Tag Archive | "Arkansas Travelers"

Texas League All Star Rosters Announced

TexasLeagueAllStarGame

Springdale, AR – Four Naturals have been selected to represent the host team at the 77th Annual Texas League All Star Game presented by Castrol on June 25th at Arvest Ballpark in Springdale, AR.

Texas League President Tom Kayser announced the 48 Players elected to the June 25th exhibition game between the North and South divisions that recognize the tops stars in the league.

Orlando Calixte leads the list of Naturals selected. The Shortstop is the Royals #5 Prospect according to MLB.com. Fueled by a May to remember, he will represent the Naturals as a starter for the North Division. Other Naturals selected include Angel Franco and Mitch Canaham ,who will back-up the Infield positions and Catching position respectively. RHP Yordano Ventura was also voted to the team. After eleven starts for Northwest Arkansas to begin the season, the Royals promoted the right-hander to AAA-Omaha last week. Former Texas League Manager of the Year Brian Poldberg will lead his usual field staff of pitching coach Jim Brower, hitting coach Nelson Liriano, trainer Masa Koyanagi, and conditioning coach Nate Dine as the coaching representatives of the North Divison’s squad.

Corpus Christi’s phenom George Springer highlights the list of South Division All-Stars. The slugger is the Houston Astros’ #3 prospect according to MLB.com and currently leads the league in homeruns and RBI. The League’s winningest pitcher David Martinez (9-0), ERA leader Jake Buchanan (0.80 ERA), and Catcher Rene Garcia also join Springer as representatives from Corpus. RHP Mike Foltynewicz, the #5 Houston prospect according to Baseball America, and OF Domingo Santana (Baseball America’s #11 Astros Prospect) round out the selections from the first-place Hooks.

The eight Arkansas Travelers elected as All-Stars represent the most by any team. The Frisco Rough Riders are represented by seven players which count as the most selections on the South Division side. Frisco Manager Steve Buechele and his staff of pitching coach Jeff Andrews, hitting coach Jason Hart, athletic trainer Carlos Olivas, and strength and conditioning coach Eric McMahon will lead the South Division All-Stars.

In total fifteen players who sit in their respective organization’s Top 30 Prospects lists, according to Baseball America, were chosen for the North-South Showdown. Players were selected through polling each division’s managers and broadcasters. A voter was not allowed to choose players from their own club.

All-Star Festivities in Northwest Arkansas include a Gala at Razorback Stadium on Monday June 24th with proceeeds going to the Arkansas Children’s Hospital, the Tyson Foods Home Run Derby at 6pm on Tuesday June 25th, and a Post-Game All-Star Fireworks Spectacular.

Some tickets are still available for these events by visiting nwanaturals.com/tickets, visiting the Arvest Ballpark Ticket Window or Guest Services during a Naturals Game, or by calling the Naturals Front Office at 479-927-4900.

The complete list of 2013 Texas League All-Stars are listed below.

 2013 North Divison All-Star Team

Starters                               

POS PLAYER TEAM
C JETT BANDY ARK
1B C.J. CRON ARK
2B ANGELYS NINA TUL
SS ORLANDO CALIXTE NWA
3B RUBEN GOTAY SPR
OF KENT MATTHES TUL
OF MIKE O’NEILL SPR
OF KYLE PARKER TUL
DH KIEL ROLING TUL

Reserves

POS PLAYER TEAM
C MITCH CANHAM NWA
INF ANGEL FRANCO NWA
INF TAYLOR LINDSEY ARK
OF RANDAL GRICHUK ARK
OF THOMAS PHAM SPR

Pitchers

PLAYER TEAM
LAY BATISTA ARK
CHRISTIAN BERGMAN TUL
KEITH BUTLER SPR
DERYK HOOKER SPR
BRANDON HYNICK ARK
KEVIN JOHNSON ARK
TYLER MATZEK TUL
MIKE PIAZZA ARK
KEVIN THOMAS SPR
YORDANO VENTURA NWA

