The Royals affiliates started their season 1-2 with three games after Wilmington’s debut was rained out.
HR Roll Call: Khalil Lee (1)
BP-KC Hitter of the Day: Khalil Lee 3-4 HR, 2R, RBI, BB, SB
BP-KC Pitcher of the Day: Zach Lovvorn 6 IP 1 H 1 R 1 ER 0 BB 8 K 5-4 GO-FO 74p/45k
The Legends were the one affiliate that got their offense going on Thursday, jumping out to a quick 4-0 lead in the first. Second baseman Gabriel Cancel got that frame started with a one-out single, moving to second on Kort Pederson’s hit by pitch and then coming home on Chris DeVito’s single to left. A throwing error on the play at the plate on Cancel allowed both Pederson and DeVito to move up an extra 90 feet, allowing them both to come home on Emmanuel Rivera’s single to center. The scoring in the inning would be capped by Amalani Fukofuka’s double to left-center.
The Legends would continue to press on their end, pushing out Riverdog’s starter Nick Green after just 2.1 innings despite being unable to dent the scoreboard again in that time. The Yankees would counter with hard-throwing piggyback pitcher Albert Abreu, formerly of the Astros organization. The righthander who is ranked #82 on the Baseball Prospectus Top 100 would go on to work over the Legends hitters, striking out 6 in four frames, while touching 98 to 99 mph on the gun multiple times. The fireballer paired a nice curveball with that fastball and even tossed in some decent changeups, flummoxing the Legends lineup, save for Khalil Lee. It was Lee that battled for an 11 pitch walk in the fourth inning and then ended Abreu’s scoreless streak in the seventh with an opposite field home run. The blast highlighted an offensive night that checked every possible box for Lee, which included stealing a base and advancing bases on pickoffs, and connecting on two other hits.
The Royals prospect that I ranked 4th in my prospect rankings would reach base in the ninth with a single, advance to third with an error on a pickoff attempt, and score the eventual final tally with a Cancel double. Legends starter Nolan Watson would struggle with control on the night, walking five while struggling to harness the life on his fastball. Despite giving up just three hits he was limited to four innings on the night.
Gabriel Cancel 2-5, R, 2b, RBI
Grant Gavin 3 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K, 7-0 GO-FO, 41p/26k
Nolan Watson 4 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 5 BB, 4 K, 4-3 GO-FO, 83p/43k
The Chasers couldn’t get much going on Thursday, connecting on just two hits while Brewers prospect Josh Hader put them away via K six times in five innings. That lack of offense gave lefty Jon Dziedzic a tough luck loss after limiting Colorado Springs to just two runs over five innings. Both runs came courtesy of Ryan Cordell, doubling in a run in the first and homering off Dziedzic in the fourth. Starter Jake Junis will start Friday night for Omaha.
Whit Merrifield 0-3, BB, RBI, CS
Cam Gallagher 1-4, R, 2b, 1-2 Def CS
Yender Caramo 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 K, 12p/7k
San Antonio Missions 4 NW Arkansas Naturals 0
The king of the frustrating start in 2016, Zach Lovvorn, regained his title for at least one more night on Thursday in his debut for the NW Arkansas Naturals. The righty was solid in his six innings, pairing his 89-92 mph fastball with his solid slider to strikeout eight in six innings while giving up just one hit. Unfortunately that one hit was a solo home run via Luis Urias, BP’s #10 San Diego prospect. That run was enough as the Naturals could mount just three hits in the shutout loss.
Frank Schwindel 2-4, 2b
Pedro Fernandez 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1-2 GO-FO, 11p/6k
Donald Dewees 0-3, BB