This Week in the Minors: Nick Loftin earns league POTW award for Quad Cities; Nick Pratto hits another grand slam; Blake Perkins hits two grand slams
‘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?”
Today, we’ll cover results from Tuesday, July 27 through Sunday, August 1.
AAA Omaha Storm Chasers (44-32)
A 2-and-4 week at Toledo left the Storm Chasers hanging on to their position by the skin of their teeth, as the Mud Hens (DET) needed that exact record to tie Omaha for first place.
A couple of new additions to the Storm Chasers pen provided some relief in an otherwise tough week. RHP Andres Nunez was recently promoted from Double-A, and he chipped in three shutout outings this week, totaling five innings. Former Blue Jay Joel Payamps came to the org via trade for our old friend Cash Considerations, and he has yet to allow a run in his 5-game tenure with the Chasers. Three of those zero-run outings came this week at Toledo.
Jackson Kowar struck out 8 batters for the third start in a row, but this one unfortunately also came with 4 runs allowed and 4 walks in 4 innings.
Second baseman Angelo Castellano drove in 4 runs this week, all in one swing. His grand slam on Thursday provided the runs the Chasers needed to pick up a win, and the opportunity for me to make a suuuuuper dumb joke on Twitter.
Nick Pratto hit two more home runs this week, along with three doubles and one single. One of the homers was his second grand slam in three games! The first baseman did strike out 9 times, however, and walked once.
— Omaha Storm Chasers (@OMAStormChasers) July 29, 2021
That whole game was bonkers, and ended with an Edward Olivares home run to deliver a 14-12 (!) win.
AA Northwest Arkansas Naturals (40-37)
The Naturals split a series with the first place Wichita Wind Surge (MIN). Like last week, Northwest Arkansas is in 4th place, but just 3.5 games back.
In his five games, catcher/DH Fredddy Fermin smashed three homers and three doubles as part of an 11-for-18 effort. Fermin also drew six walks and only struck out twice, and was named Player of the Week for his efforts. His counterpart in the catching efforts, MJ Melendez, drew 8 walks and hit two more home runs to reach 25 of those on the season.
Outfielder Blake Perkins hit a grand slam on Sunday, which was cool AND also, it was his second grand slam of the week.
YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING US ‼️‼️
BLAKE PERKINS HITS HIS SECOND GRAND SLAM OF THE WEEK TO GIVE THE NATURALS THE LEAD @theBlakePerkins you are INCREDIBLE
— NW Arkansas Naturals (@nwanaturals) August 1, 2021
First baseman Vinnie Pasquantino had three multi-hit game, including a two-homer game. Outfielder Dairon Blanco drove in 11 runs with 10 hits, including three dingers.
Brewer Hicklen made a catch that ended up on SportsCenter!
— NW Arkansas Naturals (@nwanaturals) August 3, 2021
Left-hander Austin Cox picked up his third consecutive W with his start on ThursdayDespite issuing four walks, Cox kept the Wind Surge off the board for six innings, thanks to seven Ks and just one hit allowed.
Third baseman Emmanuel Rivera began a rehab assignment with the Naturals this week, with 4 hits in 15 at bats. Rivera was injured partway into his 2nd-ever MLB game, on June 29. Lefty Foster Griffin’s rehab from Tommy John moved to NWArk this week, and he allowed one run in 4.1 innings, with no walks and 4 strikeouts.
Adv-A Quad Cities River Bandits (51-25)
The River Bandits finished off a two-week homestand by winning five out of six against the South Bend Cubs (guess their affiliation). In addition the 8-game division lead, Quad Cities is also best in their league in these ways: most hits, fewest strikeouts, highest batting average, OBP, AND slugging percentage; and highest OPS (which makes sense).
To that end, lots of QC hitters had a great week. For example, center fielder John Rave was NOT the River Bandit who was named league player of the week, even though he smacked 12 hits that included 3 homers and a pair of doubles. That’s a SLG of 1.095 for the week.
John Rave is a low key name I like in the Royals system. Known for his speed more than anything. He showed some pop with his 8th homer of the year, sending it over the CF wall. pic.twitter.com/6MpxOsWMm7
— Trevor Hooth (@HoothTrevor) August 1, 2021
No, the POTW honors went to infielder Nick Loftin, who hit for the cylce on Sunday. The hit that completed that feat was a walk-off homer to the base of the Ferris wheel. On the week, Loftin went 12-for-23 with three doubles, two triples, and two homers. He only struck out twice in all of that.
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) August 1, 2021
Left fielder Eric Cole drew 5 walks along with his 8-hit week, giving him an OBP of .565. Among those hits were two doubles, a triple, and a homer. Third baseman Nathan Eaton also walked five times, while hitting 7-for-20 including one of each type of extra-base hit.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention right fielder Seuly Matias’s four homers this week, but I’d also be remiss if I didn’t mention they were accompanied by 8 strikeouts and 1 walk.
The best pitching performance of the week was lefty Anthony Veneziano, who struck out a career-high 10 batters in 6 shutout innings on Saturday.
Single-A Columbia Fireflies (38-39)
Columbia played seven games in six days against the runaway first-place Charleston RiverDogs (TBR), and won three of them. That was good enough to stay in second place, but Charleston is up by 16 games.
Catcher Kale Emshoff had 4 hits in Saturday’s nail-biter win, in which the Fireflies held off a 9th-inning rally to hold on to the victory. Emshoff went 8-for-21 overall on the week with a home run.
— Royals Farm Report (@RoyalsFarm) August 2, 2021
Catcher/first baseman Felix Familia has been with the organization since 2017, when he was 18. He played a total of 166 games before his first career home run, which he hit on Sunday. Utility infielder Rubendy Jaquez went 7-for-18 and stole two bases.
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Did you go to any minor league games this week? Who stood out to you? Did you snag any cool giveaway items?