‘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 20 to Saturday, September 25...sort of
AAA Omaha Storm Chasers (71-75)
The Storm Chasers hosted the Iowa Cubs for one final homestand. There were six games on the schedule in five days, including a doubleheader from a rainout earlier in the season. However, the second game of that got rained out and canceled, shortening the series to just five games, of which Omaha won two.
The top hitters for Omaha in the series were all outfielders. Brent Rooker was named the International Player of the Week for his 9-for-19 series, with three home runs and three doubles. In 12 total games since Rooker was sent back down to Omaha, he has slugged .776 thanks to seven doubles and five homers in 49 at bats.
Make that 101 MiLB home runs for @Brent_Rooker12!— Omaha Storm Chasers (@OMAStormChasers) September 25, 2022
Rooker crushed this ball to give us the early lead
BOT 1 | IOW 1, OMA 2 pic.twitter.com/ifokMsFENH
Center fielder Dairon Blanco stayed hot, with eight hits in the series including a double and a tripe. Blanco is having an absurd month of September, with a slash line of .427/.472/.634 in 20 games.
Brewer Hicklen missed a game to be part of Futures Night in Kansas City, which may loom large as he is running out of time to complete his pursuit of a 30-30-30 season. He has long since stolen 30 bags, but has been stuck at 28 homers since September 6. He busted out four doubles in the Iowa series to get up to 28 doubles, and also hit a triple which had some people at Werner Park hollering at him to stop at a double.
The team is on the road for one last three-game series at St. Paul, which started last night. Hicklen was Jake Eisenberg’s guest on the pregame show, and is very aware of where he stands with those milestones, but said he is not ever at the plate trying to force a homer or double, and they’ll come when they come.
Sure enough, Hicklen ended last night with two doubles. His 30th double on the season was a check-swing dribbler that barely made it out of the infield, but it counts the same in the books! While the cutoff for everyone else was the end of the Iowa series, the pursuit of the 30-30-30 is noteworthy enough that I included last night’s results from St. Paul just for Hicklen.
Thursday’s game was a 13-inning win, helped in large part by catcher Freddy Fermin picking off Iowa’s placed runner in the 10th:
Freddy Fermin doesn’t care about your free extra inning runner, @IowaCubs pic.twitter.com/EkqNqa43ei— Omaha Storm Chasers (@OMAStormChasers) September 23, 2022
Left-hander Austin Cox struck out a season-high nine batters in seven innings on Thursday. It wasn’t a start, as Max Castillo opened the game as a tuneup before his Sunday callup.
Righty Alec Marsh made his Triple-A debut on Friday, and picked up a ‘W’ with five innings pitched, and one run allowed on two hits. He struck out three and walked three.
Richard Lovelady continued his road back from Tommy John surgery with two appearances for Omaha this week. In the first, he struck out one and allowed a double in one shutout inning. In his second appearance, he struck out all three batters he faced, on just 17 pitches.
The Storm Chasers are the only team still playing, as the new schedule format has the different levels ending on a staggered timeline. The longer Triple-A schedule is in place as a way of retaining an active player pool, since MLB rosters no longer expand so much on September 1.