Opinion

Royals on the Farm: Alec Mills has had tough luck this season

Alec Mills.
Alec Mills. jsleezer@kcstar.com

Welcome to another edition of Royals On The Farm, our weekly look at each level of Kansas City’s minor-league system.

Statistics are through Wednesday’s games.

Class AAA Omaha

In his last four outings during his transition to the bullpen, right-hander Brooks Pounders has allowed four hits, eight walks with 13 strikeouts in nine scoreless innings.

The former second-round draft pick (2009, Pirates) has lowered his earned-run average to 2.98 but has 27 walks in 54  1/3 innings pitched.

Third baseman Hunter Dozier is hitting .292 (7 for 24) with two home runs in his last six games. The 2013 first-round pick is hitting .284 with 15 home runs and 41 RBIs in 61 games between Omaha and Class AA Northwest Arkansas this season.

Nine games into his return with the Storm Chasers, Irving Falu is hitting .222 with two home runs and seven RBIs.

Class AA Northwest Arkansas

Wins aren’t everything in the minors and that’s a good thing for Alec Mills.

The hard-luck right-hander retired the first 14 batters he faced Monday at Arkansas — and 21 of 23 overall — but watched the Naturals bullpen turn a 2-0 lead into a 3-2 loss. Mills, 1-2, struck out a career-high 11 batters in seven scoreless innings.

It was quite the response after Mills had his worst start of the season on June 16 at Tulsa, allowing four earned runs in 4  2/3 innings.

Despite not having won a game since April 12, there’s been plenty to like with Mills. He ranks among the Texas League leaders in ERA (2.39, sixth), WHIP (1.02, tied for fifth), strikeouts (68, second) and innings pitched (67  2/3 , ninth).

Reliever Kevin McCarthy’s streak of 10 scoreless outings ended Monday in blowing a save for Mills, allowing three runs in an 1  1/3 innings.

Outside of two disastrous appearances — a four-run outing on April 17 was the other, McCarthy has been excellent out of the bullpen this season. The former 16th-round draft pick is second in the league with 11 saves. His 3.12 ERA, .208 opponent batting average and 0.98 ERA in 34  2/3 innings are respectable.

First baseman Ryan O’Hearn has three home runs in his last five games. The former eighth-round pick has 12 homers in 63 games between Class A Wilmington and Northwest Arkansas this season.

Catcher Cam Gallagher is hitting .286 in his last 10 games with just two strikeouts in 35 at-bats.

Class A Wilmington (Advanced)

Right-handed reliever Jake Newberry, 1-0, has a 1.74 ERA in his first 10 games with the Blue Rocks. The former 37th-round pick holds an impressive 18:3 strikeout:walk ratio in 20  2/3 innings.

Righty starter Josh Staumont leads the Carolina League with 47 walks and is second with 72 strikeouts.

Catcher Chad Johnson is hitting .351 in his last 10 games, raising his average 43 points to .237.

Class A Lexington

Catcher Chase Vallot’s return from a nearly two-week absence was spoiled by a 93 miles-per-hour fastball to his face Tuesday in his second at-bat against West Virginia pitcher Gage Hinsz.

The prized prospect visited a Lexington emergency room but was joking with team representatives later. Vallot did not play Wednesday against the Power.

Outfielder Anderson Miller, a 2015 third-round pick out of Western Kentucky, is hitting .353 in his last 10 games with his hometown team.

Coming up

The rookie-level Burlington Royals of the Appalachian League open their season on June 23 against the Princeton Rays. Pitcher Ashe Russell, last year’s first-round draft pick and the Royals’ sixth-rated prospect according to Baseball America, has been assigned to Burlington’s roster.

Jeff Patterson: 816-234-4767, @jeffpatt_KC

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