Tag Archive | "Minor League Contract"

Fourteen Players, Three Roster Spots

For the first time in several years, the Royals lineup, starting rotation and bullpen is pretty much set, barring injuries. But opportunities exist for some players to get a spot on the bench.


It’s likely Manager Ned Yost will go with 12 pitchers and a backup catcher. Add the eight position players and the designated hitter and there’s only three reserve player spots available. How many players are vying for those three spots? Fourteen.

Of the fourteen, three of them are long shots. Infielder Brandon Wood signed a Minor League contract and is a non-roster invitee. A former top prospect with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Wood’s last stint in the Majors was 99 games with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2011.

Royals Minor League infielder Anthony Seratelli is a non-roster invitee who provides Spring Training depth, but little else.

Non-roster invitee outfielder Luis Durango played 39 Major League games from 2009-2011 with the San Diego Padres and Houston Astros. He’s likely be in AAA Omaha’s outfield or could be released.

The next group could make the club, but a few things are going to have to go their way. Non-roster invitee Xavier Nady is an 11-year Major League veteran who’s played with several different teams. He’ll get an opportunity as a reserve outfielder or first baseman.

Former Royal and non-roster invitee Endy Chavez will see some time in the outfield during Spring Training, but barring a great spring performance or injuries to other players, Chavez has a slim chance.

The Player to be Named Later in the James Shields/Wade Davis trade is utility infielder Elliot Johnson, who played 123 games for the Tampa Rays last year. Being the Royals newest player, Johnson will get a long look as a backup to shortstop Alcides Escobar.

Non-roster invitee outfielder Willy Taveras provides some speed and seven years of Major League experience. If he has a good spring, he could be a reserve outfielder if Jarrod Dyson falters.

Royals infield prospect Christian Colon only has two seasons of pro baseball, but if he plays well, he might be in the mix for second base. But if the Royals think he needs more seasoning, he’ll go back to the Minors.

Outfielder David Lough played 20 games last year for the Royals, but Dyson will have to stumble for Lough to make the club.

And there’s longtime Royals farmhand Irving Falu, who played 24 games for the Royals in 2012. Seeing how few opportunities the club gives him, it’s likely Falu ends up in Omaha, even if he deserves a real shot of making the club as a utility infielder.

The next group is the most likely to make the club, due to their contributions to the Royals last year or their veteran status.

Whoever loses the second base battle between Chris Getz and Johnny Giavotella will end up on the bench, so that leaves two spots on the bench.

Outfielder Jarrod Dyson had a solid 2012 filling in for the oft-injured Lorenzo Cain. Dyson isn’t much of a hitter, but he’s got speed and plays a decent outfield. If Cain stays healthy, Dyson is a good fourth outfielder and will take the second spot on the bench, with one spot left.

So who gets the last reserve roster spot? I believe the Royals will give it to six-time All-Star and 2002 MVP infielder Miguel Tejada. He’s not the player he was ten years ago, but as a bench player in a limited utility role, he can play a serviceable third base, shortstop and even second. Perhaps “veteran leadership” is a baseball myth, but Tejada has the right attitude to provide guidance for a young team.

Sure, some fans might think the Royals have no business giving a roster spot to a 38-year old player whose best days are behind him. But he’s not taking the starting job of a younger player and you have to admit he’s probably a better player than Yuni Betancourt.

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Royals Extend 21 Invites To Spring Training


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 Endy Chavez


KANSAS CITY, MO (December 31, 2012) – The Kansas City Royals today announced the club has signed outfielder Endy Chavez to a minor league contract for 2013.  The Royals plan to announce the club’s Major League camp non-roster invitees at a later date.

Chavez, 34, is an 11-year Major League veteran.  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.

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Royals Spring is in full swing in Arizona

I have to admit it’s a little easier writing about a team that’s going to be playing real games soon. I can only break down lists of spring training non-roster invitees, players who might surprise fans in spring training and profiles of the Royals coaches for so long before I run out of ideas. So let’s bring on baseball and find out what the Kansas City Royals are up to in Surprise, AZ.

