Tagged: All-Star Game

Royals Represented By Solid Duo

The Royals will be represented by two players at this year’s All-Star game at Citi Field in New York.

Left fielder Alex Gordon and catcher Salvador Perez were elected by their fellow players as All-Star reserves. This will be the first All-Star roster appearance for both Royals.

Gordon and Perez are in the midst of very solid and productive seasons, both at the plate and in the field.

Photo Credit: Ed Zurga/Getty Images North America

Photo Credit: Ed Zurga/Getty Images North America

Offensively, Alex Gordon is currently 3rd among qualifying AL left fielders in batting average (.293) , OBP (.359), and OPS (.794), 2nd in hits (95), 4th in RBI (47), and 1st in grand slams (2). On the other side of the ball, Gordo has been even better, ranking 1st among AL left fielders in games started (81), total innings (704.2), total chances (160), putouts (152), assists (8), errors (0), and fielding percentage (1.000%). He ranks 2nd among American League left fielders with a 2.5 WAR.

Salvador Perez has been just as dependable for Kansas City this season. He ranks 2nd among qualifying AL catchers in batting average (.302), and hits (79), 5th in RBI (36), 7th in doubles (15), and 6th in total bases (110). On defense, Salvy ranks 3rd in games played (71), games started (67), innings (584.2), 5th in total chances (531) and putouts (486), 1st in assists (40) and passed balls (0). He currently ranks 3rd among AL catchers with a WAR of 2.3.

While Gordon has been mentioned in All-Star talks for the past few seasons (he was up for the final player vote in 2011), this is new territory for Salvador Perez. While many scouts and executives around the league believed that Perez would be an All-Star caliber catcher at some point in his career, nobody figured it would be this soon; after all, this is his first full season at the major league level. But he has already proven to everyone around the league that he is one of the more complete catchers in all of baseball. And what is even crazier is that he has so  much more time and room to become even better.

The 2013 All-Star game will mark the first time the Royals have had two players make the American League roster since 2003 (Mike Sweeney & Mike MacDougal) and the first time the Royals have been represented by two position players in the Mid-Summer Classic since 2000 (Mike Sweeney & Jermaine Dye).

The 2013 All-Star game will take place on Tuesday, July 16th at 7 PM CT on FOX.

What a Week It Was For Kansas City

The All-Star festivities have officially come and gone in Kansas City.

Billy Butler doffs his hemlet before his first at-bat in the 7th inning to a roaring crowd.

FanFest was an overwhelming success.

Talk about sensory overload…

Upon going up the escalator to the show room at Bartle Hall, when you see the banners hanging from the ceiling, authentic baseball memorabilia on walls and tables, Cal Ripken and Barry Larkin instructing a local high school baseball team on proper fielding techniques, everybody thinking and talking about baseball, and nearly 80% of the fans attending wearing Royals gear, you knew you were in baseball heaven.

If you didn’t do anything else baseball related during All-Star week in Kansas City, I hope you at least took a few hours to venture downtown, take a stroll through Barney Allis Plaza on your way to FanFest. It was a living, breathing baseball museum with every ounce of baseball history covered from head-to-toe. And for $30 a ticket, you got way more than what you paid for.

The All-Star Future’s Game drew a record crowd.

40,000+ attended the Future’s Game most likely due to the presence of future Royals Wil Myers, Jake Odorizzi, and Yordano Ventura. If that doesn’t make Dayton Moore call-up Myers and/or Odorizzi, I don’t know what will.

It goes to show you though, if you put an exciting product on the field, the stadium will be filled almost every single night. This is a baseball town. We just haven’t had many teams to rally behind in the past 10+ years.

The Homerun Derby… was everything a Royals fan could have ever wanted (outside of seeing Billy Butler send a few BP fastballs into the fountains).

Apparently word gets around. #BooCano Photo Credit: H. Darr beiser / US Presswire

Oh, what a night it was.

The Homerun Derby is, and always will be, an exciting affair. And this year’s was no exception.

We all know the story. Robinson Cano, the captain for the American League’s half of the Derby, stated publicly that he would assuredly select a Royal to participate – which happened to Billy Butler. Then Robby snubbed him.

