Tag Archive | "Surprise Az"

Elliot Johnson Acquired By Royals

SURPRISE, AZ (February 12, 2013) – The Kansas City Royals today announced that infielder/outfielder Elliot Johnson was acquired from the Tampa Bay Rays as the player to be named in the December 9, 2012 trade that also sent right-handed pitchers James Shields and Wade Davis to the Royals.

ElliotJohnson

Johnson, who will turn 29 on March 9, was placed on the Royals 40-man roster while right-handed pitcher Felipe Paulino was placed on the 60-day Disabled List effective today as he continued his rehab from Tommy John surgery.  Paulino will be eligible for reinstatement on June 1.  Johnson is expected to join the Royals Spring Training camp in Surprise, Ariz., on Thursday, February 14.

The switch-hitter played in 123 games for the Rays in 2012, batting .242 with 10 doubles, two triples, six home runs, 33 RBI and 32 runs scored.  The 6-foot-1, 190-pounder also stole 18 bases in 24 attempts playing mostly at shortstop (68 starts), but also making starts at second base and third base and appearing in the outfield.  Johnson is a career .223 hitter in 200 Major League games, all for Tampa Bay.

Johnson, born and raised in Arizona, now resides in Durham, NC, with his wife, Nicole, and their son, Blake.

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At least they have a chance

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

SurpriseStadium

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Gordon Signs Extension

ROYALS SIGN OUTFIELDER Alex Gordon TO A MULTI-YEAR CONTRACT
Four-Year Guaranteed Contract Also Includes Player Option for 2016

SURPRISE, AZ (March 30, 2012) — The Kansas City Royals today announced the club has reached an agreement on a multi-year contract with outfielder Alex Gordon.  The contract includes four guaranteed years through the 2015 season, then a player option for the 2016 campaign.  Consistent with club policy, financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

The 28-year-old Gordon won both the Les Milgram Royals Player of the Year as well as his first Rawlings Gold Glove Award in 2011.  He batted .303 (185-for-611) with 45 doubles, four triples, 23 home runs, 87 RBI and 101 runs scored in 151 games for Kansas City.  Gordon was one of five players in the Major Leagues to post a greater than .300 average, 45 or more doubles and 20 or more home runs, joining the Tigers’ Miguel Cabrera, the Red Sox’ Jacoby Ellsbury and Adrian Gonzalez, and the Yankees’ Robinson Cano.  In his first full season as a full-time outfielder, he led the Majors with 20 outfield assists, also setting a single-season franchise record.

The Royals’ first-round selection (second overall) in 2005 out of the University of Nebraska, Gordon and his wife, Jamie, reside in Lincoln, Neb., with their one-year-old son, Max.

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Naturals Announce Preliminary 2012 Roster

Naturals Announce Preliminary 2012 Roster
14 players return from last year’s playoff team

SURPRISE, AZ – As the Northwest Arkansas Naturals prepare to break camp in Arizona in the coming days, the Naturals announce a preliminary roster as spring training draws to a close.

The roster includes 14 players who contributed to the Naturals’ playoff run in 2011. Joining those Double-A veterans are a group of talented players who finished 2011 with the Wilmington Blue Rocks, the Royals’ affiliate in the Advanced-A Carolina League, a catcher who spent last season with Class-A Kane County in the Midwest League, and two players who were in the San Francisco Giants organization this past season.

The roster will include six of the Royals’ top 20 prospects as ranked by Baseball America.  This includes top outfield prospect Wil Myers, who is ranked as the third best prospect in the Royals system and starting pitcher Jake Odorizzi, who is ranked fourth overall in the Royals system.

The other prospects ranking in the top 20 that are headed to Northwest Arkansas include starting pitchers Chris Dwyer (9th), Noel Arguelles (17th), Tim Melville (19th)and infielder Christian Colon (11th)

Dwyer and Odorizzi are the only two starters with experience at the Double-A level last season with the Naturals.  Odorizzi was a key starter for the Naturals in their late season playoff run, going 5-3 with a 4.72 ERA in 12 starts last season.  The rest of the rotation will likely feature southpaw Justin Marksalong with Melville, and Arguelles.  Marks ranked second in the Royals organization in strikeouts last season with 140, while in Class-A Advanced Wilmington.  Both Arguelles and Mellville were in last year’s Blue Rocks’ rotation as well.

