Categorized | Minors, Royals

Fall League Wraps Up In Surprise

SURPRISE, AZ – The Salt River Rafters topped the Surprise Saguaros last Saturday to claim the Arizona Fall League crown. But that doesn’t discount the strides the Royals’ prospects, particularly the offensive players, made during their eight weeks in Arizona.

Surprise finished with the best record in the 20-year history of the circuit, posting a 26-10 record during the Fall League season. The Saguaros lost consecutive games only once, and the Royals’ three offensive players on the squad, Wil Myers, Christian Colon, and Anthony Seratelli, all fared pretty well. But Myers in particular impressed, as he was named to the Arizona Fall League’s All-Prospect Team.

Myers’ accomplishments for the Fall League season came after a injury-riddled disappointing campaign during the regular season with the Naturals, and may have set the Royals’ top hitting prospect on the fast track to Kansas City. During early October, Royals’ brass was quoted in the Kansas City Star indicating the Myers would begin the 2012 season back in the Naturals’ lineup, but might have turned that timetable over after batting .360 with Surprise. Myers tied for the league lead in walks (20), and triples (5), ranked second in on-base percentage (.481), third in slugging percentage (.674), sixth in both average and runs (24). Even more impressive, he reached base safely via hit or walk in 22 of 23 games he played with Surprise, and scored a run in 18 of 23 contests. He also went 3-for-5 with a double, two RBI’s, a run, and a stolen base during the Rising Stars Game.

Myers describes his production as a product of better poise in the batter’s box, which has allowed him to lay off of pitches outside of the strike zone and drive the ball when opposing hurlers are forced to throw strikes.

“Basically, I’m having more confidence at the plate,” Myers said. “Just going up there knowing I can get hits is important. This year (in Northwest Arkansas) I swung at a lot of pitcher’s pitches…now I’m recognizing what they’re throwing and going deep into counts.”

Myers’ plate discipline has also caught the eye of J.J. Picollo, Kansas City’s Assistant General Manager of Scouting and Player Development.

“He’s seeing the ball very well right now,” Picollo explained. “He’s really maturing as a hitter, being more patient and not being so anxious. People in Double-A knew how good he was, so he got a lot of pitches off the plate. Now when they pitch him that way he’s getting into 2-1, 2-0 and 3-1 types of counts.”

Picollo pointed out that Myers’ improvement is even more exciting because the talent level in the Arizona Fall League is so high.

“Pitching in the fall league is a little better than Double-A,” he said. “Arm after arm coming out of the bullpen are good arms. To do what Wil is doing against a high-caliber type of pitching is great to see.”

In addition to his improved plate presence, Picollo thinks Myers’ power will catch up shortly.

“We all know he has a tremendous amount of power,” Picollo said. “That he hasn’t put up huge home run totals is just reflective of a young player in an advanced league. Remember, he’s one of just three players from his high school draft class to reach Double-A. The power will come out at some point in time. Right now he just needs to worry about hitting doubles, finding gaps, hitting to all fields. That’s part of the natural progression hitters make.”

Through three full seasons in the minor leagues, Myers has connected on 27 long balls, including eight homers in 99 games this year in the Texas League. He hit five in 22 games in 2009 and belted 14 in 126 games in 2010, while also ripping 37 doubles that season for Advanced Class-A Wilmington.

Those numbers were enough to rank him No. 10 on Baseball America’s Top-100 Prospects list entering the 2011 season, just behind fellow Royals’ cornerstones Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas. While it’s too early to tell if Myers will make the same type of year-four jumps those two made, his confidence is bolstered because of Kansas City’s willingness to call guys up when they are deserving.

“The Royals have a plan for me,” Myers said. “It’s cool to see those guys (Hosmer and Moustakas) move up, knowing that they like to promote from within.”

Picollo said Myers’ work ethic will serve him well as he tries to make his case for a promotion to Kansas City in the future.

“Wil’s competitive nature will help him. He wants to get to the big leagues, but at this point he just needs to worry about things he can control. He needs to work hard every day and play hard every day.”

Both Seratelli and Colon also finished with solid numbers. Colon, playing mostly second base, heated up late and lifted his average from the low-.200s to nearly .300, while Seratelli faded a bit with more playing time late but still finished with a .317 average and .436 on-base percentage against more advanced pitching. Seratelli hopes that the solid showing in the fall league can help his chance to make Triple-A Omaha next spring.

On the pitching end, Jeffress and Lafferty both fanned over a batter per inning but had a couple of rough outings that tainted their numbers. Jeffress was also victimized for four runs in a relief outing during the Championship Game that put the game squarely out of reach for Surprise.

