Tag Archive | "Kelvin"

Kelvin Herrera’s up and down season

Everything was trending up for Kelvin Herrera.

KelvinHerrera

It was April 16 and the flame-throwing right-hander already owned a win, two saves and two holds. He had struck out at least two batters in four of his first six appearances of the 2013 season and had yet to give up a run.

And all this was coming off the 2012 season in which he was one of baseball’s best setup men. Last season, Herrera pitched to a 4-3 record with a 2.35 ERA, 1.19 WHIP and struck out 77 in 84.1 innings.

Herrera entered the eighth inning of the game in Atlanta with the score tied at 2. He was ready to blow away the heart of the Braves’ lineup with his blazing fastball.

However, after recording the first out of the inning, Jason Heyward and Justin Upton caught up to Herrera’s heater for back-to-back home runs. After another out, Dan Uggla went deep for the third home run of the inning.

Herrera finished the day with 0.2 innings pitched, 3 hits (all home runs), 4 runs and 1 walk. To put things in perspective, Kelvin only allowed four home runs all of last year.

Just a blip on the radar screen, right? Every pitcher has a bad outing once in a while.

After a scoreless inning the next day against the Braves, Herrera had another stinker, this time against the Boston Red Sox. He entered the game in the eighth inning with a runner on base, two outs and the Royals leading 2-1. Following a walk to the first batter he faced, Herrera served up a home run to Daniel Nava and the Red Sox went on to win 4-3.

In 10 appearances after the April 20 game against Boston, Herrera gave up an earned run in five of them and served up four more home runs. His struggles with the long ball eventually led to his demotion to Triple-A Omaha on May 22.

He had doubled his home run total from 2012 and that was a serious problem in the eyes of Royals management. He needed to go down to the minors and work out the kinks.

“He got to the point by not having confidence in his fastball to where he was trying to overthrow it, so he needs to just smooth his mechanics a little bit and really just go down and have some success,” Manager Ned Yost told the media after Herrera’s demotion. “He’s very young, too, and a big part of our ‘pen, so we need to get him straightened out. Get a little bit of his swagger back and bring him back.”

Aaron Crow served as the eighth-inning reliever while Herrera was in the minors. He has struggled as well, with a 4.11 ERA and a 1.47 WHIP in 16.1 innings.

Crow had a meltdown of his own on May 29 against St. Louis, giving up 5 hits, 4 ER, and 1 HR in a 5-3 loss.

Meanwhile, at Omaha,  Herrera appeared in five games, logging 4.2 innings. He gave up 2 hits, 3 walks, and struck out six. Most importantly, no home runs and no earned runs.

The Royals saw what they needed to see from Herrera and recalled him from Triple-A on Tuesday.

Now that he is back, the Royals should give Herrera a shot to regain his setup role. On Wednesday, Ned Yost called on Herrera to pitch the eighth with a 4-1 lead over the Twins. He retired the side in order with one strikeout.

With Herrera’s success in the minors, as demonstrated by the numbers, he should have some of his swagger back. That could be a huge boost for the free-falling Royals.

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Home Runs Plague Kansas City Royals During Early Success

Fourteen games in, the Royals are 8-6 and only a half a game out of first in the A.L. Central. Overall, the team is playing well, but so far they’ve given up 18 home runs, which is fourth in the A.L. and 6th in the Majors. Meanwhile, they’ve hit just five home runs, which is last in the A.L. and 29th in the Majors, just ahead of the woeful Miami Marlins with only three team home runs.

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Of the 18 home runs given up, the starting rotation gave up 13, with Jeremy Guthrie (5 HR) and Ervin Santana (4 HR) being the top offenders. The bullpen gave up five homers, with Kelvin Herrera giving up three of them, all in one inning of Tuesday night’s game against the Atlanta Braves.

Of the 18 homers given up, 15 are solo shots, two are two-run homers and one is a three-run homer. In the games the Royals didn’t give up a home run, they’re 4-2. In games where they only gave up solo shots, they’re 3-2. In multi-run homer games, they’re 1-2. What’s interesting are the games where the opposing team hit multiple solo home runs in a game. In those games, the Royals are 2-1.

