The KC Royals have three rookie level affiliates (besides the DSL) and below I will choose my Player and Pitcher of the Year for all three teams.
For Idaho Falls, Player of the Year was an easy choice. Catcher Meibrys Viloria was the Pioneer League MVP after an outstanding 2016 season (58 games). He hit .376, which led the PL, to go along with 28 doubles and 55 RBIs (both of which also led the league). Viloria also hit three triples and six home runs, scored 54 runs, walked 20 times, and struck out just 36 times in 226 at-bats.
Viloria did commit 14 errors and is participating in instructional league to work on his defense behind the plate.
Pitcher of the Year in Idaho Falls was more of a toss up for me. Alex Luna was 5-1 with a 3.90 ERA in 12 games (eight starts). Though he allowed more hits (68) than innings pitched (55.1), Luna walked just nine (though he hit eight) compared to 55 strikeouts.
Reliever Richard Lovelady had six saves in 13 appearances out of the Chukars bullpen. He carried a 1.84 ERA. Over 14.2 innings, Lovelady allowed ten hits (no home runs), but walked seven. He did strike out 16.
Burlington was one of two rookie level teams to reach the postseason, but the Royals were swept in the Appalachian League Championship. My Player of the Year is outfielder Kort Peterson, who hit .347 (second in the Appy) in 49 games. Peterson hit 12 doubles, four triples, and five home runs with 35 RBIs.
A close second is shortstop Nicky Lopez, who made just five errors in a team-high 62 games. Lopez hit .281 with six doubles, five triples (tied for first), and six homers. His 35 walks ranked third in the league and he struck out just 30 times (in 231 at-bats). Oh and Lopez stole 24 bases (second in the Appy) compared to just four caught stealing.
Both Peterson and Lopez were named Appalachian League All-Stars.
The Royals had two of the best starters in the Appalachian League with my Pitcher of the Year also being named the league’s Pitcher of the Year. That would be Cristian Castillo, who was first in the league in innings pitched (72), going 6-3 with the league’s fifth-best ERA (3.12). Castillo walked just 14 and struck out 23 (second in the league). Oh and he only allowed 57 hits (a .212 opponents batting average).
A close second is Garrett Davila, who went 7-0 (his win total was tied for second in the Appy) with a 2.77 ERA (third in the league). In 65 innings (fourth in the league), Davila allowed 56 hits, but walked 27 (fourth most in the league). He did strike out 55.
Peterson, Lopez, and Castillo are all participating in the Royals instructional league in Arizona.
The AZL Royals also made the playoffs, losing in the semifinals. However, they played without POY John Brontsema, who finished the season with High-A Wilmington (3-for-12). Brontsema hit .343 (second in the AZL) in 47 games with nine doubles, 34 runs scored, and 24 RBIs. On the downside, the utility man committed 19 errors. He played five games at first base (two errors), three at second base (zero errors), 32 games at third base (14 errors), and two games at shortstop (three errors).
Just like in Burlington, the AZL Royals had two really good pitchers, making Pitcher of the Year a tough choice. Grant Gavin was 3-1 with a 2.01 ERA (fourth in the AZL) in 13 games (four starts). Over 49.1 innings, the All-Star allowed 41 hits (zero homers) and walked just five while striking out 47.
Dillon Drabble went 4-2 with a 3.88 ERA in 14 games (seven starts). His 60.1 innings pitched ranked fourth in the AZL. Though he allowed 71 hits (three homers), Drabble walked just nine while striking out 51 (ninth in the AZL).