Here is a look at the final statistics for all of the Royals prospects in Surprise.

BATTING

AVG

G

AB

R

H

2B

3B

HR

RBI

BB

SO

SB

CS

OBP

SLG

OPS

Colon, Christian

.299

19

77

12

23

4

0

2

10

5

10

1

2

.365

.429

.793

Myers, Wil

.360

23

86

24

31

5

5

4

18

20

18

1

1

.481

.674

1.156

Seratelli, Anthony

.317

18

63

9

20

1

0

2

6

14

14

3

3

.436

.429

.864

PITCHING

W-L

ERA

G

GS

SV

SVO

IP

H

R

ER

HR

BB

SO

WHIP

AVG

Adcock, Nathan

2-2

4.44

6

6

0

0

24.1

27

13

12

1

4

23

1.27

.276

Jeffress, Jeremy

0-1

4.91

11

0

0

1

11.0

16

10

6

0

8

15

2.18

.333

Lafferty, Brendan

0-0

7.16

11

0

0

0

16.1

18

13

13

3

8

17

1.59

.273

Paukovits, Bryan

1-1

5.91

10

0

0

1

10.2

12

9

7

1

7

9

1.78

.267


Naturals/Texas League Notes

Springfield names new manager: Mike Shildt was named Monday as the new skipper of the Springfield Cardinals. He replaces Ron “Pop” Warner, who advances up a level to manage their Triple-A affiliate in Memphis. The remainder of the Springfield field staff remains intact from 2011. Shildt comes to Springfield after three seasons managing their rookie-level Appalachian League club in Johnson City. With Springfield’s announcement, four teams in the Texas League have announced their staffs for next season, with two of them bringing in new managers.

Winter League Report

Several other current and former Naturals are honing their craft this off-season playing in various winter leagues that span the globe.

Puerto Rico: Rey Navarro (Crillos de Caguas) appeared in just one game this past week but his hitless streak continues as his average slumped to .053… Irving Falu (Indios de Mayaguez) has a three-game hitting streak, with three-hit efforts in two of those games including three RBI’s on Sunday… Angel Sanchez, teammates with Falu in Mayaguez, is batting .237 in ten games thus far. He may be in line for more duty next year with the Astros as their starting shortstop from 2011, Clint Barmes, signed with Pittsburgh.

Venezuela: Mario Lisson (Navegantes de Magallanes) had a 2-for-3 effort Sunday to raise his average to .258… Former Natural Jose Duarte (Leones de Caracas), who is currently a minor league free agent, hasn’t had a hit since November 8th, but during that time his playing time has dried up and he’s received only three at-bats, being used primarily as a defensive sub… Ernesto Mejia (Aguilas del Zulia) has hit in five of six games, a couple being multi-hit efforts, as his average lifts to .297. As typical, Mejia is feasting on winter league pitchers, as he has four homers and has 23 runs driven in so far…Manny Pina (Bravos de Margarita) has struggled in 14 games thus far, batting .129.

Dominican Republic: Manauris Baez (Estrellas de Oriente) fanned seven in six scoreless innings in his most recent start, and now has a 1.64 ERA in six outings, including five starts… Mario Santiago (Tigres del Licey) allowed a pair of runs in five innings in his start on Sunday. Santiago has 27 strikeouts and eight walks in 35 1/3 innings…Willy Lebron, Santiago’s rotation-mate in Licey and fellow Royals’ farmhand, hasn’t pitched since leaving a game with an arm injury on November 6th Kelvin Herrera (Leones del Escogido) continues to mount a resume for 2012, as he’s gone scoreless in all nine of his outings. He’s teammates with Everett Teaford, who pitched 5 2/3 scoreless in his last outing on November 16th to lower his ERA to 3.57 in four starts.

Mexico: Federico Castaneda (Tomateros de Culiacan) continues to be one of the busier relievers in winter ball, as his outing Friday was already his 15th of the winter league season. After a couple rough early outings, Castaneda has settled in, keeping the opposition scoreless in his last five games to lower the ERA to 6.97.

These teams and respective leagues will play the round-robin Caribbean Series which takes place in February just before early reports for Major League Spring Training.

Transaction log: Ryan Verdugo, the southpaw the Royals acquired from the Giants in the trade that also brought southpaw Jonathan Sanchez to Kansas City was added to the 40-Man roster on Friday, protecting him from the Rule 5 Draft which will occur December 8th at the Baseball Winter Meetings in Dallas.

Check nwanaturals.com every two weeks beginning Friday, December 2nd for our Hot Stove Report, where we’ll continue to follow Royals’ minor leaguers in winter ball as well as cover other off-season baseball information that pertains to the Naturals and the Texas 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.

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