The Omaha Storm Chasers (Pacific Coast League) have started off another very strong season going 9-3 over the first week plus. The Storm Chasers are an even more impressive 7-1 while playing at Werner Park. They will look to defend their Pacific Coast League Championship and certainly have the talent to do so.
The offense has carried Omaha early in the season and a pair of former Naturals, Clint Robinson and Derrick Robinson have been right in the middle of things. Clint hit a pair of home runs in the team’s most recent series against the Albuquerque Isotopes and is hitting .320 on the young season. Derrick spent the first few games hitting in the number two spot in the order behind Jarrod Dyson, but since Dyson’s call-up to Kansas City has moved to the lead-off spot. Derrick has scored nine runs on the young season, driven home four, stole four bases, and is hitting .364 at the top of the lineup for the Storm Chasers. On the mound Jeremy Jeffress has gone 2-0 with a 1.64 ERA in five games out of the bullpen, already having worked 11 innings on the young season. Nate Adcock is also off to a good start. He has yet to surrender a run in his first two starts over 11.1 innings allowing only three hits.
Mike Montgomery is off to a tough start in 2012. He has started two games for Omaha lasting 7.2 innings and allowing 14 hits and seven runs while walking seven and striking out five. At the plate for the Storm Chasers, Cody Clark is hitting .194 (6-for-31) on the young season, but has hit a pair of doubles.
The Northwest Arkansas Naturals (Texas League) are off to a 4-7 start so far this season. The offense has started to pick things up after a slow start this season boosting the team batting average up to .254 on the season. The pitching staff has been nearly unhittable when they have thrown strikes, but have gotten into trouble when issuing walks.
Wil Myers has been on fire to start the year in Northwest Arkansas. He has a hit in all nine games that he has appeared in, and had a career game on Saturday April 14. He went 4-for-5 with a home run and a career best five RBI. He leads the Naturals in home runs and RBI so far in 2012. On the mound for the Naturals, Kendal Volz has been unhittable so far this season. He has appeared in three games out of the bullpen and thrown 7.2 innings allowing just one hit, no walks, and struck out seven. He is the Texas League leader in batting average against a reliever at .042.
Third baseman Kurt Mertins has made some spectacular defensive plays this season, but has struggled at the plate. He is hitting .097 (3-for-31) on the season with a pair of sacrifice flies. A couple of members of the bullpen have been roughed up to start the season. Elisaul Pimentel has surrendered 13 runs, 12 of which have been earned in just 3.2 innings out of the pen this season. Bryan Paukovits, in his first season at Double-A has allowed nine earned runs in 5.2 innings of work, but did have a scoreless outing in the second game of a double-header against San Antonio on Monday April 16.
The Wilmington Blue Rocks (Carolina League) have started the season 4-6 and are tied with the Potomac Nationals for third placed in the North Division. Wilmington has pitched well on the young season, and the bats are starting to heat up. Brett Eibner rejoined the team this past week and has already made an impact on the lineup offensively.
Starting pitcher Jason Adam, who spent last season with Kane County is off to a great start this season. He has yet to record a win or loss in his first two starts, but has gone 10 innings allowing eight hits and just one earned run, walking two and striking out 11. Catcher Kevin David has been getting it done at the plate going 4-for-4 on April 16 against Carolina. David’s big night included two doubles and a season high four RBI. He is hitting .304 so far in 2012.
Outfielders Brian Fletcher and Roman Hernandez have struggled at the plate on the young season. Fletcher, who had a torrid spring, is hitting .184 this season as he continues to make the transition to first base. He has seen plenty of time in the outfield this season as well, but many believe his future is at first base. Hernandez has gone 4-for-33 (.121) as he continues to make his transition to playing baseball in the states. He defected from Cuba and was signed by the Royals on February 1 of this year.
The Kane County Cougars have won three straight and are 6-4 on the young season. That mark puts them just a half game behind Quad Cities in the Western division of the Midwest League. The Cougars had their most recent contest on April 16 in Beloit postponed due to weather, but will play a double header on April 17.
Outfielder Jorge Bonifacio is arguably of to the best start of any player in the Royals entire organization. He is hitting a robust .410 (16-for-39) over the first 10 games of the season. He has five extra base hits including one home run and seven RBI. He has also walked seven times while striking out just six. He also has recorded seven multi-hit games in 10 games so far this season. Jonathan Dooley has gone 1-0 in relief for the Cougars and has posted a 1.00 ERA out of the pen. He went a season long four innings allowing three hits and no walks, while fanning three at Burlington.
Infielder Henry Moreno has been struggling at the plate so far this season. He has only hit safely in one of his seven games this season. Moreno did show signs of breaking out of his slump getting three hits on April 14. He is sporting a .115 average and has gone (3-for-26). Eric Cantrell has struggled in relief in four games this season posting and has a 14.54 ERA. He has worked 4.1 innings allowing 10 hits and seven runs on the young season.
Alumni Report (Former Naturals outside the Kansas City organization)
Several former Naturals now find themselves in Triple-A with the Braves in Gwinnett. Dusty Hughes has transitioned into the bullpen and has a 1.17 ERA in five games for the Braves. He has allowed just one run over 7.2 innings of work. Ernesto Mejia has split time between first base and designated hitter for Gwinnett and is hitting .311 in eleven games with a home run and six RBI. Outfielder Jordan Parraz is not far behind hitting .310 in Gwinnet with a home run and three RBI.
The Washington Nationals have four former Naturals in their system. Josh Johnson, Jeff Howell. Johnson started off the season on fire with Double-A Harrisburg hitting .395 with seven RBI in 11 games. Howell has appeared in just three games, but has been good at the plate hitting .364 (4-for-11) with two RBI.
Jeff Bianchi is off to a hot start for Double-A Huntsville in the Milwaukee Brewers system. He is hitting .326 with five runs scored in the first 11 games of the season. Bianchi has started all 10 of those games at shortstop. Ed Lucas has had a recent streak to lift his average to .278 for Salt Lake, the Angels’ Triple-A affiliate.
Jose Duarte is now in the Miami Marlins organization and is off to a rough start with Double-A Jacksonville. Duarte is batting .176 (3-for-17) in nine games thus far for the Suns. He has appeared in four of those games as a pinch-hitter, and did hit a two run home run on April eighth off the bench against Huntsville. Juan Abreu is 2-for-3 in save chances for Triple-A Oklahoma City (Astros), but has an ERA north of 15.00 and has allowed three homers. Slick-fielding infielder Chris McConnell was recently re-assigned from Triple-A Syracuse to Double-A Harrisburg in the Nationals system.
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.