The bullpen will feature a lot of players with experience in Northwest Arkansas, and three newcomers.  The newcomers include Bryan Paukovits, Elisaul Pimenteland Michael Mariot all of whom pitched for the Wilmington Blue Rocks last season.  Patrick Keating, the Naturals’ franchise leader in saves highlights a group of returners that includes Buddy Baumann, Andrew Dobies, Blaine Hardy, Brendan Laffertyand Kendal Volz.

A large portion of the Naturals’ catching duties will be split between Julio Rodriguez and Ben Theriot.  Rodriguez comes as a highly touted defensive catcher, who the Royals acquired from the Tigers last season in the Wilson Betemit trade with the Tigers. Theriot hit .303 for the Naturals last season and will provide some left-handed power when in the lineup.  The Naturals third catcher will be Ryan Jenkins.  Jenkins was selected by the Royals in the 17th round of the 2010 draft out of Auburn and split last season between Rookie Level Surprise and Idaho Falls, before finishing the season with Class-A Kane County. 

Colon will begin his second full season as the Naturals shortstop, although he did see some time at second base as well during the Arizona Fall League.  Colon hit .299 in the Arizona Fall League following the regular season, and remains the top-rated infield prospect in the Royals organization.

Joining Colon in the infield is a group of veterans that includes a newcomer to the Texas League. Sharlon Schoop comes to the Texas League after being signed as a minor league free agent this past off season.  Schoop played five different positions last season while with Double-A Richmond.  Mario Lisson, Kurt Mertins, Rey Navarroand John Whittleman will round out the infield for the Naturals.  Whittleman is the only one of the group not to appear for the Naturals last season, but has spent time in the Texas League with Frisco from 2008-10.

Myers is going to be returning to the Naturals after putting up huge numbers in the Arizona Fall League following last season.  He hit .360 with four home runs and 18 RBI in 23 games.  Myers hit .254 while with the Naturals, while dealing with a knee injury.

Myers will be joined in the outfield by Yem Prades, Carlo Testaand Terry Evans.  Prades finished his first full season in the minor leagues last year while with Class-A Wilmington where he hit .289.  Testa was also in Wilmington last season put up similar numbers, hitting .290 in 100 games and cranking five of his seven homers in the month of August.  Evans was signed by the Royals on March 6th to add depth to the outfield.  He split last season between Double-A Reading (Philadelphia Phillies) and Triple-A Fresno (San Francisco Giants).  He also appeared in the major leagues with the Los Angeles Angels in 2007, 2009-10, and was originally drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals.  Like Whittleman, he has Texas League experience with both the Springfield Cardinals and the Arkansas Travelers, both during the 2006 season.

Several former Naturals are also remaining in Arizona to rehab from injuries.  The list includes Edgar Garcia, Edgar Osuna, Paulo Orlando, Nick Van Strattenand John Lamb.  These players could potentially see action with the Naturals in 2012.

This preliminary roster is subject to change, possibly more than once, before the Naturals’ season opening game in Corpus Christi on Thursday April 5th.  The Naturals home opener is Thursday April 12th at Arvest Ballpark against the San Antonio Missions.

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. You can purchase season tickets and group outings with the Naturals by calling (479) 927-4900.

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Quntero, Bourgeois to Royals in exchange for Chapman and PTBNL

ROYALS ACQUIRE CATCHER QUINTERO, OUTFIELDER BOURGEOIS FROM HOUSTON FOR PITCHER CHAPMAN AND A PLAYER TO BE NAMED

SURPRISE, AZ  (March 20, 2012) – The Kansas City Royals today announced that the club has acquired catcher Humberto Quintero and outfielder Jason Bourgeois from the Houston Astros in exchange for minor league pitcher Kevin Chapman and a minor league player to be named.  To make room on the Royals 40-man roster, the club placed catchers Salvador Perez (surgery on left knee for torn meniscus) and Manuel Pina (surgery on right knee for torn meniscus) on the 60-Day Disabled List.

 

The 32-year-old Quintero (full name is pronounced “hum-BEAR-toe” “kin-TEAR-o”) is a nine-year Major League veteran of the San Diego Padres (2003-04) and Houston Astros (2005-11).  The right-handed hitter batted .240 (63-for-262) with 12 doubles, a triple, two home runs, 25 RBI and 22 runs scored in 79 games with the Astros in 2011.  In 379 career games, Quintero is a .234 hitter with 15 home runs and 94 RBI.  Defensively, he has a career fielding percentage of .992 and has thrown out 53 of 192 attempted basestealers for a 27.6 percent clip.  The five-foot-nine, 216-pounder is originally from Maracaibo, Venezuela, but currently resides in Pearland, Texas.

