Results tagged ‘ Yuniesky Betancourt ’
The Royals announced today that the club has acquired shortstop Alcides Escobar, outfielder Lorenzo Cain, and right-handed pitchers Jake Odorizzi and Jeremy Jeffress from the Milwaukee Brewers in exchange for right-handed pitcher Zack Greinke, shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt and cash considerations.
Escboar, whose first name is pronounced “al-SEE-dees”, turned 24 last Thursday and spent his first full Major League season in 2010 with Milwaukee as the club’s shortstop. The 6-foot-1, 182-pounder hit .235 (119-for-506) with 14 doubles, 10 triples, four home runs, 41 RBI and 57 runs scored. The 10 triples ranked tied for third in the National League and set a new franchise rookie record. The right-handed hitter and thrower also stole 10 bases in 14 attempts. Escobar entered the 2010 campaign rated by Baseball America as the top prospect in the Brewers organization and the number 12 overall prospect in baseball by the same publication. He was a career .293 hitter with 176 stolen bases in 647 minor league games since being signed by Milwaukee as a non-drafted free agent on July 9, 2003. Born in La Sabana, Venezuela, Escobar now resides in Vargas, Venezuela, with his daughter, Gabriela.
The 24-year-old Cain got his first taste of big league action last season, hitting .306 with 11 doubles, one triple, one home run, 13 RBI and 17 runs scored in 43 games for the Brewers. Appearing mostly in center field, the 6-foot-2, 192-pound Cain also added seven stolen bases in eight attempts. The right-handed hitter and thrower opened 2010 with Huntsville (AA), batting .324 in 62 games and would have started the Southern League All-Star Game had he not been promoted to Nashville (AAA). The speedster has hit .291 in 584 minor league contests with 124 stolen bases in 159 attempts. Selected by Milwaukee in the 17th round in 2004 out of Tallahassee Community College, Cain was born in Valdosta, Ga., but currently calls Madison, Fla., home.
Odorizzi (oh-duh-RIZZ-ee), 20, earned Brewers’ Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2010 after compiling a 7-3 record with a 3.43 ERA in 23 appearances (20 starts) for Wisconsin (A) in the Midwest League. The 6-foot-2, 175-pound right-hander allowed just 99 hits in 120.2 innings, walking 40 and striking out 135, pacing the circuit with 10.1 strikeouts per nine innings. Odorizzi was recently rated by Baseball America as the eighth-best prospect in the talent-rich Midwest League. The Highland, Ill., native was drafted in 2008 by the Brewers in the supplemental first round (32nd overall) following a senior season at Highland High in which he was named Illinois Gatorade Player of the Year. Odorizzi turned down a scholarship offer from the University of Louisville to play both baseball and football to sign with the Brewers.
The 23-year-old Jeffress (JEFF-ress) pitched at four levels in the Brewers system last season, including making 10 relief appearances for Milwaukee in the final month. The 6-foot, 190-pound right-hander was 1-0 with a 2.70 ERA for the Brewers in 10.0 innings. He finished up 2010 by making 10 relief appearances for Surprise in the Arizona Fall League, posting a 3.09 ERA and striking out 14 in 11.2 innings, also striking out a pair in a scoreless inning at the AFL Rising Stars Game. Jeffress also made stops in 2010 with Wisconsin (A), Brevard County (A Advanced) and Huntsville (AA). The South Boston, Va., native earned Brewers’ Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2008 when he struck out 115 in 94.0 combined innings for Brevard County and Huntsville. Jeffress was selected by Milwaukee in the first round (16th overall) in 2006 out of Halifax County (Va.) High School.
Greinke, 27, was the Royals first-round pick (6th overall) in the 2002 Draft and has posted a 60-67 career mark since his debut in 2004. The right-hander followed up his 2009 Cy Young campaign by going 10-14 with a 4.17 ERA in 33 starts in 2010. Greinke leaves Kansas City seventh on the franchise list with 931 strikeouts, eighth with 169 starts, ninth with 67 losses and 10th with 1,108.0 innings pitched.
