The fine folks at the Northwest Arkansas Naturals provide us with a brief rundown of the Royals farm system every week. The details are listed below:
Royals Farm Report: April 28th
A look at the Royals farm system three weeks into the season
As of last week’s farm report, the Omaha Storm Chasers (Pacific Coast League) had climbed back to .500. The team turned its play up another notch in the past seven days, putting together an undefeated mark of 5-0 since last week’s report. At 12-7, the Storm Chasers now hold a two game lead over second-place Iowa in the PCL’s American Northern Division.
Clint Robinson has continued to pace Omaha’s offense, slugging two home runs in a game against Memphis on Apr. 26. Robinson leads the team with six doubles, six homers and 14 RBI. Eric Hosmer’s nine-game hit streak was snapped this week, but the first baseman had a pair of multi-hit games and is hitting .380 with a .458 on-base percentage. Lefty Danny Duffy has not allowed a run since his first start of the season and carries a 1.29 ERA, while Everett Teaford allowed just one run in six innings during his last start. Reliever Blaine Hardy threw five scoreless innings this week and has an ERA of 1.13 in eight innings this season.
Outfielder Paulo Orlando has slumped recently with just one hit in his last five games, while Manny Pina went just 2-for-13 last week and is batting .139. After missing the beginning of the season due to injury, Lorenzo Cain is off to a .238 start through his first 11 games. For the most part, Omaha’s pitching staff was dominant last week, though Kanekoa Texeira allowed a run on two hits in his only inning since being sent down from Kansas City.
An unprecedented amount of rain prevented the Northwest Arkansas Naturals (Texas League) from establishing a consistent rhythm last week. The Naturals had four separate days of games washed away by rain, at one point going three days between playing at all. A 2-3 week has Northwest Arkansas at 9-8, half a game behind first-place Tulsa in the North Division standings.
As a team the Naturals hit nine home runs in five games this week, two of them hit by Mario Lisson, who now leads the time with five in 2011.Anthony Seratelli also hit a pair of homers this week, raising his average from .214 to .262 in the process, while Derrick Robison remains a perfect 8-for-8 in stolen base attempts. Chris Dwyer turned in his second consecutive quality start last week, while John Lamb gave up just two unearned runs over 5+ innings his last time out. Blake Johnson has still not given up a run this season, as his streak of 15 straight scoreless innings is the fifth-longest in team history.
Will Smith has taken the loss in each of his last two starts, allowing four runs on 10 hits in his start against the Travelers last week. Buddy Baumann has allowed at least one run in his last two appearances, suffering the loss on Wednesday night. Infielder Jeff Bianchi has just one hit in the four games since his 12-game hit streak was snapped, while Christian Colon is looking to get his bat going again as his average sits at .213.
The Wilmington Blue Rocks (Carolina League) continued to build on their strong start. After going 4-3 since last Thursday’s report, the 12-7 Blue Rocks hold a 3.5-game lead over second-place Frederick in the Northern Division.
Whit Merrifield contributed another strong week at the plate, netting a pair of multi-hit games in the past seven days. He is hitting .313, a mark that is second on the team. Merrifield trails only Rey Navarro, who had two multi-hit games of his own and is sitting comfortably at .420. Nick Francisseems to have put his slow start completely behind him, as he is currently in the midst of a 12-game hit streak. On the mound, Noel Arguellesgave up his first two professional runs last week but still has an ERA of 1.46 and has only walked one batter this season. Tim Melville delivered his best start of the season in the last seven days, allowing just a run on five hits in seven innings of work.
Though Wilmington has raised its team batting average each week to this point, a number of regulars have yet to break out of an early-season slump. Alex McClure is hitting just .136, Deivy Batista is at .157 and Tim Ferguson’s average stands at .180 despite a five-game hitting streak. By and large, Wilmington’s pitching staff has been very good this season, though Justin Marks was tagged for five runs on eight hits his last time out. Strong run support has given Elisaul Pimentel a 2-0 record, but the righty allowed a season-high five runs against Winston-Salem last week.
The Kane County Cougars (Midwest League) won their first two games last week but have since dropped four in a row, falling to 7-13 through the season’s first three weeks. The Cougars are seventh out of eight team’s in the Midwest League’s Western Division, seven games behind first-place Burlington.
Though his average dropped from .417 to .378, Ryan Stovall had three two-hit games last week and continues to pace Kane County’s offense. Also hitting well is Brian Fletcher, who notched four hits in two separate games in the past week and raised his average to .347. A number of Cougars relievers have gotten off to strong starts, as Chase Boruff (1.13), Greg Billo (1.63) and Dusty Odenbach (1.93) each sport an earned run average under 2.00.
Catcher Travis Jones has yet to get going in 2011, recording just two hits in his first 31 at bats. Geulin Beltre is a fixture in the everyday lineup but has only briefly seen his average climb over the .200 mark in recent days, as he sits at .194 entering play on Thursday. Lane Adams went just 2-for-14 this week as well. Starter Keaton Hayenga was touched for five runs in his last start, while Crawford Simmons allowed three runs in 3.2 innings of work in his last outing.
Former Naturals outside the Kansas City organization
Now in the Dodgers system, Corey Smith recently earned a promotion to Triple-A Albuquerque and has continued his hot hitting with the Isotopes. Smith has two home runs in nine games and is hitting .389 in Triple-A. Also in the Pacific Coast League is Dan Cortes, who has not given up a run in his last three appearances for the Tacoma Rainiers, bringing his ERA down to 3.24.
A number of Naturals now ply their trade in the Atlanta Braves organization, including Juan Abreu, who has yet to give up a run in eight appearances for Triple-A Gwinnett. One of Abreu’s teammates is former Natural Ed Lucas, whose batting average has slipped to .200 during a recent slide. One step below those two players are Rowdy Hardy and Ernesto Mejia, both playing for Double-A Mississippi. Hardy worked two scoreless appearances out of the bullpen last week, while Mejia hit two home runs against Montgomery on Apr. 24 and has an overall average of .320. The Braves also signed former Natural Ben Swaggerty, though he has yet to appear for one of their affiliates.
Other former Naturals spread throughout affiliated ball include Chris McConnell, who is in the midst of a slump for the Nationals’ Triple-A affiliate Syracuse Chiefs, and Jose Duarte, who has put together a 10-game hit streak for Jupiter, the Florida Marlins’ Advanced-A club.
The Northwest Arkansas Naturals are the Double-A Texas League affiliate of the Kansas City Royals and play at state-of-the-art Arvest Ballpark, located in Springdale. Visit our website, nwanaturals.com, for information on season tickets and ticket plans.