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TWitM: Gentry earns Omaha hitter of the year award

This Week in the Minors: Naturals win series but drop out of playoff picture in season finale; Omaha splits with Indy

Baseball player in a green-and-blue striped top and light blue hat, pointing toward the camera and grinning
Tyler Gentry MAY have seen the camera pointing at him. Hard to tell.
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, September 12 to Sunday, September 17

AAA Omaha Storm Chasers (27-40 in second half; 65-74 overall)

schedule | roster

The Storm Chasers played a home series against the Indianapolis Indians (PIT), and split the series 3-3. They are in Columbus now for one last series to wrap up the 2023 season, but all other levels are done.

The Storm Chasers named some award winners before Sunday’s game, and right fielder Tyler Gentry received the Hitter of the Year award. In this series, Gentry went 7-for-17 with a double and five walks. He stole three bases, including two on Sunday for his first career two-steal game (per Nick Badders on the game broadcast).

John Rave got caught up in a crowded outfield and had to DH four games, but he came up with four doubles and a homer among his six hits, so that worked out well for the Chasers.

Catcher Tyler Cropley recorded his first Triple-A hit, a thrilling RBI triple in Saturday’s win. With Logan Porter (and now Cropley!) in the Majors, José Briceño is now Omaha’s primary catcher. He only had three hits in three games, but two of them left the yard.

Omaha’s rotation provided three consecutive 6-inning starts in the middle of the series. Max Castillo was stuck with the L on Thursday, but he only allowed two runs in his six innings, with six strikeouts and no walks.

Lefty Anthony Veneziano was next up, and held Indy to one run in six frames, with just four hits and two walks allowed. Jonathan Bowlan got a W on Saturday, when he allowed two runs on five hits, with three strikeouts.

The team got some good relief out of two former Texas Rangers, righty Joe Barlow and left-hander Taylor Hearn. Barlow appeared twice, and pitched a shutout, no-hit inning each time. Hearn also contributed two shutout innings across two games, and he has not given up a run in his last five appearances.

AA Northwest Arkansas Naturals (36-34 in second half; 64-74 overall)

schedule | roster

The Naturals won four out of seven (including the completion of a suspended game from July) against the Arkansas Travelers (SEA) to finish their season.

In his third start since being moved up to Double-A, righty Eric Cerantola pitched a gem on Wednesday. In five shutout innings, Cerantola allowed no runs on two hits, zero walks, and seven strikeouts. The Royals drafted 23-year-old Montrealer in the 5th round in 2021.

Thursday’s win was started by righty Mason Barnett, who struck out eight and walked two in five innings. He allowed three runs on five hits.

In his season finale, RHP Chandler Champlain picked up the W with 6.1 solid innings. Champlain struck out six and allowed one earned run on two hits and three walks.

From the bullpen, left-hander T.J. Sikkema ended the season on a dominant note with three perfect innings. This outing came on the heels of two scoreless one-inning appearances last week.

RHP Jacob Wallace ended the 2023 campaign with a streak of 7.1 innings without allowing an earned run. In that stretch, he struck out seven and walked two, with five hits surrendered. Wallace was the return from Boston in a trade for Wyatt Mills last winter, and he spent all of 2023 with the Naturals.

Unless something happens with rosters very soon, 30-year-old outfielder Jorge Bonifacio will have spent the entire season with Northwest Arkansas. He finished the season with an 8-hit week series, and a season slash line of .266/.354/.476.

Corner outfielder Tucker Bradley ended up with seven hits in five games played in the series, but five of the hits came in just one game. Baseball is weird! Center fielder Diego Hernandez hit three doubles among seven hits against the Travs. Second baseman Peyton Wilson one-upped that performance by doubling four times.

How do you feel about the state of the farm system as the season comes to a close? Are there any personnel you would change? Who do you anticipate getting protected from the Rule 5 draft this winter?