Tag Archive | "League Spring"

Royals This and That

Royals news is slow this time of year, but a few things happened last week.

Kauffman Cover Photo

The World Baseball Classic announced provisional rosters and nine Royals will be a part of the Classic. Players include left-handed pitchers Bruce Chen (China) and Tim Collins (USA), right-handed pitchers Kelvin Herrera (Dominican Republic), Luis Mendoza (Mexico), J.C. Sulbaran (The Netherlands), catcher Salvador Perez (Venezuela), infielders Irving Falu (Puerto Rico) and Miguel Tejada (Dominican Republic) and outfielder Paulo Orlando (Brazil). The Classic will be held March 2-19, during Major League Spring Training.

While the WBC is a way to promote baseball internationally, I’m sure it makes some Major League managers and teams nervous. There’s a chance of injury during the WBC and fringe players like Mendoza, Falu and Tejada have less time with the Royals to make the roster. Players from eliminated teams will come back to Spring Training, but it could affect a player’s performance this spring and their role on the team.

The Royals and Luke Hochevar avoid arbitration and Hochevar gets a raise: A lot of fans wanted the Royals to release Hochevar and move on. Instead, he receives a one-year, $4.56 million contract, a raise from the $3.51 million he received last year. Arbitration all but guarantees a player gets a raise, even for a dismal performance like Hochevar had last year.

It’s easy to get worked up over this, giving the maddening inconsistency over his career. But Hochevar isn’t The Man anymore. He’s a guy fighting for a fifth starter spot with Bruce Chen. There’s a chance he might not make the rotation and end up in the bullpen or even AAA Omaha. I think Hochevar knows this is his last chance with the Royals. If he improves his consistency and becomes the pitcher the Royals hoped for, good. If not, he’ll be gone soon enough. Let’s hope the rest of the rotation stays healthy so Hochevar doesn’t win a roster spot by default.

Last weekend, the Royals Fan Fest and Royals Caravan gave fans the opportunity to meet players, get autographs and talk about Royals baseball. From the amount of fans who attended the events there’s a lot of enthusiasm for the 2013 season.

Finally, the Royals announced their promotions and giveaways for 2013, featuring a Billy Butler bobblehead, a retro powder blue jersey and Ketchup, Mustard and Relish bobbleheads. Sadly, there isn’t a Eric Hosmer Amish Warrior bobblehead like I proposed last year. Oh well, there’s always 2014.

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At least they have a chance

For 2013, the Kansas City Royals invited nine pitchers, four catchers, four infielders and four outfielders to Spring Training in Surprise, AZ. This year’s list of invitees are a mix of young prospects and veteran Minor and Major League players wanting a shot at the Majors.

SurpriseStadium

It’s a long shot for any of these players to make the Opening Day roster. They need an extraordinary spring training and other regular players to succumb to injury or poor performance. And the Royals would need to add them to the 40-man roster. If the team has to rely on these players to win in 2013, they’re in trouble. I’ll list the players invited and who I think could make the Opening Day roster.

Pitchers (9): RHP Blaine Boyer, RHP Sugar Ray Marimon, RHP Michael Mariot, RHP Brian Sanches, LHP Atahualpa Severino, LHP George Sherrill, RHP Yordano Ventura, LHP Ryan Verdugo, RHP Dan Wheeler

Most likely to make the roster: Ryan Verdugo, Dan Wheeler

The 25-year-old Ryan Verdugo spent most of 2012 with AAA Omaha, had a 12-4 record with a 3.75 ERA. He had a forgettable Major League debut last July, lasting 1.2 innings, giving up eight hits and six earned runs against the Seattle Mariners. He’ll need an impressive spring training to make the Royals Opening Day roster. And if he does make the Royals roster, it’s probably as a reliever.

Dan Wheeler is a 13-year veteran reliever with a career 3.98 ERA in 589 games with 640.2 innings pitched. He has a good 2.86 SO/BB ratio and does better against right-handed batters with a 4.04 SO/BB ratio compared to a 1.70 SO/BB ratio against left-handed batters. If he has a good spring, he could offer veteran leadership for a young bullpen.

Catchers (4): Adam Moore, Manuel (Manny) Pina, Max Ramirez, Julio Rodriguez

Most likely to make the roster: Manuel (Manny) Pina

If it wasn’t for a knee injury during last year’s spring training, the 25-year-old Pina would be the backup to Brayan Pena after Salvador Perez‘s knee injury. Pena signed with the Detroit Tigers this offseason, so Pina could be the Royals backup catcher.

