‘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 30 to Sunday, September 4.
AAA Omaha Storm Chasers (61-67)
The Storm Chasers were on the road to play the St. Paul Saints (MIN), and split the series 3-3. The Triple-A season goes through September 28, leaving Omaha with 22 games remaining.
Lefty Marcelo Martinez struck out nine in his Wednesday start, and that tally tied a season high. One unearned run scored in six innings, and Martinez walked just two.
RHP Yefri Del Rosario was among some promotions to Omaha this week, and one of his two outings was a sparkling two inning appearance with no hits and just one walk allowed. Patrick Halligan, also a righty, debuted in Triple-A with 2 1⁄3 IP, three strikeouts, and just one hit allowed.
Ándres Núñez is back on his shutout stuff again, currently sporting a 13-inning shutout streak across his last 10 games.
Outfielder Dairon Blanco hit well in the series, going 9-for-21 with two doubles, a triple, and two homers. In a result totally out of character for Blanco this year, he was 0-2 in stolen base attempts. Those were just the 5th and 6th times he had been caught all season, with a team-leading 34 steals.
Speaking of steals, Brewer Hicklen stole two more this week to reach 30 on the season. He also homered twice to get to 27 in that column, and if we want to do a lot of dreaming toward milestones, we could note that he has 22 doubles as well.
Logan Porter went 7-for-14 and drew seven walks, and was plunked once, for a series OBP of .682. Catcher Freddy Fermin collected six hits this week, starting September with some of the same heat he carried throughout August.
In part time action, Gabriel Cancel hit two dongs and two doubles as part of a 5-for-12 effort. Edward Olivares is rehabbing with Omaha, and also went 5-for-12. Big O hit two doubles.
AA Northwest Arkansas Naturals (53-72 overall; 22-35 in second half)
Like Omaha, the Naturals split their series at Tulsa. They have two series remaining in their season.
Outfielder Tyler Gentry led the way on offense, with nine hits that included three doubles and a homer. Gentry had a phenomenal August, slashing .317/.468/.500 over the course of the month.
TYLER GENTRY FOR THE LEAD— Northwest Arkansas Naturals (@nwanaturals) September 4, 2022
Tulsa issued an intentional walk to get to @TylerGentry15 and he makes them pay with a three-run homer to put the Naturals ahead
▲ 9 | #NWANaturals 8 Drillers 5
Fellow outfielder Tucker Bradley homered in each of the first three games of the series, part of a 7-for-18 series during which he also drew six walks and stole three bases.
Adv-A Quad Cities River Bandits (51-75 overall; 25-35 in second half)
The River Bandits went on the road to play the Beloit Sky Carp (MIA), and split the series 3-3. The playoffs are not in the picture for QC, and they will wrap up their season with a home series against Peoria.
The biggest story on the pitching front this week was Beck Way’s incredible start on Saturday, in which the righty struck out 10 batters in eight no-hit innings. Baserunners did reach by way of four walks and two hit by pitches, but they did no damage. The effort was good for a game score of 88, per Baseball Reference. Way, who just turned 23 a month ago, was part of the return for Andrew Benintendi, who just went on the injured list with the Yankees.
Royals traded Benintendi to NYY for No. 11 prospect Beck Way in July— Farm To Fame (@FarmToFame_) September 4, 2022
Tonight, Way struck out career-high 10 in 8 no-hit innings in High-A
At the plate, CF/2B Peyton Wilson had another good week, going 8-for-22 with a double and a homer, and three stolen bases. Also clocking in with eight hits was 2B/3B Herard Gonzalez, who hit his 9th homer of the year in Tuesday’s win.
Peyton Wilson hit his 11th home run of the season earlier today. pic.twitter.com/QQSMmEuw2G— Royals Farm Report (@RoyalsFarm) September 4, 2022
Catcher Jack Alexander went 5-for-12 with a double an-d a home run. Center fielder Parker Bates homered twice and stole three bases in his three games.
For the first time, Tyler Tolbert’s illustrious stolen base streak seemed to be in jeopardy as he was thrown out on the bases. However, it was scored a pickoff rather than a caught stealing, and Tolbert stole three more bases to give him 59 on the season with a 100% success rate.
Single-A Columbia Fireflies (51-74 overall; 33-26 in second half)
The Fireflies split a series with the Carolina Mudcats (MIL), and trails the first-place Charleston RiverDogs by four games. There is one series remaining in the regular season and GUESS WHO COLUMBIA’S OPPONENT IS! It’s Charleston!
Right-hander Jonatan Bernal got the week started right for Columbia by pitching seven shutout innings on Tuesday, allowing just three hits. 50 of his 69 pitches were strikes, and the outing was the longest of his pro career. Bernal, who just turned 20 at the end of June, was the return in the trade that sent lefty Foster Griffin to the Blue Jays.
Frank Mozzicato was next on the bump for the Fireflies, and he started Wednesday’s game with five solid innings. He allowed one run on six hits and a walk, and struck out a season-high eight batters. The 94 pitches he threw were also a season high.
Lefty reliever Marlin Willis is on a roll lately, with 10 shutout innings spread across his last six appearances. In that span, he has struck out 17, walked seven, and allowed fur hits.
Right-hander Mason Barnett made his pro debut this week, tossing two hitless innings in relief. Barnett, 21, was drafted in the 3rd round out of Auburn this summer.
The Firelflies had a ton of productive hitters this week, including left fielder Javier Vaz and his 11 hits. In addition to the hits, Vaz drew eight walks and struck out only twice.
First baseman Guillermo Quintana also hit in the double-digits, with 10 hits that included foru doubles. Quintana only struck out once, and walked three times in 29 plate appearances in the series.
Across the diamond, third baseman Cayden Wallace wen 9-for-22 with three doubles and a triple, plus four walks and only one strikeout. Wallace also stole three bases in three tries.
Great swing and an opposite-field double for Gavin Cross. pic.twitter.com/YZHG4QQEqU— Royals Farm Report (@RoyalsFarm) September 2, 2022
Center fielder Gavin Cross, the Royals’ top draft pick this summer, also had a phenomenal week. Cross went 8-for-18 with a double and a homer, stole two bases, and drew eight walks. His OBP for the series was .615.
And one more Gavin Cross highlight, just because:
GAVIN CROSS. GRAND SLAM. 8-0 FLIES. pic.twitter.com/o6TdpDiLtl— Royals Farm Report (@RoyalsFarm) August 31, 2022
Up for discussion: What late-season promotions have surprised you? Who would you like to see get a little more playing time as we approach the end for some levels? How closely will you be following the Columbia-Charleston series?