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 (21-15)
Outfielder Jorge Bonifacio had another excellent week. In 32 plate appearances, he ended up on base 14 times -nine via hit (including two doubles, a triple, and a home run), three via walks, and twice by getting plunked. He also stole a base. Third baseman Hunter Dozier hit his first Triple-A home run on Sunday. In a little over a week at his new level, Dozier is batting .226/.273/.387.
Usually, a player can be chosen to be featured in this space by hitting three home runs in a week. Center fielder Brett Eibner hit three home runs in a single game, on Thursday against Memphis. Eibner's season line for Omaha is now .305/.401/.508. He also leads the Chasers offense in walks.
Jose Martinez has started playing first base almost full-time for the Chasers, while Balbino Fuenmayor's playing time has dwindled. Martinez mashed four doubles and a home run this week, along with five singles. Whit Merrifield hit two home runs and three doubles this week. He got caught stealing for the first time all season, and it was at third base. This is notable because it broke a streak of successful steals of third that dates back to August of 2014.
Omaha's pitching situation looks a bit thin right now, with the promotions of Scott Alexander and Peter Moylan, as well as the releases of Brian Duensing and David Huff at their request. A pair of right-handers, 22-year-old Evan Beal, and 24-year-old Andrew Edwards, have joined Omaha to help fill in the gaps. Both are new to the Triple-A level. Additionally, Christian Binford has rejoined the Storm Chasers from Northwest Arkansas. He has bounced from AAA to AA a few times before.
AA Northwest Arkansas Naturals (17-18)
The big story for the Naturals this week, unfortunately, was the 50-game suspension of Raul Mondesi for Clenbuterol. In news that might be related, the Naturals lost four of the five games following that announcement. First baseman Ryan O'Hearn is nearing the end of his first fortnight in the Texas League. This week, he drew his first walk at the AA level, and hit his second home run. O'Hearn is batting .292/.306/.500 through 11 games.
21-year-old RHP Pedro Fernandez earned a promotion, and made his Double-A debut on Sunday. He was saddled with a loss in 2.2 innings, giving up three runs. In addition to it being his first game at a new level, it was also his first relief appearance of the year, so some slack is probably due here.
Mike Minor began his rehab work from last spring's labrum surgery this week, piling up 12 strikeouts already in 7.2 innings over two starts, although he has walked five. RHP Alec Mills, 24, pitched six shutout innings on Thursday, allowing just three hits and a walk. He struck out eight. Right-hander Jake Junis followed up last week's two great starts with another one, this time shutting out Springfield over 6.2 innings, with no walks and six strikeouts.
A-Adv. Wilmington Blue Rocks (10-25)
It was a tough week for the Blue Rocks as a team, with a 1-5 record since the last time we checked in with them. Their 10-25 record puts them 13.5 games out of first in their division. Middle infielder Corey Toups turned in a solid week at the plate, recording 10 hits and four walks. His line for the season is now at .263/.359/.459. In his first pro season, Toups played exclusively at shortstop, but has played a majority of his games at second base since then. In 2016, he has logged 24 games at second base and eight at short.
Outfielder Elier Hernandez hit four doubles this week, along with four singles. He also walked twice. Hernandez played part of 2015 in Wilmington, and drew just 10 walks in those 50 games. Through 34 games this year, he has surpassed that by one. At 21, he is young for his league. Left-hander Kyle Kubat, an Omaha native, made the jump from Lexington to Wilmington this week. He surrendered three runs and six hits in three innings, but picked up the 'W' on Friday.
In additional Kyle-related news, Kyle Zimmer lasted three innings in his start on Thursday, throwing 30 of his 47 pitches for strikes. He struck out four, and allowed a hit and a pair of walks.
A Lexington Legends (15-21)
Outfielder Amalani Fukofuka led the Legends on offense this week, going 10-24 with a home run and a walk. The dinger was Fukofuka's 3rd of the 2016 season.
Making his season debut this week was LHP Jake Kalish. The Royals drafted Jake in the 32nd round out of George Mason in 2015. Last year in Burlington and AZ, Kalish had a 2.67 ERA in 33.2 IP, with 37 strikeouts and five walks. On Sunday, he pitched two scoreless innings, with two punchouts and no walks.
Second baseman D.J. Burt also turned in this nifty defensive gem.
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Right-handed pitcher Jacob Bodner, drafted a year ago out of Xavier Universityt was promoted from Lexington to Wilmington. We'll check up on his High-A debut in next week's column. The Royals also released 2013 3rd round pick pitcher Carter Hope, who never advanced beyond low-A ball.
Meanwhile: Are any of the hot bats at Omaha making a strong enough case for MLB time? Is anyone worried about Balbino Fuenmayor? Did any of you attend any MiLB games this week?