Infielders (4): Christian Colon, Anthony Seratelli, Miguel Tejada, Brandon Wood

Most likely to make the roster: Christian Colon, Miguel Tejada

If Johnny Giavotella and Chris Getz falter, the Royals may give the 23-year-old Christian Colon a shot at second. Yes, he spent most of Minor League career as a shortstop, but Alcides Escobar is the starting shortstop and he’s not going anywhere. Second base is the best chance for Colon to make the big leagues, and the Royals should give him every chance to do so. The question is, will they?

If this was ten years ago, the Royals signing Miguel Tejada would be a big deal. But now it’s just a once great player trying to make it back to the Majors. For most of his career, Tajada played shortstop. If the six-time All-Star and 2002 MVP has any hope of making the club, he’ll have to do it at second base. He’s played a few games at second and it’s rumored the Royals may add him to the 40-man roster. It would be nice for the 38-year-old Tejada to make a comeback and have a good season, but not at the expense of a younger player like Colon.

Outfielders (4): Endy Chavez, Luis Durango, Xavier Nady, Willy Taveras

Most likely to make the roster: Endy Chavez, Xavier Nady

Remember Endy Chavez making his Major League debut with the Royals in 2001? If not, it’s understandable, since he only played 29 games with a .208 batting average. After bouncing around with seven other teams, the 34-year-old Chavez is back with the Royals. He’s become a part-time outfielder, who only appeared in 64 games with the Baltimore Orioles in 2012. He did play 21 games last season in right field, so fans can hope he supplants Jeff Francoeur this season. It’s not likely to happen. If Chavez isn’t on the Royals roster, he’ll probably be in Omaha.

The 34-year-old Xaiver Nady is an 11 year Major League veteran who’s spent the last few years as a backup outfielder/pinch hitter. A career .270 hitter, he’s got power potential and he hits well against left and right-handed pitching, but with players like Jarrod Dyson and David Lough ahead of him, Nady is probably Omaha bound.

A few years ago, many of these players would be seriously vying for roster spots. But today these players are organizational depth and “Plan B” players. And that’s a good thing.

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Royals Extend 21 Invites To Spring Training

KCRoyalsPressRelease

KANSAS CITY, MO (January 9, 2013) — The Kansas City Royals announced today that the club has invited 21 non-roster players to Major League Spring Training in Surprise, Ariz.  Among the invitations are nine pitchers, four catchers, four infielders and four outfielders.

Pitchers (9):

Blaine Boyer, 31, is 9-14 with a 4.81 ERA in 233 Major League relief appearances for the Braves (2005-09), Cardinals (2009), Diamondbacks (2009-10) and Mets (2011).  The 6-foot-3, 245-pound right-hander from Marietta, Ga., is a groundball specialist, allowing just 17 home runs in 234.0 innings.  He was signed as a minor league free agent on January 3, 2013.

22-year-old Sugar Ray Marimon pitched for both Wilmington (High A) and Northwest Arkansas (AA) in 2012.  He was a Carolina League All-Star, posting a 4-2 record with a 2.12 ERA in 14 games (nine starts) before his promotion to the Naturals.  Marimon, a 6-foot-1 right-hander from Cartagena, Colombia, was signed by the Royals as a non-drafted free agent on November 20, 2006.  He earned a win for Colombia over Nicaragua on November 16, 2012 in World Baseball Classic qualifying and also tossed 5.0 scoreless innings over two appearances for Licey in the Dominican Winter League this offseason.

Michael Mariot, 24, was the Northwest Arkansas (AA) Pitcher of the Year in 2012, recording a 6-3 record with a 3.40 ERA in 31 games, including 14 starts.  The University of Nebraska product is a 5-foot-11 right-hander from Southlake, Texas, who was selected by the Royals in the eighth round of the 2010 Draft.

34-year-old right-hander Brian Sanches returned to the Royals organization on a minor league contract on November 20, 2012 after nearly 10 years with other clubs.  Sanches was the Royals’ second-round selection in 1999.  He pitched in the Kansas City system until August 26, 2003 when he was traded to San Diego for outfielder Rondell White.  The 6-foot-1 Nederland, Texas native has made 195 career appearances, all but two in relief, in the Majors with the Phillies (2006-07, 2012), Nationals (2008) and Marlins (2009-11), recording a 13-7 record with a 3.75 ERA in 235.0 innings.

Atahualpa (at-ah-WALL-pa) Severino, 28, posted a 3-0 record with three saves and a 2.81 ERA in 46 relief stints for Syracuse, Washington’s Triple-A affiliate, in 2012.  The left-hander was signed to a minor league contract on November 14, 2012.  Born in Cotui, Dominican Republic, Severino saw his only Major League action in 2011 with the Nationals, recording a 1-0 record with a 3.86 ERA in six games.

