‘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, August 20 through Sunday, August 27.
AAA Omaha Storm Chasers (61-70)
On back-to-back days, Chasers pitchers took no-hitters into the 6th inning. Jonathan Dziedzic lost his no-no after 5 1/3, but hung on for another four outs and got the W. Glenn Sparkman, in his first start after being sent down from Kansas City, also gave up his first hit after 5 1/3, but left the game after two runs scored shortly thereafter.
22-year-old Arnaldo Hernandez followed up his Pitcher of the Week-worthy performance last week with another nice start, tossing six innings of one-run ball on Tuesday. In his regular chat with Rustin Dodd of The Athletic, Royals assistant GM JJ Picollo shared something interesting about why Hernandez has moved up:
I know our Wilmington coaching staff told me: “We need to get him to a higher level. He’s bored here. He’s underachieving because he’s bored.”
All over America, people who used that excuse to explain their underwhelming junior high report cards are nodding in understanding. Or is that just me? ANYWAY.
Relievers Richard Lovelady and Josh Staumont each allowed just one baserunner in their two appearances this week, in 3 1⁄3 innings for Lovelady and 3 2⁄3 innings for Staumont. Lovelady had four strikeouts and Staumont had six. Neither of them walked anyone.
First baseman Frank Schwindel socked another pair of dingers this week (season total: 23), and hit a double (season total: 34). Schwindel has now doubled more times than he has walked (season total: 33).
Nicky Lopez is on an 11-game hit streak, during which three of his 13 hits have left the park. He 13-for-45 in the stretch, plus five walks and a hit by pitch.
On Friday, the Chasers wore these extremely cool 1969 throwback uniforms as part of the season-long 50th anniversary celebration.
AA Northwest Arkansas Naturals (66-65 overall | 31-30 in second half)
While a record just a hair above .500 is not thrilling, the Naturals could still sneak into the postseason picture. Northwest Arkansas and first-half champions Arkansas (SEA) are 3.5 games behind Tulsa (LAD). The remainder of the Naturals’ schedule: five games against Tulsa and then a trio against Arkansas. By winning the first half, Arkansas is already in, so the race is down to just NW Arkansas and Tulsa.
Lefty Emilio Ogando’s streak of shutout innings ended at 31 (!) after he took a no-hitter into the 7th inning in his last start.
First baseman Samir Duenez went 8-for-22 with two doubles and two homers. He drew four walks the old-fashioned way, and one intentional one.
A-Adv. Wilmington Blue Rocks (63-68 overall | 32-29 in second half)
Wilmington is five games out of first place, BUT they still have four games against first-place Lynchburg (CLE). Following the Lynchburg series, Wilmington will wrap up the season with a home series against Potomac (WSH), who currently sit a half game behind the Blue Rocks.
Third baseman Emmanuel Rivera led Wilmington’s bats this week with his 10 hits. Of those, five (!) were doubles. Rivera struck out just twice and walked twice in 25 plate appearances. He also got hit by a pitch.
Right-hander Ofreidy Gomez, 23, pitched a solid game on Friday. He went seven innings, allowing five hits and one run. He walked on and struck out four.
Low-A Lexington Legends (73-55 overall | 36-24 in second half)
The one-game lead the Legends had in their division the last couple times we have checked in with them is now up to two games. The remaining eight games could get wild: After a four-game series with last-place Augusta (SF), Lexington will finish the regular season with a series at second-place Greenville (BOS).
J.C. Cloney made his third start for Lexington, which was also his best. He struck out four and walked a pair in seven innings. He weathered two doubles and a triple, as well as two singles, and prevented any runs from scoring. Cloney, a 24-year-old southpaw, was drafted in the 9th round in 2017 out of Arizona.
Cloney is the oldest among active Legends pitchers. On the other end of the age range is righty Yefri Del Rosario. Del Rosario also had a solid start this week. He let in just one run in six innings, with one walk and six strikeouts.
Someday a week may go by where 2018 first-rounder Jackson Kowar is not mentioned in this space, but it is not this week. On Thursday Kowar pitched three perfect innings, with six strikeouts and three flyouts.
Right-handed reliever Tad Ratliff in his last 6 appearances: 7 1⁄3 innings, 9 strikeouts, 2 walks, 1 hit. Oh, and 6 saves.
First baseman Nick Pratto is on a bit of a hit streak, with hits in seven straight games. He has 10 hits in that stretch, which include two doubles, a triple, and two homers.
A quick note on 19-year-old catcher M.J. Melendez, who homered this week:
MJ Melendez was 2-4 with a HR, a double, and a walk tonight. That’s his 17th homer of the year which ties him with Gary Sanchez and Jesus Montero for the most HR by a teenage catcher in the SAL since ‘06.— Royals Farm Report (@RoyalsFarm) August 27, 2018
And now for a big bummer to wrap things up:
In other news, highly-touted Royals prospect Seuly Matias will miss the rest of what's left in Lexington's season (not much) after a freak injury -- he suffered a deep cut to his right thumb, getting it caught on the cargo door on the team bus as he loaded his luggage recently.— Jeffrey Flanagan (@FlannyMLB) August 26, 2018
So that stinks.
Did you go to any MiLB games this week? Who did you see, and who stood out? If you were General Manager, who would you add to the roster on September 1?