‘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 29 to Sunday, September 3
AAA Omaha Storm Chasers (20-35 in second half; 58-69 overall)
The Storm Chasers hosted the Louisville Bats (CIN) and split the series 3-3.
Anthony Veneziano was the bookend starter in the series, throwing on both Tuesday and Sunday. As is custom with him, he did much better the second time facing the same opponent. On Sunday, he allowed no earned runs in six innings, with six punchouts and three walks, and he also started this cool double play:
PSA: Pitchers are athletes too pic.twitter.com/W96eraLjuE— Omaha Storm Chasers (@OMAStormChasers) September 3, 2023
Jon Bowlan had a nice bounceback start this week, tossing six innings in Wednesday’s game and getting the W for his efforts. Bowlan allowed just one run on five hits, all singles, and struck out six. Righty Max Castillo pitched on Saturday, and struck out six in 5.2 innings, with just one run allowed.
The best reliever of the week was Jonathan Heasley, who pitched the 9th inning twice. He allowed no runs and just one hit in the two total innings. Heasley has not given up a run in his last five games, all in relief. Four of those were the 9th inning, and he earned his first professional save in that stretch last week against the Saints.
Devin Mann went 5-for-18 while playing four games at third base and one at second. His hits included three doubles and a home run. Right fielder Tyler Gentry is on a 9-game hit streak, covering all of the past two series.
Here, let’s look at another cool double play:
Don't run on Tyler Gentry pic.twitter.com/shby7TWJgN— Omaha Storm Chasers (@OMAStormChasers) September 2, 2023
AA Northwest Arkansas Naturals (28-29 in second half; 56-69 overall)
This was a really important series for the Naturals’ playoff hopes. Unfortunately NWArk won just two of six against the Springfield Cardinals (STL) to fall behind Springfield into third place, and four games out of first. Neither of the season’s remaining two series are against teams ahead of them. Get ready for some scoreboard watching!
Second baseman Peyton Wilson came up with five multi-hit games in the series, totaling 11 hits. Shortstop Tyler Tolbert reached double digits in the hit column as well, with a double, two triples and a homer rounding out his 10 hits. Tolbert also stole two bases, giving him 47 on the season.
That makes 10HR and 10 3B this season for Tyler Tolbert. He's just the 11th minor leaguer since 2006 to accomplish that feat and steal 40+ bases in the same season.— Preston Farr (@royalsminors) September 2, 2023
Brett Phillips was the last #Royals prospect with 10HR and 10 3B in a season, back in 2019. https://t.co/M6gQDmECgJ
First baseman Dillan Shrum had an odd stat line in the series, with a .600 on base percentage bolstered by the fact that he got hit by a pitch four times. Ouch! He also went 6-for-14 with two doubles and a homer in five games played.
Righty William Fleming gave six solid innings on Wednesday, allowing just one run on five hits. He struck out four and walked one. Left-hander Noah Cameron followed that the next day with seven strikeouts and no walks in five innings. He did allow three runs on five hits, but ended up with the W.
In four consecutive starts, right-hander Mason Barnett has struck out six batters. In Friday’s game, Barnett got the win as well, with two runs allowed on four hits and two walks. Since being promoted to Double-A, the 22-year-old has struck out 31 batter in 24 innings, and walked seven.
Adv-A Quad Cities River Bandits (22-38 in second half; 54-72 overall)
The River Bandits hosted the Peoria Chiefs (STL) and won just two out of the six.
Third baseman Shervyen Newton doubled twice and homered twice as part of seven total hits in the series. That gave the 24-year-old a slash line of .310/.370/.571 for the month of August, his best full month of the season.
Catcher/first baseman Kale Emshoff hit in every game he played, piling up seven total hits. One of those was his second triple of the year, and he presented the highlight to his Twitter followers with an invitation to laugh at/with him.
Want a good laugh? Watch this pic.twitter.com/NhUtB1augG— Kale Emshoff (@Kale_Emshoff) September 3, 2023
Shortstop Dustin Dickerson went 8-for-22 with four walks and two HBPs. Dickerson is now 26 games deep into his pro career after being drafted from Southern Miss in the 8th round in June.
Frank Mozzicato has now pitched three consecutive games with game scores over 60. The one in this series was a bit unconventional: he didn’t allow any earned runs in five innings and struck out seven! He allowed just two hits! Those are great numbers. But of concern, perhaps, are the six walks he issued.
Lefty Ben Wereski pitched in three games, and ended up giving the team a no-hit inning in all of them. He is now on a streak of eight straight games with no runs allowed. Right-hander Chase Wallace was called out of the bullpen twice in the series, and twice he delivered two shutout innings.
Single-A Columbia Fireflies (29-31 in second half; 64-61 overall)
The Fireflies earned a series split against the Delmarva Shorebirds (BAL).
The Columbia offense was led by third baseman Trevor Werner, who won league player of the week last week...and again this week! Werner walked six times, and went 9-for-21 with three doubles and two homers. Sunday was his 23rd birthday. Pretty good week!
On the other corner, 1B Brett Squires drove in a ton of runs in the series, thanks in part to a walkoff grand slam on Saturday that eliminated Delmarva from the playoffs. He had nine hits overall, including a triple, a double, and two grand slams. Squires also stole two bases to take the team lead in that category, with 30 on the season.
Second baseman Lizandro Rodriguez went 7-for-18 with a triple and a homer, plus two steals. Center fielder Carson Roccaforte doubled three times among his eight hits in the series to bring his season line through 26 games as a professional to .347/.448/.463.
What do you hope to see in the remaining two weeks of the season? Have you been to any minor league games lately?