Storm Chasers 7, Zephyrs 6

Matt Fields hit a solo homer off reliever Edgar Olmos, and Whit Merrifield greeted reliever Grant Drayton with a three-run shot, as Omaha overtook the Zephyrs in the sixth inning on Monday at Zephyr Field.

Omaha relievers shut out the Zephyrs (55-54) over the final four innings, as the Storm Chasers (56-52) gained a split of the four-game series.

New Orleans blew two three-run leads. They led 6-3 lead in the fifth, breaking from a 3-3 tie, with Mark Canha’s two-run home run to center field the big hit. An error by Omaha shortstop Paul Janish opened the door to the inning for the Zephyrs.

The Z’s led 3-0 in the first after Kyle Jensen followed Justin Bour’s RBI double with a two-run homer.

Omaha scored in the third when Janish came in on Brian Bocock’s groundout. The Chasers tied it in the fourth when Pedro Ciriaco doubled in Francisco Pena, who had doubled, and Matt Fields scored on Janish’s infield hit.

Tuesday’s game

WHAT: New Orleans Zephyrs vs. Iowa Cubs

WHERE: Zephyr Field, Metairie

WHEN: 7 p.m.

PROBABLE PITCHERS: Zephyrs RH Brad Penny (1-1, 2.87 ERA) vs. Cubs LH Dae-Eun Rhee (1-0, 3.46)

BROADCASTS: WMTI-FM 106.1, FM, MiLB.tv

Prospect watch

Two of Baseball America’s top prospects are with Iowa — third baseman Kris Bryant (No. 2 overall) – and shortstop Javier Baez (ranked seventh). Iowa also has another top prospect in outfielder Jorge Soler (33rd).

Bryant, however, has Chicago fans excited with anticipation, thinking he will be the Major League team’s starting third baseman come opening day 2015.

One can see why. He has tremendous power at the plate.

Selected second overall by the Cubs in 2013 from the University of San Diego, he began this season with Double-A Tennessee, where he batted .355 with 22 home runs and 22 doubles — a .702 slugging percentage — in 68 games, getting 58 RBIs.

He was promoted to Triple-A Iowa on June 18, and has batted .303 with 11 homers and 10 doubles in 37 games, driving in 29 runs. He was sailing along at a .344 clip on July 18. Since then, a span of 11 games heading into Monday, he’d batted just .200 (7-for-35), during which he had not hit a home run. And, he’d had one plate appearance in each of Iowa’s past two games.

He strikes out a lot — 77 with Tennessee this season and 43 with Iowa. However, that is not uncommon with sluggers. He also does not run fast.

In the field, he is considered above average but does not have the quickest throwing release, which is why it is speculate he may end up in right field.

However, at the plate, he is a physical specimen at 6 feet 5, 215 with a fluid swing, with power to all fields. Overall, he is said not to need a lot of development to have an impact in the Majors.

Extra bases

Center fielder Jake Marisnick was called back up to the Marlins. After Miami optioned him to the Z’s on July 7, Marisnick got a hit in 16 of 18 games. He batted .342 with four homers, a triple and five doubles, had 11 RBI, 12 runs and six stolen bases. … The Z’s took a 3-0 lead in Monday’s game, meaning a team had taken that lead in all four games of the series. …. Former Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Manny Ramirez is a player/coach with Iowa, making appearances as a designated hitter as he tries to return to the Majors. … Brad Penny has a clause in the contract he signed with the Marlins that will enable him to opt out by Wednesday if he another Major League team will put him on its pitching staff. … The Zephyrs are set for a five-game series against Iowa, including a double-header on Wednesday, beginning at 5 p.m. The I-Cubs were in first place in the American Northern Division heading into Monday. New Orleans is 3-5 against them this season. In the team’s previous series at Iowa, the Z’s won the opener then the Cubs won the next three.

Darrell Williams