The first wave of September call-ups to Kansas City happened Friday, and more Omaha Storm Chasers figure to get promotions after their season wraps up Monday.
But Hunter Dozier isn’t expecting to be one of them, though he spent last September with the Royals.
Dozier homered Saturday in the Chasers’ 7-3 loss to Iowa at Werner Park, but it was a rare bright spot in a frustrating season. The Royals’ first-round draft pick from 2013 has played 23 games for the Chasers and 31 overall in the minors, having opened the season on the disabled list with a strained oblique muscle and then being sidelined by surgery on his left wrist.
The 26-year-old corner infielder and outfielder launched a pitch 375 feet to left field in the ninth inning Saturday for his fourth homer of the season.
But he said he still doesn’t feel like himself at the plate.
“I’m trying to get back to where I was last year, where I was in spring training,” said the 6-foot-4 Texan. “Some at-bats I feel really good. I just need more at-bats.”
While Dozier is on the Royals’ 40-man roster, Chasers first baseman Frank Schwindel isn’t, which makes a September promotion unlikely.
But the 25-year-old from New Jersey continued his strong season by going 2 for 4 and scoring a run. He boosted his average to .318 in 97 games with the Chasers and has hits in 45 of his last 48 games.
With Eric Hosmer nearing free agency in the offseason, the Royals’ first base job could be wide open next spring. Could Schwindel get a look?
“His bat’s pretty good right now,” Chasers manager Brian Poldberg said. “The one thing he can do is hit a fastball. He might take a bad swing, but he gets back in there and it doesn’t affect the next pitch. He’s got short-term memory.”
Schwindel also made a couple of nice plays on defense Saturday. Most of his starts in early games with the Chasers were at designated hitter, but he’s taken over at first now that Ryan O’Hearn is back with Double-A Northwest Arkansas.
“I’ve seen definite improvement,” Poldberg said.
Schwindel has walked 10 times with the Chasers. His priority for next season is swinging at better pitches.
“I feel like I can hit anything,” he said. “But that can be a bad thing sometimes. Just want to get my pitch rather than any strike to swing at.”
Omaha pitchers had trouble throwing strikes Saturday, walking 10 Cubs, including five by reliever Eric Stout (5-2) in a three-run seventh.
Meanwhile, Cubs starter Jen-Ho Tseng, pounded the zone for seven innings. The 22-year-old right-hander from Taiwan threw 61 of his 84 pitches for strikes, scattering eight hits. He didn’t walk anyone until the seventh, after a line drive from Schwindel caromed off his right hip. He surrendered his second run in the inning but escaped by striking out Ruben Sosa and earned the win, improving to 6-1 with a 1.80 ERA in nine starts with the Cubs.
“Hell of a job,” Iowa manager Marty Pevey said.
Down 7-3, the Chasers loaded the bases with none out in the ninth, but Peavey summoned reliever Pierce Johnson, who struck out the top three hitters in the lineup to secure his ninth save.
“Bases juiced, nobody out,” Pevey said. “Great job by Pierce.”