Bourgeois (pronounced “Boosh-wah”), 30, played in a career-best 93 games for Houston last season, batting .294 (70-for-238) with eight doubles, two triples, one home run, 16 RBI and 30 runs scored.  The speedy and versatile outfielder also recorded 31 stolen bases in 37 attempts while playing all three outfield positions.  In his four-year big league career with the White Sox (2008), Brewers (2009) and Astros (2010-11), Bourgeois compiled a .262 average in 192 games with 46 steals in 56 attempts.  The right-handed hitter is a career .369 (61-for-186) batter against left-handed pitching.  Born and raised in Houston, Texas, he was originally a second-round selection of the Texas Rangers in 2000.

Chapman, 24, split the 2011 season between Wilmington (High A) and Northwest Arkansas (AA).  He was the club’s fourth-round selection in the 2010 Draft out of the University of Florida.

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Royals Reach Deal With Escobar

ROYALS SIGN SHORTSTOP ALCIDES ESCOBAR TO A MULTI-YEAR CONTRACT
Four-Year Guaranteed Contract Also Includes Club Options for 2016 and 2017

SURPRISE, AZ (March 15, 2012) — The Kansas City Royals today announced the club has reached an agreement on a multi-year contract with shortstop Alcides Escobar. The contract includes four guaranteed years through the 2015 season, then club options for each of the following two seasons: 2016 and 2017. Consistent with club policy, financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

The 25-year-old Escobar spent his first season with the Royals in 2011 after being acquired in a six-player trade with the Milwaukee Brewers on December 19, 2010. The defensive standout tied for the Major League lead with 158 games at shortstop while pacing baseball with 459 assists, 745 total chances and 271 putouts. The 6-foot-1, 193-pounder batted .254 with 21 doubles, eight triples, four home runs, 46 RBI and 69 runs scored. In addition, he stole a career-best 26 bases, becoming one of four shortstops in Royals history to steal 20 or more bases in a season (Freddie Patek, U.L. Washington and Angel Berroa). After a slow start, Escobar hit .286 from June 7 through the remainder of the season, including batting .324 in the month of September.

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Perez Requires Surgery

PEREZ INJURY TO REQUIRE SURGERY

SURPRISE, AZ (March 14, 2012) – The Kansas City Royals today announced that an MRI examination on Wednesday revealed that catcher Salvador Perez suffered a left lateral meniscus tear that will require a surgical procedure. The procedure will take place in the next few days at a location still being determined.

Perez, 21, suffered the injury while warming up pitcher Jonathan Sanchez prior to the game against Cincinnati in Surprise on Wednesday. Perez felt some discomfort in the knee but attempted to play and made it through the first inning before needing to come out of the game. He immediately underwent a magnetic resonance imaging at a local hospital and the extent of the injury was confirmed late last night.

No timetable is available for Perez’s return until the medical team performing the procedure has an opportunity to get into the affected area and determine the severity of the meniscus tear.

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Royals Spring is in full swing in Arizona

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Five Royals Players Who Could Surprise Fans In Surprise

The Kansas City Royals make their Spring Training home at the Surprise Recreation Campus in Surprise, AZ. I have no idea why a group of people got together and named a suburb of Phoenix, Arizona Surprise. Maybe the dry heat had something to do with it.

But it does give me an opportunity to make a dry pun about the surprise players the Royals may have in Spring Training. I picked a starting pitcher, relief pitcher, catcher, infielder and outfielder who could pleasantly surprise fans and the Royals enough to earn a spot on the Opening Day roster.

Starting pitcher Zach Miner: He’s not like the last pitcher named Zack the Royals had. Still, Miner had a solid career as a starting pitcher for the Detroit Tigers with a 25-20 W-L record, 4.24 ERA, 5.5 SO/9, 3.7 BB/9, 0.9 HR/9 from 2006-2009 before being sidelined with Tommy John surgery. The right-hander didn’t play in 2010, but Miner appeared in 23 games last season between AA Northwest Arkansas and AAA Omaha, pitching to a 3-7 W-L record, 5.26 ERA, 5.9 SO/9, 3.8 BB/9, 1.2 HR/9.