So why is the Royals pitching staff giving up so many home runs? For Guthrie, it appears he throws a bad pitch once in a while and hitters take advantage of it. So far, he’s 2-0 with a 3.20 ERA with 17 strikeouts and three walks, giving him a 5.67 SO/BB ratio.

Over his career, Santana has a tendency to give up homers and he’s keeping true to form. But he’s got a 2.45 ERA and he’s struck out 19 batters while walking five, giving him a 3.80 SO/BB ratio.

As for Kelvin Herrera’s three homers he gave up, the Royals think he tipped his pitches when he gave up his three home runs against Atlanta. Herrera is a fireball pitcher and they tend to give up home runs.

While the Royals are giving up a lot of home runs this season, how does it compare to last season? In the first 14 games of 2012, the Royals gave up 14 home runs, seven of which were solo shots, six were two-run homers and one was a three-run homer. When they didn’t give up any home runs, they went 2-5. When they only gave up solo homers in a game, they were 1-1. When they gave up a multi-run homer, they were 0-5. Meanwhile, the Royals hit 12 home runs, seven more than this year. But after 14 games, they were 3-11 and in the middle of their 12-game losing streak. Compared to this year, the 2012 Royals gave up more multi-run homers, their team ERA was 4.66, they struck out 105 batters and walked 51, which gave them a 2.06 SO/BB ratio.

The 2013 Royals team ERA is 3.30, which is third in the A.L and fifth in the Majors. They have 122 strikeouts, which is third in the A.L. and fourth in the Majors. The Royals gave up 33 walks, which is second best in the A.L. and fourth best in the Majors. This gives the Royals an impressive team 3.70 SO/BB ratio. Yes, the Royals pitching staff gives up home runs, but otherwise they’re pitching well.

But how long can the Royals pitching staff keep up their low ERA and SO/BB ratio? So far, the Royals are lucky, mainly giving up solo home runs. But they can’t run on luck all season. If they start walking more batters and throwing less strikeouts, more runners will get on base, which increases the chance of multi-run homers. Pitching coach Dave Eiland needs to work with the pitching staff and cut down on the home runs. Meanwhile, hitting coaches Jack Maloof and Andre David need to get the offense hitting more home runs. If this doesn’t happen, the 2013 season could end up being like the 2012 season.

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Greg Holland and Wade Davis struggle early this season

What a difference a week makes. After starting 0-2, the Royals won their third game against the Chicago White Sox. Next, they took two of three from the Phillies and swept the Twins in three games. Now the Royals are 6-3 and first place in the A.L. Central. The offense is scoring runs, the defense only has one error and the starting rotation is pitching well, despite giving up a combined nine home runs.

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But the anchor of the bullpen, Greg Holland, isn’t pitching well. In four games over three innings, Holland faced 20 batters and threw 82 pitches, 43 of them strikes. He gave up five hits, four runs, six walks and five strikeouts. Last Saturday, he blew a save against the Phillies by walking three and giving up a walk-off double. Last Tuesday night against the Twins, Holland threw 27 pitches and faced six batters in the rain before getting his second save.

Royals manager Ned Yost hasn’t gave up on Holland and it’s not time to panic yet, despite Holland’s trouble finding the strike zone. Early last year, an injured rib cage affected his performance. After Holland recovered, he posted a 2.08 ERA and became the Royals closer after the Royals shipped Jonathan Broxton to the Reds. If Holland continues to struggle, Yost has a good backup closer in Kelvin Herrera, who’s fared well this season.

Wade Davis isn’t struggling like Holland, but his first two starts haven’t been stellar. In last Friday’s game against Philadelphia, Davis only pitched four innings, throwing 76 pitches, facing 19 batters and giving up nine hits, and four runs, two of those home runs. He also struck out two and didn’t walk anybody. The Royals ended up winning the game 13-4, so his performance didn’t hurt the team. For his second start, Davis pitched five innings, throwing 96 pitches, giving up four hits and three walks. But he struck out six and held the Twins scoreless, getting the win.

Davis needs to adjust to the starting rotation after pitching out of the bullpen with the Tampa Bay Rays last year. His next couple of starts will show if Davis becomes an effective starter or is better suited as a reliever.

