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Idaho Falls wins Pioneer League championship

September 15, 2019

Here’s a look at the top performances of the past week by Royals prospects in the Minor Leagues:

Here’s a look at the top performances of the past week by Royals prospects in the Minor Leagues:

Top prospect performers

Top 30 Prospects | Complete prospect stats | Draft stats

Sunday, Sept. 15: Idaho Falls wins Pioneer League title
The Idaho Falls Chukars have won the Pioneer League championship. The Reds’ Rookie Advanced affiliate defeated the Ogden Raptors in the best-of-three series 2-1 with Sunday’s 10-8 victory.

The Chukars got out to an early lead, scoring three runs in the third inning, with a trio of batters contributing an RBI. Idaho Falls would pour on four more runs in the top of the fifth, building a 7-0 lead, when Odgen began its comeback attempt.

The Raptors scored five runs in the bottom of the fifth and three in the bottom of the sixth, but Idaho Falls answered back with runs in the inning following both Ogden outbursts and stayed ahead until the end.

The offense was spread out across the Chukars’ lineup, with leadoff hitter Tyler Tolbert having arguably the biggest stat line. The 2019 MLB Draft pick (13th round) out of Alabama-Birmingham went 3-for-5 with an RBI and three runs scored. Every Idaho Falls starter reached base at least once.

Jonah Dipoto, son of Seattle Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto, pitched two scoreless innings to close out the game and earn the save. Sunday's prospect stats »

Saturday, Sept. 14: Wilmington wins Mills Cup, Chukars force Game 3
Dennicher Carrasco
hit nine homers during the regular season, but his most memorable homer of the year will certainly be Saturday’s solo blast in the winner-take-all Game 5 of the Mills Cup.

Carrasco’s homer proved to be the game-winner, though the Blue Rocks did tack on an insurance run in the ninth, as Wilmington beat Fayetteville, 2-0, to win the Mills Cup for the first time in 20 years.

The Blue Rocks’ pitching staff, which spun a shutout in Game 4, led the way for the second time in as many nights.

Rito Lugo got the start and fanned six over six innings before giving way to the bullpen. Collin Snider, Josh Dye and Tad Ratliff took over from there and closed out the game.

Nick Pratto, the Royals’ No. 10 prospect, also contributed as his RBI double in the ninth inning highlighted his 2-for-4 night.

Idaho Falls evened up the Pioneer League Finals and forced a winner-take-all Game 3 with a 6-2 win over Ogden on Saturday night.

The middle of the Chukars' lineup did the bulk of the damage as the Nos. 3 through 6 hitters combined to go 7-for-13 with five RBIs and a trio of extra-base hits. On the mound, Anthony Veneziano picked up the win as he struck out five and threw four innings of no-hit ball out of the bullpen.

Game 3 is scheduled for Sunday at 6 p.m. ET. Saturday's prospect stats »

Friday, Sept. 13: Legends win SAL on a walk-off, Blue Rocks win pitchers' duel
Winning a championship is great no matter how it happens, but winning a title on a walk-off homer is truly special. That’s exactly what happened for Class A Lexington on Friday night.

Reed Rohlman clinched the Legends’ second consecutive South Atlantic League crown with a two-run blast in the 13th inning of Game 4. Prior to Rohlman’s heroics, the game could only be classified as a pitchers' duel and was tied at one through 12 innings.

Zach Haake, a 2018 MLB Draft pick (6th round) and the Royals’ No. 27 prospect, was dominant on the mound for the Legends. Haake, who pitched to a 2.70 ERA across two levels in his first full season, threw six no-hit innings, issued just two walks and struck out six.

Sometimes you don’t need a ton of offense to win a baseball game. Class A Advanced Wilmington managed to score just two runs on six hits, but that turned out to be enough to win Game 4 of the Mills Cup Finals and force a decisive Game 5 against Fayetteville on Saturday.

MJ Melendez, the Royals’ No. 9 prospect, got things started with a solo homer -- his second RBI in as many days -- in the second inning and that score held until Cristian Perez tacked on an RBI single in the top of the ninth.

A trio of Fayetteville pitchers held the Blue Rocks’ offense in check, but Austin Cox (No. 21) put together his own masterpiece on the mound. The 22-year-old, a fifth-round pick from last year’s MLB Draft, threw 59 of his 98 pitches for strikes as he carved his way through the Woodpeckers' lineup, yielding just one hit over six scoreless innings. Andrew Beckwith and Josh Dye threw the final three innings and kept the shutout in tact.

Idaho Falls jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the third inning, but ultimately fell, 5-3, against Ogden in Game 1 of the Pioneer League Finals. Friday's prospect stats »

Thursday, Sept. 12: Idaho Falls advances to PL finals
The Idaho Falls Chukars are heading to the Pioneer League Championship Series after they defeated Billings, 6-4, in Game 3 of the best-of-three series.