The 28-year-old Betancourt hit .259 with career-highs in home runs (16) and RBI (78) last season. The shortstop was acquired by the Royals on July 10, 2009 from the Mariners in exchange for two minor league pitchers.
Escobar, Cain and Jeffress were added to the Royals 40-man roster while Odorizzi was assigned to the Wilmington (A Adavanced) roster. In addition, the Royals designated infielder Joaquin Arias for assignment to bring the Major League roster to 40.
We’ll look at several of the topics discussed, starting with…you, the fans!
Yost has the utmost respect for the fans in Kansas City and described them as a classy group. He knows that they are dying for a winner and that they deserve one. He’s never been in a stadium where the fans chant “Let’s go (team name)” as well as at Kauffman Stadium. He knows that the fans want to see a good baseball game and like him, expect a team that plays hard and never gives up. Yost believes that nearly every time that he left the dugout, his players had left it all on the field. He was impressed that the fans acknowledged opposing players for a milestone (example – their first Major League hit).
Are the Rays a realistic comparison?
Is it realistic to compare the Royals to the Rays? (Tampa Bay built their farm system and now they are headed to the postseason for the second time in three years). Yost believes that it is a fair comparison because of the depth of talent in Kansas City’s minor league system. He believes that the Royals are bringing players along at a similar pace to Tampa Bay. Due to the mental and physical demands of the Major Leagues, a majority of the group that was in Double-A this year needs to continue their development at Triple-A in Yost’s opinion.
On the coaching side of things, Yost is looking at ways to improve the information flow to the players through advance reports. He knows that errors will happen on the field, but believes in minimizing the opportunity to make errors.
As reported yesterday, all of the coaches will be back in 2011. Yost does have one position to fill as Rusty Kuntz will be working as a roving coach and special assistant in 2011. Yost knows who that person will be and expects an announcement to be made in the next few days, once the “I’s are dotted and the T’s are crossed”.
Yost expects Aviles to be much stronger heading into 2011 as he continues his way back from “Tommy John” surgery. He would like to see Aviles at third base but needs to see more of him there to make a proper evaluation. Yost believes that Aviles is up to the challenge.
Yost said that the shortstop did a great job of staying focused this year and that Betancourt knows what he needs to work on. Betancourt lives in Miami, as does third base coach and fellow native Cuban Eddie Rodriguez. The pair will work regularly this offseason. Yost gave credit to Rodriguez for helping Yuni during the season. Betancourt is a clutch hitter and not an on-base percentage player, so Yost feels comfortable with Betancourt driving in runs from the seventh or eighth place in the order.
Yost believes that Butler will eventually become a 25-30 home run player who consistently drives in 100+ runs. The fact that his walks are up and his strikeouts are down is a sign that he is turning the corner. Yost sees Butler as a #3 hitter more than a cleanup hitter.
Yost believes that Greinke has the ability to be a Cy Young-caliber pitcher on a yearly basis. He said that 2010 was difficult for Greinke due to the notoriety that goes along with the award.
Both Brayan Pena and Lucas May were sent home with “prescriptions” on what they need to do to improve in 2011. Yost believes that Pena, an offensive catcher, did a fair job on game calling toward the end of the year. Bruce Chen’s shutout on Friday was a great example of Pena’s improvement.
Manny Pina, who played in a combined 91 games with Northwest Arkansas and Omaha, will get a good look in Spring Training. Pina is a defensive-oriented catcher and Yost believes that Pina’s offensive game will improve.
Moose on track
Yost will be traveling to Puerto Rico later this week to watch six of Kansas City’s prospects play on Team USA. He will see Mike Moustakas for the first time since early in the year, when he watched Moose at Northwest Arkansas.
Yost made it clear that it is important not to rush Moustakas. In his opinion, he would want to see the third baseman put up his Double-A numbers for a consistent period of time at Triple-A.