Feeling like Robinson Cano slapped the entire KC community across the face, the outraged Royals fanbase (myself included) took their anger to the Twitterverse. And boy, did it work.

Robinson Cano drew the biggest collective “boooooooooo” I have ever had the priviledge of hearing. I also have never heard a louder crowd collectively cheer for one person as they did when they called for Billy Butler. My wife and I, watching from home, couldn’t help but laugh, smile, and throw in a few cheers and “boos” of our own during Cano’s failed hacks. Watching him hit pop-up after pop-up into the outfield literally made my week. In all, Robinson was a glorious 0-fer – hitting absolutely zero homeruns. That itself made it all so, so sweet.

Outside of Cano, the fans were treated to a great show by Mark Trumbo and Derby champ Prince Fielder. Trumbo, who Cano supposedly picked over Butler, hit possibly the most impressive homerun I have ever seen when he launched a ball onto the roof of the Royals Hall of Fame in left field – some 475+ ft. Equally impressive was the amount of balls Prince was able to send into the fountains deep in right center.

The All-Star Game was a lopsided affair.

Former Royal Melky Cabrera rounds the bases after hitting a two-run homerun in the top of the 4th inning of the 2012 All-Star Game in Kansas City. Photo Credit: David Eulitt

Justin Verlander got rocked. How often have you ever been able to hear that?

The NL was able to talley five runs off of him in the first inning thanks to a Pablo Sandoval bases-loaded triple (the first such occurance in All-Star Game history).

Another Giant earned the All-Star Game’s top honor. Former Royals great Melky Cabrera won the All-Star Game MVP award thanks to his two-run homerun. It was great to see Melky make his first All-Star team and win the MVP award in Kansas City, but it makes the Jonathan Sanchez trade sting that much more…

But without a doubt, the most memorable moment of the game didn’t come when Bryce Harper lost a flyball in left field. Or when Derek Jeter and Ryan Braun chummed it up on the field in the midst of Braun’s triple. Or when Robinson Cano was booed yet again. Or even when Billy Butler finally got his first AB in the 7th inning (although that was a close 2nd).

For me, it was when Chipper Jones took his first at-bat ever in Kansas City. Before Tuesday, the long-time veteran had played in every single stadium in the league except for Kauffman Stadium. He hit a choppy groundball between first and second that was “just” out of Ian Kinsler’s reach for a basehit. You could see Chipper smiling at Kinsler when he reached first base. Any other day, Kinsler makes that play.

Royals Notes

  • Both CF Lorenzo Cain and 2B Chris Getz have been activated from the DL and placed on the active roster. RHP Nate Adcock and INF/U Irving Falu were the roster casualities, as both were sent back down to Omaha.
  • After having a solid showing at the Future’s Game, Wil Myers went 2-for-3 with a run scored and a RBI in the Triple-A All-Stars game as the PCL beat the International League 3-0. Wil was named the games’ MVP.
  • Yordano Ventura, who started the Future’s Game for the World Team, was promoted from Single-A Kane County to Double-A Northwest Arkansas.
  • Joining Ventura in Double-A is lefty Mike Montgomery. In his second season at Omaha, Monty seems to have regressed significantly. In 17 starts (91.2 IP), he’s 3-6 with a 5.69 ERA with just 67 K to 43 BB and a 1.67 WHIP.
  • Taking Montgomery’s spot in Omaha’s rotation will be another promising young lefty: Chris Dwyer. Through 16 starts and 85.2 IP this season for the Naturals, the 24-year old hasn’t faired much better than Montgomery. He was 5-8 with a 5.25 ERA, 71 K to 44 BB, and had a WHIP of 1.43. Dwyer’s promotion may have more to do with the Rule 5 Draft this offseason more than anything. In order to protect Dwyer from of the Rule 5 Draft, the Royals will have to place him on the 40-man roster sometime between now and the draft. If the Royals opt not to do so, they risk losing him to any team that decides he’s worth a spot on their 25-man roster for all of 2013. Note: In 2011, Baseball America ranked Dwyer as the 83rd best prospect in the game.

Overall, Kansas City showed Major League Baseball and its fans a great time and was a more than gracious host to thousands of visitors. Here’s top hoping it doesn’t take another 39 years to have another one of these.

