Tag Archive | "Rundown"

Royals Weekly Rundown: A-ced in Oakland, Butler’s Back

Well so much for the offensive revival.  After the Royals out-slugged the Angels to take two of three, they finish the week at 2-4 after getting swept by the A’s.  Nonetheless, there’s a silver lining in all of this.  The club still sits at .500 and a few Royals hitters are mashing up the month of May.

Best of the Week:  Billy Butler

What a difference a week makes.  Big Old Country Breakfast bounced back from last week’s worst to this weeks best including a celebratory 5-for-5, 5 RBI night against the Angels.  Butler hit safely in five of six games this week and .480 overall (12-for-25) with a homer and 10 RBI.  As a result, Butler’s average has risen 45 points from .228 to .273.

He joins Alex Gordon, who deserves honorable mention this week, as the Royals two hottest hitters.  Gordon also hit .480 this week (12-for-25) and now has hit safely in 14 of 16 games in the month of May.  Gordon’s current .343 average ties him with Boston’s Dustin Pedroia for third in the American League.

Worst of the Week:  A-ced in Oakland

What hurts isn’t so much that they were swept by a struggling team, it’s how they lost.  The Royals led late in all three games, but ultimately dropped three straight one-run games.  The Royals bullpen, arguably the club’s biggest strength, blew two of those leads in the eighth including Sunday night’s thanks to a 403 foot blast by Yoenis Cespedes.

Kansas City’s bullpen still ranks third in the AL with a 3.07 ERA, so I believe this weekend’s sweep highlights the issue of their struggling offense rather than their pitching.  On paper, the Royals lineup is as deep as any in the AL including three players hitting over .300 in Gordon, Lorenzo Cain, and Salvador Perez.

However, the Royals still rank 13th out of 15 in runs scored (only the Mariners and White Sox have scored less).  A lot of the struggles derive from the lack of production from the heart of the order.

Butler appears to have turned things around, but Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas are in the midst of a serious slump.  They hit a combined 5-for-49 last week, a frightening .102.

The Road Ahead:  Eastbound and Down

Kansas City begins a three-game series with Houston on Monday night to wrap up the road trip.  Make no mistake, these are games the Royals have to take advantage of if they want to keep pace with Cleveland and Detroit.

They finished off the week with a four-game home series against the Angels.

Probable Pitchers at Houston Astros:

Monday at 7:10 CT:  Jeremy Guthrie (5-1, 2.82 ERA) vs. Dallas Keuchel (0-1, 4.82 ERA)

Tuesday at 7:10 CT:  Wade Davis (3-3, 5.98 ERA) vs. Bud Norris (4-4, 4.32 ERA)

Wednesday at 7:10 CT:  James Shields (2-4, 2.45 ERA) vs. Jordan Lyles (1-1, 6.63 ERA)

Probable Pitchers vs. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim:

Thursday at 7:10 CT:  Ervin Santana (3-3, 2.77 ERA) vs. Joe Blanton (0-7, 6.62 ERA)

Friday at 7:10 CT:  Luis Mendoza (1-2, 5.50 ERA) vs. Jason Vargas (3-3, 3.55 ERA)

Saturday at 1:10 CT:  Jeremy Guthrie (5-1, 2.82 ERA) vs.  TBA

Sunday at 1:10 CT:  Wade Davis (3-3, 5.98 ERA) vs. C.J. Wilson (3-3, 3.72 ERA)

Follow Adam Rozwadowski on Twitter @adam_roz

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Through The Fence Fantasy Baseball

Here at i70baseball, we do not host or sponsor any Fantasy Baseball Leagues.

That’s not to say we don’t participate and have some fun.

Friends of the site, Through The Fence Baseball, host a number of leagues and they need some help filling them up.  The guys over there sent the following information and asked us to pass it along.

TTFBaseball

Through The Fence Baseball still has room left in their eight league fantasy challenge! Each league features bragging rights and a $20 purse. There’s a bigger kick that just got added: each league winner will be added to one league next year and the winner will take home the big prize that features a $100 prize.  All that to play a free game! Head here to play now!
Here’s the league rundown.

TTFB National League – Draft: March 13th – 6PM – Head-to-Head Scoring [LEAGUE FULL]

TTFB American League – Draft: March 14th – 8PM – Rotisserie [six spots left]

TTFB Division League – Draft: March 27th – 8PM – Hall of Shame (Worst teams wins!) [eight spots left]

TTFB Conference League – Draft: March 12 – 8:30PM – Triple Crown (Only triple crown categories!) [ten spots left]

TTFB Singles League – Draft: March 20 – 8PM – Pitchers Duel (Do we have to explain this?) [11 spots left]

TTFB Homers League – Draft: March 25 – 8PM – Homers (Just the long ball!) [seven spots left]

TTFB Wins League – Draft: March 22 – 5:15PM – Head-to-Head One Win [nine spots left]

TTFB Finals League – Draft: March 19 – 4:15PM – Total Points [six spots left]
Read more at http://throughthefencebaseball.com/join-ttfb-fantasy-baseball-leagues-open-now/29095/#sw1zLRjucsjBei15.99

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Well That Didn’t Work

You can’t blame Ned Yost for trying. At least I won’t on this one.

He’s got a super athletic 22-year-old phenom, a rangy veteran with a great arm, and a run-producing doubles hitter. All of who were hitting relatively well at the time. Who wouldn’t want all three of them on the field at the same time?

And when you’re six to eight games below .500 and in danger of sliding into last place in your division, you could argue that there’s nothing you shouldn’t try.

I was nervous when the Royals announced that they would try Jeff Francoeur in centerfield, Billy Butler at first base, and allow the untested Eric Hosmer to learn on the job in right field.

I don’t think I was worried about the short-term results. What I was more worried about was that the position change would somehow unsettle Hosmer just as his bat was finally beginning to wake up.

I don’t know much about the psyche of big leaguers in general, or Hosmer specifically, but I was concerned that flailing around in unfamiliar territory would send the slick-fielding first baseman back into the funk that plagued him the first two months of the year.

Yost, on the other hand, overplayed his confidence to the media. He acted like the move was no big deal. He seemed to think that a few afternoons shagging balls in pregame would prepare Hosmer to play the position. Perhaps Yost thought, like all Little League coaches, that he could hide a poor fielder in right and he could somehow avoid having to make any plays.

But as the old saying goes, the ball will find you.

Pittsburg Experiment, Game 1: It didn’t take long for Hosmer to boot the first ball hit to him in right. “It was just a bad read on my part,” he said. That turned a single into a double, which resulted in the game’s first run.

Then in the third inning, Butler helped to botch a rundown, blindly chasing a base runner toward second while another snuck home. After the game, Yost tried to blame that one on Hochevar, but his analysis rang hollow.

Yost’s summary of the lineup after game one:

“I wouldn’t call it sloppy,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “We’ve got guys playing out of position in a National League park and it’s going to take them a day or two to get acclimated.”

Pittsburg Experiment, Game 2: Ok, so on day two?  Well with the Royals leading and the bases full of Pirates, Hosmer allowed a seemingly catch-able ball to drop in, opening the floodgates to a five-run Pittsburg inning.

“I was playing pretty deep and got a bad read on it,” Hosmer said.

Pittsburg Experiment, Game 3: Stop now before we really embarrass ourselves.

The results of the experiment were so dreadful that Yost called it off a day early.

So you might argue that Yost shouldn’t give up on the alignment just because it didn’t work the first time out. After all, the logic behind it hasn’t changed, and Hosmer is certainly athletic enough to play right field.

Or you might argue that the results were so overwhelming that it should be scrapped without hesitation. Hosmer was bad in right. Butler shouldn’t be a regular first baseman. Francouer is a natural in right, not center. There’s no use trying to fit square pegs into round holes.

I’m not sure which is the right side of the argument. Yost will have six more games in National League parks to decide if the experiment is worth continuing.

All I know is that I don’t blame Yost for trying.

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Video – Minor League Triple Play in Royals organization

The Wilmington Blue Rocks, down 2-0 in the third inning, were struggling to find some footing.

With runners on first and third, Blue Rocks hurler Leondy Perez would strike out Carolina Mudcats hitter Giovanny Urshella.  The runner on first, Tony Wolters, was attempting to steal second but was quickly dispatched by the Blue Rocks’ catcher, Kevin David.

