‘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 24 through Sunday, August 29.
AAA Omaha Storm Chasers (57-44)
The Storm Chasers are frantically trying to keep pace with the first-place Toledo Mud Hens (DET), so they needed each of their six wins in seven games at the Iowa Cubs. Starting tonight, the Mud Hens will come to Omaha, and the Chasers will need to keep playing well to make up the 2-game deficit. Toledo will bring top prospects Spencer Torkelson, Riley Greene, and Ryan Kreidler to match Omaha’s prospect-laden roster. In other words - if you find yourself in Omaha this week, come to Werner Park. It should be a heck of a series.
It was tough to decide which batters to feature here, so it will simply be: a lot of them!
Kyle Isbel went 8-for-22 with a pair of homers, a double, and a triple. Bobby Witt, Jr. drove in 9 runs thanks to 3 home runs and 3 doubles.
Kyle Isbel with the @OMAStormChasers:— Jake Eisenberg (@JakeEisenberg_) August 27, 2021
First 45 games (5/4-6/30):
.228/.322/.361, 5 2B, 5 HR,
16 RBIs, 48 K/12 BB
Last 45 games (7/1-pres.):
.297/.398/.475, 11 2B, 5 HR,
27 RBIs, 32 K/24 BB pic.twitter.com/meUchnBxJH
Nick Pratto made a splash by continuing his nearly a homer-a-day pace, but he did strike out 16 (!) times this week, while drawing three walks.
However, I would like to draw attention to this sequence when Pratto thought he had a homer, but it was called foul. He argued for a moment, and manager Brian Poldberg argued, and then Pratto stepped back in the box and hit a(nother?) homer a couple pitches later. It is one of the coldest things I’ve ever seen.
Alright. Here’s how we got to Nick Pratto’s 27th HR:— Royals Farm Report (@RoyalsFarm) August 27, 2021
- 1st he hits a baseball 500 feet foul and isn’t thrilled with the call. Lol at the fielders reactions.
- Then buddy tries to quick pitch him and falls down.
- Finally Pratto hits another ball 500 but fair this time. pic.twitter.com/Kn7aCDQVXm
MJ Melendez missed hitting for the cycle on Friday, because he hit an extra homer in his final at bat, instead of the double he was missing.
Outfielder Rudy Martin hit a triple this week, which was surprisingly a first for the season given his athleticism. Matin also hit two homers. In his second week at Triple-A, left fielder Dairon Blanco went 5-for-20 with two doubles. While he was on base, he swiped five bases.
In what should be nearing the end of his rehab assignment, Adalberto Mondesí homered twice as part of a 7-for-17 overall line. He also stole 3 bases in 4 attempts.
Before moving on to pitchers, here’s some Bob Witt, Jr. defense:
Homers get the headlines, but the defense is just as impressive. So smooth.— Jake Eisenberg (@JakeEisenberg_) August 30, 2021
Check out this play Bobby Witt Jr. made yesterday (playing 3B w/ Adalberto Mondesi at SS) to keep the game tied in extras.
Oh, and he then drove in the go-ahead run in the 11th with a sacrifice fly. pic.twitter.com/wyFJ939TgD
Omaha was bolstered by a couple of solid starts on the mound. Foster Griffin continued his Tommy John comeback with four innings on Tuesday, with just one unearned run allowed. Jakob Junis followed that the next day with 4.1 one-hit, shutout innings. Junis struck out four and walked two. Lefty Marcelo Martinez capped off the week with six shutout innings with six strikeouts.
AA Northwest Arkansas Naturals (53-48)
The Naturals beat up on the Springfield Cardinals (STL) for four wins out of six games.
Vinnie Pasquantino went ham once again, piling up 11 hits, including 3 doubles and 2 homers. His OPS for the week is 1.518. In 37 games since being promoted, the first baseman has maintained a .360/.433/.625 slash line.
