Tag Archive | "Exhibition Game"

Texas League All Star Rosters Announced


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







2013 South Divison All-Star Team







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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Eric Hosmer to join Team USA for the World Baseball Classic

Due to a strained right wrist and forearm from Team USA and Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira, Eric Hosmer gets the opportunity to join Team USA for the World Baseball Classic.

World Baseball Classic

After getting permission from general manager Dayton Moore and manager Ned Yost, Hosmer joined team USA Wednesday night to play an exhibition game against the Colorado Rockies. Team USA begins WBC play against Mexico this Friday night at Chase Field in Phoenix, AZ.

Hosmer joins fellow Royal Tim Collins on the USA team and is the ninth Royals player to take part in the World Baseball Classic. Other Royals players are reliever Kelvin Herrera, infielder Miguel Tejada and reliever Atahualpa Severino playing for the Dominican Republic, catcher Salvador Perez with Venezuela, pitcher Luis Mendoza with Mexico, infielder Irving Falu with Puerto Rico and Minor League outfielder Paulo Orlando with Brazil.

Now there might be some concerns about Hosmer being away from the Royals to play in the WBC, but to put into perspective, the WBC is like Spring Training: the games really don’t matter. Of course it’s an honor to represent your country in the WBC, but the games are the same as Spring Training games. And Hosmer will be the Royals first baseman this season, so it’s not like he’s competing for a job. He’ll get to play with different players and be managed by Team USA manager Joe Torre, which is a good thing. There’s the risk of injury, but that can happen in Spring Training games too. Overall, it’s a good experience for Hosmer and the other Royals players participating in the WBC. Oh yeah, Go Team USA!

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Negro League Widow Passes Away

HiltonSmithLouise Smith, widow of Hilton Smith, has passed away at the age of 98 years old.

Hilton Smith is a hall of fame pitcher famous for his time in Negro League Baseball with the Kansas City Monarchs.  During his playing career, according to the Hall Of Fame, he was credited with 20 wins in each of his 12 seasons with the Monarchs.

Possibly best known for his relief appearances behind the great Satchel Paige, Smith pitched in six consecutive “East-West All Star Games” from 1937-1942.  He was considered by many to be the best pitcher in black baseball but was largely overlooked due to his quiet demeanor, a stark contrast to that of Paige’s.

Hilton hurled a no-hitter in 1937 and according to many sources did not lose a single competition in 1938.  During the winter of 1946, he pitched the Vargas team in the Venezuelan league to the championship.  The following March, he would pitch for the Vargas team in an exhibition game in Venezuela against the New York Yankees.  He would allow one hit over five innings and be credited with the win in a 4-3 ballgame.

Smith would decline an offer from the Brooklyn Dodgers as baseball’s color barrier came crashing down, eventually retiring in 1948.  He would go on to teach, coach, and eventually become a scout for the Chicago Cubs.  He passed away in 1983 and was inducted into Cooperstown in 2001 by the Veteran’s Committee.

Louise Humphrey would marry Hilton Smith in 1934.  The couple would have two children during their marriage.  During an interview for the 2005 Oral History film, Louise would recount how she turned down Hilton’s marriage proposal at first because she did not want to marry a ballplayer.  Ultimately, she identified that he was a professional man and was rewarded with being able to see areas of the world she never thought possible.

From the “Did You Know” section of his Baseball Hall Of Fame Bio:

Hilton Smith advised Kansas City Monarchs owner J.L. Wilkinson to sign Jackie Robinson to a contract with the powerhouse Negro American League club?

According the the Negro League Baseball Museum, Louise visited the museum for “one last tour” earlier this week.

You can visit the Negro League Baseball Museum’s website by clicking this link.

Bill Ivie is the editor here at I-70 Baseball
Follow him on Twitter here.

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Royals And Fox Sports KC Announce Schedule

KANSAS CITY, MO (January 31, 2013) – The Kansas City Royals and FOX Sports Kansas City today announced a 142-game television schedule for the 2013 season, featuring two exhibition games and 140 regular season games.


The Royals and FOX Sports Kansas City are entering the sixth season of a long-term agreement in which FOX Sports Kansas City is the exclusive television home of Royals baseball.  The 140-game regular season television schedule features 67 road games and 73 from Kauffman Stadium.  Every game on FOX Sports Kansas City will be preceded by a 30-minute pre-game show, “Hy-Vee Royals Live,” and followed by the “Boulevard Royals Live” post-game show.  All 140 regular season telecasts will be presented in High Definition.

