June 2014

Royals sign 23 draft picks

The Kansas City Royals announced tonight that they have signed three more of their draft picks, outfielder Brandon Thomasson (ninth round), left-handed pitcher Nick Green (10th round) and left-handed pitcher Brandon Thomas (24th round).  These three are in addition to the 20 signees, which were announced earlier today.

The Royals have now signed 23 of their 42 draft picks, including: Foster Griffin-LHP (FA Comp pick for Ervin Santana), Chase Vallot-C (Competitive Balance, 40th overall), Eric Skoglund-LHP (3rd round), Dawon Burt-INF (4th round), Corey Ray-RHP (5th round), Logan Moon-OF (6th round), Ryan O’Hearn-1B (8th round), Brandon Thomasson-OF (9th round), Nick Green-LHP (10th round), Robert Pehl-OF (11th round), Emilio Ogando-lhp (12th round), Eric Stout-LHP (13th round), Ian Tompkins-LHP (14th round), Corey Toups-INF (15th round), Brennan Henry-LHP (17th round), Kyle Pollock-C (20th round), Evan Beal-RHP (21st round), Mike Hill-INF (22nd round), Brandon Thomas-LHP (24th round), Joshua Banuelos-1B (28th round), Timothy Hill-LHP (32nd round), Todd Eaton-RHP (34th round) and Cole Way-LHP (38th round).

Ned Yost media session: June 10, 2014

With dark, grey skies looming overhead and mist still falling nearly 24 hours since the final game of the Royals’ four-game set with the New York Yankees was postponed until August, Kansas City manager Ned Yost spoke about the rainout and the inherent benefit of the extra day off.

“It’s still raining now,” said Yost. “It rained all night and into the morning, so there’s not much you could do [about the rainout]. But rest was the biggest positive that comes out of it.”

Brett Hayes was scheduled to catch in place of Salvador Perez last night, but the rain-out gave Perez a night off without costing the team a game without its Gold Glover behind the plate. Additionally, Nori Aoki will take the night off tonight, with Jarrod Dyson replacing him in the outfield.

“It’s just a day off, but, you know, Dyson has had some success against [Corey Kluber] and it was an opportunity to give Nori back-to-back days off with the rain-out yesterday,” said Yost. “It’s hard to pick spots to give Nori days off because he hits lefties so well. This was a day when Dyson had some good match-up numbers.”

Dyson will take Aoki’s lead-off spot in the order, a decision made with an eye toward maintaining continuity in a lineup that has shown significant signs of life of late.

“It’s just a comfort level, especially with younger players,” Yost said of a player’s spot in the batting order. “When you start moving the lineup around, you’ve got guys that think that they’re three-hitters, guys that think that they’re four-hitters, that they’re two-hitters, and they come in and they’re hitting seventh. Now they think they’ve got to get four hits to get back to three. That just makes the process longer. You stay with it as long as you can.”

Yost has shown a desire to leave the heart of his lineup largely in place throughout the season, a discipline he says he learned while coaching under former Atlanta Braves manager Bobby Cox.

“Bobby said what he always did was wait until he got to the point that he was ready to move them, and then wait another week,” explained Yost. “That’s coming from a Hall of Fame manager. He understood the importance of continuity and comfort in a spot in the lineup. The back end of it, too, though, is you’ve got to be productive in that spot. If I didn’t have faith that these guys would produce, we would have made a change a long time ago.”

The Indians enter the two-game series as arguably the hottest team in baseball, winners in nine of their last 10 games – a fact that is not lost on the Royals’ manager.

“They’re swinging the bats really well,” said Yost. “They’re an athletic team, they play with a lot of energy. They’ve got guys that are hot. [Lonnie] Chisenhall out there has been swinging the bat well all year long. Michael Brantley, I think, is one of the better players in the American League. [Asdrubal] Cabrera is a guy who has always been consistent. They’ve got switch hitters. They’ve got power. They’ve just got a really, really good team.”

Chisenhall, specifically, is coming off of one of the most prolific outings in Indians history, a 5-for-5, three home run, nine RBI effort in a 17-7 victory over Texas last night. Already enjoying a break-out season, the 25-year-old former first round pick is now hitting .385 with seven home runs and 32 RBI.

“Last time we went in there, he was hitting .340 or .350 and your first thought was, ‘Okay, how much longer is this going to last,’” said Yost. “He comes back, and he’s doing the exact same thing.”

By Kolby Paxton

Royals on FSKC: Dish Channel numbers, June 9 to 15

Monday, June 9:  Dish 440 or 412-28

Tuesday, June 10: Dish 442 or 412-30

Wednesday, June 11: Dish 441 or 412-29

Friday, June 13:  Dish 441 or 412-29

Saturday, June 14:  Dish 440 or 412-28

Sunday, June 15: Dish 441 or 412-29

Royals complete final day of First-Year Player Draft

The Kansas City Royals completed the third and final day of the 2014 Rule 4  First-Year Player Draft today, selecting a total of 42 players over three days.
The Royals selected 21-year old Brandon Finnegan, a 5-foot-11, 185-pound left-handed pitcher from TCU, with the 17th overall pick on Thursday. He earned his ninth victory of the season this afternoon in the Horned Frogs’ 3-2 Super Regional win over Pepperdine.  After today’s game, Finnegan has a 2.12 ERA (23 ER in 97.2 IP) and 129 strikeouts for the Horned Frogs this season.  The 2013 member of the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team earned All-Big 12 First Team Honors this year.