Wil Myers Impresses in Team USA’s Route

For Royals fans, the 2012 All-Star Future’s Game holds more clout than any other All-Star Weekend event. Afterall, we have no representatives in the Home Run Derby (thanks, Robinson Cano…) and only one team representative in the All-Star game – a game that will be played in our own stadium. Billy Butler will most likely see as much as one at-bat in tomorrow night’s game, likely as a late game pinch-hitter. So pardon us if we’d rather pay attention to a game where three of our guys– not including Team USA manager and HOFer George Brett – would be playing in an exciting (though meaningless to some) game in front of a sold-out crowd in a stadium that we hope to see them in real soon.

Photo Credit: David Eulitt

That’s right. Sold out.

A roaring crowd of 40,095 (a record, by the way) at the K gave each of Wil Myers, Jake Odorizzi, and Yordano Ventura a standing ovation upon taking the field Sunday afternoon. Odorizzi even took a moment to remove his cap and acknowledge the hometown fans before throwing the first pitch of the game – a 73 mph curveball for a strike to Angels prospect Jean Segura.

Starting pitcher Jake Odorizzi in the 1st inning for the USA Team. Photo Credit: US Presswire

Team USA fell behind early when Jake Odorizzi gave up a one-out solo homerun down the right field line to Rangers top prospect (who Keith Law ranks as his #2 prospect behind Dylan Bundy of the Orioles) Jurickson Profar.

Another Royals farmhand got the starting nod for the game.  Young right-hander Yordano Ventura, a native of the Dominican Republic, started the game for the World Team, and lit up the radar guns. Three different times during his perfect frame, Ventura dialed up triple-digit fastballs while getting the top third of Team USA’s order to each groundout.

Yordano Ventura delivers a pitch in the 1st inning as the starter for the World Team. Photo Credit: John Sleezer / The Kansas City Star

But the real star of the game, as far as Royals prospects go, was Wil Myers. As Myers made his way to the batter’s box, the crowd once again rose to their feet, giving Wil his second standing-o of the afternoon. Outside of the All-Star Game itself, this has been the most highly anticipated moment in Kansas City for the past month or so. His first AB resulted in a groundout to third base.

Center fielder Wil Myers breaks his bat while singling to left field in the 7th inning. Photo Credit: John Sleezer / The Kansas City Star

He tied up the game at 4-4 in the bottom of the 3rd inning with a RBI groundout. After the 4th inning, substitutions were abound. But manager George Brett knew what the sellout crowd at The K wanted to see. So instead of taking Wil Myers out of the game, Brett opted to shift him from right field to center field, where he spent the rest of the game.Wil collected his first hit of the game in the bottom of the 5th, added a run with a sac-fly in a nine-run 6th inning, and slapped a broken-bat single into left to complete his night at the plate. All in all, Wil went 2-for-4 with 2 RBI and a run scored. It was a solid game for him in front of 40,000 fans who are ready for him to be in the big league lineup everyday.The final score was completely lopsided: a 17-5 victory for the USA.

Much to my dismay, however, Dayton Moore did announce that both Myers and Odorizzi will head back to Omaha following the break – though I have no doubt that both of them will be playing in Kansas City soon.

This Could Mean Something

The Royals parted ways with their longest tenured player on Wednesday afternoon when the designated Mitch Maier for assignment, thus clearing another spot on the 40-man roster – which now stands at 38 players.

Mitch has been a model citizen ever since he became a Royal. He was selected as a catcher in the 1st round of the 2003 draft by KC before the organization opted to convert him to a third basemen in 2004. After the Royals acquired third basemen Mark Teahen as a part of the Carlos Beltran deal in 2005, effectively blocking his path to the majors, Maier was then shifted to the outfield. Nobody ever heard a single gripe or complaint from Mitch – that’s just who he was. He made his debut for the Royals in 2006 and spent all of 2007 and part of 2008 in Omaha before seeing major playing time in Kansas City.

In parts of 6 seasons (360 games total) with the Royals, Mitch has amassed a slash line of .248/.327/.344 while filling in for the injured David DeJesus, Rick Ankiel, Jose Guillen, Coco Crisp, Scott Podsednik, etc. His best season came in 2010, when he played in 117 games, hit .263/.333/.375 with 26 XBH (15 doubles, 6 tiples, 5 HRs) while driving in 39 runs and scoring 41.

