The Royals announced their 2014 minor league staff assignments, promoting three managers within the organization. Northwest Arkansas (AA) manager Brian Poldberg was named to the same position at Omaha (AAA), replacing Mike Jirschele, who was named Major League coach with Kansas City last week. Wilmington (A-Advanced) manager Vance Wilson will take over managerial duties at Northwest Arkansas, while Surprise (Rookie) manager Darryl Kennedy will assume Wilson’s former role with the Blue Rocks next season.
Poldberg, a resident of nearby Carter Lake, Iowa, completed his sixth season at Northwest Arkansas in 2013. The only manager in Naturals history, Poldberg led the club to a Texas League championship in 2010 and earned the Dick Howser Award in the same season. He spent the 2004-07 seasons serving on the Royals’ Major League staff as the bullpen coach (2004-05), first base coach (2006) and third base coach (2007). Joining Poldberg in Omaha will be pitching coach Larry Carter, hitting coach Tommy Gregg, athletic trainer David Iannicca and strength coach David Kathmann.
Wilson, who makes his home in Springdale, Ark., the home of the Naturals, just completed his second season as the manager at Wilmington and third in the Royals’ organization, after debuting as the manager with Kane County (A) in 2011. His staff at Northwest Arkansas will consist of pitching coach Jim Brower, hitting coach Andre David, athletic trainer Masa Koyanagi and strength coach Austin Driggers.
Kennedy returns to Wilmington after four seasons as the manager at Surprise. He also served as skipper of the Blue Rocks in 2008 as well as managing at Burlington (2007) and Idaho Falls (2009) within the organization as well as at Frisco (2005-06), the double-A affiliate of the Texas Rangers. His staff includes pitching coach Steve Luebber, hitting coach Jose Castro, bench coach Justin Gemoll, athletic trainer James Stone and strength coach Joe Greany.
Brian Buchanan will begin his second season at Lexington and fifth in the Royals organization after previously managing at Kane County (2012) and Idaho Falls (2010-11). He will be joined on the bench by pitching coach Steve Merriman, hitting coach Abraham Nunez and bench coach Glenn Hubbard as well as athletic trainer Mark Keiser and strength coach Aaron Reis.
The Royals announced that their 2014 Rookie League affiliates will be Idaho Falls in the Pioneer League and Burlington in the Appalachian League. KC will not field a minor league team in Surprise, Ariz., during the 2014 season.
Manager Omar Ramirez led Idaho Falls to the Pioneer League championship this season and will be in his third year at the helm of the Chukars in 2014. His staff will consist of pitching coach Mark Davis, hitting coach Damon Hollins, bench coach Julio Bruno, coach Willie Aikens and athletic trainer Robbie Oates.
Manager Tommy Shields returns to Burlington for his third season managing the Rookie-level Royals. Shields led Burlington to the Appalachian League championship series in 2012. His staff will include pitching coach Carlos Martinez, hitting coach Nelson Liriano, first-year bench coach Scott Thorman and trainer Sab Hagihara. Thorman comes to Kansas City after spending 11 seasons in the minor leagues as a player, retiring in 2011. He played two seasons (2009-10) in the Royals’ system at Omaha as well as parts of two seasons in the Major Leagues with the Atlanta Braves (2006-07).
The Royals’ Dominican Academy will be led by field coordinator Victor Baez and staff members Rafael Roque, Juan Guadron, Miguel Benard, Ramon Martinez, Onil Joseph and trainers Martin Berroa, Manny Plaza and strength coaches Jose Rosario and Reymundo Sido. The manager of the Dominican Royals will be named at a later date.
Kansas City’s Coordinators and Roving positions for 2014 include Field Coordinator Tony Tijerina, Advisor to Player Development Chino Cadahia, Senior Pitching Advisor Bill Fischer, Special Assistant to Player Development/Hitting Jack Maloof, Special Assistant to Player Development John Wathan and Special Assistant to the General Manager/Pitching Coordinator Steve Foster. Terry Bradshaw will be the hitting coordinator and Milt Thompson will be the outfield/bunting/base running coordinator. Other organizational positions include Chris DeLucia as medical coordinator, Tony Medina as Latin America medical coordinator, Garrett Sherrill as strength and conditioning coordinator, Luis Perez as Latin America strength and conditioning coordinator, Justin Hahn as rehabilitation coordinator/physical therapist, Carlos Reyes as rehabilitation pitching coach, Jeff Diskin as cultural development coordinator, Nick Leto as manager of Arizona operations, Will Simon as minor league equipment manager and Freddy Sandoval as mental skills coach. New to the organization are Sandoval and Hahn, while Diskin begins his first full season in the Royals’ organization. Sandoval played eight seasons in the minor leagues within the Los Angeles Angels’ system, reaching the big leagues for parts of the 2008 and 2009 seasons. Hahn, a physical therapist from Lakeville, Minn., was the Royals’ physical therapist fellow in 2013, working out of the complex in Surprise, Ariz. Diskin, who started his position as the cultural development coordinator last June, is a former teacher and varsity baseball coach at Pembroke Hill School in Kansas City.