Kansas City selected another left-handed pitcher, 18-year-old Foster Griffin with the 28th overall pick in the first round.  Griffin, a native of Orlando, Fla., pitched at The First Academy in Florida, going 5-1 with a 1.15 ERA, and posting 65 strikeouts in 36.2 innings, leading The First Academy to a 20-2 record during his senior season.

The Royals also announced that prior to completing the draft, the club agreed to terms with shortstop Dawon Burt (123rd overall), right-handed pitcher Corey Ray (153rd overall) and outfielder Logan Moon (183rd overall) to contracts.  The Royals selected third baseman Vance Vizcaino, son of KC National Cross Checker, Junior Vizcaino with their 29th round selection (873rd overall).  With their final pick of the draft (1203rd overall), Kansas City selected second baseman Diego Francisco, who is the son of Royals’ Assistant General Manager-International Operations, Rene Francisco.

Here is a breakdown of the Royals 42 selections from the 2014 draft:

-    12 high school selections
–    30 college selections (27 four-year and three junior college)
–    19 pitchers (12 left-handers, seven right-handers)
–    Five catchers
–    nine infielders
–    nine outfielders

Ned Yost media session: June 7, 2014

Manager Ned Yost was asked several times about his patience with his team and the lineup he puts out each day. He acknowledged that nobody likes to lose but in order to win with younger players you have to develop them. Over the last three or so seasons Yost feels the Royals have done a good job with that development. At this point, Yost said “my patience comes with our guys playing with energy, playing with life and playing with intensity on that field. As long as they’re doing that you can’t ask them to do anything else.”

Yost firmly believes the Kansas City offense will ignite at some point and he said he hopes it comes before it did last year, which wasn’t until after the All-Star break. The three hottest hitters on the team, according to Yost, are Alex Gordon, Lorenzo Cain and Alcides Escobar.
“When we get it turned around and we get on a run you’ll find out that Hosmer, Butler, Gordon, Perez will be our hottest hitters,” Yost said. “You stay steady, you stay persistent with the lineup that you know is going to work and just wait it out until it does work.”

By Nate Rowan

Ned Yost media session: June 6, 2014

This four-game wrap around series with the New York Yankees begins tonight at Kauffman Stadium and will mark the final regular season appearance for Derek Jeter in Kansas City. The Royals have a special presentation planned for Jeter prior to Monday’s game. Manager Ned Yost had plenty of positive things to say about the Yankees shortstop.

“It’s hard to describe because he’s been such a special player all these years,” Yost said. “He’s the total package of the type of player you want in your organization.”

Jeremy Guthrie will start for the Royals, winless since his second start of the season on April 9. Guthrie has gone at least 6.0 innings and allowed two runs or less in each of his last three starts and Yost commended Jeremy on his ability to give the Royals an opportunity to win each time he toes the rubber.

“The K” hosted a large number of Cardinals fans over the last two days and with the Yankees in town, crowds are expected to be large, though tickets are still available for each game of the series. Yost said he doesn’t care who comes or what shirt they wear as long as they show up. When asked if his team took any satisfaction beating St. Louis Thursday with a lot of Cardinals fans in attendance, Yost bluntly said “You take satisfaction when you win, you don’t take satisfaction because you won and there were a bunch of red shirts here.”

Royals complete day one by selecting three prep players

The Royals finished day one of the 2014 June Free Agent Draft by selecting three prep players (after taking TCU’s Brandon Finnegan at 17th overall).  Let’s take a look at the high school selections:

Kansas City picked 18-year-old Foster Griffin, a 6-foot-3, 200-pound left-handed pitcher from The First Academy (FL) with the #28 overall selection. Griffin went 5-1 with a 1.15 ERA, posting 65 strikeouts in 36.2 innings, leading The First Academy to a 20-2 record. On March 26, at the National High School Invitational in Cary, N.C., he tossed a three-hit shutout to beat Milton High School (Ga.), 2-0 in the tournament championship. Griffin also recorded a season-high 14 strikeouts in a 1-0 shutout of Colonial High School (Orlando, Fla.) on April 1. He comes from an athletic family, as his father, Fred, is the director of Grand Cypress Academy of Golf in Orlando, Fla.

The Royals drafted 17-year-old Chase Vallot, a 6-foot, 215-pound catcher from St. Thomas More High School (Lafayette, LA) with the #40 overall pick. He finished his senior season with a .545 batting average, 13 doubles, 13 homers and 60 RBI. He was named the Gatorade Louisiana Player of the Year, helping the Cougars win the Class 4A State Championship this season. In his final two years of varsity baseball, Vallot batted .456 with a .550 on-base percentage, collecting 23 doubles, 25 homers and 94 RBI in 65 games. He also won the home run derby at the Perfect Game USA National during the summer of 2013.