After the 0-2 start, it’s good to see the Royals playing well and leading the A.L. Central. And Holland and Davis’ issues are minor. But the Royals have tough upcoming series against the Toronto Blue Jays and the Atlanta Braves, followed by the Boston Red Sox and the Detroit Tigers. It’s not getting easier for the Royals and the team’s success may depend on the performance of Holland and Davis.

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Welcome To Kansas City Royals Baseball James Shields

The biggest move of the winter took center stage on Opening Day for the Kansas City Royals.  No longer a team that is rebuilding, David Glass and company took steps this off-season to become contenders.

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The top prospect in the organization was packaged away in order to get the one thing the Royals felt they needed more than anything else: a pitcher that could truly be an ace.  In addition, they got a pitcher who possesses the nickname to define his role with the club.  Welcome to 2013 Royals baseball, let us introduce “Big Game” James Shields.

Opening Day showed the fans exactly what they wanted to see.  Shields took the mound and pitched like the ace that he is.  He got in small bits of trouble, refused to be shook up about it, and fought out of the jams.  He struck out six batters without issuing a single free pass.  He battled, giving up eight hits and still managed to pitch six innings.  He showed Royals fans that he was exactly as advertised.

Aaron Crow and Kelvin Herrera furthered what fans already knew.  The rebuilt rotation would be supported by the strength of the team the last few years: the bullpen.  They were not perfect, but the were close enough.  Three strikeouts, one walk, and two innings later, the Royals pitching staff had put the team in a great position to win a baseball game.  With the exception of one poor pitch from their starter, the Royals were great.  All they needed was two runs to win the game.

That, on the other hand, proved to be difficult.  White Sox starter Chris Sale was Shields-like in his own right.  He scattered hits, kept guys off the bases, and stayed out of trouble.  He went deep into the game and then allowed his bullpen to close the door.  The Royals had their chances, but simply could not deliver.  Ultimately, it came down to the top of the ninth inning with the potential game-tying run sitting in scoring position at second base.  Eric Hosmer had drawn a walk and stole second, trying to ignite something to happen.

Jeff Francoeur grounded out weakly to the shortstop, unable to beat out a possible infield single and drawing the curtain on the first game of the season.

Do not fret, Royals fans, this offense will not sputter like this frequently.  If Shields continues to give up one run per outing, he will find himself winning a lot of games in Royals blue.

But for one day, at the beginning of the 2013 campaign, it sure felt a lot like deja vu.

Bill Ivie is the editor here at i70baseball.
You can follow him on Twitter by 
clicking here.

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The Royals Send Luke Hochevar To The Bullpen

It’s been a bumpy and inconsistent ride for Luke Hochevar, the former 2006 No. 1 overall draft pick. Except for a few bullpen outings early in his career, Hochevar was a starter for the Royals since 2008. With the team’s upgrades to the starting rotation, Hochevar, Bruce Chen and Luis Mendoza were in competition for the fifth starting spot. But after two spring starts, the Royals made the decision to move Hochevar to the bullpen.

Luke  Hochevar

It wasn’t like Hochevar made a case for being the fifth starter. In two spring starts, Hochevar pitched eight innings and gave up six earned runs, six walks, two home runs and eight strikeouts with a 6.75 ERA. It’s only two starts, but it’s clear Hochevar’s spring struggles influenced the Royals to move him to the bullpen.

Royals Manager Ned Yost put a positive spin on the move, saying it gives Hochevar a chance to help the Royals win every day instead of every five days. But the last few years, Hochevar hasn’t given the Royals many chances to win every five days as a starter.

The Royals see Hochevar as a late-inning setup man, joining Kelvin Herrera, Tim Collins and Aaron Crow for closer Greg Holland. The team believes having Hochevar pitch one or two innings and getting acclimated to the bullpen during Spring Training will improve his consistency on the mound.

But will moving Hochevar to the bullpen make a difference? The frustrating thing about Hochevar’s meltdowns was they didn’t always happen after pitching a few innings. One start, he might melt down in the first inning. Another start, he might fall apart after three or four innings. Or in another start, he might pitch seven or eight masterful innings, getting the win. When Hochevar took the mound, you didn’t know which Hochevar would show up.

Hochevar has some advantages. He’s durable, and when he’s on, he’s almost unhittable. And having Hochevar face fewer batters and being “on call” to pitch every day might sharpen his mental focus and improve his consistency.