The scoreless tie is broken! Vinnie Pasquantino doubles home Jeison Guzmán and gives the Naturals the lead!— NW Arkansas Naturals (@nwanaturals) August 29, 2021
It’s @VPasquantino’s @MiLB-best 35th double of season!
▼ 6 | #NWANaturals 1 Springfield 0
Left fielder Brewer Hicklen smacked 3 homers this week, including two in Tuesday’s game alone. Shortstop Clay Dungan went 7-for-23, with a pair of multi-hit games.
At this point, we’re not even surprised anymore. But WOW— NW Arkansas Naturals (@nwanaturals) August 29, 2021
Here’s @brewerhicklen’s weekly diving catch ‼️
Brewer HAS TO be #SCTop10 bound again, right!? @ESPNAssignDesk @SportsCenter #Top10 #ESPN
▲ 4 | Springfield 4 #NWANaturals 0
Lefty Drew Parrish struck out 7 in 7 shutout innings. He walked nobody, and allowed just two. It was a complete game, on account of being the front half of a doubleheader. The performance earned him division pitcher of the week honors - and Pasquantino got the hitter of the week award.
RHP Jon Heasley struck out 8 in four innings on Wednesday, with no walks and one run allowed on five hits. Fellow righty Nolan Watson shut Springfield out in 4.2 innings, with two strikeouts and two walks. That’s the longest outing of the season for the former first-rounder.
Lefty Garrett Davila made his Double-A debut with an inning and a third with just one hit allowed, and one strikeout.
One more highlight: catcher Meibrys Viloria, who - I cannot stress this enough - is a catcher, managed a little league homer on Friday.
(•_•)— NW Arkansas Naturals (@nwanaturals) August 28, 2021
( (> LEAGUE
<) )> HOMER
Meibrys Viloria drives in Vinnie Pasquantino and comes around to score himself!
▼ 6 | #NWANaturals 4 Springfield 0
Adv-A Quad Cities River Bandits (67-33)
The River Bandits hosted the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers (MIL) and won four games. Quad Cities holds first place by a dozen games now.
Lefty Anthony Veneziano produced another strong start, throwing the first five innings of a shutout win on Saturday. Veneziano struck out four and allowed two hits. The shutout was finished with 2.2 innings from Patrick Smith and 1.1 innings from Nathan Webb.
Outfielder/DH Tucker Bradley drew EIGHT WALKS in 23 plate appearances, in addition to seven hits. That’s good for an OBP of .696 (!) on the week, and Bradley stole three bases since he spent so much time on them. First baseman Gavin Stupienski also had a video-game OBP this week, courtesy of 4 walks and 5 hits in 17 PA, a .529 OBP.
Single-A Columbia Fireflies (47-55)
The Fireflies had a tough go this week, dropping four of their six games to the Myrtle Beach Pelicans (CHC). Tonight they start a home series against the runaway first-place Charleston RiverDogs (TBR).
Broadcaster John Kocsis Jr. is doing a thread this month of Fireflies season highlights to count down the remainder of the season. Follow along!
It's hard to believe there are only 25 days left in the 2021 Minor League campaign. This one hit differently after losing out on 2020. I'm going to use this thread during the next few weeks to countdown 25 @ColaFireflies memories from this season. Enjoy! (1/26)— John Kocsis Jr. (@JKocsis8) August 25, 2021
Third baseman Gage Hughes hit his first triple of the season this week, part of a 6-for-16 effort. Hughes also stole a pair of bases, numbers five and six on the season. Catcher Kale Emshoff made it to double digit homers for the season, hitting dinger #10 on Sunday.
Center fielder Diego Hernandez hit home run #1 on Friday, part of a 5-0 Fireflies win. Columbia’s starting pitcher that day was Adrian Alcantara, who threw 6 shutout innings with 5 strikeouts, no walks, and just 3 hits allowed.
Did you go to any minor league games this week? Who stood out to you?