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.

Royally Yours: AAA Omaha Storm Chasers Season Recap

The AAA affiliate Omaha Storm Chasers finished the 2018 season with a record of 66-74. They finished in third place in the Pacific Coast League Northern Division. It is their second straight third place finish. The Oklahoma City Dodgers won the division nine games ahead of the Storm Chasers. The Storm Chasers had an average year but had some top prospects by the end of the season.

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Photo by; Omaha-World Herald

Nicky Lopez was called up to the Storm Chasers in June after starting the season with the AA Northwest Arkansas Naturals. In AAA Lopez had a .278 batting average and seven home runs in 57 games. Lopez is considered one of the Royals top ten prospects. He could be an opening day starter for the Royals in 2019 if they make big trades in the off-season. Whit Merrifield and Adalberto Mondesi should be the starting middle infielders but they could be on the trading block if the Royals opt to rebuild their farm system. Lopez is a talented player that will likely see playing time at some point next season.

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Photo by; Minor League Baseball

Reliever Richard Lovelady had a great season with the Storm Chasers in 2018. The left-handed pitcher had a 2.47 ERA in 73 innings pitched and nine saves. Lovelady spent the entire season in AAA. He led the team in saves for the season. Lovelady has progressed quickly in the Royals system. He was a 10th round pick by the Royals in the 2016 MLB Draft. The Royals bullpen struggled last season and he should be an option to be on the opening day roster. The Royals do not have a solid closing pitcher entering the 2018 season and Lovelady could be an option.

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Frank Schwindel is not a top prospect for the Royals but he had a very good season with the Storm Chasers in 2018. He spent the entire season in AAA and finished with a .286 batting average and 24 home runs. He hit 12 more home runs than his closest teammate. Schwindel is a first basemen that will probably not start the season on the Royals roster. Ryan O’Hearn and Hunter Dozier appear to be their top two options at first base. The Royals decided not to call him up in September because of limited playing time. Schwindel had a great season but is in a tough spot on the Royals roster.

Next season the Storm Chasers should see some top prospects play with the team. Seven of the Royals top ten prospects finished the season with the Single-A Lexington Legends or AA Northwest Arkansas Naturals. The Royals have a lot of young players that are moving quickly through the system and Omaha will be the last stop before they hit the majors.

Royally Yours: Season Recap

The Kansas City Royals had a disappointing season in 2018. They finished with a record of 58-104, last in the American League Central. It was their first 100-loss season since 2006 and their first last place finish in the division since 2007. The Royals finished with the second worst record in baseball and will have the second pick in the 2019 MLB Draft. Their last second overall pick was Mike Moustakas in 2007. It was a tough sImage result for brad keller royalseason for the Royals but they will have a top pick in the draft that will help in the rebuilding process.Image result for Mike Moustakas 2007 mlb draft

The Royals finished with a record of 36-40 against division opponents. It was their best record against an American League division. They played the worst against the American League West with a record of 7-26. The Royals struggled against National League teams with a record of 6-14. The Royals played average against division opponents but their struggles against other teams was the reason for their disappointing season.

Whit Merrifield was one of the best offensive players in baseball this season. He led all of the MLB in hits and stolen bases. Merrifield finished the season with a slash line of .304/.367/.804. He could be a centerpiece of the Royals future or be a trade target this offseason. Many teams were rumored to be interested in Merrifield last offseason and at the trade deadline. The decision on what to do about Merrifield will have a big impact on the Royals future.

Rule 5 draft pick Brad Keller had a good rookie season. He finished the year with a 3.08 ERA and a record of 9-6. It was the most wins by a Royals pitcher this season. Keller was brought up in the Arizona Diamondbacks minor league system before being selected by the Cincinnati Reds in the Rule 5 draft but was immediately traded to the Royals. Keller was a great acquisition by the Royals last off-season.

The Royals are entering a few rebuilding seasons that they hope will allow them to get back in the playoff hunt. They do not have a roster that can contend now but their high draft picks should help improve their farm system and eventually improve the Royals roster. The Royals have some elite players on the roster but should improve in the next few season to get back in the playoff hunt.

