Yesterday, not only did the KC Royals honor back-to-back Triple-A National Champion Omaha by handing out their rings, but the Royals also honored their Minor League Award winners.
Many of the players posted photos of their rings on Instagram (like Christian Binford, Paulo Orlando, Matt Fields, and Andy Ferguson) and they sure are pretty. Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer, who spent time in Omaha in August on a rehab assignment, did not receive a ring (I’m sure his American League Champions ring will be a little better and more satisfying).
The big awards went to Whit Merrifield and Christian Binford, as they were named the Royals Minor League Player and Pitcher of the Year.
Merrifield was named the George Brett Hitter of the Year, as he hit a combined .319 between Double-A and Triple-A. He really excelled with Omaha, hitting .340 in 76 games and primarily played left field (56 games). His 41 combined doubles were tied for sixth in the minors.
In the postseason, Merrifield helped carry the Storm Chasers to another Triple-A title. He hit .389 with two doubles, three home runs, and six RBIs.
Binford earned the Paul Splittorff Award. He had a combined 2.88 ERA over three levels, though it was hurt by being in the bullpen with Omaha. As a Carolina League All-Star and the Royals Futures Game representative, Binford had a 2.40 ERA across 14 starts and 82.2 innings with High-A Wilmington. He walked just 11 while striking out 92 and only allowing 72 hits.
Terrance Gore was named the Willie Wilson Baserunner of the Year. Shocking, I know. Gore stole 36 bases in Wilmington in 40 attempts, despite only hitting .218. With Omaha, he stole 11 bases in 15 attempts.
Humberto Arteaga was named the Frank White Defensive Player of the Year. He spent the entire season with Low-A Lexington, as he hit just .198. However, Arteaga posted a .970 fielding percentage (17 errors in 573 chances) while primarily playing shortstop for the Legends (108 of his 117 games).
The Mike Sweeney Award, given to the Royals minor leaguer that best represents the organization both on and off the field, was handed out to right-handed reliever Malcom Culver. He spent most the 2014 season with Double-A NW Arkansas, but was promoted to Omaha at the end of the year.
Utility man Angel Franco, who re-signed with the Royals this offseason, was named the Carlos Fortuna Award winner. This award is given to the player that is dedicated to improving his English, work ethic, and conduct. Franco spent the 2014 season with NW Arkansas.