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Dairon Blanco is on fire for Omaha

This Week in the Minors: Blanco fires off 12 hits and Mengden pitches a gem; Naturals wrap up season with series split

A baseball player in a light blue jersey pours water from a green Gatorade cup all over his face.
Outfielder Dairon Blanco cooling off with some water in Omaha’s 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, September 13 to Sunday, September 18.

AAA Omaha Storm Chasers (69-72)

schedule | roster

The Storm Chasers went on the road and won four of six against a very good Columbus Clippers (CLE) team.

At the plate, the Chasers were led by outfielder Dairon Blanco. Blanco went 12-for-22 with five doubles and a homer. That’s a slash line of .546/.583/.909 for the series!

Blanco was not the only Omaha player to hit five doubles; shortstop Maikel Garcia also doubled five times, giving him 35 on the season split among Double-A, Triple-A, and MLB.

In his first full series back with Omaha, Brent Rooker mashed a fair amount, with two homers and three doubles among his six total hits. He did strike out 11 times, to bring his season total in Ks up over 100.

First baseman Logan Porter does nothing but get on base. He went 4-for-15 in his five games, but also drew six walks. In 33 games since joining the Storm Chasers, Porter has maintained a .445 on base percentage.

The deepest start of the team came from left-hander Austin Cox on Wednesday. Cox allowed just one run on five hits in seven innings, with three strikeouts and no walks. It was the third seven-inning start of the season for Cox, and during it, he set a new career high for seasonal innings pitched with 135 1/3.

The best pitching performance was from Daniel Mengden, who pitched six innings in a piggyback role following the rehabbing Ángel Zerpa. Mengden allowed just one run on two hits, struck out six, and did not walk anyone. Since the appearance was not a start, baseball-reference did not give him a Game Score for it, but the performance would have been a 70 if my math was correct.

AA Northwest Arkansas Naturals (58-79 overall; 27-40 in second half)

schedule | roster

The Naturals finished the season with a series split against the Frisco RoughRiders (TEX), ending with a wild 10-9 loss in 10 innings.

Left-hander Richard Lovelady hit the second batter he faced in his first game back from Tommy John surgery in late September of 2021, then struck out the remaining two to complete a shutout inning with 17 pitches thrown. Lovelady became a free agent at the end of last season, but the Royals brought him back on a minors deal.

In the same week he was chosen to play in the Arizona Fall League, John Rave was great at the plate against Frisco. Rave went 9-for-21 with two doubles and a home run. If he does not get moved up to Omaha for their final two series, he’ll finish the regular season with a career-high 16 home runs between Double-A and Triple-A.

Outfielder Tyler Gentry, another AFL honoree, finished the season strong as well. In the series, he went 7-for-22 with two doubles. In 73 games since his promotion from Quad Cities, Gentry was outstanding, putting together a slash line of .321/.417/.555.

Catcher Luca Tresh homered twice in the series, with a total of eight hits. Tresh also walked four times and struck out only thrice. Utilityman Robbie Glendinning drew six walks to go along with his five hits in 22 plate appearances.

Omaha still has a six-game home series against Iowa remaining, and then three games at St. Paul. All the other teams are done.

The Royals named their Players and Pitchers of the month for each level on Monday.