Reacting to the play on the field, Mudcat runner Tyler Holt attempted to take advantage and score from third, only to get caught in a rundown and become the third of the inning and the play.

The Blue Rocks would ride the high of the triple play and go on to win the contest 9-2.

Courtesy of Sean Greene from local station WDEL, here is video of the fantastic defensive play.

Bill Ivie is the editor here at I-70 Baseball
He is the host of I-70 Radio, hosted every week on BlogTalkRadio.
Follow him on Twitter here.

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Royals Farm Report: August 18th

The fine folks at the Northwest Arkansas Naturals provide us with a brief rundown of the Royals farm system every week. The details are listed below:

Omaha

Triple-A

The Omaha Storm Chasers (Pacific Coast League) rolled through another solid week, posting a 4-2 record since last week’s report. With their combination of a potent offense and strong pitching, the Storm Chasers have put themselves in prime position for a playoff spot. With just 19 games remaining in the season, the 69-55 Storm Chasers are at least five games clear of every other team in the PCL’s American Northern Division.

Who’s Hot

Before last week, speedy outfielder Jarrod Dyson had hit just two home runs in over five professional seasons. But last week, Dyson accomplished the improbable, homering in back-to-back games against the Salt Lake Bees. Dyson had four multi-hit games last week and is now hitting .294 with 35 stolen bases in 37 attempts. Several recently promoted relievers are excelling for the Storm Chasers as well. Kelvin Herrera has allowed just one run and struck out 13 batters in 9 1/3 innings with Omaha, while Willy Lebron (1.80 ERA in 3 games) and Zach Miner (1.80 ERA in 7 games) have been dominant as well.

Who’s Not

Though he has still put together an outstanding season in the PCL, Lorenzo Cain had a bit of a quiet week, going 5-for-22 at the plate with five strikeouts in six games. The recently acquired Yamaico Navarro is off to a slow start in his new organization, as the shortstop is batting .205 with two extra-base hits in 11 games with the Storm Chasers. Now working in the bullpen, Kevin Pucetas had a rough go on Aug. 13, when he allowed three runs on four hits in less than an inning against Salt Lake.

NWNaturals

Double-A

The playoff future of the Northwest Arkansas Naturals (Texas League) is a bit less secure than that of their Triple-A brethren, but the Naturals helped their cause with a 4-2 week. With 19 games remaining, the Naturals are four games ahead of the Springfield Cardinals, their chief competition for the North Division’s second playoff berth. A series to watch will take place late next week, as the Naturals head to Hammons Field to battle the Cards from Aug. 23-26.

Who’s Hot

Chris Dwyer looks like a completely different pitcher from the one who struggled with his control during the first half of the 2011 season. After a bit of a rocky start in Frisco last Thursday, Dwyer bounced back with 6 2/3 strong innings this past Wednesday night. Dwyer struck out eight while only walking one, and is now 5-1 with 40 strikeouts in his last six starts. Performing right along with Dwyer in the Natural rotation are Will Smith and Jake Odorizzi. Smith has spun three consecutive quality starts, while Odorizzi befuddled Frisco hitters to the tune of 6 1/3 scoreless his last time out.

Who’s Not

Jeremy Jeffress has spent the past month in the Natural rotation as the right-hander attempts to harness his control. After beginning the season in the Kansas City bullpen, Jeffress has struggled to throw strikes at times in Northwest Arkansas, issuing 17 walks in 23 2/3 innings of work. On the bright side, Jeffress has allowed just one home run and is inducing ground balls at a very high rate (2.83 ground out/air out ratio). Though he may have righted the ship with a scoreless outing in his last game, reliever Kevin Chapman had allowed five runs over his previous three appearances.

BlueRocks

Class-A Advanced

The Wilmington Blue Rocks (Carolina League) were not able to match the performance of their high-minors counterparts last week, as they went 2-4 and enter this week’s report having just suffered a three-game sweep at the hand of the Frederick Keys. Though the team is not yet mathematically eliminated from playoff contention, the chances that Wilmington plays into the middle of September are slim.

Who’s Hot

Nick Van Stratten put together a solid week at the plate for Wilmington, as the outfielder has hit safely in his last six games. His week included three doubles and four RBI, as Van Stratten is now batting .297 in the Carolina League. Acquired with Omaha’s Yamaico Navarro at the trade deadline, reliever Kendal Volz has yet to allow an earned run in four appearances with the Blue Rocks. Starter Justin Marks pitched into the eighth inning his last time out, allowing just two runs on four hits against Lynchburg.

Who’s Not

Wilmington is batting a collective .244, struggling to generate offense in the pitcher-friendly environs of Frawley Stadium. First baseman Ryan Stovall has hit a rough patch of late, going just 3-for-19 last week. Outfielder Whit Merrifield has also stumbled to a 1-for-12 showing in his last three contests.

KaneCounty

Class-A

Trying to make the postseason in their first year as a Royals affiliate, the Kane County Cougars (Midwest League) went 3-3 this week. Though they treaded water in the games that they played, the club took advantage of a rough week for the Quad Cities River Bandits. Kane County and Quad Cities are now tied atop the league’s Western Division second half standings, three games ahead of third-place Clinton in what could be a two-team race down the stretch.

Who’s Hot

This week saw more impressive production from outfielder Brian Fletcher. The 22-year-old racked up three two-hit games in the five contests in which he played last week and roped a pair of doubles along with his 11th home run of the season. Producing along with Fletcher of late is Brett Eibner, who has now hit safely in seven straight games. On the mound, Greg Billo has fired five consecutive quality starts. Though he allowed three runs over six frames his last time out, Billo still leads all qualifying full-season minor leaguers with a 1.56 ERA.

Who’s Not

Like Wilmington, Kane County’s offense is hitting under .250 this season, and of late first baseman Jacob Kuebler has not provided much pop. Kuebler has gone just 2-for-16 in his last five games. Shortstop Orlando Calixte is 1 for his last 18 as his batting average has slipped to .215. The right-hand batter is hitting just .189 against lefties this season. Reliever Chas Byrne was tagged for three runs in an inning of work as he suffered a loss to Peoria on Aug. 11.

 

Short Season/Rookie

IdahoFalls

The Idaho Falls Chukars (Pioneer League) broke out the lumber in the middle of last week, scoring 28 runs a two-game span. The club might wish that they could have spread those runs out, however, as the team went 3-3 last week and did not get any closer to the .500 mark. The Chukars are currently in third place in the South Division second half stadings, three games behind Orem and Ogden.

Who’s Hot

Edwin Carl has put together one of the most impressive campaigns of any reliever in minor league baseball. He struck out 8 of the 11 batters he faced last week and has now racked up an incredible total of 58 strikeouts in 27 innings with Idaho Falls. Carl has only issued three walks and has allowed just four earned runs.Richard Espy has cranked a pair of homers in his last four games, hitting safely in every game in which he played last week. Promoted after shredding the Arizona League, Nick DelGuidice is off to a hot start for Idaho Falls with six hits in his first 16 at bats.

Who’s Not

Moved into the starting rotation in the last few weeks, right-hander Willian Avinazar has not found his stuff yet, allowing four or more runs in each of his last three starts. A move to the bullpen has not helped Arkansas native Jonathan Dooley, who retired just two batters while giving up four runs in his last appearance.

Burlington

The Burlington Royals (Appalachian League) did not fare well last week, going 2-4 as the team continues to fall off the pace. At just 20-35 overall, the Royals are likely to find themselves on the outside looking in at the end of the regular season.

Who’s Hot

Center fielder Lane Adams was an offensive bright spot for Burlington last week, notching three consecutive two-hit games at one point. Adams has at least one knock in 11 of his last 12 games, a surge that has raised his batting average from .268 to .305. On the mound, reliever Rudy Brown (2.97 ERA, 7 BB, 36 K) has been a standout on a staff that has a subpar 5.12 ERA this season.

Who’s Not

Joining the Royals at the beginning of August, reliever David Middendorf is off to a slow start as he has allowed at least three runs in each of his first three apperances in the Appy League. Opponents are hitting .448 off Middendorf to this point. Starter Angel Baez has struggled as well, posting a 9.00 ERA through three starts in the month of August. At the plate, second baseman Derek Hamblen is just 5-for-49 (.102) with no extra-base hits in 20 games with the club.

