‘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, September 6 to Sunday, September 11.
AAA Omaha Storm Chasers (65-70)
Omaha hosted the Indianapolis Indians (PIT) for a seven-game series this week, with a doubleheader to make up for a rainout earlier in the season. The Storm Chasers came away with a 4-3 series win, their first series win since the first week of July.
Dairon Blanco played center field in all seven games, and was on base a ton thanks to nine singles, two walks, and two hit by pitches. While on base, he created chaos by stealing five bases, setting a Storm Chasers-era record in the process. Blanco now has 40 steals on the season.
Catcher Jakson Reetz homered twice in his four games. Shortstop Maikel Garcia walked five times and stole four bases in addition to hitting five singles.
Catcher Freddy Fermin has reached base in 31 consecutive games, dating back to August 3. During that streak, Fermin has slashed .342/.431/.649.
Outfielder Brewer Hicklen homered once and doubled once, bringing him closer to some fun milestones. Hicklen has already stolen over 30 bases on the season, and needs just two more dingers in 15 more games to have a 30/30 season. If he REALLY goes off, eight more doubles would get him to a 30/30/30 season, but either mark would be a phenomenal accomplishment for the 26-year-old righty.
Lefty Austin Cox struck out a season-high eight batters on Thursday, and allowed on run on five hits in six innings.
Right-hander Andrés Núñez seems to be the closer now, with saves in each of his last five appearances. Despite a season that has been dominant for long stretches, Núñez hadn’t earned his first save until last week.
AA Northwest Arkansas Naturals (55-76 overall; 24-37 in second half)
The Naturals won two out of six against the Wichita Wind Surge, and have one series left of the season.
Righty Alec Marsh had a sparkling start on Saturday, pitching six shutout innings with eight strikeouts and two walks, and four hits. By game score, it was Marsh’s best start all season, and a welcome sight in a season that hasn’t been as good as we’ve seen Marsh before.
ALEC MARSH @AlecMarsh8 ends his night by winning a 10-pitch at bat!— Northwest Arkansas Naturals (@nwanaturals) September 11, 2022
His eighth strikeout of the night finishes SIX scoreless innings, with just four hits and two walks allowed!
▼ 6 | #NWANaturals 1 Wichita 0
Left-hander Anthony Veneziano started the first and last games of the series, and pitched six solid innings in each. On Tuesday, he struck out four and walked one, and allowed six hits. He struck out six on Sunday, but allowed one run to score on seven hits.
First baseman CJ Alexander homered once as part of a 9-for-21 week. Outfielder Diego Hernandez piled up double-digit hits, with 10 singles scattered among five games in which he also stole three bases.
CJ Alexander (@CAlexander_52) delivers a two-run home run to right field, it puts the Naturals ahead by a run in the fifth!— Northwest Arkansas Naturals (@nwanaturals) September 9, 2022
▲ 5 | #NWANaturals 3 Wichita 2
Left fielder Tyler Gentry homered twice this week, his 15th and 16th since joining the Naturals via promotion from Quad Cities in June.
Adv-A Quad Cities River Bandits (54-78 overall; 28-38 in second half)
A wild, back-and-forth walkoff win on Sunday secured a series split for Quad Cities as they hosted Peoria for their season finale.
The best pitching start of the week came from righty William Fleming, who came to the Royals in the Carlos Santana trade. Fleming shut Peoria out for six innings, allowing just two hits and one walk. He struck out three.
Righty Adrian Alcantara was solid too, pitching seven innings with two earned runs on a pair of solo homers allowed. The 23-year-old struck out six and walked none.
RHP Anthony Simonelli was called upon twice out of the bullpen, and struck out 10 batters in five total innings. Righty Delvin Capellan is on a scoreless streak out of the ‘pen, with 12 strikeouts in his last eight innings (five games).
First baseman Dillan Shrum ONLY hit for extra bases, with all five of his hits going for multiple bases. One was a double, and the other four (!) were home runs. On top of the hits, Shrum walked five time and was hit by three pitches.
Shortstop Tyler Tolbert went 6-for-22 with a double and a triple, and stole one base to give himself an even 60 on the season with no failed attempts. Tolbert’s 100% success rate in steals stretches back for 80 total steals since he was last caught on July 17, 2021. Tolber also made this play:
Outfielder River Town went 8-for-22 with a triple and a homer. Catcher Kale Emshoff homered once and doubled twice in four games.
Single-A Columbia Fireflies (52-79 overall; 34-31 in second half)
Weeelllllllll, Columbia needed a great showing against Charleston this week to catch the RiverDogs in the standings and extend their season into the playoffs. Sadly, Charleston won the first five before Columbia salvaged one win to wrap up the season on Sunday.
Gavin Cross went wild at the plate again, going 8-for-21 with two doubles, a triple, and two home runs. Cross now has a 10-game hit streak going, in which he has as many walks (11) as strikeouts, and seven extra-base hits among 16 total hits. Not to get too editorial, but: that’ll play.
Like Cross, left fielder Javier Vaz and catcher Omar Hernandez have hit streaks going. Vaz has hit in 11 straight games, going 16-for-47 with three doubles and a triple, plus eight walks (compared to just seven strikeouts). In eight games, Hernandez is 12-for-37 with a triple and two doubles.
Last week, we noted that right-hander Mason Barnett had made his pro debut with two scoreless, no-hit innings. He followed that in two appearances this week with a total of five scoreless, no-hit innings. The third-rounder’s pro career so far is: 7 innings, 0 hits, 1 walk, and 11 strikeouts.
Though he got the ‘L’ for the game, righty Ben Kudrna struck out six in six innings. Both of those numbers tie season highs for Kudrna, who was the 2nd round draftee in 2021. He walked two and allowed three earned runs on four hits, including two dingers.
Up for discussion: with the lower two levels finished for the year, what’s next for those players? Are there any you’d move up to Double-A or Triple-A for a handful of games?