Left-hander George Sherrill, 35, is 19-17 with 56 saves and a 3.77 ERA in 442 career Major League appearances, all in relief, for the Mariners (2004-07, 2012), Orioles (2008-09), Dodgers (2009-10) and Braves (2011).  The 2008 American League All-Star made just two appearances for Seattle in 2012 before undergoing Tommy John surgery on his left elbow on May 4.  Born and raised in Tennessee, the current Utah resident has held left-handed batters to a .186 batting average in his Major League career. He was signed to a minor league deal on December 12, 2012.

Yordano Ventura, 21, was the 2012 Wilmington Pitcher of the Year, a Carolina League All-Star and tossed a scoreless inning as the starting pitcher for the World squad in the SiriusXM MLB Futures All-Star Game in Kansas City on July 8, 2012.  The 5-foot-11 resident of Samana, Dominican Republic, opened 2012 at Wilmington, posting a 3-5 record with a 3.30 ERA in 16 starts.  Signed as a non-drafted free agent by the Royals on October 8, 2008, the right-hander also made six starts for Northwest Arkansas.

25-year-old Ryan Verdugo was a Pacific Coast League All-Star and member of the All-PCL Team in 2012.  The southpaw also made his Major League debut for the Royals in July in a start.  Verdugo was 12-4 at Omaha (AAA) with a 3.75 ERA in 27 games (24 starts).  He was acquired by the Royals from the San Francisco Giants on November 7, 2011.

Dan Wheeler, 35, is 25-43 with a 3.98 ERA in 589 outings over a 13-year Major League career for the Rays (1999-2001, 2007-10), Mets (2003-04), Astros (2004-07), Red Sox (2011) and Indians (2012).  Born in Rhode Island but now living in Florida, the right-hander split the 2012 campaign between the Cleveland Indians and Triple-A Columbus.  He signed a minor league contract with the Royals on December 16, 2012.

Catchers (4):

28-year-old Adam Moore was claimed on Outright Waivers from the Seattle Mariners on July 7, 2012 and appeared in four games with the Royals in September.  The 6-foot-3, 220-pounder has appeared in the big leagues for parts of the last four seasons, playing 72 games.

Manuel Pina was re-signed by the Royals after appearing in 49 minor league contests for Surprise (R) and Northwest Arkansas (AA) in 2012, as well as one game with the big league club in September.  The 25-year-old from Venezuela missed the first three months of the season after undergoing surgery to repair a meniscus tear in his right knee during Spring Training.

28-year-old Max Ramirez remains in the Kansas City system after initially signing as a minor league free agent on December 14, 2011.  The resident of Barquisimeto, Venezuela, has appeared in the Majors with the Texas Rangers in 2008 and 2010.  Ramirez spent all of 2012 with Omaha, batting .300 with 17 home runs and 77 RBI in 110 games.

Julio Rodriguez, 23, was acquired by the Royals with left-handed pitcher Antonio Cruz from the Detroit Tigers for infielder Wilson Betemit on July 20, 2011.  The Hato Mayor, Dominican Republic resident was a minor league All-Star in 2008, 2010 and 2011 and named the Dominican Tigers Player of the Year in 2008.  Rodriguez batted .234 in 67 games for Northwest Arkansas a season ago.

Infielders (4):

23-year-old Christian Colon was the Northwest Arkansas Player of the Year and a Texas League All-Star in 2012.  The middle infielder saw his season end prematurely in mid-August due to a right eye injury after batting .412 in five games for Omaha.  Colon, the club’s first round pick (fourth overall) in 2010 out of Cal State-Fullerton, hit .289 with five home runs and 12 stolen bases in 73 games for Northwest Arkansas.  The right-handed batter is hitting .301 with 13 stolen bases in 39 games for Ponce in the Puerto Rican Winter League.

Anthony Seratelli, 29, hit .299 with 17 doubles, 17 home runs and 66 RBI in 115 games for Omaha in 2012.  The versatile switch-hitter also stole 15 bases.  The Royals purchased Seratelli from the Windy City ThunderBolts of the Frontier League on February 27, 2007.

38-year-old Miguel Tejada, signed as a minor league free agent on December 31, 2012, is a six-time All-Star and was the 2002 American League MVP after batting .308 with 34 home runs and 131 RBI with Oakland.  The 15-year veteran is a career .285 hitter with 304 home runs, 1,282 RBI and 463 doubles in 2,118 games for the A’s (1997-2003), Orioles (2004-07, 2010), Astros (2008-09), Padres (2010) and Giants (2011).  Tejada played 36 games for Triple-A Norfolk in 2012 and is currently batting .284 with nine doubles, four home runs and 19 RBI in 34 games for Aguilas in the Dominican Winter League.

