Cleat Geeks

Royally Yours: AA Northwest Arkansas Naturals Season Recap

The Northwest Arkansas Naturals are the AA affiliate of the Kansas City Royals. They play in the Texas League against the AA affiliates of the Houston Astros, Los Angeles Dodgers, Oakland Athletics, San Diego Padres, Seattle Mariners, St. Louis Cardinals and Texas Rangers. In 2018 the Naturals finished in third place in the Texas League North division with a record of 70-70. The Naturals had an average season but had some great performances by prospects.

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The Royals second rated prospect Khalil Lee finished the season in AA with the Arkansas Naturals. Lee is an outfielder that primarily plays in centerfield. He hit for a .245 average and two home runs in 29 games with the Naturals last season. Lee was a third round draft pick by the Royals in the 2016 MLB Draft. He is still raw and will likely need more time in the majors. They are deep in the outfield and there is no need to rush him to the Royals roster. If he keeps progressing well through the minors he could be an elite player for the Royals in a few seasons.

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Scott Blewett is the top ranked pitcher on the Northwest Arkansas roster. He played the entire 2018 season in AA with the Naturals. He had a record of 8-6 with a 4.79 ERA. Blewett’s numbers were not great but he has a good mix of pitches. He could make an impact with the Royals in the next couple of seasons. Blewett could be an option for the back end of the rotation or in the bullpen if the Royals lose pitching depth.

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Jecksson Flores is not considered one of the Royals top prospects but had a good year with the Naturals. He hit for a .314 batting average and seven home runs in 122 games. He also had 27 stolen bases. Flores is a utility player that played five different positions in 2018. He could see time in the majors because of his utility ability despite not being a top prospect. Flores likely will not see time in the majors with the Royals next season but he is still a valuable part of their minor league system.

Next season the Royals should see a lot of top prospects progress through the Naturals. Six of the Royals top 10 prospects finished the season with the single-A Lexington Legends and could start the season with Northwest Arkansas. AA will be a big step in the progression of the Royals top prospects.

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