Miner is 29 years old and will turn 30 during Spring Training. Two of his prime playing years were recovering from Tommy John surgery and he’s been out of the Majors since 2009. Miner will need to step up and make a good impression for the Royals to give him a spot in the starting rotation.

Relief pitcher Kelvin Herrera: You have to like a pitcher named after a unit of temperature measurement. And like the rising temperatures of Arizona, Herrera shot up through three Minor League levels in 2011 before making two relief appearances in the Majors last September. While Herrera’s outings weren’t spectacular in the Majors with 2IP, 2 hits, 3 earned runs, 1 home run and a 13.50 ERA, the Royals saw his potential and kept him on the 40-Man roster.

The 22 year-old right-handed Herrera began his career as a starter, but elbow injuries in 2009 and 2010 put him in the bullpen. The Royals will likely keep Herrera as a reliever. With the Royals already strong bullpen, Herrera may start the season in Omaha’s bullpen if he has an average or lackluster Spring Training.

Herrera does have the talent to be a starter. If the Royals are serious about making Herrera a starter, it’s likely he will be in the Northwest Arkansas or Omaha starting rotation to build up his endurance and arm strength.

Catcher Manny Pina: The 24 year old catcher named after a pineapple played three games with Northwest Arkansas and 68 games with Omaha in 2011. Pina had a line of .239 BA, .365 OBP, .372 SLG. Pina threw out 27% of the basestealers, as opposed to the 42% of basestealers he threw out in 2010.

If Pina does make the Royals Opening Day roster, it will likely be as a backup catcher behind Salvador Perez, who the Royals project as their starting catcher. However, Pina does have options left and another year in Omaha wouldn’t hurt. Brayan Pena is 30 years old, out of options and the Royals believe his role is being a backup catcher. The Spring Training performances of the three catchers will determine who is the starter, who is the backup and who will go to Omaha.

Infielder Clint Robinson: If Clint Robinson was with another Major League team, he might be a strong candidate as their starting first baseman or designated hitter. His .326 BA, .399 OBP and .533 SLG in Omaha last year were good numbers, but when Eric Hosmer and Billy Butler are ahead of you, it doesn’t matter. And being 26 years old makes Robinson more organizational depth than a prospect.

But anything can happen in Spring Training. Hosmer or Butler could get hurt, or the Royals could trade Butler during Spring Training, unlikely as that may be. If Hosmer or Butler go down, Robinson will get a chance. If Hosmer or Butler stay healthy, Robinson will get another year mashing the ball in Omaha or he may be traded to a team who could use him.

Outfielder Jarrod Dyson: The Royals have a good outfield with Alex Gordon and Jeff Francoeur and the potential goodness of Lorenzo Cain. Mitch Maier did a respectable job as a fourth outfielder in limited plate appearances. So what gives the 27 year-old Jarrod Dyson a chance to make the Royals outfield corps?

Dyson’s main asset is his speed on the base paths and in the outfield. Last year in Omaha, Dyson played in 83 games and in 369 plate appearances stole 38 bases and got caught stealing twice. That’s pretty good, in case you are wondering. And in his 26 games and 53 plate appearances with the Royals last year, Dyson stole 11 bases and got caught once. Still pretty good.

And Dyson’s .279 BA, .356 OBP and .357 SLG line in Omaha last year is respectable and his defense is good when he’s out in the field.

But Dyson isn’t starting outfielder material. He doesn’t hit for much power and his value is being a pinch runner and playing defense, which works for a fourth outfielder or bench player. If Mitch Maier struggles during Spring Training and Dyson has a strong showing, he could be the Royals fourth outfielder.

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Fall League Wraps Up In Surprise

SURPRISE, AZ – The Salt River Rafters topped the Surprise Saguaros last Saturday to claim the Arizona Fall League crown. But that doesn’t discount the strides the Royals’ prospects, particularly the offensive players, made during their eight weeks in Arizona.

Surprise finished with the best record in the 20-year history of the circuit, posting a 26-10 record during the Fall League season. The Saguaros lost consecutive games only once, and the Royals’ three offensive players on the squad, Wil Myers, Christian Colon, and Anthony Seratelli, all fared pretty well. But Myers in particular impressed, as he was named to the Arizona Fall League’s All-Prospect Team.

