SPRINGDALE, AR – Will Smith and Kelvin Herrera’s combined no-hitter that featured a triple play is up for vote in an online competition hosted byminorleaguebaseball.com that seeks to determine the best game at the Double-A classification from this past season.
On July 19th, Smith, the Naturals’ ace combined with hard-throwing reliever Kelvin Herrera to no-hit the Arkansas Travelers in North Little Rock. The occasion marked the first no-hitter in the four-year history of the Naturals.
In the sixth inning, Smith allowed his only two baserunners as he walked the first two batters. Next, ninth-place Travelers’ hitter Alberto Rosario grounded into a 5-4-3 triple play, also a franchise first. Following the game, the Naturals, along with assistance from the Elias Sports Bureau and the Texas League, determined that neither in Major League history nor Texas League history has a triple play been turned during a no-hitter.
Further, the Naturals’ media relations department failed to find any evidence of the feat ever having been accomplished in professional baseball history. The game received attention from both statewide media in Arkansas as well as media in Kansas City, and was featured as a Top Ten play on ESPN’s SportsCenter.
Naturals fans may also want to cast a vote in the ‘best team’ category, as the Triple-A Omaha Storm Chasers, fresh off their Pacific Coast League Championship and berth in the Triple-A National Championship game, are up for that award.
Omaha players Luis Mendoza (best starter) and Lorenzo Cain, who’s cycle and seven RBI game landed Omaha in the running for Triple-A’s best game. Former Natural Salvador Perez’ third grand slam in the span of a week in late July came with Omaha; that game is also in the running for Triple-A’s best game of the year. And former Naturals’ slugger Kila Ka’aihue’s September 10th homer that sent the Storm Chasers to the PCL Finals is up for the vote for one of the best homers this season across the minors.
Fans can visit nwanaturals.com and click on the media wall link and cast their vote. Voting concludes on October 20th.
Texas League News and Notes from the Past Week
Players report to Fall League: Naturals’ outfielder Wil Myers along with several of his teammates, including shortstop Christian Colon, left-hander Brendan Lafferty, right-hander Jeremy Jeffress, and infielder Anthony Seratelli are all unpacking again, this time in Surprise, Arizona. Next week they’ll begin their season as the Royals’ representatives with the Surprise Saguaros, the Royals’ co-op affiliate in the AFL. Seratelli is a roster replacement for former Naturals’ first baseman and Texas League Triple-Crown winner Clint Robinson, who had surgery for a sports hernia and is headed to Arizona to rehab this weekend. The Fall League commences on October 4th.
Playing for your country: A handful of Naturals are involved with their respective countries as they make preparations to compete in the 2011 Pan American Games. The competition will occur October 14th-30th in Guadalajara, Mexico. Tim Smith and Jamie Romak are once again teammates with Team Canada, andMario Santiago along with former Natural Irving Falu are expected to play for Puerto Rico. Former Diamond Hog Drew Smyly, who finished the season with the Detroit Tigers’ Double-A club, will play for Team USA as will Travelers’ pitcher Matt Shoemaker, the reigning Texas League Pitcher of the Year.
This will be the 16th edition of the Pam American Games. The eight qualifying teams (USA, Canada, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Venezuela, Dominican Republic, Panama, and Mexico) were determined through the qualifying tournament held last summer. Cuba has won the past eight Pan American Games dating back to 1971.
Instructional Insights: The Royals once again this season are fielding two clubs in Arizona this fall, not including the players with the Fall League team. They partner with the Texas Rangers for a Surprise-based “Advanced League” club and also have the regular Instructional League club which all teams typically field. The “Advanced League” club is where former Diamond Hog Brett Eibner, Naturals’ left-hander Kevin Chapman, and other players that spent all or part of 2011 with full-season Class-A clubs are placed, while the regular Instructional League roster features younger players including those drafted this past June.
Major League veteran, former Natural and Springdale resident Vance Wilson is managing one of the clubs, while former pitchers Devon Lowery and Julio Pimentel – both Naturals in 2008 – are serving among the coaching staff. Naturals’ clubhouse/equipment manager Danny Helmer is also in his second season working as an equipment manager in the Instructional League.
The Northwest Arkansas Naturals are the Double-A Texas League affiliate of the Kansas City Royals and play at state-of-the-art Arvest Ballpark, located in Springdale. Visit our website, nwanaturals.com, for information on season tickets and ticket plans.