Junis among 4 Royals added to 40-man roster

Club's No. 9 prospect protected from Rule 5 Draft; Cruz designated for assignment

Junis among 4 Royals added to 40-man roster

KANSAS CITY -- The Royals made a flurry of roster moves ahead of Friday's deadline for protecting Rule 5 Draft candidates, first designating for assignment catcher Tony Cruz, then adding pitchers Jake Junis and Andrew Edwards, catcher Cameron Gallagher and first baseman Samir Duenez to the 40-man roster.

Left-hander Tim Collins opted for free agency.

The Royals' 40-man roster now is full.

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The Royals acquired Cruz, 30, from St. Louis last December for Minor League infielder Jose Martinez. Cruz spent most of the year at Triple-A Omaha before getting a September callup. He played in four games for the Royals and did not get a hit in four at-bats.

Collins, 27, missed all of 2015 recovering from Tommy John surgery. The operation was not successful, and Collins had another procedure last March. In 2012, Collins appeared in 72 games with the Royals and posted a 3.36 ERA.

The Royals moved Junis, the club's No. 9 prospect, according to MLBPipeline.com -- Edwards (No. 21), Gallagher and Duenez to the 40-man roster because they would have been eligible for the Rule 5 Draft on Dec. 8, the final day of the Winter Meetings.

In 21 starts at Double-A Northwest Arkansas, Junis, 24, posted a 3.25 ERA and then was promoted to Triple-A Omaha. In six starts there he posted a 7.20 ERA and a 1.53 WHIP. But the Royals believe he's a smart pitcher who adapts to each league quickly, which is why the club protected him.

Edwards, 6-foot-6, 265 pounds, has a big arm -- he sits 95-96 and can touch 100 mph. The Royals believe he has closer potential. Edwards, 25, was a 19th-round pick in the 2013 Draft out of Western Kentucky and has advanced quickly through the system because of that power arm. He dominated this year at Double-A, posting a 0.50 ERA in 10 games. Edwards was promoted to Triple-A where he had his ups and downs -- 5.40 ERA in 32 games.

Signed out of Venezuela as a 16-year-old, Duenez, now 20, has shot through the system. He started last season at Class A Lexington, advanced to Class A Advanced Wilmington and finished at Double-A. Duenez, a left-handed hitter, put together a combined 100-RBI season at those stops with 13 homers while hitting .284.

The Royals believe Gallagher has Major League defensive skills, and the concern was that another team might be able to stash him as a backup.

Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter @FlannyMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.