Infielder Brandon Wood, 27, spent 2012 at Triple-A Colorado Springs in the Rockies organization, batting .259 with 10 home runs and 64 RBI on 119 games.  The former top prospect in the Los Angeles Angels system has played in 272 Major League contests since his debut with the Angels as a 22-year-old in 2007.  He is a career .186 hitter with 18 home runs for the Angels (2007-11) and Pirates (2011).  Wood signed a minor league contract with the Royals on November 19, 2012.

Outfielders (4):

Endy Chavez, 34, an 11-year Major League veteran, signed a minor league deal with the Royals on December 26, 2012.  He made his debut in 2001 with Kansas City after the Royals selected him from the New York Mets organization in the 2000 Rule 5 Draft.  The 6-foot resident of Valencia, Venezuela, is a career .269 hitter with 118 doubles, 32 triples, 26 home runs, 229 RBI, 341 runs and 100 stolen bases for the Royals (2001), Expos (2002-04), Nationals (2005), Phillies (2005), Mets (2006-08), Mariners (2009), Rangers (2011) and Orioles (2012).  The left-handed hitting and throwing outfielder appeared in 64 regular season games with Baltimore last season, also playing in three Division Series games against the Yankees.  Chavez hit .276 with 15 walks in 30 games for Magallanes in the Venezuelan Winter League.

26-year-old Luis Durango hit .289 and stole an International League-leading 46 bases in 62 attempts for Triple-A Gwinnett in 2012, serving as the club’s primary centerfielder.  The 5-foot-9 switch-hitter from Panama has played 39 games in the Major Leagues for the San Diego Padres in 2009 and 2010, hitting .292 with seven stolen bases in eight attempts.  Durango, who signed a minor league deal on November 8, 2012, competed for Caribes in the Venezuelan Winter League, batting .286 with six steals and playing all three outfield positions.

Xavier Nady, 34, has played 11 seasons in the Major Leagues with the Padres (2000, 2003-05), Mets (2006), Pirates (2006-08), Yankees (2008-09), Cubs (2010), Diamondbacks (2011), Nationals (2012) and Giants (2012).  He is a career .270 hitter with 101 home runs and 406 RBI in 939 games.  The 6-foot-2, 215-pound right-handed hitter and thrower split 2012 between the Nationals and Giants organizations, playing 59 games at the Major League level.  Nady signed a minor league pact on December 18, 2012.

Willy Taveras, 31, is a seven-year Major League veteran who has compiled a .274 career average with 195 stolen bases for the Astros (2004-06), Rockies (2007-08), Reds (2009) and Nationals (2010).  The Dominican Republic resident led the National League with 68 stolen bases in 75 attempts for Colorado in 2008.  Taveras is currently batting .255 with nine stolen bases in 52 games for Obregon in the Mexican Winter League.

Pitchers and catchers will report to Surprise on Monday, February 11.  Workouts for pitchers begin the following day, Tuesday, February 12.  The remainder of the squad will report on Thursday, February 14 and begin workouts for the 2012 campaign on Friday, February 15.

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Royals sign four veteran players to Minor League contracts

After the James Shields and Wade Davis trade, the Kansas City Royals signed four veteran players to Minor League deals. Left-handed reliever George Sherrill and right-handed reliever Dan Wheeler, along with outfielders Willy Taveras and Xavier Nady should get Major League spring training invites.

KC Royals logo with blue background

Sherrill, 35, has nine years of Major League experience with the Mariners, Orioles, Dodgers and Braves. Sherrill has a career 3.77 ERA, appearing in 442 games over 324.1 innings pitched, all in relief. Sherrill spent most of his career as a left-handed specialist, but he has 56 career saves, most of them in 2008-2009. He’s fared well against lefties, who only have a .186/.245/.285 line with a 4.84 SO/BB ratio. He’s more pedestrian against righties, who have a .273/.380/.418 line with a 1.01 SO/BB ratio.

With Tim Collins the only current left-handed reliever locked in the Royals bullpen, Sherrill could fit in as a lefty specialist. He’ll have to join the 40-man roster and beat out candidates such as Donnie Joseph, Justin Marks, Everett Teaford and Francisley Bueno. Sherrill is recovering from Tommy John surgery and it’s likely he will spend most if not all the 2013 season in AAA Omaha.

Wheeler, 35, has 13 years of Major League experience with the Rays, Mets, Astros, Red Sox and Indians. Wheeler has a career 3.98 ERA, appearing in 589 games over 640.2 pitched with nine career starts. He fares well against righties, who have a .216/.267/.366 line with a 4.04 SO/BB ratio. He’s not as good against lefties, who have a .281/.347/.499 line, and a 1.70 SO/BB ratio.