2013 South Divison All-Star Team

Starters                               

POS PLAYER TEAM
C RENE GARCIA CC
1B ANTHONY ALIOTTI MID
2B ODUBEL HERRERA FRI
SS DUSTY COLEMAN MID
3B JAKE BLACKWOOD SA
OF REYMOND FUENTES SA
OF RICO NOEL SA
OF GEORGE SPRINGER CC
DH BRETT NICHOLAS FRI

Reserves

POS PLAYER TEAM
C TOMAS TELIS FRI
INF GUILDER RODRIGUEZ FRI
INF JUEDY VALDEZ SA
OF JAKE GOEBBERT MID
OF DOMINGO SANTANA CC

Pitchers

PLAYER TEAM
MATT ANDRIESE SA
JAKE BUCHANAN CC
MIKE FOLTYNEWICZ CC
DAVID MARTINEZ CC
CARLOS PIMENTEL FRI
KEVIN QUACKENBUSH SA
NEIL RAMIREZ FRI
BEN ROWEN FRI
MURPHY SMITH MID
MATT STITES SA

The Northwest Arkansas Naturals are the Double-A Texas League Affiliate of the Kansas City Royals and proud host of the 77th Annual Texas League All Star Game presented by Castrol. The Naturals play at state-of-the-art Arvest Ballpark in Springdale, AR. For more information including statistics, ticket options, and more, please visit NWANaturals.com, and follow us on Twitter @NWANaturals and Facebook.com/Naturals.

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Westbrook To Make Rehab Start

cardinals_westbrook640

Springfield, MO – The St. Louis Cardinals have announced that Cardinals RHP Jake Westbrook will make a rehab start for the Springfield Cardinals this Tuesday, June 4.

The Cardinals host the Arkansas Travelers at 7:09pm on Tuesday. Click below to get your tickets right now.

Westbrook, 35, got off to a great start to the 2013 campaign with St. Louis, posting a 2-1 record with a 1.62 ERA through six starts early this year. His finest outing came on April 10 when he dealt a complete game shutout against the Cincinnati Reds, striking out three and scattering only five hits in the dominant performance. Westbrook had limited opponents to one run or fewer in all but two starts this season, prior to being placed on the disabled list on May 12.

The 14-year Major League veteran has compiled a 100-96 record with a 4.24 ERA throughout his career, and helped the Cardinals win the 2011 World Championship with two scoreless relief innings in the World Series against the Texas Rangers.

Originally from Athens, GA, Westbrook was selected by the Colorado Rockies with the 21st overall pick in the 1st round of the 1996 Draft. He made his Major League debut on June 17, 2000 with the New York Yankees, before spending the next 10 years with the Cleveland Indians. Westbrook was acquired by the Cardinals in a three-team trade with the Indians and San Diego Padres on July 31, 2010.

Click here to get your tickets to see Jake Westbrook at Hammons Field this Tuesday!

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Royals Farm Report: June 5

Triple-A
The Omaha Storm Chasers (Pacific Coast League) went 3-4 over the last week and now sit at 34-25 on the season.  The Storm are leading the Northern Division by eight games over the Iowa Cubs.

Who’s Hot

Wil Myers has been an offensive show by himself no matter what level he has been playing at this season.  Although, he has spent most of his time in Omaha at designated hitter, he will be in the field more in the coming weeks.  Over his last five games the outfielder is hitting .381 (8-for-21) with three home runs and eight RBI.  Since joining Omaha, Myers is hitting .321 with six home runs and 16 RBI in 19 games.  On the mound for the Storm Chasers Mike Montgomery has again jumped from the not to the hot list in one week.  In his last outing the left-hander went seven innings allowing just two hits and one run, to earn his third win of the season.

Who’s Not

Derrick Robinson seems to have hit a midseason slump.  The outfielder is hitting .172 (5-29) over his last nine games.  He is still hitting .296 for the season despite the slump and has scored 38 runs.  Jonathan Sanchez, who is in Omaha on a major league rehab assignment, has struggled in his two starts.  He has gone eight and a third innings allowing nine hits and seven earned runs, while walking five and striking out eight.

