The KC Royals announced 35 players they have assigned to their instructional league roster. The instructional league is designed to help develop skills of players in the lower minor leagues.
The instructional league is similar to the Arizona Fall League, which hones the skills of players close to major league ready. You can see the entire list here.
Most players come from low A Lexington and rookie league teams like Idaho Falls and Burlington with a smattering from High A Wilmington. However, former AAA reliever Miguel Almonte is also on the list. Almonte even pitched a few innings for Kansas City in 2015. He was seen as a top prospect with a high 90’s fastball, but struggled as a starter at AAA. The organization converted him to a reliever and demoted him to AA in 2016.
I presume his coaches have determined a flaw in his skill set that is hampering his development, and hope to fix it in the instructional league.
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Samir Duenez might be the fastest moving player in the system. The 20-year-old international signee from Venezuela played at A Lexington (.272/.313/.419), High A Wilmington (.300/.363/.479), and AA NW Arkansas (.278/.339/.370) this season. After a blazing .375 start at AA, Duenez cooled off. However, his rapid progress impressed the front office.
High A Wilmington catcher Chase Vallot shows one of the best power/patience combinations in the system. He slashed .246/.367/.463 with 20 doubles and 13 home runs in 330 plate appearences at a notoriously difficult level due to the tough hitting background in the Blue Rocks’ home park. However, his defense is raw which I’m guessing is why he’s going to instructional league.
Similarly, 19-year-old Venezuelan catching prospect Meibrys Vilora showed a robust bat at rookie league Idaho Falls. He slashed an impressive .376/.436/.606 but his defensive skills need work.
Twenty-two year old Pedro Fernandez is a $45,000 international signing from the Dominican Republic, who sports a nice fastball that sits 92-94 and can touch 97 mph. He also throws a slider, but needs to develop a third pitch if he wants to remain a starter. He reached AA NW Arkansas this season.
Nineteen-year-old Italian shortstop prospect Martin Gasparini shows impressive raw tools. He’s a switch hitter with good pop from both sides of the plate. He’s got range and a strong arm but he led the Pioneer League with 35 errors in 52 games. Clearly, he needs work, but he has tremendous upside.
Few fans pay attention to the instructional league. But, it can help prospects solve critical flaws in their game.