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TWitM: Brett Phillips turning the corner?

This Week in the Minors: Maverick Phillips powers up to finish a strong June; solid pitching at each level.

Brett Phillips hit well in June, and dramatically cut the strikeouts that have plagued him. Is more Major League time in his future?
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, June 24 through Sunday, June 30.

AAA Omaha Storm Chasers (38-45)

schedule | roster

Outfielder Elier Hernandez led Omaha’s bats this week with a 7-for-21 line. He homered twice, doubled, and stole a pair of bases.

Brett Phillips only had four hits in six games, but all went for extra bases - two doubles and two dingers. Phillips batted .292/.420/.597 in the month of June, with just 13 strikeouts in the month compared with 38 and 28 strikeouts in the two months prior.

Reliever Yunior Marte made his Triple-A debut this week, with a scoreless hitless inning. Marte, 24, has been in the Royals organization since 2013.

Right-handed reliever Andres Machado added two more shutout performances this week. Machado has piled up six consecutive outings (10 23 innings) without an earned run scoring. In that time, he has struck out seven but walked six.

AA Northwest Arkansas Naturals (35-42)

schedule | roster

The Naturals’ week was shortened due to the Texas League all-star break, but a few pitchers put up good starts in the truncated week:

  • Righty Connor Greene pitched six shuout innings with four strikeouts and one walk. He allowed only one hit.
  • Brady Singer also pitches six innings, and allowed just one run via a solo dinger, and three other hits. He struck out six, walked one, and plunked one.
  • Fellow prospect Jackson Kowar set a season high in strikeouts with 8 punchouts in four innings. He did allow three runs, two earned, and piled up 89 pitches in four innings.

Nick Heath stole four more bases in the four games this week, bringing his season total to 44. That leads the team, the division, the league, and all the minors. All of them.

A-Adv. Wilmington Blue Rocks (50-30)

schedule | roster

Jonathan Bowlan followed up his solid Blue Rocks debut from last week with another strong six-inning start. He did allow seven hits, but only one run crossed the plate. He struck out seven and walked none.

Also clocking in with six strong innings was lefty Daniel Tillo. An unearned run did score - but it followed an error by Tillo himself. Aside from that it was a strong game, with just five hits allowed on six strikeouts and one walk.

Left-handed reliever Austin Lambright was a 10th-round draft choice in 2018 and has worked his way up to High-A. In his first four relief appearances, Lambright has not allowed a run.

Third baseman Dennicher Carrasco swung a good bat this week, with three doubles and a homer. First baseman Nick Pratto homered twice this week, which is encouraging, but went just 4-for-21 overall with eight strikeouts.

Low-A Lexington Legends (40-40)

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Jon Heasley gave up seven hits including three doubles in his six-inning start this week, but only one earned run scored. OH, and also he struck out 12 (!) batters, and only threw 99 pitches in doing so. Heasley is a right-hander from Plano, Texas, who the Royals drafted in 2018 out of Oklahoma State University.

20-year-old righty Charlie Neuweiler pitched eight innings on Wednesday, and allowed just two runs on five hits. He struck out five and hit one batter. That game was the second time Neuweiler went that deep into a game in his career, with the first coming on May 8 of this year.

In an encouraging development, Zach Haake pitched five shutout innings in his second start back with the Legends, and third overall, since his April injury.

And in an ADORABLE development, this first pitch happened. It is time to cancel this pregame tradition as nothing will ever top this performance.

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Did you go to any Minor League games this week? Who stood out to you? Any wacky ballpark promotions?