Double-A
The Northwest Arkansas Naturals (Texas League) went 3-3 over the getting swept by the Midland RockHounds, and then sweeping the Frisco RoughRiders.  The Naturals return home on Wednesday to take on the Arkansas Travelers.  The Naturals are 29-27 on the season and find themselves trailing the Tulsa Drillers by two games for the lead in the North Division.

Who’s Hot

Carlo Testa has continued to swing a hot bat for the Naturals.  The outfielder is hitting .316 (12-for-38) with three home runs and 11 RBI in his last nine games.  He is now tied for the team lead in RBI with Myers, who has since been promoted to Omaha.  Justin Marks has been one of the hottest pitchers in the Texas League as of late.  He has allowed just two earned runs over his last 11 innings, walking five and striking out nine.

Who’s Not

Christian Colon hit a rough patch on the road trip this past week.  The shortstop, who is also seeing action at second base has gone 6-for-35 (.171) over his last ten games, but has not stopped producing.  During that time he has one home run six RBI, and has scored seven times.    Chris Dwyer went 0-2 in his last two starts working six and two-thirds innings allowing ten hits and ten runs, issuing nine walks and striking out seven.

Class-A Advanced
The Wilmington Blue Rocks (Carolina League) went 3-4 last and they now sit two games under .500 at 27-29 on the season.  The Blue Rocks are second in the Northern Division and are trailing the Lynchburg Hillcats by 1.5 games.

Who’s Hot

Brian Fletcher has continued to be one of the hottest hitters in the entire Carolina League.  Fletcher has hit .353 (12-for-34) over his last 10 games and has driven in four runs.  The outfielder has been playing the majority of his time at first base, and is hitting .318 for the season with three home runs and 23 RBI.  Greg Billo has been hot on the mound for the Blue Rocks.  In his last two outings Billo has worked seven and a third innings allowing four hits and one run, while walking three and striking out eight.

Who’s Not

Catcher, Jose Bonilla has been ice cold at the plate 0-for-14 in his last four games and just 2-for-25 over his last ten with one home run.  Cole White has found himself in trouble over the last ten games on the mound.  The right handed reliever has allowed three runs over his last three and a third innings.

Class-A
The Kane County Cougars went 3-4 over the past week making them 30-28 on the season.  The Cougars are in third place in the Midwest League’s Western division trailing a pair of teams from Wisconsin, the Beloit Snappers and Wisconsin Timber Rattlers.

Who’s Hot

Outfielder Runey Davis has really turned it up at the plate hitting .320 (8-for-25) with four RBI and five runs scored over the past nine games.  Davis is hitting .250 for the season in 22 games with the Cougars.  Robinson Yambati has been hot on the mound for the Cougars.  In his last two games he has logged seven and a third innings allowing just two hits and two walks, while striking out eight.  The right-hander earned his first save on May 26 and made his second start of the season on June 1.

Who’s Not

Infielder Justin Trapp has hit a cold spell at the plate.  He is hitting just .147 in his last eight games with one home run and three RBI.  For the season Trapp is hitting .270 with five home runs and 25 RBI.  Jason Mitchell has worked six innings in his last two appearances.  He has allowed 15 hits and 13 runs, while walking six and fanning four in those appearances.

Alumni Report (Former Naturals outside the Kansas City organization)

Who’s Hot

Ernesto Mejia is making a case to make the Triple-A All-Star game.  The former Natural is now in the Braves organization with Triple-A Gwinnett.  He has hit .366 (15-for-41) over his last ten games.   For the season Mejia is hitting .319 with eight home runs and 41 RBI.

Infielder Jefff Bianchi has been on fire ever since being promoted by the Milwaukee Brewers to Triple-A Nashville.  Bianchi is hitting .329 with a home run, eight RBI, and eleven runs scored in 20 games for the Sounds.

