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TWitM: Nick Heath is never not on base

This Week in the Minors: CF Nick Heath making the most of his promotion to Omaha; Jackson Kowar brilliant for NW Arkansas; Rito Lugo great in spot start for Blue Rocks

Nick Heath adjusted to a new level in no time at all
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, July 29 through Sunday, August 4.

AAA Omaha Storm Chasers (50-63, 10 games back)

schedule | roster

I could have copy and pasted last week’s thing about Jorge Bonifacio hitting like his hair is on fire, because that is how he spent this week as well. Boni went 10-for-27 with a double, a triple, and two homers. One of those dingers was a grand slam.

In the same game as the Bonifacio grand slam, Erick Mejia had already hit one as well. That was one of Mejia’s two homers, one from each side of the plate. They were part of a nine-hit effort across six games.

Center fielder Nick Heath is on some kind of on-base tear after his recent promotion to Omaha. He went 9-for-23 PLUS seven walks, giving him a neat .516 OBP for the week. He stole two bases and was caught twice, and hit his first Triple-A home run along with two doubles and a triple.

Heath also got caught on camera in a staring contest with Domingo Leyba of the Reno Aces.

Heath’s promotion means that Brett Phillips got moved over to right field. Four of Phillips’s six hits this week went for extra bases: two doubles and two dingers. He also walked three times, struck out seven times, and stole two bases in two attempts, playing like he was an entire group of 30-50 feral hogs by himself.

AA Northwest Arkansas Naturals (45-64 overall; 14-27 in second half; 8.5 games back)

schedule | roster

Jackson Kowar: Eight shutout innings, six strikeouts, no walks, four hits allowed. All of this on 102 pitches. It was his longest outing, and best one by Game Score (80, per Baseball-Reference) of his career.

Righty Ofreidy Gomez also pitched eight innings in his start this week, with nine strikeouts and one walk. He did allow three runs on six hits, including a two-run home run.

Daniel Tillo’s Double-A debut was a solid one: seven shutout innings with five strikeouts and three walks, and just two singles allowed. Tillo, a 23-year-old lefty, was a 3rd round draft pick in 2017.

There is a subreddit called “Contagious Laughter.” This video might belong there.

Outfiedler Dairon Blanco is off to a great start in his new organization. Blanco went 7-for-17 with three doubles in his first four games since being traded from the Oakland org for Jake Diekman.

A-Adv. Wilmington Blue Rocks (64-48 overall; 20-23 in second half)

schedule | roster

Lefty Rito Lugo had the best start among Blue Rocks pitchers this week, with shutout innings on Wednesday. He only struck out three, but did not walk anyone and permitted just two singles. He was also efficient, throwing 73 pitches, 52 for strikes. OH and also, it was a spot start.

Right-hander Jonathan Bowlan pitched 5 13 scoreless on Thursday, with three strikeouts and walk. Kris Bubic followed with an 8-strikeout performance on Friday, with two runs allowed on six hits.

Daniel Lynch’s rehab assignment moved from Arizona to Burlington. His final start in Arizona was excellent: four no-hit innings with six strikeouts and two walks. He got knocked around a bit in the Burlington start, with four runs coming in on eight hits in four innings.

Low-A Lexington Legends (54-57 overall; 37-32 in second half)

schedule | roster

Lexington, as you probably recall because you are brilliant (and so pretty!), won the first half. So they could have gone 0-fer in the second half and still showed up for the playoffs. Instead, they are in first place again right now, by a half a game.

Some lovely pitching from the Legends:

  • 20-year-old righty Charlie Neuweiler struck out nine and walked one in seven innings. He allowed five hits, including a solo home run, but no runs besides that.
  • Yohanse Morel, who will turn 19 later this month, struck out seven and walked one. He pitched five innings, and just like Neuweiler, surrendered just one run via solo dinger.
  • Zach Haake pitched five shutout innings. He struck out three and walked two, and allowed just three hits - all singles.

Shortstop Jeison Guzman was nails at the plate this week, going 8-for-22 with a double and two homers. He walked three times and was hit by pitch once, and stole a base.

Pitchers Jon Heasley and Evan Steele were both placed on the Injured List this week.

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