Being a right-handed reliever, Wheeler has plenty of competition, with righties Louis Coleman, Aaron Crow, Kevin Herrera and Nate Adcock, among others. Like Sherrill, Wheeler will have to join the 40-man roster to have a shot with the big club. Barring injuries or poor performance by someone in the bullpen, Wheeler will likely be on Omaha’s roster as a reliever.

The right-handed hitting Taveras, who will be 31 this Christmas, has seven years of Major League experience with the Astros, Rockies, Reds and Nationals. He’s appeared in 670 games with a .274/.320/.327 line, but 2010 was his last time in the Majors. He’s played most of his career in center field.

Speed and base running are his assets with 195 career stolen bases and a league leading 68 stolen bases in 2008 with the Rockies. However, he doesn’t draw many walks and with 71 doubles and eight home runs over his career, Taveras doesn’t hit for power.

With five outfielders on the Royals 40-man roster (Lorenzo Cain, Jarrod Dyson, Jeff Francoeur, Alex Gordon and David Lough), Taveras has a remote chance to make the Major League roster. He’s at least three years older than the other outfielders, Dyson is a faster runner and the rest have more power over Taveras. Gordon has the job in left, Cain is in center and even though Francoeur was horrible in right field, he’ll have every chance to keep his job. And if he doesn’t, there’s always Dyson and Lough to take Francoeur’s place.

The right-handed hitting Nady, 34, has 11 years of Major League experience with the Padres, Mets, Pirates, Yankees, Cubs, Diamondbacks, Nationals and Giants. He’s appeared in 939 games with a .270/.324/.432 line. His high water mark was in 2008, with a .305/.357/.510 line with 97 RBI, 37 doubles and 25 home runs. But the last couple of seasons, he’s been a bench player/pinch hitter.

At 34, Nady’s best days are behind him. He’s got the potential to hit for power, but he’s not an everyday player. Like Taveras, Nady is a long shot to make the Major League club and he’s likely a part of Omaha’s roster if he stays with the Royals organization.

Interesting note: Nady isn’t the only Xavier in Royals history. Xavier Dixon played 50 games in the Royals Minor League system in 1974 before playing three more seasons of independent league baseball and retiring in 1977.

A few years ago, these journeyman players would be in the mix for a spot on the Major League roster. But barring injuries or other circumstances, they’re playing for the Storm Chasers next season, or on another Major League team.

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Royals Sign Three To Minor League Deals

KANSAS CITY, MO (December 11, 2012) — The Kansas City Royals announced today that the club has signed three additional players to minor league contracts for the 2013 season.  The club plans to announce Major League Spring Training invitations at a later date.

Left-handed pitcher George Sherrill, 35, is 19-17 with 56 saves and a 3.77 ERA in 442 career Major League appearances, all in relief, for the Mariners (2004-07, 2012), Orioles (2008-09), Dodgers (2009-10) and Braves (2011).  The 2008 American League All-Star made just two appearances for Seattle in 2012 before undergoing Tommy John surgery on his left elbow on May 4.  Born and raised in Tennessee, the current Utah resident has held left-handed batters to a .186 batting average in his Major League career.

Dan Wheeler, who turned 35 on Monday, is 25-43 with a 3.98 ERA in 589 outings over a 13-year Major League career for the Rays (1999-2001, 2007-10), Mets (2003-04), Astros (2004-07), Red Sox (2011) and Indians (2012).  Born in Rhode Island but now living in Florida, Wheeler split the 2012 campaign between the Cleveland Indians and Triple-A Columbus.

Outfielder Willy Taveras, who will turn 31 on Christmas Day, is a seven-year Major League veteran who has compiled a .274 career average with 195 stolen bases for the Astros (2004-06), Rockies (2007-08), Reds (2009) and Nationals (2010).  The Dominican Republic resident led the National League with 68 stolen bases in 75 attempts for Colorado in 2008.  Taveras is currently batting .280 with eight stolen bases in 39 games for Obregon in the Mexican Winter League.

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Royals Sign Four To Minor League Deals

KANSAS CITY, MO (November 16, 2012) — The Kansas City Royals announced today that the club has signed four additional players to minor league contracts for the 2013 season.  The club plans to announce Major League Spring Training invitations at a later date.

Right-handed pitcher Anthony Ortega, 27, is currently pitching for Tiburones de La Guaira in the Venezuelan Winter League, recording a 1-1 record with a 3.00 ERA in 16 relief appearances.  The 6-footer from Miranda, Venezuela, who made three starts for the Angels in 2009, is 26-31 with a 4.41 ERA in 118 career minor league games, including 82 starts.  Ortega did not pitch during the 2012 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery on his right elbow.

