Tag Archive | "Surprise Arizona"

Kansas City Royals Spring Training Pics From Bob Fescoe

Bob Fescoe spent last week in Surprise, Arizona interviewing Kansas City Royals players and coaches for his morning show on Kansas City’s 610 Sports Radio.

When he was not on the air, he was taking in the sites of early Spring Training and snapping pics that he would later tweet out to his followers.

With Bob’s permission, we share those pics with you below:

Billy Butler BP

Picture 1 of 42

Billy Butler takes BP with Frenchy and Hosmer looking on

Bill Ivie is the editor here at I-70 Baseball
Follow him on Twitter here.

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The Royals “Come To Play,” but will they have “game” this season?

In a few days, the Royals begin their 2013 season in Surprise, Arizona. The pitchers and catchers report early next week and the position players a few days later. While there was optimism last year, the team believes 2013 is the year they will contend in the American League Central.

Come To Play 2013

The Royals focused their offseason on starting pitching, trading for starting pitchers Ervin Santana, James Shields and Wade Davis. Jeremy Guthrie stayed with the team and signed a three-year, $25MM deal. Except for signing a few veteran position players like Miguel Tejada, Xavier Nady and Endy Chavez to Minor League contracts, the position players are pretty much set. Despite these moves, there’s still some questions coming into Spring Training.

How much will the starting rotation improve? Last year, the Royals starting rotation was the weak link with a 5.01 ERA and 890 total innings pitched, which was 13th in the American League. The Royals bullpen had a 3.17 ERA and pitched 561.1 innings, making them the most worked bullpen in the A.L.

General Manager Dayton Moore wants the starting rotation to pitch at least 1,000 innings this year, an 110 inning improvement. Last year, only two teams had their starting rotation pitch at least 1,000 innings, the Seattle Mariners (1002.2) and the New York Yankees (1001.1).

If Shields pitches like an ace, Guthrie pitches like he did the second half of 2012, Davis and Santana find their starting pitching mojo and Luke Hochevar finds some consistency, it’s possible the starting rotation pitches 1,000 innings. But that’s a lot of if’s and if there is long-term or season ending injuries, the Royals season could be in jeopardy.

Will Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer improve in 2013? Moustakas played pretty well the first half of 2012, but ended up with a .242/.296/.412 average. His defense was good, but his offense fell short. Hosmer struggled all season, ending up with a .232/.304/.359 average. During the offseason, Hosmer worked with his brother to help improve his swing, so there’s hope for improvement. The Royals need Moustakas and Hosmer to live up to their potential if they want to contend this season.

Will Jeff Francoeur bounce back from his dismal 2012? Frenchy is the player fans love to hate, but like it or not, he’s the starting right fielder this season. He has good outfield defense, and if he just plays league average offense, he’ll be better than last year. But if his downward spiral continues, we’ll be seeing Jarrod Dyson, David Lough or someone else patrolling right field.

Can the Royals keep their key players from long-term injuries? Every team has to deal with injuries, but long-term injuries are especially painful for teams like the Royals. Part of the disappointing 2012 season were the injuries to catcher Salvador Perez, center fielder Lorenzo Cain and pitchers Danny Duffy and Felipe Paulino. Perez and Cain missed the bulk of the 2012 season and Duffy and Paulino won’t return until the middle of the 2013 season. Injuries happen, but the Royals can’t afford to have injuries like they had last year.

Can the Royals stay away from losing streaks? We all know about the 12-game meltdown last April, but the Royals also had a five-game losing streak in July and a six-game losing streak in September. That’s 23 games worth of losing streaks. If the Royals went 11-12 in those games, they would finish with an 83-79 record, which they haven’t done since 2003. Yes, they wouldn’t make the playoffs. But we’d be talking about the improvements the Royals made in 2012 and the moves the Royals made this offseason would be met with more optimism. And if the Royals have another 12-game losing streak in April, Ned Yost and Dayton Moore might be out of a job by May.

The Royals are a better team than last year, but they have to stay away from long-term injuries and multi-game losing streaks. Moustakas and Hosmer have to improve and Francoeur can’t repeat his 2012 performance. There’s more reason to hope than ever, but the Royals are still a young team and they have their work cut out for them this season.

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El Salvador

Perhaps he’s not the savior that his name suggests, but the Royals are placing enough faith in 21-year-old Salvador Perez that his signing represents a significant effort to lock up talent early.

Much was made in 2008 about the signing of Evan Longoria to a long-term deal before he’d completed even a full year in the majors. The Royals mimicked the Longoria deal by giving Perez a 5-year deal for $7 million with 3 club option years that total up to $19.75 million.

