The Storm Chasers announced their roster on Tuesday while some of the other squads in the Royals system were naming their rotations and readying themselves for the minor league seasons opening day today. The Chasers squad in 2016 will look a little different than they have in the past with a group of major league and minor league veterans rather than the younger, big name prospects they’ve featured in the past at the Papillion stadium.
The starting pitching is the one spot on the team where youth and inexperience at the AAA level is featured on the club. The Chasers have seven combined AAA starts from their group of youngsters headlined by Miguel Almonte that also includes Jon Dziedzic, Luke Farrell and Brooks Pounders to begin their season. The one veteran in that rotation is John Lannan, the former Washington Nationals left-handed starter who the Royals signed in the offseason. The one obvious omission from the rotation is that of Kyle Zimmer who remained at extended spring training in Arizona with continued shoulder problems.
The bullpen features a nice mix of former major league relievers and a few talented arms and should be one of the assets that manager Brian Poldberg gets to use throughout the season. The strength there definitely relies in the left-handed arms of Scott Alexander and Brian Flynn, both of whom could ride the I-29 bus between Omaha and Kansas City this season. Along with those two lefty power arms, Malcom Culver and Aroni Nina will pair to give a different look for hitters from the group of veteran relievers that features Brian Duensing, David Huff, Clayton Mortensen and Peter Moylan. Of course, Duensing is returning home as a former Cornhusker and Millard South graduate whose high school is just six miles away from the current Storm Chasers stadium.
|Scott Alexander||2010 6th Rd. Pick, $125k signing bonus|
|Miguel Almonte||2010 International Free Agent, $25k|
|Malcom Culver||2008 8th Rd. Pick, $125k|
|Brian Duensing||2016 Free Agent|
|Jonathan Dziedzic||2013 13th Rd. Pick|
|Luke Farrell||2013 6th Rd. Pick, $75k|
|Brian Farrell||Acquired w/Reid Redman in Aaron Crow trade|
|David Huff||2016 Free Agent|
|John Lannan||Dec. 2015 Free Agent|
|Clayton Mortensen||Acquired in 2013 trade for Quentin Berry|
|Peter Moylan||2016 Free Agent|
|Aroni Nina||2008 International Free Agent|
|Brooks Pounders||Acquired in 2011 w/Diego Goris in Yamaico Navarro trade|
Much like the pitching group, the position group is full of former major league players and a few others who have had plenty of success at the AAA level. The outfield is loaded with potential players who could fill in at the big league level during the season this year. The biggest named prospect is newbie Jorge Bonifacio who had a solid spring training for the big league club. The biggest challenge for manager Brian Poldberg could be finding at bats for the many players who have had success at the AAA level in the past couple of seasons.
|Tony Cruz||Acquired in trade for Jose Martinez|
|Parker Morin||2012 14th Rd. Pick|
|Clint Barmes||2016 Free Agent|
|Dusty Coleman||2015 Free Agent|
|Cheslor Cuthbert||2009 International Free Agent, $1.35M|
|Cody Decker||Dec. 2015 Free Agent|
|Balbino Fuenmayor||2014 Free Agent|
|Whit Merrifield||2010 9th Rd. Pick, $100k|
|Jorge Bonifacio||2009 International Free Agent, $135k|
|Brett Eibner||2010 2nd Rd. Pick, $1.25M|
|Jose Martinez||2015 Free Agent|
|Travis Snider||2016 Free Agent|
The Chasers and the three other Royals affiliates start their minor league season today with the following starting pitchers taking the mounds for their respective teams.
Miguel Almonte Omaha vs New Orleans Zephyrs (Miami Marlins)
Alec Millers NW Arkansas vs Frisco Rough Riders (Texas Rangers)
Zach Lovvorn Wilmington vs Potomac Nationals (Washington Nationals)
Scott Blewett Lexington vs Lakewood Blueclaws (Philadelphia Phillies)
Wilmington skipper Jamie Quirk said his starting rotation in Wilmington will consist of opening day starter Lovvorn followed by Pedro Fernandez, lefty Matt Tenuta, Ashton Goudeau and Colin Rodgers. Early in the season, at most minor league levels, the Royals tend to piggyback starting pitchers as they build up to their pitch count totals. Watch to see if one of piggyback relievers ends up being a better option to start as that all shakes out.
The Lexington pitching squad features a couple live arms in Julio Pinto and Yunior Marte who have popped up in a minor way in prospect circles for their live arms. Add Franco Terrero to that list as someone to watch. According to one Royals official he has a quick arm, developed his change up at the Royals Dominican Academy and started to improve his breaking ball last year during the Arizona Summer League season. Signed for under $10,000 Terrero is earning comps to Kelvin Herrera.
Watch for the minor league daily recap Diamonds in the Rough written by @ShawnRebman
Feature Photo Cody Decker hitting a double during spring training – Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports