The KC Royals went 5-1 last week to move into first place in the American League Central. They swept visiting Chicago over the weekend with three late inning comebacks. On Saturday, the Royals scored seven runs in the bottom of the ninth to win, as Drew Butera tied the game with a double and Brett Eibner, who made his Major League debut on Friday night, drove in the winning run with a single.
On Sunday, the Royals scored three runs in the bottom of the eighth to take the lead. Eibner walked with the bases loaded to tie the game and Cheslor Cuthbert drove in the go ahead run with a single.
Speaking of Eibner, he went 5-for-11 (.455) over the weekend with two doubles, two runs scored, and two RBIs. That is much needed as Alex Gordon was placed on the DL on Monday with a wrist injury and Mike Moustakas is out for the year with an ACL tear. Oh and Salvador Perez is out about a week with a quad contusion. That brought up veteran Tony Cruz as the backup and sent reliever Peter Moylan back to Triple-A (4.1IP, 6H, 2R, BB, 2K). Chris Young also returned from the DL and picked up the win on Sunday.
Triple-A Omaha went 2-4 last week, losing both series at home (26-22 overall). The Storm Chasers now head to Colorado Springs for four games.
They had two players make their Triple-A debuts and one make a return (plus lefty Brian Flynn was sent back to begin starting). Reliever Benino Pruneda made his debut on Wednesday, throwing three innings. Ramon Torres made his debut on Friday and has gone 3-for-17 with a double and an RBI. Orlando Calixte made his return on Friday and has gone 3-for-15 with a double. They also received catcher Zane Evans from Double-A (he debuted today).
The Royals signed veterans Steve Tolleson and lefty Joe Beimel. Tolleson made his debut Saturday against El Paso. In two games with Omaha, he went 0-for-2 with a strikeout.
Double-A NW Arkansas went 3-4 last week and sit 4.5 games back in the Texas League North Division (23-26 overall). The Naturals return home for six games beginning Tuesday night against San Antonio.
Infielder Corey Toups made his Double-A debut on Thursday and has gone 3-for-14 with a triple, two walks, an RBI, and two runs scored. Lefty reliever Estarlin Cordero was placed on the DL.
High-A Wilmington went 4-2 last week, but are still 14.5 games back in the Carolina League Northern Division (17-31). They are also six games from elimination. The Blue Rocks are finishing up their series in Myrtle Beach before heading home for three games against first place Lynchburg.
Infielder Brian Bien made his season debut on Friday as a late inning defensive replacement. He made his first start on Sunday (0-for-2). Cody Jones made his High-A debut on Tuesday and has gone 4-for-24 with two walks, two RBIs, four runs scored, and three stolen bases. Lefty Colin Rodgers returned from the DL.
Low-A Lexington went 3-4 last week and are still 9.5 games back in the South Atlantic League Southern Division (21-29 overall). The Legends begin a six-game homestand tonight against Greensboro.
Gerson Garabito made his season debut on Monday in the start (4IP, 7H, 5R, 0BB, 2K) and pitched twice last week. Lefty Mark McCoy was demoted from Wilmington and allowed two runs on four hits and two walks over 1.1 innings on Thursday. Outfielder Roman Collins was also demoted from Wilmington, making his Legends debut on Tuesday. He has gone 6-for-23 with a double, a triple, five runs scored, and two RBIs.
Now to the awards…
Royals Hitters of the Week: The Royals offense, which has sputtered all season, came to life this week. Salvador Perez was on fire when he got hurt, going 10-for-19 (.526) with a triple, a home run, five runs scored, and four RBIs.
Rookie Whit Merrifield has been HOT since making his big league debut. He went 11-for-28 (.393) with four doubles, seven runs scored, and four RBIs while settling nicely into the second spot in the order.
Royals Pitcher of the Week: How often can you say that Chien-Ming Wang pitched in three games in a week? That is exactly what happened last week, as Wang threw four scoreless innings, allowing two hits and a walk while striking out three.
Minor League Hitters of the Week: Lexington’s Chase Vallot may struggle behind the plate, but he hasn’t struggled too much standing in the batter’s box. Last week, he went 8-for-23 (.348) with two doubles, a homer, two runs scored, and eight RBIs. Six of those RBIs came on Sunday.
First baseman/DH Balbino Fuenmayor is starting to heat up for Omaha. He has raised his batting average to .284 with a 10-for-24 (.417) week. Fuenmayor hit five doubles, a homer, and drove in three runs.
Minor League Pitcher of the Week: This guy would also be my Pitcher of the Month for May. Right-hander Jake Junis has emerged this season in his first taste of Double-A as more than an innings-eater or an often overlooked reliable arm. He has pitched like an ace. Last week, Junis started twice (once on short rest), throwing 12 innings. He allowed one run on six hits and two walks while striking out 12. Oh and Junis only threw a combined 144 pitches, 91 for strikes.
Honorable Mention: Veteran John Lannan keeps giving Omaha quality starts. Back in the rotation after two appearances out of the bullpen, he went into the 8th inning twice. In two victories, Lannan allowed three runs on 12 hits over 15.2 innings. He struck out six.