By giving a rookie a multi-year, incentive-laden contract, it would appear both player and team benefit. If the player is injured or flops, he still gets big money. But if the player lives up to his presumed potential, the team retains his services through the early part of his career for a relatively bargain-basement price. And the player earns his worth through incentives.

The fact that Perez got such a deal done before Eric Hosmer might be a bit surprising, but is no less encouraging to Royals fans. Hosmer is a potentially great player, but he plays first base, a position where seemingly every team has a great player.

Perez, on the other hand, plays a position where few are truly great. Prior to last season, Perez was viewed as a premium defensive catcher and handler of pitchers who might develop offensively. But last season he rocketed to the head of the class with the bat and became the most coveted catching prospect in baseball.

While Hosmer has tons of company when it comes to elite first basemen, Manager Ned Yost told reporters Tuesday that Perez stands alone among catchers.

“You can’t find a catcher of his magnitude – they’re just not out there,” Yost said from Surprise, Arizona yesterday. “In my 25 years, I haven’t come across a catcher with this kid’s ability. When I was with the Braves, we sort of had that with Javi Lopez, Javi was a spectacular player, but this kid is better.”

Yost called Perez, who’s played just 39 games in the big leagues “ the cornerstone” of the team, predicting the catcher would be “an all-star for years to come.”

Is this kind of praise, heaped on top of a headline-grabbing contract, too much for a rookie?

“This is the big leagues. You learn to deal with that,” said Yost. “If you’re gonna reach your ceiling, there’s no way around that.”

Perez’ talent was no secret to Royals fans prior to 2011, but he wasn’t showing up in prospect rankings. Strangely, Wil Myers was the one ranked second among catching prospects at this time last year. But Myers moved to the outfield and Perez moved through two minor leagues and a month in Kansas City so effortlessly he would probably be ranked #1 among prospects this year if he were eligible.

(Some others ranked last year were very good as well. Jesus Montero certainly didn’t disappoint last year and is ranked #1 again this year. J.P. Arencibia and Wilson Ramos left the ranks of prospects to become solid big leaguers last year.)

But Yost doesn’t just see Perez as a great prospect. He sees in him the potential to be THE BEST catcher in the game. Soon.

How long has it been since the Royals had the best player in the game at any particular position? Possibly not since 1980, when Brett won the MVP as a third baseman.

So the fact that Perez stands in line to become an elite catcher makes his signing of utmost importance. Hopefully Hosmer and others will follow suit and commit to long-term deals with KC.

If Perez reaches his potential, he’ll be an all star. But if he can turn the Royals into a winning franchise, he will be El Salvador.

 

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Spring Training Report #1: Naturals Reporting To Camp

Spring Training Report #1: Naturals reporting to Camp
Former Naturals Looking to Turn Heads this Spring


Photo Courtesy of Minda Haas

SPRINGDALE, AR – The Kansas City Royals have opened spring training with pitchers and catchers already reporting to camp.  Position players will be reporting this Friday, although a number of them have already reported to the Surprise, Arizona facility.  The Royals are looking to build off a season that saw several of their young prospects and former Naturals make their major league debuts.
Former Naturals Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, and Salvador Perez all enter camp in new roles as projected starters this season, rather than battling to try an earn a spot on the big league roster as they have in past seasons.  Hosmer is coming off a year where he hit 19 home runs and drove home 78 in just 128 games in the major leagues.  He finished third last season in Rookie of the Year voting behind Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Jeremy Hellickson, and Los Angeles Angels outfielder Mark Trumbo.  Moustakas had his best month as a major leaguer in September when he batted .352 with four home runs and 12 RBI.  Perez made great strides in working with the pitching staff in 2011 and was strong at the plate posting a .331 average in Kansas City.
Another Natural, Johnny Giavotella is in camp after also making his major league debut in August last season.  Giavotella is expected to battle major league veteran Chris Getz for the starting job at second base.
Former Naturals Jarrod Dyson, Paulo Orlando, David Lough, Wil Myers, and Derrick Robinson are also in major league camp competing with Mitch Maier and the newly signed Greg Golson to make the major league roster as a fourth outfielder.
The pitching staff is where most of competition will be this spring.  The starting rotation potentially has two positions that several players will be competing for with Luke HochevarJonathan Sanchez, and Bruce Chen considered to have already secured spots. Former Naturals Danny Duffy, Aaron Crow, Mike Montgomery, are expected to compete for a job at the back end of the rotation along with Pacific Coast League Pitcher of the Year Luis Mendoza and Felipe Paulino.  Several former Naturals are looking to nail down a spot in the bullpen as well.  Louis Coleman, Greg Holland, Kelvin Herrera, Jeremy Jeffress, Everett Teaford, and Blake Wood are among those competing with offseason acquisitions Jose Mijares and Tommy Hottovy.
Other former Naturals in major league camp include pitchers Chris Dwyer, Jake Odorizzi, Will Smith, Zach Miner, Roman Colon, catchers Manny Pina and Cody Clark, and infielders Irving Falu and Clint Robinson.

