‘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, April 4 to Sunday, April 9
AAA Omaha Storm Chasers (5-4)
The Toledo Mud Hens (DET) came to town for the first full-length series of the season. Omaha went 2-4 on the week, but the two wins were significant: they were wins #999 and 1000 in the Omaha managerial career of Mike Jirschele.
On Saturday, Mike Jirschele won his 1,000th game as Omaha's manager.— Omaha Storm Chasers (@OMAStormChasers) April 10, 2023
The post game celebration made us all a little teary-eyed pic.twitter.com/Xb2Rq7HOcm
While splitting time among first base, catcher, and DH, Logan Porter homered three times in four games. With four total dingers, Porter is the team leader in that category.
Second baseman Samad Taylor doubled three times among his eight hits. The 24-year-old is seeing his first action in the Royals organization since coming over as part of the return for Whit Merrifield.
CJ Alexander played a bit of right field this series, his first outfield action since one single game in 2019. At the plate, Alexander socked two dingers and doubled twice, along with three singles.
Shortstop Maikel Garcia came to bat 28 times, and reached base in half of them thanks to eight (!) walks and six hits, including a double and a homer. Outfielder Tyler Gentry went 7-for-20 with a homer, a double, and three walks.
Utilityman Angelo Castellano homered in consecutive games to finish out a 4-for-12 effort. Left fielder Tucker Bradley drew four walks in four games addition to his four hits, one of which was a triple.
In Wednesday’s start, veteran righty Mike Mayers survived seven hits and ended up only allowing one run, with six strikeouts in five innings. Jonathan Heasley was solid in Friday’s win, allowing two earned runs on six hits, with two walks and five strikeouts.
AA Northwest Arkansas Naturals (1-2)
The Naturals opened the season at home against the Midland RockHounds (OAK), with a win in the opener followed by a pair of losses.
Old friend Jorge Bonifacio is back in the organization, and hit a homer and a double in the win on Thursday. Other Naturals with a homer in the series were CF/SS Jeison Guzmán, corner infielder Jake Means, and catcher Luca Tresh.
Left-hander Anthony Veneziano had the best start of the series with five shutout innings on Thursday. He allowed only three singles and a walk, and struck out seven. Veneziano, 25, spent all of last season at Double-A. He was a 10th-round draft pick in 2019 out of Coastal Carolina.
It was vintage Anthony Veneziano in Northwest Arkansas tonight. Effortless 94-96, great breaking ball, filling up the strike zone…fantastic development. Just can’t help but wonder what happened last year. pic.twitter.com/jASmNh1j0x— Royals Farm Report (@RoyalsFarm) April 7, 2023
In two relief appearances, lefty Dante Biasi struck out four and only allowed one hit in a total of 2 2⁄3 innings. Like Veneziano, Biasi is 25 and starting a second season at Double-A.
Adv-A Quad Cities River Bandits (0-3)
The River Bandits hosted the South Bend Cubs for a 3-game set to start the season, and dropped all three games in low-scoring affairs.
On the mound, two different QC right-handers struck out eight in their starts. On Saturday, William Fleming pitched five innings, allowing two earned runs on three hits and one walk. The next day, Chandler Champlain gave up two runs on two hits in six innings, with a home run surrendered and one plunked batter, but no walks.
My goodness gracious. If Chandler Champlain is gonna keep doing this we’re going to have to reevaluate his standing in the organization. He’s 23, so he’s a little old for High-A, but this was impressive. He held 95 well into the 6th inning and most hitters didn’t have a prayer. pic.twitter.com/5iiDiIUpw6— Royals Farm Report (@RoyalsFarm) April 10, 2023
Six River Bandit position players are still seeking their first hits, but these are extremely small samples. Center fielder Gavin Cross has the team’s only homer so far, one of his two hits in the series. Only third baseman Cayden Wallace had more than those two hits, with a single in all three games.
Single-A Columbia Fireflies (0-1)
Poor Columbia! They hosted their opening day on Thursday, a 9-8 loss in 10 innings, and then Friday’s game was postponed due to rain. Then, the scheduled doubleheader on Saturday that would have made up for Friday’s rainout...was also postponed due to inclement weather. They’ll try to make up those games on April 27 and April 29, but those will be on the road, and that series is now set for eight games in six days.
Have you gone to any games yet this season? Who did you see? A resource this season that is a bit enhanced from past years is the Royals Player Development Twitter account. It is now being run by Dave Holtzman, whose name you may recognize as the source of tons of Royals statistical tidbits. Holtzy is doing a great job bringing sights and sounds from all levels to social media.