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This Week in the Minors: River Town’s three dingers

This Week in the Minors: Naturals hang in there in the standings with solid rotation, River Town’s walkoff homer, more production from new draftees

Cedar Rapids Kernels v. Davenport Blue Sox Photo by Daniel Shirey/MLB Photos via Getty Images

‘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, August 15 to Sunday, August 20

AAA Omaha Storm Chasers (14-29 in second half; 52-63 overall)

schedule | roster

The Storm Chasers won two games in a road series against the Toledo Mud Hens (DET), leaving their total number of wins in August at...two.

Right-handed reliever Collin Snider was a factor in both the wins, picking up a save and a win. He pitched three times in the series and did not give up any runs, in a total of 4.2 innings.

Edward Olivares hit well in the series, as is his custom in Triple-A. In five games, he came up with eight hits, including a home run and two doubles.

While mixing in playing time at third base, right field, center field, and DH, Nate Eaton went 7-for-23 with a double and two steals.

AA Northwest Arkansas Naturals (23-21 in second half; 52-61 overall)

schedule | roster

The Naturals pulled their second-half record up over .500 with a 4-2 series win over the Corpus Christi Hooks (HOU). Things remain pretty interesting in the Texas League standings for our Springdale contingent.

Tyson Guerrero pitched five shutout innings in his second-ever Double-A start. Guerrero struck out eight batters and allowed just one hit, two walks, and one hit batter.

Right-hander Chandler Champlain continued his successful season with season-high nine strikeouts on Wednesday. Champlain allowed one earned run in 6.1 innings, with three walks and five hits allowed.

Righty Mason Barnett’s second and third Double-A starts came in this series, and both were solid. On Tuesday, the 22-year-old struck out six and allowed one run in four innings, but his pitched count crept up into the high 80s. Sunday, he struck out six again, this time in five shutout innings and 78 pitches.

In his second series since being promoted to Double-A, Javier Vaz went 6-for-15 with a homer, plus four walks. He has played mostly left field since his promotion.

All of center fielder Diego Hernandez’s seven hits were singles, but he helped himself to extra bases with six steals in six attempts. Tyler Tolbert swiped four bags to bring his season total to 42, tied for third in the Texas League.

Adv-A Quad Cities River Bandits (18-30 in second half; 50-64 overall)

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The River Bandits hosted the Beloit Sky Carp (MIA) and came away with a 3-3 split, but still find themselves in last place in the division standings.

Among left fielder River Town’s seven hits in the series were hit three dingers, including a walkoff on Sunday.

C/1B Kale Emshoff went 8-for-20 with a homer and a double. He also walked three times and stole a base. Infielder Shervyn Newton contributed seven hits, including three doubles and a triple, plus a pair of steals.

Lefty Frank Mozzicato pitched his best game since his early-July promotion to Quad Cities. In his Tuesday start, the 2021 first rounder struck out eight in five innings. He let in one run on a longball, but allowed just two singles besides that.

Right-hander Eric Cerantola struck out eight for the second consecutive game, this time in four innings of relief. Speaking of the bullpen, lefty Marlin Willis pitched three perfect innings in two games in the series, adding to his five-inning nearly-perfect streak that I mentioned last week.

Single-A Columbia Fireflies (23-25 in second half; 58-55 overall)

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The Fireflies split a home series against the Myrtle Beach Pelicans (CHC), concluding with a big 16-3 win on Sunday.

Henry Williams made his second start as a member of the Royals organization and pitched pretty well again: five innings, one earned run allowed (via solo homer), five strikeouts, and one walk. The righty will turn 22 next month.

Three Fireflies starters bounced back well from bad starts last week:

  • Right-hander Shane Panzini went from a game score of 4 in his last start to 68 this week against the Pelicans. He threw five shutout innings with seven strikeouts, with just two walks and two singles surrendered.
  • Lefty Oscar Rayo followed up a tough eight-run stat line to picking up a W with 6.2 innings and just one run allowed.
  • RHP Mauricio Veliz got Sunday’s win with two runs surrendered in six strong innings, after giving up six runs in his previous start.

Right-handed reliever Mack Anglin hasn’t given up a run or even a hit in his last four appearances, totaling 6.2 innings. He has struck out five but also walked five in that stretch.

Corner outfielder Jared Dickey was on base for a majority of the series, with 10 hits and four walks leading to a .609 OBP. Dickey was drafted in June out of the University of Tennessee, and is slashing .365/.460/.500 in his first two weeks with the Fireflies.

Two other 2023 draftees with hot bats in the series were third baseman Trevor Werner and center fielder Carson Roccaforte. Werner went 6-for-20 with three doubles and a triple. Roccaforte drew seven walks in addition to six hits. Roccaforte also stole five (!) bases in as many attempts.

Did you go to any games this week? Suddenly, the season could be described as “almost over.”