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TWitM: Northwest Arkansas 2017 wrapup

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The first-half champs fell to Tulsa to end their postseason campaign. How was their 2017?

The Naturals celebrated their first-half championship on June 17, but fell in the first round of the Texas League playoffs this week.
Beth Salazar | Northwest Arkansas Naturals

This is where we would normally take a weekly look at notable performances from all over the system, from big-name prospects and less heralded guys alike. But now the Minor League regular season has come to an end. How did it go?

Northwest Arkansas Naturals (AA)

First-half record: 39-31 (Champs)
Second-half record: 28-42
Overall: 67-73

Texas League Playoffs

Game I (W 3-1): Foster Griffin struck out 8 in 6.1 shutout innings. OF Donnie Dewees, 3B Jack Lopez, and C Nick Dini drove in runs in the 7th. Richard Lovelady pitched a scoreless 9th.

Game 2 (L 11-7): Tulsa took a 7-0 lead, but the Naturals clawed their way to a 7-7 tie by the end of the 6th. The Drillers responded with a grand slam in the 7th.

Game 3 (W 7-3): Every one of Northwest Arkansas’ 12 hits was a single. Lefties Tim Hill and Lovelady totaled 3.2 shutout innings of relief.

Game 4 (L 16-8): Lopez and 1B Samir Duenez each drove in two with two hits. LF Ryan O’Hearn hit a three-run home run. Former Omaha Storm Chaser Peter O’Brien homered for Tulsa; the Naturals’ pitching woes were bad enough that catcher Parker Morin pitched.

Game 5 (L 6-1): O’Brien’s vengeance on one of his numerous former clubs continued with his RBI double early in this game. The Naturals’ lone run did not come until the 9th inning.

Where in the Texas League is Northwest Arkansas?

NWArk Rank (of 8)
Runs 544 8
Hits 1244 3
2B 189 8
3B 24 3
HR 80 T-7
RBI 506 7
SB 119 2
BB 310 8
SO 1051 5
AVG .260 5
OBP .312 7
SLG .360 8

Standout performances:

Outfielder Donnie Dewees Jr.’s six triples put him one away from the league lead. His season slash line was .272/.340/.407 [ed note: corrected from a previous version]. His on-base and slugging percentage were tops on the team among regular players, as were his 46 walks. He also stole 20 bases, best on the team and sixth in the league.

23-year-old catcher Nick Dini held his own after a May 31 promotion from Lexington, especially thanks to a great month of June. First baseman/designated hitter Frank Schwindel earned a promotion to Omaha after 34 games with a line of .350/.374/.577.

The anchor of the Naturals rotation was lefty Foster Griffin, who compiled an 11-5 record with a 3.61 ERA in 104.2 innings and 18 starts.

Who stayed on the roster all season?

C Allan de san Miguel
SS/2B Humberto Arteaga
OF Donnie Dewees
OF Alfredo Escalera
1B/DH Samir Duenez
RHP Zach Lovvorn
RHP Corey Ray

Who made it to Kansas City?

Outfielders Terrance Gore and Paulo Orlando spent parts of 2017 on both the Northwest Arkansas and Kansas City rosters. So have pitchers Miguel Almonte, Onelki Garcia, Andres Machado, and Eric Skoglund.

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This wrapup series started with Northwest Arkansas so that it could include their playoff appearance. On deck for next week is a similar look at the 2017 Lexington Legends, followed by the Wilmington Blue Rocks, and then the Omaha Storm Chasers.