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TWitM: Melendez hits 30 while Witt joins 20-20 club

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This Week in the Minors; MJ Melendez hits homers #29 and #30 following promotion to Omaha; Bobby Witt, Jr. hits a 20/20 milestone; Pasquantino raking in NWArk; grand slams galore in Columbia

MJ Melendez celebrates the home run he hit in his Triple-A debut on Wednesday, August 11.
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, August 10 through Sunday, August 15.

AAA Omaha Storm Chasers (49-39)

schedule | roster

Omaha had a rough week against the Iowa Cubs (CHC), with just two wins to show for their week against an opponent that has spent 2021 flirting with last place. The Chasers even briefly dropped out of the first place position they had held since late May, but as of press time they regained a 0.5 game division lead.

None of the Chasers hitters lit the world on fire, per se. But a few hit some cool milestones and kept up on league-leading numbers.

First and foremost, catcher MJ Melendez was promoted and homered twice in his first five games at Triple-A. That brings his season total to 30 between Double-A and now, tied for the lead in all of Minor League Baseball.

Ryan McBroom played left field this week after spending the previous couple getting some reps in right. He has had to move around to make way for Nick Pratto at first base, but the new positions aren’t really slowing down McBroom’s bat. He went 7-for-22 this week with a pair of doubles and a homer. His 22 homers has him tied for first place in Triple-A East.

Shortstop Bobby Witt, Jr. stole his 20th base to give himself the distinction of being the first player in the Royals org with 20+ homers and 20 steals since Alex Gordon did it at Double-A Wichita in 2006. By the by, there is nothing to Witt’s being pulled from Sunday night’s game early. He just hadn’t had any time off since before his July 20 promotion.

In three rehab appearances, Kyle Zimmer allowed just one hit and two walks. His outing on Sunday was two perfect innings.

AA Northwest Arkansas Naturals (47-42)

schedule | roster

The Naturals won three out of five against the Frisco RoughRiders (TEX) after a COVID-19 situation on the Frisco roster wiped out the first game of the series. Northwest Arkansas only has two series against any of the teams ahead of them - just one series remaining against each of Tulsa and Wichita - so expect to do a lot of scoreboard-watching to follow the Naturals’ fates as they try to catch up from a 4.5 game deficit.

First baseman Vinnie Pasquantino homered once and doubled five times in a 9-for-16 week at the plate. Since being promoted to Double-A on July 20, Pasquantino is slashing .344/.413/.589.

Outfielder Dairon Blanco has a 7-game hit streak going, with hits in all games this week and in the last two of last week’s series.

The team played a doubleheader of 7-inning games on Saturday, and righty Jon Heasley took care of the entirety of one of them. Heasley tossed 7 shutout innings, with 5 strikeouts, zero walks, and five singles allowed.

Lefty Daniel Tillo has been effective out of the ‘pen lately, with four consecutive shutout outings totaling 4.2 innings.

Adv-A Quad Cities River Bandits (59-29)

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The River Bandits won 5 of 6 against the Beloit Snappers (MIA), to keep their comfortable division lead of 11 games.

Shortstop Maikel Garcia went 8-for-20 this week, plus 4 walks. Second baseman Michael Massey picked up 3 doubles among his 7 hits, bringing his season total of doubles to a team-leading 23.

Outfielder Tucker Bradley had never hit more than one homer in a single week, til now. The 23-year-old homered twice and also doubled twice.

The River Bandits finished their week with a walkoff win on a Beloit wild pitch.

Single-A Columbia Fireflies (42-47)

schedule | roster

Columbia finished off a 2-week homestand with a 4-2 series against the Fayetteville Woodpeckers (HOU). The first game of the series was a massive win, with a 21-run barrage highlighted by grand slams in back-to-back innings from catcher Kale Emshoff and utilityman Tyler Tolbert.

Tolbert went 6-for-19 on the week, and drew six walks, and stole three bases.

First baseman Saul Garza spent a lot of time on base this week, with a combination of hits (6 of those), walks (3), and getting plunked (3). That all adds up to a .545 OBP.

Elsewhere OBPs over .500, left fielder Darryl Collins drew 8 (!) walks this week to go along with 4 hits in 16 ABs. He also got hit by a pitch ones.


Did you go to any minor league games this week? Who stood out to you?