The Royals had three different players jump out to excellent minor league seasons this year with Cheslor Cuthbert, Hunter Dozier and Ryan O’Hearn all having big Aprils, but only one was able to sustain that success at the minor league level to win the first BP Kansas City Minor League Player of the Year Award.
After struggling for parts of two seasons at the Double-A level, Dozier made adjustments in the fall season that helped him tear through the level with a .305/.400/.642 slash line and eight home runs in 26 games. Taking over for Cheslor Cuthbert after his promotion and excellent start at Triple-A, Dozier was able to sustain success against a more experienced and savvy group of older pitchers at the next level.
Once at Triple-A, Dozier set a new career high for home runs by hitting his 13th of the year on the way to 23 for the season. Home runs wouldn’t be the only thing Dozier would set career highs in as he would topple his highs in hits, doubles, RBI and total bases for a season. His 36 doubles in just 103 Triple-A games would finish second in the PCL while the 44 doubles for the year was the most for a Royals minor leaguer since Mitch Maier connected on 47 between High Desert and Wichita in 2005. While Werner Park is a right-handed hitters heaven, Dozier did most of his damage on the season on the road, putting up a 1.007 OPS on the road with 16 of his 23 home runs coming away from home. In addition Dozier destroyed lefties with a .368 average and 1.099 OPS in 149 plate appearances versus southpaws. All helping him put up one of the better seasons in the GMDM minor league era.
Dozier’s numbers in GMDM Historical Content – Total Bases since 2007
’07 Craig Brazell 326 in 135 AA/AAA games Age 27
’12 Wil Myers 313 in 134 AA/AAA games Age 21
’10 Mike Moustakas 305 in 118 AA/AAA games Age 21
’10 Clint Robinson 298 in 129 AA games Age 25
’10 Eric Hosmer 297 in 137 High A/AA games Age 20
’11 Clint Robinson 268 in 134 AAA games Age 26
’16 Hunter Dozier 259 in 129 AA/AAA games Age 24
’08 Kila Ka’aihue 252 in 124 AA/AAA games Age 24
’07 Mike Aviles 249 in 133 AAA games Age 26
’11 Lorenzo Cain 242 in 128 AAA games Age 25
’10 Johnny Giavotella 240 in 134 AA games Age 22
’16 Ryan O’Hearn 240 in 134 High A/AA games Age 22
As you can see above, Dozier’s total base number for a season is the seventh highest of the GMDM era with some pretty good names mixed in on the list with him.
In addition to the offensive numbers, Dozier has begun learning a new defensive position to offer Kansas City more roster flexibility next season at the major league level if they so choose. The excellent offensive season, his defensive versatility and power should allow the Royals flexibility in the field and in the winter offseason.
Other considered – Ryan O’Hearn – A blistering High-A year pushed O’Hearn to Double-A where he got off to a solid start before slowing down some towards the later part of the year. The first baseman also played plenty of outfield to help free up a first base/DH spot for the addition of Samir Duenez to the NW Arkansas roster. Connecting on 22 home runs was the second most in the minor league’s this season for the Royals.
Minor League Pitcher of the Year – Alec Mills – No pitcher was as good as Mills when full healthy as the righty put up a 3.22 ERA between AA/AAA with nearly a 4/1 K/BB ratio. If it wasn’t for a three-start stretch late in July that Mills tried to pitch through despite a stiff neck the numbers could’ve been much better. This season combined with his four pitch mix could put Mills in a position to challenge for a back end rotation spot next spring.
Team of the Year - Burlington Royals – From start to near finish, the short season Royals lead the Appy League, just falling short of an Appy League title in the championship series. Led by a group of college draftees, Scott Thorman put together the best record (45-23) a Burlington franchise has had since 1987 when the Indians went 49-21.