FOX Sports Kansas City’s coverage of Royals baseball kicks off with a Spring Training telecast from Surprise, Ariz., on Monday, March 25, when the Royals host the Los Angeles Dodgers at 8:05 p.m. (CDT).  A second exhibition game will be broadcast on Wednesday, March 27, when Kansas City hosts the Chicago Cubs, also at 8:05 p.m. (CDT).

FSKC will air Kansas City’s Opening Day contest on April 1 at Chicago as well as the April 8 home opener vs. Minnesota.

Ryan Lefebvre will call 90 regular season games and one exhibition for Fox Sports Kansas City and Steve Physioc will provide the play-by-play on 50 games during the season and one exhibition.  Rex Hudler will return for his second season as the analyst and Royals’ Hall of Famer, Jeff Montgomery, will provide analysis throughout the season on Royals Live with host Joel Goldberg.

The complete season schedule with telecasts is listed on the attached schedule, which you can download by clicking here.  All game times and the TV schedule are subject to change.

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Exhibition Scheduled For Minor League Park

Cardinals Announce Exhibition Game April 2, 2012 at Hammons Field
Double-A affiliate Springfield Cardinals welcome 2011 World Champions back to Missouri

ST. LOUIS, MO., November 2, 2011 – – The St. Louis Cardinals announced that the team will play an exhibition game against the Springfield Cardinals, their Double-A affiliate, at 6:00 p.m. on Monday, April 2nd, 2012 at Hammons Field.

“We are honored to be the first to welcome the reigning World Champions back to the state of Missouri in 2012,” Springfield Cardinals Vice President and General Manager, Matt Gifford said.

The Cardinals wanted to play two exhibition games in Springfield as part of their 2012 spring training schedule partly to make up for the weather-related cancellation of a sold out 2011 exhibition game. The Cardinals regular season and Spring Training schedules, which are set by Major League Baseball, prevent two exhibition games from being possible this year. The Cardinals will open the regular season on Wednesday, April 4th with a unique single game series against the Miami Marlins to open their new stadium in Florida.

“We owe it to the great fans of Springfield to come home to Missouri to play this exhibition game despite the travel challenges presented by our schedule” said Cardinals General Manager John Mozeliak. “While we are disappointed we can’t play two games, this will be a welcome trip home for many of our players who really enjoyed their playing time in Springfield.”

Fans that retained their tickets to the 2011 Cardinals/Cardinals Exhibition Game and did not receive a refund will receive replacement tickets for the 2012 game in the spring. As was the case earlier this year, tickets to the exhibition game will be extremely limited and priority for any available tickets will be given to Springfield Cardinals Season Ticket Holders. For information on 2012 Season Tickets in Springfield, please call (417) 863-0395, or visit www.springfieldcardinals.com. The Cardinals Spring Training schedule of games in Florida is expected to be announced in December once it has been finalized by Major League Baseball.

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Highlights and Lowlights: A Look Back at the First Half

June 30 marked the end of the first half of 2011. Additionally, at the end of June, the Royals had played 81 games – the exact mid-way point of the season. So in those two respects, the beginning of July provides a good time to look back on a half year of the life of the team.

Photo credit - Minda Haas

Unfortunately, for a club that stood at 33-48 at the halfway point, there haven’t been too many high points on the field. So, unfortunately, there have been some significant valleys to go along with the peaks.

The half-year highlights of 2011

March 31- April 3: Taking three out of four from the California Angels

After losing a disappointing opener (looking all too much like the Royals of old), the team showed serious grit and a flair for the dramatic by winning the next three games against the Angels. A walk-off homer by Kila Ka’aihue and a dramatic eighth-inning rally highlighted the opening weekend. Two days later, the Royals would win another walk-off against the White Sox, giving them four straight games won in their final at-bat. The youthful celebrations that followed these early-season comebacks endeared the team to its fans.

April 2: Storm Chasers vs. Naturals at Kaufman Stadium

Off-season rankings that called the Royals farm system not just the best collection of prospects in 2011, but one of the best in history generated considerable buzz for this exhibition game. Fans got a chance to see eight players ranked in Baseball America’s top 100 prospects, highlighted by a dominant performance by Mike Montgomery.

May 6: The Promotion of Eric Hosmer

Several key prospects started the season with the team out of spring training, so Hosmer wasn’t the first. And fellow blue-chippers Danny Duffy and Mike Moustakas were soon to follow. But no roster move inspired the excitement or optimism that the promotion of Hosmer did. It seemed to signal that the team was going all-in with their prospects – “Super-Two” status be damned. And by aggressively replacing the struggling Ka’aihue with a rookie when the team was still in contention, it signaled that the team was going to try to win this season.

