November 2012

Billy Butler named 2012 Les Milgram Player of the Year

The Kansas City Royals have announced that designated hitter Billy Butler has been named the 2012 Les Milgram Player of the Year.  The award was voted on by the Kansas City Chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA).

Butler, 26, earned his third Les Milgram Player of the Year award (also 2009 and 2010) after leading the Royals with a .313 average, 29 home runs and 107 RBI.  Butler is the fourth player to win the award at least three times, joining George Brett (1975-76, 1979-80, 1985, 1988, 1990 and 1992), Amos Otis (1971, 1973 and 1978) and Mike Sweeney (2000, 2002 and 2005).  He recorded the eighth season in franchise history with at least a .300 average, 25 home runs and 100 RBI and the first since 2003.  The 2012 All-Star finished fifth in the American League with 192 hits, sixth in RBI and eighth in average.  His 29 home runs were the most by a Royal since Jermaine Dye hit 33 in 2000.  Butler tied for third in baseball with 10 home runs in the eighth inning or later.  The 10 late-inning home runs included three game-tying blasts and three go-ahead home runs.

The Royals announced Monday that shortstop Alcides Escobar won the 2012 Joe Burke Special Achievement award while Greg Holland was announced as the 2012 Bruce Rice Pitcher of the Year yesterday.

Greg Holland teleconference notes

Greg Holland joined Kansas City media members on a teleconference this afternoon.  The right-handed reliever is excited about winning the 2012 Bruce Rice Royals Pitcher of the Year award.  He is more proud of coming back from early season struggles and an injury that sent him to the disabled list in late April.  Holland felt responsible for several early season losses and was happy to rebound and help the team.

Holland became KC’s closer when Jonathan Broxton was traded to Cincinnati on July 31.  He would love to be the closer for years to come, though he will let that decision stay with the Royals.  Holland says that he learned about being an effective closer from Broxton and Joakim Soria.  While both two-time All-Stars were quiet, they carried themselves well and shared knowledge with the rest of KC’s young bullpen.

Holland keeps his focus on getting outs, saying that “closing can be hard if you make it”.  He noted that the sixth or seventh inning can be more difficult than the ninth, depending on the situation.

Holland posted a 1.80 ERA in 2011 and a 2.08 ERA over his final 60 outings in 2012.  What can he do for an encore?  The 26-year old says that he always has room to improve and will keep grinding.  For now, Holland is enjoying a quiet offseason in North Carolina.  An avid hunter, Holland prefers to stay close to home and says that the deer are outsmarting him this winter.

Step into the batter’s box at The K! Home Runs for Hunger is this Saturday, November 10

This blogger has been a part of the Royals organization for nearly seven years.  The experiences have been unique – I have played catch with Satchel Paige’s son (who was throwing out a first pitch), competed in the Hot Dog Derby (I’m not a sprinter) and roamed the outfield during our corporate sponsor event days.

One thing that I had not done – until last week – was bat on the field at Kauffman Stadium.  I had the chance to do that as part of a Royals Charities event for front office associates.  While I didn’t hit any home runs, it was an experience that I’ll always remember.

You can create your own memories (and also the opportunity to play the outfield) this Saturday, November 10.  Royals Charities and the Royals Grounds Crew are hosting the first Home Runs for Hunger event.  Fans who donate canned food items or make a cash donation to Harvesters-The Community Food Network will have the unique opportunity to take batting practice on the field and shag fly balls in the outfield.

Fans can secure one swing against a pitching machine on the Kauffman Stadium field by donating three non-perishable canned food items or by making a $2 contribution.  There will be a maximum of 20 pitches per participant.  Batters will be entered into a drawing for autographed memorabilia for each home run hit.

Fans will also have the opportunity to shag fly balls in the outfield for 15 minutes by donating $25.  Participants are responsible for bring their own gloves for outfield shagging.  The Royals will provide bats, baseballs and helmets for the event.

Home Runs for Hunger will run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (weather permitting).  Please note that children must be at least 48” tall to participate, and all children under the age of 17 will need a waiver signed by a parent or guardian.

