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Storm Chasers on a roll to end first half of season

This Week in the Minors: no affiliate won the first half, but Omaha won a third straight series

‘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 20 to Sunday, June 25

AAA Omaha Storm Chasers (38-34)

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The Storm Chasers concluded the first half of the season with four wins on the road against the Rochester Red Wings (WAS). It was the third straight series win for the Chasers, despite an enormous number of transactions changing the makeup of the roster in the last month or so.

Righty Alec Marsh got the bookend duties for the series, starting both Tuesday and Sunday. He pitched five innings in each. Tuesday, he surrendered just one run on four hits and a walk, and struck out seven. Sunday was a little rougher but still good: two runs on six hits, with six strikeouts.

One unearned run scored against lefty Anthony Veneziano on Friday, but no earned ones did. Veneziano walked three and struck out three, and allowed just two hits in a five-inning start. He threw 69 pitches, 44 for strikes.

Manager Mike Jirschele couldn’t have asked for much better out of reliever Jonah Dipoto in the three times he called on the right-hander. Dipoto pitched three no-hit innings, with three strikeouts and just one walk and a hit batter.

Will Klein was named to the Futures Game, and will be the only Royals representative there.

Left fielder Tucker Bradley went 7-for-11 with three doubles. He walked five times and struck out just twice, and stole two bases. Brewer Hicklen is still being used in the DH role full-time these days, and he went 5-for-21 with two doubles, a triple, and two steals.

Logan Porter had hits in all six games, with nine total hits in the series. Weirdly, all of them were singles but he drove in seven runs with them. Porter started four games at catcher, and switched from first base to catcher late in another one when José Briceño was lifted for a pinch runner. Omaha is only carrying two catchers.

AA Northwest Arkansas Naturals (29-40)

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Last week I mentioned that the Naturals had the opportunity to play spoiler in the first-half title race with their series at Tulsa, and they did exactly that by winning five of six games to help eliminate the Drillers (LAD).

Ángel Zerpa continued his rehab with four solid innings on Friday, marred only by a solo homer. He struck out five and allowed four hits and no walks, and threw 57 pitches.

After a flurry of recent roster moves, the Omaha rotation had no more room for Drew Parrish, so he was sent to NWArk. In his first start at Double-A in more than a year, the lefty pitched six shutout innings with seven strikeouts, two walks, and two singles allowed.

Right-handed reliever Yefri Del Rosario’s scoreless streak is now up to 11 innings in eight games.

Outfielder Parker Bates went 8-for-22 with a double and two stolen bases. Second baseman Peyton Wilson homered twice as part of a 7-hit series, and walked five times while only striking out thrice.

Adv-A Quad Cities River Bandits (32-37)

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The River Bandits hosted the Peoria Chiefs (STL), and won just one of the six-game set.

Lefty Tyson Guerrero pitched 6 23 innings in his start, and allowed just one run on five hits and one walk. He struck out six. On the season, the 24-year-old is striking out a dozen batters per nine innings, while walking just three.

Mason Barnett pitched six solid innings but got stuck with the loss on Tuesday. The right-hander out of Auburn allowed one run on four hits, and struck out six.

Third baseman Cayden Wallace led the way on offense, with nine hits in five games played. Wallace is on an 8-game hit streak. First baseman Shervyen Newton homered twice as part of a 7-for-19 performance.

And how about a defensive highlight featuring both Wallace and Newton?

The Carter Jensen Walk Watch: with just one base on balls this week, Jensen falls into third place on the minor league leaderboard in that category. This is also the last time I can use this space to say Jensen is just 19, because his 20th birthday is next Monday, July 3.

Single-A Columbia Fireflies (38-30)

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Rain washed out one of the home games against the Fredericksburg Nationals (WAS), but the week was still a win for Columbia who won four out of five games.

Steven Zobac was flying through his start on Tuesday, needing only 33 pitches to get through three shutout innings with four strikeouts and no walks and just one hit allowed. Then it rained, and the game was suspended and made up later in the week.

Lefty Frank Mozzicato pitched five scoreless innings on Friday, with six strikeouts and three walks. All four hits he allowed were singles. This was Mozzicato’s second start since coming back from a two-week stay on the Injured List, which stemmed from a collision with a teammate in practice. He had been expected to be out a month, so it is good to see him back in form.

Right-hander Shane Panzini struck out a career-high 10 batters on Saturday. He allowed two runs on five hits in five innings, and walked two.

LHP Cooper McKeehan picked up a win and a save in his two appearances this week. McKeehan, 22, is on a roll lately. In his last seven games, he has given the team 11 23 innings of shutout baseball with eight strikeouts and two walks, and five hits allowed. In that stretch he has been awarded three saves and three wins.

Second baseman Lizandro Rodriguez hit a double, a homer, and two triples this week. First baseman Brett Squires went 6-for-17 with three doubles and a stolen base.

Austin Charles played some third base and some shortstop in the series, and picked up five hits in 18 at bats. Three of those were doubles, which gives the 19-year-old six doubles in his first 15 pro games.

Did you go to any games this week? Who stood out to you? What roster moves would you make as the second half gets underway?