Who’s Not

A pair of former Naturals, now find themselves in the Los Angeles Angels system with the Triple-A Salt Lake Bees.  Ed Lucas and Cory Aldridge both are struggling at the plate.  Aldridge has hit three home runs in his last nine games, but has gone just 6-for-35 during that stretch.  Lucas finds himself in an even deeper slump going 3-for-31 (.097) with only two RBI in his last nine games.

Dusty Hughes also with Triple-A Gwinnett has struggled in his last three outings.  Hughes has gone 0-1, while allowing nine hits and four runs in his last four innings.

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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Five Naturals Rank Among Circuit’s Top Prospects

Five Naturals rank among circuit’s top prospects
Odorizzi, Myers, Perez, Dwyer, Herrera all tabbed for list

SPRINGDALE, AR – While not quite as dominating as the 2010 Naturals, the 2011 Naturals still claimed five spots among Baseball America’s Top 20 Texas League prospects for the season. Only the league champion San Antonio Missions had as many players named to the list. The rankings were released Thursday.

For the Naturals, right-hander Jake Odorizzi (No. 5) was the highest rated player for Northwest Arkansas, while outfielder Wil Myers (No. 13), left-hander Chris Dwyer (No. 15), right-hander Kelvin Herrera (No. 16), and catcher Salvador Perez (No. 17) also made the list.

Unsurprisingly, outfielder Mike Trout (Arkansas Travelers), one of the top prospects across baseball who was voted as Texas League Player of the Year, topped the list. Former Diamond Hogs third baseman Zack Cox (Springfield Cardinals) was ranked 14th.

Odorizzi, who had a stellar first half of the season leading to his promotion to Double-A, was also named last week as the seventh-best prospect in the Carolina League. Two of the other four players – Myers and Dwyer – saw injuries (Myers) and early season struggles (Dwyer) affect their seasons, but both players turned in solid play down the stretch and made great contributions to the Naturals’ fourth-consecutive second-half division championship run.

Perez’ bat turned from solid to white-hot in July, and never cooled off even after a promotion to the big leagues in August that followed just a two-week stint with Triple-A Omaha. Herrera’s whirlwind season began in Advanced Class-A Wilmington, took him through the Texas League, including (along with Myers) an appearance in the 2011 XM All-Star Futures Game, to Triple-A Omaha and then onward to Kansas City, where he made two late season appearances out of the Royals’ bullpen.

Last season the Naturals also had five of their players make the Texas League post-season Top 20 list. Four of those five players – Mike Moustakas (No. 1), Eric Hosmer (No. 2), Aaron Crow (No. 6), and Louis Coleman (No. 16) spent all or a significant portion of the 2011 season in Kansas City.

Baseball America’s League Top 20 lists are generated from consultations with scouts and league managers. To qualify for consideration, a player must have spent at least one-third of the season in a league. Position players must have one plate appearance for every league game. Pitchers must pitch one-third of an inning for every league game, and relievers have to have made at least 20 appearances in full-season leagues.

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. You can purchase tickets and group outings with the Naturals by calling (479) 927-4900.

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Royals Farm Report: September 29th

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.

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Playoff Preview: First-Round In-State Showdown

Playoff Preview: First-Round In-State Showdown
Naturals, Travs meet in postseason for first time since 2008

SPRINGDALE, AR – After more than five months and a rain-shortened 137-game schedule, the Northwest Arkansas Naturals and Arkansas Travelers prepare to open the Texas League Division Series on Wednesday night at Dickey-Stephens Park in North Little Rock. The teams will meet in the postseason for the second time – and first in three years – after a hotly-contested season series between the two teams.

Dickey Stephens Park

For the first time in their four-year existence, the Naturals lost the season series to their in-state foe, as the Travelers emerged with a 15-14 record in the clubs’ matchups. But after winning just five of 13 first-half meetings, the Naturals went 9-7 against the Travelers in the second half, including a mid-July sweep in North Little Rock and a 3-1 mark in the crucial final home series at Arvest Ballpark. Having won five of their last six games to clinch their fourth consecutive second-half division title, the Naturals enter the postseason in much the same way that they did in 2008.

