five doubles. Through 23 games with Idaho Falls, he's batting  .362/ .396/.467.

Nick Dini, a collegiate catcher the Royals picked up in the 14th round this year, has played in 10 professional games, and has hits in all of them.

On the DL:

  • RHP Sam Lewis - on the 60-day since June 20
  • LHP Tim Hill - on the 60-day since June 20

Who is your favorite prospect this week? Who's the next to get the call to the Majors?