The Royals' Texas League affiliate is off to a rough start to 2014, sitting at 4-13 and in last place in the North Division. The club trails first place Springfield (STL) by five games, and is winless at home in seven tries thus far.
Among the biggest struggles for Northwest Arkansas is a 5.77 team ERA, which is a full two runs higher than the next closest club. Opponents have scored a staggering 115 runs – 39 more than the second worst team. Perhaps worse, 22 of those runs are unearned. Naturals pitchers have walked 81 hitters and have thrown 17 wild pitches, both the most in the eight-team Texas League.
As a team, the Naturals are hitting just .236/.323/.328 and have scored only 62 runs in 2014, the league’s second worst mark. Northwest Arkansas batters have hit just eight home runs, which also ranks second lowest in the league.
After going 1-for-16 to start the season, Jorge Bonifacio is now fourth in the Texas League with 12 RBI, just three off the pacesetter. The outfielder has five multi-hit ballgames in his last 10 starts and is hitting .310/.370/.429 since April 11. In all, Bonifacio has one home run with a line of .239/.338/.358.
Infield prospect Cheslor Cuthbert has a team-high 17 hits and 12 walks and ranks second on the club with seven RBI. In all, he is hitting .279/.392/.361.
Whit Merrifield is tied for the league lead with six doubles, three of which have come in his last four games. Over that period, the second baseman/left fielder has three multi-hit games and five RBI.
Lane Adams is on the rise with five hits in his last three games, but is still hitting just .224/.329/.284 in 74 plate appearances across 17 games.
23-year old pitching prospect Sam Selman tossed five innings in his season debut April 11, in which he allowed just one unearned run. The lefty allowed just two hits and walked four. Across two starts, Selman is currently 0-1 with a 2.79 ERA.
Two of Tim Melville’s three starts have been very impressive. The 24-year old tossed four scoreless innings April 4 and five scoreless April 15. He allowed a combined three hits in the two outings. In all, the right-hander has a 2.77 ERA in 13 innings and has held opponents to a .133 batting average.
Relievers Cody Fassold and Andrew Triggs both have ERAs under 1.80 in six appearances apiece.
Basically, everyone else. Specifically:
Prospect Jason Adam has lost three games, tied for the most in the Texas League.
He was roughed up in his first start of the season, surrendering eight runs (six earned) in just three innings against Midland (OAK). He followed that outing with a two-hit performance and one earned run across four strong innings also against the RockHounds , but then surrendered ten hits to Springfield in his last start. The Cardinals score five runs, four of which were earned. Opponents are hitting .388 against Adam with right-handed hitters scorching him for a line of .545/.519/.773 in 23 April plate appearances.
Angel Baez has struck out 17 hitters in 10.2 innings, which ranks among the league’s leaders in K/9. Unfortunately, he has a 10.97 ERA this year across six relief appearances.
Noel Arguelles is tied for the league’s most walks with 13 and has a 14.09 ERA in his first 7.2 innings across six appearances.