AZL

Down in Surprise, the Royals’ complex league club picked up just one win last week, as the AZL Royals (Arizona League) are now 17-29 this season. With that said, now that the amateur signing deadline has passed, there is a chance that some of the club’s recent draft picks could begin their professional careers with the team in the next few weeks.

Who’s Hot

Outfielder D’Andre Toney continues to swing a good bat down in Arizona, as he is batting .322 in 35 games with the team. Producing right up there with Toney is infielder Adrian Morales, who has three three-hit games in the last 10 days and is batting .355 with an impressive .483 on-base percentage. Morales has walked (21) more often than he has struck out (15) in AZL action.

Who’s Not

Collectively, the AZL Royals have a 6.63 staff ERA. Starter Cesar Ogando yielded three runs in four innings last time out, while Andrew Durden allowed four runs in less than an inning during a relief appearance on Wednesday. At the place, 2011 draftee Cameron Gallagher is still finding his feet at the plate, as the catcher is batting .174 in his first 11 professional games.

Former Naturals outside the Kansas City organization

A former Natural who began the season in the independent ranks is back in affiliated ball, as the Boston Red Sox recently purchased the contract of Jeff Howellfrom the Lincoln Saltdogs of the American Association. Howell has been assigned to Double-A Portland, where he will join former Naturals’ infielders Josh Johnson and Chris McConnell in the Eastern League. McConnell is currently batting .233 for the Nationals’ affiliate in Harrisburg while Johnson is batting .253 in 110 games.

After pitching sparingly in his first week or two with the Seattle Mariners, Dan Cortes is beginning to establish himself in the big leagues. The big right-hander tossed five scoreless innings last week, though he has not yet struck out a single batter in eight innings with Seattle. Fellow reliever Juan Abreu is making a case for a spot in the Houston Astros ‘pen, as he has not allowed a run in any of his last four outings with Triple-A Oklahoma City. Also now in the PCL is Blake Johnson, who fired three scoreless innings last week for the Colorado Springs Sky Sox.

Down in the Southern League, Corey Smith is hitting .270 for the Chattanooga Lookouts. He is joined in that circuit by a bevy of former Naturals, as Ernesto Mejia(.300, 30 2B, 20 HR), Ed Lucas (.281, 3 HR in 25 games) and Rowdy Hardy (3.14 ERA) all play for the Mississippi Braves.

Ben Swaggerty had been on the M-Braves roster as well, but recently eared a promotion to Triple-A Gwinnett, where he allowed a run in 3 1/3 innings over two appearances last week. He joins Jordan Parraz in the International League, as Parraz is batting .295 for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees.

Rounding out this week’s report is a look at the Florida State League. Outfielder Jose Duarte remains on the Jupiter Hammerheads’ disabled list, while Harold Mozingo has a 3.29 ERA for the Dunedin Blue Jays.

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 Farm Report: August 11

The fine folks at the Northwest Arkansas Naturals provide us with a brief rundown of the Royals farm system every week. The details are listed below:

Omaha

Triple-A

The Omaha Storm Chasers (Pacific Coast League) stumbled a bit over the last week, posting a 3-4 record that has seen the club alternate wins and losses over the past six days. With that said, the 65-53 Storm Chasers still hold a five-game lead in the PCL’s American Northern Division, putting them in good shape for postseason play.

Who’s Hot

Catcher Salvador Perez bashed his way through the Pacific Coast League in less than two weeks. The 21-year-old hit safely in his final seven games with Omaha before earning a promotion to Kansas City after Tuesday night’s action. Perez cranked five doubles and a home run in 12 games in the Pacific Coast League. Though he has yet to earn a look from the big club, David Lough continues to put together a strong season, as he owns a seven-game hitting streak at the time of this week’s report. Finally, after struggling as a starter in Double-A, Zach Miner has delivered out of the bullpen for Omaha, tossing 10 2/3 scoreless innings over his last four appearances. Miner now has a 1.46 ERA in five games with the Storm Chasers.

Who’s Not

Infielder Lance Zawadzki was just 2-for-16 at the plate over the last week, dropping his season batting average to .242. Though he has hit for power at times this season, Zawadzki has just two extra-base hits in his last 11 games. Though he ended up with a win on Wednesday, Mike Montgomery allowed five runs on eight hits in six innings of work, raising his ERA to 5.31.

NWArkansas

Double-A

With a 3-3 record over the last week, the Northwest Arkansas Naturals (Texas League) were unable to pad their lead in the North Division second-half standings. But thanks to the parity within the division, the Naturals didn’t lose much ground, either. With 25 games remaining, the Naturals are two games up on each of the other three teams in the North, setting up what could be a dramatic finish over the season’s final month.

Who’s Hot

Over the last three weeks, left-hander Chris Dwyer has looked like a completely different pitcher than the one who struggled to a 2-9 record to begin the year. On Aug. 5, Dwyer became the third Natural – and first since 2008 – to strike out 10 batters in one game as he earned his fourth straight win. In those four starts, Dwyer has allowed just six runs in 27 innings while fanning 29. Three days later, Will Smith fired eight scoreless innings against the Arkansas Travelers, striking out six against one walk. Though the Naturals eventually lost that game in extra innings, it was Smith’s sixth quality start in his last eight games.

Who’s Not

Unlike Dwyer and Smith, Jake Odorizzi had a rough outing against the Travelers his last time out. Odorizzi allowed a pair of two-run homers, giving up a total of six runs in 4 2/3 innings of work. The right-hander will look to snap a two-start losing streak when he takes the mound on Friday night. Outfielder Derrick Robinson is one of the most dynamic players in the league on the basepaths but has struggled to reach base in recent games. Robinson has just three hits in his last eight games as his batting average has fallen from .273 to .254.

BlueRocks

Class-A Advanced

Time may be running out for the Wilmington Blue Rocks’ playoff chances. The Carolina League club went 2-5 last week to drop to 53-61 overall and 17-28 in the second half. With the team now 10 games out of first and seven back of Potomac in a potential wild-card scenario, the Blue Rocks may need a historic run to reach the postseason in 2011.

Who’s Hot

Justin Marks turned in one of his best outings of the season on Monday in earning one of his team’s two wins last week. Making the start against Winston-Salem, Marks tossed 5 2/3 scoreless innings with eight strikeouts, allowing just three hits. Acquired from the Red Sox at the trade deadline, reliever Kendal Volz has yielded just two hits in his first two outings with the Kansas City organization. At the plate, outfielder Yem Prades carries a five-game hitting streak into the writing of this week’s report.

Who’s Not

Though he bounced back with a strong showing on Wednesday, lefty Noel Arguelles endured his roughest outing of the season on Aug. 5. In that game, Arguelles allowed six runs on seven hits in just 2 2/3 innings, raising his ERA to a high water mark of 3.36. Tim Melville also struggled in two starts last week as he did not get out of the third inning on either occasion, allowing a total of 10 runs.

KCounty

Class-A

The Kane County Cougars (Midwest League) were not able to establish any momentum in either direction last week, as the team has alternated wins and losses since Aug. 4. Now 27-18 in the second half, Kane County remains one game behind the Quad Cities River Bandits in the circuit’s Western Division. The two teams to not meet again in the regular season, so the Cougars must finish strong and hope for a little bit of help.

Who’s Hot

Though it may sound repetitive at this point, Greg Billo put together a pair of dominant outings this week. After a no-decision on Aug. 5, Billo yielded just one hit in six innings on Wednesday, earning his fourth win of the year and lowering his ERA to a microscopic 1.40. Antonio Cruz is another trade acquisition who is off to a strong start in the Royals organization. Cruz tossed five scoreless innings between two games last week and has not allowed a run in 13 1/3 frames since joining Kane County. Outfielder Brian Fletcher continues to impress, as he had a four hit game and two three-hit games last week, blasting a pair of home runs as well.

