Right-hander Eric Cernatola pitches for the Quad Cities River Bandits, the High-A affiliate of the Kansas City Royals, in 2023. Photo courtesy of Quad Cities River Bandits.

Last week, Eric Cerantola stepped into a role he's been less accustomed to. The 2021 fifth-round pick took the mound in the first inning Sunday for High-A Quad Cities, making his second start of the season and first since May 11. Cerantola didn't finish the third inning of that start three months ago, but his last time out was a different story.

Cerantola retired the first three batters he faced. Two pitches into the second inning, though, Cedar Rapids third baseman Jorel Ortega clubbed a solo home run to open the scoring. Cerantola responded accordingly, striking out the next two batters and only allowing one base runner — a hit batsman — over the following 3.1 innings.

The 23-year-old right-hander threw 43 of his 68 pitches for strikes, punching out a season-high eight batters. He totaled eight one-run innings with 10 strikeouts and two walks on the week, receiving Midwest League Pitcher of the Week honors for Aug. 7-13. On the month, he has totaled 9.2 innings across three outings, posting a 0.93 ERA and 13 strikeouts to three walks.

Cerantola entered August with a 5.12 ERA on the year. He has lowered that number to 4.39 as of Sunday. He's struck out 68 batters in 55.1 innings, holding opposing batters to a .191 batting average. The Mississippi State product is turning the page on a rough start to his second full season, finding his top-notch stuff that made him an early Day 2 pick in 2021.


Omaha Storm Chasers (Triple-A): Tyler Gentry, the Royals' No. 8 prospect according to MLB Pipeline, is driving up his numbers offensively this month. As of Wednesday, the righty is slashing .268/.423/.488 in 12 games, building off a strong July when he posted a .967 OPS in 20 games.

The outfielder has clubbed two home runs, bringing his season total to 13. What Gentry continues to succeed at is limiting strikeouts. In June, he whiffed 30 times in 22 games. Over his last 32, Gentry has struck out 25 times while also walking 25 times. The 2020 third-round pick is slashing .274/.417/.528 since July 2.

Northwest Arkansas Naturals (Double-A): Royals player development is continuing to find long outings from right-handed pitcher Chandler Champlain. The 24 year old tossed a career-high eight innings in his first start of the month Aug. 2, striking out eight batters and allowing two runs on six hits and one walk.

In his last six starts, dating back to July 15, Champlin has pitched at least six innings in each outing. He's posted a 1.88 ERA with 38 strikeouts to 10 walks in that span. MLB Pipeline ranked Champlin the 11th-best prospect in the Royals' system on its mid-season top-30 update.

Columbia Fireflies (Low-A): Henry Williams, who the Royals acquired along with Jesus Rios from the San Diego Padres for Scott Barlow at the trade deadline, has been lights out for Low-A Columbia upon arrival. Williams entered the system with a 5.74 ERA on the year. He made 12 starts for Lake Elsinore, striking out 40 batters in 42.1 innings.

In his first two starts for the Fireflies, Williams totaled 10 innings with nine strikeouts. The 21-year-old righty yielded one earned run on three hits, four walks and one hit batsman. The 2022 third-round pick now holds a 4.82 ERA in his first professional season. MLB Pipeline ranked Williams the 23rd-best prospect in the system.

Arizona Complex League Royals (Rookie): Cerantola wasn't the lone Royals farmhand to come away with hardware last week. ACL Royals outfielder Derlin Figueroa exploded offensively, going 9 for 12 with five doubles, one home run, five runs, four RBI, three walks and one stolen base from Aug. 7-13. As of Wednesday, the lefty is slashing .322/.441/.542 in 143 plate appearances on the year.

The Royals acquired Figueroa along with infielder Devin Mann from the Los Angeles Dodgers on Aug. 1 for left-handed pitcher Ryan Yarbrough. In seven games since joining the organization, Figueroa has seen more time in the infield, making four starts at first base and two at third base. In 31 games for the ACL Dodgers, he started 24 in the outfield.

Dominican Summer League Royals (Rookie): In three relief appearances this month, Fraynel Nova has been perfect. The DSL Royals Blue hurler totaled five perfect innings, striking out four batters. The 21 year old has lowered his ERA to 3.32 in his second rookie-ball season. He is likely poised to make it stateside next year.