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TWitM: Elier Hernandez debuts in Omaha

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This Week in the Minors, right fielder Elier Hernandez moves up to Omaha; Storm Chaser Jake Kalish is the PCL’s pitcher of the week; Khalil Lee visits dongtown in Double-A.

Right fielder Elier Hernandez drove in a pair in his Omaha debut, wearing sweet 1985 throwback threads.
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, July 16 through Sunday, July 22.

AAA Omaha Storm Chasers (44-56)

schedule | roster

Left-hander Jake Kalish was marvelous in his start at Nasvhille, with nine strikeouts and two walks in seven shutout innings. It was the second time in the month of July that Kalish has given Omaha seven shutout innings, and this start earned him Pacific Coast League pitcher of the week honors.

22-year-old Arnaldo Hernandez has spent most of the season with Wilmington, but was brought up to shore up Omaha’s rotation with Heath Fillmyer in the Majors and Scott Barlow* injured. But on Saturday, in the first game of a split-admission double header, Hernandez allowed just a solo home run in a 7-inning complete game. He struck out six and walked none.

*Barlow has brought some wonderful weirdness to Omaha. He’s the one in the large orange shades and spectacular hair toward the start of this video.

A good way to ingratiate yourself to a new home crowd is to get three hits in your debut. That is what right fielder Elier Hernandez did upon his promotion to Omaha this week. Hernandez drove in two in that day’s Storm Chasers win.

Shortstop Nicky Lopez had an odd week, but ultimately still a good one. He only collected four hits in eight games, but a) two of them were doubles, b) one was a homer, and c) he walked six times. He also stole two bases.

AA Northwest Arkansas Naturals (42-56)

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Lefty reliever Cristian Castillo, 23, was promoted to Northwest Arkansas, and debuted in Double-A with three perfect innings. He induced five ground ball outs and struck out two.

Middle infielder Erick Mejia doubled three times as part of a 9-hit week. He also stole two bases, bringing his team-leading total of thefts to 26. Mejia, 23, came to the Royals as part of the three-team deal in January that sent Joakim Soria and Scott Alexander away. He has played 60 games at second base for the Naturals, but has played almost full-time at short since Nicky Lopez was promoted to Omaha.

Khalil Lee went 7-for-22 with a homer and two doubles. He walked twice and struck out five times. The home run was his 1st at the Double-A level and his 5th overall this season.

A-Adv. Wilmington Blue Rocks (48-50)

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Four Wilmington starters did well, leading to a 5-1 team record on the week:

  • On Monday, righty Nolan Watson pitched seven innings, with seven strikeouts, one walk, and two runs allowed on five hits. He was awarded a ‘W’ for his efforts.
  • Left-hander Daniel Tillo struck out seven and walked two in six innings on Wednesday, allowing two runs on six hits. Tillo had struggled for the last month or so.
  • Thursday, righty Andres Sotillet made his second High-A start. He pitched 6 23 innings, limiting Lynchburg to one run despite six hits, three walks, and a hit batter.
  • 22-year-old righty Gerson Garabito capped the rotation’s good week with seven innings, six strikeouts and one walk on Sunday.

Wilmington catcher Chase Vallot is hitting baseballs all over the place during his rehab assignment in Idaho Falls. This week he went 11-for-22 with three doubles, two homers, two walks and six strikeouts.

Low-A Lexington Legends (51-45)

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After a solid month to start his pro career in Idaho Falls, 2018 3rd-rounder Kyle Isbel* was promoted to Lexington. In his first three games, he’s 3-for-8 with a homer and four walks. In his 25 games with the Chukars, the 21-year-old center fielder hit .381/.454/.610.

*my brain will always — always — mentally add “And the 400 Unit” to this name.

Marten Gasparini is now in his second full season as an outfielder, having originally signed as a shortstop at age 16. This week, he hit two dingers and two doubles, walked three times, and struck out six times.

Shortstop Cristian Perez went 7-for-20 this week with a home run and a double. Utility player Manny Olloque had seven hits in five games, including two doubles, two triples, and two home runs.

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Did you see any minor league games this week? Who did you see, and how did they look? Were there any wacky promotions?