This is our weekly look at notable performances from all over the system, from big-name prospects and less heralded guys alike. This week's results are from Monday, June 27 through Sunday, July 3.
AAA Omaha Storm Chasers (34-47)
The big story at the top of the minor league system is the promotion of center fielder Bubba Starling. Starling had not hit well for Northwest Arkansas this year, slashing just .185/.251/.322 in 62 games. However, Omaha had a major shortage of outfielders, resorting to using Orlando Calixte as a center fielder even though he had never played there as a pro. Matters were made worse when Rey Fuentes had to go on the disabled list.
On the radio, Chasers broadcasters Mark Nasser and Donny Baarns were discussing whether Starling's promotion was made to give him a "fresh start," allowing him to build up from a .000, rather than trying to pull up his sagging numbers from Double-A. This discussion was interrupted by a Starling double, his first Omaha hit, that missed leaving the park by about a foot. Starling hung a 3-run dong in the next inning.
Australian catcher Allan de San Miguel made his Storm Chasers debut. He joined the team after Zane Evans was sent back to Northwest Arkansas. de San Miguel singled and scored in the first game of a twinbill.
Luke Farrell returned from the DL with seven Ks in 4.2 innings. He gave up two runs, a home run to left surrendered to former teammate Jose Martinez. Those runs were enough to sink the Chasers, and saddle Farrell with the loss.
AA Northwest Arkansas Naturals (34-46 overall; 5-5 in second half)
The Naturals had a short week, due to the Texas League all-star game on Tuesday. Northwest Arkansas' Mauricio Ramos started at third base, and Frank Schwindel subbed in at first base. Ramos went 1-2 with a run driven in; Schwindel went 0-3 with a strikeout. Jake Junis pitched a scoreless inning for the North, with two strikeouts.
In the four games back from the break, Schwindel picked back up with the hot hitting he had shown in the previous week. He hit his team-leading 13th homer, as well as a double and a pair of singles. He also celebrated his 24th birthday on Wednesday.
A-Adv. Wilmington Blue Rocks (31-49 overall; 4-7 in second half)
It is good to be Raul Mondesi this week. He knocked out 8 hits (including two doubles, a triple, and a homer), has completed his suspension, and is getting his old job back:
Looks like Raul Mondesi is activated from suspended list and will join NW Arkansas today. Also, Rey Fuentes to DL at Omaha #Royals— Jeffrey Flanagan (@FlannyMLB) July 4, 2016
First baseman Samir Duenez drove in eight runs with his 10 hits this week, which included a pair of dongs. Through his first 11 games with Wilmington, Duenez is hitting quite well: .318/.333/.568.
This is the space where a Kyle Zimmer update would go, if I had one.
A Lexington Legends (29-51 overall; 4-7 in second half)
Catcher Xavier Fernandez's OBP for the week was a nice, even .500, thanks to 10 hits and a walk in 22 plate appearances. Of course, that far exceeds his season OBP of .318, but it looks nice for the week. Per FanGraphs, Fernandez is about in the middle of the pack in most batting categories among regular catchers in the South Atlantic Leauge, with a wRC+ of exactly 100.
Right-hander A.J. Puckett was the top draft pick of the Royals this year, and made his Lexington debut on Saturday. He pitched four scoreless innings, allowing four hits and no walks. He struck out four, and threw 68 pitches.
Reliever Sam Lewis missed all of 2015 for Tommy John surgery, and has joined the Legends 'pen. He has been great so far, pitching five shutout innings in two appearances. On Friday, he needed just 20 pitches to mow down all nine batters he faced.
Also in the "coming back from Tommy John" category is Reid Redman, who returned to action last Monday and has pitched a trio of two-inning appearances.
Yunior Marte, a 21-year-old righty, pitched seven shutout innings on Sunday, needing just 78 pitches. He gave up only one hit and two walks, and struck out five.