Myers’ accomplishments for the Fall League season came after a injury-riddled disappointing campaign during the regular season with the Naturals, and may have set the Royals’ top hitting prospect on the fast track to Kansas City. During early October, Royals’ brass was quoted in the Kansas City Star indicating the Myers would begin the 2012 season back in the Naturals’ lineup, but might have turned that timetable over after batting .360 with Surprise. Myers tied for the league lead in walks (20), and triples (5), ranked second in on-base percentage (.481), third in slugging percentage (.674), sixth in both average and runs (24). Even more impressive, he reached base safely via hit or walk in 22 of 23 games he played with Surprise, and scored a run in 18 of 23 contests. He also went 3-for-5 with a double, two RBI’s, a run, and a stolen base during the Rising Stars Game.

Myers describes his production as a product of better poise in the batter’s box, which has allowed him to lay off of pitches outside of the strike zone and drive the ball when opposing hurlers are forced to throw strikes.

“Basically, I’m having more confidence at the plate,” Myers said. “Just going up there knowing I can get hits is important. This year (in Northwest Arkansas) I swung at a lot of pitcher’s pitches…now I’m recognizing what they’re throwing and going deep into counts.”

Myers’ plate discipline has also caught the eye of J.J. Picollo, Kansas City’s Assistant General Manager of Scouting and Player Development.

“He’s seeing the ball very well right now,” Picollo explained. “He’s really maturing as a hitter, being more patient and not being so anxious. People in Double-A knew how good he was, so he got a lot of pitches off the plate. Now when they pitch him that way he’s getting into 2-1, 2-0 and 3-1 types of counts.”

Picollo pointed out that Myers’ improvement is even more exciting because the talent level in the Arizona Fall League is so high.

“Pitching in the fall league is a little better than Double-A,” he said. “Arm after arm coming out of the bullpen are good arms. To do what Wil is doing against a high-caliber type of pitching is great to see.”

In addition to his improved plate presence, Picollo thinks Myers’ power will catch up shortly.

“We all know he has a tremendous amount of power,” Picollo said. “That he hasn’t put up huge home run totals is just reflective of a young player in an advanced league. Remember, he’s one of just three players from his high school draft class to reach Double-A. The power will come out at some point in time. Right now he just needs to worry about hitting doubles, finding gaps, hitting to all fields. That’s part of the natural progression hitters make.”

Through three full seasons in the minor leagues, Myers has connected on 27 long balls, including eight homers in 99 games this year in the Texas League. He hit five in 22 games in 2009 and belted 14 in 126 games in 2010, while also ripping 37 doubles that season for Advanced Class-A Wilmington.

Those numbers were enough to rank him No. 10 on Baseball America’s Top-100 Prospects list entering the 2011 season, just behind fellow Royals’ cornerstones Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas. While it’s too early to tell if Myers will make the same type of year-four jumps those two made, his confidence is bolstered because of Kansas City’s willingness to call guys up when they are deserving.

“The Royals have a plan for me,” Myers said. “It’s cool to see those guys (Hosmer and Moustakas) move up, knowing that they like to promote from within.”

Picollo said Myers’ work ethic will serve him well as he tries to make his case for a promotion to Kansas City in the future.

“Wil’s competitive nature will help him. He wants to get to the big leagues, but at this point he just needs to worry about things he can control. He needs to work hard every day and play hard every day.”

Both Seratelli and Colon also finished with solid numbers. Colon, playing mostly second base, heated up late and lifted his average from the low-.200s to nearly .300, while Seratelli faded a bit with more playing time late but still finished with a .317 average and .436 on-base percentage against more advanced pitching. Seratelli hopes that the solid showing in the fall league can help his chance to make Triple-A Omaha next spring.

On the pitching end, Jeffress and Lafferty both fanned over a batter per inning but had a couple of rough outings that tainted their numbers. Jeffress was also victimized for four runs in a relief outing during the Championship Game that put the game squarely out of reach for Surprise.

Here is a look at the final statistics for all of the Royals prospects in Surprise.