In that year, Naturals ripped off an eight-game winning streak in late August to hold off the Springfield Cardinals. That season, the Travelers had won the first-half title courtesy of a tiebreaker before falling off to the tune of a 26-44 record in the second half. This season, the Travelers edged the Naturals by a game in the first half and again finished the second half under .500. The Naturals hope that the parallels between the two seasons stop there, as in 2008, the Travelers blew Northwest Arkansas out of the playoffs with a clean sweep.

As is expected in minor league baseball, the two teams have nearly entirely different compositions from when they met three years ago. But one player who spans the two seasons happens to be one of the Naturals’ hottest bats. Mario Lisson ended the regular season on an eight-game hitting streak that included five doubles and a pair of home runs. That impressive finish allowed him to share the final Texas League Player of the Week award with teammate Tim Smith, who has provided pop since returning from the disabled list. Hitting the shelf with a back injury right around the All-Star Break, Smith is 15-37 (.405) with three doubles and a pair of homers since returning from the disabled list. Smith and Lisson have helped to anchor a lineup that is without a true weak spot, from Derrick Robinson’s league-leading 55 steals to Jamie Romak’s 23 home runs and Wil Myers’ solid finish (.267, eight doubles, five home runs after Aug. 1).

Meanwhile, the Travelers in the post-season will lack their offensive ignitor, Mike Trout, who was promoted to Anaheim. One of the consensus top prospects in baseball, Trout earlier today was named by Baseball America as the 2011 Minor League Player of the Year. They’ve also lost one of the top starters in the league in right-hander Garrett Richards, who is also now with the big club as well as their regular closer for the first three months of the season, Ryan Brasier, who left for Triple-A. Without those cornerstone players, the Travelers struggled offensively and sometimes even on the pitching side in the season’s second half.

The Naturals aren’t unscathed, either as they’ll be without their Pitcher of the Year. After leading the league with 161 1/3 innings pitched, Will Smith has reached his organization-prescribed limit. Still, each of the Naturals’ top three starters enter the postseason with individual momentum. Chris Dwyer pitched into the seventh inning against the Travelers on Sep. 1, allowing just a run on three hits. One day later, Jake Odorizzi held Arkansas hitless until the seventh, yielding a lone base hit in seven scoreless frames. Finally, Mario Santiago battled through six innings of one-run ball – with eight strikeouts – in the Naturals’ division-clinching game at Tulsa on Sep. 3. Supporting these starters is a bullpen led by Blaine Hardy, who has been nothing but dominant since returning to Double-A. In 19 appearances with the Naturals this season, Hardy has a 1.59 ERA and is holding opponents to a .194 batting average. In addition, the southpaw has worked multiple innings in 12 of those 19 games.

The rest of the Naturals’ pitching staff is somewhat in flux, as the club will call on a pair of left-handers who spent the entirety of the season with Advanced-A Wilmington. Justin Marks and Ryan Dennick joined the team in advance of Wednesday’s roster deadline and will provide a pair of fresh arms, replacing Elisaul Pimentel and Kevin Chapman, each of whom left their last outing due to injury. Marks spent most of the year in Wilmington’s rotation, and the 23-year-old is a candidate to start either Game 4 or Game 5. Dennick struck out 51 batters in 53 2/3 innings out of the Blue Rock bullpen.

To this point, the Naturals only announced a starting pitcher for the first three games of the series. Dwyer (8-10, 5.60) takes the mound in Wednesday’s series opener against Texas League Pitcher of the Year Matt Shoemaker (12-5, 2.48). Thursday’s second game features Odorizzi (5-3, 4.72) against Chris Scholl (4-3, 2.32).

The series moves to Arvest Ballpark on Friday, as Santiago (5-1, 2.23) will match up against Traveler right-hander Orangel Arenas (9-10, 4.48). Friday’s game begins at 7:00 p.m. Should they become necessary, Game 4 is slated for 1:00 p.m. Saturday with a decisive fifth game on tap for Sunday at 6:00 p.m.

