The KC Royals went 3-1 in Chicago after the All-Star break and increased their lead in the American League Central to six games over Minnesota (the largest lead in the Majors). The Royals return home to begin a three-game series versus Pittsburgh tonight.
Triple-A Omaha went 2-2 in Nashville following the All-Star break and dropped to a second place tie in the Pacific Coast League American Northern Division (nine games back at 51-43). The Storm Chasers open an eight day homestand tonight, beginning with five games against first place OKC.
Miguel Almonte made his Triple-A debut on Friday and pitched well. He allowed one run on one hit, a walk, and a hit batter over five innings. He struck out eight.
Double-A NW Arkansas went 2-5 last week and continue to sit in last place in the Texas League North Division (4.5 games back). The Naturals continue their home series against Tulsa tonight, with lefty Sean Manaea making his Double-A debut.
Kris Medlen made his final rehab start on Wednesday and pitched the best he has since he began his comeback. Over seven shutout innings, Medlen allowed three hits and walked two while striking out four.
High-A Wilmington went 3-4 last week, yet moved into first place in the Carolina League Northern Division (1/2 game up). The Blue Rocks continue their road trip in Carolina tonight.
The Blue Rocks had more roster moves last week, as outfielder Dexter Kjerstad was released. First baseman Cody Stubbs retired and took a coaching job at his alma mater, North Carolina. They added fellow first baseman Ryan O’Hearn (1-for-11 with an RBI) and pitchers Evan Beal and Torey Deshazier (Deshazier was optioned back to Lexington after his disatrous debut).
Low-A Lexington went 1-5 last week and dropped to four games back in the South Atlantic League Southern Division (fifth place). The Legends finish up their road trip in West Virginia tonight.
The Legends added 2015 draft pick Anderson Miller, who is a hometown kid that attended Western Kentucky. In his debut on Sunday, he went 1-for-4 with a strikeout.
Now to the awards…
Royals Hitter of the Week: The All-Star Game and break did not slow down outfielder Lorenzo Cain. Over the four game weekend, LoCain went 7-for-17 (.412) with two doubles and two home runs. He scored three runs, drove in three runs, and stole a base.
Royals Pitcher of the Week: When the Royals need a deep outing by a starter, Danny Duffy gave them just that on Sunday afternoon. With his spot in the rotation on the line, he allowed one run (a solo home run in the ninth) on six hits and a walk over eight-plus innings. He struck out four in his longest career outing.
Honorable Mention: Scrap heap relievers (and former teammates) Ryan Madson and Joe Blanton recorded saves in back-to-back games this weekend. Madson, the former closer for Philadelphia, had not recorded a save since 2011. Blanton, who is fighting for his roster spot, recorded his first career save on Sunday.
Minor League Hitter of the Week: Naturals outfielder Bubba Starling seems to be heating back up at the plate. He went 8-for-20 (.400) last week with three doubles and a homer. He scored a run and drove in two. Unfortunately, Starling crashed into the outfield wall on Saturday night and was carted off the field. Naturals manager Vance Wilson said he just bruised his knee and is day-to-day.
Minor League Pitcher of the Week: Blue Rocks reliever Estarlin Cordero gave the team some depth last week. In two appearances (totaling 6.2 innings), he allowed two hits and walked two while striking out five.
Honorable Mention: With an extremely thin bullpen, Blue Rocks starter Jake Junis gave them a much needed LONG outing. On Friday night, he allowed one run on four hits and a walk over eight innings. He struck out five.
*I expect there will be some roster moves over the next few days with the four players coming back from winning the silver medal in the Pan Am Games and Jason Vargas and Medlen expected to be activated from the DL.