The KC Royals went just 2-5 last week, yet still have a 4.5 game lead in the American League Central over the Minnesota Twins. The Royals start a four-game series with Tampa Bay tonight.
On Sunday, the AL All-Star starters were announced and the Royals had a franchise-best four starters named.
Triple-A Omaha went 5-3 last week and moved into second place in the Pacific Coast League American Northern Division (nine games back). The Storm Chasers continue their series at first place OKC tonight.
The Storm Chasers have two rehabbing starters, though Yordano Ventura is expected to return to the Royals to start on Thursday (he was scheduled to start tonight for Omaha). Ventura pitched on July 1st and allowed a run on three hits, a hit batter, and three walks over 5.1 innings. He struck out four. Kris Medlen made two rehab starts last week, with his start on Sunday being his best so far since returning from Tommy John surgery. On Sunday, he allowed two runs (a solo homer) on five hits, a hit batter, and a walk over six innings. He struck out two.
The Storm Chasers lost three players to the Pan-Am Games (first baseman Casey Kotchman and pitchers Buddy Baumann and Casey Coleman), but gained two outfielders from the DL (Jose Martinez and Reymond Fuentes). First baseman Matt Fields was released.
Double-A NW Arkansas went 2-2 in the shortened week due to the Texas League All-Star Game. The first half champions are two games back in the second half at 4-6. The Naturals continue their series at Midland tonight.
Reliever Ali Williams was released, as prospect Kyle Zimmer was promoted from Low-A Lexington. Zimmer struck out five of the six batters he faced on July 2nd.
High-A Wilmington went 4-3 last week and are one game back in the second half (6-4). The first half champions finish up their series at first place Potomac tonight.
Low-A Lexington went 4-3 last week and remain in first place at 6-3 in the South Atlantic League Southern Division. The Legends continue their homestand tonight against Asheville.
Now to the awards…
Royals Hitter of the Week: Lorenzo Cain, who was voted in as an AL starter by the fans, has gotten hot at the right time (despite dealing with a hamstring strain). He went 11-for-26 (.423) with four doubles, a triple, three RBIs, and four runs scored.
Royals Pitchers of the Week: These two relievers have struggled for the most part this season for the Royals, but pitched well last week. Luke Hochevar did not allow a base runner over 2.1 innings. He struck out two. Jason Frasor allowed two hits and a walk over two innings. He struck out three.
Minor League Hitter of the Week: Blue Rocks third baseman Mauricio Ramos was named Carolina League Player of the Week. He went 13-for-23 (.565) with three doubles and four home runs. Ramos scored seven runs and drove in ten runs. He is in the midst of a six-game hitting streak.
Honorable Mention: This is a tie between Omaha teammates. Storm Chasers leadoff hitter Whit Merrifield went 11-for-30 (.367) with two doubles and a home run. He scored four runs and drove in four. Merrifield is in the midst of a six-game hitting streak (four straight multi-hit games). Brett Eibner went 11-for-26 (.423) with two doubles, a triple, and a home run. He scored eight runs and drove in two.
Minor League Pitcher of the Week: Sean Manaea is back and pitching well. He made two road starts for Wilmington last week and was hurt by some questionable Blue Rocks defense. Over 11 innings, he allowed four runs (one earned) on ten hits while striking out 13. Manaea has yet to walk a batter and has picked off three base runners. I was in attendance in Potomac for his second start on July 4th.
Best debut in promotion: First baseman Balbino Fuenmayor finally was promoted to Triple-A (though at the cost of Matt Fields). In two starts against OKC, he was 3-for-9 with five RBIs.
League honors: Naturals Utility man Alex Liddi was named the Texas League Player of the Week. The TL All-Star went 7-for-15 with a double and two homers. He scored four runs and drove in five.