The Rookie Advanced affiliate of the Royals pushed across two runs in the second inning, with Isaiah Henry and Stephan Vidal delivering RBI knocks in the frame. A wild pitch netted Idaho Falls another run in the fifth inning, while Clay Dungan’s go-ahead three-run home run in the seventh broke a 3-3 tie. Henry, a 20-year-old outfielder, paced the Chukars’ offense by going 2-for-3 with two doubles and three runs scored and finished the three-game series with a .500 average.

Idaho Falls and Ogden will now meet in the best-of-three finals, beginning Friday.

Elsewhere in the Royals' organization, Class A Advanced Wilmington is on the verge of elimination after falling, 2-1, to Fayetteville in Game 3 of the Carolina League Championship.

Kris Bubic, the Royals’ No. 6 prospect, was solid on the mound and struck out eight over 5 2/3 innings. However, he also gave up a pair of runs -- via a two-run double in the sixth -- and that was the only offense the Woodpeckers needed in Thursday’s pitchers' duel. MJ Melendez (No. 9) provided the Blue Rocks' offense with a run-scoring single in the second inning.

Wilmington trails the best-of-five series, 2-1, with Games 4 and 5 scheduled for Friday and Saturday in Fayetteville.

Class A Lexington lost for the first time in South Atlantic League Championship Series on Thursday, dropping Game 3 of the best-of-five finals to Hickory, 5-1.

Lexington collected just two hits in the loss, one of which -- a fifth-inning single by Rubendy Jaquez -- drove in the Legends’ lone run. The team’s Nos. 2-5 hitters were held hitless, going 0-for-10 with six strikeouts.

Left-hander Bryce Hensley pitched well out of the bullpen, striking out five over 3 1/3 one-run innings. Thursday's prospect stats »

Wednesday, Sept. 11: Blue Rocks tie up finals
No. 9 prospect MJ Melendez reached base three times on Wednesday for Class A Advanced Wilmington, finishing 2-for-3 with a double, walk and an RBI as the Blue Rocks defeated Fayetteville, 5-4, in Game 2 of their Carolina League Championship Series. Melendez, a second-round pick from the 2017 Draft, appeared in 110 games for Wilmington this season, where he hit just .163 with nine home runs and a .571 OPS.

Tyler Hill hit a solo home run with two outs in the bottom of the first inning to even the score after the Blue Rocks gave up a run in the top of the frame. WIlmington was trailing by two runs entering the bottom of the seventh inning, but broke out for three in the frame on a two-run single from Dennicher Carrasco and the RBI single from Melendez.

The win draws the best-of-five series even at one game apiece. The teams now shift back to Fayetteville for the remaining games of the series, beginning on Thursday. Wednesday's prospect stats »

Tuesday, Sept. 10: Lexington one win away from title
Class A Lexington is one game away from a South Atlantic League title after blanking Hickory, 7-0, on Tuesday in Game 2 of the best-of-five championship series.

No. 13 prospect Carlos Hernandez headlined the Legends’ shutout by tossing five innings of two-hit ball. The 22-year-old right-hander issued three walks, hit a batter and struck out six while throwing 54 of 89 pitches for strikes. He’s allowed two runs on five hits across 11 innings between a pair of postseason starts after posting a 3.50 ERA with 43 strikeouts and nine walks in 36 innings (seven starts) with Lexington during the regular season.

Shortstop Jeison Guzman hit an RBI single and reached base three times, going 2-for-4 with a walk, and Eric Cole hit a three-run homer in the ninth inning to cap a 3-for-5, four-RBI night at the plate.

Class A Advanced Wilmington rallied back from an 0-2 series deficit against Salem in the semifinals to reach the Carolina League finals. The Blue Rocks may need to mount a similar series comeback after dropping Game 1 of the best-of-five championship series to Fayetteville, 3-1, on Tuesday.

No. 3 prospect Daniel Lynch (MLB No. 72) cruised through the first three innings, but surrendered a two-run homer in the fourth and ultimately took the loss in the series opener. He went on to complete five innings, mixing four hits with four walks and seven strikeouts on 108 pitches (68 strikes). All things considered, Lynch’s performance was an improvement over his first postseason start, when he allowed six runs on 12 hits in four innings against Salem in the semis.

Kyle Isbel, the Royals’ No. 8 prospect, scored the Blue Rocks’ only run via a double steal with Brewer Hicklen (No. 15) in the third inning. The duo collected two of their team’s five hits in the loss. Tuesday's prospect stats »

Monday, Sept. 9: Legends win Game 1
John Rave
, the Royals’ No. 22 prospect, helped lead Class A Lexington to a win in Game 1 of the South Atlantic League Championship Series. Rave, a fifth-round pick from this year’s Draft, finished 1-for-4 and drove in a pair of runs in the 6-4 win over Hickory. The Illinois State product hit .234 over 61 games after the Draft. Lexington will look to steal Game 2 on the road Tuesday before the best-of-five series moves to Lexington for the final three games. Monday's prospect stats »