As fans enter Kauffman Stadium, Royals staff will be on hand to collect canned food items and donations and will give each participant a number indicating the hitting order and respective number of pitches and/or shagging time.  Family and friends are welcome to attend and may watch from the seating bowl.

Complete details on the event are available at www.royals.com/homerunsforhunger.

Fans who are unable to attend but wish to make a monetary donation may send checks to Royals Charities at One Royal Way, Kansas City, MO 64129.  Please note in the memo of the check that it is for Home Runs for Hunger.

The votes are in on Election Day: Reliever Greg Holland named 2012 Bruce Rice Royals Pitcher of the Year

The Royals have announced that right-handed reliever Greg Holland has been named the 2012 Bruce Rice Pitcher of the Year.  The award was voted on by the Kansas City Chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA).

Holland, who will turn 27 on November 20, made 67 appearances for the Royals, finishing 7-4 with a 2.96 ERA, 16 saves and 91 strikeouts in 67.0 innings.  The North Carolina native overcame early season struggles and a stint on the disabled list by posting a 2.08 ERA over his final 60 outings.  He recorded 16 saves in 18 chances after taking over the closer’s role on July 31, including 13 straight conversions from August 1 to September 9.  Holland finished third among American League relievers in strikeouts, trailing teammate Tim Collins (93) and Steve Delabar, who notched 92 with Seattle and Toronto.  The 91 strikeouts rank sixth in single-season franchise history among relievers.  Holland held opponents to two home runs over 67.0 innings for a ratio of 0.27 per nine innings, second-best in the American League among pitchers who threw at least 65.0 innings.  He became the first Kansas City reliever with seven or more wins in a season since 2000.

Yesterday, the Royals announced that shortstop Alcides Escobar won the 2012 Joe Burke Special Achievement award.  Tomorrow, the club will announce the 2012 Les Milgram Player of the Year at noon CT.

Royals name Bradshaw minor league hitting coordinator; Jose Castro and Milt Thompson join organization

The Royals today announced that Terry Bradshaw was named the organization’s minor league hitting coordinator.  In addition, Jose Castro was named the assistant minor league hitting coordinator while Milt Thompson was named outfield, bunting and baserunning coordinator.

“Terry has been an integral part in the success of our young minor league hitters as they have progressed through our system and reached Kansas City,” said Royals Director of Player Development Scott Sharp.  “He now will have the ability to positively impact our hitters throughout all levels of the organization.”

“Jose is held in high esteem as a hitting coach,” said Sharp.  “We are excited that he will join the Royals and assist Terry in preparing our young players for the challenges of professional baseball.”

“Milt has a tremendous reputation in the game as being one of the best instructors in outfield, base running and bunting,” Sharp continued.  “We are very fortunate to have him join the Royals and know he will make an immediate impact on our young players.”

Bradshaw has spent the past four seasons as a hitting coach for the Northwest Arkansas Naturals (AA).  Prior to that, he served five seasons with Triple-A Omaha.  Bradshaw played for parts of the two seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1995 and 1996.

Castro joins the organization from the Seattle Mariners where he served as the minor league hitting coordinator for the past five seasons, including 2010 when he worked in several roles including interim Major League hitting coach and was named Staff Member of the Year.  2012 was Castro’s 24th as a professional hitting coach.  He played 13 seasons in the minor leagues from 1977-89 after being drafted by the Phillies in 1977.  Castro and his wife, Lisa, reside in Miami, Fla., and have two children, Rachel and Matthew.

Thompson has worked the past two seasons as the Houston Astros minor league roving outfield and baserunning instructor.  After retiring from a 13-year Major League career with the Braves, Phillies, Cardinals, Astros, Dodgers and Rockies in 1996, Thompson has served as an instructor and coach for the last 16 years with the Rays, Phillies and Astros.  He joined the Phillies as the Major League first base coach during 2003 and later worked for more than five seasons as the club’s Major League hitting coach, including the 2008 World Series title campaign. As a player, the left-handed hitting outfielder batted .274 with 214 stolen bases in his big league career and was a key member of the 1993 World Series champion Phillies, recording 5 RBI in Game 4 of the World Series.  Thompson resides in Sewell, N.J., with his family.