You might remember that former Kansas Jayhawk Cole Aldrich threw out a first pitch a few months ago. Tonight, it was K-State’s turn, with men’s basketball coach Frank Martin taking the mound. Martin was the first member of his family born in the U.S. after they immigrated from Cuba. This afternoon, he met with Yuniesky Betancourt and Brayan Pena, both natives of Cuba.
David DeJesus and wife Kim welcomed a 7 lb. 10 oz. baby boy into the world yesterday. Yost expects DeJesus to be at the game today, but isn’t putting any pressure on the outfielder to return until the mother and baby are taken care of adequately. Yost understands how special this occasion is and said DeJesus is very excited. Yost even received a picture of the beautiful newborn laying on his father’s chest last night.
Head over heels
Yuniesky Betancourt suffered a slight concussion in last night’s game after colliding with Rangers catcher Matt Treanor in the fifth inning. Yost said that the dizziness is gone and Betancourt feels better today, but it will still be a day or two before he returns to action. Yost added that he experienced no hesitation replacing Betancourt at shortstop with Mike Aviles.
Movin’ on up
Luke Hochevar will take the mound this afternoon, and Yost expects nothing less than a great pitching performance from the right-hander. The manager praised Hochevar for the way he pitched through tough situations instead of powering through them in his last outing. Yost hopes that the Royals pitching staff can raise their stats to the middle of the pack rather than dwell at the bottom.
Royals Manager Ned Yost had his first press conference today in front of a standing room only contingent of media in the Kauffman Stadium interview room.
Yost has been following Kansas City’s Double-A affiliate, the Northwest Arkansas Naturals, for the last week General Manager Dayton Moore contacted Yost about the managing job on Thursday morning. After accepting the job, he sifted through possible lineups at his Springfield, Mo., hotel room. Yost was awake until 3:30 this morning. He took a two-hour nap and was up at 5:30 for the drive to Kansas City! He doesn’t anticipate major radical changes in the lineup at this time.
Yost described himself as a person who has a knack for motivating players. He wants to work heavily with individual players at first. While Trey Hillman was a hands on manager, Yost is not. He said that Trey Hillman did a great job of getting players prepared every day and that the players have been a class act. The club is a little shell-shocked at the moment. Yost’s main job at the moment is to get the players to leave everything they have on the field every day. He believes that this club is more advanced than the club that he inherited in Milwaukee and that they are not that far away from turning things around.
Yost stated that 85 percent of his managing philosophy comes from Bobby Cox, who he worked for in Atlanta. The other 15 percent comes from what Yost learned as Milwaukee’s manager.
He knows that the Royals have ingredients for success in their minor league system. Yost believes that Mike Moustakas will be a “big-time Major League player”. He also mentioned that Milwaukee (where he managed previously) stockpiled young power hitters like Prince Fielder, while the Royals are stockpiling young power pitchers including Aaron Crow and Mike Montgomery.
Yost’s philosophy on coaching is to have one coach totally in charge of the infield and one totally in charge of the outfield. Rusty Kuntz is back as the first base coach and will coach the outfielders, a position he held in 2008 and 2009. Yost emphasized the importance of bringing Kuntz back. Eddie Rodriguez will shift to the third base coaching box. He will also be the infield coach. Rodriguez speaks fluent Spanish and Yost believes that will factor into Rodriguez’ work with infielders Alberto Callaspo and Yuniesky Betancourt.
Yost believes that this is an attractive job. He is up for the challenge and understands the frustration of the fan base. He has full confidence that he can do the job. He added that George Brett (who celebrates a birthday on Saturday) called him from Italy and wished him well.
The Kansas City Royals have returned home after an extended road trip and are looking to turn things around. When manager Trey Hillman addressed the media, he stated he expects better baseball out of his club during the homestand.
Hillman also commented on the state of his bullpen. Hillman said that the bullpen has been doing a poor job of getting to Royals’ closer Joakim Soria for the ninth inning. Hillman believes the key is too many walks from his relievers; whether it is a mechanical issue or out of fear, Hillman wants to see more competitiveness in the strike zone.