The obvious top story is that former Royals outfielder Aaron Guiel is back! Ok, this may have been the top story in 2002, but the Royals Prodigal Son returned from his period of playing in Japan and is back home. Before you think General Manager Dayton Moore went all Allard Baird on Royals fans, the 39 year-old Guiel signed a minor league contract and it appears he’s there to make the transition as a future coach.

Guiel was a role player for the Royals from 2002-2006, kind of like today’s Mitch Meier. Guiel played hard and was a likable fellow among Royals fans during his tenure. So welcome back, Aaron Guiel. And who knows, he might be a fifth outfielder since Paulo Orlando was injured. Well, maybe not.

The Royals signing catcher Salvador Perez to a five-year, $7 million contract with three option years was the big news of the week. If Royals pick up all of Perez’s options and he meets all his incentives, he will make $26.75 million over eight years.

It’s a good deal for Perez and the Royals. The 21 year-old Perez gets financial stability and the Royals lock up a potential star catcher during his prime years at a good price. Even if the Royals pick up all his options, Perez will be 29 when the contract ends and has the potential for a huge free agent payday if he becomes the star catcher the Royals think he will be. It also shows players like Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas and Alex Gordon that the Royals are willing to spend money to keep good players, which increases the chance they sign long-term extensions.

So far there’s only been two player injuries, Brazilian outfielder Paulo Orlando and catcher Manny Pina. Paulo Orlando was diagnosed with a sports hernia during physical exams and underwent surgery last week. He’ll be out four to six weeks and this takes him out of the running as a possible reserve outfielder. It has to be disappointing for the 26 year-old Orlando, who has yet to reach the Majors. After his recovery, it’s likely he’ll get into playing shape in Arizona during extended spring training and eventually report to AA Northwest Arkansas or AAA Omaha.

The injury bug also bit catcher Manny Pina, who tore the meniscus in his right knee. Pina had surgery last weekend and he will be out for a few weeks or more. This ends Pina’s chances to make the Royals Opening Day roster, likely giving the backup catcher job to Brayan Pena. After his recovery, Pina will probably report to Omaha.

For early spring training games, Manager Ned Yost is going with a six-man rotation. This gives the starting pitchers more time between starts to work on pitches or their mechanics by throwing a live session of batting practice against minor league hitters. Yost believes the non-competitive nature of live batting practice will improve the pitchers development. The Royals will go back to a five-man rotation midway though camp to condition the starters for the regular season.

While there’s plenty of competition for spots in the starting rotation and the bullpen, the field positions are pretty much set, barring injuries. The exception is second base, where Chris Getz, 28, and Johnny Giavotella, 24, will compete for the starting job. Going in, Giavotella has the slight edge. However, Getz arrived at camp stronger and in better shape than in previous years, hitting the ball with more power, according to Yost. Giavotella is coming off from off-season hip surgery, but is at full strength for spring training.

Getz has good fielding and base running skills, but still needs work with his bat. Giavotella is good with the bat, but still needs work with his defense. To that end, Getz is working on his hitting and Giavotella is taking extra fielding practice. Both players have options remaining, so there’s a possibility one of them starts the season in Omaha, if not on the bench. It all depends on who is the better player this spring.

So far, spring training is going well for the Royals. The return of a former Royal, the signing of a cornerstone in the Royals future to a long-term contract and nobody on the team suffering a season ending injury (at least for now) is good news. Yes, there’s still question marks about who will claim the final two spots in the starting rotation and injuries can happen to anyone at any time, wrecking the best of plans. But the Royals and their fans have reasons to be optimistic.

After a couple of intrasquad games, the Royals play their first Cactus League game this Sunday against the American League Champion Texas Rangers. In the grand scheme of things, it’s just a spring training game. But it signifies the return of baseball and the start of a journey that is the Royals 2012 baseball season. A season I’m looking forward to.

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“Dominating” Left Field

The Kansas City Royals have been slightly active this week.  They have signed Kevin Kousmanoff to a minor league contract with a spring training invite.  The signing worries me that leaves Yuni out of the backup third base picture and forced into a role a SS.  I can only hope the signing is for depth.  This afternoon we saw random rumors floating around Twitter regarding Billy Butler being traded to Yankees for Phil Hughes.  I am sure this is all Twitter garbage, but this trade is not something I would be interested in.  Why not sign Roy Oswalt and not trade Butler?  This is just my two cents.  This week, I will finish up our look at the American League Central outfielders by reviewing the left fielders of each team.  The following statistics will give us a view of each player’s 2011 season.