The Reds Made A Trade, But The Marlins Are Making A Statement

The Miami Marlins and the Cincinnati Reds finalized an interesting trade that says something for both teams. The trade was RHP Ryan Lillie was traded from the Marlins to the Reds. Don’t know who that is? You would not be alone. But, the interesting thing is what it means for the two teams and where they are in their current rebuilding plans.

Ryan Lillie was a fifth round selection in the 2017 MLB Amateur Draft by the Marlins. Lillie is an interesting prospect as he has pitched in 3 different levels for the Marlins, but none above High A. Yet, the success he has had looks good. His overall win/loss record does not look great, but that is because in 2017 he did not get a win, and had 5 losses. Yet, in that winless season in 35.2 innings Ryan struck out 34 batters while walking only 6 in 12 games with 7 starts. In his second year in the Marlins organization every game he appeared in was a start. 22 starts increasing his innings to 117.2 with 110 strike outs and 24 walks. But, what may be most impressive is that he had 2 complete games, and not just complete games, but complete game shutouts. Lastly, in his total innings pitched of 153.1 he only gave up 13 home runs. Rather important in a hitters paradise like Great American Ball Park.

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Photo by; Lifestyle Sports 101

What did the Reds give up? International signing bonus pool money, how much is unknown. But, with this move, the Marlins, who were already second in MLB with available international bonus money, are making a statement. What is the statement? They are trying to be a big player, along with some other teams, in the international market. Let me explain.

The Miami Marlins are looking to make a splash on the international free agent market this off-season, and they have specific targets. Those targets are Victor Victor Mesa, his brother Victor Mesa Jr. and fellow Cuban pitcher Sandy Gaston. With this in mind, they have sought any possible avenue to get an advantage. Speaking of which, includes that the Marlins hosted Mesa’s showcase, as well as that of his brother, Victor Mesa Jr., and Sandy Gaston.

The Miami Marlins got rid of a somewhat interesting prospect in Ryan Lillie, but the end game could make that move worth it. Of course, they have to land the top international prize in Victor Victor Mesa, his younger brother Victor Mesa Jr., and Sandy Gaston first. They may not have to land all 3, but they need to land 2 out of the 3 to make this trade worth it, especially if Lillie becomes a big league pitcher, as the Reds think he can become.

Orioles Bird Feed-2018 Final Thoughts

The Baltimore Orioles 2018 season reminds me of the dental can’t wait until it’s over!

This season brought historical badness to the Orioles, finishing at a shockingly awful 47-115 record. Yes, that is correct!

61 games out of First Place and as bad a season as I have seen in my 52 years on this Earth.

It is truly hard to pinpoint any one area of deficiency, it was wide spread.

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A few days ago, The Orioles announced the departures of both Manager Buck Showalter and GM Dan Duquette. Perhaps a mild surprise but not a shock. Personally I appreciate all that Buck did with the on field product, and both did wonders to bring this team back to respectability (save for 2018). Buck actually had a winning record until 2018 struck like a cold slap to the face. Duquette also made some good moves, even as recently as Spring Training. Those moves didn’t reap much fruit (especially the pitching), but the effort seemed to be there. After that, he seemed to disappear for weeks at a time, especially when the collapse was in full sight of everyone.

There’s no need to talk about stats, none really mattered beyond the W/L.

Along with the sheer pain of losing games, the team also parted ways with Manny Machado, Brad Brach, Jonathan Scoop, Zach Britton, Darren O’ Day and Kevin Gausman, among others. This off-season will likely bring about more changes and a “new look and rebuilding” team going into 2019.

The Orioles do have the #1 overall draft pick for 2019 and have their eye on “rising stars” like:

Yusniel Diaz

Ryan Mountcastle

DL Hall

Austin Hays

Grayson Rodriguez

Dillon Tate

Luis Ortiz

Hunter Harvey (yes, he’s still around)

Cadyn Grenier

Blaine Knight

And a host of others.

2018 was a nightmare. At the least, 2019 will be a fresh start!

See you at Spring Training.



Royally Yours: Week in Review

The Kansas City Royals wrapped up their 2018 season this week. They started the week on the road in an interleague matchup with the Cincinnati Reds. The Royals swept the two game series. The weekend series was in Cleveland against the Indians. The Royals spilt the series 2-2 with the Indians. The Royals final record for the season is 58-104.