2011’s outfield of Gordon, Melky, and Frenchy limited Mitch’s playing time to just 45 games. But he did manage to make his pitching debut in Fenway Park that season, pitching one scoreless inning in a lop-sided loss. He followed up his first outing with an identical performace this season in another lop-sided loss, this time against the Indians.

Bottom line: Mitch does his job.

With Gordon and Francoeur playing practically everyday, Jarrod Dyson and Jason Bourgeois currently platooning center, Lorenzo Cain coming back from various injuries, and Wil Myers due to be in Kansas City any day now, Mitch is basically the odd man out. At 30 years old, he’s hardly a young player hwo just needs a shot somewhere. He is what he is: a utility outfielder who does everything fundamentally well, but doesn’t excel at any one area of his game. But guys like that are just as valuable to a team as any other position player. Every team needs a role-player who can come off the bench at anytime and be ready. I have no doubt that a team, most likely an NL club, will take a chance on him.

Now let’s talk about the 40-man roster spot that has been vacated.

All of the players listed on a team’s 4-man roster are guaranteed Major League contracts, meaning they will begin earning at least the league’s minimum salary. In order for a player to be on your 25-man roster, he has to be on the 40-man roster. A few names that aren’t on the 40-man include…

Wil Myers and Jake Odorizzi.

The Royals recently promoted pitchers Nate Adcock and Louis Coleman to Kansas City while optioning Vin Mazzaro back to Omaha. Both Adcock and Coleman are here to supplement the bullpen until after the All-Star break, with Adcock serving as a long reliever/spot-starter and Coleman as a 6th/7th inning arm. With both of them on board, the Royals are carrying 13 pitchers to 12 fielders (the normal split is 13 fielders and 12 pitchers).

After the break, one of Adcock and Coleman figures to be summoned back to Omaha along with one of Jason Bourgeois and Irving Falu – with both Lorenzo Cain and Chris Getz slated to come off the DL soon.

But with these two free spots on the roster, it’s hard not to think Wil Myers and either Jake Odorizzi are destined for Kauffman Stadium sooner rather than later.

Wil Myers has done everything to earn his roster spot but drive to Kansas City and knock on Dayton Moore’s office door himself. Since being called-up to Triple-A Omaha, Wil has absolutely… well, you all already know: .317/.398/.639, 26 XBH (8 doubles, 4 triples, 14 HRs), 42 RBI, 40 runs scored, and has shown increased presence at the plate with his 1.75:1 K:BB ratio in just 47 games. He’s playing virtually every day in center field, which is probably the position with the biggest offensive void in Kansas City.

Team officials have recently begun to acknowledge that it’s becoming increasingly hard to keep Myers in Omaha. So maybe when he makes the trip to Kansas City for the All-Star Future’s Game, Dayton Moore will give him a reason to stay beyond the break.

Hardly to be outshined and over-shadowed, Jake Odorizzi is making his case for a big league promotion as well. Since his promotion to Omaha, he’s been flat-out dominant: 5-0, 2.83 ERA, 3:1 K:BB ratio, and a 1.42 WHIP. The starting rotation has been the Royals Achille’s Heel this season, as they’re only getting fairly consistent production from Bruce Chen. Hochevar has been both dominant and ineffective, Jonathan Sanchez deserves to be cut and never spoken of again, Duffy and Paulino are TJ victims, Vin Mazzaro has been below-average, Luis Mendoza should only start in emergencies, Nate Adcock has proven to be a better bullpen arm, and Everett Teaford has been good enough to get by.

Clearly, this Odorizzi guy deserves to get his shot. Afterall, every one else seems to be getting second, third, fourth, fifth, and sixth chances.

Although I’m extremely excited for all of the All-Star events being in Kansas City for the next week or so, I can’t wait until a week from now when the Royals lineup cards might include the names “Myers” and “Odorizzi”.

Three Royals Selected for Futures Game

On July 8th, three Royals prospects will be on national display in Kansas City as they take part in the All-Star Futures Game: outfielder Wil Myers and right-handers Jake Odorizzi and Yordano Ventura. Myers and Odorizzi will be part of the US team while Ventura, who hails from the Domincan Republic, will participate as a member of the World team.

