Weekly Record: 3-3
Overall Record: 34-39
2nd Half Record: 3-2
Standings: 3rd, 1.5 GB
Another winning week for the Naturals but they find themselves already in third place because the Travelers and Drillers both started the second half 5-1. It’s always tough to be immediately in a hole but with the addition of Jackson Kowar, it should help the Naturals dig out. Singer and Kowar are now both in Double-A and Naturals fans should be excited to see those guys throw for the remainder of the season.
The Naturals managed just two hits on Monday against the Sod Poodles. Rehabbing Hunter Dozier drove in two runs in the third inning with a single. Khalil Lee managed his 29th stolen base of the season. And Eric Skoglund managed only 4.1 innings in his rehab start giving up 5 runs on 8 hits, 1 walk, and 2 strikeouts. Let’s just go ahead and move to Tuesday.
Gabriel Cancel lead the charge with three hits including a double and 2 RBI. Dozier added two more RBI with two hits including a double. Lee looks like he is getting a better feel for his approach walking three times in this game and not striking out. Nick Heath stole his 39th base on the season. JC Cloney started but it was Andres Sotillet who got the win in relief throwing 3.0 innings without giving up a run.
The Naturals won Wednesday scoring six runs in their last two at bats. Emmanuel Rivera had the big day going 4 for 5 with his sixth home run of the season and 5 RBI. In total, six Naturals had multi-hit games including Dozier with two more. Cancel, Lee, Meibrys Viloria, and Kort Peterson all had two hits as well with Cancel hitting his 13th home run on the season. Lee stole his 30th base on the season in this game.
Singer made the start going just 4.0 innings on 6 hits and 2 walks while allowing just 2 runs. He struck out 3. Yunior Marte lowered his season ERA to 1.64 while throwing 2.2 innings earning the win.
On Thursday, the Naturals started a home series against RoughRiders from Frisco. The Naturals managed just 3 hits in the 7-1 loss. Rivera hit his 7th home run on the season in the loss. Gerson Garabito took the loss giving up 6 runs in just 4.0 innings. Bryan Brickhouse made his first outing for the Naturals this season going 2.0 innings walking 2 and striking out 1.
Heath joined the home run club sending his first ball over the left field wall in this one. Peterson also homered, his 8th. Heath stole his 40th base of the season and very well could get to 80 steals this season. Rivera had another multi-hit game and Cancel stole his 6th base of the season. Ofriedy Gomez struck out 7 in 6.0 innings and took the loss giving up just 3 runs.
Because the Naturals got rained out on Sunday, Saturday’s 2-0 win was their last game of the week. Kowar made his season debut for the club going 7.0 strong innings allowing just 6 hits, 2 walks, and struck out 7. He didn’t allow any runs and neither did either of his relievers, Yunior Marte and Tyler Zuber who was making his first appearance in NWA. Zuber earned the save striking out 2 in the process. The Naturals only had 4 hits but Anderson Miller made his count with two RBI. Lee stole his 31st and 32nd base of the season in this one while Cancel is working to get to double digits stealing his 7th.
The Naturals are starting to get some reinforcements with Singer, Kowar, and Zuber. They could get some more including Daniel Lynch and possibly Tad Ratliff. Collin Snider, Holden Capps, and Josh Mitchell are all having strong seasons in the pen in Wilmington as well. Rito Lugo is having a strong season as a swing man going between the rotation and the pen.
Lee seems to be making strides at the plate and Rivera and Viloria have been hot. Anderson Miller is having a strong season as well as Cancel. Cancel has an outside shot at having a 20/20 season but will need to pick up the pace on the stolen bases. Every time Heath and Lee get on base they are basically going to be in scoring position because they steal so well. Lee is on pace for 60 stolen bases. Brewer Hicklen is the Blue Rock pushing the most for a promotion hitting .286/.428/.397. His power hasn’t come along this season but he leads the Blue Rocks in hits and has 26 stolen bases. Imagine putting him in to outfield next to Heath and Lee. Those three have 98 stolen bases between them currently and that number will probably go up today. Cristian Perez is playing well also but is not hitting for power either. The 20-year-old shortstop is the little brother of the Brewers Hernan Perez and figuring out his game. He should be a solid player for the Naturals soon enough.
The Naturals have most of the ingredients in place to be a very good second half team. They just have to unseat the Travelers who had a tremendous first half and the Drillers who are on fire coming out of the gates. This will continue to be a fun team to follow as the season goes along. Make sure you keep following this team as they fight for a playoff spot and Texas League Championship.