The Royals finished the season in last place in the American League Central. The Cleveland Indians won the division for the third year in a row. They will face the Houston Astros in the divisional round of the playoffs. The Minnesota Twins, Detroit Tigers and Chicago White Sox finished second through fourth. The Royals were in last place, four games behind the White Sox. It is their first last place finish since 2010. The Royals had the second worst record in baseball and will have the second pick in the draft next June.

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Photo by, 12UP

Ned Yost received a one-year contract extension this week. Next year will be his 10th season with the team. Yost has a 697-736 all time record with the team. He was a big part of the Royals rebuilding phase and playoff runs. He reached the World Series twice and won once. He has a .710 winning percentage in the playoffs, which is the highest for managers with 17 or more games. Yost has been a big part of the Royals success in recent seasons and could be influential in their rebuilding process.

Whit Merrifield had a great offensive season. He led Major League Baseball in hits and steals. He finished with 192 hits and 45 steals. Merrifield was a big part of the Royals offense this season. He led the team in games played, at bats, runs, hits, doubles, total bases, walks, stolen bases, batting average, OBP, OPS and offensive WAR. Merrifield was one of the best all-around players in baseball this season.

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The MLB playoffs start this week and the Royals have some former players from this season on playoff teams. Drew Butera is a bench catcher for the Colorado Rockies. He probably will not see a lot of playing time but could be valuable in a pinch-hitting and fielding role in the National League format. Former Royals closer Wade Davis is also on the Rockies. Davis threw the final out to Butera in the 2015 World Series. Mike Moustakas is the Milwaukee Brewers third baseman. Moustakas should bring valuable playoff experience to the team. Former Royals Lorenzo Cain and Joakim Soria are also on the Brewers. The Royals missed the playoffs but they will have a lot of former players on playoff rosters.

A’s “Bullpenning” The Wild Card Game

The Oakland Athletics are going to start the Wild Card game tonight at 7:08 on TBS with a relief pitcher.

A pitcher with no wins in the regular season.

A pitcher cut from the 40-man roster in June who spent two months toiling in the minor leagues.

He is right-hander Liam Hendriks. And he is going to be entrusted with beating the Yankees in Yankee Stadium, and sending the Athletics to the post season with a win, though he probably wont be around long enough to qualify for the win.

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Photo by; USA Today

Oakland manager Bob Melvin has been scrambling because of injuries to starting pitchers Jharel Cotton, Kendall Graveman, Sean Manaea, Paul Blackburn, Andrew Triggs and Daniel Gossett . Yet, the A’s finished second in the AL West at 97-65, their best record in 16 years. But, 45 of their 97 wins came from their relievers who went 45-16.That would give the A’s the second-most bullpen wins in big league history behind Tampa Bay’s 54 this year.

Hendriks, a 29-year-old in his third season with Oakland, started for Minnesota (2011-14) and Kansas City (2014) before Toronto converted him to the bullpen in 2015. He had a 7.36 ERA in 13 relief appearances this season when he was designated for assignment on June 25 to clear a roster spot for Edwin Jackson.

Then 40-38, the A’s went on to win their next six games and 11 of 13.

“Apparently I’m a pariah,” Hendriks said jokingly.

After 21 appearances with Triple-A Nashville, he was brought back on Sept. 1 when active rosters expanded to 40. Not only are the A’s going this uncharted non-traditional route, but the only starter expected to be on Oakland’s roster Wednesday is Edwin Jackson.

Hendriks will be only the fourth pitcher to commence a postseason game after a regular season of no wins, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Virgil Trucks started twice for Detroit in the 1945 World Series after returning from World War II and making one regular-season appearance. Milwaukee’s Yovani Gallardo returned from a torn knee ligament in 2008 and St. Louis’ Chris Carpenter came back from surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome in 2012.

 “The reason that we started looking at this is because we’ve had so many injuries in our rotation, and we’re just trying to do the best possible thing that we think for a particular day,” Melvin said. “We’re just trying to do what’s best for us…. We’re trying to figure out who goes where to benefit the strengths of our team.”