And the 2012 Joe Burke Special Achievement Award goes to…Alcides Escobar!

The Royals have announced that shortstop Alcides Escobar was selected as the 2012 Joe Burke Special Achievement Award winner.  The award was voted on by the Kansas City Chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA).  The Joe Burke is awarded to an unsung player who contributed above and beyond what was expected, or someone who the writers felt deserved some recognition for an outstanding season.

Escobar had a breakout offensive season in 2012, his second with Kansas City after being acquired from the Milwaukee Brewers on December 19, 2010.  The 25-year old set career highs with a .293 average, 177 hits, 30 doubles, five home runs, 52 RBI, and 35 stolen bases.  The 177 hits were 13 more than the previous single-season mark for a Royals shortstop.  His .293 average ranked second to New York’s Derek Jeter among MLB shortstops and was the third-highest single-season mark at the position by a Royal.  Escobar’s 35 stolen bases ranked fifth in the American League and were the most by a Royals player since 2003.  He became the first infielder in franchise history to post at least 30 doubles and 30 steals in the same season and the first Royal to accomplish the feat since Carlos Beltran in 2002.  Escobar’s first career multi-homer game on July 14 vs. Chicago was the first by a Royals shortstop since 1997.

The Royals plan to announce the 2012 Bruce Rice Pitcher of the Year tomorrow and the 2012 Les Milgram Player of the Year on Wednesday, November 7.  Both awards will be revealed at noon CT.

Royals promote Rene Francisco, Scott Sharp and Kyle Vena

The Royals and Senior Vice President/General Manager Dayton Moore today announced three promotions in the Baseball Operations department: Rene Francisco to Assistant General Manager-International Operations, Scott Sharp to Director of Player Development and Kyle Vena to Assistant Director of Player Development.

“I am extremely proud of the great work by our Scouting and Player Development departments,” said Moore.  “Rene, Scott and Kyle have been instrumental in our success and we look forward to their continued leadership in these vital roles.”

“Scott has done an excellent job leading our player development department and has earned the complete respect of our staff,” said Royals’ Assistant General Manager-Scouting & Player Development J.J. Picollo.  “We are confident he will build on the success that we’ve established with player development the past several years.  Kyle has an excellent understanding of both the draft and player development and this new position will allow him to develop new creative ideas to improve all areas of the department.  This position fits his strengths and abilities well and we’re delighted that he will continue to be an asset to the organization.”

Francisco joined the Royals in 2006 as special assistant to the General Manager/International Operations.  Francisco has turned the club’s International Operations department into one of the best in baseball, producing talented players such as catcher Salvador Perez, pitcher Kelvin Herrera and numerous high-profile prospects.

Sharp, a native of Sykesville, Md., joined the Royals organization in 2006 as assistant director of player development and was promoted to director of minor league operations in 2008.  Under Sharp’s leadership, the Royals have consistently been ranked as one of the top farm systems in baseball, including landing the top spot in 2011, according to Baseball America.

Vena, a Kansas City native who just finished his 17th season in the organization, has worked the last two seasons as assistant to player development and scouting.  Vena began his career as a batboy before moving to assist day-to-day clubhouse operations and then made the transition to baseball operations in 2005.

Royals make series of roster moves

 The Royals today announced several 40-man Major League roster moves.  Following the moves, the Royals now have 40 players on the club’s 40-man roster.

The club has reinstated left-handed pitcher Danny Duffy and right-handed pitcher Felipe Paulino from the 60-day Disabled List.  Both pitchers underwent ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction (Tommy John surgery) during the 2012 season:  Duffy on his left elbow on June 13 and Paulino on his right elbow on July 3.

In addition, the club claimed right-handed pitcher Guillermo Moscoso on Outright Waivers from the Colorado Rockies and claimed catcher Brett Hayes on Outright Waivers from the Miami Marlins. 

