Kansas City Royals: Minor league players of the year, part 1

(Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images)
(Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images) /

The Kansas City Royals recently revealed the minor league pitchers and players of the year for each level of their minor league divisions.

Dominican League:
The Kansas City Royals actually have two teams in the Dominican League and chose a pair of winners from both squads.

The DSL Royals #1 team was one of several Kansas City affiliates to take home a championship this year. While the pop was not there, Jean Ramirez (CF) was still able to bat .329 and swipe 29 bases in only 53 games and was crowned the best player on his team.

Taking the bump 12 twelve times this summer, Luis De La Rosa (RHP) was impressive for a 17-year-old and was named DSL #1’s pitcher of the year. A K/BB ratio of 7.43 and whiffing 1.34 batters per inning shows off the rocket attached to his arm. What may be most impressive is that he transitioned from shortstop to pitching only recently.

From the DSL Royals #2, Wilmin Candelario (SS) was recognized for the .315/.396/.505 slash he put delivered. Oddly he had more triples than doubles and home runs for the year. He showed flashes of speed with 11 steals but was also caught 11 times. Candelario was an international signee who inked for over $800k mainly for his glove but the bat has come along nicely to go with it.

In his second year with the Royals, Luis Cepeda (LHP) takes home the best pitcher for the DSL #2 team. He actually spent time between both Dominican squads and was very impressive with a WHIP under 1.00 and 61 strikeouts over 49 1/3 innings pitched. Only 18 years old and at 6’2″ he may still have some growth coming and added muscle would increase his potential.

Arizona League:

The Surprise Royals are the second team to bring home a trophy on our list (remember Kansas City had a fantastic run in the minor leagues this year). Not drafted until the 30th round out of Eastern Illinois, Jimmy Govern (2B) made quite the splash producing an OPS of 1.121 winning their best hitter award. Almost half of his hits went for extra bases and he had a terrific eye walking 34 times in 156 at bats. He concluded an amazing run playing six games in Omaha and hitting two home runs for them. You will not see his name on many top prospect lists for Kansas City but keep an eye on him.

Snagging the best pitcher for Surprise is Emilio Marquez (LHP), a left-hander who dominated batters down in Arizona. He produced a WHIP of 0.99, K’d 63 hitters in 46 2/3 frames and only issued seven free passes. He made a late-season appearance in Lexington striking out four in 3 2/3 IP. It will be interesting to see if he can sustain the success next year while facing tougher competition.

Appalachian League:

Although his name may give those charged with providing him uniforms fear, pitchers facing Vinnie Pasquantino (1B) were more nervous. His power blossomed at Old Dominion this year leading the Royals to take the left-handed hitter and plug him straight to Burlington. He did not disappoint mashing to a .294/.371/.592 slash that included 14 dingers. He was named an Appalachian all-star and player of the year for his team.

I had to double-check these stats, but Adrian Alcantara (RHP) only allowed 27 hits in 51 frames for Burlington this season leading to a 0.86 WHIP. After struggling in the Arizona League in 2018, this turn around is a welcome sight and at only 20 years old this B-Royal pitcher of the year may have a bright future.

Pioneer League:

The other rookie league (advanced) affiliate of Kansas City is the Idaho Falls Chukars. There another 11th round pick made a name for himself by slugging his way to a 1.073 OPS that included a home run every 4 games. That was good enough for Michael Emodi (C) to wrap up the best player on this squad. The 6’4″, 225-lb backstop from Creighton would love to force his way into a conversation about who is ready to take the baton from Salvador Perez in the future.

Derrick Adams (LHP) jumped right to Idaho despite only being a 27th round pick out of Jacksonville State. Playing a long-relief type of role, Adams produced a 2.54 ERA and struck out nearly a batter an inning. He was also the winning pitcher as the Chuckers claimed the Pioneer League championship and added to that moment by being named pitcher of the year for the team.

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That will do it for the first part of the recap of the award winners, next up will be the class A, AA and AAA players.