The team made the logical decision and moved Hochevar to the bullpen. The Royals weren’t going to release Hochevar and it’s unlikely he would go to AAA Omaha. And he doesn’t have much trade value, at least for now. The team has nothing to lose by doing this and it could be a move that resurrects his career. Or it could be Hochevar’s last gasp in a so far inconsistent, disappointing Major League career. For the good of the team and Hochevar, I hope this works out.

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Is Donnie Joseph for real, or a spring mirage?

You can’t take too much stock in Spring Training performances. For instance, there’s left-handed reliever Donnie Joseph. In two one-inning relief appearances, Joseph faced and struck out six batters, which is impressive. Of course the batters he faced were AAA level players and five of them were left-handed. But if a pitcher is going to make a good impression in Spring Training, Joseph is doing a good job of it.

John Sleezer/The Kansas City Star

Last July, the Royals got Joseph when they sent veteran reliever Jonathan Broxton to Cincinnati. In four Minor League seasons, Joseph pitched in 193 games over 225.1 innings with a 3.55 ERA and a 3.01 SO/BB ratio, all in relief.

Joseph struggled when he went to AAA Omaha. In 11 games over 17.1 innings, his ERA was 4.15. He struck out 19 batters and gave up 13 walks, ending up with a 1.46 SO/BB ratio.

Despite the two good outings striking out the side, Joseph is a long shot to make the team. His command of the strike zone is inconsistent, and he’s only pitched 29 games in AAA. And there’s the current makeup of the bullpen. The Royals plan to carry seven relievers and for now Greg Holland, Kelvin Herrera, Tim Collins and Aaron Crow are locks. And who doesn’t get the fifth starter job between Bruce Chen, Luke Hochevar and Luis Mendoza will join the bullpen as long relievers. That leaves one spot and 14 pitchers are vying for that spot, including Joseph.

As a lefty, Joseph could be the left-handed specialist if he makes the team. He’s on the on 40-man roster and has options remaining, so even with a great spring, Joseph might end up in Omaha, especially with the strength of the Royals bullpen. If he doesn’t make the Opening Day roster, it wouldn’t hurt Joseph to get more experience facing AAA batters and improving his command. Even if he starts the season in Omaha, it’s likely he’ll be with the Royals sometime this year.

Donnie Joseph isn’t for real yet, but he’s not a mirage either.

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Why I’m thankful I’m a Royals fan

I believe the Royals are a team on the way up. It’s hard to see that sometimes, especially with all the losing over the years, a disappointing 2012 season and the sometimes questionable moves of General Manager Dayton Moore. But the team is much better than it was just a couple of years ago and there’s plenty to be thankful for.

Except for second base and right field, the position players are in good shape: Yes, Eric Hosmer had a down year and Mike Moustakas cooled off after a good first half of the season. And Lorenzo Cain‘s injury-plagued season featured a just serviceable Jarrod Dyson in center field. But solid contributions by Alex Gordon, Billy Butler, Alcides Escobar and the limited playing time of Salvador Perez showed promise. If Hosmer, Moustakas and Johnny Giavotella improve, Cain stays healthy, Wil Myers takes Jeff Francoeur‘s place in right field, and the lineup hits for more power, the Royals will have a young, potent lineup. There’s still a lot of ifs, but there’s less ifs than just a few years ago.

The Royals have one of the better bullpens in the American League and they’re young: The Royals bullpen ERA in 2012 was 3.17, which was sixth overall in the Majors. They were second in the Majors with 535 strikeouts, just behind the Colorado Rockies with 589. They also pitched the second most innings at 561.1, just behind the league leading Rockies at 657.0 innings. Throwing that many innings showed the weakness of the starting rotation, but the fact the Royals bullpen pitched that many innings and still had a decent ERA and strikeouts shows they more than held their own.

And most of the bullpen is under 30. Joakim Soria, who’s been with the Royals for six seasons and a “grizzled” veteran, is only 28. bullpen standouts Kelvin Herrera and Tim Collins will be 23 next season. The oldest bullpen pitcher in 2012 was 32 year old Ramon Colon, but he only appeared in three games, pitching a total of eight innings. If the starting rotation were as good as the bullpen, the Royals would be a much better team.