Who’s Not

Kane County catcher Juan Graterol is mired in a slump, as the 22-year-old is just 1-for-16 in his last five games. This stretch has dropped his batting average to .177 and on-base percentage to .233. Fellow catcher Kevin David had three hits last week but has now drawn a walk since Jul. 28. On the mound, Santiago Garridoyielded six runs in 8 1/3 innings over two starts last week.

Short Season/Rookie

Idaho

The Idaho Falls Chukars (Pioneer League) rallied from a four-game losing streak to win each of their last two games last week, but a 3-4 mark over the last seven days dropped them to 21-28 overall. Though the Chukars are currently four games back in the South Division’s second-half standings, there is still time for the team to turn their season around and get back into the race.

Who’s Hot

Reliever Edwin Carl continues to be one of the most consistent hurlers on the Idaho Falls staff. Carl gave up just one run in four innings last week and is now a perfect three-for-three in save opportunities this season. Starter Aaron Brooks turned a dominant outing against Casper on Tuesday, striking out 10 while walking just one in 5 2/3 scoreless innings. At the plate, Runey Davis is now 5-for-12 in his last three games, raising his batting average to .328.

Who’s Not

Recently moved into the bullpen, Robert Penny followed his first scoreless outing of the season by allowing three runs in just an inning and a third on Aug. 7. Though he has struck out better than a batter per inning with Idaho Falls, Penny’s ERA now stands at 10.86. Outfielder Darian Sanford has hit a bit of a rough patch over the last few days, as he is just 2-for-15 in his last four games.

Burlington

Like Idaho Falls, the Burlington Royals (Appalachian League) lost four games in a row at one point last week. In going 2-5 over the last seven days, the club is now 18-31 and in the basement of the East Division. Barring an incredible stretch run, Burlington is likely to be on the outside looking in when the postseason begins.

Who’s Hot

Right fielder Jorge Bonifacio found a bit of a groove last week, as the 18-year-old racked up three multi-hit games and hit his fifth home run of the Appy League season. Though his plate discipline needs to improve (43 strikeouts, seven walks), Bonifacio is hitting at an impressive .298 clip. Right-hander Matt Ridings had a bit of a rough start on Tuesday but fired six scoreless innings the previous Thursday, and continues to pace the Burlington rotation with a 3.16 ERA.

Who’s Not

Reliever Abel Gonzalez was tagged for four runs in each of his last two appearances, the first of which encompassed just one inning. Gonzalez now has a 10.80 ERA through six games with Burlington. Utilityman Derek Hamblen went hitless in six at bats last week and is now just 3-for-45 this season without an extra-base hit.

AZL

In complex league play, the AZL Royals (Arizona League) went 2-4 last week to drop their overall record to 16-25. A lack of pitching has been the story of late, as the team has lost its last two games by scores of 16-14 and 11-10.

Who’s Hot

Though he is not a member of the club’s regular roster, southpaw Buddy Baumann made a pair of rehab starts for the AZL Royals over the last ten days. He excelled on Aug. 7, allowing just one hit with four strikeouts in three innings of work. Baumann has now been activated from the disabled list and has re-joined Double-A Northwest Arkansas. At the plate, Nick DelGuidice is still hitting over .400 and has shown impressive strike zone judgment, striking out just 10 times in 34 games in the Arizona League.

Who’s Not

Christian Witt had a day to forget on Tuesday, as he yielded 8 runs in a relief appearance in that 16-14 loss against the Giants’ complex league club. 2011 draftee Cameron Gallagher is hitting just .179 through seven professional games, but should dramatically improve as he adjusts to a much higher level of competition.

Former Naturals outside the Kansas City organization

Right-hander Dan Cortes remains in the Seattle Mariners’ bullpen, though his last big-league outing was one to forget, as Cortes gave up hits to both batters he faced and was tagged with the loss on Aug. 5 against the Angels. The next former Natural to make a major league bullpen could be Juan Abreu, as the right-hander allowed just one run in three appearances for Houston’s Triple-A squad in Oklahoma City this past week.

Elsewhere in Triple-A, Blake Johnson had his roughest outing since joining the Colorado organization, allowing seven runs – six earned – on eight hits last Thursday. But since then, the right-hander has bounced back to allow just an unearned run over his last two appearances. In the International League, Jordan Parraz notched a pair of multi-hit games last week and is hitting .298 for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees.

Down in the Southern League, Ernesto Mejia homered on Wednesday night for the Mississippi Braves, his 18th long ball of the season. Though he has struck out 124 times in 114 games, Mejia has put together a solid season with 29 doubles and a .375 on-base percentage. Also on the M-Braves roster are Ed Lucas (.271, 3 HR in 20 games), Rowdy Hardy (3.19 ERA, 39 K:18 BB) and Ben Swaggerty (4.26 ERA, 32 K in 19 IP).

Also in the Southern League is Corey Smith, who has hit safely in each of his six games with the Chattanooga Lookouts since being sent down from Triple-A Albuquerque. In the Eastern League, Chris McConnell has doubled in two straight games for the Harrisburg Senators. Finally, in the Florida State League, Jose Duarte is currently on the disabled list for Jupiter while Harold Mozingo is carrying a 4.09 ERA through eight games with the Dunedin Blue Jays.

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 Farm Report: August 4th

The fine folks at the Northwest Arkansas Naturals provide us with a brief rundown of the Royals farm system every week. The details are listed below:

Omaha

Triple-A

As the regular season enters its final month, the Omaha Storm Chasers (Pacific Coast League) appear to be rounding into form. The club when 6-1 over the last week, carrying an active six-game winning streak into Thursday’s game against Sacramento. The Storm Chasers have outscored their opponents 45-12 in those six games, a sign that the team is firing on all cylinders. Omaha has now opened up a six-game lead in the PCL’s American Northern Division.

Who’s Hot

Another week brings another standout performance for second baseman Johnny Giavotella, who went 5-for-6 against Oklahoma City on Sunday and followed that performance with a three-hit game two days later. With 33 doubles, a .391 on-base percentage and 72 RBI, Giavotella is beating down the door to Kansas City. Also swinging a hot bat is Lorenzo Cain, who has now hit safely in eight of his last nine games and drawn seven walks in that span. Catcher Salvador Perez has made a strong first impression at Triple-A, as he connected on a grand slam in his third game with Omaha and is hitting .286 through his first week at the level.

Who’s Not

It’s hard to find fault with much that the Storm Chasers did last week, but Vin Mazzaro allowed four runs in just 3 2/3 innings of work his last time out. Irving Falu is one of the only Omaha hitters who did not put together a great week, as he is just 4-for-18 in his last five games.

NWArkansas

Double-A

The Northwest Arkansas Naturals (Texas League) continue to be one of the streakier teams in the system, as the club followed a stretch of 10 wins in 12 games with five losses in their last seven. Despite going 2-5 last week, the Naturals managed to regain sole possession of first place in the North Division’s second half standings with Wednesday’s win at Tulsa.

Who’s Hot

Found more often in the “Who’s Not” section this year, left-hander Chris Dwyer has turned his season around over his last three starts. Dwyer has won all three and allowed a total of five runs in those games, as he tossed seven innings of one-run ball on Sunday against Springfield. A reason for his success is improved control, as Dwyer has struck out 19 while walking five in those three games. Outfielder Paulo Orlando has a 10-game hitting streak as of the writing of this report, racking up four hits on July 31. Orlando has tripled in each of his last three games and is hitting .386 through 17 games in his return to Double-A.

Who’s Not

Though he turned it around with a quality start and win on Wednesday night, Will Smith could not get out of the fifth inning on July 29, allowing a season-high nine runs on 10 hits against Springfield. Also on the mound, Jeremy Jeffress could not harness his control in Saturday’s start, as he walked five in 3 2/3. Though he did go deep for the first time in over a month on Tuesday, Wil Myers does not have a multi-hit game since July 21 as his batting average has dipped to .246.

Blue Rocks

Class-A Advanced

After fading in the middle part of July, the Wilmington Blue Rocks (Carolina League) rebounded last week, going 4-2 in the last seven days. The team still has plenty of work ahead of them, though, as they trail first-place Frederick by 10 games in the second half standings and would need to erase a six-game deficit to snag a potential wild-card spot from the Potomac Nationals.