Leaving the Royals organization is right-handed pitcher Blake Wood, who was claimed on Outright Waivers by the Cleveland Indians. 

Catcher Manuel Pina was assigned outright to Omaha while left-handed pitcher Tommy Hottovy, right-handed pitcher Jeremy Jeffress and outfielder Jason Bourgeois were designated for assignment.

The 28-year-old Moscoso (name is pronounced “jee-AIR-moh mahs-KOH-soh”), who will turn 29 on November 14, has pitched for parts of the past four seasons in the Majors with the Rangers (2009-10), Athletics (2011) and Rockies (2012).  The 6-foot-1, 200-pounder made 23 appearances, including three starts, for Colorado last season and went 3-2 with a 6.12 ERA.  His best season came in 2011 with Oakland when he compiled an 8-10 record with a 3.38 ERA in 23 games (21 starts), allowing three hits or fewer in eight starts.  Born in Maracay, Venezuela, Moscoso was originally signed by the Detroit Tigers as a non-drafted free agent in 2003. 

Hayes, 28, has worked as the Marlins backup catcher for parts of the past four seasons.  In 39 games in 2012, he batted .202 with six doubles after hitting .231 with five home runs and 16 RBI in 64 contests in 2011.  Known as a strong defensive catcher, Hayes has caught 19 of 74 attempted basestealers in his career (26%).  The 6-foot, 201-pound right-handed hitter was the Marlins’ second-round selection in the 2005 draft out of the University of Nevada.  His father, Tim Hayes, was drafted by the Royals but never played professionally.

Royals promote duo in baseball analytics

The Royals and Senior Vice President/General Manager Dayton Moore today announced the promotion of Mike Groopman to Director of Baseball Analytics and John Williams to Assistant Director of Baseball Analytics.

Groopman, a native of Brookline, MA, has been with the Royals since the 2008 season, serving most recently as an assistant to Baseball Operations.  Williams, a North Haven, CT, native, joined the Baseball Operations staff as an assistant in the winter of 2010.

“We are delighted that Mike will be leading our analytical department,” said Moore.  “He and John have been great assets and each has worked diligently to create synergy throughout our Baseball Operations department.”

“The past five years have been a tremendous opportunity to grow under the tutelage of Dayton, the entire Baseball Operations staff and the support of ownership,” said Groopman.  “I know I can speak for John in saying that we are ecstatic about the prospects of continuing our work on the analytical side of baseball operations, while becoming even more innovative and creative.  It’s very exciting to know that we’ll both be here going forward in what is a great time to be a part of this organization.”

Prior to coming to Kansas City, Groopman served internships with the Cincinnati Reds and the New York Mets, as well as Major League Baseball’s Labor Relations Department.  He received a B.A. from Columbia University in 2007.

The Royals marked the first baseball stop for Williams, who worked as a research assistant in the Political Science department at Yale University, where he earned a bachelor’s of science in geology & geophysics in 2005.  He also possesses a master’s in atmospheric science from MIT in 2008.

Royals outfield prospect Brian Fletcher to participate in Arizona Fall League Rising Stars Game

The Arizona Fall League has announced that Royals’ minor league outfielder Brian Fletcher will represent the West Division in the league’s Rising Stars Game on Saturday, November 3. 

Fletcher, 24, was the Royals 18th-round selection in 2010 and currently plays for the Surprise Saguaros.  He combined to hit .272 with 26 doubles and 15 home runs in 132 games with Wilmington (High A) and Northwest Arkansas (AA) in 2012.

The Rising Stars game, scheduled for this Saturday at 7 p.m. CT at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick in Scottsdale, Ariz., will be nationally televised by the MLB Network and online via MLB.com (MLB.TV).  In addition, Sirius/XM will offer the action to a national radio audience.  Scouting and farm directors from every Major League organization, in consultation with Fall League Director Steve Cobb and his baseball personnel staff, selected the players for the seventh-annual showcase.

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