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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Naturals Sweep Weekly Awards

Naturals sweep weekly awards
Lisson, Smith, Odorizzi honored as team wins division title

Texas League President Tom Kayser announced Monday that three Naturals combined to earn the Texas League’s weekly individual awards for the period of August 29-September 4, as Mario Lisson and Tim Smith shared Player of the Week honors and Jake Odorizzi was named Pitcher of the Week.

Mario Lisson

Lisson’ led the Naturals’ playoff-clinching surge last week, going 11-22 (.500) at the plate with five doubles and two home runs, including a game-tying blast in the seventh inning of the team’s clinching game on Sep. 3. Those two home runs also made Lisson the Naturals’ all-time leader in that category (31). Lisson ended the regular season on an eight-game hitting streak and overall, the 27-year-old native of Caracas, Ven. hit .293 with a .372 on-base percentage, 21 doubles, 15 home runs and 45 RBI.

Smith also finished the regular season with an eight-game hitting streak, as he was 14-30 (.467) with three doubles, two home runs and 10 RBI in the final week. A 25-year-old from Toronto, Ont., Smith played in 69 games for the Naturals in 2011, hitting .311 with 13 doubles, 10 home runs and 49 RBI.

Taking the mound against the Arkansas Travelers on Sep. 2, Odorizzi turned in his best pitching performance at the Double-A level. He held the Travelers hitless until the seventh, allowing just one hit over seven scoreless innings while striking out six and walking two. A 21-year-old resident of Highland, Ill., Odorizzi has made 12 starts for the Naturals since a mid-season promotion from Advanced-A Wilmington, going 5-3 with a 4.72 ERA. In 68 2/3 innings pitched, the right-hander recorded 54 strikeouts against 22 walks, holding the Texas League to a .254 batting average.

These three players become the fifth, sixth, and seventh Naturals to earn a weekly Texas League honor in 2011. Buddy Baumann was named as Pitcher of the Week for May 23rd-29th, the team swept the awards given for the week of May 9th-15th, as Nick Van Stratten earned Player of the Week and Will Smith was named Pitcher of the Week, and Salvador Perez was named Player of the Week for July 18-24.

The Naturals will look for those contributions to continue as they have named Odorizzi their game one starter for Wednesday night’s playoff opener in North Little Rock.

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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Naturals Release 2012 Schedule

The Northwest Arkansas Naturals are pleased to announce the release of their 2012 Texas League Schedule.

NWArk

The Naturals will open the 2012 season with a six-game road trip to Corpus Christi and San Antonio before their home opener at Arvest Ballpark on Thursday, April 12th vs. the Corpus Christi Hooks. It will be the first time since the 2009 season that the Naturals have opened the season with a road trip and the first time ever that the home opener has been against a team other than San Antonio. The final home game will be on of the regular season will be on Labor Day, Monday, September 3rd against the Tulsa Drillers.

The 2012, 70-home game schedule is highlighted by 31 games falling on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday dates. The schedule will see the Naturals face off 16 times against their two biggest rivals: the in-state Arkansas Travelers from North Little Rock (Los Angeles Angels), and the Springfield Cardinals (St. Louis). Each will visit Arvest Ballpark four times in 2012, and at least two series against each team will be played on weekends. The Naturals are also home for the Memorial Day and Labor Day holidays.

2012 will feature three School Kids Day Games (April 25th, April 30th, and May 8th). Special group rates are available for those days. In addition, our group areas such as the Bud Light Bullpen Café and Wendy’s Home Plate Party Deck as well as luxury suite rentals are also available on all day games for companies looking to do a daytime corporate outing.

Next season’s Texas League All-Star game will be Wednesday, June 27th at ONEOK Field, home of the Tulsa Drillers.

Pocket schedules with these home dates will be passed out to fans during the Naturals’ upcoming homestand beginning on Saturday night and can also be obtained by visiting the box office at Arvest Ballpark. A printable PDF copy of the schedule will also be made available in the coming days on the Naturals’ official website, www.nwanaturals.com.