34-year-old right-handed pitcher Brian Sanches returns to the Royals organization after nearly 10 with other clubs.  Sanches was the Royals’ second-round selection in 1999 out of Lamar University.  He pitched in the Kansas City system until August 26, 2003 when he was traded to San Diego for outfielder Rondell White.  Sanches was then sent to Philadelphia in a trade on April 1, 2004.  The 6-foot-1 Nederland, Texas native has made 195 career appearances, all but two in relief, in the Majors with the Phillies (2006-07, 2012), Nationals (2008) and Marlins (2009-11), recording a 13-7 record with a 3.75 ERA in 235.0 innings.

Left-handed pitcher Atahualpa Severino, 28, posted a 3-0 record with three saves and a 2.81 ERA in 46 relief stints for Syracuse, Washington’s Triple-A affiliate, in 2012.  Born in Cotui, Dominican Republic, Severino saw his only Major League action in 2011 with the Nationals, recording a 1-0 record with a 3.86 ERA in six games.

Infielder Brandon Wood, 27, spent 2012 at Triple-A Colorado Springs in the Rockies organization, batting .259 with 10 home runs and 64 RBI on 119 games.  The former top prospect of the Los Angeles Angels has played in 272 Major League contests since his debut with the Angels as a 22-year-old in 2007.  He is a career .186 hitter with 18 home runs for the Angels (2007-11) and Pirates (2011).  The 2003 first-round selection (23rd overall), who has connected for at least 20 home runs in five minor league seasons including a California League-record 43 in 2005, came up as a shortstop and third baseman, but has since appeared at first base and in the outfield.

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Royals Sign Three To Minor League Deals

KANSAS CITY, MO (November 9, 2012) — The Kansas City Royals announced today that the club has signed three players to minor league contracts for the 2013 season.  The club plans to announce Major League Spring Training invitations at a later date.

Catcher Manuel Pina was re-signed by the Royals after appearing in 49 minor league contests for Surprise (R) and Northwest Arkansas (AA) in 2012, as well as one game with the big league club in September.  The 25-year-old from Venezuela missed the first three months of the season after undergoing surgery to repair a meniscus tear in his right knee during Spring Training.

Ian Gac, 27, spent 2012 with Double-A Mississippi in the Atlanta system, batting .247 with seven home runs and 35 RBI in 75 games.  The 6-foot-3, 240-pound first baseman/designated hitter was the Carolina League MVP in 2011 after hitting .279 with 33 home runs and 96 RBI in 140 games with Winston-Salem (AA).  The slugger has connected for 167 home runs in his professional career since being selected out of Edmonds-Woodway (Wash.) High by the Texas Rangers in 2003.

26-year-old outfielder Luis Durango hit .289 and stole an International League-leading 46 bases in 62 attempts for Triple-A Gwinnett in 2012, serving as the club’s primary centerfielder.  The 5-foot-9 switch-hitter from Panama has played 39 games in the Major Leagues for the San Diego Padres in 2009 and 2010, hitting .292 with seven stolen bases in eight attempts.  Durango is currently competing for Caribes in the Venezuelan Winter League, batting .324 with five steals and playing all three outfield positions.

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Wil Myers and Jake Odorizzi Promoted to AAA Omaha

SPRINGDALE, AR - The Naturals’ parent club, the Kansas City Royals announced a pair transactions on Wednesday morning affecting the Northwest Arkansas roster.  Outfielder Wil Myers has been promoted to Triple-A Omaha, and outfielder Nick Van Stratten has been transferred from Extended Spring Training to Northwest Arkansas.

Myers spent the early part of the 2012 season terrorizing Texas League pitching.  At the time of his promotion he ranked tops in the league in hitting at .343, extra base hits (25), and runs scored with (32) second in home runs (13), third in RBI (30), second in hits (46).

The outfielder leaves Northwest Arkansas with 21 career home runs with the Naturals.  The 21 home runs tie him for the sixth most in Naturals history with Corey Smith, and current Kansas City Royal Mike Moustaksas.  Myers was originally selected by the Kansas City Royals in the third round of the 2009 draft.

Odorizzi, 22, leaves Northwest Arkansas with a 4-2 record and 3.32 ERA in seven starts.  He is second in the Texas League in strikeouts (47) and fourth in WHIP (0.97).  He has been most impressive over his last four starts, going 3-1 with a 1.98 ERA, allowing six earned runs in 27.1 innings for a 1.98 ERA while fanning 33.  Odorizzi has limited opposing hitters to a collective .191 batting average through his first seven assignments.  He was acquired from the Milwaukee Brewers on December 19, 2010, along with Lorenzo Cain, Alcides Escobar and Jeremy Jeffress in exchange for Zack Greinke and Yuniesky Betancourt.  Odorizzi was the 32nd overall pick of the Brewers in the 2008 First Year Player Draft and he also had a taste of big league spring training this year as a non-roster invitee.