Team Player Avg. OBP SLG OPS H 2B 3B HR RBI SB
Chi Alejandro De Aza .329 .400 .520 .920 50 11 3 4 23 12
Cle Michael Brantley .266 .318 .384 .702 120 24 4 7 46 13
Det Delmon Young .274 .298 .458 .756 127 21 1 12 64 0
KC Alex Gordon .303 .376 .502 .879 185 45 4 23 87 17
Min Ben Revere .267 .310 .309 .619 120 9 5 0 30 34

The Chicago White Sox will start unproven Alejandro De Aza.  De Aza has only played in 140 career MLB games split between the Marlins and White Sox.  De Aza has always hit a decent average in his MLB and minor league experience.  He has also shown a good ability to get on base.  If you have watched Moneyball lately and I recommend you do if you haven’t, it puts into perspective how valuable OBP can be.  De Aza is not a sure thing and has a lot to prove.  With less than a full season of big league experience, only time will tell what De Aza will provide the White Sox.

The Cleveland Indians will be starting Michael Brantley in left field.  2011 was the first year Brantley got significant playing time in the big leagues.  Brantley hit .266 with an OBP of .318, and has shown nothing special to write home about.  To give him some credit, last year was his best slugging season.  Hitting 24 doubles and 7 home runs, both career highs, but nothing special.  Will Brantley ever prove an above average outfielder is still to be seen.

The Detroit Tigers currently list Delmon Young as their starting left fielder on their official depth chart.  Young may be the most consistent left fielder in the American League Central.  Members of the central know what Young is.  He is a hot head that hits for decent average and power, but refuses to get on base.  Young has been a consistent .288 hitter over his career has produced roughly the same power numbers in his 5 major league seasons.  Young will provide Detroit with a solid stick in the middle of their order and provide protection for the hitters around him.

The Kansas City Royals will start Alex Gordon in left field.  Gordon stated last season that he would “dominate” for the Kansas City Royals.  Gordon came into Kansas City with ridiculous expectations.  Gordon was slated to be the next George Brett, the savior of the Royals franchise.  Alex has never been able to live up the overzealous expectations placed on him by fans, media members, and the organization.  Last season though, Alex finally broke through and showed Royals fans the player he could be.  Gordon’s career year had him hitting .303 with 45 doubles, 23 Home Runs and 87 Rbi’s.  This is the kind of production Royals fans have longed for.  If Gordon can build on this production he will be far and away the best left fielder and possibly the best outfielder in the American League Central.  Oh and let me remind you Alex also won the Gold Glove for left fielders.

AG Defense

The Minnesota Twins will begin the season with Ben Revere as their starting left fielder.  Revere played only 117 games in 2011.  Revere’s numbers are by no means impressive.  Revere hit .267 with 9 doubles and 0 home runs.  Revere has absolutely no power, but he does provide the Twins with an element of speed.  Revere was able to swipe 34 bases and was caught 9 times.  The Twins utilize the stolen base so when Revere does get on base, he will put pressure on the opposing pitching staff.  With the stolen base being Revere’s only weapon, he would be a nice pinch runner.

Now that all left fielders have briefly been discussed, I will rank them from 1 to 5 in my point of view as to how their overall production for the 2012 season will stack up.

  1. Alex Gordon
  2. Delmon Young
  3. Michael Brantley
  4. Alejandro De Aza
  5. Ben Revere

From my point of view, as scary as it sounds, Alex Gordon is going to build and the 2011 season he had.  Gordon will continue to produce at a high level and this year, barring injury, Alex will represent the Royals in the All Star Game.  None of the other left fielders are anything special.  Baseball fans know what Delmon Young is, and the other current projected starters have shown nothing special.  Will Gordon “dominate” again, I definitely think so.