Season tickets for the 2012 season are now on sale. Information on ticket plans and group information will be available in the coming weeks. Details regarding weekday promotions, giveaway nights, and the 2012 promotional calendar will be available in late February 2012.

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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Naturally Speaking: Dwyer Realizing His Full Potential

Just when this season looked like a bust for Northwest Arkansas pitcher Chris Dwyer, he sets a record for K’s in his latest of several excellent outings.

Photo courtesy of John Owen

Dwyer struck out 10 Arkansas Travelers in just six innings last Friday, tying a Naturals record. It was the latest of his victories in four consecutive outings. After languishing for the first three months of the season, Dwyer has suddenly become a killer.

Less than a month ago, Dwyer looked anything like the 83rd best prospect in America. In fact on July 20 he had plummeted to a 2-9 record with an embarrassing 6.96 ERA. He probably wouldn’t have ranked as the 83rd best prospect in the state of Arkansas at that moment.

But something seems to have clicked. In his last four starts he has pitched at least six innings in each outing, and has surrendered more than one earned run only once. His strikeout totals in those four starts: 5,9,5,10.

Dwyer took his lumps earlier in the summer, but he allowed the experience to make him better.

“Obviously you’re going to have some rough outings, but you just have to learn from that,” said Dwyer. “You just have to stick with it and work on it between starts.”

Dwyer said even when he was struggling it wasn’t because his stuff was lacking. “It’s more walks than getting hit hard,” Dwyer said about his poor performances. “Getting behind in the count hurts. When you’re down 3-0 or 3-1, you just can’t really get to your best pitches.”

Dwyer believes his curveball is his best pitch. He said when he isn’t locating his fastball as well as he’d like, it limits the effectiveness of his curve.

“For me it’s so important to get my fastball down and command it – not getting it up or out of the zone,” Dwyer said.

“The fastball is the key to everyone’s game. Once you command that, then you can work off that. I try to get to my curveball. So once I command my fastball I can use my curve more.”

Dwyer’s success might have the Royals top brass considering giving him a late-season promotion to Omaha. But the 21-year-old Bostonian isn’t waiting by the phone.

“I don’t really worry about that. If it happens, it happens. I just stay focused on the season here, focused on the playoffs. Whatever they want to do is up to them.

Dwyer said his team is motivated by the prospect of making the playoffs and competing for a second consecutive Texas League crown. The Royals have placed high value on letting prospects experience minor-league postseason battles. So it seems likely that Dwyer will stay with Northwest Arkansas through the end of the season.

Dwyer is well aware of his status as a top-ranked prospect, and he acknowledges that brings added pressure to the game. But he said it is important that he not place unrealistic expectations on himself.

“I try not to pay attention (to the hype),” Dwyer said.” My job is to go out and take the ball every fifth day, throw strikes, and do my best. If you think about that other stuff, it just gets in your head. I just try to do my best every day.”

Dwyer does, however, acknowledge that he’s enjoyed being one of several Royals prospects garnering national attention.

“It is fun, and I try to enjoy it, but obviously going out and getting a win for your team is the most important thing.”

Dwyer has seen several of his peers move up the organizational ladder, even some who have graduated to the big leagues. He says that is both fun and motivational.

“It’s fun to be a part of a group, moving up together. We root for each other, see each other every day, practicing and playing the games. And hopefully, someday, we can do it for Kansas City.”

One player who moved up recently garnered particular praise from Dwyer – catcher Salvador Perez, now the everyday catcher at Omaha.

“He’s an unreal catcher,” Dwyer said of his former teammate. “He just gets it and he understands the hitters and he just knows how to catch. It’s awesome, being that young and that good. He deserves every opportunity he’s getting, and hopefully, someday soon, he’ll be up there catching for the Royals.”

Dwyer said Perez is the total package defensively, with a bat that’s improving.

“He’s smart and he has got a really good arm, and he’s big, and he’s good with his glove. He’s just got everything.

