‘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, June 8 through Sunday, June 13.
AAA Omaha Storm Chasers (25-10)
Omaha is still a force of nature and a first place team, after a 4-2 series at St. Paul (MIN).
The only way I can think to describe this offense is that Ryan McBroom went 11-for-26 with 4 (!) home runs and 8 runs driven in, and he was not named the league player of the week, because he was not even the hottest of hitters named Ryan on his own team.
Ryan O’Hearn was named the Triple-A East player of the week following his .429/.478/1.190 line that included 5 (!!) home runs and 9 RBI. He also struck out only four times in all of that. (Old friend Frank Schwindel won POTW honors in the Triple-A West.)
Two pieces from Omaha’s middle infield are riding hit streaks right now: Alcides Escobar has hit in 7 straight games, and Angelo Castellano is up to 8 in his streak.
The Cincinnati Reds announced that our old friend Mike Moustakas will go out on a rehab assignment with Louisville. Where’s Louisville playing a series, starting tonight? Omaha!
AA Northwest Arkansas Naturals (16-17)
The Naturals still find themselves chasing .500 despite having so much talent on their roster, and split this week’s series at Frisco (TEX).
The league leaderboard in home runs is dominated by Naturals, with Nick Pratto, Bobby Witt, Jr. and MJ Melendez each up there. Pratto’s 11 lead the league outright - he hit two more this week - and the other two have 10* dingers, good for a 4-way tie for 2nd.
*Witt...well, he hit two over the fence this week, but one was controversially called back and reduced to a mere triple.
The @OMAStormChasers & @nwanaturals are the ONLY TEAMS in @MiLB to have THREE PLAYERS with 10+ homers. No other team even has more than one!— Jake Eisenberg (@JakeEisenberg_) June 14, 2021
Ryan McBroom - 12
Gabriel Cancel -10
Ryan O'Hearn - 10
Nick Pratto - 11
MJ Melendez - 10
Bobby Witt, Jr. - 10
Melendez only had three hits this week, but each of them was a dinger. He struck out 9 times, with only a pair of walks in addition to the dingers. #ThreeTrueOutcomes
Stop us if you’re heard this before, but the #NWANaturals go back-to-back— NW Arkansas Naturals (@nwanaturals) June 14, 2021
Just two pitches after Pratto goes deep, MJ Melendez hits his 10th homer of the season to left! The 6th time the Naturals have gone back-to-back this year!
6-4 in the 7th@mjmelendez7 @RoyalsPD pic.twitter.com/lFJXNNBi4m
Second baseman Clay Dungan went 7-for-19 with a home run and two doubles.
Adv-A Quad Cities River Bandits (22-13)
The River Bandits split a series with the Peoria (fire!) Chiefs (STL) this week and remain in first place. First baseman Vinnie Pasquantino had hits in each of the games, finishing with a 9-for-27 line that included three doubles and a home run. His 11 homers leads the league.
Pasquantino also confirmed on Twitter that he is a Dog Person.
I’m hoping office dog also means locker room dog https://t.co/cgfGmsujtI— Vinnie Pasquantino (@VPasquantino) June 14, 2021
Third baseman Jimmy Govern bunched a trio of multi-hit games in the middle of the series to tally 8 total hits on the week. Govern has hardly struck out this year, with just 18 in 102 plate appearances - among the best in the league.
Illinois native Michael Massey drove in seven runs and homered twice this week as part of an 8-for-23 attack. The 23-year-old second baseman was a 4th round draft choice in 2019.
Left-hander Anthony Veneziano pitched his best game of the season on Sunday, with six strikeouts in five scoreless innings.
Anthony Veneziano just missed our top 50 this preseason. Mostly because of some questions about the control and I don’t think I realized how good his fastball was. He’s now got 32 K in 23.1 IP for QC this year. I think there’s a big league reliever in here.— Royals Farm Report (@RoyalsFarm) June 13, 2021
Here’s K #1 today. pic.twitter.com/Rtx9GtDTGx
Last summer’s top Royals draft pick, Asa Lacy, struck out a season-high 9 batters in his start on Friday. He did give up four runs (all earned) though, including a pair of homers, and was tagged with the loss.
Single-A Columbia Fireflies (19-14)
Rain was once again a problem for the Fireflies. Saturday’s game at the Charleston RiverDogs (TB) was suspended in the bottom of the 2nd, with the hopes of making it up Sunday. But more rain and wet grounds meant no baseball Sunday, so the 6-game series was truncated to 4. Charleston moved into first over Columbia.
The best performance of the shortened week was by RHP Cruz Noriega, who pitched four shutout innings and picked up the W in the team’s lone victory. Noriega tied a season high with 6 strikeouts, and walked just one while giving up three hits. It was also his first scoreless outing of any length this year.
Two relievers got the chance to add to some 0-run streaks. Righty Nathan Webb, from Lee’s Summit, contributed a scoreless frame to bring his streak to 11 since his last run allowed. In those innings, Webb has piled up 20 Ks, walked 5, and allowed just 4 hits.
Lefty Emilio Marquez has a streak of no-run outings that is now up to 13 innings, during which he has struck out 21 and walked only one. He has given up 7 hits, but only one went for extra bases.
* * * * * * *
Did you go to any minor league games this week? Who stood out to you? Did you get any cool giveaway items or meet any mascots?