Kansas City Royals Spring Training: Minor League Assignments, Hall of Fame Hijinks, and Awards


It’s starting to hit that point of spring training where the excitement of pitchers and catchers reporting has dwindled and the season is still far on the horizon. Spring training games turn into mere teases of what the regular season might bring. In less than two weeks, though, the games will count in the standings and all will be well.

While the Royals lost their game to the Colorado Rockies today, there were a lot of items floating around off the field of interest.

The most fun announcement was the listing of potential nominees for the Royals Hall of Fame. Some of the names are to be expected: John Wathan, Kevin Seitzer, Darrell Porter, Jermaine Dye, Bo Jackson. Some, though, wouldn’t be the first, second or twentieth choice to represent the best in Royals history. Players like Jimmy Gobble, Emil Brown and Runelvys Hernandez met the criteria to be on the ballot for nomination.

Really, all it takes is to have been a Royal for three years and reach either 1500 plate appearances or 150 innings pitched. I don’t imagine that anyone really would think that Gobble, Brown or Hernandez should be in the Royals Hall of Fame. Nonetheless, Twitter has taken over and turned Gobble into a favorite, while other names have been suggested (with tongue planted in digital cheek). You can vote for yourself here.

The Royals handed out organizational awards today. Wil Myers and Jake Odorizzi, both of whom were traded to the Tampa Bay Rays for James Shields and Wade Davis, earned Royals Minor League Player and Pitcher of the Year Awards for their 2012 seasons. Alex McClure won the Mike Sweeney Award for his community service, Terrance Gore won the Willie Wilson Award as the top baserunner in the organization, and Brett Eibner won the Frank White Award for best defense.

Speaking of Eibner, he’s set to land in Northwest Arkansas after spending last year in High A Wilmington. Maybe moving from the cavernous Frawley Stadium to cozy Arvest Ballpark will help him. He has good power when he makes contact. Unfortunately, he struck out 165 times in 120 games last year. He’s got to make the adjustments and make better contact to keep rising. The Royals like his tools according to comments J.J. Piccolo made to Bob Dutton at the Kansas City Star.

Some other probable assignments include:

The group of shortstops are a nice luxury for the Royals, who’ve usually had trouble stocking the position. Zimmer is likely to land in Double A before too long and Almonte is an intriguing prospect who burst onto the scene last year.

Mar 15, 2013; Miami, FL, USA; United States first baseman Eric Hosmer (35) reacts in the eighth inning during the World Baseball Classic against the Puerto Rico at Marlins Park. Puerto won 4-3. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Eric Hosmer said he saw more curveballs in the World Baseball Classic than he had in spring training. Before the WBC, he was raking but ran into a speed bump during the tournament. Looking over his WBC at bats, he was pitched backward to a lot, seeing breaking balls and offspeed pitches earlier in counts and he showed impatience at times. He hit the ball hard in most of his at bats though, hitting most of his balls towards the left side or centerfield (16 of 19 put into play). Last year, many of his bad at bats ended with feeble groundouts to second base as he tried to pull everything. It’s a small sample size and a unique context, and I’m not sure as many fans would be panicking if he’d gotten two hard shots through the infield. One more hit would have raised his average from .200 to .240, so each at bat had a big impact on his numbers. He can’t continue to struggle though – there’s enough reason for concern after last year’s rough year, but I think most of the fury comes from actually seeing the at bats, rather than relying on radio calls or MLB’s Gameday as in most spring training games. We’ll see…

With the Dominican Republic’s win of the WBC Championship, Kelvin Herrera, Miguel Tejada, Atahualpa Severino and Irving Falu will join the Royals in Surprise. Tejada made a highlight catch in the final game, but landed hard on his hip. There hasn’t been any indication of an injury, however.