Royals name players, pitchers of the year for eight Minor League affiliates

The Kansas City Royals have named their Minor League Players and Pitchers of the Year for their respective affiliates. The George Brett Hitter of the Year and Paul Splittorff Pitcher of the Year will be announced during the offseason.

All of the players will be at Kauffman Stadium on Friday, September 30 for Futures Night, where they will take part in a pregame autograph session at 5:30 p.m. at Gate A and will be honored in an on-field presentation prior to the Royals game with the Cleveland Indians. 

OMAHA (AAA)
Third baseman Hunter Dozier, 25, was named the Omaha Player of the Year. He hit .294 (115-for-381) in 103 games with Omaha. In 129 games between Double-A Northwest Arkansas and Omaha, he set new career highs in doubles (44), home runs (23) and RBI (75). His 36 doubles with the Storm Chasers ranked second in the Pacific Coast League, despite not making his debut there until May 7. He recorded three multi-home run games this season, including two with Omaha on May 19 and July 25. The Royals' first-round pick (eighth overall) in the 2013 First-Year Player Draft, Dozier made his Major League debut on September 12.

Right-handed pitcher Brooks Pounders, 26, was named the Omaha Pitcher of the Year. He recorded a 3.14 ERA (28 ER in 80.1 IP) in 31 appearances (seven starts) for the Storm Chasers with 90 strikeouts (10.1 SO/9). He earned Pacific Coast league Midseason All-Star honors for his time in Omaha and made his Major League debut on July 5, marking his first of three stints with the Royals this season. He earned his first Major League win on July 7 vs. Seattle. Pounders was acquired via trade from Pittsburgh on December 7, 2011.

NORTHWEST ARKANSAS (AA)
Infielder Corey Toups, 23, was named Northwest Arkansas Player of the Year. Following his promotion from Advanced-A Wilmington, he hit .275 (93-for-338) with 10 home runs and 16 stolen bases in 86 games for the Naturals, leading them to a second-half division championship and a berth into the Texas League playoffs. He recorded a 23-game on-base streak from July 1-31, which included a 12-game hitting streak. The second-time award winner was the Royals' 15
th-round pick in the 2014 First-Year Player Draft.

Right-handed pitcher Jakob Junis, 24, was named Northwest Arkansas Pitcher of the Year. He went 9-7 with a 3.25 ERA (43 ER in 119.0 IP) for the Naturals, third best in the Texas League. His 2.04 walks-per-nine rate ranked first among league-qualified pitchers and his 1.15 WHIP was fourth. He recorded 117 strikeouts in 119.0 innings (8.8 SO/9) on his way to earning Texas League Postseason All-Star honors. The second-time award winner (also, Lexington in 2014) was the Royals' 29th-round pick in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft. 

WILMINGTON (A+)
First baseman Samir Duenez, 20, was named Wilmington Player of the Year. He posted career highs with 13 home runs, 100 RBI and 26 stolen bases across three levels in 2016 and hit .300/.363/.479 (64-for-213) in 56 games in Wilmington. The Venezuela native also won Player of the Year honors with Surprise in 2013. He was signed by the Royals as a non-drafted free agent on July 7, 2012.

Right-handed pitcher Zach Lovvorn, 22, was named Wilmington Pitcher of the Year. He posted the sixth-best ERA (3.95) among Carolina League pitchers, recording 127.2 innings over 25 outings (23 starts) for the Blue Rocks. He recorded a career-high 10 strikeouts in 4.2 innings on June 27 and in his second-to-last start on August 17, fired 7.0 shutout innings of three-hit ball. He was the Royals' sixth-round pick in the 2012 First-Year Player Draft.

LEXINGTON (A)
Infielder DJ Burt, 20, was named Lexington Player of the Year. He led the Legends in games played (125), hits (122), triples (five), runs (74) RBI (59), walks (51) and stolen bases (43), which were tied for second most in the South Atlantic League. He recorded a 68-game on-base streak that dated back to 2015 and ended on April 16 of this season. He was the Royals' fourth-round pick in the 2014 First-Year Player Draft.

