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Minor League pitchers showing off this week

This Week in the Minors: heaps of pitchers showed out, including some high draftees. Darryl Collins is on a hit streak spanning two levels.

‘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, August 16 to Sunday, August 21.

AAA Omaha Storm Chasers (55-61)

schedule | roster

Omaha was on the road for the second straight week, this time against the Louisville Bats (CIN), where they earned a series split.

Righty Daniel Mengden pitched 5 23 shutout innings on Wednesday, his longest scoreless effort on the season. Drew Parrish struck out six in six innings, with two solo homers allowed. Jackson Kowar allowed one run in five innings in a win, with three Ks and three BBs.

Catcher Freddy Fermin has been hot at the plate for a few weeks, and added a homer and two doubles among an 8-for-21 effort this series. Superutilityman Nick Loftin hit his first Triple-A home run this week, along with two doubles and four singles.

Prior to his MLB callup, outfielder Drew Waters went 7-for-20 with two dingers and a double. He stole a base and walked four times, and struck out only four times.

First baseman Logan Porter drew six walks, in addition for going 6-for-22 with two doubles.

AA Northwest Arkansas Naturals (47-66 overall; 16-29 in second half)

schedule | roster

The Naturals hosted the San Antonio Missions (SD), and split the series 3-3.

Outfielder Diego Hernandez led the way on offense, going 9-for-20 with two doubles and two steals. This was just the second series at the Double-A level for the 21-year-old, who had been with Quad Cities the whole season before his promotion.

Left fielder Tucker Bradley muscled up this week, hitting three doubles and two homers as part of an 8-hit attack.

Outfielder John Rave went 7-for-25 with a double and two dingers.

Third baseman Jake Means went 6-for-21 with two doubles and a homer, and drew seven (!) walks to give him an OBP of .464 for the series. Outfielder Tyler Gentry walked six times in addition to the six hits he had in the week.

Adv-A Quad Cities River Bandits (46-68 overall; 20-28 in second half)

schedule | roster

Quad Cities went on the road for a series against the Peoria Chiefs (STL), and won four of the six games. The team was bolstered by a lot of strong pitching, both from the starters and the bullpen.

Tuesday’s start from Adrian Alcantara was the best of the bunch. The right-hander, who turns 23 next week, allowed just one run in seven innings. He struck out eight, walked zero, and allowed just five singles.

Lefty Noah Cameron returned from an injury on Wednesday, and fired three perfect innings with five strikeouts in his first game for Quad Cities since June 25.

Lefty Rylan Kaufman was solid for six innings on Friday, with one run allowed on four hits, two walks, and seven strikeouts. Right-hander Beck Way followed that with five shutout innings on Saturday, with eight strikeouts and only two hits and one walk allowed.

Two relievers added to the scoreless streaks mentioned last week: with 2 IP, Anderson Paulino is now up to 14 13 shutout innings. Lefty Parker Harm added one inning, bringing his streak into double digits.

Left fielder Darryl Collins has hit in each of the 10 games since his promotion to Quad Cities, plus his final two games in Columbia. Overall in his 12-game hit streak, Collins has 16 hits, though just one for extra bases (a triple). He has also drawn 10 walks and struck out nine times.

First baseman Dillan Shrum continued his hot hitting of late, adding three doubles and three singles in four games this series. He also walked three times and was plunked twice. Shrum has been hit by more pitches than anyone else on the team now, with 12 on the season.

Herard Gonzalez went 6-for-20 with a double and a triple while mixing in a game at third base along with his usual second base. Corner outfielder Juan Carlos Negret hit two homers and two doubles among his six hits. CF/2B Peyton Wilson also muscled up for two doubles and two homers, and also drew five walks and stole three bases.

We haven’t check in on Tyler Tolbert in a while, but he is still at a 100% success rate in base steals, with four in the Peoria series to bring his season total to 52.

Single-A Columbia Fireflies (44-69 overall; 26-21 in second half)

schedule | roster

The good news is that second-place Columbia won four games this week against the Kannapolis Cannon Ballers (CHI). The bad news is that first-place Charleston had seven games this week, and won five of ‘em to widen the gap to 3.5 games.

Center fielder Gavin Cross went off this week, hitting three homers, a triple, and a double. The first-round pick from this summer’s draft also walked four times.

Second baseman Lizandro Rodriguez, 19, went 7-for-16 with five runs scored in his first full series above complex ball.

Another 19-year-old with a good series was catcher Carter Jensen, who went 6-for-19 with a double and four walks, and only three strikeouts.

Some starting pitching performances that stood out this week:

  • Wednesday - Frank Mozzicato struck out six in four no-hit innings. He did walk four, and one of the batters who walked got two free bases (including home) via Mozzicato wild pitches, but that was the only run allowed.
  • Thursday - Ben Kudrna allowed seven hits, but limited the Cannon Ballers to two runs, with no walks and three strikeouts. It was Kurdrna’s second six-inning start.
  • Saturday - Shane Panzini struck out a season-high 9 batters, allowing three runs on seven hits and two walks.

LHP Jack Aldrich pitched twice, and both appearances were two innings long with no runs allowed. That puts Aldrich on a streak of four appearances in a row, with two IP and zero runs permitted.

Like last week, RHP Wander Arias got a long save, this time going four no-hit, shutout innings with four strikeouts and two walks. LHP Cooper McKeehan made his pro debut, with no runs allowed in two one-inning appearances. McKeehan was drafted this summer in the 16th round out of BYU.

A quirky stat for lefty Marlin Willis: on Wednesday, Willis struck out seven batters in two innings. As you probably guessed, the “extra” strikeout happened when a batter struck out on a wild pitch and reached first base. Willis has not allowed a run in his last four outings, with 13 Ks in 6 23 innings in that span.

Up for discussion: Did you go to any games this week? Who stood out to you?