clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

TWitM: the Witt and Pratto edition

New, 22 comments

This Week in the Minors: Bobby Witt, Jr. and Nick Pratto fantastic in Triple-A; Melendez named Player of the Week AGAIN; Massey still mashing in QC; great pitching in Columbia

A smiling baseball player (Nick Pratto) is in the foreground in a white jersey top and a blue batting helmet. Teammate Bobby Witt, Jr. is in the background with his back turned and his last name visible on his jersey.
Nick Pratto and Bobby Witt, Jr. waiting on deck together during a pitching chage.
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 Tuesday, July 20 through Sunday, July 25.

AAA Omaha Storm Chasers (42-28)

schedule | roster

Omaha’s week was marred by a series of frustrating losses to the St. Paul Saints (MIN), ultimately going 4 and 2. The previously-dominant bullpen blew late leads on Tuesday (9th inning), Wednesday (7th inning), and Thursday (9th inning). However, the Chasers are still in first place by a 2-game margin and are heading to Toledo to play the 2nd-place Mud Hens tonight.

Of course, the big story this week were the simultaneous promotions of shortstop Bobby Witt, Jr. and first baseman Nick Pratto. Both were great all week with some eye-popping highlights sprinkled in. Pratto went 6-for-22 with two doubles and two homers which included a grand slam. Crucially, he also drew five walks, and struck out just six times.

Witt’s first Triple-A home run stayed in the park, as he took less than 15 seconds to round the bases as rehabbing Twins outfielder Jake Cave couldn’t reach a deep fly ball to center. He also hit one homer of the traditional variety, part of an 11-for-30 (!!) week.

Outfielder Kyle Isbel is playing well lately too, to say the least. He hit in all six games this week to build up a 13-game hit streak. In that stretch, Isbel has batted .415 with six doubles and two homers. He has also drawn 11 walks compared to just six strikeouts, and was 4-for-6 in stolen base attempts.

Jackson Kowar and Marcelo Martinez provided solid starts on Friday and Saturday. Kowar struck out 8 and allowed two runs on three hits. Martinez followed that with five shutout innings and six strikeouts, although he did issue four walks.

AA Northwest Arkansas Naturals (37-34)

schedule | roster

The Naturals played 7 against the Tulsa Drillers (LAD) this week: the regular 6-game series, plus a makeup game from a June rainout date. They went 3-and-4, right in line with the still-compressed division standings. Northwest Arkansas is in 4th place, but still just 3.5 games out, and still a lot of season left.

MJ Melendez slugged .960 this week, thanks to four (!) homers and two doubles among his 10 hits. That gives the catcher a jaw-dropping 23 home runs on the season. Melendez was named the league Player of the Week for the third time in the past four weeks.

First baseman Vinnie Pasquantino was promoted to NWArk, and kept on hitting like he had been at Quad Cities. The left-handed batter went 9-for-28 with a double and two home runs. The first homer came in the resumption of a June 6 rainout on Tuesday, which always complicates box scores because players who were not on the team when the game started can come in and contribute a month and a half later when it resumes. But it happened!

Outfielder Brewer Hicklen knocked out two homers this week, and stole a pair of bases. Clay Dungan has taken over full-time shortstop duties after Witt’s departure, and went 7-for-24 with a homer and four stolen bases during his first week in that role.

Adv-A Quad Cities River Bandits (46-24)

schedule | roster

The River Bandits split the series 3-3 with the Peoria Chiefs (STL), and they are still in first place by 7 games.

The QC middle infield had a solid week at the plate, including three doubles and a homer from second baseman Michael Massey. Clint Scoles posted a conversation with Massey yesterday. At shortstop, Maikel Garcia went 7-for-21 on the week.

LHP A.J. Block struck out 10 in 5.2 innings on Sunday, allowing just one run on two hits, via a solo home run.

Single-A Columbia Fireflies (35-35)

schedule | roster

Columbia had seven games this week, thanks to a makeup of a June 20 rainout. But Tuesday’s game was also rained out, resulting in two double-headers this week. Overall, the Fireflies went 4 and 3 against the Augusta GreenJackets (ATL).

The Fireflies’s chances were bolstered by solid starting pitching 5 days in a row:

  • WEDNESDAY: righty Anderson Paulino struck out 7 and walked just one in 5 shutout innings with two hits allowed.
  • THURSDAY: left-hander Rylan Kaufman set a career high with 8 Ks, and allowed just one run on two hits in 6 innings.
  • FRIDAY: RHP Cruz Noriega allowed one run in a 5-inning no decision, with 7 strikeouts and no walks.
  • SATURDAY: rehabbing lefty Foster Griffin went 4.1 scoreless, with 7 strikeouts, one hit, and one walk. He threw just 49 pitches.
  • SUNDAY: Emilio Marquez also pitched 4.1 shutout innings, with one walk and two hits allowed, and 5 strikeouts by the lefty.

Catcher Kale Emshoff hit in each of his 4 games this week, including 3 doubles and a homer among his 7 total hits. Emshoff now leads current Fireflies players in doubles with 13. Outfielder Burle Dixon hit his first and second homers of the season in one game - and did it in the span of two innings in a 7-inning game.

After missing most of July with an injury, center fielder Diego Hernandez returned to the Columbia lineup, and went 6-for-13 with a pair of doubles.

Tyler Tolbert made the SportsCenter Top 10!

Catcher Kale Emshoff hit in each of his 4 games this week, including 3 doubles and a homer among his 7 total hits. Emshoff now leads current Fireflies players in doubles with 13. Outfielder Burle Dixon hit his first and second homers of the season in one game - and did it in the span of two innings in a 7-inning game.

After missing most of July with an injury, center fielder Diego Hernandez returned to the Columbia lineup, and went 6-for-13 with a pair of doubles.

Right fielder Juan Carlos Negret maintained his tie for the Single-A lead in home runs by hitting #18 this week. He also went against type by drawing 7 walks in 25 PA; he has only walked 35 times all season, compared with 101 strikeouts.

* * * * * * *

Did you go to any minor league games this week? Who stood out to you? Edward Olivares hit the lens hood on my camera with a foul ball, my first close encounter with a batted ball since getting hit in the leg on opening day of 2017. (I also got hit in the hip in 2013, and in the face in 2009.) Have you ever gotten a foul ball - with or without it being a painful experience?