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Royals Sign Kouzmanoff

Contract includes invitation to Major League Spring Training

KANSAS CITY, MO (January 14, 2012 — The Kansas City Royals announced today that the club has agreed to terms with third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff on a minor league contract for the 2012 season.  The contract includes an invitation to Royals Major League Spring Training camp in Surprise, Ariz<

The 30-year-old Kouzmanoff (KOOZ-mah-nahf) combined to play 73 games for the Oakland Athletics and Colorado Rockies in 2011, batting .235 with seven home runs, 33 RBI and 24 runs scored.  The right-handed hitter is a career .255 batter with 85 home runs and 361 RBI over six Major League seasons with the Indians (2006), Padres (2007-09), A’s (2010-11) and Rockies (2011).

He is a career .279 hitter with a .453 slugging percentage against left-handed pitchers.  The 6-foot-1, 210-pounder is known as a strong defender, leading all N.L. third baseman with a .990 fielding percentage in 2009, and averaged nearly 19 home runs a season from 2007-2010.

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Duncan Joins Royals Organization

Royals add ex-Cardinal Eric Duncan
Former first-round pick spent 2011 with Springfield

SPRINGDALE, AR – Baseball Prospectus correspondent Kevin Goldstein reported Wednesday that the Kansas City Royals have signed veteran Eric Duncan to a minor league contract for the 2012 season.

Duncan, a 26-year old resident of Florham Park, NJ, spent 2011 with the Springfield Cardinals after being released by the Colorado Rockies organization following spring training. He joined Springfield in mid-April to serve in a utility role but ended up playing in 103 games for the Cardinals, batting .274 with 22 homers and 62 RBI’s, ranking second on Springfield in homers and third in RBI’s last season. Defensively, Duncan provided a ton of versatility for Springfield skipper Pop Warner, appearing defensively at first base, second base, third base, and left field.

Originally the New York Yankees’ first round selection (27th overall) in the 2003 draft, Duncan was a highly touted third-base prospect in the Yankees’ organization and prior to the 2005 season ranked as the 36th-best prospect in all of baseball. However, he struggled to a .226 average in portions of four Triple-A seasons and was released by the Yankees following the 2009 season.

He spent the 2010 season playing for the Mississippi Braves, Atlanta’s Double-A affiliate. Duncan will report to spring training and compete for a job with Triple-A Omaha, but could possibly see time in Northwest Arkansas in 2012.

In nine minor league seasons Duncan owns a .248 batting average with 105 homers and 491 RBI’s in 954 games.

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 Resign Naturals Infielder Romak

Royals resign Naturals INF Romak

SPRINGDALE, AR – Baseball America has reported that the Kansas City Royals have re-signed Naturals’ infielder Jamie Romak to a minor league contract for the 2012 season. Romak became a minor league free-agent following the season.

Romak, a 26-year old London, Ontario resident, spent the entire 2011 season with the Naturals and batted .251 with 23 home runs and 71 RBI’s in 123 games, splitting time at the first base and designated hitter spots. His 23 home runs ranked as the third-highest single-season home run total in franchise history, and his 29 home runs over two seasons ranks him tied for second with former Natural Clint Robinson for the Naturals’ all-time franchise mark.

Following the season Romak, along with his Naturals’ teammate Tim Smith, was a part of the Team Canada squad that upset Team USA and took home a gold medal in the 2011 Pan American Games.

Originally a fourth-round selection of the Atlanta Braves in the 2003 draft, Romak joined the Royals organization prior to the 2010 season when he became a free agent for the first time. He had spent the 2007-2009 seasons in the Pittsburgh Pirates organization after he was dealt by the Braves in a trade that also sent major league first baseman Adam LaRoche to Pittsburgh. In nine minor league seasons Romak owns a .247 batting average with 117 homers and 434 RBI’s in 780 games.

In other transaction news, the Washington Nationals re-signed former Naturals’ infielder Josh Johnson. A reserve infielder for Northwest Arkansas in 2009, Johnson spent the 2011 season with the Harrisburg Senators, the Nationals’ Double-A affiliate in the Eastern League, for whom he batted .244 with eight homers and 36 RBI’s in 128 games.

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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Enter #15, but Why?

Last week a quiet Friday was suddenly shattered – Jim Edmonds had signed a minor league contract with the Cardinals. Oh the humanity. One would have thought aliens had arrived and blown up the Arch. Theories abounded as to why the Cardinals brought their old centerfielder back. Edmonds wanted to retire as a Cardinal and the contract was a formality. Tony LaRussa was fed up with Colby Rasmus and sending him to the bench. Edmonds was irritated his number was not retired, and planned to shake John Jay down in an alley until he gave up #15.