Hosmer’s promotion caught the attention of more than just the most devout KC fans. National media outlets picked up on the significance of the move as well. For a moment, there was hope and excitement about Royals baseball. Hosmer didn’t prove to be the spark needed to keep the team in contention, but he hasn’t disappointed. May 6, 2011 may yet turn out to be a day of great significance in the history of the franchise.

May 12: Taking two out of three in New York

Freshly in the fold, Hosmer belted two homers in the series, giving the Royals their first series win in Yankee Stadium since 1999. The Royals left New York with a 20-17 record, 3.5 back of Cleveland. Unfortunately, in just one week the team would be below .500 and 6 games back in the standings.

June 6 – The Drafting of Bubba Starling

The date of the draft could be a red-letter day in the first half of the season for every team, every year. Particularly if the team perennially holds one of the top five picks. But this year was different for the Royals. Not only did Kansas City hold a top-five pick, but there was a prospect on the draft board who had achieved legendary status right in the team’s own back yard.

As fate would have it, Bubba Starling was still available when the Royals’ turn came up. Though some would argue that the real need of the hour was pitching, and that Starling’s lack of polish makes him a risk, KC pulled the trigger. This is undeniably a high-risk, high-reward move, but one that pumped a needed infusion of local interest into the farm system.

With the big-league team floundering along at 26-34 on draft day, KC fans were once again looking to the future, and Starling gives them something to be excited about. Now it’s time to start positioning for a high-draft slot for 2012.

The half-year lowlights of 2011

April 20: Hochevar chokes on perfect game

Hochevar was perfect through five innings. But in perfect Hochevar-fashion, he allowed one big inning to do him in. He allowed a single. Ok. No big deal. Then a balk. Then a double. It’s ok. He induced two groundouts. A nice job of stopping the bleeding, right?

But then he balked in a runner from third. Then he gave up a single, double, walk and another double. By the end of the inning, Hochevar had gone from perfect to putrid.

If that were just a one-time-deal, it would be easily forgotten. Unfortunately, it just reads like a script that Hochevar faithfully follows.

May 16: Suffering one of the worst losses in team history

After a hot start, the Royals still possessed a winning record on May 16. But while the wheels hadn’t come completely off yet, they were certainly wobbling. No one expected, however, the 19-1 beat-down KC would suffer at the hands of the Indians that afternoon.

Not even Kyle Davies can be this bad. He started the game by walking three of the first four batters. Turns out he was experiencing shoulder problems, so he exited. Most times, removing Davies leads to improved pitching on the Royals part. But not this time.

Nate Adcock got the Royals into the third, but the Ned Yost summoned Vin Mazzaro. It was in the fourth that all hell broke loose. By the time it was over, Mazzaro would produce one of the worst pitching performances in history. The guy the Royals gave up David DeJesus to get would cough up 14 runs in just 2 1/3 innings – the most by a reliever since 1942. Mazzaro would become the first pitcher to give up 14 in less than three innings since 1900.

The 18-run margin tied the worst in team history. And any hopes KC had of challenging Cleveland seemed unrealistic after the beating.

May 19: Prospect John Lamb goes down to elbow injury

When Baseball America’s #18 prospect exited a Northwest Arkansas game in the first inning, Royals fans with an eye on the future held their breath. The word came out a few days later – Lamb would need Tommy John surgery and wouldn’t pitch again in 2011. Just more bad news for a team on the slide and in desperate need of some quality starting pitching.

June 2-5: Getting swept at home by Minnesota

The Royals were dropping in the standings by June, but they had a golden opportunity to get right. Limping into town for a four-game set came the once-proud Minnesota Twins with a league worst .315 winning percentage. Sweep this series and the Royals would be right back in business.

The Royals managed just six runs. In four games.

Four days later, the Royals’ lead on the dismal Twins had gone from 7.5 to 3.5 games. It essentially terminated KC’s chances of winning the Central Division and signaled that the Twins weren’t about to settle into the basement.

June 19: Dropping into last place

It didn’t take long.

The walk-off heroics and days of jockeying for the division lead seemed like distant memories. By dropping a game to St. Louis, the Royals slipped quietly into their familiar position of last place in the Central Division.

It just continued to get worse from there. By the mid-way point, KC trailed Minnesota by 2 games and division-leading Detroit by 10.5. They finished the first half with the worst winning percentage in the AL.