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Photo by; The Mercury News

 Melvin did not divulge his pitching plans beyond Hendriks and said his club’s roster for the Wild Card game has not even been settled yet. He noted the distinction between a “bullpen game” — using a series of relievers in 1- and 2-inning stints — and using Hendriks as an opener before turning to a traditional starter for multiple innings, in the role the pioneering Tampa Bay Rays call “the bulk guy.” He did not commit to either strategy for Wednesday’s game. His best starter this season, Sean Manaea, endured season-ending shoulder surgery in September.

At a media session Tuesday reserved for the Oakland Athletics’ starting pitcher in Wednesday’s AL Wild Card game at Yankee Stadium, two players appeared at the podium. Right-handers Liam Hendriks and Blake Treinen represent the front and back ends of the bullpen mix A’s manager Bob Melvin intends to ride into the ALDS: Hendriks is the opener, Treinen the closer.

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Let’s hear from both the “opener” and the “closer. “Obviously it’s still a new thing to us a little bit, but we’ve had enough success with it over the last month or so that we’re going to give it a whirl,” Hendriks said. “The bullpen has been throwing a lot more, and it’s just another concept of that. Instead of the starter going six and handing it over to the bullpen or going five and handing it over to the bullpen, now we’re just reversing it.”

“In today’s game, I think there’s been a struggle between old-school mentality and sabermetrics, and this is a way to kind of incorporate sabermetrics with effectiveness,” said Treinen. “We have guys in the front office that do a lot of research to put us in the best situations for success, and I think it’s our job to put some faith in them. We’ve got the arms to make this make sense.”

Using a committee of relievers to cover all nine innings, better known as “bullpenning” has been an increasingly common strategy across the league over the past few years, especially when clubs find themselves short in the starting rotation due to injuries. But the Rays established the role of “the opener” as recently as mid-May of this year, when they tabbed longtime late-inning right-hander Sergio Romo to pitch the first innings of back-to-back games against the Angels’ righty-heaving lineup. That club’s immediate and resounding success with the strategy swiftly turned it from a quirky novelty to a viable game plan, and teams like the Dodgers, Blue Jays and Twins soon followed suit.  Image result for al mlb wild card game oakland yankees

“If there’s any other team to do it, it’s the A’s,” Hendriks said, referring to the club’s long-held reputation for innovation in the sport. “We’ve been ahead of the curve on a whole lot of things, so it’s just another way that hopefully we’re ahead of the curve. We’ll see how many teams do it next year.”

Hendriks served as Oakland’s opener eight times in September alone, and threw only one inning in seven of the eight starts. Plenty of postseason teams have pulled starters early in games in the past, but Wednesday’s game likely marks the first time in MLB history a club has opened a game expecting no more than two innings out of the man on the mound.

“As far as the historical part, I don’t think we’re thinking too much about that,” Melvin said. “Maybe there is something to that if you’re a fan or you’re looking at this as the first time it’s happening in a playoff game, I believe, but we’re kind of past that right now, and we’re just kind of focused on the game.”

Despite having a league-low payroll and using a starting rotation largely comprised of retreads from the league’s scrap heap for much of the season, the A’s won 97 games in one of the sport’s most competitive divisions to earn their spot in Wednesday’s Wild Card game. Their bullpen threw 641 1/3 innings in the regular season — the third largest workload of any relief group in baseball history, trailing only a 2012 Rockies team that experimented with using a four-man starting rotation for protracted outings and this season’s unprecedented Rays group. Oakland’s bullpen finished with an excellent 3.37 collective ERA and the league’s best Win Probability Added (WPA).

The Oakland Athletics are baseballs version of a Cinderella team in the annual NCAA basketball tournament. I love those type of teams, those type of stories, and as I stated in earlier articles for this website, Kris Davis is one of my new favorite players and I will be on a big time hunt to get his autograph during this coming spring training season. The only difference in the basketball Cinderella team and the Athletics is that the A’s are wearing glass cleats.

