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TWitM: Bowlan tosses a no-hitter

Kris Bubic keeps on rockin’ and Kyle Isbel returns

Wilmington Blue Rocks

‘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 8 through Sunday, July 14.

Our Minda Haas Kuhlmann had to be placed on the seven-day injured list this week so I’ll be pinch-hitting this week with your minor league update.

AAA Omaha Storm Chasers (42-52)

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The Storm Chasers had just four games this week due to the All-Star break and dropped all four. Their All-Star rep, Bubba Starling, was called up to the Royals, but the Storm Chasers still managed a nine-run outburst on Friday against San Antonio that included a grand slam from infielder Jecksson Flores. Ryan O’Hearn also popped a home run, his second in two days. The 25-year old first baseman has a ten-game hitting streak and is hitting .270/.365/.506 with five home runs in 24 games since his demotion. Catcher Nick Dini went 4-for-8 with a walk and a double in the four games over the weekend.

Kyle Zimmer had a pair of scoreless outings, closing out the game on Thursday with 1 13 innings, and tossing two shutout innings as an opener on Sunday, although he walked a total of four batters in the two games. Eric Skoglund continued to struggle in his return from his 80-game suspension, giving up five runs in 4 1/3 innings in a start against San Antonio on Saturday, lifting his ERA to 6.91.

AA Northwest Arkansas Naturals (41-50)

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The Naturals dropped five of seven this week, managing just 12 runs in those seven games. One lone offensive bright spot was Nick Heath, who smacked his fifth home run of the year, and hit .375 for the week, with two doubles and a triple. He also stole his 46th base of the year, which leads all of minor league baseball. Right behind him with 39 steals is Khalil Lee, who stole four more this week while hitting .273. The offense was hurt by a slump by Gabriel Cancel, who was just 3-for-24 this week. Travis Jones went back on the 7-day injured list after just returning to action. Newly acquired infielder Kevin Merrell will join the Naturals this week.

Former first-round pick Brady Singer looked solid on Thursday, giving up two walks and three runs, but striking out seven in seven innings. Gerson Garabito tossed seven shutout innings on Friday night against Tulsa, striking out four and walking one. The 23-year old has given up just four runs in his last three starts, covering 18 23 innings. Tyler Zuber struck out three of the five batters he faced in two scoreless outings to lower his ERA to 1.42 in 38 innings. Grant Gavin also tossed a pair of scorless outings, striking out four in 2 13 innings.

A-Adv. Wilmington Blue Rocks (56-37)

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Kyle Isbel rejoined the Blue Rocks this weekend after missing nearly three months with a variety of injuries. He promptly homered in his first game back, his third in just 14 games with Wilmington. Catcher MJ Melendez is starting to come around, smacking a double on Saturday and drawing three walks. Despite a rough offensive season with a batting average well below the Mendoza Line, he has a healthy 10.7 percent walk rate. Outfielder Brewer Hicklen went 7-for-21 with a double and steal and seems prime for a promotion soon. First baseman Nick Pratto continued his struggles, going 1-for-13 this week.

Jonathan Bowlan also continued to pitch well in Wilmington following his promotion, with seven innings on Wednesday, striking out six, while giving up three runs. Technically, this review is only about the week from July 7-14, but we should note that Bowlan topped himself the next time out by tossing a nine-inning no-hitter in his start on Monday, the second no-hitter in Blue Rocks history.

Kris Bubic tossed another gem on Friday, as part of a doubleader, with seven shutout innings against Salem, allowing just two hits and one walk while striking out ten. The left-hander has not missed a beat since being promoted to Wilmington, posting a 3.27 ERA in eight starts with the Blue Rocks. Another 2018 draft pick, Austin Cox, also had a fine start on Friday, going six innings allowing just one unearned run and striking out seven.

Low-A Lexington Legends (47-45)

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Infielder Jeison Guzman was on fire this week, collecting a three-hit game on Tuesday and going 8-for-17 in his last five games, including his fifth home run of the year. Infielder Rubendy Jaquez went 9-for-17 this week, and is hitting .292/.372/.425 since the start of June. Outfielder Eric Cole hit his sixth home run of the year, but went just 2-for-17 this week.

Evan Steele struck out ten in just five innings of work on Friday, giving up two runs to lower his ERA to 1.96 in ten starts. Right-hander Charlie Neuweiler gave up just one run in six innings on Saturday. Struggling right-hander Yohanse Morel had his best start of the year, giving up two runs in five innings, while striking out four in a start on Sunday.

Rookie Idaho Falls Chukars (14-12)

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The Chukars have dropped 11 of 12, the lone win coming Monday in a rare shutout in the Pioneer League, albeit a rain-shortened shutout. Grant Gambrell, a 2019 third-round pick, tossed three shutout innings, striking out six, keeping him scoreless on the year through 7 23 innings. Alec Marsh, another 2019 draft pick, tossed two innings on Thursday, striking out three and giving up one run. Nathan Webb, a 21-year old from Lee’s Summit in the Kansas City area, tossed five shutout innings on Sunday to bring his ERA down to 5.46.

Catcher Michael Emodi smacked his team-leading sixth home run of the season on Thursday. Outfielder Isaiah Henry went 5-for-12 with a double, triple, and his first home run of the year. Brady McConnell went 2-for-20 with nine strikeouts in the week.

Rookie Burlington Royals (12-13)

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First baseman Logan Porter smacked two home runs, going 6-for-18 with four walks, and now leads the team with six round-trippers. Catcher William Hanocck went 6-for-13 with three doubles and a walk this week. Outfielder Burle Dixon enjoyed a three-hit game on Tuesday, but struck out seven times over his next three games. Second baseman Michael Massey with 6-for-17 and hit his first professional home run.

Carlos Hernandez made his 2019 debut after missing the first three months with a rib injury, striking out nine in 4 13 innings of shutout baseball. Right-hander Noah Murdock, a seventh round pick out of Virginia, tossed four shutout, hitless innings on Wednesday, striking out six.

What is the coolest feat you’ve ever seen a minor leaguer do?