Kansas City Royals: 3 stars from Lexington’s Championship run

KC Royals, Top moments of September (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
KC Royals, Top moments of September (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) /

For the second consecutive season, the Kansas City Royals Single-A affiliate has won the South Atlantic League. Here were the 3 stars from their run.

The future would appear to be extremely bright for the Kansas City Royals big league roster as their Single-A affiliate, Lexington, won back-to-back SAL titles on Friday night. Despite finishing in first place in the Southern Division with an unimpressive record of 68-70, the roster was loaded with budding talent.

Set to take on the Giants’ affiliate in the semifinals in a best of three series, Lexington managed to take the first two games in 2-1 and 4-2 fashion, respectively. The Legends benefited from a tremendous start in Game 1 from Jon Heasley. The 2018 13th round draft pick out of Oklahoma State tossed 7.0 innings while allowing just 1 earned run, 1 walk and struck out 6 batters.

Heasley was very good this season for Lexington, making 20 starts (25 appearances) and tossed 112.2 innings while striking out 120 batters, walking 34, and spun a 3.12 ERA. The more we keep seeing these performances by 2018 draft picks makes me a firm believer that Dayton Moore absolutely aced it.

Jeison Guzman went 3-for-4 in the first game, including a long ball in the top half of the 4th inning. Guzman, 20, was signed as an international free agent in July 2015 and slashed 0.254/0.327/0.356 with 12 doubles, 4 triples, 4 home runs and 29 RBI’s in 121 games this year.

Game 2 of the semifinals, Rubendy Jaquez backed a solid, but short, outing from Zach Haake smacking a solo shot in the bottom half of the 4th inning. Jaquez, 20, was also signed as an international free agent in 2015, which is a good sign that Dayton Moore and the Royals scouting department has been able to pluck talent from that avenue as well.

Just like that, the Legends were headed back to the SAL Championship Finals to defend their title against the Rangers’ Single-A affiliate.

Similar to Game 1 of the semifinals, Heasley and Guzman stood out in the box score with Heasley going 5.0 innings while striking out 3 batters, 2 walks, and 2 earned runs. Guzman went 2-for-4 with 3 RBI’s including a 2-run shot in the top half of the 3rd inning. All three of his RBI’s came in 2 out situations and the Legends took the series opener 6-4.

The following night, Lexington took Game 2 as well by the score of 7-0. Carlos Hernandez, who we’ve discussed before on here, went 5.0 innings with 3 walks, 0 earned runs and struck out 6 batters. Again, the 2018 draft class made a huge impact in this game with 4th round pick, Eric Cole going 3-for-5 with 4 RBI’s. He smacked a 3-run home run in the top half of the 9th inning and all his RBI’s came with 2 outs.

Cole, 22, put together a very solid season for Lexington this season as well, slashing 0.240/0.330/0.382 with 21 doubles, 6 triples, 11 home runs and 71 RBI’s with 62 walks in 127 games.

The Legends lost Game 3 of the series and were mostly shut down by the Ranger’s pitching prospects, losing the game 5-1. Flash forward to the next night, the Legends received another really good start from Haake, tossing 6.0 innings with 0 earned runs, 2 walks, and 6 strikeouts. The bullpen couldn’t hold the 1-0 lead, but Reed Rohlman provided the fireworks in the bottom half of the 13th inning, sending an 0-1 pitch over the wall for a 3-1 walk-off win and SAL Championship clincher.

Rohlman was a productive player during his time at Clemson and was taken in the 35th round of the 2017 MLB Draft, but never showed a tremendous amount of power. That has mostly held true this season for Lexington as he slashed 0.244/0.293/0.335 with 23 doubles, 3 triples, 5 home runs and 55 RBI’s during the regular season.

However, he got a fastball right down the middle and didn’t miss it and for the second consecutive season, the Royals’ Single-A affiliate were Champions once again.

Our 3 stars:

1. Zach Haake, RHP

The big righty made 2 starts for the Legends while tossing 10.1 innings and allowed just 2 earned runs, 0 home runs, 3 walks, and opponents batting average of 0.167. Haake also struck out 13 batters while spinning a 1.74 ERA.

2. Jeison Guzman, SS

The 20-year old played in all 6 games and slashed 0.375/0.444/0.667 with 1 double, 2 home runs, and 5 RBI’s.

Next. Ryan O’Hearn “Using the whole field a little more”. dark

3. Jon Heasley, RHP

I was tempted to go with Rohlman here, but outside of the walk-off bomb, he really didn’t do much in the playoffs. Therefore, I am going with Heasley. The 22-year old righty made 2 starts for Lexington and tossed 12.0 innings while allowing just 3 earned runs, 3 walks, and opponents batting average of 0.150. He struck out 9 batters and spun a 2.25 ERA as well.