Who’s Hot

Though he went 0-4 on Wednesday, outfielder Yem Prades is riding an impressive string at the plate. He had collected hits in nine straight games, including four two-hit games, a pair of three-hit games and a four-hit game. Prades also scored at least one run in every game during his streak, raising his batting average from .255 to .303 in the process. Tim Melville turned in the club’s best pitching performance of the week as he spun seven scoreless innings against Kinston on July 29, striking out five with just one walk.

Who’s Not

Melville’s success was not shared by rotation mate Tyler Sample, who has now allowed five or more runs in each of his last four starts. Sample allowed six runs on eight hits and four walks last time out, pitching just 4 1/3 against Winston-Salem on Tuesday. At the plate, outfielder Carlo Testa was just 3-for-19 last week and has not homered since July 9.

KCCougars

Class-A

The Kane County Cougars have put that mid-July five-game losing streak in the rear view mirror with back-to-back solid weeks. The Cougars went 5-2 since last week’s report, continuing their impressive second-half turnaround. Unfortunately for the club, the Quad Cities is just as hot, as the River Bandits lead Kane County by a game in the Western Division second half standings.

Who’s Hot

Brett Eibner has showed off his power in stretches this season but may now be starting to harness his ability into overall production. The former Arkansas Razorback has hits in eight of his last nine games, including five hits in his two most recent contests. With impressive plate discipline (29 walks in 50 games), and power (.457 slugging percentage), Eibner’s numbers will look even better if and when he starts hitting better than his current .220 clip. Starter Greg Billo continues to blow away the Midwest League, firing six innings of one-run ball in his last start. Billo now has 97 strikeouts and just 21 walks to go along with his 1.48 ERA.

Who’s Not

Catcher Juan Graterol did have two hits on Wednesday night, but that snapped a stretch of six consecutive hitless games, during which Graterol went 0-for-21 at the dish. He has just two extra-base hits in 80 at bats for Kane County. In the rotation, Santiago Garrido has allowed four runs over five innings in each of his last two starts, though he is 1-0 in those games thanks to the Cougars’ offensive output.

Short Season/Rookie

Idaho

The Idaho Falls Chukars (Pioneer League) had lost three straight games heading into last week’s report, then won three straight before losing another three in a row in the early stages of the league’s second half. The 3-3 week puts the Chukars at 18-24 overall and 1-3 in the second half of the season.

Who’s Hot

Second baseman Michael Liberto may be listed at just 5’7”, 170 lbs, but that hasn’t stopped him from raking in the Pioneer League this year. Liberto has a 10-game hitting streak at the writing of this report and is batting .366 in his first 23 games with the Chukars. Reliever Edwin Carl did allow two runs in as many innings in his last appearance but has still been Idaho Falls’ most effective hurler, boasting a 1.57 ERA through 14 appearances with the club.

Who’s Not

Shortstop Adrian Martinez has not swung the bat as well as the other half of Idaho Falls’ double-play combo has. Martinez was just 3-for-16 at the plate last week and is batting .227 for the Chukars with just three extra-base hits. On the mound, a move to the bullpen has not helped right-hander Robert Penny, who has given up 12 runs in a total of four innings over his last three appearances.

Burlington

The Burlington Royals (Appalachian League) went 2-4 last week, falling further behind in the league’s East Division. At 16-26 overall and eight games out of first, the Royals need an August turnaround if they want to have the postseason in their future.

Who’s Hot

Justin Trapp has perhaps been the team’s hottest hitter over the past month, and the 20-year-old continued that theme this week. He recorded three two-hit games and clubbed a pair of homers as well. Burlington’s best starting pitcher this season, Matt Ridings, delivered his longest outing of the year as he tossed six innings of one-run ball against Bluefield on July 29.

Who’s Not

It was not a good week at the plate for popular slugger Murray Watts. Watts was just 2-for-20 at the plate, though he did draw seven walks to contribute to the club’s offensive effort. After his torrid start to the Appy League season, Watts has just one home run in the last two weeks. Talented prospect Robinson Yambati has not found a rhythm to this point in the season and endured his worst outing of the year on July 28, as was tagged for seven runs and did not get out of the first inning.

AZLRoyals

Down in the southwest, the AZL Royals (Arizona League) have shared a similar fate to their Short Season and Rookie brethren this season. The club went 3-3 last week but is just 14-21 overall.

Who’s Hot

Nick DelGuidice has kept up his remarkable pace into August, as he is currently hitting .414 for the club. DelGuidice has recorded at least one hit in nine of his last 10 games and has totaled 13 doubles in 30 contests this season. Fellow outfielder Terrance Gore also has hit well of late, as five hits in the last two games have pushed his batting average to .375. Reliever Sam Runion has given up just one earned run in his first six appearances in complex league play.

Who’s Not

Everyday first baseman Brian Gaylord has yet to get his bat going this season and is just 1-for-19 at the dish in his last four games. Reliever Casey Edelbrockallowed seven earned runs over 3 2/3 innings in his first two outings, part of a pitching staff that has an unsightly 6.97 ERA.

Former Naturals outside the Kansas City organization

The Major League Baseball trade deadline impacted one former Natural in particular, as Juan Abreu was part of the package that the Atlanta Braves sent to Houston in exchange for outfielder Michael Bourn. Abreu made his debut for Triple-A Oklahoma City on Tuesday, allowing a run in two innings of work. He now joins several other former Naturals in the Pacific Coast League, as Blake Johnson fired 3 2/3 scoreless innings for Colorado Springs last week while Corey Smithwas just 2-for-14 at the plate for Albquerque.

Reliever Dan Cortes may be back in the PCL at some point, but for now he is on the Seattle Mariners’ active roster. Called up in just before the deadline, Cortes yielded a run in two innings over two apperances for the Mariners since last week’s report.

Down in the Southern League, Ernesto Mejia led the parade of former Naturals on the Mississippi Braves’ roster with three two-hit games last week. Mejia is now batting .302 with 28 doubles and 17 homers for the M-Braves. Shortstop Ed Lucas has a seven-game hitting streak, and is hitting .255 for the club. In the Mississippi bullpen, Rowdy Hardy worked a pair of scoreless outings in the past week while Ben Swaggerty has not pitched since last week’s report.

Elsewhere across affiliated ball, Chris McConnell picked up a pair of multi-hit games last week for Harrisburg, the Nationals’ Double-A affiliate in the Eastern League. One level below, Jose Duarte is hitting .252 for the Jupiter Hammerheads but was placed on the 7-day disabled list retroactive to July 30. Also in the Florida State League, Harold Mozingo has a 2.25 ERA through five games with the Dunedin Blue Jays.

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 Farm Report: July 21st

The fine folks at the Northwest Arkansas Naturals provide us with a brief rundown of the Royals farm system every week. The details are listed below:

Triple-A

The Omaha Storm Chasers (Pacific Coast League) went 3-4 over the last week, bookending a three-game win streak with a pair of losses on either side. Most importantly, the Storm Chasers have lost two of the first three games of their key series against the Memphis Redbirds, their prime competition in the league’s American Northern Division. Omaha still holds a two-game lead over Memphis and has secured the head-to-head tiebreaker should it come into play.

Who’s Hot

Luis Mendoza had an incredibly eventful night on Monday, no-hitting the Redbirds through eight innings. In the ninth, a controversial play was first ruled a two-base error, giving Mendoza a no-hitter. Memphis then tried to get the play changed to a hit, but Omaha did not go along with the ruling, leaving Mendoza’s no-no intact for the time being. The Redbirds then field a formal appeal with the PCL, who overturned the ruling once and for all, wiping away the no-hitter. Still, Mendoza’s complete-game shutout continued his impressive season, lowering his ERA to 2.30. Offensively, Johnny Giavotella racked up 14 hits in six games last week, raising his batting average to .340.

Who’s Not

After two consecutive strong starts, southpaw Mike Montgomery had a pair of rocky outings last week, losing against both New Orleans and Memphis. On Wednesday, Montgomery allowed five runs in five innings and saw some of his control issues return, walking three against two strikeouts. In what was a generally solid offensive week for Omaha, infielder Lance Zawadzki went just 3-for-18 at the plate, striking out seven times.