Kansas City selected 18-year-old Scott Blewett, a 6-foot-6, 210-pound right-handed pitcher from C.W. Baker High School (Baldwinsville, NY) with the 56th overall pick. The righty was the 2014 Gatorade Player of the Year in New York, finishing his senior season 4-0 with an 0.23 ERA, allowing 1 earned run in 30.0 innings, with 10 walks and 54 strikeouts. He was named a Perfect Game First Team All-American and a First Team All-Northeast Region selection this year. He never lost a game during his high school career, going 16-0 with a 1.30 ERA (18 ER in 124.1 IP) with 34 walks and 195 strikeouts over his final three seasons of varsity competition.

Royals select TCU lefty Brandon Finnegan in first round

TCU Baseball vs Texas TechTCU Baseball vs Texas Tech The Kansas City Royals have selected Brandon Finnegan, a left-handed pitcher from Texas Christian University, with the 17th overall pick of the June Free Agent Draft.
The 21-year old Finnegan, a 5-foot-11, 185-pound hurler from Fort Worth, Texas, is 8-3 with a 2.07 ERA (21 ER in 91.1 IP) and 122 strikeouts for the Horned Frogs this season.  The 2013 member of the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team earned All-Big 12 First Team Honors.  He was recently named to the Fort Worth Region All-Tournament team, after tossing the first 7.1 innings of TCU’s first-round win over Siena (2-1) last Friday.  He had five starts this season where he pitched 7.0 innings or more without allowing a run.  Finnegan has led the Horned Frogs in strikeouts each of the last two seasons, posting 85 in 2013 to go along with 122 this year.  He was tabbed All-Big 12 Honorable Mention following his sophomore year, where he posted a 3.18 ERA in 15 starts.
A 2011 graduate of Southwest High School in Fort Worth, he was selected by the Texas Rangers in the 45th round of the June Free Agent Draft that year, but opted to pitch at TCU.  He was a two-time all-district performer in high school and was named all-state as an outfielder following his senior campaign.

Special thanks to Brandie Davidson of TCU for sending along these photos, taken by Michael Clements.

Ned Yost media session: June 5, 2014

While first baseman Eric Hosmer is currently in a 7-for-48 (.156) slump over his last 11 games, Royals first baseman his struggles do not have his manager overly concerned.

“[Adam] Wainwright has two out pitches and he does a phenomenal job against lefties,” said Yost. “He’s just tough. It’s just one of those things where it’s timing a little bit, but when [Hosmer] gets it going, he’s got the capability to carry an offense.”

Yost doesn’t see much difference between the Hosmer of the past couple of weeks and the Hosmer of 2013.

“When he was at his hottest last year, it wasn’t much different than his swing right now,” he said.

Yordano Ventura will make his first start for Kansas City since departing with an elbow injury in the third inning of his last appearance vs. Houston on May 26. Yost said that his expectations for Ventura are unchanged.

“I expect him to go out and give his best effort,” said Yost. “To go out and do what he does.”

Ventura recorded the best April by a Royals rookie pitcher, however, he has not won since April 25 and has given up at least three earned runs in four of his last five starts.

By Kolby Paxton

Ned Yost media session: June 4, 2014

Today is KC’s first home game since coaching roles were changed last week while the team was in Toronto.  Dale Sveum, formerly the third base coach, is now the team’s hitting coach, with previous hitting instructor, Pedro Grifol, re-assigned to catching coach.  Mike Jirschele moved into the third base coach role.

According to manager Ned Yost, the objectives set in place by Grifol have not changed even if the voice delivering the instruction has.

“The message isn’t different,” said Yost. “Pedro and Dale have been working closely together all season long. Those of us that have kids understand that you can talk and talk and talk, your next door neighbor says the same thing, and it clicks.”

General manager Dayton Moore said that it is his responsibility to find the right coaching, but that the players must be willing to meet them half way.

“I’m not proud of the fact that we’ve had several changes,” said Moore. “Ned and I have to make sure we find the right voice, the right teachers, to help our players make adjustments.”

Moore said the current roster is talented and experienced enough to “take ownership” of their individual performances.

As for Sveum, Yost touted his perspective and his background, asserting that Sveum is capable of turning around what has been a disappointing offensive campaign thus far in 2014.

“In talking to Dale about it, we were probably looking down in the zone a little bit more than we needed to,” said Yost. “Dale has been a Major League hitting coach. He has three years of experience with a power-hitting club in Milwaukee, and the thing about Dale is, he was a switch hitter. He had to learn how to hit with power from the left side. He always had power from the right side, being a right-handed hitter. But he had to learn to develop it and manufacture power from the left side.”

Sveum was a member of seven different teams over the course of a 12-season playing career in the majors. In 1987, Sveum hit 25 home runs and drove in 95 runs for the Milwaukee Brewers. In 2009, with Sveum has his hitting coach, Brewers first baseman Prince Fielder enjoyed his best statistical season at the plate, belting 46 home runs and driving in a career-high 141 runs. One year later, Sveum oversaw an offense that included five players with 23-or-more home runs and three players with at least 102 RBI.

By Kolby Paxton

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