Posted on 14 April 2011.
The fine folks at the Northwest Arkansas Naturals have provided us with a brief rundown of the Royals farm system. The details are listed below:
Royals Farm Report: April 14th
A look at the Royals farm system one week into the season
In their first year following the team’s name change, the Omaha Storm Chasers (Pacific Coast League) have gotten off to a slow start, going just 2-5 through the season’s first week. The Storm Chasers sit three games back of Nashville (5-2) in the PCL’s American Northern Division but have yet to play a home game in 2011. The team will look to reverse its fortunes when it opens brand-new Werner Park on Apr. 15.
Though he has yet to go deep in 2011, Eric Hosmer has a team-best total of 10 hits in his first 31 Triple-A at bats, good for a .323 batting average. Most of the Storm Chasers’ power has been provided by Clint Robinson. Six of the 2010 Texas League Triple Crown winner’s hits this season have gone for extra bases as he leads the team with three home runs and three doubles. On the mound, reliever Louis Coleman has seven strikeouts in three innings of work, while Mike Montgomery shook off a rocky first start to throw four scoreless frames against Round Rock on Apr. 12.
Mike Moustakas clubbed his first home run of the season on Apr. 10 but is off to a slow start overall, hitting .188 with eight strikeouts and just one walk through seven games. One of the last players cut from the Royals’ opening-day roster, Gregor Blanco has three hits in 25 at bats, adding up to just a .120 batting average in the season’s first week. Left-hander Everett Teaford was touched for four earned runs (and two homers) in 4.2 innings in his only start, while Vin Mazzaro, expected to be the Royals’ fifth starter when the major league schedule requires one, yielded five runs in just 2.1 innings in his first outing of the year.
Despite the graduation of many of the top performers on the title-winning 2010 squad, the Northwest Arkansas Naturals (Texas League) have opened the season a franchise best 5-1, carrying a five-game winning streak into the team’s first road trip. The start is the team’s best ever through six games, and the Naturals have opened up an early two-game lead on second-place Tulsa.
After missing all of 2010 following shoulder surgery, Mario Lisson has shown no ill effects from the layoff, hitting a team-best .455 in the season’s first week. Three of Lisson’s five hits have gone for extra bases and he is the only Natural with more than one home run. Also returning to action after missing all of 2010 is infielder Jeff Bianchi, who has hit at a .348 clip with four extra-base hits. Wil Myers notched a pair of three-hit games in the Naturals’ most recent series and his hitting .333 overall. Relievers Blake Johnson and Mario Santiago have combined to toss 14.2 scoreless innings without a walk, while starter Heath Rollins allowed just a run on three hits in six innings in his first start. The Naturals have a team ERA of 2.36 through six games.
Northwest Arkansas is hitting .300 as a team, but catcher Salvador Perez is off to just a .200 start at the plate, although one of his hits was a deep homer that tied the ballgame in extra innings Sunday. Jamie Romak has come out of the game slow as well, batting .227 with seven strikeouts in five games. Left-hander Chris Dwyer has struggled in each of his two starts, allowing four runs on eight hits in his most recent outing against Corpus Christi. Overall, Dwyer has posted an 8.59 ERA.
Like the Naturals, the Wilmington Blue Rocks (Carolina League) end the season’s opening week in first place. Despite an overall slow offensive start, the Blue Rocks sit atop the league’s Northern Division at 4-2, one game ahead of the Frederick Keys.
The offensive star for the Blue Rocks has been infielder Rey Navarro, who is hitting at a torrid .480 clip with 12 hits in 25 at bats. Five of those hits have gone for extra bases as Navarro has already logged three triples in 2011. There is a big statistical drop-off after Navarro, though John Whittleman, acquired in a spring training trade, is batting .292 with a team-high five RBI so far. One of the Blue Rocks’ top prospects, Tim Melvillestruck out seven in his second start of the season, giving up a lone run in six innings. Two other hurlers, Jake Odorizzi and Noel Arguelles, each opened the season with solid outings. Odorizzi gave up one run in four innings, while Arguelles tosses four scoreless in his first professional start.
The Blue Rocks’ 4-2 start looks even more impressive considering that the team has an overall batting average of just .208. Navarro’s scorching start has been offset by sluggish weeks from Alex McClure (.091), Jose Bonilla (.091), Nick Francis (.120) and Juan Graterol (.154). On the other hand, the Blue Rocks have posted a 2.33 team ERA, as only Elisaul Pimentel has endured a very rough outing. Pimentel allowed five runs (four earned) on seven hits in just three innings, resulting in a 12.00 ERA.
Former Natural Vance Wilson’s managerial debut has begun slowly, as his Kane County Cougars (Midwest League) finished the first week at just 2-5. Though they are not in the basement of the league’s Western Division, the Cougars have early ground to make up as there is a three-way tie for first at 5-2.
Outfielder Alex Llanos has been Kane County’s biggest power threat in the early going, collecting five extra-base hits and totaling a .333 batting average in the season’s first seven games. Ryan Stovall has matched Llanos’ total of four RBI despite playing in just three games and is hitting .375, albeit in just eight at bats. Leondy Perez was a tough-luck loser in his first start of the season, giving up just two unearned runs on four hits in seven innings of work.
Though he hit .333 in early action, former Arkansas Razorback Brett Eibner tore a ligament in his thumb while attempting to make a diving catch in the outfield and could miss up to three months. Gerard Hall (.111) and Angel Franco (.167) have not yet been able to pick up the offensive slack with Eibner out of the lineup. Leonel Santiago has struggled in his two starts, posting a 10.57 ERA in 7.2 innings of work.
Former Naturals outside the Kansas City organization
One of the longest-tenured Naturals, Rowdy Hardy begins his first season in the Atlanta organization with Double-A Mississippi. Through two appearances, Hardy has given up two runs (one earned) in two innings, good for a 4.50 ERA. Joining Hardy on the Mississippi Braves is Ernesto Mejia, who is batting .304 with two home runs while serving as the team’s everyday third baseman. Also in the Braves’ system is Ed Lucas, who was a candidate to fill a bench spot on Atlanta’s opening-day roster but begins the season with Triple-A Gwinnett, where he is hitting an even .300 through six games. He’s teammates with former hard-throwing Naturals reliever Juan Abreu. He’s walked three but has yet to allow a run in three early season appearances.
Like Hardy and Mejia, Corey Smith finds himself in the Southern League as a member of the Chattanooga Lookouts, the Double-A affiliate of the Dodgers. Smith is off to a hot start in the early going, batting .381 through six games. Other former Naturals throughout the minor leagues include reliever Dan Cortes in Seattle’s organization (5.79 ERA in three appearances for Triple-A Tacoma), infielder Chris McConnell in the Nationals organization (.214 for Triple-A Syracuse) and original Natural Jose Duarte, who is batting .115 through the season’s first week for Advanced-A Jupiter as he begins his first full season in the Florida Marlins’ system.
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.