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TWitM: Nicky Lopez on fire

Omaha shortstop Nicky Lopez had 15 hits in just five games this week; LHP Richard Lovelady is perfect; great performance from two players from the Kelvin Herrera trade.

TFW you’re batting .330/.422/.510 one level away from the Majors
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 23 through Sunday, July 29.

AAA Omaha Storm Chasers (49-57)

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A key resource in compiling this column is the Baseball-Reference game log on each player. The game log for Omaha shortstop Nicky Lopez looked unbelievable, because 15 hits in five games seems like it has to be some kind of data aggregation error. Five of those came in one game, wherein Omaha scored 15 runs on 23 hits against Fresno.

First baseman/DH Frank Schwindel also had a huge week at the plate, with 11 hits including three doubles and three home runs. The homers bring his season total to a team-leading 19, and he has a good chance to surpass his career high of 23 homers.

Outfielder Elier Hernandez went 9-for-21 with two doubles. In his 9 games as a Storm Chaser, Hernandez has hit .412/.459/.500.

In the past three starts, lefty Jake Kalish has piled up 27 strikeouts against just two walks and four runs allowed in 19 total innings.

Lefty reliever Richard Lovelady is up to his usual tricks this week, and by “his usual tricks” I mean pitching a lot of innings and making opposing batters look stupid. This week, he pitched a pair of two-inning outings in which nobody reached base, and five batters struck out.

AA Northwest Arkansas Naturals (47-59)

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Kelvin Gutierrez went 12-for-33 with 15 RBI this week. Among his dozen hits were three doubles, a triple, and a homer. He also stole three bases. The home run was his first as a Natural, 31 games after joining the team in the trade that sent Kelvin Herrera to Washington.

Also racking up a double-digit hit total was middle infielder Jecksson Flores, who had 10 hits in seven games. Flores, 24, is now batting .317/.368/.444 on the season.

Outfielder Nick Heath has done quite well since his promotion to Northwest Arkansas last week. This week, he doubled and tripled as part of a 9-for-22 week.

Righty Jace Vines pitched 7 13 innings on Thursday, with seven strikeouts and one walk. The only run he allowed was on a solo homer. He did plunk two batters, though. Lefty Foster Griffin went 6 13 shutout innings in his turn in the rotation, with two hits and a walk, and three strikeouts.

Eric Skoglund, Jesse Hahn, and Blaine Boyer are rehabbing with the Naturals. Yesterday was Hahn’s 29th birthday.

A-Adv. Wilmington Blue Rocks (55-51)

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Wilmington has a 4.5 game lead on the rest of their division. While they are 55-51 overall, but a red-hot 24-12 in the second half.

Gerson Garabito fired off six shutout innings on Saturday. He walked three and struck out three, and allowed four hits. The right-hander has now made three consecutive starts with B-Ref game scores of 64 or higher.

Royals Review readers heard all about second baseman Gabriel Cancel this week from our Alex Duvall. Cancel homered, doubled twice, and hit his first triple of the season. Catcher Meibrys Viloria cranked out nine hits in five games, including a double and a homer.

Center fielder Blake Perkins, newly added to the Royals system in June, drew 12 (!) walks this week. He also went 5-for-21 with a double.

Low-A Lexington Legends (57-46)

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The Legends are winning left and right lately, adding another six wins in seven games this week. They are a half a game out of first place.

Thirty is a lot of home runs. It is more home runs than any other player in the minor leagues, and it is the number of home runs Lexington right fielder Seuly Matias has hit in 2018. Three of them came this week as part of a 10-hit campaign.

Nick Pratto, who at 19 is 2.3 years younger than his average league-mate (per Baseball Reference), walked more than he struck out this week. He drew seven walks against five strikeouts. His season numbers: 32 walks, 115 Ks. Pratto also hit four doubles this week, pulling into the team lead with 21 on the season.

Center fielder Kyle Isbel went 7-for-20 with two doubles and a triple and three stolen bases this week. In his first nine games with Lexington, the 3rd-round draftee out of UNLV is batting .333/.436/.576.

Left-hander Garrett Davila was solid in his start on Wednesday. He did give up a solo homer, but no other runs in his six-inning start. Davila is on his second go-round with Lexington, but is still just 21.

Charlie Neuweiler picked up a ‘W’ against Rome on Sunday, with six strikeouts and one run surrendered in 5 23 innings. He walked three and allowed four hits. In his last two starts Neuweiler has thrown 94 and 96 pitches, the highest pitch counts of his season.

An update on two 2018 first-rounders now pitching for Lexington:

  • Righty Jackson Kowar had his longest outing of his young pro career. He is on a pitch count, but he made 39 pitches last three innings, with one run coming in on a solo homer.
  • Left-hander Daniel Lynch pitched five shutout innings the next day, allowing six hits and striking out three.


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