Double-A

The Northwest Arkansas Naturals (Texas League) pushed themselves right back into the North Divison’s second half race with a 5-2 week that included the team’s first no-hitter and first triple play – in the same game. The Naturals enter Thursday with a chance to sweep the first-place Arkansas Travelers and pull even in the standings.

Who’s Hot

Tuesday was one of the most historic nights in Naturals’ history, as starter Will Smith and ace reliever Kelvin Herrera combined to face the minimum in the club’s first-ever no-hitter. Smith issued two walks to open the fifth but promptly erased them by inducing a 5-4-3 triple play. Herrera set down all six batters he faced and now has 39 strikeouts against only three walks in Double-A. Jamie Romak is in the midst of an offensive surge, as he has an active eight-game hitting streak that includes four two-hit games in his last five. Romak has also launched seven home runs in his last 13 games.

Who’s Not

Southpaw Chris Dwyer is still looking to get back on track. Though he pitched into the sixth inning on July 16 – his deepest outing in his last four – Dwyer still allowed five runs and took the loss. In his last four starts, Dwyer has walked 20 batters and struck out just eight. Returned to Double-A after being unable to find consistent playing time in Omaha, Paulo Orlando has just two hits in his first four games with the Naturals.

Class-A Advanced

A five-game losing streak cost the Wilmington Blue Rocks (Carolina League) ground in the Northern Division standings last week. The Blue Rocks did stem the tide with Wednesday’s win at Myrtle Beach, but the team went just 1-5 since last week’s report. Wilmington is now in third place, 5.5 games behind both Frederick and Potomac.

Who’s Hot

Outfielder Nick Van Stratten got off to a scorching start with the Blue Rocks before going into a bit of a slump in early July. But in the last week, Van Stratten has put together a four-game hit streak. Van Stratten enters Thursday’s action with five hits in his last two contests. In a rare shaky week for Wilmington’s starting rotation, Michael Mariot gave up just three runs – one earned – in seven innings on Wednesday, earning his team’s only win of the week. The outing was the longest of the season for Mariot, who has worked out of both the rotation and the ‘pen.

Who’s Not

Left-hander Noel Arguelles endured his worst outing of the season on July 15, allowing five runs in just an inning and two thirds. Arguelles also walked four Frederick hitters, a third of his season total of 12 bases on balls allowed. Still, it is a testament to Arguelles’ body of work that his ERA sits at 2.99 despite this last start. Outfielder John Whittleman recorded just two hits in 19 at bats last week, striking out six times in five games.

Class-A

Like their Advanced-A brethren, the Kane County Cougars also snapped a five-game losing streak within the last few days. The club has now won two straight as they begin a six-game road trip. After posting a 2-4 record, Kane County is now 15-10 in the second half and tied with Quad Cities atop the league’s Western Division.

Who’s Hot

Another start brought yet another solid stat line for right-hander Greg Billo. Billo allowed one run over five innings against West Michigan on Wednesday, striking out four. Notably, this outing actually raised his ERA from 1.38 to a still-sterling 1.41. Billo continues to lead all qualifying full-season minor leaguers in earned run average. 18-year-old Cheslor Cuthbert continued his recent tear this week, as though his average “fell” to .329, Cuthbert worked four walks last week to maintain an impressive .383 on-base percentage.

Who’s Not

Outfielder Brett Eibner has continued to stumble at the plate, as his batting average stayed at .192 through last week’s play. After his late-June home run tear, Eibner has only homered once since June 30 and has just two extra-base hits since July 2. Both Yowill Espinal (.187) and Orlando Calixte (.204) are still looking to get themselves established at the plate as well.

Short Season

The Idaho Falls Chukars (Pioneer League) went 2-4 last week, allowing at least nine runs in all four of those losses. At 12-17, the Chukars remain in third place in the league’s South Division, seven games behind first-place Ogden. To get back in the race, Idaho Falls will look to improve on its 5.92 team ERA.

Who’s Hot

Runey Davis compiled another strong week in what is turning into an outstanding campaign for the outfielder. Davis had five hits and drew six walks in his four games since last week’s report, raising his on-base percentage to a remarkable .478, a figure that leads the league. Fellow outfielder Tyler Chism also turned in a great performance on the plate, cracking a pair of home runs as he raised his batting average from .262 to .288.

Who’s Not

Arkansas native Jonathan Dooley endured a rough outing in his last start, allowing nine earned runs in 3 2/3 innings against Missoula on July 17. Dooley has now walked 22 batters in 28 innings with a 9.96 ERA. Catcher Tyler Smith was hitless in two games last week and is now just 1-for-20 with the Chukars this season.

The Burlington Royals (Appalachian League) experienced an up-and-down seven day stretch, going 3-4 in the last week. At 11-18, the Royals have work to do to climb back in the league’s East Division. They currently reside in last place, six games behind the first-place Bluefield Blue Jays.

Who’s Hot

Slugging first baseman Murray Watts continues to crush Appy League pitching. Watts belted another pair of home runs to raise his league-leading total to 11. Watts has also drawn at least one walk in each of his last six games, raising his on-base percentage to a healthy .378. Infielder Justin Trapp has also been a key figure in the Royals’ offense, putting together a five-game hitting streak last week. Trapp’s 25 RBI put him three behind Watts for the team lead. Though he didn’t have a particularly remarkable week, Jovan Pickett’s body of work earned him a promotion to Kane County.

Who’s Not

On the mound, Robinson Yambati had another rough outing as he gave up four runs on five hits in just 2 1/3 innings against Bluefield. Yambati is allowing opposing hitters to bat .449 against him through six starts. Catcher Kenny Swab had just two hits in five games last week as he is now hitting just .135 in his first 10 games with Burlington.

Down in Surprise, Ariz., the AZL Royals (Arizona League) matched both Wilmington and Kane County with a five-game losing streak. The club went 1-5 since last week’s report, dropping their overall record to 9-15, 7 ½ games behind the Rangers’ complex league affiliate.

Who’s Hot

Infielder Nick DelGuidice racked up another three multi-hit games this week as he continues to make a great impression in Arizona. Though his average “plummeted” last week, DelGuidice is still hitting a remarkable .434. Outfielder Anthony Howard hit safely in his first seven games with the AZL Royals and is batting .400 through eight contests with the club. On the mound, reliever Andrew Stueve has allowed just two earned runs in 11 appearances, racking up 29 strikeouts against just two walks.

Who’s Not

Left-hander Cesar Ogando had a pair of rocky starts last week, allowing a total of eight runs in just an inning and two thirds. He has now walked more batters (13) than he has struck out (12). The AZL Royals are hitting an impressive .276 as a team, though Alexander Marquez is just 2-for-20 in the seven games in which he has played.

Former Naturals outside the Kansas City organization

A change of scenery seems to be suiting Blake Johnson very well. After struggling in Omaha prior to his release from the Kansas City organization, Johnson fired four consecutive scoreless innings to begin his stint with the Rockies’ Triple-A affiliate in Colorado Springs. Johnson did allow two runs in as many innings on Wednesday but still has a solid 3.38 ERA. Fellow PCL reliever Dan Cortes had a solid week for the Tacoma Rainiers, firing three scoreless outings as he tries to get back on track.

At the plate, Corey Smith recorded just three bases hits for Triple-A Albuquerque but did crack his seventh home run as a member of the Isotopes. Over in the International League, Jordan Parraz has a six-game hitting streak for the Yankees’ affiliate in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

Right-hander Juan Abreu finally saw his scoreless streak come to an end on Tuesday, taking the loss against the Louisville Bats. Abreu had not allowed a run since June 8, a stretch encompassing 14 straight scoreless outings. Abreu still has a rock-solid 2.14 ERA this season.

After his batting average fell to .218, utility man Ed Lucas was sent from Gwinnett to Double-A Mississippi, where he joins other formal Naturals Rowdy Hardy, Ben Swaggerty and Ernesto Mejia. Hardy allowed one run in 3 1/3 innings last week, while Swaggerty has not pitched since June 22. Swaggerty spent time on the disabled list and has yet to appear in a game since being re-activated. At the plate, Mejia had a bit of a slow week as he collected just three hits, with only a double going for extra bases.