The Royals are making the effort to improve the starting rotation: The starting rotation was bad, ranking 26th in the league with a 5.01 ERA and pitched a total of 890.0 innings, 28th in the league. The pitcher with the lowest ERA outside of Jeremy Guthrie was journeyman Luis Mendoza with a 4.23 ERA.

The team knew they had to improve the starting rotation this offseason, so they made a trade for Ervin Santana and just signed Guthrie to a three year, $25MM deal. Yes, both pitchers aren’t aces and the Royals know they need a front of the rotation starter. But Santana and Guthrie are dependable, league average pitchers who will provide innings, keep the team in more games and not overwork the bullpen. There’s little chance the Royals will sign Zack Greinke, but they might have a chance with Anibal Sanchez or Shaun Marcum. The team is also willing to trade prospects for a veteran starter. The question is what prospects are the Royals willing to give up, what pitchers they’re looking for and how much of a risk they’re willing to take. The starting rotation still needs work, but they’re already better than 2012’s rotation.

The Royals aren’t the Miami Marlins: Fans like to gripe about team owner David Glass, but at least he’s not Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria. How would you like to be a fan of a team who spent almost $634MM on a stadium, most of it publicly financed? Then sign free agents Heath Bell, Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, trade for Carlos Zambrano and Carlos Lee, which ballooned payroll to around $155MM, resulting in a 69-93 record, last in the National League East?

The Marlins traded away players Haney Ramirez, Anibal Sanchez, Omar Infante, Randy Choate, Edward Mujica, Heath Bell, Reyes, Buehrle, Josh Johnson, Emilio Bonifacio and John Buck for a bunch of young, unproven players, dumping a total commitment of $220MM in salary and making the Marlins a N.L. version of the Houston Astros. And don’t forget the Marlins Park $2.5MM home run sculpture that looks like the result of a Hunter S. Thompson all-night bender. Hey, at least the Marlins have outfielders Giancarlo Stanton and prolific Twitterer Logan Morrison (well, they are willing to trade Morrison). Between the two teams, the Royals have a much brighter future than the Marlins.

Finally, I have the opportunity to write about the Royals for I70 Baseball: I’m having fun writing about the Royals, despite 2012 not living up to expectations. I’ve learned a lot more about the players and coaches on the Major League roster, Royals prospects, the game of baseball and statistics. I’m thankful Bill Ivie gives us Royals and Cardinals fans the chance to write about their teams and being able to share it with other fans is an honor. And I look forward to writing about the Royals during this offseason and 2013.

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Hispanic Heritage in KC: Royals Are Now a Player in Latin America

A quick perusal of the Royals All-Time Hispanic Heritage Team is enough to realize that the team has not had much of a history in Latin America. The team’s system produced just one true star of Hispanic decent – Carlos Beltran – in its first 42 years.

You would think when they watched Beltran quickly bloom into a dynamic five-tool star that they would have begun searching high and low for other such talents.

But they didn’t. A few good Hispanic players came along, most of them acquired via trades. But the number, documented in a previous article, was shockingly low.

Mining Latin America for young talent just wasn’t a part of the plan. While the percentage of Latin players on major league rosters climbed to 27% last year, the Royals lagged behind.

But under Dayton Moore, that approach has changed. Signing players from Latin America is a way to augment annual draft classes and quickly bulk up a minor league system. The Royals are now one of the primary players in Latin America, competing to sign the top free agents and fill their system with dynamic prospects.

It is significant that two of the brightest hopes for the Royals future were signed in Moore’s first year on the job. Salvador Perez, from Venezuela, and Kelvin Herrera, from the Dominican Republic, shot so fast through the minor leagues that they never even showed up on rankings of top prospects.

Since then, other top Hispanic prospects have joined the organization, and the minor league system is filling up with Hispanics following in the footsteps of Perez and Herrera.

Not all will work out, obviously. The Royals dug deep into their pocketbooks to ink Noel Arguellas at the same time the Reds broke the bank to sign Aroldis Chapman. Sad to say, the Royals have not had the same success with Arguellas.

2006:

Sugar Ray Marimon (23): During the same off-season that KC signed Perez and Herrera, they also added this right-handed starter from Colombia. Shoulder problems have slowed him, but he advanced to Double-A mid-season.

