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

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

A majority of the players are expected to be at Kauffman Stadium for Futures Night on Friday, September 14, where they will take part in an autograph session at Gate A from 5:30 p.m. to 6:15 p.m., as well as be honored in an on-field presentation prior to the Royals game against the Angels.

OMAHA (AAA)

Right-handed pitcher Jake Odorizzi has been named the Omaha Pitcher of the Year.  The 22-year-old is 11-3 with a 2.93 ERA in 19 games (18 starts) for the playoff-bound Storm Chasers after going 4-2 with a 3.32 ERA in seven starts with Northwest Arkansas (AA) to begin the campaign.  Odorizzi’s 15 combined victories are tied for the second-most in the minors.  He started for the U.S. squad in the SiriusXM MLB All-Star Futures Game this July at Kauffman Stadium, tossing an inning.  Odorizzi, who was acquired with shortstop Alcides Escobar, outfielder Lorenzo Cain and right-handed reliever Jeremy Jeffress from the Milwaukee Brewers on December 19, 2010, was the 2011 Wilmington Pitcher of the Year.

Wil Myers was named the Omaha Player of the Year.  The 21-year-old, like Odorizzi, began the 2012 season with Northwest Arkansas.  After batting .343 with 13 home runs and 30 RBI in 35 games, the Royals third-round selection from 2009 was promoted to Omaha where he is hitting .293 with 23 home runs and 75 RBI in 95 games.  The 2010 Burlington (IA) Player of the Year’s 36 combined home runs are the second-most in the minor leagues while his 105 RBI place him seventh.  An outfielder on the 12-member All-PCL team, Myers also competed in the SiriusXM MLB All-Star Futures Game this July at Kauffman Stadium, was named the “Star of Stars” at the Triple-A All-Star Game and is a finalist for USA Today Minor League Player of the Year.

NORTHWEST ARKANSAS (AA)

Right-handed pitcher Michael Mariot, 23, has been named the Northwest Arkansas Pitcher of the Year.  The University of Nebraska alum, who was recently promoted to Omaha, went 6-3 with one save and a 3.40 ERA in 31 games, including 14 starts, for the Naturals.  Mariot was the club’s eighth-round pick in 2010.

23-year-old Christian Colon is the Northwest Arkansas Player of the Year.  The middle infielder saw his season end prematurely in mid-August due to a right eye injury after batting .412 in five games for Omaha.  Colon, the club’s first round pick (fourth overall) in 2010 out of Cal State-Fullerton, hit .289 with five home runs and 12 stolen bases in 73 games for Northwest Arkansas.  The right-handed batter drew 37 walks and struck out just 27 times in 85 combined contests in 2012.

WILMINGTON (A-ADVANCED)

Right-handed starter Yordano Ventura was named Wilmington Pitcher of the Year.  The 21-year-old, who started and tossed a scoreless inning for the World team in the SiriusXM MLB All-Star Futures Game this July at Kauffman Stadium, is currently pitching with Northwest Arkansas.  He opened the 2012 season with Wilmington, posting a 3-5 record with a 3.30 ERA in 16 starts, striking out 98 in 76.1 innings.  The five-foot-11 Ventura was signed out of Samana, Dominican Republic, as a non-drafted free agent on October 8, 2008.

Whit Merrifield, 23, is the Wilmington Player of the Year.  Now at Northwest Arkansas, the former national champion from the University of South Carolina hit .258 with 20 doubles, eight homers, 59 runs scored and 25 stolen bases in 30 attempts in 101 games for the Blue Rocks.  Merrifield, who has played extensively in both the infield and outfield, was the Royals’ ninth-round pick in the 2010 Draft.

KANE COUNTY (A)

21-year-old Angel Baez was named the Kane County Pitcher of the Year.  The six-foot-three right-hander is 6-5 with a 3.17 ERA in 16 games (15 starts) with the Cougars, striking out 83 in 76.2 innings.  Baez, a resident of Juan Baron, Dominican Republic, was acquired as a non-drafted free agent on July 21, 2008.

