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This Week in the Minors: Merrifield thievery; O'Hearn bombs; Bonifacio aflame

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Whit Merrifield stole enough bases in the last week alone to lead the Pacific Coast League handily; Ryan O'Hearn hit three more home runs; Jorge Bonifacio is on fire; good pitching everywhere.

Jorge Bonifacio is raking, with four multi-hit games this week.
Jorge Bonifacio is raking, with four multi-hit games this week.
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.

This week, we are replacing the real team names with names generated by the SB Nation minor league team name generator. This is only a drill. No Royals affiliates have announced a name change...yet.

AAA Omaha Booze Doves (12-6)

schedule | roster

The Storm Chasers spent the bulk of the week on the road before returning to Omaha on Saturday. Outfielder Jorge Bonifacio's ten hits included three doubles and his third home run of the season. He had four multi-hit games this week, and only went hitless once, last Monday. Through 17 games, Bonifacio is hitting .303/.313/.530.

Before the 2015 season, Whit Merrifield said he wanted to be a better base stealer. He did reasonably well at that, getting caught only nine times in 41 attempts (78%). Less than a month into 2016, Merrifield has stolen 15 bases, and hasn't been caught yet. An eye-popping 12 (!!) of those have come in the last week. He had three three-steal games, for goodness' sake.

Starting pitcher Brooks Pounders made his longest start of the year on Thursday, going 5.2 innings in Omaha's 3-2 loss at Round Rock. He struck out eight  and only yielded two hits. He also walked five, but kept himself out of trouble enough to hold the Express to one run.

Miguel Almonte got himself back on track after a couple of disappointing starts. He pitched five shutout innings on Friday, with five strikeouts and two walks. Veteran reliever Peter Moylan shut out opponents in all three of his outings, earning two saves and a win over four innings of work.

Before Saturday's game, Jonathan Dziedzic was honored as the Pacific Coast League's pitcher of the week. Right-hander Aroni Nina went on the disabled list after giving up seven runs in less than two innings of work this year. Omaha did say farewell to a player, as the Royals traded first baseman Cody Decker to the Colorado Rockies for cash considerations.

AA Northwest Arkansas Naturals Sugar Turkeys (6-10)

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Utility player Orlando Calixte, who's playing at AA this year after spending 2015 in AAA, hit his first homer of the year as part of an 8-hit week. He also doubled three times and stole four bases. Hunter Dozier drove in eight runs on the strength of a homer and three doubles. He also drew five walks and stole a base. It is still April, so a small sample size alert is required, but Dozier's slash line of .327/.444/.673 is looking pretty good.

Also among Naturals players who hit three doubles this week was Bubba Starling.

Christian Binford picked up a win on Friday, pitching five innings with no walks, four Ks, four hits, and two runs surrendered. Eric Skoglund's win on Saturday was similar: 5 IP, 7 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, and 4 K. Matt Strahm also won a similar game, with six strikeouts, one walk, and one run over five innings.

A-Adv. Wilmington Ice Roosters (6-12)

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Third baseman Wander Franco cracked his first homer of the season on Tuesday night against Frederick, Baltimore's high-A affiliate. Franco's career high is 10, last year for Lexington.

Of course, the biggest star for the Ice Roosters Blue Rocks this week - as with most weeks - is first baseman Ryan O'Hearn. Among his 10 hits were a pair of doubles and three home runs. He did rack up 13 strikeouts, though.

Right-handed reliever Evan Beal, 22, hasn't given up a run since his first appearance of the season. On Sunday, he was called upon to pitch three innings, and struck out five, giving up just a hit and a pair of walks. Wilmington would go on to lose 3-1 in 12 innings, but Beal kept them in it.

21-year-old righty Pedro Fernandez has struck out a little over one batter per inning in his career. He maintained that this week with two strong starts. He picked up a win in five innings with seven Ks on Tuesday, and followed it up with seven shutout innings - featuring 7 strikeouts - on Sunday.

Left-handed reliever Mark McCoy was only drafted last summer, but is already pitching at high-A. He got off to a bad start, with three bad appearances. This week, he rebounded with two shutout appearances totaling 2.2 innings.

In a seven-inning game on Thursday, righty starter Josh Staumont struck out 9, only walked one, and only allowed one run, but took a loss. His strikeouts-per-nine innings rate, which we've been keeping an eye on in an exercise in fun with small samples, is still 15.9.

A Lexington Love Cranes (8-10)

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Infielder Jeckson Flores hit his first triple of the season, to drive in the go-ahead run against Asheville. Flores, 22, is playing full-season ball for the first time, but has been in the organization since he was 17. Outfielder Cody Jones, drafted in the 6th round last year, hit his first triple and first home run of the year this week. He is also playing his first full season. In his first 16 games with the Legends, he is batting .296/.367/.426.

Righty Jacob Bodner has only made four appearances this season, but already has three saves and a win, and has yet to give up a run. Bodner was drafted last summer out of Xavier University. Former first-round pick Foster Griffin started twice this week. He struck out eight and walked just one in five innings on Monday. Saturday, the strikeouts weren't there (just two of them), but he was more efficient, lasting seven innings in a tough-luck loss.