‘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, September 7 through Sunday, September 12.
AAA Omaha Storm Chasers (64-50)
The Chasers split their six-game series at St. Paul (MIN), but lost a step against first-place Toledo (DET), who won five games. With a three game gap heading into the last week of the regular season*, things will have to go a bit wild this week for the Chasers to snare first place back from the Mud Hens.
*there is no “normal” postseason in Triple-A this year. Instead, the 10 extra games that got added to the schedule are a “final stretch” that is supposed to function as a championship of sorts. Individual stats will count toward players’ regular season stats, but the games are treated as postseason games for purposes of team standings. It’s all quite odd.
Bobby Witt Jr. did not hit any singles this week, sticking exclusively to doubles (4) and homers (3). One of the homers stayed inside the park! That, combined with just a pair of walks, makes for a funny looking slash line: .280/.333/.800 with an OPS of 1.133.
Catcher/3B MJ Melendez only had two hits this week, but both were homers, and the second was his MiLB-leading 37th on the season. But in between the hits, Melendez drew an encouraging tally of 7 walks, against just 5 strikeouts.
Ryan McBroom hit his 28th and 29th homer of the season on Friday.
Second baseman Lucius Fox went 5-for-18 with two doubles.
Power reliever Dylan Coleman dominated in two outings, striking out 7 of the 13 batters he faced in 3.2 innings. He allowed just one hit and one walk.
Lefty Marcelo Martinez started Thursday’s game with a season-high 6.2 innings in which he struck out 7 and walked nobody. It was clutch timing for a deeper start, as the team had suffered a bad loss the previous night that necessitated a pitching appearance by catcher Nate Esposito.
Friday saw a good start from the mound as well, with left-hander Foster Griffin threw 4.2 shutout innings with four strikeouts and no walks, and just four hit allowed. All four hits were singles.
Third baseman Gabriel Cancel began a rehab assignment in Arizona, after being on the shelf with an oblique injury since July 9.
AA Northwest Arkansas Naturals (60-53)
The Naturals split a series with the first-place Wichita Wind Surge (MIN).
Right-hander C.J. Eldred was promoted to Double-A earlier this month, and has yet to allow an earned run after three outings totaling 7.1 innings. Fellow righty Jose Cuas added another pair of scoreless appearances, to add 2.1 innings to the shutout streak mentioned last week.
Outfielder Brewer Hicklen hit a pair of home runs this week, including a grand slam in a 14-7 win on Thursday, and this one off the video board.
Ah nbd, Brewer Hicklen (@brewerhicklen) just casually hitting his 16th home run of the year OFF THE VIDEO BOARD— NW Arkansas Naturals (@nwanaturals) September 12, 2021
Brewer's two-run shot in the 3rd inning extends the lead to five runs!
▲ 3 | #NWANaturals 6 Wichita 1
First baseman Vinnie Pasquantino also homered in that game. Pasquantino didn’t put up video game numbers at the plate - one could excuse him for a week of looking mortal - but he did draw 7 walks along with his five total hits to put up a .444 OBP for the week.
Catcher Meibrys Viloria was on base a lot this week. In addition to his 7-for-22 with a double and a homer, Viloria also drew five walks.
Meibrys Viloria puts the Naturals on the board with an oppo !— NW Arkansas Naturals (@nwanaturals) September 12, 2021
It's his 3rd home run with the Naturals and 8th long ball of 2021!
▲ 7 | Wichita 5 #NWANaturals 2
And now let’s enjoy some defense!
ICYMI Last Night…— NW Arkansas Naturals (@nwanaturals) September 8, 2021
Another game, ANOTHER web gem in the #NWANaturals outfield! This time, it’s home run robbery in the 4th inning from Blake Perkins (@theBlakePerkins) ‼️
How does he do this?? pic.twitter.com/Xd7e6WSfgV
Adv-A Quad Cities River Bandits (73-39)
The River Bandits punched their ticket into the postseason on Wednesday thanks to a Cedar Rapids loss, and then snagged the top seed with a win the next day. That will give them home-field advantage in the five-game championship series that starts on the 21st.
Infielder Nick Loftin hit a ton this week, going 11-for-19 with two doubles and four walks. He also stole 3 bases in 3 tries.
He just kept the hits coming. pic.twitter.com/yqgNfAFhtv— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) September 10, 2021
Shortstop Maikel Garcia joined in the hit parade, four XBH among his 8 hits. Garcia stole three bases as well. Second baseman Michael Massey went 7-for-19 with two doubles and a homer.
Left-hander A.J. Block threw five no-hit, shutout innings in his Saturday start, and was subsequently named High-A Central Player of the Week. The start was marred only by a runner reaching on an error, followed by one walk. Patrick Smith allowed one hit, but was otherwise great in two innings. Will Klein finished the shutout with two innings, with four strikeouts. Klein struck out three in his other outing this week to maintain his 15.5 (!) K/9 rate.
Single-A Columbia Fireflies (48-66)
Good news from Sunday for Columbia: a win! Bad news: it was the first one after a losing streak of 11 games.
Left fielder Darryl Collins went 5-for-17 with a double and a homer, his 5th of the season. First baseman Saul Garza doubled twice among six hits this week, bringing his season total to 15 doubles - 13 with Columbia.
22-year-old lefty Chih-Ting Wang added another scoreless inning this week to a little streak he’s got going. In 4 outings totaling 8.2 innings, he has 8 strikeouts and no runs allowed on six hits - all singles - and three walks.
Right-hander Anthony Simonelli made two appearances this week, each three innings long. In the first, he dealt out 8 strikeouts and allowed one run on two hits. In the second, he was perfect for all three innings and needed just 30 pitches to dispatch all 9 batters faced.
Luinder Avila was saddled with a loss on Thursday, but pitched well. In five innings, the 20-year-old righty allowed just one unearned runs on two hits in five innings.
Did you go to any minor league games this week? Who stood out to you? With the season winding down soon, how do you feel about the “reorganized” MiLB and the new Royals affiliates?