Left-handed pitcher Emilio Ogando, 23, was named Lexington Pitcher of the Year. He set new career highs in starts (20), wins (seven), innings (132.2) and strikeouts (130), while leading the Legends in innings and strikeouts. He posted a 3.80 ERA across 25 appearances with 8.8 strikeouts-per-nine and 2.4 walks-per-nine. He was the Royals' 12th-round pick in the 2014 First-Year Player Draft.

IDAHO FALLS (R)                                                                                                                   
Catcher Meibrys Viloria, 19, was named Idaho Falls Player of the Year. He hit .376/.436/.606 (85-for-226) and led the Pioneer League in doubles (28), RBI (55) and batting average, earning All-Star honors and was named the Pioneer League Most Valuable Player. He led the league catching 33 would-be base runners and had a league-best 20-game hitting streak from July 7-August 7. This is his second Player of the Year Award, after being named the Dominican Royals' Player of the Year in 2014. He was signed by the Royals as a non-drafted free agent on July 2, 2013.

Right-handed pitcher Andres Machado, 23, was named Idaho Falls Pitcher of the Year. He posted a 3.99 ERA (26 ER in 58.2 IP) in 13 starts, leading the Chukars to the best overall record in the Pioneer League South Division. His 64 strikeouts (9.8 SO/9) ranked third among league qualified pitchers. The Venezuela native was signed by the Royals as a non-drafted free agent on November 17, 2010. 

BURLINGTON (R)
Outfielder Kort Peterson, 22, was named Burlington Player of the Year. He hit .347/.437/.545 (61-for-176) in his professional debut to lead the club in batting average and led the Appalachian League in on-base percentage. He had a 19-game on-base streak from August 5-27. He was the Royals' 23
rd-round pick in the 2016 First-Year Player Draft.

Left-handed pitcher Cristian Castillo, 22, was named Burlington Pitcher of the Year. He went 6-3 with a 3.12 ERA (25 ER in 72.0 IP) and 73 strikeouts, second most in the Appalachian League. He also ranked among league leaders in opponents' average (.212, first), innings (tied for first) and WHIP (0.99, second), earning Postseason All-Star honors and Appalachian League Pitcher of the Year honors. He posted his first career shutout on July 29, recording a career-high 11 strikeouts across 9.0 scoreless, one-hit innings. The Mexico native was signed by the Royals as a non-drafted free agent on December 15, 2014.

SURPRISE (R)
Outfielder Khalil Lee, 18, was named Surprise Player of the Year. He hit .269/.396/.484 (49-for-182) in his professional debut, leading the Surprise Royals in on-base percentage and walks (33) and led the Arizona League in runs (43), triples (six) and total bases (88). He was the Royals' third-round pick in the 2016 First-Year Player Draft.

Right-handed pitcher Grant Gavin, 21, was named Surprise Pitcher of the Year. He finished fourth in the Arizona League with a 2.01 ERA (11 ER in 49.1 IP), recording 47 strikeouts over 13 appearances (four starts) to earn Postseason All-Star honors. The Parkville, Mo., native was the Royals' 29th-round pick in the 2016 First-Year Player Draft.

DOMINICAN (R)
Infielder Esteury Ruiz, 17, was named the Dominican Royals' Player of the Year. He hit .313/.378/.512 (68-for-217), leading the team in hits, doubles (18), triples (five) and runs (44), and finished fourth in the Dominican Summer League with 28 extra-base hits.

Right-handed pitcher Andres Sotillet, 19, was named the Dominican Royals' Pitcher of the Year. He went 7-2 with a 1.52 ERA (11 ER in 65.0 IP) in 13 starts, allowing just 48 hits and eight walks (0.86 WHIP), leading the Dominican Royals to a 48-21 overall record.