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This Week in the Minors: Injury updates; Fuentes, Colon, Almonte

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Omaha's rotation gets some new and familiar faces after trades left them thin; Rey Fuentes and Christian Colon hitting well for the Chasers; Brooks Pounders' post-injury comeback is going well.

Reymond Fuentes is on the 40-man roster, and has hit well all season for Omaha.
Reymond Fuentes is on the 40-man roster, and has hit well all season for Omaha.
Minda Haas

This is our weekly look at notable performances from all over the system, from big-name prospects and less heralded guys alike.

AAA Omaha Storm Chasers (63-53)

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Despite being 10 games over .500, the Storm Chasers are in third place in their division, and 5.5 games out of the lead. Oklahoma City (LAD) has had huge lead all season. Omaha hurt their postseason chances by suffering a sweep to second-place Iowa (CHC) this weekend. They have no more games against either team.

Outfielder Reymond Fuentes led Omaha's bats this week, with 11 hits in seven games. The left-handed 24-year-old was acquired by the Royals last November, and has hit .309/.369/.423 for Omaha. He can play all three outfield positions.

In the "but can he play second base?" file, Christian Colon went 7-24 this week, plus five walks. He also hit as many home runs this week as Omar Infante has hit for Kansas City all season*, and can play third base or even shortstop as needed.

*That number is one.

The trade deadline left the Omaha rotation a bit slim, with John Lamb and Aaron Brooks departing to Cincinnati and Oakland. Chris Dwyer has had to step back on to the hill as a starter after being moved to the bullpen last year. His first start was "meh," but he was solid on Thursday. He pitched six innings and limited Iowa to one run on four hits.

Miguel Almonte had already been promoted into Omaha's rotation before the trades, so he's got five Triple-A games (four starts) to his name. In 24 total innings for the Chasers, he has 28 strikeouts, 10 walks, and has given up 11 earned runs. That leaves him at 2-1 with a 4.12 ERA.

On the DL:

  • Yohan Pino, since July 30, retro to the 27th. He left in the middle of an at bat, reportedly holding his throwing shoulder.
  • Balbino Fuenmayor, since July 25, left knee. He had surgery last Monday, and will be out 4-6 months.
  • Gabriel Noriega, since August 5.

AA Northwest Arkansas Naturals (56-57)

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The Naturals only won two games since the last installment of this column, but Ramon Torres was not to blame for that. The 22-year-old middle infielder had 11 hits this week, including three doubles and a dinger. The home run was his third this season.

Utility man Alex Liddi, who turns 27 on Friday, had a great week at the plate. He knocked in nine hits, including a double and a triple. Liddi spent some time in the Majors in three prior seasons with Seattle, but the Royals haven't deployed him at any level other than Double-A.

Raul Mondesi was solid this week, going 7-23 with two doubles and two triples. He also walked once, just his 11th of the season.

Bubba Starling hit two home runs this week, but they made up half of his hit total. His season has happened in bits and pieces thanks to injuries, and his composite line since being promoted to Northwest Arkansas is .265/.331/.444.

The team's rotation featured three long starts. Brooks Pounders, on the comeback trail from a lat injury, went seven innings on Wednesday. He gave up just one earned run on six hits, with three Ks and three walks. On Saturday, LHP Jonathan Dziedzic threw seven shutout innings. Sunday it was Luke Farrell's turn, and he also went deep, with seven innings of one-run ball. He struck out five and walked two.

On the DL:

  • C Micah Gibbs since August 5, left foot contusion
  • RHP Reid Redman since May 9, retroactive to May 8. He had Tommy John surgery.
  • RHP Glenn Sparkman since April 30, also had Tommy John surgery.
  • 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 (52-61)

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Infielder Jack Lopez has three consecutive two-hit games, but is hitting just .238/.308/.320 for the year. Middle infielder Carlos Garcia stole a base this week, which is unusual because in an average week, he steals more than that. On the season, Garcia has stolen 33 bases in 46 attempts. A majority of them were at Lexington prior to his promotion. Outfielde Elier Hernandez has eight hits in his last four games and is hitting .275/.305/.381, but also reached the 100 strikeout plateau.

Right-hander Zachary Lovvorn, 21, pitched 6.2 shutout innings on Wednesday. It was Lovvorn's 6th game for Wilmington after a promotion in early July. He's 2-3 with a 4.46 ERA since then.

On the DL:

  • LHP Eric Skoglund since July 20, right elbow.
  • RHP Alec Mills since July 20, finger injury

A Lexington Legends (48-62)

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Last Monday night, the Legends collected 22 hits in a nine-inning game, and scored 14 runs. Unfortunately, their opponents also had 22 hits, and scored 16. Both teams committed three errors. The man with the most hits of anyone in what may be the Game of the Century was Legends left fielder Samir Duenez, with five hits.

Third baseman Wander Franco may be the hottest hitter in the system right now. He popped off 11 hits this week, including four doubles. Franco, who is 20, is on a 9-game hit streak.

Infielder Luis Valenzuela collected four multi-hit games this week, and 13 total hits. These included five doubles and a home run, his second of the season. He's only played 37 games in 2015, so his impressive line of .380/.399/.500 might be "small sample size" at work.

Anderson Miller, a left-handed outfielder the Royals drafted this year, is heating up after a few so-so weeks for the Legends. His seven hits this week pulled his line at Lexington up to .236/.282/.306.

Center fielder Brandon Downes hit two home runs and two doubles this week. Downes is batting .305/.442.747  through 84 games with Lexington. Catcher Chase Vallot homered twice this week, his 7th and 8th of the year. He is 3.5 years younger than average for this level, but he's actually batting better than he did last season at Burlington.

On the DL:

  • RHP Bryan Brickhouse, who hadn't pitched since August 4 of 2014, is now listed on Lexington's roster. He pitched a rehab inning in Arizona on Friday.

As the minor league seasons near their end, who do you see getting promoted, either to KC or to higher levels? Will the Storm Chasers overcome the odds again and make the playoffs? Would you prefer that they did not, for greater roster flexibility?