‘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?”
This Week in the Minors: Tuesday, June 21 to Sunday, June 26.
AAA Omaha Storm Chasers (31-33)
Thanks to a wild win on Sunday, the Storm Chasers pulled out a series split against a really good Columbus Clippers (CLE) team.
Second baseman Michael Massey piled up 11 hits in the series, including five doubles and a homer. Oddly, he did not draw any walks, but he only struck out four times so clearly he was seeing pitches he could put into play all week.
Can’t express how impressed I’ve been with Michael Massey. Knew he was the real deal last year. Just an impressive all around game. Gold glove defense with an exceptional hit tool and power that has been better than advertised by most. #TogetherRoyal pic.twitter.com/KdHDkde5ns— Jared Perkins (@JaredCP1) June 24, 2022
Outfielder Nate Eaton also finished the series with double-digit hits, going 10-for-24 with three doubles. In 26 games since being promoted to Omaha, Eaton is slashing .316/.383/.579.
Nick “Party P” Pratto went 8-for-23, plus six walks and one pitch that hit him. He did strike out 10 times, but still finished the week with a .500 OBP so I don’t know how worried to be about the Ks.
In what was ideally his final series at Triple-A, Vinnie Pasquantino homered and doubled as part of a 7-for-23 performance. He drew three walks and struck out only once.
The best start of the week came from lefty Austin Cox, who held the Clippers scoreless for 6 2⁄3 innings, allowing just two singles and one walk. He struck out six, which tied a season high, and left the game with a pitch count of exactly 100.
Austin Cox has been a beast lately, including last night, going 6.2IP, 0ER, 2H, 3BB, 6SO including this painted FB to Will Benson, currently walking 17.8% of the time.— Josh Keiser (@joshkeiser40) June 24, 2022
In his last start before his callup, Jackson Kowar was solid in five innings on Tuesday. He gave up a leadoff home run, then settled in, only allowing one other hit after that. He struck out eight and walked four, but was saddled with the ‘L’ as the bats were on the quiet side that night.
Streak watch! Brad Peacock’s shutout streak ended with an even 20.0 innings. Pour one out for the Peacock streak(ock)! The longest scoreless streak now belongs to Andrés Núñez, who piled up 4.2 IP to bring his total to 14.2. Colten Brewer added 2.1 to get his streak up to 12.2 innings in 13 appearances.
Righty Zach Willeman and lefty Josh Dye each pitched thrice this week, and neither gave up a run.
AA Northwest Arkansas Naturals (31-37)
Northwest Arkansas hosted the Springfield Cardinals (STL) and unfortunately lost all six contests. The timing for the first half/second half split is a little different at Double-A than the two levels below; the second half begins today.
Righty Jonah Dipoto was solid out of the bullpen, piling up 4.2 shutout innings in two appearances. On the season, Dipoto has a 1.95 ERA in 21 games. He has pitched about the same amount for Double-A as he did for Quad Cities last year, and a lot of his stats are remarkably similar. He has walked slightly more batters this year, but has also struck out more.
First baseman Robbie Glendinning led the Naturals’ bats this week with 10 hits, including two homers and a double.
Have yourself a week mate! @robglen2 drills a home run to left field, his 2nd of the week and 8th of the season! Three straight multi-hit games for Robbie as well!— Northwest Arkansas Naturals (@nwanaturals) June 26, 2022
▼ 6 | Cardinals 7 #NWANaturals 2
Nick Loftin, who had converted to center field from the middle infield this spring, has mixed in some time at second base since Massey’s departure. Loftin went 7-for-22 this week with two doubles and a stolen base.
Adv-A Quad Cities River Bandits (26-43 overall; 0-3 in second half)
The River Bandits went 1-5 this week at the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers (MIL) and are now 0-3 in the young second half.
A couple of hit streaks to highlight here and hopefully not jinx:
- Center fielder Diego Hernandez, 21, has hit in nine straight games, and is making tons of contact. He has 11 hits in that span, but only two walks. His BABIP during the streak is .357, which is actually lower than his season BABIP of .379.
- Catcher Kale Emshoff has nine hits in an eight-game streak, including two home runs and three doubles. He was intentionally walked once, drew six regular walks, and was hit by three pitches.
Hey kids, keep eating your greens and you can hit dingers off of Major League aces too!— Quad Cities River Bandits (@QCRiverBandits) June 24, 2022
We recommend lots of Kale. #Unsinkable pic.twitter.com/zAwtlnECSR
Infielder Morgan McCullough went 5-for-16 this week, plus four walks, for a nice .450 OBP. Left fielder Burle Dixon doubled twice among his seven hits this week, and stole two bases.
Left-hander Rylan Kaufman worked around five walks to come up with five scoreless innings on Wednesday. It was the third five-inning start in a row for Kaufman, who turned 23 the following day.
Encouraging performance from Zach Haake as he works his way back from injury: on Thursday, Haake threw three no-hit innings, allowing no runs with one walk and one strikeout.
Single-A Columbia Fireflies (20-49 overall; 2-1 in second half)
Columbia won twice this week at Charleston (TBR), starting the second half in a better position than their overall record suggests.
Catcher Carter Jensen, whose 19th birthday is this coming Sunday, got his season on base percentage up over .300 with the help of five hits and six walks this week. Three of the hits were doubles, and Jensen also stole a base.
Saturday’s starter and winning pitcher was righty Luinder Avila. Avila pitched six efficient innings, throwing 88 pitches to wind up with four strikeouts and one walk, and one earned run allowed on three hits.
The team wound up losing a heartbreaker in the 9th on Thursday, but right-hander Ben Hernandez gave them a great chance with his start. Hernandez pitched a season-high five innings, allowing zero runs on six hits, with seven strikeouts and no walks. He did hit a batter, for the second time all season.
Ben Hernandez pitched a great game last night for @ColaFireflies. 5.0IP, 0ER, 6H, 0BB, 7K.— Josh Keiser (@joshkeiser40) June 24, 2022
Got into trouble almost every inning but got out of each without giving up a run, including this high cheddar K. Good to see from the 20 year old rightie.
Righty Ben Kudrna got roughed up on Tuesday, but the six-game schedule format gave him the opportunity to correct course against the same team and six of the same batters. He was wild on Tuesday, with a first inning that included three walks and three wild pitches. So Sunday’s four shutout innings were huge.
Reliever Delvin Capellan is on a shutout streak. The righty has piled up 8.1 innings over his last five outings, with nine strikeouts but five walks and seven hits allowed.
Up for discussion: With Pasquantino up, what is Pratto’s best path to the Majors? Do you anticipate any other promotions within the farm system this week? How do you feel about the half-season format coming back to the lower levels?