‘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, June 10 through Sunday, June 16.
AAA Omaha Storm Chasers (34-36)
The Storm Chasers are not subject to the split season the other three full-season affiliates are, so there is no concern with first half record versus second half. With that said, is it ever too early to peek at postseason possibilities? Of course not! The Chasers sit four games behind the Iowa Cubs, who are 38-32. The other two teams in the division, Memphis and Oklahoma City, are each five games behind Omaha.
The Storm Chasers’s bats were led by utility infielder Jecksson Flores, who piled up a dozen hits while playing second base, shortstop, and third base (not all at once, smarty pants). Flores is not a large human, at 5’11” and 145 pounds, but muscled up for two homers this week.
Here is one of the two home runs outfielder Brett Phillips hit this week:
AA Northwest Arkansas Naturals (31-36)
Kansas City lefty Eric Skoglund joined the Naturals this week on his way back from his 80-game suspension. He started off strong, with 5 1⁄3 innings pitched, and one earned run allowed on six hits. He struck out three and walked one.
In the Naturals bullpen, right-hander Yunior Marte is on a roll. In his last 10 games, Marte has pitched 13 2⁄3 innings, struck out 17 and has allowed no runs.
Outfielder Khalil Lee was on base a ton this week, with four walks, seven hits, and one HBP. He doubled and homered, and stole two bases.
A-Adv. Wilmington Blue Rocks (44-25, clinched first half title last week)
Over at The Athletic ($), Alec Lewis spoke to pitching prospect Daniel Lynch about the arm discomfort that has landed Lynch on the injured list:
In the first inning against the Fayetteville Woodpeckers, though, Lynch said something about his arm felt off. He did not tell anybody and returned to the mound in the second inning.
Ultimately, the discomfort was too odd to continue. So he said something to the coaches. The trainers, knowing how important Lynch might be for the Royals’ future, took the most precautionary route.
Righty Jackson Kowar ended his first half on a strong note, with a seven-inning start in which he allowed just one run on three hits and two walks, and struck out six. Left-hander Marcelo Martinez came in the next day with seven strikeouts and no walks in six innings. It was the best start of the season for Martinez, who began the season in Lexington.
On Sunday, lefty Daniel Tillo pitched seven innings, allowing two runs on four hits. He struck out four, walked one, and plunked one. Tillo turned 23 on Thursday.
C.J. Eldred, the son of Royals pitching coach Cal Eldred, was promoted to Wilmington at the start of June. In his four relief appearances since then, Eldred has not yet allowed an earned run.
Another hand injury has befallen right fielder Seuly Matias. According to Jeffrey Flanagan, Matias suffered a contusion on his hand when he was hit by a pitch. Last August, Matias cut his thumb while loading luggage on to the team bus. It is dangerous to be at the ends of Seuly Matias’s arms, is what I’m saying.
Low-A Lexington Legends (37-32, clinched first half title)
The Legends survived a tense week of standings shuffling to snag the first half championship on the last day of the first half. Now, like their Wilmington counterparts, they will appear in the postseason regardless of how many wins and losses they have the rest of the summer.
Please believe me when I say, the soundscapes in this video are breathtaking. The pop of the champagne cork, the unbridled wail - it is all perfect. (But also, don’t play it at your desk without headphones.)
Michael Gigliotti seems to have unlocked something lately - he got on base over half the times he stepped up to the plate this week. Gigs went 14-for-30 with a pair of doubles, a triple, and five walks. He also stole four bases, but was caught thrice. Gigliotti has stolen 29 (!) bases in 36 attempts on the season.
Also clocking in with double-digit hit totals were right fielder Eric Cole and shortstop Jeison Guzman. Among Cole’s 11 hits were two doubles and a triple, and he walked four times. Guzman went 10-for-25 with a double and a triple, and he stole two bases.
Lefty Austin Cox finished his first half with an absolute gem, pitching eight shutout innings. Cox struck out six, walked two, and allowed five hits. The eight innings is a career high for the 22-year-old, as was the pitch count of 116. It will be interesting to keep an eye out for whether throwing that much in one game has any detrimental effect on his performance.
Another solid outing for the Legends this week came from right-hander Jon Heasley. For the fourth start in a row, Heasley went six innings. He struck out seven, walked two, and hit one batter. One run scored on three hits.
Tonight is the South Atlantic League all-star game, and Lexington will be represented by Jonathan Bowlan, Cox, Gigliotti, Heasley, and Chase Vallot.
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Did you go to any Minor League games this week? Who stood out to you? Any wacky ballpark promotions?