Naturals/Texas League Notes

Naturals in Other Camps: At least eight former Naturals players are also showing up in other big league spring training camps around major league baseball.   Right-hander Juan Abreu (2009) has reported to camp with the Houston Astros after making his major league debut last season.  He’ll be joined by infielder Angel Sanchez (2008), an Astros’ non-roster invitee.  Kila Ka’aihue is also in camp with the Oakland Athletics and is expected to compete for playing time at first base and designated hitter with Daric Barton and former Texas leaguer Chris Carter (Midland, 2009).  Ka’aihue is out of options, and must make the big league roster or be exposed to waivers prior to being sent to the minor leagues.  Former Naturals’ starter Dan Cortes (2008-09) is in camp after signing a big league deal with the Washington Nationals following his release from the Seattle Marinerrs.  Right-hander Jeff Fulchino, who spent an abbreviated two-game stint with the Naturals in the first week of their history, joins him in Nationals’ camp as a non-roster player.

A trio of former Naturals – left-hander Dusty Hughes (2008), first baseman Ernesto Mejia (2010), and outfielder Jordan Parraz (2009) – are also in big league camp, with the Atlanta Braves, as non-roster invitees.

‘Manny being Manny’ at Arvest???  Divisive big league slugger Manny Ramirez agreed to terms on a contract with the Oakland Athletics this week.  Manny will have to serve a 50-game suspension violating major league baseball’s substance abuse policy.  There is a provision that would allow Ramirez to play a ten game stint in the minor leagues before joining the Athletics roster for their 51st game – which would be a road contest May 30th against the Minnesota Twins.  This would put him on track to possibly begin a minor league stint on or around May 20th.  It is too early to speculate on where he may appear, or what minor league teams he may be with, but the Midland Rockhounds, Oakland’s Double-A affiliate, will be at Arvest from May 23-25th.  Should he appear in Springdale he would be the biggest name to rehab at Arvest Ballpark since Kevin Millwood made a rehab start against the Naturals in August of 2008, while on a rehab assignment from the Texas Rangers.

Top 100 Prospects: Several former and future Naturals are listed on the Baseball America top 100 prospect list.  Former Natural Mike Montgomery is ranked 23rd, while Bubba Starling, the fifth over all pick in the 2011 draft, is right behind Montgomery ranked 24th. Starling is not likely to see time in Northwest Arkansas before 2014.  The Royals had five players overall make the list, as current Natural Wil Myers is ranked 28th, and Jake Odorizzi is ranked 68th, and Cheslor Cuthbert, a promising third baseman from Nicaragua who is expected to begin the 2012 season with Wilmington, is 84th on the list.  Former Diamond Hog Zack Cox, who spent last season in the Texas League with Springfield, was ranked 88th.  The Royals are one of three teams to have three players make the Top 30 for 2012.  The Mariners and Diamondbacks also accomplished the feat.

Transaction Log: Former Naturals’ right hander Roman Colon returns to the Royals organization after spending the 2011 season in the Los Angeles Dodgers organization pitching for Triple-A Albuquerque.  In 27 appearances the 32-year old Colon posted a 2-1 record and a 4.85 ERA in 27 appearances.  Colon spent the 2010 season pitching in Korea, and has been invited to big league spring training this season, but if he wins a job coming out of camp, that’s likely to be in the bullpen with Triple-A Omaha…The Royals also signed right-hander Steve Kent to a minor league contract.  Kent is a 22-year old Australian right-hander who has spent the last two seasons in Class-A ball in the Atlanta Braves’ system.  He’ll join the cast of arms competing for spots with Kane County and Wilmington, but could advance to Double-A later in the season.  Kent’s career minor league record is 8-10 with a 4.17 ERA in 67 career games, including 30 starts.  He posted a 7.77 ERA in 48 2/3 innings last season for Class-A Rome (GA), where he missed time with injury.

Check nwanaturals.com for our Spring Training Report, where we’ll continue to follow Royals’ minor leaguers in spring training as well as cover other baseball information that pertains to the Naturals and the Texas League.

