KC Royals: Rivera, Lopez, Capps shine in PR winter league

(Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images for Lumix)
(Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images for Lumix) /

The Kansas City Royals sent a few prospects to the Puerto Rican winter league, and most of them ended up as teammates with the Indios (Indians) de Mayagüez. Rivera, Lopez, and Capps excelled above the rest.

The Kansas City Royals had six total players make an appearance during the 2019 Roberto Clemente Professional (winter) League, and those were Emmanuel “Pulpo (Octopus)” Rivera, Jorge López, Holden Capps, Khalil Lee, Gabriel Cancel, and Yunior Marte.

Winter baseball in Puerto Rico used to resemble an All-Star caliber event. High profile major leaguers such as Roberto Clemente, Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Juan Gonzalez, Roberto Alomar, Carlos Baerga, Carlos Delgado, Edgar Martinez among others used to grace the Caribbean island’s league with their presence.

The Puerto Rico winter league doesn’t get much participation and hasn’t for the past two decades, but instead, they welcome young prospects from all over the world – of course, most participants belonging to the tropical island.

The 2019 season has already ended and some players from the Indios de Mayagüez ballclub stood out over other prospects. Third baseman and No. 19 top KC Royals prospect Emmanuel Rivera finished fifth in the league in hitting with a .309 BA, and sixth in SLG posting .439 with three home runs over 39 games.

Jorge López found some success in limited innings. He had 16 IPs over the course of the season with a couple of starts, and went 2-1, with 2.81 ERA, 12 Ks, 4 BBs and 1.19 WHIP. In addition, he started last night in the third game of the semifinals and went 6.1 IPs, 7 Hs, 1 ER, 6 Ks, and 0 BBs. The game was postponed due to rain, but López left the Indios within striking distance and added to his already stellar winter.

LHP Holden Capps also had a strong showing, although he struggled with command at times it still didn’t prevent him from posting some respectable numbers. He posted a 2-0 record, in 15 relief appearances with 2.04 ERA, 15 Ks, 11 BBs, and 1.30 WHIP.

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These are encouraging performances from players the Royals will be counting on in the near future – more so with López as he’s already integrated with the club spending the entire 2019 in the majors. His career has been a roller coaster so far, so hopefully, this helps him find some consistency on the mound.

Gabriel Cancel had a disappointing winter for the Cangrejeros (Crabbers) de Santurce as he had 10 hits in 46 ABs for a .217 BA. His playing appearances suffered as a result of the poor play, so Jack Lopez (Atlanta Braves prospect) and Ivan DeJesus Jr. (free agent) took most of Cancel’s plate appearances.

Royals top prospect outfielder Khalil Lee started Winter league as Lopez, Capps, and Rivera’s teammate in Mayagüez, but his campaign was cut short due to a hit-by-pitch that required medical attention, and he was pulled permanently from the team.

Former Royal LHP Eric Stout also played for Mayagüez and dominated throughout the season posting a 1-1 record, with 1.62 ERA, 42 Ks, 15 BBs, and 0.87 WHIP over 33 IPs. He had a tremendous postseason start last night with 7 IPs, 3 Hs, 0 Rs, and 5Ks.

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All-in-all, every KC Royal that played for the Indios de Mayagüez had a solid winter. Let’s hope they can carry that success over to the Royals organization.