James Shields carved up the strike zone to the tune of 196 strikeouts in 2013. He spent Halloween morning carving up pumpkins at his daughters’ elementary school.
Shields then participated in a conference call after earning the 2013 Joe Burke Special Achievement Award. The Royals also picked up his 2014 option on Thursday.
He said he’s excited to be back with KC and says that he loves the city. He loves the organization’s willingness to win and while he hasn’t thought about his future beyond 2014, he wouldn’t mind making KC his home.
Shields was asked about his post-victory celebrations at home (he helped to install a neon sign with a bullseye while catcher George Kottaras brought in a smoke machine). Shields just wanted to help his teammates keep their minds off of the pressure of the 162-game season. He says the wins are all that really matter, not the individual statistics.
The Royals announced that starting pitcher James Shields has been selected as the 2013 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 recognition for an outstanding season.
Shields, 31, was traded to the Royals on December 9, 2012 and immediately became the ace of the pitching staff. He posted a 13-9 record with a 3.15 ERA in an American League-best 228.2 innings in his first season in Kansas City. The veteran righty also led the league in quality starts (27), tied for the American League lead in games started (34) and ranked seventh in strikeouts (196). His 27 quality starts were tied for the third-most by a Royals pitcher and were the top total since Kevin Appier posted 29 in 1993, while his strikeout total was the sixth-highest in club history.
Shields was one of the best pitchers in baseball after the All-Star break, going 9-3 with a 3.06 ERA in 14 starts after the Midsummer Classic. His nine victories after the break were tied for the most in the Major Leagues. He also collected a 10-3 mark with an American League-best 2.07 ERA in 18 road starts.
During the final month of the season, when the Royals were making their push for a postseason berth, he went 4-1 with a 3.18 ERA, allowing just four runs in his final 29.0 innings of the season. He collected his 100th career victory with a 6-1 triumph over the White Sox in Chicago on September 27.
The Royals plan to announce the 2013 Bruce Rice Pitcher of the Year on Monday, November 4 and the 2013 Les Milgram Player of the Year on Tuesday, November 5.
Afternoon Update: The Royals have exercised Shields’ 2014 club option.
Rawlings Sporting Goods Company, Inc., and ESPN2 announced tonight that a club record three Kansas City Royals ¬– left fielder Alex Gordon, first baseman Eric Hosmer and catcher Salvador Perez – have won American League Rawlings Gold Glove Awards. The three Rawlings Gold Glove winners mark the first time since 1989 that Kansas City has had multiple honorees. The Royals’ three Rawlings Gold Glove winners tied Baltimore for the Major League lead.
The awards were voted on by American League managers and coaches and honor the best individual fielding performances at each position in the American and National Leagues. Center fielder Lorenzo Cain and shortstop Alcides Escobar were also named finalists for the award.
Gordon became the first Royal to win three-straight Rawlings Gold Glove Awards since second baseman Frank White won six-straight, from 1977-82. Alex joins Amos Otis (1971, 1973-74) as the only Royals outfielders to win three awards. Gordon tied for the Major League lead with 17 outfield assists, after finishing second in 2012 and leading MLB with 20 assists in 2011. His 54 assists since the start of 2011 are the most in the Majors, 16 more than the next-closest active outfielder (Torii Hunter). He led American League left fielders in games (160), innings (1364.1), total chances (341) and putouts (323), while committing just one error for a .997 fielding percentage. Gordon, a former third baseman, earned his first career Rawlings Gold Glove in 2011, his first full season in the outfield.
Hosmer became the first Kansas City first baseman to be honored with a Rawlings Gold Glove, and first Royals infielder to be honored since Mark Grudzielanek (2B) in 2006. A finalist for a Gold Glove in 2012, Hosmer earned the award after leading American League first sackers in games played (158) and assists (122), while finishing second in innings (1372.1), total chances (1,335) and putouts (1,205). His .994 fielding percentage ranked fourth among the league’s first basemen with at least 1,200 chances.
Perez is just the second Royals’ catcher to be honored with a Rawlings Gold Glove Award, joining Bob Boone in 1989. Named an All-Star for the first time in his career, Perez led American League catchers with a Royals’ record 71 assists as well as 23 base runners caught stealing, while his 35.2 caught stealing percentage ranked second among qualifying catchers. Perez also ranked second among A.L. backstops in games (137), innings (1115.1), total chances (1,008), putouts (930). He was also charged with just three passed balls, the fewest among American League catchers with at least 100 games behind the plate.