Wil Myers, at 21 years old, will be taking part in his second Futures Game. Highly regarded within the Royals organization, as well as around the league, Myers is doing all he can in Triple-A Omaha to force Dayton Moore to call him up to Kansas City. In 68 combined games between Double-A and Triple-A, Wil has a .336 batting average while recording 45 extra-base hits (24 homeruns, 18 doubles, 3 triples), 62 runs batted in, and 59 runs scored.Jake Odorizzi, 22, will be taking part in his first Futures Game. Like Myers, Odorizzi too is on the verge of being able to make an impact at the big league level. In 13 combined outings (12 starts) for Double-A and Triple-A, Izzy is sporting a killer 8-2 record with a 2.89 ERA in 72 IP. His K:BB ratio is nearly 4:1 (81 K:21 BB) and opposing hitters own a .219 batting average against him.

Yordano Ventura, 21, will be partaking in his first Futures Game experience as well. Despite his size, the 5’11”, 140-150 lbs. starter has the ability to touch 100 mph. In 13 starts and 61 IP, Ventura has struck out 78 hitters while walking only 24. On the year for Class-A Wilmington, he’s 3-5 with a 3.10 ERA with an opposing batting avergae of just .227.

In the past handful of years, the Royals have been well-represented in the Futures Game. Alex Gordon, Billy Butler, Mike Moustakas, and Eric Hosmer (as well as Alcides Escobar while with the Brewers organization) have all taken part

Another member of the Royals will be taking part in the game, although this one is on the opposite end of the prospect-veteran scale.

George Brett has been named the manager of the US team for the Futures Game. Triple-A Omaha manager Mike Jirschele and former Royal John Wathan will be a part of Brett’s coaching staff for the game.

The All-Star Futures Game will take place at 4:00 pm on Sunday July 8th at Kauffman Stadium.

Tuesday Recap: The Draft, Verdugo, and Another Shutout

Tuesday was a busy day for the Boys in Blue.

The Draft: Rounds 2-15

Apparently Kyle Zimmer wasn’t enough for the Royals. One day after taking Zimmer 5th overall, the Royals selected a total of seven pitchers in rounds 2-15 (3 college, 4 high school).

The Royals took Vanderbilt lefty Sal Selmon in the 2nd round of the 2012 MLB Draft. Photo Credit: Karl B. DeBlaker

They started the day by taking Vanderbilt lefty Sam Selman with pick no. 66. Selman,21, hasn’t been a front-line starter for the Commodores, but he’s a guy that Royals scouts saw get better as the season went on. The Royals took Louisiana high school lefty Colin Rodgers, 18, with their 3rd round pick, their first selection from the high school ranks. Rodgers is currently commited to play baseball at Auburn. He possesses a plus-curveball that normally sits between 75-78 with a sharp break. The Royals addressed their biggest organizational need by selecting three pitchers with their first three picks.

Kansas City finally selected their first position player in round four by selecting Stanford infielder Kenny Diekroeger with the 133rd overall pick. Diekroeger was selected out of high school in the 2nd round by Tampa Bay in the 2009 draft. Opting rather to attend Stanford, Kenny turned down a signing-bonus of $2 million from the Rays. He saw his numbers dip a little bit during his time at Stanford, but Royals scouting director Lonnie Goldberg still sees great potential – “We think this guy has plus-plus makeup. We’re anxious to get a wood bat in his hand. We think he has a ton of upside.” – Goldberg to Bob Dutton of The Kansas City Star. During his time at Stanford, Kenny played third base his freshman year before shifting over to shortstop for his sophomore season. He then shifted across the infield again during his junior season by moving over to second base.

They didn’t waste any time picking up their second position player in the next round, drafting catcher Chad Johnson. No, not that Chad Johnson. This Chad Johnson is a high school catcher out of Illinois. The left-handed hitting catcher’s clame to fame is hitting a homerun into the right field seats of Busch Stadium.

