With one day to spare, the KC Royals finally announced their Players and Pitchers of the Year for all eight of their minor league affiliates. At tomorrow night’s Royals game, they will honor all 16 players.
Over the last week, I revealed my picks for each level (except the Dominican Summer League). Did we choose the same players? Not exactly.
Triple-A Omaha: 3B/OF Hunter Dozier and RHP Brooks Pounders.
My picks: either Dozier or outfielder Jorge Bonifacio, and Pounders.
Double-A NW Arkansas: 2B Corey Toups and RHP Jake Junis.
My picks: either third baseman Mauricio Ramos or first baseman Frank Schwindel, and one from the trio of Junis, Yender Caramo, and Eric Skoglund. Once again, Ramos is overlooked. He finished second in the Texas League in batting average and regularly batted in the middle of the Naturals order for the ENTIRE season, yet Toups took the honor. Yes, Toups was WAY better in Double-A than he was in his brief time with Wilmington (41 games), but I have to go with a guy who played at the level for the entire season who put up just as good or better numbers.
High-A Wilmington: 1B/DH Samir Duenez and RHP Zach Lovvorn.
My picks: outfielder Brandon Downes and Lovvorn. I considered Duenez, but he played in just 56 games with the Blue Rocks (compared to 68 at Lexington). I just feel that a POY should play in at least half of that team’s games. Sure, Downes’ batting average was poor (.230) and he struck out a ton (170 times), but all his other numbers were really good.
Low-A Lexington: INF DJ Burt and LHP Emilio Ogando.
My picks: catcher Xavier Fernandez and Ogando. I considered Burt, but the errors (22 between second base and shortstop), strikeouts for a leadoff hitter (108), and caught stealings (17 compared to 43 stolen bases) changed my mind.
Rookie level Idaho Falls: C Meibrys Viloria and RHP Andres Machado.
My picks: Viloria and either Alex Luna or Richard Lovelady. In his fifth season of rookie ball, Machado went 2-4 with a 3.99 ERA in 13 starts (58.2 innings). He walked just 14 and struck out 64, but opponents hit .283 against him. Luna walked just nine and struck out 55 in 55.1 innings (3.90 ERA) and Lovelady struck out 16 in 14.2 innings with six saves and a 1.84 ERA.
Rookie level Burlington: OF Kort Peterson and LHP Cristian Castillo.
My picks: either Peterson or shortstop Nicky Lopez, and Castillo.
Rookie level AZL Royals: OF Khalil Lee and RHP Grant Gavin.
My picks: utility man John Brontsema and Gavin. I thought Brontsema hitting .343 (second in the AZL) with 34 runs scored and 24 RBIs was better than Lee’s .269 (nine doubles, six triples, six home runs, and 29 RBIs).
DSL Royals: INF Esteury Ruiz hit .313 with 18 doubles, five triples, and 44 runs scored and RHP Andres Sotillet went 7-2 with a 1.52 ERA in 13 starts. He walked just eight.
Congrats to all of the players!