19-year-old outfielder Jorge Bonifacio was named the Kane County Player of the Year.  Bonifacio will make his third-consecutive trip to Kansas City after being named the 2010 Dominican Royals Player of the Year and the 2011 Burlington Royals Player of the Year.  The younger brother of Marlins outfielder Emilio Bonifacio, he is batting .282 with 20 doubles, six triples, 10 home runs, 61 RBI and 54 runs scored in 105 games for the Cougars.  Born and raised in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Bonifacio was signed by the Royals as a non-drafted free agent on December 9, 2009.

IDAHO FALLS (ROOKIE-ADVANCED)

Left-handed pitcher Sam Selman, selected by Kansas City in the second round this June, is the Idaho Falls Pitcher of the Year.  Selman, 21, was recently named the Pioneer League Pitcher of the Year.  He is 5-3 with a league-leading 2.11 ERA in 12 games (11 starts), allowing just 41 hits in 55.1 innings, holding Pioneer League batters to a .202 average, best in the circuit.  The six-foot-three hurler from Austin, Texas, by way of Vanderbilt University, has struck out a league-best 84 and walked just 22.

Outfielder Ethan Chapman, 22, has been named the Idaho Falls Player of the Year.  Chapman, selected in the 30th round of the 2012 Draft out of Cal State San Bernardino, is batting .314 with eight triples, tied for third in the league, 52 runs scored, fifth in the league, and 22 stolen bases, tied for second in the league.

BURLINGTON-NC (ROOKIE)

18-year-old left-handed pitcher Colin Rodgers has been named the Burlington Pitcher of the Year.  Rodgers, the team’s third-round selection in this year’s draft out of Parkview Baptist School in Louisiana, went 3-1 with a 2.05 ERA in 11 starts for the B-Royals, allowing opponents to hit just .226 against him.  Rodgers made the start last night in the second game of Burlington’s first-round playoff series.

Outfielder Bubba Starling, 20, is the Burlington Royals Player of the Year in 2012.  The club’s first-round pick (fifth overall) in last year’s draft out of Gardner-Edgerton (Kan.) High School batted .275 with 10 home runs, 33 RBI and 35 runs scored in 53 regular season games.  The six-foot-five centerfielder also swiped 10 bases in 11 attempts.  Starling last night was 2-for-3 with a home run and two RBI as Burlington evened their best-of-three playoff series at a game apiece.

SURPRISE (ROOKIE)

Matt Tenuta, an 18-year-old left-hander, has been named the Surprise Royals Pitcher of the Year.  The six-foot-four hurler from Apex High in North Carolina went 3-5 with a 4.58 ERA in 13 games (one start) with Surprise, surrendering just one home run in 39.1 innings.  Tenuta was selected in the 25th round of the 2012 Draft.

Outfielder Alexis Rivera has been named the Surprise Royals Player of the Year.  Rivera, 18, was sixth in the league batting .341 with seven doubles, four triples, three home runs, 34 RBI and 35 runs scored in 48 games and was named to the Arizona League All-Star team.  The left-handed hitter originally from Ponce, Puerto Rico, was the Royals’ 10th round pick 2012 out of Montverde Academy in Florida.

 DOMINICAN ROYALS (ROOKIE)

Right-handed pitcher Miguel Almonte is the Dominican Royals Pitcher of the Year.  The 19-year-old made 10 starts for the Dominican Royals, recording a 6-1 record with a 1.44 ERA, allowing just 34 hits and 8 walks with 46 strikeouts in 50.0 innings.  The six-foot-two resident of Santiago, Dominican Republic, who signed as a non-drafted free agent on November 20, 2010, is currently pitching for Burlington after a brief stint with the Surprise Royals in Arizona where he went 2-1 with a 2.33 ERA in six games (two starts).

Infielder Wander Franco, signed by Kansas City as a non-drafted free agent on September 26, 2011, is the Dominican Royals Player of the Year.  Franco, 17, hit .315 with 14 doubles, five triples, 38 RBI, 45 runs scored and 13 stolen bases in 66 games.  The switch hitter currently resides in Bani, Dominican Republic.