BATTING

AVG

G

AB

R

H

2B

3B

HR

RBI

BB

SO

SB

CS

OBP

SLG

OPS

Colon, Christian

.299

19

77

12

23

4

0

2

10

5

10

1

2

.365

.429

.793

Myers, Wil

.360

23

86

24

31

5

5

4

18

20

18

1

1

.481

.674

1.156

Seratelli, Anthony

.317

18

63

9

20

1

0

2

6

14

14

3

3

.436

.429

.864

PITCHING

W-L

ERA

G

GS

SV

SVO

IP

H

R

ER

HR

BB

SO

WHIP

AVG

Adcock, Nathan

2-2

4.44

6

6

0

0

24.1

27

13

12

1

4

23

1.27

.276

Jeffress, Jeremy

0-1

4.91

11

0

0

1

11.0

16

10

6

0

8

15

2.18

.333

Lafferty, Brendan

0-0

7.16

11

0

0

0

16.1

18

13

13

3

8

17

1.59

.273

Paukovits, Bryan

1-1

5.91

10

0

0

1

10.2

12

9

7

1

7

9

1.78

.267


Naturals/Texas League Notes

Springfield names new manager: Mike Shildt was named Monday as the new skipper of the Springfield Cardinals. He replaces Ron “Pop” Warner, who advances up a level to manage their Triple-A affiliate in Memphis. The remainder of the Springfield field staff remains intact from 2011. Shildt comes to Springfield after three seasons managing their rookie-level Appalachian League club in Johnson City. With Springfield’s announcement, four teams in the Texas League have announced their staffs for next season, with two of them bringing in new managers.

Winter League Report

Several other current and former Naturals are honing their craft this off-season playing in various winter leagues that span the globe.

Puerto Rico: Rey Navarro (Crillos de Caguas) appeared in just one game this past week but his hitless streak continues as his average slumped to .053… Irving Falu (Indios de Mayaguez) has a three-game hitting streak, with three-hit efforts in two of those games including three RBI’s on Sunday… Angel Sanchez, teammates with Falu in Mayaguez, is batting .237 in ten games thus far. He may be in line for more duty next year with the Astros as their starting shortstop from 2011, Clint Barmes, signed with Pittsburgh.

Venezuela: Mario Lisson (Navegantes de Magallanes) had a 2-for-3 effort Sunday to raise his average to .258… Former Natural Jose Duarte (Leones de Caracas), who is currently a minor league free agent, hasn’t had a hit since November 8th, but during that time his playing time has dried up and he’s received only three at-bats, being used primarily as a defensive sub… Ernesto Mejia (Aguilas del Zulia) has hit in five of six games, a couple being multi-hit efforts, as his average lifts to .297. As typical, Mejia is feasting on winter league pitchers, as he has four homers and has 23 runs driven in so far…Manny Pina (Bravos de Margarita) has struggled in 14 games thus far, batting .129.

Dominican Republic: Manauris Baez (Estrellas de Oriente) fanned seven in six scoreless innings in his most recent start, and now has a 1.64 ERA in six outings, including five starts… Mario Santiago (Tigres del Licey) allowed a pair of runs in five innings in his start on Sunday. Santiago has 27 strikeouts and eight walks in 35 1/3 innings…Willy Lebron, Santiago’s rotation-mate in Licey and fellow Royals’ farmhand, hasn’t pitched since leaving a game with an arm injury on November 6th Kelvin Herrera (Leones del Escogido) continues to mount a resume for 2012, as he’s gone scoreless in all nine of his outings. He’s teammates with Everett Teaford, who pitched 5 2/3 scoreless in his last outing on November 16th to lower his ERA to 3.57 in four starts.

Mexico: Federico Castaneda (Tomateros de Culiacan) continues to be one of the busier relievers in winter ball, as his outing Friday was already his 15th of the winter league season. After a couple rough early outings, Castaneda has settled in, keeping the opposition scoreless in his last five games to lower the ERA to 6.97.

These teams and respective leagues will play the round-robin Caribbean Series which takes place in February just before early reports for Major League Spring Training.

Transaction log: Ryan Verdugo, the southpaw the Royals acquired from the Giants in the trade that also brought southpaw Jonathan Sanchez to Kansas City was added to the 40-Man roster on Friday, protecting him from the Rule 5 Draft which will occur December 8th at the Baseball Winter Meetings in Dallas.

Check nwanaturals.com every two weeks beginning Friday, December 2nd for our Hot Stove Report, where we’ll continue to follow Royals’ minor leaguers in winter ball as well as cover other off-season 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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