Elsewhere, Chris McConnell is batting .214 with four extra-base hits for the Harrisburg Senators, while down in the Florida State League, Jose Duarte notched a pair of multi-hit games last week for the Jupiter Hammerheads. He is now joined in that league by Harold Mozingo, who recently signed with the Blue Jays and was assigned to Advanced-A Dunedin.

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 Farm Report: July 14th

The fine folks at the Northwest Arkansas Naturals provide us with a brief rundown of the Royals farm system every week. The details are listed below:

 

Triple-A

In an abbreviated week of baseball, the Omaha Storm Chasers (Pacific Coast League) went 2-2 before breaking for the Triple-A All-Star Game. The Storm Chasers still stand a game and a half ahead of the Memphis Redbirds in what is essentially a two-team race in the American Northern Division. Omaha will head to Memphis for a pivotal four-game set that begins on July 18.

Who’s Hot

One of three Storm Chasers named to the PCL’s All-Star team, second baseman Johnny Giavotella had seven hits in the last three games before the break. He leads the team with a .328 average and 26 doubles. Fellow All-Star Clint Robinson broke out of a mini-slump with four straight two-hit games, and though he has not homered in a month, Robinson’s .542 slugging percentage leads all of the team’s qualifiers. Right-hander Luis Mendoza, the team’s final All-Star, tossed seven innings of one-hit ball (allowing only an unearned run) against Oklahoma City in his last start.

Who’s Not

Lance Zawadzki is one of the few Storm Chasers currently struggling at the plate. Now playing third base, Zawadzki is just 3-for-24 in his last eight games. Also in a bit of a slide is outfielder Paulo Orlando, who is batting .235 and does not have a multi-hit game since June 22.

Double-A

The Northwest Arkansas Naturals (Texas League) followed a 3-3 homestand with a 3-3 road trip, as the team took two of three in San Antonio before falling twice in three games to the Corpus Christi Hooks. The Naturals are tied for third place in the North Division’s second-half standings, but still hold the edge in a potential wild-card race.

Who’s Hot

Few players in the Texas League are hotter at the plate than Nick Francis, who is batting .362 since his latest promotion from the Carolina League. Derrick Robinson has put together a five-game hitting streak that has included four multi-hit contests, a stretch that has raised his batting average to .280. Right-handerJake Odorizzi made his first two Double-A starts on the road trip, winning his first before delivering a quality start in what was ultimately a Natural loss.

Who’s Not

Wil Myers’ road trip was interrupted by a trip to Arizona to compete in the All-Star Futures Game, and perhaps as a result, the outfielder did not find a rhythm at the plate, going 2-for-18 on the road trip. On the mound, Chris Dwyer did not get out of the third inning against Corpus Christi (though the Naturals came back to win), while Zach Miner allowed eight runs in his most recent outing.

Class-A Advanced

The Wilmington Blue Rocks (Carolina League) went 4-1 last week, bringing their overall record back over the .500 mark. Though the team is just 9-10 in the second half, Wilmington sits just two games out of first in what is a crowded Northern Division.

Who’s Hot

Right-hander Justin Marks delivered one of his best starts of the year on July 11, firing six shutout innings against Myrtle Beach. Marks lowered his season ERA to 4.28 and now has 84 strikeouts in 88.1 innings. The next day, Tyler Sample topped Marks’ effort with seven scoreless innings against the Pelicans. Fellow starterElisaul Pimentel gave up just two unearned runs in six innings against Frederick on July 11.

Who’s Not

After a scorching start to his Carolina League season, Nick Van Stratten has slowed down a bit at the plate, going 1-for-13 in four games last week, while Kurt Mertins is hitting .188 in nine games with the Blue Rocks. Tim Ferguson (.202) and Deivy Batista (.198) have also struggled to get it going for a Wilmington club that has collectively hit just .239 this season.


Class-A

The Kane County Cougars (Midwest League) continue to lead their division’s second-half standings with an outstanding 13-6 mark. That comes thanks in part to a week that saw the Cougars go 4-2, including a three-game sweep of the first half champion Burlington Bees.

Who’s Hot

There are few players in the system in more of a groove than Cheslor Cuthbert is right now. The 18-year-old third baseman has hit safely in eight straight games, racking up multiple hits in five of those contests. Cuthbert drove in 10 runs in a three-game span and is now hitting .342. Righty Greg Billo fired six scoreless against Wisconsin on July 8, and now leads all qualifiers across affiliated baseball with a 1.37 ERA. Though he does not have enough innings to qualify, relieverChase Boruff lowered his earned run average to 1.30 with two scoreless innings of his own.

Who’s Not

Righty Leondy Perez lost both of his starts last week, including a forgettable performance on July 7, when he gave up nine runs on 13 hits against Wisconsin. He appears on the way to putting that behind him, however, as Perez tossed a quality start in a losing effort his last time out. At the plate, Juan Graterol and Yowill Espinal both have gone 1-for-11 in their last three games.

Short Season

The Idaho Falls Chukars (Pioneer League) endured a five-game losing streak last week before beating Helena on Wednesday night. One of the team’s biggest issues is consistency on the mound, as the team is carrying a 5.72 ERA through 23 games. At 10-13, the Chukars sit in third place in the league’s South Division.

Who’s Hot

The Chukars’ struggles on the mound have not extended to the batter’s box, as the team has posted a collective .291 batting average. In particular, Daniel Mateohas five hits in his last three games to bring his average to .387, while Richard Espy cranked three home runs last week, raising his team-leading total to four. Reliever Edwin Carl has yet to allow even a single run in eight appearances, converting both of his save opportunities.

Who’s Not

Starter Robert Penny got knocked around by the Orem Owlz on July 10, allowing eight runs in just two innings of work. Jonathan Dooley also had a rough go against Orem as he yielded five runs one day later. Catcher Tyler Smith will look to get his bat started, as he has just one hit in 13 at bats for the Chukars this season.

The Burlington Royals (Appalachian League) put together what was easily their best week of the season, going 4-2 as the team looks to erase their slow start to the 2011 season. Though the the team currently resides in the basement of the circuit’s East Division, they are only four games out of first with plenty of baseball to be played.

Who’s Hot

Any offensive struggles the Royals may have had are not the fault of Murray Watts, who racked up four straight-two hit games from July 8-11. He also cranked his ninth home run in 22 games and now has more than twice as many home runs as any of his teammates. Matt Ridings turned in a solid start his last time out, yielding two runs – both unearned – in five innings against the Bristol White Sox.

Who’s Not

Catcher Jin-Ho Shin had just two hits in five games last week, as his batting average fell from .211 to .189, while Kenny Swab is just 3-for-16 since joining Burlington on July 7. On the mound, Andrea Pizziconi has allowed at least two runs in each of his last three appearances, raising his ERA to 9.00.

In complex league action, the AZL Royals (Arizona League) went 3-2 over the last seven days, closing the week with back-to-back wins. At 8-10, the club sits 3.5 games out of first in the league’s West Division.

Who’s Hot

Somehow, Nick DelGuidice improved on his torrid start to the season, raising his batting average from .444 to .453 over the last seven days. Riding a nine-game hitting streak, DelGuidice has driven in 10 runs in his last five games. Nicholas Cuckovich has not kept up quite the pace of his teammate but is batting .358 with an active six-game hitting streak. On the mound, Julio Morales allowed just two hits in 4 1/3 scoreless innings last week.

Who’s Not

Right-hander Fernando Cruz had a rough outing on July 8 against the AZL Padres, allowing five runs in just an inning and a third. He has now been tagged for 13 earned runs in six innings with the club. Behind the plate, Alexander Marquez is off to a slow start with just one hit in five games this season.

Former Naturals outside the Kansas City organization

Released by Kansas City in late June, right-hander Blake Johnson signed with the Colorado Rockies organization and was assigned to Triple-A. Johnson debuted with the Colorado Springs Sky Sox on July 9, tossing a scoreless inning against Salt Lake. Also in the Pacific Coast League, Dan Cortes allowed three runs in one inning during his lone appearance last week, while Corey Smith has five hits in his last six games for the Albuquerque Isotopes.

In the International League, outfielder Jordan Parraz had a nine-game hit streak snapped in his last game but is now hitting .305 for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Meanwhile, in Gwinnett, Juan Abreu fired another scoreless inning in his lone outing last week and has still not allowed a run since June 8. Fellow G-Brave Ed Lucas had just two hits last week, but both of those came against Charlotte on July 10, the last time he took the field.

