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TWitM: Wilmington Blue Rocks score 48 runs in a week

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Outfielder Elier Hernandez earns league honors; Anderson Miller celebrates birthday week with big hits.

Wilmington outfielder Anderson Miller turned 23 this week, and had two home runs among his 14 hits.
Ken Inness/MiLB.com

This is our weekly look at notable performances from all over the system, from big-name prospects and less heralded guys alike. The mission is to answer this simple question: “Who had a good week?”

Today, we’ll cover results from Monday, May 1 through Sunday, May 7.

AAA Omaha Storm Chasers (14-15)

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Right-handed pitching prospect Josh Staumont is tied at the top of the Pacific Coast League with 42 strikeouts in his 32.1 innings. Twelve of those punchouts came in his start on Monday, his second 12-strikeout game of 2017.

In relief, 28-year-old righty Seth Maness a veteran pitcher with the Cardinals recovering from an elbow injury, made his debut with Omaha this week. In each of his three appearances, he pitched two innings. In total, he has surrendered just one run (via solo homer) on four hits, and one walk. He has five strikeouts. Maness is the pitcher who had a torn UCL, but had an experimental surgery instead of Tommy John. Any amount of success he has is a huge deal for pitchers who suffer the same type of tear, as he begun pitching in less than half the recovery time of a typical Tommy John surgery.

Starting pitchers Jake Junis and Christian Binford each had great games this week, pitching seven innings of one-run ball apiece. Binford had just joined the Storm Chasers from Northwest Arkansas, where he had a 1.99 ERA through five starts.

Billy Burns managed to cram 10 hits into his eight games played this week. All were singles. Burns has played almost every day for the Storm Chasers, all in left or center field. He is batting .286/.386/.327 with 19 strikeouts and a team-leading 16 walks.

Raul Mondesi played two games at second base this week, and the rest at shortstop. He also stole six bases, including three in the second game of a double header on Monday. He reached base via six singles, two doubles, and two walks. Ramon Torres, who also plays short and second, collected hits in six of his seven games played this week. His season line through 28 games is .304/.322/.443.

AA Northwest Arkansas Naturals (16-12)

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Centerfielder Donnie Dewees showed off a little bit of everything this week, picking up a homer*, a triple, and a pair of doubles (plus four singles and four walks). In 26 plate appearances, he only struck out four times. Dewees is an intriguing outfield prospect the Royals picked up via trade for pitcher Alec Mills.

*An odd play, but a home run all the same. Behold:

Good news: First baseman Samir Duenez hit two more home runs this week, to tie Frank Schwindel for the team lead.

Bad news: Duenez also struck out 11 times in those seven games. (For some perspective, Dewees has struck out 14 times all season.)

Middle infielder Jack Lopez, 24, kept up his solid offensive season this week with 10 more hits, including three in Sunday’s game. For the season, he’s now hitting .315/.359/.384.

Right-handed reliever Jake Newberry, 22, pitched three times this week. Each time, he earned a save and yielded no runs. Interestingly, he did this without any walks or strikeouts. 23-year-old left-hander Emilio Ogando made his Double-A debut on Saturday. He picked up a win with 6.0 innings, no runs on five hits, four strikeouts, and two walks. Miguel Almonte left a start after just one inning, but it was due to a ripped fingernail.

A-Adv. Wilmington Blue Rocks (12-18)

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Right-hander Scott Blewett threw another great game this week, with seven shutout innings on Thursday.

The Blue Rocks scored an astonishing 48 runs this week, so the rest of this section is all about offense. Hold on to your hats, friends:

Outfielder Anderson Miller turned 23 years old on Saturday. He evidently wanted a week-long firework show for his birthday, so he made one himself: in seven games, Miller cranked out 14 hits, including a double, a triple, and two homers. He also stole three bases. Miller was a third-round draft pick in 2015, from Western Kentucky University.

Fellow outfielder Elier Hernandez, 22, also had a banner week, with 13 hits in six games. Among those were two doubles, two triples, and a his fourth home run of the season. Hernandez was named Carolina League player of the week.

Catcher Chase Vallot socked three dingers this week, including a grand slam on Sunday. Vallot’s bat was cooler to start the season, with an April line of just .159/.316/.286. (It should be noted, of course, that Wilmington’s park is dreadful for hitters in general, and Vallot has done much better on the road.) Shortstop Nicky Lopez, a Creighton product drafted in 2015, contributed 11 hits in his six games. Lopez is hitting .310/.374/.405 in his first 29 games of full-season ball.

First baseman Colton Frabasilio returned to action on Sunday after a couple weeks on the disabled list.

Low-A Lexington Legends (12-19)

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The Lexington offense was led by 20-year-old catcher Meibrys Viloria. Viloria’s eight hits included three doubles and two home runs. He also walked five times, against just three strikeouts. The homers were his first of the season.

First baseman Chris DeVito also hit two home runs and three doubles this week. DeVito’s 10 dingers leads the South Atlantic League. He was an 8th round draft pick in 2016 and is batting .328/.357/.664 with a 1.021 OPS this season.

Right-handed pitcher Jace Vines pitched six shutout innings on Wednesday, with three strikeouts and three walks. Vines was drafted in the 4th round from Texas A&M last summer. 21-year-old righty Gerson Garabito pitched six innings on Thursday, with six strikeouts, one walk, and one run allowed.

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We are a full month in to the minor league season now. How are you feeling about the farm system right now? Is there anyone you would promote soon, or anyone you would release?

As always, please share in the comments if you were at any of these games.