Frank Schwindel’s sensational late-season surge didn’t earn him a September promotion.
But it certainly landed him squarely on Kansas City’s radar going forward.
Omaha’s first baseman had two more hits — both RBI singles — in his team’s 7-3 victory over Iowa in the regular-season finale Monday at Werner Park to finish his first Triple-A year with a .321 batting average.
Schwindel ended the summer with a 10-game hitting streak. It was his third double-digit string in the last two months. Since July 15, the St. John’s product recorded at least one hit in 47 of his 50 outings.
“It was an awesome second half — a lot of fun,” he said. “I made a couple of adjustments at the All-Star break. The coaches stuck with me, kept me in the lineup. They encouraged me. I finished it out strong.”
Schwindel was promoted from Double-A Northwest Arkansas, where he hit .350 in 34 games, in mid-May and went 1 for 3 in his debut with the Storm Chasers, then struggled over the next two months.
The slugger, who finished the season with 174 minor league hits, was batting only .221 on June 29. His season-ending surge started with a four-hit night against Nashville at Werner on July 15. It didn’t stop.
“He did a phenomenal job,” Omaha manager Brian Poldberg said. “Once he got by that slow start, he never slowed up again. He’s got a hitting mentality. One bad swing and it doesn’t throw him off.”
Schwindel singled in a run during a four-run first inning that had the Chasers leading from the outset. He drove in a run in the seventh with a two-out, broken-bat grounder up the middle to bump the lead to 6-1.
That was the final at-bat of the season for Omaha’s hitter of the year. Schwindel, an 18th-round pick in 2013, isn’t currently on Kansas City’s 40-man roster or on Baseball America’s list of Royals top prospects.
The 25-year-old infielder may have played his way on to both entering next season, however.
“It definitely gives me an opportunity,” Schwindel said. “I feel like I got some good press this year and did a lot of good things. I’ve just been getting better every year. That’s all I can really worry about.
“I struggled those first two months. That was a tough time. It made me work harder and try to lock in a little more. It seemed to work. The second half was awesome. I was happy with the way the year went.”
Billy Burns and Garin Cecchini also had two hits for the Chasers on the final day of the season. And Ruben Sosa, who hit a tiebreaking homer as a pinch hitter on Sunday, added a two-run double Monday.
Omaha scored six of its seven runs with two outs, giving starter Arnaldo Hernandez his first Triple-A win.
The 21-year-old right-hander had two starts for the Chasers in the past week after making 15 appearances for Low-A Lexington this season. He allowed only two runs in 10-plus innings with Omaha.
“He threw two games, and both of them we ended up winning,” Poldberg said. “He did a good job. Coming from Low-A, he competed well. I tip my hat to him.”
Hernandez pitched into the sixth while helping Omaha (69-72) split the final series and finish a game ahead of Iowa for third place in the regular-season standings in the PCL’s American Northern Division.
Playoff-bound Colorado Springs clinched the division a while ago. Oklahoma City finished second.
“If you’re not first, you lose,” Poldberg said. “But you don’t want to be last either.”
With the Triple-A season over for Omaha, outfielder Jorge Soler and infielder Ramon Torres left for Kansas City to rejoin the Royals for the stretch run. Soler hit 24 home runs in 74 games with the Chasers.