Down in the Southern League, Rowdy Hardy, Ben Swaggerty and Ernesto Mejia are all on the Mississippi Braves’ roster. Coming out of the bullpen, Hardy allowed one run in three innings spread over two appearances last week, while Swaggerty has not pitched since July 5. Mejia had a monster week at the plate, homering four times in a six-game span to raise his season total to 15. Mejia is now batting .314 in 2011.

In the Eastern League, Chris McConnell had just two hits last week for Harrisburg, lowering his batting average to .219.

Finally, Jose Duarte has hit safely in three straight games and is now batting .250 for the Florida State League’s Jupiter Hammerheads.

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 Farm Report: June 30

The fine folks at the Northwest Arkansas Naturals provide us with a brief rundown of the Royals farm system every week. The details are listed below:

Triple-A

The Omaha Storm Chasers (Pacific Coast League) endured their first rainout in a month in the midst of a key series against their division rival Memphis Redbirds. Omaha split that four-game series and went 3-3 during the last week, remaining atop the PCL’s American Northern division by a game and a half.

Who’s Hot

One of the unheralded but valuable arms on Omaha’s roster is Luis Mendoza, who has gotten into a groove of late. After beginning the season in the bullpen, Mendoza moved to the rotation and has allowed just two runs in his last three starts combined. His 2.75 ERA tops all PCL qualifiers and he was recently named to the league’s All-Star team. Joining Mendoza on the All-Star team is Johnny Giavotella, who had three multi-hit games last week to raise his average to .323. Somewhat lost in the Royals’ logjam at first base, Kila Ka’aihue punctuated a solid week with a walk-off grand slam on Tuesday.

Who’s Not

Joaquin Arias finds himself in a rough stretch. While it is tough for any utility player to get into a consistent rhythm, Arias has just one hit in the last five games he has started and his batting average has fallen to .194 with a .215 on-base percentage. Former Natural Paulo Orlando is also in a bit of a slide at the plate, as he also has just one hit in his last five games. Infielder Lance Zawadski has gone hitless since June 23rd and is 0 for his last 10.

Double-A

The Texas League All-Star break came at a good time for the Northwest Arkansas Naturals, who could use the time off to recharge their bats after last week’s series against the Arkansas Travelers. The Naturals were shut out in three of those four games and have not won since last week’s farm report, falling to 1-5 in the second half of the season.

Who’s Hot

Southpaw Chris Dwyer has been a tough-luck loser in his last two starts. Against the Travelers this past Saturday, Dwyer allowed just a run on four hits over 5 2/3 innings and did not issue a walk. It was Dwyer’s first walk-less outing this year and could be a sign of things to come. One player whose bat did not go cold is Wil Myers, who had three doubles last week. In the bullpen, Kelvin Herrera (1.61 ERA, 28 K/1 BB) and Kevin Chapman (0.77 ERA, 13 K/4 BB) continue to mow down opposing batters.

Who’s Not

Anthony Seratelli had an absolutely torrid June that tapered off a bit toward the end of the month, as the switch hitter went 1-for-15 in his last four games before the All-Star break. Tim Smith is in the midst of a 1-for-13 slump since his 12-game hitting streak, though both Smith and Seratelli should be able to get their bats going again in short order. Edgar Osuna had a rough outing in his most recent start, allowing six runs in just four innings against the Tulsa Drillers.

Class-A Advanced

The Wilmington Blue Rocks (Carolina League) started the 2011 season on a roll but faded toward the end of the first half. Though the team is just 3-4 in the second half, they find themselves in a three-way tie for first in what is a jumbled Northern Division. The Blue Rocks have lost four of their last five games and will look to turn things around this week.

Who’s Hot

Outfielder Nick Francis continues to deliver for Wilmington. Francis hit safely in all but one game last week and had four multi-hit games in that span. Despite spending nearly a month in Double-A, Francis is one off the team lead with seven home runs. Right-hander Tim Melville has pitched well of late, as he allowed just one run and struck out six in his last start. Noel Arguelles was a tough-luck loser on Wednesday as he tossed 6 2/3 innings and gave up just two runs while striking out four. Arguelles has impressed with his control, only walking five batters this season.

Who’s Not

Whit Merrifield has just one hit since last Thursday, going 1-for-22 in that span. Also struggling at the plate is catcher Jose Bonilla, who does not have a hit in his last three contests and is now batting .222. By and large, Wilmington’s pitching staff had a solid week, though reliever Glenn Gibson allowed three runs in one inning during his most recent appearance.

Class-A

The Kane County Cougars (Midwest League) are off to a scorching start in the second half of the season. Despite beginning the half on the road, Kane County went 5-1 last week, tying them with Beloit for first place in the league’s Western Division in the early stages of the second half.

Who’s Hot

Brett Eibner had a pair of three-hit games last week and hit four home runs in that span as he continues to put his early-season thumb injury behind him. Eibner is still hitting just .206 this season but is certainly trending upward. Brian Fletcher matched Eibner with four home runs last week and had a seven-game hitting streak that earned him Midwest League Player of the Week honors. Right-hander Leondy Perez allowed just an unearned run over seven innings in earning his second win of the season.

Who’s Not

Kane County’s 3.60 team ERA is in the top third of the league, though reliever Mitch Hodge has allowed at least two runs in his last three appearances. Offensively,Yowill Espinal has yet to see his batting average climb above .200 since late April, while Alex Llanos is just two for his last 15.

Short Season


The Idaho Falls Chukars’ (Pioneer League) 2011 season got off to an inauspicious start, as the team lost 20-0 on opening day and 12-4 one day later. Since then, though, the Chukars are 5-3 and sit at .500 through the first week and a half of their season.

Who’s Hot

Infielder Daniel Mateo has hit in each of the seven games in which he has played, carring a .407 average and a .448 on-base percentage into Thursday’s action.Runey Davis has a six-game hitting streak of his own and has hit one of the team’s three home runs. On the mound, Brian Peacock fired four scoreless innings to earn the save against Orem on Monday.

Who’s Not

Henry Moreno is one of the few Chukars who is off to a slow start with the bat, as the first baseman is hitting .211 and has struck out 16 times without drawing a walk. On the mound, Jose Sanchez and Brian Penny have both had a pair of rough starts, as the two players have yielded seven or more runs in each of their first two starts this season.

The Appalachian League has not been kind to the Burlington Royals this season, as the club is 1-8 through the first week and a half of play. In particular, the Royals have struggled away from home, going 0-6 on the road to this point in the year.

Who’s Hot

Though he has yet to homer, right fielder Jovan Pickett leads all of his Burlington teammates with a .353 batting average through nine games. Much of the team’s power has come from slugging first baseman Murray Watts, who has four of the team’s 10 home runs. The team’s lone win was earned by right-hander Jason Mitchell, who tossed five scoreless innings against Pulaski on Tuesday.

Who’s Not

Angel Baez retired just one batter in his first start of the season and has allowed four runs in both of his outings. The 20-year-old Dominican native did pitch into the fourth inning his last time out and will look to build from there. The Royals’ left fielder, Cameron Conner, is hitting just .185 in the early going while infielder Justin Trapp is at .206.

Playing under the lights to escape the sweltering Arizona heat, the AZL Royals (Arizona League) are just 2-6 in the early stages of complex league play and are looking to stem a four-game losing streak entering Thursday’s action.

Who’s Hot

A few young players are off to strong starts with the bat, as 19-year-old Jerico Blanco is hitting .480 while Travis Lane (.450) Nicholas Cuckovich (.424) and Nick DelGuidice (.400) all at or above the .400 mark. On the mound, reliever Parker Bangs has a team-high nine strikeouts through his first three outings.

Who’s Not

The AZL Royals have an unsightly 8.23 team ERA to this point, as Christian Witt (2.1 IP, 13 ER), Fernando Cruz (3.2 IP, 8 ER) and Brian Edelen (6.1 IP, 10 ER) will look to shake off slow starts. Offensively, Kevin David has just two hits through his first 16 at bats, while Rainier Bello (.154) and Carlos Garcia (.172) have also struggled early on.

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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