Arizona Fall League Teams & Managers

I love all sports, but, baseball for me is the best. Therefore, as the MLB regular season winds down my focus will be on the play-offs, but it will also be on the upcoming Arizona Fall League. I moved from Ohio to Phoenix for several reasons, and one that was tops on my list was baseball. There is almost always a baseball game going on somewhere close to me, and a league I am really growing to love is the Arizona Fall League. I will be covering this league more this season, and I hope you come along on the journey with me. I will do some in depth articles this season, and will explain to you why this league is really growing on me, but for now the different teams have been announced and which teams will supply players to those teams as well as the stadiums and the coaching staffs for each team. The season that begins Tuesday, Oct. 9.

Regarded throughout professional baseball as the “finishing school” for top prospects since its inception in 1992, the six-team league features elite young players from every organization in Major League Baseball. The league plays three games per day six days a week (Monday-Saturday) in six Cactus League stadiums: Camelback Ranch-Glendale, Peoria Sports Complex, Salt River Fields at Talking Stick, Scottsdale Stadium, Sloan Park and Surprise Stadium.

Daily start times are 12:35 p.m. and 6:35 p.m. MST.

The 13th annual Fall Stars Game will be played Saturday, Nov. 3 at Surprise Stadium.

The league’s championship contest is scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 17 at Scottsdale Stadium.

The 2018 schedule will be announced on Wednesday, Aug. 8.

The Arizona Fall League is owned and operated by Major League Baseball.

EAST DIVISIONImage result for mesa solar sox

Mesa Solar Sox
(Sloan Park)
• Boston Red Sox
• Chicago Cubs
• Detroit Tigers
• Los Angeles Angels
• Oakland Athletics

Manager: Lou Marson (Angels)
Pitching coach: Jorge Cordova (Tigers)
Hitting coaches: Nelson Paulino (Red Sox), Jimmy Gonzalez (Cubs)
Trainers: Jonathan Fierro (Cubs), Shane Zdebiak (Athletics)

Salt River RaftersRelated image
(Salt River Fields)
• Arizona Diamondbacks
• Colorado Rockies
• Miami Marlins
• Minnesota Twins
• Washington Nationals

Manager: Tommy Watkins (Twins)
Pitching coach: Dave Burba (Rockies)
Hitting coaches: Luis Ordaz (Nationals), Shelley Duncan (D-backs)
Trainers: Melissa Hampton (Marlins), Mike Powell (D-backs)

Scottsdale ScorpionsRelated image
(Scottsdale Stadium)
• Cincinnati Reds
• Houston Astros
• New York Mets
• Philadelphia Phillies
• San Francisco Giants

Manager: Willie Harris (Giants)
Pitching coaches: Derrin Ebert (Reds), Aaron Fultz (Phillies)
Hitting coaches: Ryan Ellis (Mets), Troy Snitker (Astros)
Trainers: John Gregorich (Astros), Michael Hefta (Phillies)

WEST DIVISIONRelated image

Glendale Desert Dogs
(Camelback Ranch-Glendale)
• Baltimore Orioles
• Chicago White Sox
• Cleveland Indians
• Los Angeles Dodgers
• New York Yankees

Manager: Dave Anderson (Orioles)
Pitching coach: Rigo Beltran (Indians)
Hitting coaches: Justin Viele (Dodgers), Charles Poe (White Sox)
Trainers: Michael Becker (Yankees), Scott Takao (White Sox)

Peoria JavelinasRelated image
(Peoria Sports Complex)
• Atlanta Braves
• Milwaukee Brewers
• San Diego Padres
• Seattle Mariners
• Tampa Bay Rays

Manager: Daren Brown (Mariners)
Pitching coaches: Pete Zamora (Padres)
Hitting coach: Joe Szekely (Rays)
Trainers: Josie Harding (Brewers), Vic Scarpone (Braves)

Surprise SaguarosRelated image
(Surprise Stadium)
• Kansas City Royals
• Pittsburgh Pirates
• St. Louis Cardinals
• Texas Rangers
• Toronto Blue Jays

Manager: Stubby Clapp (Cardinals)
Pitching coaches: Bryan Hickerson (Pirates), Jose Jaimes (Rangers)
Hitting coach: Brian Buchanan (Royals)
Position coach: Andy Fermin (Blue Jays)
Trainers: Daniel Leja (Blue Jays), Alex Rodriguez (Rangers)

Bregman Still Agitated At Arizona

Alex Bregman wants everyone to know first off, that he is very happy being with the Houston Astros organization. But secondly, he also wants everyone to know that he is still pissed at the Diamondbacks for not making him the #1 overall pick in the 2015 MLB draft. He is quick to let you know, and he did a few other things along the way to remind himself as well.

