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This Week in the Minors, three Storm Chasers on streaks; NW Arkansas playoff chances; Matias leads the minors in dingers

Adalberto Mondesi is one of a trio of Storm Chasers with lots of hits in consecutive games.
Minda Haas Kuhlmann

‘This Week in the Minors’ 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 28 through Sunday, June 3.

AAA Omaha Storm Chasers (24-32)

schedule | roster

Three Storm Chasers hitters are riding hit streaks that stretch beyond the parameters of this week:

  • Humberto Arteaga, 12 games. He’s 22-for-48 in that time, with three doubles, and his first triple and homer of 2018. He has struck out 11 times but has not walked even once.
  • Paulo Orlando, 10 games. He’s batting an even .500, with 20 hits in 40 at bats. Among those hits are five doubles, two triples, and a home run. He has also walked four times against just three strikeouts.
  • Adalberto Mondesi, 9 games. Mondesi’s 12 hits in the streak include four doubles, two triples, and two home runs. He has been up a lot with men on base, and driven in 10 runs.

Frank Schwindel hit two homers and two doubles this week, part of an 11-for-26 attack. He also stole a base, his second of the season.

Hard-throwing righty Josh Staumont made two starts this week after being moved to the bullpen to begin the season. In the first start, he gave up a solo homer but no other hits, walked one and struck out three in four innings. In the second one, he pitched 4 23 innings, with six strikeouts, no walks, and one run surrendered on three hits.

After a couple of rougher outings last week, left-handed reliever Richard Lovelady returned to form, with seven strikeouts in 4 13 innings in his two appearances. Don’t look now, but reliever Brandon Maurer has not given up an earned run in his last eight appearances. In that stretch he has thrown 10 13 innings and struck out nine, and allowed five hits and four walks.

AA Northwest Arkansas Naturals (27-29)

schedule | roster

Right fielder Elier Hernandez was 12-for-27 at the plate this week. Eleven of those hits were singles, and the other was a 3-run home run. Third baseman Jecksson Flores’s nine hits (including two doubles and a homer) this week pulled his season batting average up above .300, and his slugging percentage above .400.

Veteran first baseman Alex Liddi clubbed two home runs and four doubles in six games, good for a .692 slugging percentage. Liddi, 29, is in his second stint in the Royals organization. He played the full 2015 season with Northwest Arkansas as well.

Brandon Downes made his professional pitching debut on Friday, which is significant because Brandon Downes is an outfielder. With the Naturals down big and short on available relievers, Downes was called upon to get the final out of the game. He walked the first batter he faced, but then induced a groundout.

The next day, righty Scott Blewett tried to give the bullpen a break by pitching seven innings, but that game would go on to stretch to 11 frames. Blewett allowed one run on seven hits, with three strikeouts and no walks. The one run was a home run.

Though the Naturals are under .500 as a team, the first half is nearing an end and they are just one game out of first place. Only 1.5 games separate first-place Springfield from last-place Tulsa, so it should be an intense few weeks of baseball in the Texas League.

A-Adv. Wilmington Blue Rocks (23-33)

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Outfielder Khalil Lee’s season on-base percentage is .420, and he bolstered it this week with five more walks and eight hits. Lee has walked a league-leading 40 times.

Outfielder Vance Vizcaino batted .500 this week. Granted, it was in 12 at bats, but it looks neat. Since his promotion to Wilmington a month ago, Vizcaino is batting .267/.313 /.378 in 14 games.

Left-hander Daniel Tillo is a product of Iowa Western Community College in this writer’s town of Council Bluffs, Iowa. The former Reiver pitched five solid innings for Wilmington on Thursday, with one run allowed on one hit and three walks. He struck out four.

Low-A Lexington Legends (30-23)

schedule | roster

In the “fun with box scores” category, 21-year-old lefty Garrett Davila gave up a three-run home run on Friday, but was charged with zero earned runs on the day. Davila’s start was six innings, three unearned runs on three hits, two walks and seven strikeouts. Here’s the sequence that led to the runs:

Travis Jones, who plays a mix of positions that could best be described as “a Hunter Dozier,” drove in nine runs this week on nine hits, including a double and two dingers. He also only struck out twice. Jones, 22, was drafted in the 29th round last year from the University of Texas.

Outfielder Brewer Hicklen doubled four times this week as part of a 9-for-17 campaign. Shortstop Cristian Perez drove in five runs on eight hits this week.

Leading a team at something is cool; leading a league in it is even cooler; leading all of the Minors is the coolest of all. Right fielder Seuly Matias now leads all Minor League hitters in home runs, with 17. Four of those dingers came this week.

Lexington is 3.5 games out of first place with about two weeks left in the first half. They have to leapfrog Rome (ATL) and Augusta (SF), but they only play three games against Rome and none against Augusta.

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With the draft happening now, expect to see lots of roster shuffling in the new few weeks as new draftees get sent out to short-season teams, some full-season guys get sent down to round out those rosters, and other moves that ripple out from there.

As always, if you went to any MiLB games this week, we want to know. Who did you see? What was the ballpark experience like?