The hot start gave us something to be excited about. There were flashes of a gritty, gutty team that wouldn’t go down easy. There was plenty of young talent in the bullpen and some of the future stars matriculated to the big leagues. Jeff Francoeur and Melky Cabrera seemed to revive their careers, and as promised, Alex Gordon finally started dominating.

But the losses just piled up too quickly for the era of good feelings to last. The team has a lack of starting pitching no amount of guts, determination and youthful exuberance can overcome.

Time to start the auditions for 2012. And time to get in position for that draft pick. Once again.

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Royals Hot Start Should Not Overshadow Future

The unexpectedly electrifying start the Royals got off to last weekend removed the focus temporarily from where it had been primarily trained for the last several months – the minor league system.

With gutty comebacks and dramatic walk offs, the big league Royals gave fans something to take their minds off the future. But for the last couple of seasons, the top pastime of Royals fans has been to follow the exploits of the clubs in Omaha, Northwest Arkansas and the teams of the far-flung lower levels.

It would be a good thing if the Royals could do well enough this season that the minor leaguers could just develop at their own pace, rather than have us dissecting their every move. And that seemed the case on Saturday when the team’s top minor league teams played an exhibition game at the K.

Before last Friday, I anticipated Saturday’s Royals game to be merely the appetizer before the real meal. I actually expected some fans to show up late, to skip the big league game in favor of the exhibition. But when Saturday came, there was enough of a buzz about the Royals that the exhibition seemed the afterthought.

Don’t get me wrong. The minors have not been forgotten.

I was shocked by the knowledge of the fans that remained in the crowd at 3:30 on Saturday. People sitting around me chatted about each player that stepped to the plate or that took the mound, as if they had followed his career for years.

“How far was that bomb by Hosmer down in Surpise?”

“I was surprised Osuna didn’t get promoted, weren’t you?”

“No, we didn’t draft Will Smith. He was part of the Callaspo trade.

But it just goes to show how starved Royals fans have been for something to put their hope in. And just how much attention this crop of minor leaguers has garnered.

The exhibition did more than just show off the talents of the youngsters. It also revealed some of the decisions the franchise has made about the development of the players. Here’s a look at the makeup of the Omaha and Northwest Arkansas rosters and the placement of key prospects:


Eric Hosmer – I had wondered if he might start the season at AA, but by spring that had been decided. One could argue he’s the best first baseman in the organization, so starting him at Northwest Arkansas for more seasoning wasn’t necessary. He didn’t do anything offensively in the exhibition, but his defense was spectacular.

Mike Moustakas – He’s starting at AAA, but might make the jump sooner than later. He looked good at the plate and in the field last Saturday.

Clint Robinson – Here’s the odd man out. Billy Butler seems entrenched, and with a big contract he won’t be easy to trade. The Royals aren’t about to do anything to short-circuit Hosmer’s progress. So that leaves Kila Ka’aihue with one year to prove he belongs in the big leagues, so he might fetch something in a trade. Robinson, on the other hand, would seem to have no window of opportunity. The best he can hope for is a trade to another organization. For his sake, he hope he gets a chance somewhere.

Lorenzo Cain – He was sent to AAA so that he could play everyday. It was sort of disappointing that Cain, one off the primaries in the Greinke trade, didn’t make the big club. He will need to distinguish himself soon, or the Royals may stand pat with Melky Cabrera in center. Cain is not young – he’s just days shy of 25. Centerfield is crowded and Cain needs to show he’s the team’s best longterm option.

Gregor Blanco – Nearly made the big league club. Then he cleared waivers, so he’ll start at AAA. He actually looked pretty good in the exhibition, even hitting an inside-the-park homer. The Royals will have trouble sorting out the situation with Blanco, Cain and Jerrod Dyson. They all look pretty similar – and pretty average – at this point in time.

Mike Montgomery – The pitchers dominated the exhibition, and Montgomery was head-and-shoulders above the rest. He didn’t surrender a hit over four innings and made some pretty good prospects look hapless. He could also make the jump if KC needs starting pitching (which it most certainly will).

Danny Duffy – Wasn’t as impressive as Montgomery, but about as effective. He could also conceivable be in KC before the season ends. The elevation of Aaron Crow to the Royals’ bullpen may have been precipitated by the emergence of other starters in the system. Crow had better get it done now, or he’ll be bypassed by these other youngsters.