Rounds 6-15 went as follows:

6. Zach Lovvorn RHP, Oxford HS (Alabama)

7. Fred Ford 1B/OF, Jefferson Community College (Missouri)

8. Alfredo Escalera-Maldonado OF, Pendleton HS (Florida)

9. Daniel Stumpf LHP, San Jacinto Junior College (Texas)

10. Alexis Rivera OF/1B, Montverde Academy (Florida)

11. Zeb Sneed RHP, Northwest Nazarene Junior College (Idaho)

12. Jackson Williford 2B, Ramona High School (California)

13. Hunter Haynes LHP, Mexico High School (Missouri)

14. Mike Morin C, University of Utah

15. Dylan Sons LHP, Halifax County High School (Virginia)

The draft concludes today with rounds 16-40 taking place via conference call.

Verdugo Promoted, Smith Optioned

Ryan Verdugo

After another rocky outing, the Royals decided to option lefty Will Smith back to Omaha and promote lefty Ryan Verdugo.

Will Smith sandwiched one quality outing with two sub-par starts. He was 1-2 in those three starts, allowing 14 runs in 14 innings pitched.

Verdugo was 3-1 in 11 starts for Omaha and sported a 3.61 ERA. Although he’s been a exclusively a starter this season, he’ll serve his time in Knasas City as a member of the bullpen – likely as a long-reliever.

Verdugo may not be in Kansas City for long, as manager Ned Yost anticipates the Royals adding a position player to the roster before Friday when the Royals travel to Pittsburgh to continue their road portion of interleague schedule. In the mean time, he’ll wear #62 – the number he wore for the Royals in spring training.

The Royals acquired Ryan Verdugo last November, along with lefty Jonathan Sanchez, from the Giants in the Melky Cabrera trade.

Speaking of Interleague Play…

When the Royals travel to Pittsburgh this Friday, don’t expect to see Eric Hosmer roaming the right-side of the infield.

Instead, you’ll be seeing Hoz snagging flyballs in right field.

In an effort to maximize offense, the Royals plan to use Billy Butler at first base. In turn, Hosmer will be in right field, thus shifting Jeff Francoeur to center field and Jarrod Dyson to the bench.

Hosmer got a handful of innings in the outfield this spring in preparation for interleague play.

Pitching and Defense Does it Again

Bruce Chen pitched seven scoreless innings Tuesday night against the Minnesota Twins. Photo Credit: John Sleezer

For the third time in the past five games, the Royals have shutout their opponent.

It all got started last Friday when Felipe Paulino, Kelvin Herrera, Greg Holland, and Jonathan Broxton combined for a three-hit shutout over the A’s (final 2-0). They matched that 2-0 victory over the A’s by earning another 2-0 shutout over them that following Sunday. The bullpen combination of Herrera, Holland, and Broxton worked just as well this time behind starter Vin Mazzaro.

Then last night came. Bruce Chen pitched a masterful seven innings  against the Twins. He surrendering only four hits, striking out five, and walking zero. Greg Holland followed suit by striking out the side in the eighth. Broxton came in to close the ninth in typical Jonathan Broxton fashion (one hit, one walk, tying and winning runs on base).

The only offense the Royals got (and needed, apparently) came in the bottom of the second. With two outs, after reaching on a fielder’s choice, Eric Hosmer swiped second base off of Twins starter Francisco Liriano. The move paid off when Brayan Pena brought Hosmer home on a single to left field.

The Royals will look to take the series  2-1 tonight at The K. Felipe Paulino (3-1, 1.70 ERA) will take the hill for the Royals. he’ll be pitted against the recenelty promoted Twins righty Nick Blackburn (1-4, 8.37 ERA).

Etc.

  • The Royals are 7-3 in their last 10 games. They have outscored their opponents 42-34 in that stretch.
    • Jonathan Broxton has recorded a save in six of the last ten games.
  • They have won their last three series’, and have won six of their last nine series’.
  • Six Royals are listed among the leaders in the balloting for the All-Star game: SS Alcides Escobar (4th), DH Billy Butler (4th), 3B Mike Moustakas (5th), 2B Chris Getz (5th), OF Jeff Francoeur (10th), and OF Alex Gordon (13th).
  • The Royals are averaging nearly 23,000 fans at home this season thus far. At this point last season, they were averaging just over 17,600 fans per home game.