The KC Royals went 3-4 last week, but increased their lead in the American League Central to eight games over Minnesota (still the largest in Major League Baseball). The Royals enjoy their first off day since the All-Star break before beginning a three-game series in Detroit on Tuesday.
The Royals made a splash right before the trading deadline, acquiring starter Johnny Cueto and then utility fielder Ben Zobrist (for five pitchers). Cueto made his Royals debut on Friday night in Toronto, allowing three runs on seven hits and two walks over six innings. He struck out seven. I will have more on Zobrist later.
Triple-A Omaha went 4-3 last week and are 4.5 games back of OKC in the Pacific Coast League American Northern Division. The Storm Chasers continue their home series with Nashville tonight.
Not only did Omaha lose three starting pitchers to the Royals trades, they also lost infielder Dusty Coleman and starter Yohan Pino to the DL. Yet they continue to fight for a playoff spot. They did sign pitcher Paul Clemens and he debuted Sunday night.
NWA also lost two starters to the trades, but did receive Brooks Pounders and Kevin McCarthy as reinforcements. Pounders made the Friday night start and allowed two runs on three hits and three walks over 4.2 innings. He struck out three. McCarthy debuted in relief on Saturday night and earned the victory in the Naturals walk off win (3IP, 4H, R, BB, 3K).
Kyle Zimmer also made his first start of the 2015 season, going four innings on Sunday (2H, 2R, HR, 2BB, 5K).
High-A Wilmington has lost eight in a row and are now 6.5 games back in the Carolina League Northern Division (14-23). The Blue Rocks begin a six-game road trip, starting in Myrtle Beach on Tuesday night.
Pedro Fernandez made his debut on Sunday.
Low-A Lexington went 1-5 last week and dropped to six games back in the South Atlantic League Southern Division (14-19). The Legends begin a seven-game homestand, starting tonight against Augusta.
Now to the awards…
Royals Hitter of the Week: For the second straight week, this honor goes to first baseman Eric Hosmer. He went 13-for-29 (.448) with two doubles, two home runs, and nine RBIs. He also scored eight runs. Oh and Hosmer did not strike out.
Best Debut: Ben Zobrist is easily becoming a fan favorite. It took him a day, but he collected his first hit as a Royal on Friday night in Toronto, driving in two runs in the first. Zobrist went on to hit three home runs over the weekend, including one from each side of the plate on Saturday. Overall, he went 5-for-15 (.333) with a double and six RBIs.
Royals Pitcher of the Week: The Royals pitching wasn’t all that great last week, but closer Greg Holland did earn two saves. Over two innings, he allowed a hit and walked two.
Minor League Hitter of the Week: Storm Chasers outfielder Brett Eibner is in the midst of a six-game hitting streak. Last week he went 9-for-26 (.346) with three doubles, four runs scored, and two RBIs.
Honorable Mention: Outfielder Lane Adams‘ 15-game hitting streak came to an end on Sunday night. Over the last week, he went 12-for-30 (.400) with four doubles, a homer, five RBIs, and five runs scored.
Power Hitter of the Week: Naturals third baseman Hunter Dozier hit three home runs and drove in ten runs. All of that output came in three games.
Minor League Pitcher of the Week: Pitching in Triple-A for the first time in his seven year career, JC Sulbaran shined in his Omaha debut on Friday night. He allowed one run on two hits and two walks over 6.2 innings. He struck out nine. It was the first time all season that Sulbaran had lasted more than six innings.
Honorable Mentions: Blue Rocks reliever Evan Beal did not allow a run over two appearances (totaling six innings). Beal allowed six hits and walked three, while striking out five.
Jonathan Dziedzic made one start and then his first relief appearance since 2013 on Sunday night. Over ten innings, he allowed three runs (two earned) on five hits and two walks while striking out eight.