Before they were World Series bound: Royals
The Royals are headed to the World Series for the second consecutive year, after dispatching the Astros and Blue Jays in the American League Division Series and League Championship Series, respectively. As this will be the first time that many fans across the Majors will be focusing on their roster, here's our attempt to give them a head start with the origins of every player on the reigning AL champs.
Edinson Volquez, RHP
Born: Santo Domingo, Distrito Nacional, Dominican Republic
Minors: AZL Rangers (R), Clinton (A), Stockton (A+), Bakersfield (A+), Frisco (AA), Oklahoma (AAA), Louisville (AAA)
• Still called "Cueto" to this day by teammate Kendrys Morales, even though the real Cueto also is in the clubhouse. Volquez and Cueto are close friends.
• He pitched for the Dominican Republic in the 2009 and 2013 World Baseball Classic. He went 1-0 with a 4.35 ERA in 2013 Classic.
• After pitching Toronto's Josh Donaldson inside all game and hearing Donaldson complain to the umpire earlier this year, Volquez famously said of Donaldson after an the game, "He cries like a baby." A rivalry is born.
Johnny Cueto, RHP
Born: San Pedro de Macoris, Dominican Republic
Minors: GCL Reds (R), Sarasota (A+), Dayton (A), Chattanooga (AA), Louisville (AAA)
• Cueto was signed for $35,000 out of the Dominican Republic when a Reds scout, who was about the leave the country, made a special trip to try him out.
• Like teammate Yordano Ventura, Cueto was greatly influenced by countryman Pedro Martinez, partly because Cueto had to hear so much about his size (Cueto is approximately 5-feet-9). Martinez also was considered undersized.
• On the field, Cueto reminds observers of Luis Tiant and Hideo Nomo with his back-to-second-base motion on occasion. He and his best friend on team, Edinson Volquez, were referred to as "brothers" when they were with the Reds together because they hung out so often.
Yordano Ventura, RHP
Born: Samana, Dominican Republic
Minors: DSL Royals (R), Kane County (A), Wilmington (A+), Northwest Arkansas (AA), Omaha (AAA)
• He signed with the Royals in 2008 out of the Dominican Republic for $28,000 and made his first start at Kauffman Stadium as a member of the World Team in the 2012 Futures Game. He got the final out for the World Team in the 2013 Futures Game.
• In 2013, Ventura threw a fastball clocked at 102.8 mph, the fastest pitch thrown in the Majors that season.
• He's close friends with Edinson Volquez and Johnny Cueto and the three are seen often together in the clubhouse and in the dugout during games.
Kris Medlen, RHP
Born: Artesia, Calif.
HS: Gahr (Calif.) HS
College: Santa Ana College
Minors: Danville (R), Rome (A), Myrtle Beach (A+), Mississippi (AA), Gwinnett (AAA)
• Medlen went to Santa Ana College, where he was the team's starting shortstop as a junior, hitting .332 with 10 homers and 42 RBIs. He also was the team's closer, posting a 2.23 ERA with 16 saves.
• He has undergone two Tommy John surgeries, in 2010 and 2014.
• Medlen is close friends with former Braves teammate Peter Moylan, who also has had two Tommy John surgeries. "When you look back at it, it was just uncanny that we would blow out a week apart, have surgery two weeks apart and then be on the same schedule all the way through. But it helped me out a lot to have someone to hold you accountable every day through rehab," Moylan said of Medlen.
Jeremy Guthrie, RHP
Born: Roseburg, Ore.
HS: Ashland (Ore.) HS
College: Brigham Young, Stanford
Minors: Akron (AA), Buffalo (AAA)
• He was the class valedictorian and MVP of the baseball, football and basketball teams at Ashland High.
• Guthrie started collegiately at Brigham Young before going on two-year Mormon mission to Spain before he attended Stanford. He was drafted by the Pirates after high school and the Mets after his first year at Stanford before he was a first-round pick of Cleveland in 2002. His brother, Chad, was a quarterback at Southern Oregon University in the mid-1990s
• A world traveler, Guthrie has been to Spain, France, China, Panama and Japan, to name a few international locations.
