This is our weekly look at notable performances from all over the system, from big-name prospects and less heralded guys alike.
Note: This is Minda's last column for a little while, as she is getting hitched and running away to California for a couple weeks. Please write to your local CongressKevin for more information about 'This Week in the Minors' in the meantime.
AAA Omaha Storm Chasers (51-43)
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The Storm Chasers played host to the Triple-A Home Run Derby (photos) and All-Star Game (photos) this week. Both were a lot more fun than I thought they'd be, and over 16,000 people came to see the two events.
Cheslor Cuthbert went from his MLB stint to the Futures Game, and then to the Triple-A ASG. He settled back into the Omaha lineup with six hits in his four games this week.
Outfielder Brett Eibner only played three games this week, but collected six hits that included two doubles and a jonrón. Eibner is batting .300/.355/.511, a vast improvement in all aspects from his first go-round at this level last year, when he slashed .241/.317/.380 in 74 games.
Elsewhere in the Chasers' outfield, Rey Fuentes had six hits in four games, including a home run. In case there should be a need in the big club's outfield, Fuentes, a lefty, can play all three outfield positions and is already on the 40-man.
Last but not least - in fact, I'd posit that he's the most - Balbino Fuenmayor has done nothing but hit since his promotion. He even hit a triple, allegedly, though I can't find video evidence. Anyone? Zapruder? Anyway, since the triple counted in the box score even though we can't verify it happened with our own eyes, it counted toward his line of .378/.370/.689 since his promotion. He has not reached base via a walk yet.
On the mound, Miguel Almonte made his Triple-A debut, and confounded the Sounds lineup, with eight strikeouts in five innings. Almonte has yet to go longer than five innings, in 18 starts this year. His last start longer than five innings was June 30, 2014.
Louis Coleman has been dominant all season, and I typically prefer to highlight good things, but I wanted to note that on Friday, he hit a batter with the bases loaded to give Nashville the win, but the bases had only been loaded because Coleman intentionally walked the previous batter. So I guess the main point is, down with the IBB.
That game was started by Andy Ferguson, who threw five shutout innings, allowing just four hits. He struck out six.
John Lamb spent one day with the big club, then had to go back and pitch for Omaha on nine days' rest. He did manage to strike out seven, but he allowed six hits and two runs, and needed 93 pitches to get through 4.1 innings. Given the long layoff between outings, we can probably chalk that up to rust.
Michael Mariot gave up an earned run on Thursday, his first at this level in nearly a month.
On the DL:
- Catcher J.C. Boscan since July 16, retroactive to July 10.
AA Northwest Arkansas Naturals (47-45)
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In five games this week, Bubba Starling had eight hits. He also left the game on Saturday with what turned out to be a bruised knee. One of them was a home run against Springfield, the AA affiliate of the Cardinals. That means he should definitely be called up to the Majors for the Cardinals game on Thursday, right?
Hunter Dozier homered this week, his 8th of the season, and is now batting .222/.287/.363 through 87 games with the Naturals.
Jorge Bonifacio is on a bit of a hit streak, with hits in each of his last four games, including four doubles. Bonifacio plays primarily right field, but has mixed in eight games in left as well.
Lane Adams had what may be his best week all season, with three doubles, four singles, a homer, and six runs driven in.
Kyle Zimmer was credited with two two-inning saves in his two outings this week, but the second was a laborious one. On Monday, he was good, cruising through two innings in 25 pitches, giving up just one hit. On Friday, his two innings required 42 pitches, in which he walked two and gave up two hits.
Right-handed starter Christian Binford has been a favorite around these parts, but I haven't been able to feature him in a while. He started Friday's game with six strong innings, allowing just one run and a walk, while striking out six. Another righty, Luke Farrell, had his 2nd-longest outing of the year this week, throwing six innings of one-run ball. Farrell is faring just fine in 10 games at AA, but his strikeout rate has fallen to 7.0, the lowest mark of his career.
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 progressed to Idaho Falls in his rehab assignment
- Outfielder and base-stealer Terrance Gore since July 19, sprained right ankle
- Outfielder Mike Bianucci was suspended 80 games for PEDs and is on the Restricted List.
A-Adv. Wilmington Blue Rocks (50-43)
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Baseball transactions often have a "yay!" and an "awww, man" side to them. For example: Ryan O'Hearn got promoted to Wilmington (yay!), but he's replacing Cody Stubbs, who decided to retire (awww, man), per Jeffrey Flanagan.
Ryan O'Hearn is taking the spot of Cody Stubbs at Class A Wilmington. Stubbs was the #Royals' 8th-round pick in 2013. He is retiring— Jeffrey Flanagan (@FlannyMLB) July 17, 2015
Stubbs, 24, was batting .283/.324/.472 this year, but has a coaching job lined up with North Carolina, where he played in college. O'Hearn has an RBI single and a walk in the three games since the move.
Elsewhere in Wilmington roster moves: 24-year-old outfielder Dexter Kjerstad was released last Tuesday; pitchers Evan Beal and Torey Deshazier were promoted from Lexington
Catcher Santiago Nessy had six hits in four games, featuring two doubles and a home run. Nessy has played professionally since the age of 17, but this is his first year in the Royals organization after he was acquired from the Blue Jays for Liam Hendriks.
Center fielder Dominique Taylor doubled five times this week, which nearly doubled his previous season total. He now has 11 on the season.
Beal, a tall righty the Royals drafted from South Carolina last summer, pitched two shutout innings in his high-A debut. Jake Junis, who was a high school draftee in the later rounds of 2011, started Friday's game, and threw eight innings. He only allowed one run, and only needed 89 pitches.
Sean Manaea struck out five batters in five innings on Wednesday. His promotion to Northwest Arkansas was announced over the weekend, and made his double-A debut last night.
A Lexington Legends (41-50)
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The Lexington bats this week were led by Corey Toups and Wander Franco.
Toups, the 22-year-old middle infielder, went 9-25, with two doubles and a homer, and two walks. Toups is not putting up the ludicrous batting line he did last year in the Pioneer League, but his current .300/.380/.452 line is pretty dang good.
Franco hit three doubles as part of his 8-25 week. He had struggled some in July before this week, so it's encouraging to see the hits coming back for the young third baseman.
Pedro Fernandez pitched a fantastic game Thursday, allowing just two hits in six innings, while striking out seven. Ferndandez, a 21-year-old righty, has increased his strikeouts (from 8.8 per nine to 10.4) and decreased his walks (from 4.8 per nine to 3.4) from last season, in about the same number of innings.
For all kinds of logistical reasons, we'll have to come back and look at the short-season fellows another time. Partial refunds will be issued upon exit; we apologize for the emotional strain.