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Minor-league week in review: Luke Williams helps Team USA qualify for Olympics


Lehigh Valley’s Luke Williams helped Team USA qualify for the Tokyo Olympics. (Cheryl Pursell)

A Philadelphia Phillies prospect helped send the United States national baseball team to this summer’s Tokyo Olympics with his performance during last week’s qualifier.

Luke Williams stepped away from the Lehigh Valley IronPigs to compete for Team USA in the Americas Qualifier in Port St. Lucie and West Palm Beach, Florida. But while he took a break from the minors, Phillies affiliates completed their fifth week of the Minor League Baseball season.

After five weeks of play, the Triple-A Lehigh Valley IronPigs and the Low-A Clearwater Threshers are both tied for the best record in the Phillies’ system at 16-14; the Double-A Reading Fightin Phils have the worst record in the system at 6-24; the High-A Jersey Shore BlueClaws sit at 13-16.

Williams Shows Out for Team USA

Leaving Lehigh Valley for the week, Williams batted leadoff and played left field in each of the United States’ four games to qualify for the Olympics. Team USA won all four, and Williams played a role in all of them.

The 24-year-old had a hit in each game. In last Monday’s opener against Nicaragua, Williams had three hits and reached base five times in a 7-1 victory. Last Tuesday against the Dominican Republic, his sixth-inning, two-run triple allowed Team USA to hold on for an 8-6 win.

Williams had doubled and homered for two hits and two runs scored in a 10-1 win over Canada on Wednesday, and had another hit and a run in the United States’ 4-2 win over Venezuela on Saturday that punched the team’s ticket to Tokyo.

The Phillies prospect batted 8-for-16 with a double, a triple, a home run, six runs scored and six RBIs in the qualifying event.

Stott Plays First Week in Double-A

Last week was the first at a new level for shortstop Bryson Stott, who earned a promotion to Class AA ahead of the Fightins’ most recent series against the Somerset Patriots. The 2019 first-round pick had been playing in High-A Jersey Shore.

Stott struggled in his first week, going 2-for-17 with an RBI and two runs scored. An adjustment period as he starts facing Double-A pitching is to be expected.

Nonetheless, the promotion is a big step in the 23-year-old’s development in what’s just his first full season in professional baseball. He’s now hitting .256 with a .900 OPS on the season between Single-A and Double-A

Ortiz Flashes Power at Jersey Shore

Jersey Shore’s Jhailyn Ortiz put on an impressive power display in the BlueClaws’s series against the Brooklyn Cyclones. He went 8-for-23 with three home runs and a double in the six-game set.

The homers weren’t cheap either. All three were blasted into left field, flying over the heads of fans sitting on the grass hill beyond the fence at FirstEnergy Park.

The 22-year-old Ortiz is slashing .259/.344/.435 with four doubles and five home runs on the season.

Marcano Stands Out for Threshers

Threshers starter Rafael Marcano was unhittable in his last outing, striking out eight batters in five perfect innings against the Daytona Tortugas on Saturday.

The start continued a trend that’s been going on throughout the season for the left-hander. Marcano leads Clearwater with a 0.90 ERA in 20 innings over six games.

The 21-year-old is impressing in his first full season as a professional. His career ERA now stands at 2.38 over 56 2/3 innings between Low-A ball and two seasons of rookie ball.

Farm Notes

  • Infielder Nick Maton was optioned to Triple-A on Sunday. He has not appeared in a minor-league game this year.
  • Outfielder Adam Haseley has gone 4-for-16 with a double in four rehab games with Lehigh Valley. He was placed on the restricted list in April for personal reasons.
  • 33-year-old reliever Neftalí Feliz has been effective for the IronPigs this season. The 2010 American League Rookie of the Year has pitched to a 2.00 ERA in 10 innings, earning three saves along the way.
  • 2020 first-round draft pick Mick Abel threw another solid start for Clearwater on Thursday, going 3 2/3 scoreless and allowing just two hits. His season ERA is down to 3.57 in six starts.

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