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Daniel Mengden is Omaha’s Mr. Reliable

This Week in the Minors: steady starts and dominant relief in Omaha, and hopeful pitching performances at all levels.

Upper body photo of a baseball pitcher in a white uniform and blue cap, with a neatly twirled mustache, rearing back to throw a pitch.
RHP Daniel Mengden pitched his third consecutive six-inning start for the Omaha Storm Chasers.
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?”

This Week in the Minors: Tuesday, May 31 to Sunday, June 5.

AAA Omaha Storm Chasers (27-25)

schedule | roster

A rainout shortened Omaha’s home series against the Indianapolis Indians (PIT), but the Storm Chasers took three of five games.

Right-hander Daniel Mengden pitched his third consecutive six-inning start. He surrendered a solo homer, but no other runs, and struck out seven. Jackson Kowar also struck out seven in his start, and managed to hold Indy to one run despite five walks and four hits. He would have had the opportunity to face them again (plus Pirates prospect Oneil Cruz, who missed a few games with an ankle issue) if not for Sunday’s rainout.

A couple of streaking relievers:

  • Brad Peacock is still at it, adding three more shutout appearances to his scoreless streak that goes back 15 games, all the way back to April 26.
  • LHP Foster Griffin returned from the Majors and jumped back in to the scoreless streak he had cooking for the Chasers before. His shutout total is now up to 9 13 innings in seven games.
  • Righty Colten Brewer pitched twice this series, giving him a 6-game shutout streak
  • RHP Andrés Núñez was called upon twice, and now has a five-game stretch of scoreless appearances.

At the plate, there weren’t any Chasers who lit the world on fire with their bats. Vinnie Pasquantino only had two hits in 18 at bats, but one of them was a homer. He only struck out once, and drew one walk. Nick Pratto also only hit twice, with a homer and a single. He struck out 8 times and walked twice.

Outfielder Nate Eaton played every day, and hit two homers in his first Werner Park series.

AA Northwest Arkansas Naturals (24-26)

schedule | roster

The Naturals hosted the Corpus Christi Hooks (HOU), and lost four of the six matchups. Moving up from 4th place in the Texas League North standings isn’t out of the question, and a strong series against second-place Tulsa this week would go a long way to that end.

Second baseman Michael Massey was named Texas League player of the week after this column went up last week. Massey went on to go 7-for-24 this time around, with two steals. Uncharacteristically for “Mashey,” none of this week’s hits went for extra bases.

Seuly Matias hit two dingers, the second being a walkoff:

Lefty Dante Biasi returned to the rotation after a few weeks pitching in relief, and pitched five shutout innings on Thursday. That’s tied for the longest outing of his pro career, which began after he was drafted in the 6th round in 2019 out of Penn State.

A pair of Naturals lefties racked up 10 strikeouts apiece on Friday and Saturday. Anthony Veneziano went five innings, allowing one run on three hits. Ángel Zerpa followed with five innings the next day, with three earned runs and five hits given up.

Left-hander Drew Parrish was named Texas League pitcher of the month for May, and was promoted to Omaha. He has not debuted there yet, but I would anticipate that tonight or tomorrow.

Adv-A Quad Cities River Bandits (19-32)

schedule | roster

With a win on Sunday, Quad Cities avoided a six-game sweep against the Beloit Sky Carp (MIA). The River Bandits are in last place in the Midwest League West division, and 14 games out of first place.

In his second start at this level, right-hander Eric Cerantola pitched 3 23 innings with no earned runs allowed, four hits, four strikeouts, and two walks. One unearned run scored on a passed ball by catcher Kale Emshoff.

The next inning, Emshoff made up for that misstep by hitting a two-run homer, his 7th of the season. Emshoff, 24, had three consecutive 2-hit games this week.

Center fielder Diego Hernandez had a great week at the plate, going 9-for-20 with a double and two triples. He also drew five walks and stole four bases. With 18 steals, Hernandez trails only shortstop Tyler Tolbert on the team leaderboard. Tolbert stole three more bags this week to bring his season total to 26, tied for the league lead, and also hit his first homer of the season.

Single-A Columbia Fireflies (14-37)

schedule | roster

Oooof. No other way to describe getting swept in a six-game series. The sweep at the hands of the Salem Red Sox (BOS, obviously) keeps Columbia’s win total at a league-worst 14.

Righty Ben Kudrna pitched three shutout innings on Friday. He struck out two and allowed two singles, but also walked four and hit a batter.

Lefty Frank Mozzicato pitched the next day, and was perfect through three innings. With one out in the 4th, he walked two batters and was pulled. Both those runners scored, so Mozzicato’s line ends up marred by two earned runs despite no hits surrendered. He struck out a season-high five batters.

Marlin Willis turned 24 on Sunday, and pitched his second scoreless relief inning of the week on that day.

At the plate, outfielder River Town went 7-for-24 with four doubles. He has now tied Darryl Collins for the team lead with 12 doubles on the season. For context, the league leader in that category has 15.

Second baseman Omar Florentino might be finding some rhythm at the plate following a slow first ten games. This week, he went 4-for-10 with his first double and triple of the season, plus two stolen bases.

Utilityman Rubendy Jaquez tripled in back-to-back games to close out the week.

Up for discussion: Daniel Mengden’s mustache. Scroll back up and just, look at it. He has committed to it for so many years now! Thank you for your attention in this serious matter.

In all seriousness: did you catch any games this week? If you can’t go to games, have you ever used