Others to watch: Louis Coleman, Kevin Pucetas, Blake Wood, Johnny Giovatella, David Lough, Paulo Orlando

Northwest Arkansas:

Christian Colon – Though many suspect a move second base is inevitable, Colon started the exhibition at shortstop and was not impressive. He went 0-5, struck out twice, and committed a throwing error. He will likely spend the entire year at AA, and he has a lot to prove.

Will Myers – Started in right field but didn’t do anything to distinguish himself. If he hits like everyone seems to think he will, he could potentially move up to AAA during the season.

Derrick Robinson – Robinson has hit his ceiling. Centerfield is too crowded with speedy, but otherwise marginal, talents, and Robinson is the least of these. He may eventually play his way up to AAA, but he’s already 23.

John Lamb – Locked horns with Montgomery and wasn’t outmatched. The AAA hitters only mustered one run off him. He’s young. He won’t turn 21 until July, but he will probably get promoted at some point this season.

Chris Dwyer – His promotion to AAA probably depends on the movement that goes on above him. Otherwise he’ll try to improve on the 2-1 record and 3.06 ERA that he posted for the Naturals at the end of last season.

Others to watch: Will Smith, Jeff Bianchi

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Cardinals Cancel Exhibition At Minor League Affiliate

The following press release was sent out regarding the St. Louis Cardinals exhibition game scheduled for tomorrow night in Springfield, MO.

St. Louis to play two games in 2012 at Hammons Field

ST. LOUIS – March 28, 2011 – The St. Louis Cardinals announced that they are cancelling the exhibition game against the team’s Double-A Affiliate Springfield Cardinals scheduled for tomorrow night, March 29th at 7:07 p.m. at Hammons Field in Springfield, Missouri due to forecasted inclement weather.“We are very disappointed that we have to cancel the exhibition game, but we have a responsibility to protect the health of our players,” said Cardinals General Manager John Mozeliak. “Given the forecast, we do not feel we have any other choice than to cancel the game” 

The game time forecast calls for rain and temperatures in the low/mid 30s.

“We enjoy such great fan support in Springfield,” said Cardinals Manager Tony La Russa, “I know the players are particularly disappointed, but this is the right call.”

The Cardinals have announced that they will schedule two exhibition games against the Springfield Cardinals at Hammons Field next season. Details will be forthcoming when the team announces its 2012 Spring Training schedule. “While we are disappointed that we will not be able to showcase the 2011 St. Louis Cardinals at Hammons Field on Tuesday, we are excited that they will be back for two games in 2012,” said Springfield Cardinals Vice President and General Manger Matt Gifford. “Cardinal fans are the best in the country and I’m sure they will be saddened with this news but I hope they understand the unusual circumstances,” said Gifford.

As a goodwill gesture for all fans who purchased tickets from the Cardinals for the cancelled game, they will receive via mail a voucher entitling them to a ticket to a 2011 St. Louis Cardinals game at Busch Stadium or a 2011 Springfield Cardinals game at Hammons Field for each ticket they purchased.

Fans that purchased tickets from the Springfield Cardinals for the March 29, 2011 game wishing to guarantee their tickets for a 2012 exhibition game with the St. Louis Cardinals will not need to take any action.

Tickets purchased from the Springfield Cardinals will be transferred into a 2012 exhibition game in the same ticket location currently held and new tickets for the 2012 game will be mailed to the original ticket buyer prior to next season.

Fans wishing to receive a refund for tickets purchased to the 2011 Springfield Cardinals vs. St. Louis Cardinals game scheduled for March 29th can return the original tickets to Hammons Field for a refund of the ticket price. Refunds will be issued to the original ticket buyer via the original payment method. Tickets purchased with a credit or debit card will have a credit issued to the same card and tickets paid with cash or check will be issued a refund check from the St. Louis Cardinals. Credit/Debit Card refunds will appear on customer accounts within 7 days of ticket return. Check refunds will be issued within 2-3 weeks of ticket return. Fans returning tickets and receiving a refund will not have priority or guarantees for the 2012 game.

While the game has been cancelled, the Cardinals have made arrangements to honor their commitment to raise money for the Miracle Field at Dan Kinney Park. The team will auction jerseys signed by the St. Louis Cardinals players at an upcoming game, with all the proceeds to benefit a capital campaign for an accessible ball field for the disabled in Springfield.

