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TWitM: Frank Schwindel & Samir Duenez make case for promotion

This Week in the Minors: The top levels of the Royals organization are chock full of talent at first base. What should Dayton Moore do?

Frank Schwindel’s noisy bat may force the organization to make some tough choices in a crowded pool at first base.
Shane Roper -

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 Monday, April 24 through Sunday, April 30.

AAA Omaha Storm Chasers (11-10)

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The Chasers only played four games this week because of persistent rain.

Left-handed starting pitcher Jonathan Dziedzic was rolling in his start on Thursday, holding Oklahoma City to one hit in four innings, when something went wrong on a warmup pitch between innings and he was pulled from the game. Manager Brian Poldberg described it to Tony Boone of the Omaha World-Herald as “a little tightness in his shoulder. Nothing big at this point.”

Ramon Torres continued his solid 2017 with a 6-for-18 week. Among those six hits were a double and a triple. Torres, 24, has been in the Royals system since signing with the Royals as a teenager out of the Dominican Republic in 2010. He has played a mix of short and second base, and even tried a few games at third in winter ball.

First baseman Ryan O’Hearn did not mash any taters this week, but he did hit five singles.

Outfielder Jorge Soler is now 7 games deep into his rehab assignment. In that time, he’s 6-for-24 with three walks and 7 strikeouts. He has hit one home run.

Major League veteran reliever Al Alburquerque has been a reliable right arm in the Omaha ‘pen, giving up just one run in the first month of the season. He has been called upon nine times for 11.2 innings, has struck out 12 and walked just two.

AA Northwest Arkansas Naturals (11-10)

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Like the Storm Chasers, the Naturals suffered at the hands of some bad weather, and two of their games this week were postponed until June. Frank Schwindel was evidently unbothered by the inclement weather, and hit home runs in three straight games. He also hit two doubles and five singles - that’s 10 hits in five games for the Naturals’ 1B/DH.

This is Schwindel’s third go at Double-A, and he’s batting .388/.414/.625, but is blocked behind somewhat of a logjam at his position in Omaha. O’Hearn is Omaha’s primary first baseman, and rotates with Peter O’Brien. As the rosters stand, Schwindel wouldn’t get much playing time.

In the exact same boat as Schwindel is NWArk’s other 1B/DH, 20-year-old Samir Duenez. Duenez was promoted aggressively in 2016, but may not have anywhere to go now that he is showing he has a handle on Double-A. Duenez picked up seven hits in four games this week, including his 3rd home run of the season.

Righty starter Corey Ray pitched well against Tulsa on Sunday, going six shutout innings, allowing just two hits and two walks. He struck out three. Ray was a 5th-round draft pick in 2014 from Texas A&M. This month has been his first experience at AA.

Christian Binford also had a solid start this week, with six Ks and one walk in 6.2 innings. He gave up one run on five hits. Binford has had a couple of stints up at AAA, but neither one went well. It will be interesting to see if he gets another shot at Omaha at some point, now that he has returned to his steady, low-walk form.

Miguel Almonte is still sporting a 0.98 ERA on the season. On Tuesday, he struck out seven but walked three in 5.2 shutout innings.

A-Adv. Wilmington Blue Rocks (8-15)

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Shortstop Nicky Lopez, 22, bookended his week with a four-hit game on Tuesday and a three-hit game on Sunday. In his first full pro season, Lopez is hitting .301/.369/.409.

A couple of Blue Rocks starting pitchers took tough losses this week:

Left-hander Foster Griffin gave up one earned run (and one unearned) in 6.2 innings, with two hits, five strikeouts, and two walks. Wilmington lost that game 2-1.

The next day, righty Scott Blewett threw six innings, giving up one run on four hits. He struck out four and walked two. The Blue Rocks lost 3-0 that day.

Low-A Lexington Legends (9-16)

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Second baseman Gabriel Cancel led the Legends bats this week, with 10 hits. Two of those hits were home runs. OH, and both of the home runs came in the same game.

Not to be outdone, first baseman Chris Devito also hit two home runs in a the same game that Cancel did it. I think that may be a faux pas of some kind, like wearing a white gown to someone else’s wedding.

Right fielder Khalil Lee also homered in that game, a 16-4 win over Hagerstown.


What would you do about the 1B/DH logjam at the top two levels? Have Schwindel and Duenez forced GMDM’s hand, or can they stay at Northwest Arkansas?