This Week in the Minors: Nick Pratto hitting like his (great) hair is on fire, Kowar spins a gem, Matias promoted, and more.
‘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, August 17 through Sunday, August 22.
AAA Omaha Storm Chasers (51-43)
The Chasers dropped the first four against the Columbus Clippers (CLE) before picking up two really nice wins to complete the series. The Chasers have slipped into 3rd place, but are only 1.5 games behind first-place Toledo with a series against them and second-place St. Paul still ahead in the schedule.
Jackson Kowar dominated on Saturday, making it into the 7th with no runs allowed, nine strikeouts, a pair of walks, and just two hits allowed. The first strikeout of that game was his 100th of the season, so he now stands at a league-leading 108.
At the plate, the week belonged to Nick Pratto. Pratto had just come off a five-game hitless streak before a bloop hit fell in on Wednesday and broke the swoon. From there, it was a barrage: 10 hits, 11 RBI, 4 homers, a triple, and a pair of steals. He also made this double play with MJ Melendez that has left me slack-jawed for days.
— Omaha Storm Chasers (@OMAStormChasers) August 22, 2021
Center fielder Kyle Isbel went 8-for-22 with a double and a 3-run homer. Shortstop Bobby Witt, Jr. went 7-for-23 with three doubles and a homer.
— Minda Haas Kuhlmann (@minda33) August 23, 2021
Melendez didn’t have a ton of hits, but he drew six walks to keep himself on base. Four of the walks came in Sunday’s game.
Hard-throwing reliever Dylan Coleman made two appearances this week, throwing a total of three shutout innings with five strikeouts and no walks. He allowed just a pair of singles.
RHP Jakob Junis returned to action for Omaha for the first time since the end of June, and pitched three scoreless innings on Thursday.
AA Northwest Arkansas Naturals (49-46)
The Naturals won just a pair in this week’s series at Tulsa, a tough break as the gap in the division standings starts to widen.
Upon the promotion of MJ Melendez to Omaha, Meibrys Viloria was the odd catcher out in the roster crunch, and has been back at Double-A in order to keep getting playing time. This week, he went 7 for 20 with a double and a homer, and a stolen base.
Shortstop Jeison Guzman hit his first homer at Double-A this week, along with a trio of doubles. First baseman Vinnie Pasquantino went 6 for 22 with two doubles, and drew 5 walks.
JEISON GUZMÁN CLEARS THE BASES!@jeisonguzman01 drives in three with a double to center field and it puts the Naturals ahead!
— NW Arkansas Naturals (@nwanaturals) August 22, 2021
Right fielder Seuly Matias was promoted this week, and knocked out a few firsts at the Double-A level. Fittingly, his first hit was a home run. He did strike out 11 times versus just two walks drawn. But daaaaang, that arm!
THE DRILLERS HAVE NOT LEARNED
YOU DON’T TEST SEULY MATIAS’ ARM ‼️‼️‼️
— NW Arkansas Naturals (@nwanaturals) August 21, 2021
Right-handed reliever Collin Snider was called upon for two one-inning outings, and was perfect in both. According to an Instagram story, he was rewarded with a promotion back to Triple-A Omaha, where he started the season.
Also with a couple of great relief outings this week was LHP Daniel Tillo. Tillo hasn’t allowed a run in six consecutive appearances.
Adv-A Quad Cities River Bandits (63-31)
The River Bandits picked up four wins this week at the South Bend Cubs (obviously a CHC affiliate) and still hold an 11-game division lead.
Second baseman Michael Massey drove in a dozen runs this week with three homers, two doubles, and four singles. Two of the home runs came in Sunday’s win, and that was Massey’s second multi-homer game of the season.
— Quad Cities River Bandits (@QCRiverBandits) August 22, 2021
Nick Loftin drew six walks in addition to going 5-for-20 with two doubles and a homer. Loftin played shortstop exclusively for a while, but has mixed in a bunch of time at second base and even third over the past month.
Lefty Anthony Veneziano picked up two Wins in two solid starts this week. On Tuesday, he struck out seven and allowed two runs on six hits. Sunday’s start featured five shutout frames with five strikeouts and just three hits and a walk allowed.
Single-A Columbia Fireflies (45-51)
Columbia’s three wins over Charleston this week knocked the RiverDogs’s (TBR) winning percentage under .700, which is as good a result as any of their opponents can come away with.
John McMillon recently joined the Fireflies roster after the Royals signed him as an undrafted free agent last year. After a month and a half in Arizona, McMillon has started his pro tenure with three scoreless, hitless relief outings.
Lefty Rylan Kaufman notched a new career high in strikeouts with 9 in his start on Friday. In 5.1 innings, Kaufman allowed two runs on three hits and two walks, and plunked a batter.
Rylan Kaufman tonight for Columbia:
5.1 IP, 3 H, 2 BB, 9 K, 2 R
Kid is nasty, man. pic.twitter.com/tcBaA2JYcG
— Royals Farm Report (@RoyalsFarm) August 21, 2021
Middle infielder Tyler Tolbert was superb at the plate and on the basepaths this week. He went 7 for 19, drew 6 walks, and was hit by two pitches. That adds up to a .556 on base percentage, and in all that time on the bases, Tolbert stole 6 bases in as many attempts. He has 49 steals on the season, good for the lead in the Royals organization.
Tolbert’s partner in the middle infield, 20-year-old Herard Gonzalez, had a tidy little pack of stats this week: in 5 games, he had 5 hits, 5 walks drawn, 5 RBI, and 5 strikeouts.
1B/C Saul Garza doubled three times among his 6 hits, drew 4 walks, and was hit by two pitches.
Did you go to any minor league games this week? Who stood out to you?