NWA Week in Review: July 16 – 22
Weekly Record: 3-4
Overall Record: 42-56, 7-21 in the second half
Standings: 4th (12.5 GB)
Weekly +/-: -12 (28 runs scored, 40 runs allowed)
7/16 – Samir Duenez activated from DL
7/16 – John Brontsema placed on DL
7/16 – Arnaldo Hernandez reassigned to Omaha
7/18 – Grant Gavin placed on DL
7/18 – Nick Heath assigned to NWA
7/18 – Cristian Castillo assigned to NWA
7/19 – Elier Hernandez assigned to Omaha
Overview. I have not been happy with the Naturals play so far this second half. But, it seems, neither is their manager Mike Rojas. Rojas has been moving guys around and juggling the lineup in an effort to get things going. It may have worked as the Naturals just took 3 of 4 from the league leading Tulsa Drillers. Starting the week, the Naturals got swept at Springfield. It was a dismal series. And that’s all we’ll say about that. That’s when the Naturals got back to Arvest Ballpark and won the series with the Drillers.
The Naturals are in the midst of a brutal 27 game in 26 day stretch. This is a hard thing for a team to survive, especially in the Dog Days of the summer. But this is why they call it the Dog Days. You lose your off days because you are making up rain outs from earlier in the year and it’s 95 degrees everyday and you have to sprinkle in some double headers. It gets tough to play everyday. To the outside eye, a lot of people say it’s their job, they get paid to play. Being at the ballpark for 10 hours is tough though, no matter how much you love the game.
There has been some roster turnover for the Naturals over the last week promoting Elier Hernandez to Omaha. Arnaldo Hernandez went up to throw part of a DH for Omaha and did so well we may not get him back. Which would be a shame because I want to watch him throw again but would be really good for him. After he made his first start at NWA I mentioned him as a guy to watch as this is his Rule 5 year meaning the Royals have to roster him on the 40-man or risk losing him. I would roster him. He will get taken if they don’t. Cristian Castillo also came up this week giving the Naturals reinforcements in the pitching staff. I wrote a prospect watch on Castillo you can read here. Castillo has had a little bit of a rough year but has pitched well lately. Castillo started the year in the Blue Rocks rotation but moved to the pen at the beginning of June and has pitched well in that role. I don’t think I’m giving up on him as a starter just yet, but he will probably pitch out of the pen for the Naturals. Samir Duenez came off the DL and is going to give the Naturals some quality at bats going forward. Nick Heath and his amazing speed have moved up and will hit at the top of the Naturals lineup and will constantly be a stolen base threat.
Rojas has moved Erick Mejia all over the place the last week giving him two starts in CF, two starts at 2B, and three starts at SS. Rojas has tried a few different guys at 3B this week playing Alex Liddi, Kelvin Gutierrez, and Corey Toups there.
Khalil Lee hit .318 over the week with 2 doubles and a home run, scored 5 runs, drove in 4, had 2 BB, 5 K, and a SB.
Jecksson Flores hit .250 over the week with 2 doubles, scored 2 runs, drove in 2, had 1 BB, 5 K, and stole 1 base in 2 attempts.
Anderson Miller hit .231 over the week with 2 doubles and a home run, scored 2 runs, drove in 3, had 3 BB, 5 K, and a stolen base.
Samir Duenez hit .227 in his return week with 1 double, scored 2 runs, drove in 5, had 4 BB, and 9 K.
Erick Mejia hit .360 over the week with 3 doubles, scored 4 runs, drove in 2, had 3 BB, 3 K, and stole 2 bases in 3 attempts.
Alex Liddi hit .207 over the week with 2 doubles and a home run, scored 3 runs, drove in 3, did not walk and had 7 K with a SB.
Corey Toups hit .308 going 4-13.
Nick Dini hit .188 over the week going 3-16.
Xavier Fernandez hit .273 over the week with 2 doubles.
Kelvin Gutierrez hit .214 going 3-14.
Kort Peterson hit .300 with a home run, 2 runs scored, drove 3 in, with 2 BB, and 2 K.
Nick Heath was 2-8 with a triple in his first 2 games.
Jace Vines came up to make two starts this week. I’ve been expecting him to come to NWA for a while and it finally happened although it was not the two starts he was hoping for. Combined Vines threw 6.2 innings, gave up 10 ER on 12 H, 6 BB, 2 HBP, and 6 K. He got a no decision and was tagged with a loss.
Emilio Ogando was the other starter who made two starts on the mound this week. Ogando pitched like he is capable in both of his starts going 6.0 innings in each. Combined Ogando went 12.0 innings, gave up 3 ER on 10 H, 5 BB, 1 HBP, and 7 K. Ogando got two quality starts but only one win.
Scott Blewett made a start going 5.0 innings, gave up 6 ER on 7 H, 2 BB, and only 1 K. Blewett took an L.
Foster Griffin had a solid start earning a win in 6.0 innings. Griffin gave up 2 ER on 8 H, 2 BB, and 6 K. Griffin got a win.
Pedro Fernandez made a start for the Naturals this week and it was a really good one. I’m not sure if Fernandez is transitioning to a starter role or just made that one start for Beeler but I like the idea of stretching him out. Pedro went 5.0 innings giving up just 1 hit, 1 BB, no runs, and had 3 K. He threw 65 pitches and 42 were strikes. I’d say he has earned another start.
Dallas Beeler moved to the pen for the week and threw in 2 games going 7.0 innings giving up 5 ER on 11 H, zero BB, and 7 K.
Bryan Brickhouse gave up a walk off grand slam Monday at Springfield to take a loss but bounced back and threw 2.0 scoreless innings later in the week. Combined he went 2.2 innings giving up 4 ER on 1 H, 3 BB, and 3 K.
Cristian Castillo pitched in 1 game throwing 3.0 perfect innings with 2 K.
Andres Machado threw in 3 games going a combined 3.1 innings allowing no runs on 1 H, zero BB, and 3 K. Machado earned two saves on the week. He threw 89% of his pitches for strikes. Of those pitches, 26% were swings and misses. Machado really turned in around this week.
Yunior Marte threw in 2 games going a combined 2.2 innings allowing 1 ER on 5 H, 1 BB, and 2 K.
Walker Sheller threw 4.0 scoreless innings over two games. Sheller allowed no runs on 3 H, zero BB, and 1 K.
Gabe Speier threw in 2 games going 1.2 innings giving up 1 ER on 4 H, zero BB, and 1 K.
Franco Terrero took the L in one of the two games he pitched last week. Terrero went 2.2 innings allowing 1 ER on 3 H, 2 BB, and 4 K. Terrero also earned a save.
Upcoming. The Naturals play eight games in seven days this week. It’s a tough week to be sure. Those first four games are at home against the Arkansas Travelers including a doubleheader on Tuesday night. They then go to Springfield for four and hope to avenge the sweep. The Naturals have a real chance to change their luck in the standings this week by playing 8 games against teams higher in the division standings. It’s going to take a lot to overcome the slow start they’ve had, but as the team gets more comfortable after the promotions, they could do it.