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Brent Rooker right at home in Royals org

This Week in the Minors: Rooker hits the ground running; Sam Freeman makes a case for a callup; CJ Alexander hits 4 dongs in 4 days

A baseball player in a light blue jersey top and white pants stands in a dugout, holding a tiny Gatorade-branded paper cup with a thoughtful look on his face.
Outfielder Brent Rooker 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?”

This Week in the Minors: Tuesday, August 2 to Sunday, August 7.

AAA Omaha Storm Chasers (51-53)

schedule | roster

Omaha hosted the St. Paul Saints (MIN), and won two out of six in a frustrating series. But it was not without its bright spots, which is why we gather here every Tuesday morning for this column.

Left-hander Drew Parrish took a no-hitter through five innings, before surrendering a pair of solo homers in the sixth. The start was a good bounce back from a 70-pitch, two inning start at Syracuse.

Righty Jonathan Heasley struck out a season-high eight batters on Thursday, when he allowed one run on four hits in 4 23 innings.

Lefty reliever Sam Freeman pitched 2 23 scoreless innings in a pair of appearances.

At the plate, outfielder Drew Waters is still hot, going 8-for-24 this week with one of each type of extra-base hit. Waters was joined in the outfield by new teammate Brent Rooker, who came to the Royals organization in the trade for Cam Gallagher. Rooker made himself right at home at Werner Park, crushing two homers as part of a 7-for-15 campaign in four games.

Rooker’s bat broke on this homer:

Brewer Hicklen hit two dingers this week to take the team lead in that category, a spot previously held by Vinnie Pasquantino’s 18.

Third baseman Jimmy Govern went 6-for-12 in his four games, including two doubles and a homer. He also received a cool custom card made by friend of the site Ian Badeer.

Catcher Freddy Fermin hit a homer and two doubles as part of a 7-for-18 week. He also stole a base for the first time this season. Gabriel Cancel got some more playing time at first base this week, and picked up five hits in his four games, including a double and a dinger.

AA Northwest Arkansas Naturals (43-58 overall; 12-21 in second half)

schedule | roster

The Naturals split a home series against the Tulsa Drillers (LAD) this week, with wins in the first two games followed by a 23-7 loss on Thursday.

Some newer pitchers did well for the Naturals this week. Andrew Hoffman, who came from the Braves organization in the trade for the 35th draft pick, pitched six solid innings on Sunday. Hoffman allowed one run on three hits, with six strikeouts and three walks.

T.J. Sikkema made his Royals organizational debut on Wednesday, after coming from the Yankees org in the Andrew Benintendi trade. The lefty struck out four and walked one in 4 13 innings, allowing three hits. Two runners he let on base scored after he came out of the game.

Corner infielder CJ Alexander socked four (!) dingers this week, part of an 8-for-22 effort. Alexander was another player from the Braves org in the draft-pick trade.

Outfielder Tyler Gentry had an on base percentage of .560 in his five games this week, thanks to five walks and three pitches that hit him, on top of six hits that included a double and a homer.

Outfielder Tucker Bradley went 10-for-28 with a double and two stolen bases. Through 88 games in 2022, Bradley is batting .312/.398/.453. Drew over at Royals Farm Report tabbed Bradley as “a name to know.”

Adv-A Quad Cities River Bandits (38-64 overall; 12-24 in second half)

schedule | roster

The River Bandits hosted the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers (MIL) this week, and dropped four of the six games.

The top pitching start was from lefty Rylan Kuafman, who struck out eight in five shutout innings, with just one walk and three hits permitted. By game score, it was Kaufman’s second-best start of the season, and the eight Ks tied a season high.

Five QC relievers are in a scoreless streak:

  • RHP Kasey Kalich: 15.1 IP in 12 games. He has struck out 14 but walked 10.
  • RHP Anderson Paulino: 9.1 IP in 6 games.
  • LHP Patrick Smith: 6.2 IP in 6 games.
  • LHP Parker Harm: 7.1 IP in 5 games. 7 strikeouts but 8 walks and a .200 BABIP.
  • RHP Harrison Beethe: 5.0 IP in 5 games.

Catcher Luca Tresh homered twice this week, and now has the team lead in that category with 14 on the season.

Outfielder River Town was promoted to Quad Cities prior to the series, and went 4-for-18 with two walks and two stolen bases. Tyler Tolbert stole four more bases, bringing his season total to 46 steals without getting caught.

Single-A Columbia Fireflies (36-65 overall; 18-17 in second half)

schedule | roster

Columbia played at home against the Charleston RiverDogs (TBR), and lost five of the six games. That opened up a gap in the standings, leaving Charleston in first and Columbia in fourth (of six) and four games behind. The Fireflies will take on Myrtle Beach, who won the first half, on the road this week.

Ben Kurdrna’s final line shows three runs allowed, but he faced the minimum through three innings before walking two in the fourth and one in the fifth. The 6th is where the RiverDogs gave him trouble, hitting a solo homer, a walk and a single, then a two-run single.

Frank Mozzicato was a bit wild, with three walks and a couple wild pitches, but he induced 13 ground balls in five innings. After a rough 2nd inning in which four runs scored, he settled back in to put up three zeroes for a final line of 5.0 IP | 4 H | 4 ER | 3 BB | 4 SO.

20-year-old Jonatan Bernal was the pitcher the Royals got back from the Blue Jays in exchange for Foster Griffin. Thursday was the best game Bernal has pitched for the Fireflies so far, with seven strikeouts and one walk in four shutout innings, with just two hits allowed.

Javier Vaz, who was drafted in the 15th round out of Vanderbilt, made his pro debut on Saturday, and hit a 3-run homer in his second at bat.

Outfielder Jean Ramirez stole four bases this week, bringing his season total to a team-leading 21. However, he was pulled from Sunday’s game after two innings.

Up for discussion: Impending roster moves. It’s August and it just feels like there is movement ahead. Who do you want to promote this week? Where does the roster space come from?