“I was super happy to come to an organization like the Astros, an organization that was up and coming,” Bregman told Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic. “But, yeah, I was pissed. I wanted to be the #1 overall pick” And, just for good measure he wears a reminder of it to himself everyday. He does so on his back, right under his name. His uniform number is 2.
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Who did the Diamondbacks choose #1 in the 2015 MLB draft? A guy that is where all the current Diamondbacks want to be, in the post season with the Atlanta Braves, yes Diamondback fans, not only did they essentially get the pick wrong, but then they traded that pick away to the Atlanta Braves. The post season bound Atlanta Braves. Remember that trade? Yeah, Dansby Swanson and Aaron Blair and Ender Inciarte for the often injured Shelby Miller. Miller, by the way is arbitration eligible this season, making $4.9 million this season, so his price tag should not be very hefty, and we hope the 27 year old can regain his form of a few years ago. He is currently listed on the 60 day disabled list with inflammation in his pitching elbow.
Now, allow me to defend the Diamondbacks for a few sentences. Swanson looked like a can’t miss prospect. The Vanderbilt shortstop was smooth in the field and above average with the bat in college. He was going to stay at shortstop, he was going to be the future shortstop of the Diamondbacks organization for possibly the next decade. And if you asked the Diamondbacks he also had good make-up and great leadership skills. Bregman was undersized, he was not as fluent in the field, and it was not certain that he was going to remain a shortstop long term. But he was a great hitter. The Diamondbacks felt that if as an organization you can draft a great shortstop, that is what you do., and that is what they did. The trade was made on December 9th, 2015. Please remember, that at that time on the Diamondbacks roster that they had Ahmed, Owings, Drury, Gosselin, and Cliff Pennington as shortstops, and they had an absolute plethora of outfielders in Trumbo, Tomas, Romak, Pollock, Peralta, Brito and Owengs and Drury again all on the 40 man roster. The thought was that one more experienced pitcher who would slot somewhere in the center of their rotation, who was affordable and controllable for 4 more seasons before becoming a free agent in 2020 looked good to the Diamondbacks, and was a need of the team. Trade from your strengths to fulfill a need.
Image result for stryker trahan baseballImage result for alex bregman 2012 mlb draftIn hindsight, about the only thing they were right on was that Swanson was going to stay a shortstop. They made the wrong choice in that draft, and they made a mistake by trading him later. That is the way baseball goes. But, that is not how this story is going to end.
The Diamondbacks actually looked at drafting Bregman in the 2012 MLB draft as well. At that point he was coming out of high school and the Diamondbacks had the 26 overall pick in the draft. But, obviously, they decided to not pick him. They choose a catcher by the name of Stryker Trahan instead. He must have been a prize prospect too, right?

Just like Bregman, Trahan was selected straight out of high school. Therefore, rather than enroll at Ole Miss, Trahan signed with the Diamondbacks, receiving a $1.7 million signing bonus.Though the Diamondbacks kept him at catcher, they foresaw the potential need to take him off of the position and play him in the outfield.He made his professional debut that year in the Rookie-level Arizona League, where he batted .281 with a .422 on-base percentage and a .473 slugging percentage. He began 2013 in extended spring training, before he was assigned to the Missoula Ospreyof the Rookie-level Pioneer League. He batted .254 with ten home runs and a .462 slugging percentage with Missoula.

Before the 2014 season, the Diamondbacks shifted Trahan to play as a left fielder. He opened the season with the South Bend Silver Hawks of the Class A Midwest League. After batting .198 and striking out in 36% of his plate appearances, the Diamondbacks demoted Trahan to the Hillsboro Hops of the Class A-Short Season Northwest League in July. Trahan homered for Hillsboro in the opening game of the 2014 Northwest League championship series, won by the Hops. In 2015, playing catcher for most of the season, He played for Hillsboro Hops, moved up to Kane County Cougars, and ended the season with Visalia Rawhide. He started the 2016 season back with Visalia Rawhide moving to RF Position. But sadly the Diamondbacks released Trahan in March 2017.

