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This Week in the Minors: Hunter Dozier mashes

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Hunter Dozier makes his case for a callup; Whit Merrifield reaches a milestone; Terrance Gore leads league in steals; top draft pick A.J. Pucket throws five no-hit innings.

Hunter Dozier had another monster week at the plate. Is he ready for a callup?
Hunter Dozier had another monster week at the plate. Is he ready for a callup?
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. Today's column covers games from Monday, August 15 through Sunday, August 21.

AAA Omaha Storm Chasers (55-72)

schedule | roster

Third baseman Hunter Dozier this week: 10 hits, four doubles, two home runs, nine RBI, four walks, six Ks. In 94 games with Omaha, Dozier has hit .306/.369/.525. Each of the numbers in that line leads the Storm Chasers. Dozier is not on the 40-man roster, but has been playing regularly in the outfield instead of third base, a transition widely seen as preparation for a September callup.

In other Dozier news, he turned 25 yesterday.

Whit Merrifield also hit two home runs this week, part of 10-for-31 effort. Prior to this season, Merrifield had this to say:

"I feel like I've done almost everything I can in my career - I hit .340 one year, I've stolen 32 bases, I've had 42 doubles, I've played all these positions. The only thing I haven't done is hit double-digit home runs."

His home run on Sunday was his 10th of the season.

AA Northwest Arkansas Naturals (58-68 overall; 29-27 in 2nd half)

schedule | roster

Only 3.5 games separate the top of the division from the bottom, but Northwest Arkansas is currently in the lead by two games.

Second baseman Corey Toups collected 10 hits, including a double and a home run. Despite only being with the Naturals for 73 games, Toups has doubled more than almost any of his teammates, with 22. The only player with more is his college roommate and BFF Ryan O'Hearn, who has hit 23. O'Hearn, by the way, drove in six runs in about an hours' time the other day, with three-run home runs in the first and second innings.

Center fielder and likely September callup Terrance Gore stole three bases in one game, on Friday. His 40 steals leads the Texas League. He has been caught four times.

Yender Caramo dominated on Saturday, with eight shutout innings. He allowed only three singles and two walks, and struck out five. It was only the second time in his career he pitched eight innings. The other time was August 31, 2013.

Right-handers Andy Ferguson and Glenn Sparkman each transferred their rehab efforts to Northwest Arkansas this week. Ferguson pitched five innings, with four strikeouts and two walks. He allowed a run on three hits. Sparkman also pitched five innings, but yielded four runs on six hits. He struck out five and walked two.

A-Adv. Wilmington Blue Rocks (49-76 overall; 22-34 in 2nd half)

schedule | roster

Three of Wilmington's starting pitchers had noteworthy games this week. In the spirit of the [international sporting contest]s, each will be awarded a medal.

Medal Pitcher IP H R ER BB SO HR GS
GOLD Zachary Lovvorn
7.0
3 0 0 1
7
0
77
SILVER Corey Ray
7.0 4 1 0 0 4 0
71
BRONZE Derek Gordon
4.0 2 0 0 0 5 0 63

A Lexington Legends (48-77 overall; 23-33 in 2nd half)

schedule | roster

Kansas City's top draft pick from this summer, A.J. Puckett, threw five no-hit innings on Sunday. He threw only 56 pitches, struck out four and walked one, and was awarded a 'W' for his efforts.

Puckett's game was the second game of a double header. In the first game, Nolan Watson and Gabe Cramer combined to shut out Hagerstown in Lexington's 1-0 win. That was Cramer's third scoreless outing of the week.

In Lexington's other double-header, on Thursday, Scott Blewett pitched a solid 6.2 innings, allowing one run on four hits. He struck out five and did not walk anybody. Blewett was a 2nd round pick in 2014.

Fun with small sample sizes: 2B/3B Travis Maezes slugged .769 this week with an OPS of 1.240. Those numbers came from four hits: three doubles and a dinger. The home run was Maezes' 14th of the year, which leads the team.

Second on the team leaderboard for homers is catcher Chase Vallot, who hit his 11th this week.