With the Minor League season winding down, what better time to name some of the best players in the minor league ranks for the Royals organization this season?
Starting Pitcher – Alec Mills
The righty made a big impact at Double-A with a sub 3.00 ERA and over a strikeout per inning before heading to Omaha. Honorable Mention - Jake Junis; Things have been a bit rough at times since moving to Triple-A, but prior to that he possibly the league’s best pitcher at Double-A after Mills earned his promotion.
Catcher – Meibrys Viloria
No catcher is having the season that Viloria has had for Idaho Falls as Viloria has more extra base hits (36) in his 52 games than any of the full season option the Royals have at backstops. Honorable Mention – Cam Gallagher; He improved at the plate while being an impact player on the defensive side for the Naturals.
First Base – Ryan O’Hearn
The first baseman exploded for Wilmington before getting slowed down by Double-A pitchers a tad. Still, the first bagger has hit 21 home runs as part of a 50+ extra base hit season while playing some outfield as well. Honorable Mention - Frank Schwindel: He knocked out 20 home runs this year.
The Sam Houston teammate of O’Hearn adapted to Double-A well, doing a bit of everything between the 11 home runs he’s knocked out and the 22 bags he’s stolen. The second baseman is still improving his defense, but he’s already pushed himself within the Top 15 of the Royals prospect ranks. Honorable Mention – DJ Burt: Burt is a physical, young 20-year old who has stolen 40 bags this year.
Shortstop – Nicky Lopez
The Royals drafted the slick fielding shortstop from Creighton and all he has done for the division winning Burlington club is get on base (.395 obp) while playing a slick defensive shortstop. At 21, he is playing below his age level but his six home runs may prove there is more upside there on the offensive side than originally thought. Honorable Mention – Raul Mondesi; He pushed his way to the majors despite a steroid suspension, but before landing with KC he had 22 extra base hits in 52 games.
Third Base – Hunter Dozier
After a couple of struggling seasons, Dozier exploded for 60+ extra base hits while hitting near .300 across both the Double-A and Triple-A levels. Honorable Mention – Mauricio Ramos: He’s had a solid season for NW Arkansas hitting .281 with 25 doubles.
Right Field - Jorge Bonifacio
Still just 23-years old, Bonifacio has a career high 19 home runs for the Chasers.
Center Field – Khalil Lee
The Royals third round pick had a solid season in helping the Arizona club make the playoffs, ranking 2nd in the league in OBP while in the Top 5 of OPS as one of the younger players in the league. The lefty has connected on 21 extra base hits in 50 games with Arizona.
Left Field – Kort Peterson
After struggling at UCLA, Peterson exploded with Burlington with a .993 OPS thanks to a .441 OBP, finishing in 2nd place in the batting race. Honorable Mention – Alfredo Escalera; He struggled during the first month of the year before improving at Wilmington and NW Arkansas.
Designated Hitter – Samir Duenez
Just 20 years old, Duenez had a solid season between moving up from Low-A to Double-A while leading the organization in RBI (98), stealing 25 bases and connecting on 51 extra base hits.
Relief Pitcher – Jake Kalish
A solid season across two levels for Kalish who put together a sub 1.00 WHIP and over a strikeout per inning with a sub 2.50 ERA. Honorable Mention - Alex Massey; The Tulane grad has K’d 10.4 per 9 while putting together a sub 1.00 WHIP for the Burlington division champs.
Feature Photo Khalil Lee – Credit Bill Mitchell