February 9, 2016

When they were Storm Chasers. Several members of the 2015 World Series Champs started their run in Omaha (VIDEO/AUDIO)

11 of the 25 members of the 2015 World Series champs spent time at Triple-A Omaha

11 of the 25 members of the 2015 World Series champs spent time at Triple-A Omaha

As the Manager of Sports News for Learfield News and Ag, I had the privilege to report on sports for two of our company’s networks. Before turning over the reigns to Todd Kimm this spring, one was right here at Nebraska Radio Network and the other in Missouri.

That position provided me a rare opportunity to not only follow the 2014 American League Champion and 2015 World Series Champion Kansas City Royals, but I also followed many of those players as they made their way up the system, which included successful stops at Triple-A affiliate Omaha.

Starting with the 2011 season, Omaha’s Triple-A club changed their name from Royals to Storm Chasers.  That first year, under the direction of their longtime manager Mike Jirschele, Omaha finished in first place for the first time in 21 years.

The Storm Chasers went 79-63 and won the American Conference playoff series by beating the Round Rock Express 3-1.  Omaha then beat Sacramento 3-0 for their first Pacific Coast League Championship since 1990.

Several members from that Storm Chasers’ championship club were on the Royals championships roster this year.  They included:  Lorenzo Cain, Jarrod Dyson, Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Paulo Orlando, Salvador Perez, Danny Duffy, Kelvin Herrera and Greg Holland.

Hosmer made his major league debut that year after playing in 28 games for Omaha.  The overall 3rd pick in the 2008 draft hit .437 in his short time with the Storm Chasers. The same can be said for 21-year old catcher Salvador Perez.  The World Series MVP debuted with the Royals on August 11th of 2011.  However, Omaha was a short stay for the kid behind the plate who started the year at Double-A ball before moving on after just 12 games in Omaha.  Perez also spent just 12-games in Omaha in 2012.

In fact, of all the World Series champs who spent time in Omaha, Dyson was the only player to not see time with the big league club in 2011.

During the 2012 season Christian Colon, the 4th overall pick in the 2010 draft, made his debut with Omaha.  New York starter Matt Harvey was selected three players later, 7th overall.  Colon, who was left off the 2014 World Series roster with a finger injury, showed no rust at the plate in the 12th inning of their World Series clincher.  His single scored  Dyson, putting the Royals on top 3-2.  They eventually won Game 5, 7-2.

Colon’s major league postseason batting numbers in three at-bats: 2-for-2 with a walk, two runs scored, an RBI and stolen base 1.000 avg

After Colon’s single, Royals first base coach Rusty Kuntz came up to Colon and gave him a fist bump to the chest yelling “Gimme some…atta boy…Hell yeah!!!”

(VIDEO/Fox Sports, MLB)

In 2013, it was the arrival of Yordano Ventura, who started at Double-A Northwest Arkansas before being called up to Omaha where he made 14 starts.

I also can’t forget former Husker and Lincoln native Alex Gordon, who spent part of 2010 in Omaha learning how to play left field.  The former third baseman gave way to Mike Moustakas and saved his career by turning into a Gold Glove major league left fielder.

The Storm Chasers also continued their run in 2014 after manager Mike Jirschele was called up to coach third base for the Royals.  In those four seasons from 2011-2014, the Omaha Storm Chasers went 308-265 and won three PCL Championships and two Triple-A National Championships.

Storm Chasers repeat at Triple-A national champions

The Omaha Storm Chasers defeated the Pawtucket Red Sox 4-2 tonight at BB&T Ballpark in Charlotte, North Carolina to capture their second straight Triple-A National Championship, and third Triple-A Championship overall. It is the first back-to-back Triple-A Championships in franchise history. Brett Hayes was named the game’s Most Valuable Player.

The Storm Chasers led 2-1 through four and a half innings on two RBI by Cheslor Cuthbert, but then the game was halted for one hour and 45 minutes due to thunderstorms. After the delay the PawSox tied the game at 2-2 in the sixth, but then Brett Hayes hit a go-ahead homer in the top of the seventh with two outs to put the Chasers ahead for good. After the Hayes round-tripper, the Omaha bullpen retired nine of the final ten Pawtucket batters to clinch the title and finished a postseason where they only let in one earned run in 35.0 combined innings.