Once the hyperbole passes it’s time for reflection. Why DID the Cardinals bring Jimmy back? I find three plausible reasons.

Late Inning Defensive Replacement. Edmonds was an above average outfielder for most of his career. He had a barely average 2007 and a bad 2008 defending the grass, but after taking 2009 off he seemed to regain his mojo in 2010. Last season in 476 innings he put up a UZR/150 of 16.3. Virtually every observer of this team worries about Lance Berkman’s defense in RF, and I’m sure his lack of playing time out there in recent seasons is something LaRussa is aware of. Reasonably I think we can expect Berkman to come out late in close games to improve the defense. Whom would you rather have out there – Edmonds or any of Jon Jay/Allen Craig/Adron Chambers? The Cardinals might have brought Edmonds back as the late game defensive specialist and spot starter for Berkman.

Colby Rasmus Mentor. Chris Reed postulated this on Saturday and I believe there’s something to it. Rasmus is a left-handed centerfielder with power. Who better to mentor him than a left-handed former centerfielder with power? Remember Edmonds and LaRussa had their disagreements towards the end of Jimmy’s first stint with the Cardinals, but if memory serves those arguments were about playing time (Edmonds wanted more and LaRussa decided on less). How to navigate LaRussa, how to stay focused during the season, are how to deal with adversity are all topics Edmonds has experience with and can provide Rasmus the benefit of that experience.

A side-note to the mentoring. Young men breaking in at the major league level are already very successful in their profession, but still have lessons to learn from those who made it before them and stayed for many years. I’m sure Edmonds learned a lot about how to play the game in the majors from Chili Davis, just as I’m sure Davis learned a lot from Joe Morgan. That’s a lot of experience to pass on.

Left-Handed Bench Bat. It is possible LaRussa wanted a veteran to bring in off the bench as a pinch-hitter. Jon Jay should be the heir apparent in this role. His maturation made the Ryan Ludwick trade possible, and he posted an OPS+ of 113. Edmonds put up a 127 OPS+ last season, and other than his disastrous 2007 with the Cardinals has posted at least an OPS+ of 110 for the last decade. Maybe the Cardinals feel Jay would be better served in AAA and Edmonds can better handle the sporadic playing time the bench bat will get.

All this discussion will be rendered moot if Edmonds retires before the season starts, or fails to make the roster coming out of spring training. Given LaRussa’s preference for veterans I think he has a leg up on Jay going into the spring. Whether he makes the roster or not, Jim Edmonds back in camp gives the team something to distract them from the Albert Pujols contract negotiations (or lack thereof).

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Never A Dull Moment In The World Of Cardinals Hitting Coaches

The latest addition to the Cardinals’ organization comes in the form of former minor league manager, Phillip Wellman. Wellman will be the Springfield Cardinals’ (St. Louis’ double A affiliate) new hitting coach for the 2011 season. Why is that significant?

Because Phil Wellman is someone we all know. He’s that song that you do not recognize by name, but you know it when you hear it.

In June of 2007, Wellman went down in history as the minor-league manager who went absolutely nuts at an umpire. He uprooted bases, threw them across the field, and buried home plate with dirt. But it was his pretend ejection of the umpire, army-crawl across the infield, and his use of the rosin bag as a makeshift hand grenade that put his tirade above all the others in baseball history. Heck, in 2009, Sportscenter ranked his escapade as the #1 blowup of all time.

Of course, Wellman isn’t the first hitting coach in the Cardinals’ organization to raise eyebrows. Just last year, the media created a mini-circus around Mark McGwire’s return to baseball after nearly a decade in self-imposed exile. But that circus quickly died down, and Wellman’s arrival won’t even create one with his new minor league contract. Nevertheless, the arrival of Wellman should be interesting. The Braves did keep him in their organization for another three seasons following that seemingly career-ending moment on the diamond. Perhaps he will have a positive impact on the young hitters in the Cardinals’ organization moving forward. And who knows, McGwire’s tenure with the ball club seems to be linked to Tony La Russa’s, and La Russa will likely be retiring soon.

…And wouldn’t that be something if you-know-who got promoted. Then there might just be another circus.

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