This is our weekly look at notable performances from all over the system, from big-name prospects and less heralded guys alike. The mission to answer this simple question: “Who had a good week?”
Today, we’ll cover results from the start of the season until Sunday, April 16.
AAA Omaha Storm Chasers (5-5)
The Omaha pitching staff had two special games this week.
On Thursday, right-hander Josh Staumont made his first home start as a Chaser, looking to atone for a rough game in Colorado Springs his previous time out. In the first, he struck out the side. He did the same in the third, and again in the fourth. With two out in the fifth, he lost a perfect game, but added another pair of strikeouts. After a two-out walk in the sixth, Omaha had a reliever ready, and manager Brian Poldberg visited the mound. However, he left Staumont in, and his faith was rewarded when Staumont collected his twelfth K, and ended the inning.
Josh Staumont goes curve, curve, curve on his final batter to get former MLBer Will Middlebrooks for his 12th K of the night. pic.twitter.com/dxPb5IrIh0— Shaun Newkirk (@Shauncore) April 14, 2017
Matt Strahm added two perfect innings, and three Ks, and Bobby Parnell finished off the one-hit shutout.
On Sunday, left-hander Jonathan Dziedzic started for the Chasers. He did not pile up the strikeouts the way Staumont had, but he sat down batter after batter, carrying a perfect game into the sixth. With one out, shortstop Ramon Torres made a throwing error to break up the perfect game, and Dziedzic walked the next batter. However, New Orleans still did not have any hits, nor would they for a while. Dziedzic hit 100 pitches with two out in the 7th, and was pulled for Parnell. Parnell got out of the 7th and pitched the 8th with no hits.
Omaha has not had even a combined no-hitter in almost exactly 20 years, and unfortunately still will not — the Baby Cakes got a leadoff single against Strahm to lead off the 9th. Still: a pair of one-hit shutouts in four days is encouraging. Dziedzic earned the Pacific Coast League Pitcher of the Week honor for that game and his previous great start.
Torres, whose error ended Dziedzic’s perfect game bid, had hit a grand slam earlier in the game. Through 10 games, he has hit three home runs; his season high is five.
[Note: Whit Merrifield is hitting .412/.432/.794 for Omaha, but it seems likely that his performance will be covered in more detail when the Royals announce their next roster move.]
AA Northwest Arkansas Naturals (3-7)
First baseman Samir Duenez leads the Northwest Arkansas bats so far, with a .308/.386/.462 line through 10 games. Duenez, 20, started last season at Lexington, was promoted to Wilmington in June, then promoted again to Northwest Arkansas in late August.
Outfielder Donnie Dewees was an intriguing addition to the organization this winter. This is his first playing time at Double-A. So far, he’s hitting .231/.348/.333, with a team-high six walks.
On the mound, 22-year-old right-hander Zachary Lovvorn has made two excellent, and highly similar, starts:
Lovvorn is pitching at the Double-A level for the first time.
A-Adv. Wilmington Blue Rocks (5-5)
Third baseman Wander Franco is off to a hot start for the Blue Rocks, with hits in 9 of his first 10 games. He has not yet drawn a walk amidst his 14 hits, leaving his line at .333/.326/.476. It will be interesting to see how long he can sustain a line with an OBP lower than his average.
Left-handed pitcher Foster Griffin has a 0.82 ERA through two starts. Like Lovvorn at Double-A, Griffin’s pair of good starts were quite similar to each other.
A Lexington Legends (3-8)
Outfielder Kort Peterson was drafted by the Royals in the 23rd round last summer. He started his pro career with 49 games with Burlington. He has been moved to full-season ball for 2017 and has responded with 15 hits in 10 games. He has drawn four walks, mixed with 10 strikeouts for a line of .385/.467/.462.
Another outfielder from the 2016 draft - 3rd rounder Khalil Lee - is also off to a solid start with the Legends. Like Peterson, this is Lee’s first experience at a full-season level.
Khalil Lee had a no-doubter opposite field home run last night for opening day. pic.twitter.com/PD4lJDKcRW— Shaun Newkirk (@Shauncore) April 7, 2017
His line through 10 games looks good - .326/.383/.512 - but he has struck out 15 times already.
Has anyone gone to any minor league games yet? Who did you see?