The Northwest Arkansas Naturals are the Double-A Texas League affiliate of the Kansas City Royals and play at state-of-the-art Arvest Ballpark, located in Springdale.  Visit our website, nwanaturals.com, for information on season tickets and ticket plans.

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Breaking Down The Royals Rotation

We are slowly approaching Spring Training 2012 when the Kansas City Royals start arriving on February 20th in Surprise, Arizona. The Royals will be looking to improve on their 71-91 record from last year and hope to challenge for the division title this season. Kansas City certainly will have a better chance, this year than the past few seasons, at pushing the rest of the AL Central for the division title with its young and talented core of players beginning to make their impact on the major leagues.

As the Royals roster is constructed currently, I see this team in the 75-83 win range. This is mainly due to the starting rotation and that the team is still very young. The 2012 Royals team will look similar to 2011 with only a few changes:

The Royals lineup and bench will have a good balance of veterans and young players and manager Ned Yost will continue to try to get to most out of every player to have a sniffing chance at the division crown. If opening day was today the Royals lineup should look something like this:

  1. LF Alex Gordon
  2. 2B Johnny Giavotella
  3. 1B Eric Hosmer
  4. DH Billy Butler
  5. RF Jeff Francoeur
  6. 3B Mike Moustakas
  7. C Salvador Perez
  8. CF Lorenzo Cain
  9. SS Alcides Escobar

Bench: C Brayan Pena, IF Chris Getz, IF Yuniesky Betancourt, OF Mitch Maier, OF Jarrod Dyson or IF Kevin Kouzmanoff

This is all pre-spring training and there is plenty of time for things to develop and change. I would imagine Yost will go with 14 position players and 11 pitchers but he certainly could use the extra pitcher with the current Royals rotation. It will be interesting to watch how the bench battles develop – one or two reserve outfielders and two or three reserve infielders.

Now, let’s compare the Royals rotation and closer situation to the rest of the AL Central:

Chicago Cleveland Detroit Kansas City Minnesota
1 John Danks (8-12 4.33) Ubaldo Jimenez (10-13 4.68) Justin Verlander (24-5 2.40) Luke Hochevar (11-11 4.68) Carl Pavano (9-13 4.30)
2 Gavin Floyd (12-13 4.37) Fausto Carmona (7-15 5.25) Doug Fister (11-13 2.83) Bruce Chen (12-8 3.77) Francisco Liriano (9-10 5.09)
3 Phil Humber (9-9 3.75) Justin Masterson (12-10 3.21) Max Scherzer (15-9 4.43) Jonathan Sanchez (4-7 4.26) Scott Baker (8-6 3.14)
4 Chris Sale (2-2 2.79) Josh Tomlin (12-7 4.25) Rick Porcello (14-9 4.75) Felipe Paulino (4-10 4.46) Nick Blackburn (7-10 4.49)
5 Jake Peavy (7-7 4.92) Derek Lowe (9-17 5.05) Jacob Turner (0-1 8.53) Danny Duffy (4-8 5.64) Brian Duensing (9-14 5.23)
CL Matt Thornton Chris Perez Jose Valverde Joakim Soria Joel Zumaya

 

It should be clear that Detroit and Cleveland are a definite 1 and 2 in terms of pitching with Kansas City, Minnesota and Chicago battling for third and beyond. The Royals bullpen was a surprising strong point last season and should be solid once again. Kansas City can certainly claim to have the top bullpen or #2 in the AL Central right now just based on last year’s numbers and player histories.

In order for Kansas City to have any shot at a division title run a few things need to happen: the bats need to continue to improve on last season with another year of experience under their belt, the bullpen to dominate with everyone returning along with new flame-thrower Broxton joining the crew, the rotation will need to prove the doubters wrong with quality starts keeping the bats in the game to get to the strong pen to close it out, and, of course, a little luck. Easier said than done, right? Hurry up spring.

Follow me on twitter at @mstreeter06

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Royals Host Korean Champs

ROYALS TO HOST KIA TIGERS OF THE KOREAN BASEBALL ORGANIZATION IN SURPRISE, ARIZONA

KANSAS CITY, MO (January 12, 2012) — The Kansas City Royals announced today that the club will host the ten-time Korean Baseball Organization (KBO) national champion Kia Tigers at its complex in Surprise, Ariz., from January 16-February 19.

The Kia Tigers, the most successful team in the 31-year history of the Korean Baseball Organization, will bring 50 players to Arizona to prepare for their regular season. The club will be housed in the Royals minor league facilities and train on the back fields of the complex. The Tigers will share the facility with Royals Fantasy Camp during the week of January 30.


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