Nick Van Stratten returns to Northwest Arkansas after starting the season in extended spring training, after suffering a spring injury.  Van Stratten spent parts of the last two seasons in Northwest Arkansas appearing in 68 games in 2011, and 86 games in 2010.  The outfielder’s best year in Double-A came in 2010 when he hit .262 with two home runs and 34 RBI for the Naturals.  Van Stratten was originally selected by the Kansas City Royals in the tenth round of the 2006 draft.

Van Stratten will wear number nine for the Naturals, and there is another number change to report as Ethan Hollingsworth will now wear number 36.  Following the transaction, the Naturals’ roster is at the Texas League limit of 25 active players.

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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Cardinals Announce Television Schedule

ST. LOUIS (February 16, 2012) – The St. Louis Cardinals today announced their television schedule for the 2012 season.  FOX Sports Midwest (19th season) is scheduled to carry 150 games in its second full season as the exclusive local TV home of the Cardinals.

Ten regular season games are currently scheduled to be carried as part of Major League Baseball’s national television packages with FOX (aired locally on KTVI) and ESPN.  The July 22 game vs. Chicago and the August 12th game at Philadelphia will be carried by FOX Sports Midwest or ESPN.   The schedule is subject to change based on future Major League Baseball national television selections.

FOX Sports Midwest will also televise five Grapefruit League Spring Training games (March 17 at Detroit, March 19 at Atlanta, March 20 at Houston, March 22 vs. Washington and March 24 at the New York Mets), with each game carried live locally at Noon CT and replayed later that day during prime time.

FOX Sports Midwest’s offseason coverage will also include new Cardinals programming on Mondays in February and March, starting with a 30-minute special on Monday Feb. 20 at 7 p.m. chronicling the World Series champions visit to the White House.   Upcoming Monday night shows include La Russa’s Championship Insights, a one hour special, and roundtable discussions with Cardinals Hall of Famers and 1980’s stars.  FOX Sports Midwest will also produce a spring training report in early March, as well as 2012 season preview.

FOX Sports Midwest will also continue to produce the Cardinals Live pregame and postgame shows with Jim Hayes, Pat Parris and Cal Eldred for every regular season telecast on the network. Dan McLaughlin, Al Hrabosky and Rick Horton will again call the games this season from the broadcast booth for FOX Sports Midwest.

In 2011, Cardinals telecasts on FOX Sports Midwest generated the 2nd highest local market television ratings in Major League Baseball, the 12th straight year in which the Cardinals ranked among the top three teams.  FOX Sports Midwest-produced Cardinals telecasts are shown in nine states and available in millions of homes. A complete Spring Training & 2012 Regular Season schedule follows.

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All They Need Is A Chance

Recently, the Kansas City Royals extended Major League Spring Training invitations to eight pitchers, three catchers, three infielders and three outfielders. Seventeen young men who dream of making their Major League debuts, or hope to make it back to the Big Show. This year, the Royals have the majority of their 25-man roster set. However, a few openings remain and injuries or poor performances from other players could provide these players a chance to make the 25-man roster on Opening Day.

Photo Courtesy of Minda Haas

Pitchers: Francisley Bueno, Chris Dwyer, Tommy Hottovy, Zach Miner, Mike Montgomery, Jake Odorizzi, Brandon Sisk and Will Smith.

Most likely to make the roster: Mike Montgomery, Zach Miner, Jake Odorizzi

Mike Montgomery is one of the Royals top prospects. Just 22 years old, Montgomery has a lot of upside, despite his 5-11, 5.32 ERA 2011 season with AAA Omaha. If Montgomery has a strong Spring Training and other starting candidates falter, he could make the Opening Day roster, or debut sometime in 2012.

Zach Miner spent 2011 rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, but appeared in 23 games between AA Northwest Arkansas and Omaha. Through 2006-2009, Miner compiled a 25-20 record with a 4.24 ERA with the Detroit Tigers. If Miner does well in Spring Training, he may win a spot in the Royals starting rotation if the team believes their pitching prospects need more time in the Minors.

Jake Odorizzi is a prospect who spent his 2011 playing for Class A Wilmington and Northwest Arkansas. Like Montgomery, Odorizzi could make the team if he has a strong Spring Training or other starting rotation candidates falter. However, it’s likely the Royals would prefer Odorizzi to start 2012 with Northwest Arkansas or Omaha for more experience.