2008:

Robinson Yambati (21): The Dominican righty received a mid-year promotion to High A Wilmington for his solid relief pitching. He may be following in the footsteps of Herrera.

Yordano Ventura (21): This Dominican got the start for the international team in the Futures Game, heralded as one of the hardest throwers in the minor leagues. Boasting a 100 mph heater, Ventura tore up Carolina League hitters (98 Ks in 76 innings), adjusted slowly to Double-A.

2009:

Cheslor Cuthbert (19): A pup who’s been slowly climbing the minor league ladder, Cuthbert gets rave reviews, but has yet to explode on the field. The Nicaraguan remains a top third base prospect, but hit just .240 with 7 homers at High A Wilmington.

Jorge Bonifacio (19): The Dominican outfielder rocketed out of the blocks last spring at Low A Kane County. He slowed over the season, but finished with a .282 average, 10 homers and 61 RBIs in 105 games.

2010:

Orlando Calixte (20): Looks like he has all the skills necessary to play shortstop. Hit well enough at two levels of A-ball to inspire hope for the future.

Noel Arguelles (22): This signing has been disastrous for the pitching-starved Royals. After giving the Cuban defector $7 million, the Royals had to wonder if Arguelles would ever take the field. After about a year on the sidelines nursing arm troubles, Arguelles has been essentially a batting practice pitcher at Wilmington and Northwest Arkansas. Don’t check out his numbers if you have a weak stomach: 4-14, 6.41 ERA, 1.777 WHIP.

Humberto Arteaga (18): Could follow in the footsteps of fellow Venezuelan shortstop Alcides Escobar – a tall, lanky line-drive hitter. He hit .274 for Burlington last season, but struck out a ton.

2011:

Eliar Hernandez (17): Signed for $3 million, expectations are high for the Dominican outfielder. He is tall and athletic, but failed to hit in his first professional season – .208 with no homers at Idaho Falls. The Royals hope he’ll develop into a Wil Myers-type outfielder.

Adalberto Mondesi (17): Yet another shortstop at the low minors, the son of Raul Mondesi doesn’t exactly fit the criteria for this article. Though he was signed out of the Dominican, he was actually born in Los Angeles. Mondesi spent the season at Idaho Falls, even though he didn’t turn 17 until the end of the summer.  He was solid enough considering his age; he hit .290 with 3 homers in 50 games.

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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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Royals Name 2011 Minor League Pitcher, Player Of The Year

KANSAS CITY, MO (September 4, 2011) – The Kansas City Royals have named right-handed pitcher Kelvin Herrera the 2011 Paul Splittorff Pitcher of the Year and second baseman Johnny Giavotella the 2011 George Brett Hitter of the Year.

Johnny Giavotella

On Tuesday, the Royals named the pitchers and players of the year from all eight minor league affiliates. A majority of those players are expected to be at Kauffman Stadium for Futures Night on Friday, September 16, where they will take part in an autograph session at Gate A from 5:30 p.m. to 6:15 p.m., as well as be honored in an on-field presentation prior to the Royals game against the White Sox.

PAUL SPLITTORFF PITCHER OF THE YEAR

21-year-old Kelvin Herrera has rocketed through the system this season by posting dominant numbers out of the bullpen that earned him a spot on the World squad in the XM Futures All-Star Game. Herrera has combined to go 7-1 with 14 saves and a 1.64 ERA in 44 relief appearances for Wilmington (A Advanced), Northwest Arkansas (AA) and Omaha (AAA). In 65.2 innings, he has allowed just 12 earned runs on 42 hits and 14 walks, striking out 70 and allowing opponents to bat just .181. Born and raised in Tenares, Dominican Republic, Herrera signed with the Royals as a non-drafted free agent on December 13, 2006.

GEORGE BRETT HITTER OF THE YEAR

Johnny Giavotella, 24, was hitting .338 with a minor league-leading 153 hits for Triple-A Omaha at the time of his call-up to the Royals on August 5. The second baseman had 34 doubles, two triples, nine home runs, 72 RBI and 67 runs scored in 110 games for the Storm Chasers. Giavotella was a starter on the Pacific Coast League All-Star team as well as a part of the 12-member All-PCL Team. The University of New Orleans alum was the Royals’ second-round selection in the 2008 Draft.

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