Omaha is the third team to win the Triple-A Championship in back-to-back years.

Story courtesy OmahaStormChasers.com

Storm Chasers win their second straight PCL Championship

The Omaha Storm Chasers beat the Reno Aces 4-0 Sunday to win their second straight Pacific Coast League Championship, and third title in the last four seasons. They will face the Pawtucket Red Sox in the 2014 Triple-A National Championship in Charlotte this Tuesday, September 16 at 6:05 p.m.

Omaha starter Aaron Brooks tossed a complete game shutout in the Game 5 win and was named the 2014 PCL Playoffs MVP with three wins and only two runs allowed in 24.0 postseason innings. Brooks finished off the 2014 season allowing just eight earned runs in 53.0 innings (1.36 ERA) in seven straight wins.

The Chasers scored three runs in the first two innings.  With two outs and runners at first and second, Brett Hayes lined a double to the gap in right-center, scoring Pedro Ciriaco and Paulo Orlando.  In the second, Whit Merrifield blooped a single into center-field past a diving Mike Freeman to score Cheslor Cuthbert with the third run.

Storm Chasers lose 2-1 and trail 2-1 in PCL championship

The Omaha Storm Chasers could not capitalize on their scoring opportunities and the Reno Aces took a pivotal Game 3 of the 2014 Pacific Coast League Championship by a score 2-1 at Werner Park. Omaha must now win Games 4 and 5 this Saturday and Sunday, both 2:05 p.m. starts, to take home a third PCL title in the last four years.

Despite holding the Aces offense to only four hits for a third straight game, Reno put up just enough offense with a two-run homer by Roger Kieschnick off Omaha starter Sugar Ray Marimon in the sixth (his first runs allowed after 10.0 scoreless innings to start the postseason). After the homer, the Chasers bullpen let on one Aces baserunner in the final 3.2 innings with Scott Alexander, Kyle Zimmer and Tim Collins keeping the score within reach. Omaha relievers have allowed only one unearned run in 25.2 innings in the playoffs while giving up only six hits.

The Chasers could not cash in with any runners on until the ninth inning, stranding seven runners until Brett Eibner singled in a run in the final frame. The late rally was quickly cut down with a double play and a soft groundout to first base, and Omaha is now in a 2-1 hole despite outscoring the Aces 9-8 in the series and outhitting them 27-12. Paulo Orlando had two hits and Whit Merrifield collected one hit, and the pair are tied for the Triple-A Playoff lead with 13 hits.

The winner of Game 3 after a series has been tied at 1-1 has gone on to win the series five out of six times since the PCL expanded in 1998, with the only team winning the series despite a Game 3 loss being the 1998 New Orleans Zephyrs. Omaha is trying to avoid becoming only the second PCL team since 1998 to lose the Championship after winning Game 1 (2002 Salt Lake Stingers).

The Storm Chasers will look to force a Game 5 in the PCL Championship for the first time since 1998 when New Orleans and Calgary went the distance.

Story:  OmahaStormChasers.com

Storm Chasers come back home with the PCL Championship Series tied 1-1

The Reno The Aces rallied for all four of their runs in the second inning off Omaha starter John Lamb, as Mike Freeman and Nick Ahmed each drove in two runs on consecutive at-bats with two outs for a 4-2 victory in Game 2 of the Pacific Coast League Championship.

The Storm Chasers have allowed only 12 runs in the PCL Playoffs, and seven of those runs have been allowed by Lamb in six innings over two starts. The bullpen has not allowed an earned run in 22.0 innings in the 2014 Playoffs.

Omaha attempted to rally in the eighth by trimming the deficit to 4-2 on a Paul Janish double, but a run was taken off the board later in the inning when Whit Merrifield was called for runner interference on a double play by Reno.

Merrifield had four hits on the night, and leads Omaha and the Triple-A Playoffs with 12 hits.

Game 3 is Friday night at Werner Park.