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Catching up on the Minors

Logan Porter continues hitting well for Omaha

‘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(ish) in the Minors: Tuesday, July 4 to Sunday, July 16

AAA Omaha Storm Chasers (42-44)

schedule | roster

While the minor leagues typically play a steady Tuesday-to-Sunday schedule, the last few weeks have been messed up by Independence Day and then the All-Star break. Every MiLB team is guaranteed a home game on either July 3rd or 4th, so the July 3 off day was lost, and then came the break followed by a three-game series. So this time around, we’ll look at the normal six-game series that started on July 4, and tack on the weird three-gamers of this past weekend.

The Storm Chasers are 2-6 in this time frame, with one game at Gwinnett washed out by wet grounds.

Righty Jonathan Bowlan picked up his first save since April of 2019, with four innings of scoreless pitching to close out the team’s lone win against the Stripers. Bowlan was on in relief of Cole Ragans, who gave up just one run in five innings, with seven strikeouts and two walks.

Angelo Castellano has led the way on offense, with 11 hits in 21 at bats. Among those were three doubles and a triple. Caste has spent most of the season as Omaha’s shortstop, but has played every infield position and has played first base a lot more in the past month.

Catcher/first baseman Logan Porter was scheduled to have Sunday off, but had to finish the game after poor CJ Alexander was hit by a pitch and had to leave. Alexander was in just his second game back after an IL stint. Porter went 6-for-24 with three home runs, a double, and four walks in his eight games.

AA Northwest Arkansas Naturals (6-8 in second half; 35-48 overall)

schedule | roster

The Naturals are 4-4 since July 4, with one game suspended in the 4th, to be made up in September.

John McMillon is pitching at his third level already this season, and has not yet given up a run through 11 innings in seven appearances at Double-A. As a Natural, McMillon has struck out 14 and walked just four.

RHP Chandler Champlain pitched six shutout innings on Saturday, with just two singles, two walks, and a hit batter allowed. He struck out four and was awarded the W. In his last three appearances, righty Beck Way has amassed eight strikeouts in six shutout innings. Champlain and Way were both in the Yankees system and came over in the trade for Andrew Benintendi last July.

First baseman Dillan Shrum made the most of part-time action, driving in 10 runs with six hits in in 13 at bats. Shrum’s bat had been a bit quiet so far this season, but in July he’s slashing .348/.464/.739.

Jeison Guzmán had one of each flavor of extra base hit as part of his 8-for-22 effort. Utilityman Morgan McCullough hit in all but one of the eight games we’re looking at, and ended up with 10 hits and two stolen bases. Outfielder Parker Bates goes to 11, with that many hits in 29 at bats - all singles.

Adv-A Quad Cities River Bandits (6-12 in second half; 38-46 overall)

schedule | roster

The River Bandits lost their series at Cedar Rapids four games to two, then lost two of three against South Bend.

Javier Vaz went 9-for-32 with two doubles and a homer, and drew eight walks while striking out only three times. He also stole a pair of bases in two tries.

Left fielder River Town is carrying an 8-game hit streak in which he has tallied up 11 hits. All 11 have been singles. Right fielder Juan Carlos Negret homered twice among nine hits. First basement Shervyn Newton went 7-for-24 with two doubles and two homers, plus five walks.

Right-hander Mason Barnett, a 22-year-old in his second pro season after being drafted out of Auburn last summer, set a new personal best with eight strikeouts in his last start. Those Ks came over the course of a six-inning start with three runs allowed on five hits.

Single-A Columbia Fireflies (9-9 in second half; 44-39 overall)

schedule | roster

The Fireflies split a full-length series at Charleston three games apiece before the break, then dropped the short series to Kannapolis, two games to one.

On July 7, it took Ben Kudrna just 78 pitches to get through seven shutout innings, with six Ks, two walks, and four singles allowed. It was the righty’s first time reaching seven innings, and it came on the heels of a 6 23 inning start with a career-high 10 strikeouts on June 29. Kudrna’s next game will come as a River Bandit, as he was promoted last week.

Lefty Ryan Ramsey returned to action after two and a half months on the injured list. He threw three shutout innings in his first start back, and then five no-hit innings with seven strikeouts in the following turn in the rotation.

In relief, right-hander Samuel Valerio is on a roll. The 21-year-old has struck out 12 and not allowed any runs over the course of his past six appearances, eight innings in total.

Three Fireflies piled up 10 hits each in the two series. Third baseman/shortstop Austin Charles hit two doubles, two triples, and two homers among his hits. Left fielder Jean Ramirez and second baseman Lizandro Rodriguez also got to double digits in the hit column.

With draft picks starting to sign, we may start to see some cuts and roster shuffling. What moves would you make if you were GM for a day?