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This Week in the Minors: (almost) all about the hitters

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Hitters gonna hit in this week's look around the Royals minor league system. Balbino Fuenmayor and Ryan O'Hearn in particular had monster weeks.

Balbino Fuenmayor in the Omaha dugout, waiting for his next opportunity to hit.
Balbino Fuenmayor in the Omaha dugout, waiting for his next opportunity to hit.
Minda Haas Kuhlmann

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 (8-3)

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Jarrod Dyson continued his rehab assignment with the Storm Chasers this week, heating up at the plate and on the base paths. In five games this week, Dyson had six hits, all singles. He was also hit by two pitches and walked twice, so he spent quite a bit of time on the bases. He stole four bases.

Outfielder Jorge Bonfiacio's power is starting to show in his first Triple-A season. He hit a double, a triple, and two home runs this week, and scored five runs. Bonifacio is just 22, almost four years younger than the average batter in the Pacific Coast League.

No Storm Chaser is hitting as prolifically as Balbino Fuenmayor, who had a six-game hit streak, including three hits on Thursday night alone. His bases-clearing double that night capped off a five-run bottom of the ninth inning that gave Omaha a dramatic victory. Fuenmayor has been splitting time equally between first base and DH.

Lefty starter Jonathan Dziedzic pitched a great game on Friday, throwing seven shutout innings with six strikeouts and no walks. Right-hander Brooks Pounders book-ended the week with two extremely different, but both successful, starts. On Monday, Pounders struck out eight and walked just one on his way to a win in 5.1 innings, allowing four hits. On Saturday, he only struck out two, and gave up six hits, and again came away with the win.

25-year-old Mark Peterson made his Triple-A debut on Sunday after a promotion from AA. The right-hander picked up a three-inning save, allowing one hit and two walks, and struck out one.

AA Northwest Arkansas Naturals (3-7)

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Third baseman Hunter Dozier sprinkled in some power this week, with a pair of doubles and a home run among his seven hits and three walks. Shortstop Raul Mondesi also doubled twice and hit a home run, and added a triple for good measure. Mondesi also walked four times. Dozier and Mondesi are tied for the team lead with 11 hits apiece in the young season.

3B/1B Mauricio Ramos, a 24-year-old from Colombia, hit his second dinger of the season. Catcher Cameron Gallagher hit in each of the five games he played this week. Center fielder Bubba Starling only had three hits in six games, but two were doubles and one cleared the fence. He also struck out nine times in that stretch, putting him toward the top of the Texas League in most times striking out.

While typically this is a space to celebrate good weeks, notably bad performances must sometimes also be observed. Such is the case with Christian Binford, long a favorite around these parts. Both of his starts this season have been disasters. Both starts started well:

But Binford ended up with seven and six earned runs allowed, respectively, in under five innings. Not to pick on a guy, but this is worth watching for someone who has flashed promise throughout his career.

A-Adv. Wilmington Blue Rocks (4-6)

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Ryan O'Hearn socked three dingers, doubled three times, and drove in eight runs in his past seven games. At present, O'Hearn leads the Carolina League in hits, and appears to be gunning for another in-season promotion like the one that sent him to Wilmington last summer.

Second baseman Corey Toups, just starting his first turn at high-A, tripled twice and doubled twice this week, in addition to hitting his first home run at this level. He also stole three bases, an important facet of his game -- he stole 31 last season.

Center fielder Brandon Downes had an extreme week. On the negative side, he struck out 10 times in 7 games. But around those striekouts, he filled in his games with four walks, three singles, a triple, and four (!) doubles. He was also hit by a pitch on Sunday. The punchouts are nothing new: Downes struck out 116 times in 107 games in 2015.

An update from last week:


In this week's edition of "Fun With Small Samples," Josh Staumont, who can hit triple digits on the radar gun, currently has a strikeout-to-nine-innings rate of 23.6

Staumont "only" fanned five batters in his lone four-inning outing this week, which brings his K/9 rate all the way down to 16.2.

A Lexington Legends (5-6)

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First baseman Samir Duenez is starting his second full season, and third overall, with Lexington. This week, the 19-year-old smacked three doubles and his first home run of the season. He only struck out once this week, and has only struck out three times all year.

While Duenez excels at avoiding the K, his 18-year-old teammate Marten Gasparini strikes out at high rates. Gasparini added 10 Ks to his season total this week, and has yet to go a single game without at least one.

Transactions: The Royals released catchers Luis Lara and Jin-Ho Shin. Shin had been given a $600,000 bonus as a teenager out of Korea, but failed to hit or play well defensively. Lexington first baseman Brandon Dulin was placed on the seven-day disabled list, and replaced by pitcher Jose Banuelos.