The KC Royals went 1-4 last week and dropped to five games back of first place Cleveland (who has won nine in a row) in the American League Central (39-35). The Royals begin an Interleague set with St. Louis tonight (two at home and two at the Cardinals).
Left fielder Alex Gordon was activated from the DL this weekend and he went 3-for-9 with a double, a solo home run, and two runs scored in his return.
Triple-A Omaha went 2-5 last week and still sit in last place in the Pacific Coast League American Northern Division at 32-43 (nine games back). The Storm Chasers finish up their road series at Nashville over the next two days.
Outfielder Brett Eibner returned to the Storm Chasers yesterday and struck out in all four of his at-bats. Kris Medlen moved his rehab assignment to Omaha and allowed an unearned run on two hits and a walk over 4.2 innings. He struck out five.
Reliever Matt Murray, who returned from his PED suspension on June 3rd, was released. Murray was on the DL and pitched in just four games for Omaha (7IP, 8H, 9R, 3HR, 2HBP, 3BB, 3K).
Double-A NW Arkansas has gone 4-2 to start the second half. The Naturals will enjoy the three-day All-Star break and return to action on Thursday at home against Midland.
Third baseman Mauricio Ramos, 1B/DH Frank Schwindel (a HR Derby participant), and pitcher Jake Junis will represent NWA in Tuesday’s Texas League All-Star Game.
High-A Wilmington did not have the start to the second half that they wanted, losing three of four at Winston-Salem (still have not been over .500 at any point this season). The Blue Rocks return home for seven games beginning tonight against first half champion Lynchburg.
To start the second half, the Blue Rocks received first baseman Samir Duenez from Low-A Lexington. Duenez has gone 4-for-16 with a double and two RBIs since joining the team. Fellow first baseman Josh Banuelos was released (.177 with three doubles and four RBIs in 26 games with Wilmington).
On Saturday, the Blue Rocks received shortstop Raul Mondesi. Since he is on the 40-man roster, Mondesi can begin a “rehab” assignment prior to being allowed back into official games with NWA on July 4th (barring any Naturals rain outs). He is expected to stay with the Blue Rocks until he can be activated. Mondesi went 1-for-8 with four strikeouts in his first two games.
Low-A Lexington started the second half being swept in a four-game home series with Hagerstown. The Legends head to West Virginia for three games beginning tonight.
After spending two months on the DL, the Legends got first baseman Brandon Dulin back. He has gone 1-for-10 with a homer and four RBIs since his return.
Now to the awards…
Royals Hitters of the Week: It has been a tough year so far for shortstop Alcides Escobar, but hopefully this past week is a sign of things to come. Esky went 9-for-21 (.429) with a double and a solo home run. That raised his season average to .255.
Third baseman Cheslor Cuthbert showed off his power, hitting a double and three homers, while driving in seven. Oh and he hit .368 (7-for-19) for the week.
Royals Pitchers of the Week: Starting pitching has not been good for the Royals, but Ian Kennedy bucked that trend last week. Picking up the only victory (1-1), Kennedy allowed just three runs on seven hits (three homers) and two walks over 11 innings. He struck out 13.
Brian Flynn gave the Royals much needed relief. In two games (totaling six innings), he allowed one run on three hits and two walks while striking out seven.
Minor League Hitters of the Week: The bottom of the NWA lineup has begun to heat up as we head into the summer. Shortstop Jack Lopez has hovered below the Mendoza line all season, but is finally beginning to climb out of his season long slump. Last week, he went 9-for-22 (.409) with a home run (his fifth) and five RBIs. Lopez also scored six runs and is in the midst of a seven-game hitting streak.
Infielder-turned-outfielder Carlos Garcia also has struggled all season, but finally seems to be coming around. He is in the midst of a five-game hitting streak, going 8-for-19 (.421). Garcia scored three runs.
Minor League Pitchers of the Week: Lefty Eric Stout pitched twice for NWA last week. Over 4.2 scoreless innings, he walked just one while striking out six. Right-hander Yender Caramo also pitched twice last week. Over 5.2 innings, he allowed a run on five hits while striking out four.
*It was a good week for NWA and it was only fitting that they should sweep the awards.