‘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, August 26 through Sunday, September 1.
AAA Omaha Storm Chasers (59-80, eliminated)
Since Omaha is missing the playoffs, Monday results are included here so we can close the book on them for the season.
Let’s just start with a storybook tale, because this is the kind of stuff that keeps some of us (points to self) working in this game for so long. Jimmy Govern was just drafted this summer, in the 30th round. The Royals scooted him up to Omaha in the final week of the season to fill roster holes created when Kelvin Gutiérrez broke a toe, and Chase d’Arnaud left for paternity leave.
Govern went hitless in his first two games, and then came up with seven (!) hits in his next four games. These included two home runs. How can you not love a guy who was playing for Eastern Illinois a couple months ago socking some dingers one level away from the Majors now?
Along similar lines, Chase Bushor came up to help fill those same roster vacancies as Govern. Bushor signed as a minor league free agent in June after wrapping up a collegiate career at USC. Additionally, outfielder Rudy Martin has held his own after being called up all the way from Lexington to fill in as center fielder after Nick Heath was shut down with a hand injury. Time will tell if any of these three is part of Kansas City’s future, but their own individual futures were surely bolstered by their ability to jump levels and contribute at Triple-A.
Left-hander Jake Kalish pitched an excellent game on Friday, with just three singles and a walk allowed in seven shutout innings. He struck out five.
Righty Arnaldo Hernandez was brilliant in his first start this week, against a Nashville team that was still clinging to a playoff chance at the time. Hernandez needed just 83 pitches to get through eight shutout innings on Monday. He allowed just one hit and one walk, and struck out four. His Saturday start was a bit messier, though - five runs on 10 hits in five innings. Hernandez is on the 40-man and still just 23 years old.
AA Northwest Arkansas Naturals (57-81 overall; 26-44 in second half; eliminated)
Like Omaha, the Naturals did not make the playoffs, so this will be the last note on them until the first TWitM of 2020.
Outfielder Khalil Lee finished with a bang, putting up a dozen hits and eight runs cored in his final week. These included two doubles and a homer. In classic Khalil Lee fashion, however, he did not walk even once but struck out 13 (!) times.
Right-handed prospect Brady Singer finished his season with a pair of solid starts this week. Monday, he struck out seven in seven innings. He allowed one run on six hits. His Saturday start was very similar - seven innings, one run, six hits - but with one walk and six strikeouts.
Fellow righty Gerson Garabito was saddled with two tough-luck Ls this week. Tuesday, he allowed quite few baserunners thanks to four walks and five hits, but limited Midland to just one run in seven innings. He also struck out nine, a season high. Sunday, Garabito went deep again, with eight solid innings. Two unearned runs scored, but no earned ones. Northwest Arkansas went on to lose both games.
The Naturals won their season finale 2-0 on the strength of seven shutout innings from starter J.C. Cloney. The lefty did allow eight hits and a walk, but kept them off the board with the aid of four double plays.
Two relievers ended their seasons on good streaks: lefty Holden Capps held opponents scoreless in his last six appearances (4 1⁄3 innings), and righty Franco Terrero is on a shutout streak of eight games (8 innings).
A-Adv. Wilmington Blue Rocks (82-56 overall; 38-31 in second half)
Kris Bubic finished the MiLB season as the league leader in total strikeouts with 185. Not the Carolina League - all the minor leagues. Bubic capped his fantastic regular season with six shutout innings on Saturday.
While Daniel Lynch probably didn’t picture himself staying behind in Wilmington while the other pitching prospects from the 2018 draft moved up to Double-A, he has made an encouraging comeback from a midseason Injured List stint. On Sunday he came up with six strikeouts in six scoreless innings.
And then there’s Rito Lugo, promoted to the rotation and fitting in nicely:
Rito Lugo owned a 5.08 ERA as a reliever in 17 appearances for the Rocks this season.— Wilmington Blue Rocks (@WilmBlueRocks) September 1, 2019
He got a shot at the rotation & made it count. In 13 starts, he's allowed just 9 earned runs & has pitched to a 1.23 ERA. pic.twitter.com/k0vFdvyTpU
The Blue Rocks have called upon 23-year-old Kyle Kasser to play a mix of second and third base, and left field this season. Kasser is currently riding a 7-game hit streak, during which he is 12-for-27 and has walked twice, but also only struck out twice.
Outfielder Tyler Hill hit in each of his six games this week, piling up nine hits. These included a double and his first triple of the season. Third baseman Dennicher Carrasco slugged .583 this week on the strength of three doubles and a homer in six games.
️ Dennicher Carrasco got EVERY LAST BIT of that baseball. Updates to follow when it lands... pic.twitter.com/MaBGD4pBtN— Wilmington Blue Rocks (@WilmBlueRocks) August 31, 2019
Low-A Lexington Legends (68-69 overall; 31-37 in second half)
The Legends won all but one of their games this week, and a lot of good pitching got them there. On Wednesday, Lexington swept a double header. Carlos Hernandez started game one, and settled in after a sloppy first inning that saw two unearned runs score. No other runs came across in the six innings Hernandez pitched, and he finished with eight strikeouts and three walks.
Righty Charlie Neuweiler pitched the second game, and went all seven innings. He struck out 10 (!) and walked one, and allowed a solo homer but no other runs. The next day, Zach Haake had his strongest start in a while, with eight strikeouts and one walk in five shutout innings. He allowed four hits, all singles.
On Sunday, C.J. Eldred struck out six and walked one in five innings. Two unearned runs scored, but no others.
Four right-handers in the Lexington bullpen have been lights-out lately: Kyle Hinton, Daniel James, Brandon Marklund, and Andres Nunez. Marklund and Nunez addded to the scoreless streaks that were mentioned last week.
Lexington’s bats were led by center fielder John Rave, who had four multi-hit games this week. Those all added up to a 9-for-21 line with a double and a dinger. Right fielder Eric Cole hit two homers and drove in seven in his five games. Utility man Brhet Bewley drew six walks in 19 plate appearances in addition to his five hits. That’s good for a .579 on base percentage.
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Did you go to any Minor League games this week? Who stood out to you? Any wacky ballpark promotions? Anyone going to see any of the lower levels in the playoffs? Wilmington, Lexington, Burlington, Idaho Falls, and one of the Dominican Royals teams are all in them.