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D-backs Farm Rumblings: Stellar pitching and a setback for Ahmed

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Reno Aces

Triple-A Pacific Coast League

Week: 5-1
Overall: 77-57
Standing: 1st place in Pacific Northern Division, 3.0 games ahead of Fresno

Banda up and down: Lefty Anthony Banda had an eventful week for the Aces. Monday, he lasted just two innings, giving up six hits and eight earned runs while walking four before being yanked with nobody out in the third inning of a 16-2 loss to Fresno. The 24-year-old fared much better on Sunday when he went six innings, allowing eight hits and three earned runs while striking out nine in a 4-3 road win at Las Vegas. The win was the first in Triple-A for Banda since July 5. On the season for the Aces, he’s 8-7 with a 5.63 ERA in 21 starts with 109 strikeouts in 115 innings.

Ahmed’s return delayed: D-backs shortstop Nick Ahmed, who has been out since June 27 after getting hit in the hand by a pitch, was nearing a return to the big leagues. Sunday, in what was supposed to be his last minor league rehab game before rejoining the Diamondbacks, Ahmed was again hit in the hand with a pitch — this one from Las Vegas right-hander Wilfredo Boscan — in the fourth inning. Ahmed had homered in his previous at-bat, which was his first hit in six minor league games. He’s batting .059 (1-for-17) in stints in the Arizona Rookie League and the PCL.

Shipley back on track: Right-hander Braden Shipley has been very good in his last two outings after big-time struggles earlier this season in Reno. Saturday, Shipley threw seven scoreless innings while allowing only two hits and three walks in a 7-3 win over Las Vegas. In his last two starts, Shipley has allowed one earned run over 12.2 innings on the mound, an ERA of 0.71.


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Jackson Generals

Double-A Southern League

Week: 4-3
Overall: 29-33
Standing: 4th place in North Division, 14.0 games behind Chattanooga (2nd half)

Keller is dealing: Right-hander Brad Keller, the D-back’s No. 12 prospect according to MLB.com, had his best outing of the year Sunday in a 3-0 win over Chattanooga. The 22-year-old took a no-hitter into the seventh inning. Jonathan Rodriguez broke up the bid with a leadoff single in that inning and that was the only hit Keller would allow as he pitched the rest of the frame. Mason McCullough and Joey Krehbiel came on to finish the gem for Keller, who got his ninth win of the year. Keller had probably his worst outing of 2017 against the same Lookouts team earlier in August — one where he failed to get out of the first inning and gave up eight earned runs in a 17-5 loss. But in his last three starts, Keller is 1-0 and has allowed only three earned runs over 18 innings (1.50 ERA) and has struck out 18.

Another shutout: The Generals also blanked Pensacola, 1-0, on Friday night. Third baseman Marty Herum provided the offense with his first home run at the Double-A level — a ninth-inning shot — while Ryan Atkinson, J.R. Bradley, Yuhei Nakaushiro and Andury Acevedo combined on a two-hit shutout.


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Visalia Rawhide

High-A California League

Week: 4-2
Overall: 31-32
Standing: 1st place in North Division, 1.0 game ahead of Modesto, San Jose and Stockton

Keep an eye on Lopez: To say that Cuban right-hander Yoan Lopez has had a tumultuous minor-league career, would be an understatement. He’s left teams on a couple of different occasions since signing with Arizona in January of 2015. But he’s back now and it can be argued Lopez has never pitched better. The reliever has given up only two earned runs in 26.2 innings with the Rawhide this season. He has 31 strikeouts and only five walks and opponents have managed just a .149 average against him. In three appearances last week, Lopez mowed down nine hitters in just 4.2 innings and picked up his fifth save of the year.

Takahashi’s near no-no: Brad Keller wasn’t the only D-backs’ farmhand to flirt with baseball immortality. Visalia 20-year-old right-hander Bo Takahashi took a no-no into the eighth Friday night in a 5-0 win over Modesto. Donnie Walton ended the bid with a leadoff single in the the eighth, but Takahashi got the next three hitters, including two strikeouts.


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Kane County Cougars

Single-A Midwest League

Week: 2-5
Overall: 30-33
Standing: Tied for 4th place with Clinton in Western Division, 11.0 games behind Quad Cities

Shades of Grey: If there was a highlight for the Cougars in a rough week, it was the performance of right-hander Connor Grey on Tuesday. In a 9-1 win over Cedar Rapids, Grey threw an efficient 96-pitch complete game, allowing just four hits and one run while striking out four. Grey has pitched for Hillsboro, Kane County, Visalia and Reno this season, and has been pretty good overall, posting an 8-4 record with a 3.15 ERA and 0.95 WHIP.


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Hillsboro Hops

Short-season-A Northwest League

Week: 5-2
Overall: 17-15
Standing: 1st place in South Division, 2.0 games ahead of Eugene

Varsho on fire: Daulton Varsho, a competitive balance selection out of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in June and Arizona’s top catching prospect, had quite the week at the plate for the Hops. Varsho batted .500 (10-for-20) with seven runs scored, four doubles, a triple, three home runs and seven RBI.


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Missoula Osprey

Rookie Pioneer League

Week: 5-2
Overall: 11-14
Standing: 2nd place in North Division, 3.0 games behind Great Falls

I believe it’s pronounced ‘Yerzy, with a soft j’: The D-backs’ second-best catching prospect, Andy Yerzy, a 19-year-old Canadian drafted in the second round in 2016, also enjoyed a solid week. Yerzy hit .385 (10-for-26) with three runs scored, three home runs and four RBI. He now leads the Osprey with 10 home runs on the season and is tied with Joey Rose for the team lead in RBI with 39.


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D-backs

Rookie Arizona League

Week: 4-2
Overall: 10-14
Standing: 5th place in East Division, 3.0 games behind Angels

Solid pitching effort: The D-backs’ best pitching performance of the week came Saturday night when Wilfry Cruz and Elvis Luciano combined on a three-hit shutout in a 4-0 win over the Padres in Peoria. Cruz, a 19-year-old Dominican native, struck out eight over six innings then gave way to Luciano, a 17-year-old, who was in just his third game in Arizona after starring in the Dominican Summer League.

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