But, according to Bregman, the Diamondbacks did call and inquire if he would sign with them as a second round pick in that 2012 MLB draft. “I told them I was going to school,” was what Bregman told the Diamondbacks when asking him if he would sign as a 2012 second round pick. He then attended LSU and wore the number 30 on his back under his name to signify all the major league clubs that passed on him in the 2012 draft.
Though this story does not have a happy ending for the Arizona Diamondbacks, who whiffed on two different chances to pick Alex, it worked out well in the end for him. As the 2nd pick in the 2015 draft Bregman signed for $5.6 million, just in a signing bonus. USA Today named Bregman the 2016 Minor League Player of the Year. Bregman was also named MLB Pipeline 2016 Hitter of the Year, and was selected as the third baseman for the MLB Pipeline 2016 Prospect Team of the Year. In addition, Bregman was named the 2016 Astros Minor League Player of the Year, Prospect of the Year, and a Baseball America Minor League All-Star. On July 25, 2016, the Astros purchased Bregman’s contract from the Grizzlies, adding him to their 25-man roster. He made his major league debut at third base against the New York Yankees that same day, thus becoming the first position player from the 2015 Draft to debut in the Major Leagues.
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Bregman started his 2017 baseball season as the youngest member of Team USA in the World Baseball Classic (WBC), which won its first gold medal in the WBC by defeating Puerto Rico 8–0 in the final. He had been invited as well to play for Team Israel which finished sixth at the 2017 World Baseball Classic, as WBC rules allow all Jewish ballplayers to play for the team, and he later said that in retrospect “I probably should’ve” played for Team Israel “because I got [just] four at-bats” playing as a backup for Team USA.

But, the Diamondbacks were right about one thing, Bregman is not playing shortstop in MLB. But, I think that has more to do with a guy named Carlos Correa than it does a guy they passed on drafting twice.

Royally Yours: Week in Review

The Kansas City Royals struggled last week only winning two of their seven games. They started the week on the road against the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Royals were swept by the Pirates in the three game series. The weekend series was in Detroit against the Tigers. The Royals won the series 2-1. The Royals reached the 100-loss mark this week. It is their first 100-loss season since 2006. The Royals were the second MLB team to hit the 100-loss mark this season. Their record is currently 54-102.

Pitching for the Royals has improved this season. Before the All-Star break Royals pitchers had a combined 5.40 ERA, last in the American League. This month the Royals have a team ERA of 3.98, sixth best in the American League. The pitching staff has improved through trades and September call-ups. Starters Brad Keller, Ian Kennedy and Eric Skoglund all have ERA’s this month under three. Pitching was an area of concern early in the season but the Royals have improved as the season has progressed.

Image result for Whit Merrifield stealing a base

Photo by; KingsOfKauffman

Whit Merrifield leads the American League in stolen bases entering the final week of the season. He has 38 stolen bases this season. Last season he led the league with 34 stolen bases. Amos Otis, Freddie Patek, Willie Wilson and Johnny Damon are the only other Royals to finish the season with the most stolen bases in the American League. Merrifield had another elite performance on the base paths this year.

Adalberto Mondesi has been one of the hottest players in the second half of the season. He has a .299 batting average, eight home runs and 21 stolen bases since the All-Star break. Mondesi should be an opening day starting infielder for the Royals next season. The former top prospect is starting to show his ability with the team.

The Royals will wrap up the 2018 season this week. They will start on the road against the Cincinnati Reds. The Royals are 0-2 against the Reds this season. Whit Merrifield will be a player to watch in the series. He has a .571 batting average in seven at bats against the Reds this season. The final series of the year will be at home against the Cleveland Indians. The Royals are 5-10 against the Indians this season. Ryan O’Hearn will be a player to watch in the series. He has a .421 batting average and three home runs in 19 at bats against the Indians this season. The Royals will finish their final two series of the season this week.


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