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TWitM: Dickey dominates, Murdock mows ‘em down

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COLLEGE BASEBALL: JUN 11 NCAA Super Regionals
Photo by Bryan Lynn/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Jared Dickey may be the most underrated prospect in the farm system.

This Week in the Minors is our weekly look at notable performances from all over the system, from big-name prospects and less-heralded guys alike. The mission is to answer this simple question: “Who had a good week?”

This Week in the Minors: Tuesday, July 2 to Sunday, July 7

AAA Omaha Storm Chasers (5-7, 5.0 GB, International League West, 1st half Division Champs)

It was a 2-4 week for Omaha, who’s started rather slow by their own standards in the season’s second half. The offense has found itself stuck in the mud of late, but first baseman Nick Pratto has been the exception. He led the team with seven hits last week, slashing .368/.435/1.000. He blasted four home runs but struck out eight times in the process. Over the last 30 games, his strikeout rate is somewhat healthier at 25.4%. Nelson Velázquez only struck out twice in the week, walking three times. He slashed .462/.588/.615 as he works on earning a trip back to Kansas City.

Infielder CJ Alexander wasted no time getting back on track in his one game back with Omaha. He hit a home run, going 2/4 on the day.

Starter Andrew Hoffmann led the Chasers with eight strikeouts on the week. He allowed two earned runs to score in five innings of work in his lone start on the week. Jonathan Bowlan and Daniel Lynch IV each logged quality starts on the week. Lynch struck out seven with just two walks on the day, surrendering three earned runs in the process. Bowlan allowed two earned runs and one walk with six strikeouts. Noah Murdock continues to pitch lights out since moving up to Triple-A. He now has an 0.84 ERA on the season with Omaha, following another scoreless week. In ten innings with the Storm Chasers, he has 12 strikeouts and six walks.

AA Northwest Arkansas Naturals (5-7, 3.0 GB, Texas League North)

The Naturals went 1-5 on the week, mostly a result of some less-than-stellar outings from their starting rotation. Noah Cameron allowed six earned runs and ten hits across just four innings of work in his start. Luinder Avila allowed five runs to cross, lasting just 3.2 innings in his lone start on the week. If there was a bright spot in the rotation last week, it was Mason Barnett. Barnett led the team with eight strikeouts on the week. He allowed two earned runs over six full innings of work, walking two in the process.

In the bullpen, results were somewhat better. Beck Way continues his strong season in the Northwest Arkansas pen. He was perfect in his one outing, striking out two over two innings of work. Jacob Wallace was perfect as well, matching Way’s line with a perfect two innings and two strikeouts. Eric Cerantola one-upped those two, as he went perfect across two outings, notching three strikeouts over two full innings of work. Cerantola and Way both have strikeout stuff that could certainly benefit the Major League bullpen. Neither is currently on the 40-man roster, but they’re names to monitor for future bullpen relief.

Outfielder Gavin Cross continued to lead the way for the Naturals lineup. He led the team with nine hits over five games, slashing .429/.478/.476 with two walks and five strikeouts. Center fielder Tyler Tolbert has become a singles machine of late. He had nine of them last week for a .409 average alongside three stolen bases. First baseman Josh Lester led the team with a 1.156 OPS in four games. He had three walks and a triple on the week.

A+ Quad Cities River Bandits (7-8, 4.0 GB, Midwest League West)

The River Bandits struggled to a 2-4 week, behind what continues to be a rather top-heavy lineup. Carter Jensen continued his red-hot 2024 season. Jensen knocked in five RBI on the week, behind a .389 average. He hit a double and a home run while walking three times. Jensen has been performing strongly nearly all season and looks like a prime candidate for a promotion shortly after the All-Star Break.

Outfielder Jared Dickey has started to come alive of late at the plate. On the week, he led the Bandits with a 1.176 OPS. He had four extra-base hits on the week — three doubles and a triple — including three alone in a five-hit day on Friday. Since the start of June, Dickey has been one of the best-hitting prospects in the Royals system. In 26 games over that span, he’s slashed .316/.374/.439 with a 14% strikeout rate.

Luck caught up with Frank Mozzicato, as he allowed a season-high nine hits across five innings of work in his lone start on the week. The result was five earned runs in the box score. Mozzicato continues to improve his command this season (64.9% strikes on the day) but the result has been fewer strikeouts. Until the strikeouts trend back upward, Mozzicato is in concerning waters.

Henry Williams led the Bandits with seven strikeouts. He allowed just one walk and one earned run to pass in his lone start on the week. LHP Oscar Rayo has been perhaps the best pitcher in the entire farm system since his debut in 2021. He went three innings over two appearances, allowing just one base runner alongside four strikeouts. Rayo has a finesse arsenal and relies more heavily on limiting walks and hard contact than strikeouts. That limits his overall ceiling, but he’s still a name to watch in the long term.

A Columbia Fireflies (9-5, 0.5 GB, Carolina League South)

The Fireflies had a winning week, finishing 3-2 after Saturday’s contest was suspended after three innings. The week belonged to (who else?) Blake Mitchell. Mitchell led Columbia with seven hits, slashing .389/.421/.611 with two triples on the week. His strikeout rate is still high, but down to 26.4% since June 1st. Mitchell is a bonafide Top 100 prospect and easily the best prospect in the farm system. He’s done just about anything you could ask of him this season so far.

Austin Charles hit .353 on the week but finished without an extra-base hit. He’s making strides in the contact department, but it has come at the expense of his power output. Lizandro Rodriguez had five hits in just two games played. It’s been a difficult season overall for Rodriguez, who has all but fallen off of prospect radars, but nice to see him find some success.

Starter Emmanuel Reyes has a 3.69 ERA on the season. He didn’t allow an earned run over 5.2 innings in his start last week. He struck out four and walked just one. Since the calendar flipped to May, Reyes has been fantastic on the mound. In 11 starts since May 1, he’s compiled 52.2 IP with a 2.56 ERA. The strikeout numbers are down, which gives some reason for concern, but he’s still a young prospect with more projection to uncover.

Blake Wolters allowed just one earned run to cross over five innings of work. He’s started to settle in this season, with a 1.59 ERA over his last five starts. The walk totals are trending in the wrong direction, but he’s finally started to limit hits and succeed more there. He’s still a young prospect, despite the hype that carried him into the season. He seems to be progressing as you’d like to see, but the fastball remains more mid-90s than upper-90s like we saw to open the season.

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