Could make the roster: Chris Dwyer, Will Smith

Chris Dwyer is another prospect, but with an 8-10 record and 5.60 ERA over 27 starts in Northwest Arkansas last season, Dwyer will need a good Spring Training to make the Opening Day roster. Dwyer is likely to be a part of the Northwest Arkansas or Omaha starting rotation.

Will Smith had a good 2011 with Northwest Arkansas, leading the Texas League with 13 wins and was named Northwest Arkansas Pitcher of the Year. While Smith is not as touted a prospect as Montgomery, Odorizzi or Dwyer, he has a chance to make the Royals starting rotation. However, it’s likely Smith will pitch for Omaha.

Long shots to make the roster: Francisley Bueno, Tommy Hottovy, Brandon Sisk

Francisley Bueno, a 30-year old Cuban left-handed starter, is a veteran of Minor League, Korean and Mexican league baseball. Bueno appears to be more organizational depth than a legitimate starting rotation candidate.

Tommy Hottovy was born and raised in Kansas City and was a longtime Boston Red Sox farmhand before signing with the Royals this off-season. The 30 year-old left-hander made eight relief appearances with the Red Sox in 2011, but with the Royals strong bullpen, Hottovy is likely organizational depth more than a candidate for the Royals bullpen.

Brandon Sisk started the 2011 season with Northwest Arkansas and later promoted to Omaha, where he went 4-2 with a 1.41 ERA in 25 relief appearances. Sisk is a prospect, but not a top prospect. He has a chance to make the Royals bullpen, but it’s likely Sisk will start 2012 in Omaha.

Catchers: Cody Clark, Max Ramirez, Julio Rodriguez

Most likely to make the roster: Max Ramirez

Max Ramirez spent eight years in the minors and had catching stints with the Texas Rangers in 2008 and 2010 as a backup. If Ramirez makes the Royals Opening Day roster, it will be as a backup.

Could make the roster: Cody Clark

Cody Clark is a longtime Royals farmhand who spent his 2011 with Omaha as the backup to Manny Pina. Look for Clark to be a backup to Pina again in Omaha.

Long shot to make the roster: Julio Rodriguez

Julio Rodriguez came over from the Wilson Betemit trade last year. The 22 year-old spent 2011 in High A ball and is more of a prospect than a candidate for the Opening Day roster. He could end up in Northwest Arkansas.

Infielders: Tony Abreu, Irving Falu, Kevin Kouzmanoff

Most Likely to make the roster: Irving Falu

Irving Falu is a long-time Royals farmhand and at 28 years old, he’s less of a prospect and more organizational filler. If he makes the big club, it will be as a bench player, unless Johnny Giavotella has a disastrous Spring Training and the Royals decide to keep Yuni Betancourt and Chris Getz on the bench.

Could make the roster: Kevin Kouzmanoff

Kevin Kouzmanoff is a six-year Major League veteran with the Indians, Padres, A’s and Rockies. Once a touted prospect, Kouzmanoff’s production has steadily declined from his career high .275 batting average in 2007 with the Padres. The Royals see Kouzmanoff as insurance in case Mike Moustakas has an injury and lands on the disabled list. If Kouzmanoff isn’t on the Major League roster by May 1, he can opt out of his contract and become a free agent. If Kouzmanoff bolts, the Royals hope Moustakas stays healthy.

Long shot to make the roster: Tony Abreu

Tony Abreu spent 2011 in Reno, the Diamondbacks AAA affiliate, playing second base and shortstop. Abreu has Major League experience as a bench player for the Dodgers and Diamondbacks and will likely be a part of the Omaha infield in 2012.

Outfielders: Greg Golson, Wil Myers, Paulo Orlando

Most Likely to make the roster: Paulo Orlando

Paulo Orlando is a six-year Minor League veteran who is yet to make a Major League roster. If he does make it in 2012, it will be as a fourth outfielder, usurping Mitch Meier. At 26, Orlando is more organizational depth than a prospect.

Could make the roster: Greg Golson

Greg Golson is another long time Minor League veteran, who’s had short Major League stints with the Phillies, Rangers and Yankees. Golson might make the Opening Day roster as a fourth outfielder, but that’s only if Golson has a monster Spring Training and if Meier and Orlando stumble or suffer injury.

Long shot to make the roster: Wil Myers

Wil Myers is one of the Royals top prospects and had a good Arizona Fall League after a down year in Northwestern Arkansas due to a knee injury. While Myers has a bright future ahead of him, the Royals would prefer Myers to begin 2012 in the Omaha outfield to get playing time as a starter. If Jeff Francour has a long-term injury or is traded, Myers could be patrolling the Royals outfield this season.

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