‘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, July 25 to Sunday, July 30
AAA Omaha Storm Chasers (12-14 in second half; 50-48 overall)
The Storm Chasers picked up a series win on the road at the Columbus Clippers (CLE), winning four out of six.
The Omaha offense was led by right fielder Tyler Gentry, who homered twice (and JUST missed another, that ended up as a double) in a 9-hit attack overall. He also drew four walks, capping a month of a July where he slashed .277/.413/.554. For his efforts, Gentry was named to the MLB Pipeline Prospect Team of the Week.
Tyler Gentry's 10th home run of the year is an oppo-taco off the bottom of the scoreboard. pic.twitter.com/JTTCkZkYoE— Preston Farr (@royalsminors) July 29, 2023
Nick Loftin went 7-for-20 with two doubles and two homers in the series, bringing his season slash line to .294/.355/.494 in 63 games with Omaha. He played three games at second base and and two at third.
Two lefties had solid starts for the Chasers: Ángel Zerpa on Wednesday, and Cole Ragans on Thursday. Zerpa allowed one run in 6.1 innings, on just three hits and two walks. Ragans managed six shutout innings, despite issuing five walks. He struck out six, and only allowed one hit.
AA Northwest Arkansas Naturals (14-12 in second half; 43-52 overall)
The Naturals split a series at the Arkansas Travelers (SEA) 3-3. The Travelers won the first half, and that’s the only team ahead of the Naturals at the moment, so they’re in good shape in the standings.
John McMillon struck out four of the five batters he faced on Wednesday, then followed that up with a scoreless 9th inning on Saturday to add another two outings to his scoreless streak. Since being promoted to Double-A, McMillon has a 0.00 ERA in 15.1 innings, with 24 Ks and seven walks.
That Wednesday game was started by lefty Noah Cameron, who fired six shutout frames with eight strikeouts. The strikeout total was Cameron’s best in nine games since his promotion from Quad Cities.
The best start of the week was Chandler Champlain, who was perfect through 4 2⁄3 innings, when he walked one batter. But he allowed zero hits through six innings, and struck out six while inducing seven groundouts. The team ultimately lost the combined no-hit bid in the 9th inning, but won the game 3-1. Champlain was named Texas League pitcher of the week.
Lefty Drew Parrish was solid on Saturday, letting in just one run on four hits in six innings.
Center fielder Diego Hernandez has a 9-game hit streak, during which he’s 11-for-37 with a triple and three steals. Right fielder Jorge Bonifacio walked six times in addition to his six hits in the series, good for an OBP of .546. Utility man Tyler Tolbert swiped five bases to enhance his 7-for-23 hitting performance at the plate.
Adv-A Quad Cities River Bandits (12-18 in second half; 44-52 overall)
The River Bandits hosted the Lansing Lugnuts (OAK), and split the series 3-3. They are in last place in the division at the moment, but at six games back there is still plenty of time to right the ship.
The series started off with two really good pitching performances: righty Mason Barnett struck out a career-high 10 in five shutout innings on Tuesday. He allowed six hits, but all were singles, and did not walk anyone. If Barnett starting off a series with a strong start sounds familiar, it’s because he did it last week, too.
In another echo of how the rotation performed last week, left-hander Tyson Guerrero was also excellent on Wednesday. He went seven innings, letting in just two runs on four hits and two walks, and he struck out eight.
Kale Emshoff led the Bandit bats in the series, with five of his six hits going for extra bases. Though he’s traditionally been a catcher, Emshoff played four games at first base this week and just one behind the dish.
Across the diamond, third baseman Cayden Wallace hit well also, going 8-for-21 with a double and a steal. Catcher Carter Jensen went 6-for-19 with a double. Jensen has quietly slipped into 10th in the minors in walks drawn, so I am no longer officiating the Carter Jensen Walk Watch.
Single-A Columbia Fireflies (14-16 in second half; 49-46 overall)
The Fireflies dropped all but one of their games in a home series against the Carolina Mudcats (MIL).
Some bright moments on the mound included LHP Oscar Rayo’s 5 2⁄3 innings of shutout relief in what I don’t think was supposed to be a bullpen game. Two teammates gave up ten runs in the first 2+ innings, and Rayo came on and struck out eight and and allowed just three singles, bridging the gap to the 9th inning and saving the bullpen’s arms. It was the longest outing of his season, but he was efficient, needing just 64 pitches to get it done.
Lefty Ryan Ramsey continued his incredible streak, with another 5 1⁄3 scoreless innings since returning from the IL. Now the total is at 20 innings in four starts, with 25 strikeouts and six walks, and six hits allowed. Ramsey was a 13th round pick out of the University of Maryland last summer, go Terps.
Ryan Ramsey is climbing an All-Time list for the Fireflies. After 5.1 scoreless tonight, he's worked 25.1-consecutive scoreless innings.— John Kocsis Jr. (@JKocsis8) July 30, 2023
The @ColaFireflies franchise leaderboard:
Adonis Uceta - 29.1 (2017)
Matt Blackham - 26.2 (2017)
Ryan Ramsey - 25.1
Adam Adkins - 23.2 (2017) pic.twitter.com/lTxjJT1TpW
Right-hander Mauricio Veliz picked up the W in the team’s only win, with a strong seven-inning start. Veliz allowed one run on five hits, struck out four, and walked one. Veliz just turned 21 this month, and is in his third season with the organization after being signed as a minor league free agent in 2019.
Did you go to any games? Who did you see? Do you ever watch on MiLB.tv or listen to minor league broadcasts?