Like their Big League brethren just a phone call away, AAA-Omaha have put themselves in the conversation for post-season play.
Mike Jirschele's crew has had winning streaks of four and six since the end of July and the team has gone 14-6 since July 1st. They current sit in first place in the PCL's American Northern Division with an even 59-59 record, two games up on the Memphis Redbirds.
A pair of left-handers have proved to be a key factor in Omaha's recent run of success. LHP Danny Duffy is undefeated for the Royals AAA Affiliate this season. On the comeback trail from Tommy John Surgery last year, the SoCal native is 1-0 with a 1.13 ERA in his last three starts. The southpaw has allowed 14 hits and 8 walks, while recording 18 strikes out in 16 innings over that span.
Fellow left-hander Chris Dwyer has not allowed more than three earned-runs since June 29th. The Massachusetts native was drafted by Kansas City in the Fourth Round of the 2009 First Year Player Draft, and the former Clemson Tiger is 2-1 with a 2.16 ERA in four starts since pitching in the Triple A All-Star Game. His 3.28 ERA for the season is fourth in the Pacific Coast League.
Another lefty Justin Marks and RHP Yordano Ventura began the year in Northwest Arkansas and have also picked up victories during the Strom Chasers recent run of success.
Recent additions to the roster LF Brian Fletcher and INF Pedro Ciriaco have made their contributions offensively batting third and fifth in the order on most nights respectively. Fletcher, promoted to Omaha from the Naturals on July 29 is 11-for-38 (.289) with two homeruns in his first nine games in the PCL. Ciriaco was claimed on waivers by the Kansas City on July 16th from San Diego, and is batting .299 in 19 games at shortstop, second base, and third base.
After dropping their last two games in Salt Lake City, they will open up a four game series tonight back at Werner Park in Omaha against the Pacific Southern Divison Leading Sacramento River Cats.
STARLING UP: Kansas City's First Round fifth overall draft pick in 2011, CF Bubba Starling, had a walk-off single two nights ago that scored SS Raul Mondesi and offered a glimpse into what could be for the first-place Lexington Legends. Starling is 10-for-33 (.303) in his last ten games. More recently the clean-up hitter from Gardner, Kansas combined with second-place hitter Raul Mondesi have gone a combined 12-for-33 with five runs scored in their last five games.
JASON TAKES TWO: Up-and-Down results for Naturals RHP Jason Adam have started to trend up. The Royals fifth round selection in the 2010 MLB June Amateur Draft recently celebrated his 22nd Birthday and won back-to-back starts in the week before the big day. Adam allowed just one run on eight hits and five walks, while striking out nine picking up the two victories.
RAKIN' RABEN: Wilmington's 1B Dennis Raben is 13-for-34 (.382) over his last ten games. The 25 year old former second round draft pick by the Seattle Mariners in 2008 was playing Independent ball for Ken Oberkfell's Lincoln Salt Dogs prior to signing with Kansas City this past June. He has 7 homeruns and 29 RBI in 47 games for the Blue Rocks this season.
NATURALS ALUMNI: 1B Eric Hosmer ('10) has collected multiple hits in nine of his last fourteen games, including a current streak of four multi-hit games in a row. Kansas City's former number-three draft choice in the 2008 MLB June Amateur Draft is batting .371 since over the stretch since July 23 with 3 doubles, 3 homeruns, and 12 RBI.
The Northwest Arkansas Naturals are the Double-A Texas League Affiliate of the Kansas City Royals and proud host of the 77th Annual Texas League All Star Game. The Naturals play at state-of-the-art Arvest Ballpark in Springdale, AR. For more information including statistics, ticket options, and more, please visit NWANaturals.com, and follow us on Twitter @NWANaturals and Facebook.com/Naturals.