Memorial Day Minutes: Bobby Witt Jr.’s big night

I want to start the Minutes today by thanking everyone who has served our country. Your sacrifice does not go unnoticed and I could not begin to tell you how much I appreciate you. The sacrifices your families make on a daily basis doesn’t go unnoticed either. Thank you all for your service. You make us all proud to be Americans.

AAA Omaha (16-7): W 7-2

Emmanuel Rivera is absolutely crushing baseballs for Omaha these days. He finished Sunday’s game 4-5 with a pair of doubles and a triple, pushing his season average to .253 with an OPS of .830. That’s good for a 116 wRC+ on the season, but if you remove the first four games (of which Rivera was 1-16), his slash line is .296/.359/.620/.979 with a 156 wRC+ over his last 78 PA. His BB/K ratio still isn’t in great shape, but the power looks like it might be legit. His BABIP in that stretch is only .333 so it’s not like he’s due for significant regression. He’s never walked much, and I still have concerns about the pitch selection moving forward, but the dude is absolutely crushing AAA pitching at the moment.

Gabriel Cancel is coming around a bit as well. He finished 2-3 with a walk and his 6th HR of the year on Sunday. He’s currently got a 121 wRC+ on the season after starting the season 5-35. Over the last two weeks, Cancel is slashing .342/.390/.763/1.153 with a 200 wRC+ in 41 PA. His BABIP is even lower than Rivera’s and so is his K% in that time. Like Rivera, I still have some reservations about what it looks like in the big leagues, but both of these kids are still just 24 years old and have plenty of time to piece a big league career together.

On the mound for NWA, Daniel Lynch fired 5 scoreless innings with 7 K, bringing his AAA ERA to 2.70.

AA Northwest Arkansas (11-11): W 12-2

What a night for the Naturals, whose team name better describes this team all the time. Let’s just get to a quick recap:
– Bobby Witt Jr. finished 3-4 with 3 HR
– Nick Pratto finished 1-5 with his 9th HR of the year
– MJ Melendez finished 4-5 with a 2B and HR #7 and did not strike out
– Rudy Martin finished 2-3 with a BB a 2B, and a HR, pushing his season OPS to 1.103
– Austin Cox made his season debut, striking out 3 in 4 innings of 1-run ball
– Yefri Del Rosario struck out 3 in 2.1 scoreless innings of relief
– Josh Dye struck out 2 in a perfect 9th inning, lowering his season ERA to 0.73

It remains the best story of the year in Royals MiLB the way Pratto and Melendez have turned things around. I can’t explain it. It is one of the most remarkable turnarounds I’ve ever seen. We talked about it ad nauseam on the most recent edition of the podcast. I mentioned it in the Minutes last Monday. I’ve never seen anything like this. Couldn’t be happier for both Pratto and Melendez.

A+ Quad Cities (15-8): L 4-10

Vinnie Pasquantino kept pace with the scorching hot Pratto with HR #9 on Sunday, ensuring himself at least part of the org. lead in HR today. Nate Eaton and Jimmy Govern both finished 2-4 with a double. Michael Massey tallied a pair of hits. Tucker Bradley finished 1-2 with a pair of walks. Asa Lacy struggled with his command again but struck out 3 in 1.2 innings in his start.

A- Columbia (15-9): L 3-5

Maikel Garcia continues to be really impressive for the Fireflies in the early going. The 21-year old currently has a 150 wRC+ which is the 31st best mark in all of Low-A (226 qualified hitters). He’s got the 8th best BB/K (1.15), the 9th best K% (13.4%), the 10th best BA (.338), and the 6th best SwStr% (6.5%). I thought we may have been a little aggressive ranking him #22 in the system this offseason, but apparently we are actually cheating him a bit. The kid has been fantastic so far and I am really excited about the underlying numbers to go with the batting average and OPS.

Diego Hernandez tallied a couple more hits for Columbia on Sunday as well. Omar Hernandez finished 1-4 with a double. Brady McConnell finished 1-2 with a double and a walk. Ben Hernandez struck out a pair in 4 innings of 1-run ball.

Photo Credits: Tim Campbell

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