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TWitM: Kelvin Gutierrez ripening on the Third Base Tree

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This Week in the Minors, great performances from so many prospects, plus a note on why we can’t see footage of them.

Kelvin Gutierrez all smiles this week as he excelled on both offense and defense for Omaha.
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, April 8 through Sunday, April 14.

AAA Omaha Storm Chasers (6-4)

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Third baseman Kelvin Gutierrez went 7-for-15 this week, with five walks, a home run and a double. Gutierrez has reached base in every game this season and has also made defensive plays like this:

Elsewhere in the Omaha infield, Nicky Lopez started the season with zero hits in the first four games, but has roared to life this week with nine hits in five games, plus a pair of steals and five runs scored. First baseman Cheslor Cuthbert went 7-for-18 with a big ole dinger and a double, and seven runs batted in.

Sometimes it is fun to see a player on a hit streak, but outfielder Brett Phillips is on a walk streak - he has taken at least one free pass in five consecutive games. Fellow outfielder Bubba Starling hit eight singles in five games this week, but made his way into scoring position via four stolen bases (out of four attempts).

Reliever Tim Hill has been fantastic since his demotion from the Royals, allowing just one baserunner in three appearances totaling five outs. He struck out two, and picked up two saves. Josh Staumont was excellent in his lone two-inning appearance this week. He is also up for re-election as sheriff in some dusty old west town, if his moustache is any indication.

Beards are not allowed in the Royals farm system, but staches are.
Minda Haas Kuhlmann

AA Northwest Arkansas Naturals (4-7)

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After a 4-0 start to the season, Northwest Arkansas has dropped seven in a row. Shortstop Taylor Featherson went 9-for-23 with two doubles and a home run, his first of the year. He was also hit by pitches twice. Second baseman Gabriel Cancel also piled up nine hits this week, including two doubles and two homers, but also struck out 12 times. Center fielder Nick Heath leads the Texas League in stolen bases with eight on the season, six of which came this week.

I would love to show you what it looked like when RHP Connor Greene struck out eight batters in six shutout innings on Tuesday, but minor league baseball has stopped posting video clips and started punishing people who try to draw new viewers to their sport by way of exciting footage. Let us all pause for a moment and imagine what that game was like.

What’s that? Did I hear somebody say that the inability to watch highlights is the thing that finally tipped them toward subscribing to MiLB.tv? Of course I did not. Nobody would ever say that, because it is the opposite of how things work.

I would understand if MiLB’s position was “please stop watching third-party video uploads; stick to our library of officially sanctioned, MiLB-branded highlights.” But there are no new videos on either the MiLB YouTube page nor individual player pages on MiLB.com. There is no product. It is truly baffling.

ANYWAY. On we go.

A-Adv. Wilmington Blue Rocks (8-3)

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A couple of bats started popping for the Blue Rocks this week, led by center fielder Kyle Isbel’s 10-for-28 week that also featured four doubles and a triple. Isbel stole two bases and was caught stealing twice.

Right fielder Seuly Matias hit one double this week, and also two triples, and also three home runs.

Left-hander Daniel Tillo took a no-hitter into the 7th inning on Saturday, and left after seven full innings having allowed just two hits and two walks, and no runs. He struck out six.

In the bullpen, lefty Holden Capps and righty Tad Ratliff are locking everything down. In three appearances on the season, Capps has struck out 10 in five innings, walked just one, and not let in a run yet. Ratliff has saves in each of his three games, and has allowed only a single and a walk. Both of those baserunners were erased by double plays, as was one inherited runner.

Low-A Lexington Legends (6-4)

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A dozen of any one thing in a ballgame is...a lot. 12 innings? Long! A dozen hits? That’s a lot of offense! 12 beers? Hope you had a driver! Left-handed pitcher Kris Bubic had that many strikeouts in his six-inning start on Friday.

Another pitcher with a lot of Ks this week was righty Jonathan Bowlan. Bowlan started on Monday, and struck out nine with no walks on his way to a one-run, six-inning outing. He gave up a solo homer, but none of the five other hits he allowed went for extra bases. Then on Saturday, he came out of the Legends bullpen to earn a long save, punching out five in 3 1⁄3 shutout innings.

Center fielder Michael Gigliotti leads the South Atlantic League with seven doubles. He hit six of those this week, along with three singles. He also reached base via walk four times, and via being hit by pitches twice more.

Also coming in with nine hits this week was 2B/3B Nathan Eaton. Four of those were doubles, and one was his first triple of the season. In 2018, his first pro season, Eaton led the Pioneer League with 12 triples. Eric Cole doubled twice, and hit his first triple and homer of the season this week. Cole, an outfielder, was drafted in the fourth round last summer from the University of Arkansas.

Catcher Freddy Fermin got in on the good offense this week as well, with seven hits that included a pair of doubles and five RBI. Fermin, from Puerto Ordaz, Venezuela, has been in the organization since 2016, and this is his first full-season action.

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Have you been to any Minor League games yet this season? Who stood out to you?