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This Week in the Minors: everyone was called up

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The Omaha roster is radically different than last week's; Balbino Fuenmayor's legend grows; lots of guys returning from injuries; Matt Strahm still striking everyone out.

Matt Fields, a fan favorite, was released this week to make roster space for Balbino Fuenmayor in Omaha. Best wishes, Rhino!
Matt Fields, a fan favorite, was released this week to make roster space for Balbino Fuenmayor in Omaha. Best wishes, Rhino!
Minda Haas

This is our weekly look at notable performances from all over the system, from big-name prospects and less heralded guys alike. I wrote this through the fog of a migraine, so let's see what happens.

AAA Omaha Storm Chasers (45-39)

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Balbino Fuenmayor arrived with a bang, driving in three runs in his first game as a Storm Chaser, and two in his second. The sad flip side of Fuenmayor's arrival is that, to make space, the team had to release Matt Fields. He wrote about that experience here, and it's a timely reminder as we head into trade season that players are people, not commodities.

In the outfield, Paulo Orlando went 5-16 in the four games prior to his latest callup. His departure for the Majors cleared up a traffic jam caused by the return of both Reymond Fuentes and Jose Martinez, who had been on the DL with leg and oblique injuries, respectively. Martinez came back into the lineup with the hot bat he's had all season, with four hits in his first two games back. His season line with Omaha is .378/.438/.570.

And we still have so many outfielders left! Brett Eibner had a great week, picking up nine hits, including his first triple of the season. His season line is now .283/.336/.463. Whit Merrfield was even more prolific, with 11 hits, including a double and a home run. Whit's batting .286/.344/.392, way down from his crazy 2014 production. Routinely left on the Omaha bench is Moises Sierra, who played in just four games this week, but he did manage three walks, a double and a homer in his limited playing time.

Left-handed reliever Scott Alexander's scoreless streak is still intact, all the way back to May 24. He closed out three games this week, with saves each time. Reliever Brian Broderick, who was the Royals' return for Johnny Giavotella, has shut out opponents in his last six appearances.

John Lamb was the Independence Day starter for Omaha, and must love America because he pitched six solid innings, good for his 9th W of the season. On the season, he has struck out 8.7 per 9, and has a 2.62 ERA. However, his FIP is 3.94, a discrepancy that may be explained by a BABIP of .286.

Troy Patton is back on the mound after serving an 80 game suspension for a third drug offense.

Kris Medlen made two rehab starts, going 3.2 innings last Monday, and 6.0 IP on Sunday.

On the DL:

  • nobody! Hooray!

AA Northwest Arkansas Naturals (44-36)

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Hunter Dozier drove in five runs in four games, with a home run and two doubles in all. He also only struck out three times, which might be notable. Alex Liddi also drove in five runs, with seven hits that included a pair of dingers and a double.

Bubba Starling picked up seven hits in the week's four games. His line since his late-April promotion to AA is .254/.338/.401.

LHP Cody Reed made his 2nd start at this level, throwing 6 innings and giving up two runs.

Kyle Zimmer moved back up to Northwest Arkansas, and struck out five batters in two innings on Thursday.

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.
  • Catcher Micah Gibbs, since July 2, with a left calf strain
  • Infielder Angel Franco, but he has started playing in Arizona, so perhaps he'll rejoin the Naturals soon.
  • 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 (44-36)

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Third baseman Maurico Ramos led the Blue Rocks' bats this week, with 10 hits in five games. These included three doubles and three (!) home runs.

Carlos Garcia, a 23-year-old infielder from Venezuela, had eight hits in four games, and stole a base to bring his season total to 26. (For reference, super-speedster Terrance Gore has 28 of them at Double-A.)

Lefty Sean Manaea pitched twice this week. Last week, he went 5.0 innings, giving up one earned run on six hits. Perhaps it's burying the lede a bit to wait til now to say he struck out eight batters that day, and walked none. On Saturday, he made it 6.0 innings, giving up one run on four hits, with five Ks and no walks.

On Tuesday, right-hander Alec Mills struck out eight in 7 shutout innings. Mills has made a habit recently of pitching deep into games: this was his 5th start of 7 innings or more in the last 5 weeks or so.

Left-hander Luis Rico struck out 9 and walked two in 5.2 innings on Thursday.

Professional misser of bats Matt Strahm struck out 13.2 per 9 in his time with Lexington, and has kept that up and thensome, with 16.4 K/9 since his promotion to Wilmington.

On the DL:

  • Nobody, yay!

A Lexington Legends (37-42)

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It wasn't a banner week for many Legends at the plate. The big exception was Corey Toups, the 22-year-old Texan infielder. Toups had 11 hits and 3 walks in five games, plus four stolen bases.

Ryan O'Hearn walked four times in five games, in addition to hitting six singles.

Pedro Fernandez, a right-hander from the Dominican Republic who is a favorite of a few readers, has continued striking out a lot of batters, with an even 10.0 K/9 right now.

Foster Griffin, a first-round draft pick last year, threw 4.2 innings on Friday, letting in one run on five hits and two walks. He struck out four.

On the DL:

  • Nobody, yay!

Rookie Burlington Royals (9-4)

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Second baseman Austin Bailey is a collegiate player the Royals took in the 21st round this year. This week, he had six hits in five games, including a double and his first professional home run.

Angelo Castellano, 20, has been in the Royals org since he was 17. He's repeating at Burlington, and this week added nine hits in six games, for a season line of .325/.333/.375.

Fun fact: The Royals have two Jose Martinezes in the organization - the 6'7" outfielder at Omaha who is one of my favorite people, and the 18-year-old middle infielder at Burlington. Both are from Venezuela, which is neat.

Ashe Russell 2nd pro start lasted three innings, during which he gave up four hits and a run. He struck out one - same as his first start - but didn't walk anyone.

The team's 2nd pick, Nolan Watson, made his pro debut on Wednesday, going 2.2 shutout innings, with two walks given up and three strikeouts.

Rookie Idaho Falls Chukars (5-13)

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Center fielder Amalani Fukofuka led the Chukars in hitting this week, with 12 hits. Among those were two doubles and a triple. He also stole a base. For some reason I feel like he's been around forever, but Fukofuka is only 19, and won't turn 20 til September.

First baseman Joshua Banuelos also had a great week at the plate, with 11 hits. He doubled three times, stole a base, and walked 5 (!) times.

Cody Jones, an outfielder drafted out of TCU in the 6th round this year, moved from the AZL to Idaho Falls over the weekend, and hit a bunch at both levels. Through five games, his line is .500/.565/.600.

Designated hitter Alexis Rivera, in his 3rd pro season, currently leads the Pioneer League in homers, with 7. He hit two of those in the past week.