A little update for the die-hard fans looking for some face time …
The Royals will be shooting high-definition footage for the 2007 television commercials on Monday and Tuesday, Sept. 4-5 during the Royals-Yankees games. Fans wanting to be noticed for a chance to make the commercials should deck themselves in their Royals best, make some great signs or maybe even add some body or face paint! Feel free to represent your favorite players, the Hot Dog Race, Kiss Cam, whatever you love best! The key is to wear blue and have fun. Remember, the cameras will be rolling at “The K” on Monday and Tuesday, Sept. 4-5.
I just wanted to update everybody on Luke Hochevar’s second minor league appearance Monday night. Luke did not disappoint, leading Burlington to a 5-3 victory over Quad Cities. He threw 4.0 innings, plus one batter in the fifth, allowing just 1 hit, 1 walk, 1 HBP in a scoreless effort. He also struck out 3 batters. After allowing a 2-out single in the 1st he retired 10 straight batters, before hitting the final batter he faced. Through 2 outings, his season totals now read (6.0 IP, 1 H, 1 BB, 1 HBP, 5 SO).
There is electricity in minor league towns all over North America at this time of year as prospects develop and teams make their final push toward the postseason. The Royals organization is filled with tons of exciting young players and four of the Royals seven minor league affiliates are racing toward the finish line with a great shot at postseason play. Prospects like Luke Hochevar, Alex Gordon and Billy Butler have scouts salivating and fans dreaming of what could be at Kauffman Stadium in the near future.
Perhaps the most exciting news down on the farm is first overall pick Luke Hochevar is scheduled to make his Royals organizational debut tonight as Class-A Burlington hosts South Bend. Hochevar will throw 30-35 pitches tonight as he builds his arm strength (UPDATE: FINAL LINE – 2.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 2 SO). After almost a handful of starts at Burlington, the 6-foot-5 right-hander will head to Arizona to compete in the Arizona Fall League against the best of the best in terms of minor league prospects. He will be in Major League camp come February.
Double-A Wichita, featuring a lineup with four former first-round draft picks including third baseman Alex Gordon (2005) and Billy Butler (2004) have been tearing up the Texas League lately, widening their North Division lead to five games as of Aug. 16. Gordon has hit 24 home runs and stolen 21 bases while Butler, despite being one of the youngest players at the Double-A level, leads the league with a .331 average and is second with 96 RBI. Butler, the MVP of the Features Game during All-Star Week, will leave shortly for Cuba where he is competing for Team USA in the Olympic Qualifying Tournament. Good luck, Billy!
The Wichita pitching staff is lead by Zack Greinke, Tyler Lumsden and Billy Buckner. Greinke, still just 22 years old, has been unhittable lately, posting a 3-0 record and a 1.00 ERA in his last four starts. Lumsden, a big 23-year-old lefty who came over from the White Sox in the Mike MacDougal trade, has a 2.77 ERA in his first three starts. Buckner, a 22-year-old curveball specialist and the Royals 2004 second round pick, was named Texas League Pitcher of the Week last week after earning two wins and allowing just one run.
Class-A High Desert sits in fourth place in the Southern Division of the California League, but is just three games back of first place with 19 to go.
Rookie League Arizona is tied with the Angels and Giants for first place with just 12 games remaining on the schedule. The fleet-footed squad has recorded 108 stolen bases, 42 more than any other team in the league! Six different players have at least 10 steals led by 2006 fourth-round selection Derrick Robinson, who turned down a football scholarship from Florida to play for the Royals.
Finally, the Royals Dominican Summer League team in Salcedo is at it again, clinching the Cibao Division for the third straight season. The team has a 42-19 record with nine games remaining in the regular season.
More prospects Royals fans will want to keep an eye on:
* Jeff Keppinger – infielder at Omaha who is hitting over .350 since he was acquired from the Mets organization in mid-July
* Ryan Braun – hard-throwing right-handed reliever who tore through Wichita and is now making life difficult for hitters in the Pacific Coast League
* Most of the pitchers at Burlington –Luke Hochevar joins an already talented group of young, power arms for the Bees including RHP Erik Cordier, 20, and RHP Carlos Rosa, 21.
* Brent Fisher – 19-year-old lefty has 72 strikeouts in just 53.1 innings for Arizona.
Well, it’s official! Luke Hochevar is a member of the Kansas City Royals. Luke signed his first Major League contract today at around 4 p.m. with his family in attendance. He had quite the entourage today with his parents (Brian and Carmen), siblings (sister Brittany, brother Dylan) and girlfriend (Ashley). His pitching coach from the University of Tennessee Fred Corral and his family were in attendance as well as his agent Scott Boras with fellow associates.
After Luke got done signing his contract and posing for some pictures (see below), he held a press conference along with General Manager Dayton Moore, Senior-Director Scouting Deric Ladnier and Boras. The press conference was carried live on Metro Sports and royals.com. Luke then had his first official mug shot taken in a Royals uniform wearning No. 19. His reason for No. 19? He said he wore it at the University of Tennessee, but more importantly because it signifies one good inning, nine times. By the way, coach Billy Doran is currently wearing No. 19.
Luke then stopped by manager Buddy Bell’s office for a quick visit before heading to the dugout suite on the first base side to spend the rest of the game with his family.
Luke is truly a tremendous individual and it will be exciting to watch him progress in the minor leagues. He is scheduled to throw a bullpen session for the staff tomorrow morning at Kauffman Stadium and will then leave for Surprise, Arizona for several days of conditioning. Following his short stay in Surprise, he will join Burlington, the Royals Class A affiliate. A pretty exciting day. I’ve included some pictures highlighting Luke’s day. Click on the pictures for a larger view.
Hey Fans, justed wanted to update you on a few items. First of all, Mike Sweeney’s rehab assignment continues to go well. Tonight (Friday) Mike is 2-for-2 with a double, a home run, 2 RBI and a walk. We have a call into him and we’ll give you his thoughts on how things are going. By the way, down in double-A Wichita Zack Greinke has struck out 10 batters through 6.0 innings, allowing 2 runs on 6 hits against Tulsa. They lead 9-2.
We’re excited to let you know the response from the Dayton Moore Q&A was so popular that we’ll be hosting a Buddy Bell Q&A in the next couple of weeks. Like last time, we’ll ask you to email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Obviously we can’t answer everybody’s, but we’ll do our best to cover as many topics as possible.
Make sure you check royals.com on Saturday, Aug. 5 as we’ll be streaming a live feed of the press conference with Luke Hochevar. He’ll be in attendance with his agent Scott Boras, Royals General Manager Dayton Moore and Royals Senior-Director of Scouting Deric Ladnier. We’ll also try to give you a recap of his day, complete with photos of him signing his first Major League contract.