‘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 20 through Sunday, May 26.
AAA Omaha Storm Chasers (22-28)
Omaha had some nice pitching performances over the long weekend, starting with Zach Lovvorn on Thursday. He came into the game following an “Open” by Josh Staumont. Lovvorn went 5 2⁄3 innings, struck out six and didn’t walk any, and allowed one run on six hits.
The next night was Foster Griffin’s turn in the rotation. Griffin allowed two runs in a season-long seven innings, with nine strikeouts and three walks.
A trio of pitchers were superb on Sunday night. Kyle Zimmer opened the game. With one out in the first, he allowed a walk, threw a wild pitch, and allowed a single. However, the batter who walked was thrown out at the plate by Bubba Starling, and Zimmer cruised the the rest of the first and second.
Jake Kalish followed him by retiring 11 consecutive hitters before finally yielding a hit. It would be the only blemish on Kalish’s six shutout innings, with seven strikeouts and no walks. Richard Lovelady finished the night off with an 11-pitch perfect ninth.
Tim Hill has been nearly flawless for Omaha since his one-day MLB stint on April 23rd, including another pair of scoreless relief outings this week.
Left fielder Elier Hernandez led Omaha’s bats with 11 hits, including two doubles and two dingers. Utility infielder Jecksson Flores was 9-for-20 this week, capped by a four-hit game on Sunday.
The Chasers roster saw some shakeup behind the dish this week when Nick Dini got hit in the head and had to be put on the concussion protocol. Xavier Fernandez came up from Northwest Arkansas to share the catching load with Andrew Susac. Then on Monday*, Susac was placed on the 7-day IL with an unknown injury, so Sebastian Rivero came up from Wilmington.
*past the regular cutoff for our usual “week,” but a significant promotion for Rivero, who is just 20 but highly thought of among pitchers in the organization.
AA Northwest Arkansas Naturals (20-29)
The Naturals’ lone win this week came on the strength of five scoreless frames from J.C. Cloney on Sunday. Cloney did walk three and give up five hits, but kept everyone off the board and came up with four strikeouts.
Outfielder Nick Heath stole four bases in one game, contributing to his seven this week and 29 (!) on the season. That number leads not just the Texas League, but all of the minor leagues.
Heath does not only steal bases; he also steals homers:
A-Adv. Wilmington Blue Rocks (31-19)
With the first half suddenly nearing its end, the Blue Rocks hold a five-game lead in their division.
Daniel Lynch came up twice in the rotation this week. He was solid on Monday, with six shutout innings, three hits allowed, two walks and two strikeouts. When his next turn came up in the outrageously stacked Wilmington rotation, Lynch turned it up a notch: seven shutout innings with seven strikeouts. He walked one and allowed five hits, all singles.
Fellow top pitching prospect Brady Singer also put up seven scoreless innings this week, which was the deepest he has pitched in a professional game. Singer struck out six, walked one, and gave up five hits.
Last night, the @WilmBlueRocks won 2-1 as @Bsinger51 struck out 6 in his 7 scoreless innings of work. Ricky Aracena drove in the go ahead run in the 10th inning and Collin Snider finished it out, picking up the win. #AlwaysRoyal pic.twitter.com/6JLgEnxW3Z— Kansas City Royals Player Development (@RoyalsPD) May 22, 2019
Singer was promptly promoted to AA Northwest Arkansas to join the Naturals starting rotation after his start on Memorial Day.
Per a source: #Royals pitching prospect Brady Singer is on the move to Double-A Northwest Arkansas. The former Florida Gator was 5-2 at High-A Wilmington with a 1.87 ERA.— Alec Lewis (@alec_lewis) May 27, 2019
Low-A Lexington Legends (23-26)
Center fielder Michael Gigliotti had himself a heck of a week, with one dozen hits and four consecutive multi-hit games. He also walked three times and stole five bases in five attempts.
In four games, catcher/first baseman Nick Hutchins went 6-for-17 with a homer, his second dinger of the year. Brhet Bewley made his full-season debut after playing in rookie ball last summer. Bewley is off to a good start, going 7-for-18 with a double and three walks in his first five games. He played four games at second base and one in right field, after playing primarily at third base last year.
Lefty Austin Cox had one of his best games of the season on Thursday, going six shutout innings with nine strikeouts. He surrendered three hits and three walks. Cox was drafted in the 5th round last summer out of Mercer University in Macon, Georgia.
Last night, @LexingtonLegend picked up the 4-3 win with @MikeGigsss going 2-4 with a double & a key 2 strike/2 out RBI single. @AustinJCox8 picked up the Win after 6 scoreless innings and 9 strikeouts. #AlwaysRoyal pic.twitter.com/ZEEA96MrOe— Kansas City Royals Player Development (@RoyalsPD) May 24, 2019
Reliever Kyle Hinton contributed two hitless, scoreless outings this week, to complement the two hitless, scoreless outings he fired in last week.
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Did you go to any Minor League games this week? Who stood out to you? Any wacky ballpark promotions?