The Omaha Storm Chasers (Pacific Coast League) are tied for the best record in the Pacific Coast League going 14-5 over the first week plus. The Storm Chasers are an even more impressive 10-1 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 has seen his power return of late and is second on the Storm Chasers in home runs with four and has driven in 10. Derrick has moved back into the number two spot in the lineup now that Jarrod Dyson has returned from Kansas City to take over the leadoff spot. The outfielder is hitting .352 with ten runs scored and four stolen bases. On the mound Jeremy Jeffress has gone 2-0 with a 1.50 ERA in six games out of the bullpen, and earned a call-up to the major leagues when the Royals placed Greg Holland on the disabled list. Nate Adcock has been phenomenal as he has transitioned back to the starting rotation. The right-hander is 3-1 with a 1.37 ERA in four games. He has worked 26.1 innings allowing just 16 hits and four runs, and has held opponents to a .174 batting average.
Jamie Romak is off to a slow start. The first baseman is hitting .190 in 21 at bats for Omaha. He has a pair of doubles and has also knocked in two runs. On the mound Ethan Hollingsworth struggled this past week. He has given up seven earned runs over his last two outings, which totaled five and a third innings. The last two outings have raised his ERA to 6.92, after it was just 3.52 in his first three outings of the season.
The Northwest Arkansas Naturals (Texas League) are off to a 6-11 start so far this season. The Naturals have returned to Arvest Ballpark where they are now 4-3 on the season after defeating Springfield last night. The Naturals have struggled away from Northwest Arkansas posting a 2-8 mark on the road.
Kurt Mertins, although he is hitting just .190 at the plate for the season has been swinging the hottest bat in the Naturals lineup as of late. He has gone 4-for-10 the teams last five games, and has played spectacular defense at third base robbing several players of base hits. On the mound for the Naturals, Jake Odorizzi appears to have found his strikeout pitch. Last night against the Cardinals, he set a Naturals single game record fanning 11. It was also the deepest a Naturals starter has worked into a game all season as the right-hander threw seven allowing just four hits and walking one.
Shortstop Christian Colon picked up a pair of hits in yesterday’s game that snapped a streak in which he had been 1-for-14 over his last four games. He has also struggled in the field this season committing a team high four errors. On the mound the back end of the rotation has been struggling as of late. Justin Marks went three and two thirds innings his last time out allowing six runs, while Tim Melville went just an inning and two thirds last time out allowing eight runs. Both pitchers had scoreless outings in their first starts.
The Wilmington Blue Rocks (Carolina League) had a great week last week going 4-2 to improve to 8-8 on the season. They defeated Salem yesterday getting the best of Boston Red Sox starter Daisuke Matsuzaka.
Starting pitcher Jason Adam, is putting up unreal numbers for Wilmington. The big right-hander threw five more shutout innings yesterday to earn his first win of the season. He is now 1-1 on the year with a 0.40 ERA. In 22.2 innings he has allowed just 18 hits and one earned run, while walking seven and fanning 21. Nick Rogers has been brilliant out of the bullpen for the Blue Rocks throwing six innings allowing just three hits and fanning seven. He has yet to allow a runs this season. Angel Franco began the year on a cold spell hitting just .150 back on April 11. Over his last six games he has gone 11-for-18 with five RBI and four runs scored.
Outfielder Brett Eibner has been on a cold streak of late going just 2-19 in his last five games. One of Eibner’s two hits was a home run that came in yesterday’s game. Since he has returned to the lineup the team has hit better as a whole hitting .252 since his return compared to .217 for the entire season. Chase Boruff has appeared twice in the last ten games for the Blue Rocks and surrendered four runs and four walks over three innings in that span.
The Kane County Cougars have gone 3-5 since last week’s report and are now 9-9 on the season. They are tied for third placed in the Midwest League’s Western division with the Burlington Bees and the Cedar Rapids Kernels.
Outfielder Lane Adams has continued his hot hitting. The native Oklahoman is hitting .375 on the season in 18 games, with 11 runs scored. Adams has even hit lead off in a few games recently for the Cougars and has driven in 15 runs and stolen five bases so far this season. Orlando Calixte seems to have found a rhythm at the plate. Calixte enter the season as the number 20 prospect in the Royals system according to Baseball America. The shortstop is hitting .412 (7-for-17) over his last five games with five RBI over that span. On the mound for the Cougars Edwin Carl, has been hot of late. In his last start Carl went a season long seven innings allowing just five hits and no runs, while striking out three. Carl has gone 1-1 with a 1.77 ERA to start the 2012 campaign.
Infielder Henry Moreno has been struggling at the plate so far this season. He has posted a .149 batting average on the young season (7-for-47), and has struck out 16 times. Jason Mitchell struggled on the mound his last time out, making just his second start of the season, although some of the fault could be placed on the defense behind him. Mitchell allowed six runs only three of which were earned over four innings.
Alumni Report (Former Naturals outside the Kansas City organization)
Ed Lucas now with Triple-A Salt Lake City was 0-for-3 Monday, but is coming off of a ten-game hitting streak during which in the previous four games he was 8-for-15 with 4 RBI. His average is up to .333 from .278 in last weeks report.
Dusty Hughes, who is with Triple-A Gwinnett, has not allowed a run in his last four and a third innings with five strikeouts and not issuing a walk. Outfielder Jordan Parraz, who is also with Gwinnett currently has an active six-game hitting streak, during which he has gone 10-for-22, including a four RBI effort last Thursday against the Norfolk Tides. On the season he is hitting .359 in 18 games for the Braves.
Blake Johnson who is now with Double-A Chattanooga in the Dodgers system has only allowed one run in his last four outings out of the bullpen, cover eight and two thirds innings. Last Thursday he recorded a four inning save against Birmingham striking out five without issuing a walk. Opponents are hitting just .186 against him.
Slick-fielding infielder Chris McConnell who is in the Nationals system with Double-A Harrisburg picked up his first hit on Saturday night, but he is hitting .048 (1-for-21) while with the Senators. Josh Johnson, who moved up to Triple-A Syracuse is hitting just .240 in his first 25 at bats with the Chiefs.
Jose Duarte is hitting just .152 (5-for-33) on the season with Double-A Jacksonville, in the Florida Marlins system. Angel Sanchez is in the Astros system with Triple-A Oklahoma City, and is mired in a 3-for-27 slump dating back to April 14.
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.