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Tyler Gentry heating up for Omaha

This Week in the Minors: David Sandlin is the Carolina League pitcher of the week; Dairon Blanco steals TEN bases, and more

A baseball player in a black jersey that says “Omaha” in white script, standing in a dugout with his hands on hips with a serious expression on his face.
Tyler Gentry in the Omaha dugout, wearing the team’s Community Series jersey.
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, June 6 to Sunday, June 11

AAA Omaha Storm Chasers (28-32)

schedule | roster

The Storm Chasers were trying for something they had not done yet this season - a six-game sweep - before a rain storm on Sunday wiped out the sixth game at Indianapolis (PIT). Still, coming home with five wins is a great trip for the Chasers.

At the plate, no one’s bat was hotter than the now-called up Dairon Blanco. In the series, Blanco went 11-for-22 with (sorry for yelling) TEN STOLEN BASES. Ten! In five games!

Right fielder Tyler Gentry had a lot of teammates on base, and he drove in 13 runs in the series with six hits that included three doubles and a 431-foot homer.

Samad Taylor did a bit of everything, with six walks, three steals, and three doubles in the series. First baseman CJ Alexander went 4-for-13 with a double and two homers.

Logan Porter was on base a bunch in his four games, split between catcher and first base. He walked six times and picked up four hits in 19 plate appearances. Catcher Jakson Reetz doubled three times among his five hits in three games. He also had this hit in a downpour, which didn’t count as the game was canceled.

The best start from a pitcher came from righty Max Castillo, who struck out eight and allowed just one run on four hits in six innings.

A couple of right-handed relief performances of note: James McArthur struck out seven in two appearances totaling 3 23 innings in the series. In five games stretching over the last two series, Brooks Kriske has shut opponents out, while striking out nine and walking just three, with two hits allowed. (My friend and hero, Omaha broadcaster Nicholas Badders, asked Kriske on the pregame show recently why he pitches with his pants unzipped. The answer is delightful.)

AA Northwest Arkansas Naturals (21-36)

schedule | roster

The Naturals won only one in their series on the road against the Springfield Cardinals (STL).

Second baseman Peyton Wilson had a great series, going 9-for-25 with five doubles. As noted by Preston Farr on Twitter, Wilson has been a bit streaky month by month this season, and it’s nice to have the hotter bat back after a slower May.

Bullpen bullet points:

  • RHP Will Klein was promoted to Omaha yesterday, riding an 11-inning shutout streak with 17 strikeouts and four walks.
  • Lefty T.J. Sikkema pitched twice, and ended up with 4 13 shutout innings, with three Ks and three hits allowed
  • Right-hander Jacob Wallace has struck out nine in a streak of seven games without allowing an earned run.

Adv-A Quad Cities River Bandits (28-29)

schedule | roster

The River Bandits only came home with one win after a trip to play the Fort Wayne TinCaps (SD).

The Carter Jensen Walk Watch: he drew three more this week and leads all of the Minors with 56 total. In second place now is Terrell Tatum, a 23-year-old in Advanced-A in the White Sox system. This will be one of the last times I can tell you that Carter Jensen is just 19, as his birthday is in three weeks.

Right-hander William Fleming pitched the four shutout innings on the same day his alma mater, Wake Forest, punched their ticket to the Men’s College World Series for the first time since 1955. That’s a pretty good Sunday.

Single-A Columbia Fireflies (32-25)

schedule | roster

The Fireflies split a series against the visiting Salem Red Sox (I will let you guess the affiliation). They are now two full games behind the first-place Myrtle Beach Pelicans, who won five of six this week.

Right-hander David Sandlin earned Carolina League pitcher of the week honors with the best start of his pro career on Friday. He pitched seven shutout innings with nine strikeouts. He allowed just four hits and one walk, and needed just 85 pitches. Sandlin has been quite successful in his first pro season, since being drafted in the 11th round out of the University of Oklahoma last summer. In a team-leading 11 starts and 53 23 innings, Sandlin has walked only 2.0 batters per nine innings while striking out 12.6 per nine innings.

Fellow righty Mauricio Veliz closed out the series with a fantastic start on Sunday. The 20-year-old threw five innings, allowing an unearned run but no earned ones. He struck out eight, allowed one hit, one walk, and one plunked batter.

(I love to look up what happened that lead to an unearned run scoring. Ultimately the run came in on a balk, but that runner was only on third because he reached base on a fielding error, then advanced to third on a throwing error on a fielder’s choice the next play. Both errors were committed by Omar Florentino.)

Bullpen bullet points:

  • RHP Nicholas Regalado made his full-season debut with two scoreless innings with four strikeouts in just 18 pitches. Regalado was an undrafted free agent whom the Royals signed in July of 2022.
  • LHP Cooper McKeehan pitched twice for a total of three innings, both to close out games. He allowed no runs, no walks, and just one hit.
  • RHP Marcus Olivarez also threw three shutout frames in two appearances, with three hits, no walks, and two strikeouts total.

Did you see any games this week, either in person or on Who would you promote next?