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Drew Waters doing everything right for Omaha

This Week in the Minors: Drew Waters hitting every ball and stealing every base; Tolbert still perfect at steals, and more.

In a baseball dugout with blue walls, a player in a black jersey and white pants leans against a bat rack with his arms crossed. Other people are in the frame with their backs turned.
Drew Waters in the Omaha Storm Chasers dugout.
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?”

Teams only played two to three games after the All-Star Break, so there was no column at this time last week.

This Week+ in the Minors: Friday, July 22 to Sunday, July 31.

AAA Omaha Storm Chasers (49-49)

schedule | roster

The Storm Chasers hosted the Iowa Cubs for what was supposed to be a four-game series, but the last one was postponed. After that, they hit the road for a six-gamer against the Syracuse Mets, which they split 3-3.

Center fielder Drew Waters stole the show on offense, with a 9-game stretch that included 11 total hits, two doubles, four homers, nine walks, and seven stolen bases.

And a defensive highlight too:

Second baseman Michael Massey went 9-for-34 with five doubles and a homer, plus five walks, in his nine games. Outfielder Brewer Hicklen also had nine hits in nine games, including three homers.

Righty Daniel Mengden had a good start on Saturday, with just one unearned run coming in in six innings. He struck out five and walked three.

The shutout streak by reliever Ándres Núñez ended on Sunday when one run scored against him on Saturday. The two longest shutout streaks in the Omaha bullpen now belong to lefty Sam Freeman (six games, 6 13 innings) and right-hander Collin Snider (five games, 5 23 innings).

AA Northwest Arkansas Naturals (40-55 overall; 9-18 in second half)

schedule | roster

The Naturals got swept in a 3-game home series against the Springfield Cardinals (STL), then won two of six as guests of the Wichita Wind Surge (MIN).

For the second start in a row, left-hander Dante Biasi pitched five shutout innings with five strikeouts. In the win against Wichita on Wednesday, Biasi allowed just one hit and three walks.

Lefty Asa Lacy made two encouraging relief appearances at Wichita, each time pitching two no-hit, shutout innings.

In six games, left fielder Tucker Bradley drew eight walks in addition to going 9-for-19 with a double and a homer. That added up to an on-base percentage of .630 in the two series.

Adv-A Quad Cities River Bandits (36-60 overall; 10-20 in second half)

schedule | roster

The River Bandits were on the road for both post-break series so far, first dropping two of three to the South Bend Cubs (CHC), then going 2-4 at Beloit, home of the Sky Carp (MIA).

Quad Cities got a ton of production out of a handful of hitters, led by outfielder Diego Hernandez’s 15-for-40 performance. Among those hits were two homers and a double. CF/2B Petyon Wilson racked up 12 hits, including three doubles, a triple, and a home run.

Corner outfielder Juan Carlos Negret wound up with nine total hits, on the strength of three consecutive 2-hit games during the Beloit series. Catcher Luca Tresh went 7-for-29 plus five walks. The hits included two homers to bring his season total up to 12, just one shy of Negret’s team-leading 13.

Shortstop Tyler Tolbert stole four more bases without getting caught, giving him a 100% success rate in 72 attempts since the last time he was caught, over a year ago.

Righty Adrian Alcantara fired his second consecutive seven-inning start on Thursday. He struck out four and did not walk any batters, and allowed two hits. Two unearned runs scored thanks to a trio of throwing errors in the fifth, but no earned runs came in, and QC ended up winning the game.

Right-hander Chandler Champlain came to the Royals as part of the Andrew Benintendi trade to the Yankees, and he debuted for the River Bandits with a scoreless, hitless inning on Sunday.

Single-A Columbia Fireflies (35-60 overall; 17-12 in second half)

schedule | roster

Columbia and the Augusta GreenJackets (ATL) were slated for a three-game series after the Break. The teams split the first pair but the third was lost to rain. After that, the Fireflies headed to Kannapolis for a series against the Cannon Ballers (CHI), which they split 3-3.

Columbia got back-to-back great starts from 2021 first-rounder Frank Mozzicato and second-round pick Ben Kudrna on Friday and Saturday. Mozzicato went Friday, earning his first pro ‘W’ with five innings in which he allowed one run on one hit (a solo homer), walked just two, and struck out seven.

The next game, Kudrna pitched six shutout innings, allowing four singles and two walks. The 19-year-old righty struck out six, which tied a season high.

20-year-old lefty Oscar Rayo made his Columbia debut after spending this year and last in the Royals’ Dominican and complex leagues. Against Kannapolis last Wednesday, Rayo struck out five and walked one in four shutout relief innings. In his brief career so far, the Nicaragua native has struck out 11.8 batters per nine innings, and walked just 1.4 per nine.

Outfielder Jean Ramirez piled up 11 hits - all singles - and made some noise on the basepaths with five stolen bases in eight games. Ramirez is one steal shy of the team lead with 17, while fellow outfielder River Town and middle infielder Enrique Valdez are tied for the top spot with 18.

Catcher Omar Hernandez went 9-for-29 with three doubles and his first homer of the season.

Up for discussion: WHO KNOWS?! Writing this Monday night, knowing the trade deadline is about to pop off, means it’s possible that some guys featured above might not even be Royals prospects by dinnertime today.