‘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 Tuesday, May 18 through Sunday, May 23.
AAA Omaha Storm Chasers (10-7)
The Chasers played at Iowa this week, with one game washed out by rain. Regardless of the weather, outfielder Edward Olivares hit like a man on a mission, going 11-for-21 with three walks and just one strikeout. He also stole two bases and hit a pair of dingers.
Here’s where @OMAStormChasers OF Edward Olivares ranks among Triple-A East league leaders through three weeks:— Jake Eisenberg (@JakeEisenberg_) May 24, 2021
80 PA | 6th
.406 AVG | 3rd
.488 OBP | 3rd
.696 SLG | 5th
.506 wOBA | 2nd
216 wRC+ | 2nd
18 R | 1st
28 H | 2nd
5 HR | T-8th
16 RBI | T-3rd
1.00 BB/K | T-8th
6 SB | T-5th
Catcher Sebastian Rivero hit the ground running for Omaha after his brief time in the Majors. In three games with the Chasers, Rivero went 5-for-12 with two homers and a triple.
In rehab appearances, Hunter Dozier hit two doubles and a single in two games, and struck out twice; and Adalberto Mondesí went 3-for-14 with five strikeouts.
Out of the bullpen, a trio of relievers kept their perfect ERAs intact: lefty Gabe Speier, and right-handers Eddie Butler and Mike Shawaryn.
Jackson Kowar was lights-out in his game on Saturday, giving up one run on four hits in six innings. He struck out a career-high 10 batters and walked one.
This is objectively filthy. pic.twitter.com/5RmoUxy6gt— Royals Farm Report (@RoyalsFarm) May 23, 2021
The Chasers lost their first-place position in their division to Indianapolis (PIT), who happens to be Omaha’s next opponent. Indy will visit Omaha for a six-game set starting tonight.
AA Northwest Arkansas Naturals (9-7)
The Naturals also had rough luck with the weather at Springfield (STL affiliate). Wednesday’s game was suspended, and completed on Friday; Thursday’s game was postponed until the end of June.
But the week was a good one for lots of Naturals hitters. First baseman Nick Pratto hit three home runs in one game, for example.
Those Nick Pratto swing changes we talked about in spring training?— Baseball America (@BaseballAmerica) May 24, 2021
They seem to have stuck.
He’s hitting .286/.440/.679 with six homers and makes this week’s sheet:https://t.co/QTQeamNVTi
Catcher MJ Melendez homered thrice this week, part of a 9-for-19 onslaught that landed him and Pratto on the MLB Pipeline prospect team of the week. Both Pratto and Melendez drew six walks, and the duo leads the team in that category.
Also getting hot at the plate this week was Bobby Witt, Jr. Among his 8 hits in 5 games were a pair of homers and a double. He did strike out seven times, against two walks.
Outfielder Rudy Martin has hit well all season, and this week he hit in every game, extending a hit streak to eight games. He also made this fantastic catch:
Second baseman Clay Dungan stole three bases and collected six hits in his four games.
Last week, I outlined Alec Marsh’s outstanding first couple of starts. Marsh picked up another W this week, but it was a more gutty affair, with 9 Cardinals hits and 2 runs scattered among 7 strikeouts.
Two relievers had shutout weeks: left-hander Josh Dye picked up saves in both of his scoreless appearances, and righty Carlos Sanabria shut ‘em out for a total of 3 1⁄3 innings in his two games, with five strikeouts.
Good news: Jonathan Bowlan was named to the USA Baseball’s 28-man training camp roster. Then he needed just seven pitches to notch his first two strikeouts in Sunday’s game.
Bad news: those seven pitches were all the threw, before he signaled for the trainers and left the game.
Adv-A Quad Cities River Bandits (13-4)
The River Bandits took five out of six games from the Peoria Chiefs (STL), and they remain in the first place position they picked up last week.
Lefty Angel Zerpa flashed some brilliance in his start on Saturday, with 9 strikeouts in five shutout innings. He allowed just two hits, both doubles. 2020 first-rounder Asa Lacy also threw five shutout innings, with six Ks and two walks, and three hits allowed. Rounding out a trio of River Bandits who threw five blank frames was righty Grant Gambrell, a third-round draftee from Oregon State in 2019.
Drew Parrish threw four innings in his start Sunday, but they were dominant. Perfect, in fact. He struck out 9, walked nobody, allowed no hits, and allowed no other kinds of baserunners.
The QC bullpen also got in on the “piling p strikeouts” trend. Dante Biasi struck out 7 in 4 1⁄3 innings with just one hit and one walk allowed; Zach Haake pitched 4 innings with 6 Ks, but also weathered four walks and two hits on the way to his shutout performance.
Righty relievers Jonah Dipoto and Adam Lukas each kept the Chiefs scoreless in a pair of appearances.
Left fielder Tucker Bradley was promoted from Columbia, and went 4-for-12 in his first action at the new level. Center fielder Eric Cole hit his second dinger, and first triple, of the season this week. Right fielder Tyler Gentry hit 7 times in 15 ABs, including three doubles and a homer.
Some injury news: OF Seuly Matias broke a finger and is on the 7-day IL.
Single-A Columbia Fireflies (11-7)
The first place Fireflies took 5 of 6 from the Kannapolis Cannon Ballers (White Sox affiliate). That one game was just Kannapolis’s second win of the year.
Like their Advanced-A counterparts, the Fireflies pitchers spent the week amassing tons of strikeouts. LHP Emilio Marquez fanned 9 in four innings, allowing just one hit, no runs, and no walks. Righty Adrian Alcantara struck out 8 in just three innings of relief, allowing just an unearned run, two hits, and a walk.
In two games, A.J. Block struck out a total of 10 while walking just one, in eight innings. And in his two appearances, Matt Stil induced 12 (!) Ks in 7 innings, but walked five.
Relievers Nathan Webb and Patrick Smith each contributed two shutout appearances this week.
97 on the black from Lee’s Summit North grad Nate Webb. pic.twitter.com/icKzakLEKE— Royals Farm Report (@RoyalsFarm) May 21, 2021
LF Darryl Collins went 8-for-21 with 6 runs driven in and 5 walks drawn. Also piling up 8 hits in 5 games was shortstop Maikel Garcia, whose bevy of hits included three doubles.
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Did you go to any minor league games this week? Who stood out to you? What was the biggest change for you in the ballpark experience since the Before Times?