“He’s starting to really hit – he’s hitting better this year than he ever has. So if you get a hitting catcher with that defensive ability it’s just awesome.”

Dwyer may soon throw to his friend Perez again, be it in Omaha this year or next, or quite possibly in KC next season. But it didn’t look like that would happen anytime soon, if ever, just a month ago. Dwyer’s rebound from bust to phenom is one of many things giving Royals fans hope for the future.

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Dwyer Ties Franchise K Mark In Naturals Win

The Northwest Arkansas Naturals closed out a win over the Arkansas Travelers on Friday night and pitcher Chris Dwyer tied a franchise record with his performance.

Chris Dwyer

The following is a press release provided to i70baseball by the Northwest Arkansas Naturals and is reprinted in its entirety.

Dwyer Ties Franchise K Mark In Naturals Win
Myers’ three-run HR provides the margin

SPRINGDALE, AR – Afforded a couple of extra outs by critical Travelers mistakes, the Naturals took full advantage and Wil Myers capitalized with a three-run bomb in the third, providing the necessary margin in a 6-2 win Friday night at Arvest Ballpark.

Travelers’ shortstop Darwin Perez booted a hot grounder off the bat of Jamie Romak for what would have been the final out of the third inning, the first of two errors they made leading to four unearned runs.

Given new life and holding a 1-0 lead they built on an RBI single by Ryan Eigsti in the second inning, Romak reached and Travelers’ starter Orangel Arenas (8-6) issued a walk to Anthony Seratelli before Wil Myers took a 1-0 fastball and lasered it over the wall where it ricocheted off a wall next to the Travs’ bullpen for his fifth homer on the season and a 4-0 Naturals’ lead.

Meanwhile, suddenly spectacular Naturals’ starter Chris Dwyer (6-9) mowed down Travs hitters with aplomb. Dwyer racked up ten strikeouts over six innings of work, tying a franchise single game record. Two Naturals’ hurlers in the club’s four year existence have accomplished the feat, most recently on June 18th, 2008 when Dan Cortes fanned ten in a loss to Tulsa. Dwyer allowed four hits and two runs, one unearned, while issuing just two walks.

Those two runs for North Little Rock (18-23, 54-54) came in the fourth. Gabe Jacobo doubled down the left field line and moved to third on a double by Roberto Lopez. After Angel Castillo popped out for the second out, Alberto Rosario hit a hard grounder that Naturals’ second baseman Christian Colon was able to field at the outer edge of the infield. Colon’s throw to first was slightly offline and both runners scored as Colon was charged with a throwing error.

That was the end of the scoring for the Travs as Northwest Arkansas (22-19, 57-51) tacked on another in the sixth and one more in the eighth. Nick Francis reached with one out in the sixth when Travs’ third baseman Luis Jimenez allowed his three-hop hit to roll through his legs. Later in the frame Paulo Orlando, who was one of four Naturals to have a two-hit effort, drove him in with an RBI single.

Francis plated Wil Myers with an RBI single in the eighth to cap the scoring as Edgar Garcia took care of the rest on the mound for the Naturals, limiting the Travs to just a pair of baserunners as he allowed a single and a walk, both in the seventh. But Darwin Perez, unable to atone for his earlier miscue, grounded into the twin-killing to get the Naturals out of that threat. North Little Rock then went down in order in both the eighth and ninth as Garcia notched his second save with the Naturals.

The second game of the series on Saturday features Jake Odorizzi (3-1, 4.46), the Royals’ top right-handed pitching prospect as he looks to rebound from his first Double-A loss. He’ll match up with Traveler righty Eddie McKiernan (5-10, 5.72). Game time is 7 P.M, and the broadcast can be heard on ESPN 92.1 The Ticket. Tomorrow’s broadcast will also be available on MILB.TV (subscription required) and also broadcast on Jones TV (Channel 22 on Cox Cable in Northwest Arkansas) as well as on Time Warner Cable Metro Sports throughout the Kansas City metro as well as portions of Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, and Iowa.

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