- Fargo-Moorhead (33-13, 1st in West)
The RedHawks’ record says it all. Fargo-Moorhead hasn’t lost two straight games since June 9-10. Since that time, they’re 17-4, including a pair of solid series wins against Winnipeg and Lincoln last week. Leo Piña earned Rawlings Player of the Month honors for June, and though his 19-game hitting streak came to an end on Sunday, he’s still hitting a league-best .390 on the year. Their pitching staff continues to impress, with four All-Stars in starters Sebastian Kessay, Tyler Grauer and Kevin McGovern and closer Alex DuBord. The RedHawks have a tricky week ahead, hosting Winnipeg before heading to the Birdcage to face a hot Sioux Falls squad.
- Chicago (31-16, 1st in East)
The Dogs’ have maintained their cushion in the East Division standings, finishing June on a six-game winning streak and taking two out of three from Milwaukee last weekend. Their Saturday night win was one of the most dramatic of the season: After Milwaukee’s Correlle Prime hit a go-ahead grand slam in the top of the ninth, the Dogs rallied for two runs in the bottom half, then won it in extras. The Dogs finish up a key series with Kane County starting Wednesday night before heading to Gary this coming weekend. After that, a good chunk of their players will be heading home, to take the field in the All-Star Game.
- Kansas City (31-16, 2nd in West)
This week didn’t get off to a great start for the Monarchs, losing the final three games of a four-game set at home to the Cleburne Railroaders. In a West Division race that provides little margin for error, that gave the RedHawks a boost. Still, this team remains fearsome, especially in the power department. Matt Adams hit a pair of home runs on Saturday to leapfrog his teammate Jan Hernandez for first on the league leaderboard. All Hernandez did the next day was hit a walk-off grand slam to tie things back up at 19 homers apiece. Both are on pace to break the Association home run record.
- Kane County (26-22, 2nd in East)
George Tsamis’ side has had their ups and downs this year, but they’ve taken firm control of the No. 2 spot in the East. The Cougars split an important series in Lincoln to start off the week, then scored an eye-popping 23 runs to kick off a home sweep of Lake Country. This team has one of the best starting rotations in the Association. Jack Fox has lowered his ERA to 1.88, and Jose Fuentes isn’t far behind him at 2.40. Former big leaguer Vance Worley has recorded a quality start in five of his last six outings. And of course, there’s Jimmy Kerrigan, who leads the Cougars with 17 home runs and a .342 batting average. We’ll see if the team Twitter’s pleas to get him in the Home Run Derby will come to fruition!
- Sioux Falls (17-29, 6th in West)
This one’s a bit of a wild card, but with many teams treading water this week, the Birds are hot. Mike Meyer’s team has won 7 of its last 10, powered largely by an improved pitching staff. Lefty ace Ty Culbreth has a 2.75 ERA over his last five starts, including eight shutout frames against Lincoln on June 23 that earned him Pitcher of the Week honors. Slugger Jabari Henry continues to mash, hitting his 18th home run of the season in the Birds’ extra-inning win over Cleburne on Sunday night.