Gordon, Hosmer and Perez give the Royals 23 Rawlings Gold Gloves honorees in franchise history, while Hosmer and Perez become the 11th and 12th different players honored. Gordon earned the ninth Gold Glove given to a Kansas City outfielder (fifth different outfielder).
For the first time in its 57-year history, Rawlings added a sabermetric component to the Rawlings Gold Glove Award selection process, as part of its new collaboration with the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR). The SABR Defensive Index comprised of approximately 25 percent of the overall selection total, with the managers and coaches’ vote continuing to carry the majority.
Voting for the Rawlings Platinum Glove Award™ presented by SABR began at the conclusion of the awards show at www.rawlings.com, allowing the general public to weigh in as to who is “The Finest in the Field®” in both the American League and National League. A combination of the international fan vote and the SABR Defensive Index will determine who takes home the honor of each League’s top defensive player. The Rawlings Platinum Glove Award winners will be unveiled during the 2013 Rawlings Gold Glove Award Ceremony presented by Gold Sport Collectibles on Friday, November 8, 2013, at The Plaza Hotel in New York City.
Royals prospect Jorge Bonifacio was named to the Arizona Fall League’s Fall Stars Game yesterday. The game, formerly known as the Rising Stars Game, is an All-Star Game that includes representatives from each of the 30 MLB teams.
Player: Jorge Bonifacio
Hometown: Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
Signed with KC: December 9, 2009
2013: Batted .296 at Wilmington and .301 at NW Arkansas
Honors: Three-time club Player of the Year (Dominican Royals, 2010; Burlington Royals, 2011; Kane County, 2012); Dominican Summer League All-Star, 2010; Midwest League All-Star, 2012; Arizona Fall League Fall Star, 2013
Yes, they are related!: Jorge’s older brother, Emilio, joined the Royals in an August trade from Toronto.
Today, we bring you photos of Bonifacio in Fall League action, thanks to Lee Magenheim of Arizona:
The Royals have named former Seattle Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu and long-time Omaha manager Mike Jirschele to the Major League coaching staff. Wakamatsu will serve as the Royals’ bench coach and catching instructor after working as a special assignment scout for the New York Yankees during the 2013 season. Jirschele, who has managed KC’s Triple-A affiliate in Omaha since 2003, will carry the title of Major League coach. Dale Sveum, who was added to the Major League staff on October 3, will serve as third base coach and also oversee infield instruction.
With the most recent hires, the Royals have finalized their coaching staff for the 2014 season. Wakamatsu, Jirschele and Sveum will join manager Ned Yost’s coaching staff along with returnees Dave Eiland (pitching), Pedro Grifol (hitting), Rusty Kuntz (first base/outfield/baserunning) and Doug Henry (bullpen). Head athletic trainer Nick Kenney and the entire Royals’ training staff will also return for the 2014 season.
Rawlings Sporting Goods Company, Inc., a subsidiary of Jarden Corportation, announced today that five Royals – center fielder Lorenzo Cain, shortstop Alcides Escobar, left fielder Alex Gordon, first baseman Eric Hosmer and catcher Salvador Perez – have been named 2013 American League Gold Glove Award finalists. The Royals’ five finalists are second-most in the A.L., behind Baltimore’s six and tied for second-most in the Major Leagues with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Rawlings also announced that award winners will be revealed on Tuesday, October 29 at 7 p.m. CT, during a special edition of “Baseball Tonight/The 2013 Rawlings Gold Glove Award ® Announcement Show”, which will air on ESPN2. The Rawlings Gold Glove Awards honor the best individual fielding performances at each position in the American League ™ and National League ™, as voted by Major League managers and coaches.
Special thanks to Lee Magenheim of Arizona, who sent along these Fall League photos of Royals prospects Noel Arguelles and Cheslor Cuthbert. The pair are among eight Royals prospects playing for the Peoria Javelinas. You can keep up on the AFL at http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/events/afl/
The 2013 Arizona Fall League is underway! You can follow the Fall League at http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/events/afl/index.jsp
There’s a twist this year…Royals prospects are playing for the Peoria Javelinas and not for the Surprise Saguaros. The Peoria club is playing home games in Surprise due to renovations at the Peoria Sports Complex, so if you are in Arizona, you can still see Royals prospects at Surprise Sports Complex.
Eight Royals prospects are playing for Peoria. A look at the early highlights: Jorge Bonifacio (brother of Emilio) has three hits, two RBI and two runs through two games. Cheslor Cuthbert hit a home run on Tuesday. Cuthbert split 2013 between Wilmington and Northwest Arkansas.
Greg led the Majors with 11 saves, which also set a franchise record for September. Holland, who won in July, is the first player to win the award multiple times in a season. He capped the month by breaking the Royals single-season save record, setting the new mark of 47. Holland also tied KC’s single-season strikeout record for a reliever at 103.
Congrats to Greg!