Royals name player, pitcher of year for eight minor league affiliates

BY foxsports • September 29, 2016

Royals fans can see the top player and pitcher at each of their eight minor league affiliates Friday night at Kauffman Stadium as part of Futures Night.

The Royals revealed their minor league players and pitchers of the year for their respective affiliates Thursday.

All of the honored players will be at The K before the Royals' game against Cleveland. They will take part in a pregame autograph session at 5:30 p.m. at Gate A and will be recognized in an on-field presentation prior to the game, which begins at 7:15 p.m.

The winners, by affiliate:

OMAHA (AAA)

Player of the year: Hunter Dozier, 3B. He hit .294 (115-for-381) in 103 games with Omaha. In 129 games between Double-A Northwest Arkansas and Omaha, the 25-year-old set new career highs in doubles (44), home runs (23) and RBIs (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 Sept. 12.

Pitcher of the year: Brooks Pounders, RHP. He recorded a 3.14 ERA (28 earned runs in 80 1/3 innings pitched) in 31 appearances (seven starts) for the Storm Chasers with 90 strikeouts (10 1/3 strikeouts per nine innings pitched). The 26-year-old earned Pacific Coast league Midseason All-Star honors for his time in Omaha and made his big-league debut July 5, marking his first of three stints with the Royals this season. He earned his first major league win July 7 vs. Seattle. Pounders was acquired via trade from Pittsburgh on Dec. 7, 2011.

NORTHWEST ARKANSAS (AA)

Player of the year: Corey Toups, IF. 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. The 23-year-old 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' 15th-round pick in the 2014 First-Year Player Draft.

Pitcher of the year: Jakob Junis, RHP. He went 9-7 with a 3.25 ERA (43 earned runs in 119 innings pitched) 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. The 24-year-old recorded 117 strikeouts in 119 innings (8.8 strikeouts per nine innings pitched) 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+)

Player of the year: Samir Duenez, 1B. The 20-year-old posted career highs with 13 home runs, 100 RBIs 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.

Pitcher of the year: Zach Lovvorn, RHP. He posted the sixth-best ERA (3.95) among Carolina League pitchers, recording 127 2/3 innings over 25 outings (23 starts) for the Blue Rocks. The 22-year-old recorded a career-high 10 strikeouts in 4 2/3 innings on June 27, and in his second-to-last start on Aug. 17 he fired seven shutout innings of three-hit ball. He was the Royals' sixth-round pick in the 2012 First-Year Player Draft.

LEXINGTON (A)

Player of the year: DJ Burt, IF. The 20-year-old led the Legends in games played (125), hits (122), triples (five), runs (74), RBIs (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 to 2015 and ended on April 16 of this season. He was the Royals' fourth-round pick in the 2014 First-Year Player Draft.

Pitcher of the year: Emilio Ogando, LHP. He set new career highs in starts (20), wins (seven), innings (132 2/3) and strikeouts (130) while leading the Legends in innings and strikeouts. The 23-year-old 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)

Player of the year: Meibrys Viloria, C. He hit .376/.436/.606 (85-for-226) and led the Pioneer League in doubles (28), RBIs (55) and batting average, earning All-Star honors and was named the Pioneer League Most Valuable Player. The 19-year-old led the league catching 33 would-be base stealers and had a league-best 20-game hitting streak from July 7-Aug. 7. This is his second player of the year award, after being named the Dominican Royals' top player in 2014. He was signed by the Royals as a non-drafted free agent on July 2, 2013.

Pitcher of the year: Andres Machado, RHP. The 23-year-old posted a 3.99 ERA (26 earned runs in 58 2/3 innings pitched) in 13 starts, leading the Chukars to the best overall record in the Pioneer League South Division. His 64 strikeouts (9.8 strikeouts per nine innings pitched) ranked third among league qualified pitchers. The Venezuela native was signed by the Royals as a non-drafted free agent on Nov. 17, 2010.

BURLINGTON (R)

Player of the year: Kort Peterson, OF. 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. The 22-year-old had a 19-game on-base streak from Aug. 5-27. He was the Royals' 23rd-round pick in the 2016 First-Year Player Draft.

Pitcher of the year: Cristian Castillo, LHP. The 22-year-old went 6-3 with a 3.12 ERA (25 earned runs in 72 innings pitched) 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 nine scoreless, one-hit innings. The Mexico native was signed by the Royals as a non-drafted free agent on Dec. 15, 2014.

SURPRISE (R)

Player of the year: Khalil Lee, OF. The 18-year-old 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.

Pitcher of the year: Grant Gavin, RHP. He finished fourth in the Arizona League with a 2.01 ERA (11 earned runs in 49 1/3 innings pitched), recording 47 strikeouts over 13 appearances (four starts) to earn Postseason All-Star honors. The 21-year-old Parkville, Mo., native was the Royals' 29th-round pick in the 2016 First-Year Player Draft.

DOMINICAN (R)

Player of the year: Esteury Ruiz, IF. The 17-year-old 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.

Pitcher of the year: Andres Sotillet, RHP. The 19-year-old went 7-2 with a 1.52 ERA (11 earned runs in 65 innings pitched) in 13 starts, allowing just 48 hits and eight walks (0.86 WHIP), leading the Dominican Royals to a 48-21 overall record.



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