However, Hillman has been impressed by recent success of reliever Robinson Tejeda, who has not given up an earned run in his last seven appearances. Hillman credits the work by pitching coach Bob McClure in working with Tejeda to speed up his lower half, allowing his arm to catch up to his pitching motion.
Hillman also spoke briefly on the recent Royals’ call up, infielder Mike Aviles. Hillman said that as long as Aviles continues to swing the bat well, he will find his way into the lineup. Hillman continued by saying that he sees Aviles’ immediate future at second base due to the early production by shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt.
During manager Trey Hillman’s meeting with the press before Wednesday’s game, he addressed questions concerning Rick Ankiel, John Parrish, Yuniesky Betancourt, and Jason Kendall. Hillman quieted concerns about Ankiel not being in the lineup due to a strained right quad, saying that they are still being cautious with the outfielder. Hillman also noted that everyone in the bullpen is available except for Parrish because he has a sore shoulder.
In regards to Betancourt, Hillman said he is pleased with his improved defense, especially in his ability to take better angles to the left side. According to the manager, Betancourt also seems more focused and has a better sense of urgency this season.
The main topic of the session centered on catcher Jason Kendall’s ability to play day after day, year after year. Kendall will play his 1,927th career game behind the plate today, tying former Royals’ catcher Jim Sundberg for sixth on the all-time career games caught list. When asked how this “iron man” does it, Hillman said it is Kendall’s mindset that keeps him going. He said the catcher expects to play everyday and he does a good job listening to his body as well. Hillman also added that hopefully the next 20 games will be a bit lighter for Kendall.
Manager Trey Hillman was asked about centerfielder Rick Ankiel’s availability:
Hillman said Ankiel took some batting practice in the cage and had light activity in the outfield. He said the centerfielder looks to be moving at 60 to 70 percent and is available to pinch hit. Hillman felt he could rush Ankiel into the lineup, but stated it was more prudent to allow the injury to heal completely.
The media asked Hillman to compare this team’s defensive ability to last year’s team:
Hillman likes his team’s ability to get to balls, both in the infield and outfield. He specifically mentioned his outfield arms; saying leftfielder Scott Podsednik and rightfielder David DeJesus have been incredibly accurate, in addition to being impressed by the arm strength shown by Rick Ankiel. Hillman has seen better lateral movement this year from shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt and feels first baseman Billy Butler has significantly improved his ability around the bag.
Hillman was asked to comment on any pressure that Royals’ ace Zack Greinke may be feeling:
Hillman admitted that Greinke is probably feeling some pressure to duplicate last year’s success. Although Trey continued by saying that Greinke wouldn’t admit to any pressure.
Hillman finished by giving an update on second baseman Chris Getz:
Hillman said Getz is feeling good. He started today for the Omaha Royals at second, going 2-for-4 for the AAA club in a 10-inning game.
Dave Owen was spotted hitting ground balls to Yuniesky Betancourt and Alberto Callaspo.
Players also spent time practicing their bunts. Here you see Rick Ankiel and Wilson Betemit getting their reps.
Royals Hall of Fame closer Jeff Montgomery (48) and catcher Brayan Pena (28) will both celebrate on January 7. CBS news anchor Katie Couric will be 53 while actor Nicholas Cage turns 46. Charles Addams, a cartoonist who created “The Addams Family,” was born on January 7, 1912.
Shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt rounds out our birthdays for January. Yuni will be 28 on January 31. Three noted baseball Hall of Famers were born on January 31 and all have a Kansas City connection. Ernie Banks, a former Kansas City Monarch who later became “Mr. Cub,” turns 79. Nolan Ryan, the only visiting player to throw a no-hitter at Kauffman Stadium, will be 63. The late Jackie Robinson, also a former Monarch, was born on January 31, 1919.
We’ve come full circle since last February, when Alex Gordon headlined our birthdays. Look for future birthday updates on an individual basis via our Twitter page. ( @aroundthehornkc )