Copyright © 2011 Springfield Cardinals, All rights reserved.
Visit us online at www.springfieldcardinals.com

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Jon Jay: Year Two

After growing up in St. Louis, it’s been quite a unique experience living in Springfield, Missouri…home to the Cardinals’ Double-A affiliate. It’s like seeing the future unfold before my eyes. I saw Colby Rasmus hit a walk-off homerun in a playoff game in 2007. I saw Jaime Garcia mow down the St. Louis Cardinals’ lineup during a late spring exhibition game at Hammons Field. Both of those players clearly had a legitimate change at a future in the big leagues.

And then there’s Jon Jay.

Photo By Erika Lynn

Jay is hands down my favorite Springfield Cardinal of all time, and frankly it’s hard to put my finger on it as to why that is. He’s not flashy and doesn’t hit for power. He isn’t a speedster on the base paths, and he’s not an RBI machine. His average numbers in a full minor league season were a .300 avg., 8-10 homeruns, and about 45-50 RBIs.

He stands a shade less than six feet, and weighs in right at 200 pounds. Despite being a fan, I never envisioned that he’d one day make it to the big leagues, much less as a member of the Cardinals’ organization. When he was called up to Triple-A Memphis is 2008, my exact reaction was “I guess someone up there got hurt.”

But Jay has two wildly redeeming qualities that kept him in the big leagues for 105 games last year. First, the kid can hit. He started off hitting in the neighborhood of .400 in his first couple weeks in the bigs before eventually checking in at .300 for the year. He had nearly 300 at bats, so his average was legit. Secondly, the guy has “it.” I know, so cliché. But he does. How else can you explain his early success on a Tony LaRussa ball club? LaRussa, you might recall, pretty much despises young players, even ones with talent. About the only exceptions I can think of are Yadier Molina (a perennial Gold Glover) and Albert Pujols (who wouldn’t have even made Tony’s 2001 squad out of Spring Training had it not been for an injury to Bobby Bonilla.

That’s why I’m really anxious to see what’s in store for Jay. We know Matt Holliday is going to see 150+ games in left, but the other two outfield spots are, shall we say, flexible? Lance Berkman, even if his health holds up, is probably looking at 100 starts max in right field, and a looming role as pinch-hitter in the other games. Colby Rasmus still gets the kids gloves by Tony. He won’t see a start vs. a lefty, and will get benched in other curious scenarios, I’m sure.

In other words, Jon Jay will get every opportunity to see as much time, if not more, than he got last season. The question is: will he keep hitting? If he can avoid the sophomore slump, he could set himself up for a bright future in the big leagues. He’s got a ton of potential and is a fun player to watch. He’s a guy people like to root for…and I’ll be rooting right along with the rest of the Cardinals fan base as number 15 steps onto the diamond for year two.

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Royals To Host Minor League Exhibition Game

On Saturday, April 2, 2011, Royals fans in Kansas City will finally get a look at the future. Thirty minutes after the game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, an exhibition game between the Triple-A Storm Chasers and the Double-A Naturals will take place and feature young stars like Mike Moustakas, Eric Hosmer, and Aaron Crow.

Mike Moustakas by Erika Lynn

Widely regarded as the best farm system in all of baseball, the Royals will finally show its fans what it has been stashing in its minor league cupboards for a few years. Not to put any pressure on anyone’s shoulders, but if the Royals want to compete in the next few years, this crop of youngsters will be integral to doing just that.

This begs the question; will Royals fans have more interest in the game against the Angels? Or, will they be more interested in seeing a glimpse of the future? I lean toward the latter. And kudos to the Royals management and marketing department for bringing the stars of tomorrow to the forefront of fans’ minds today.

Nothing against today’s brand of the Royals, I’m just intrigued to see some of the prospects live and in person. I want to come to my own conclusions about some of these guys and see that sweet Mike Moustakas swing and that scintillating Aaron Crow fastball in person.

Dreaming of “what could be” for the Royals is something that has been ingrained in me since 2003, the last year the Royals showed signs of life in the American League Central Division.

Officially, the future of the Royals will see Kaufman Stadium this April, but will be placed back on the shelf until 2012 and 2013. However, it should be noted that some of the aforementioned stars of the future are expected to have their proverbial cups of coffee with the big league squad in 2011.

It will be exciting to see these guys, but will one exhibition game quench the thirst for victory Royals fans have been deprived of for many years? Well, it will have to do for now.

Until then, Royals fans are stuck with the likes of Melky Cabrera, Jeff Francouer, Bruce Chen, and Jeff Francis. For me, it will be like getting a whiff of that mouthwatering steak house only to settle for value hamburgers from McDonald’s.

Who else will grace the stands with me on April 2nd to see the future of the Royals? Feel free to comment below.

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