Wade Davis, RHP
Born: Lake Wales, Fla.
HS: Lake Wales (Fla.) HS
Minors: Princeton (R), Hudson Valley (A-), Southwest Michigan (A), Vero Beach (A+), Montgomery (AA), Durham (AAA)
• In high school, Davis was teammates with right-hander John Church of the New York Mets system and outfielder Thad McBurrows, who was drafted by the Tigers in 2004.
• Davis was roommates with David Price while in Double-A in the Rays' system.
• He is second cousin to former Cubs and Braves catcher and two-time All-Star Jody Davis.
Kelvin Herrera, RHP
Born: Tenares, Hermanas Mirabal, Dominican Republic
Minors: Burlington (R), Burlington (A-), Wilmington (A+), Northwest Arkansas (AA), Omaha (AAA)
• He grew up in Tenares with former Astros and Rockies outfielder Willy Taveras, and former Marlins righty Sandy Rosario.
• Herrera represented the Royals in the 2011 All-Star Futures Game on the World Team roster with Jose Altuve and Julio Teheran.
• Herrera also played in the Minors with Teheran and Braves pitcher Sugar Ray Marimon, who is Teheran's second cousin and teammate.
• Along with Alex Rios, he contracted chicken pox in late August and was sidelined for a week.
Ryan Madson, RHP
Born: Long Beach, Calif.
HS: Valley View (Calif.) HS
Minors: Martinsville (R), Batavia (A-), Piedmont (A), Clearwater (A+), Reading (AA), Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (AAA)
• Madson went to the same high school -- Valley View High in Moreno, Calif., -- that former Boston Red Sox knuckleballer Steven Wright attended.
• Madson came up through the Phillies system with Chase Utley, Brett Myers and Marlon Byrd. He hung out the most with Myers, and they keep in touch to this day.
• He did not pitch in the Majors from 2012-2014 after undergoing Tommy John surgery and experiencing too much pain trying to come back. He was given a tryout by Royals assistant to the general manager Jim Fregosi Jr. last offseason -- Fregosi originally signed Madson when Fregosi was a scout with the Phillies.
Luke Hochevar, RHP
HS: Fowler (Colo.) HS
Minors: Burlington (A), Wichita (AA), Omaha (AAA)
• He was a three-time All-State selection at Fowler High, where he had a 1.19 ERA as a senior and also had 13 homers. Hochevar was also the Division 2A Player of the Year in basketball, averaging 22 points, 10.5 rebounds and 7.6 blocked shots.
• His father, Brian, played pro basketball with Denver Nuggets in 1979, and his mother, Carmen, played basketball and volleyball at Southern Colorado. His sister, Brittany, was a two-time All-American in volleyball at Long Beach State while his younger brother, Dylan, pitched at the University of Tennessee.
• Hochevar was selected 40th overall (Dodgers) in the 2005 Draft and was the No. 1 overall pick of the 2006 Draft (Royals).
Franklin Morales, LHP
Born: San Juan de los Morros, Guarico, Venezuela
HS: U. E. Carlos R. Aponte (Venezuela)
Minors: Casper (R), Asheville (A), Modesto (A+), Tulsa (AA), Colorado Springs (AAA)
• Morales grew up in San Juan de los Morros, Guarico, Venezuela and went to high school at U.E. Carlos R. Aponte.
• He was selected for the World Team in the 2007 Futures Game at AT&T Park.
• Morales pitched in 11 postseason games combined with Colorado and Boston.
Chris Young, RHP
HS: Highland Park (Texas) HS
Minors: Hickory (A), Brevard County (A+), Harrisburg (AA), Frisco (AA), Oklahoma (AAA)
• While at Princeton, he was the Ivy League Rookie of the Year in basketball, averaging 13.6 points per game. As a sophomore, set the school record for blocked shots with 88.
• Young was the American League Comeback Player of the Year in 2014 with Seattle, when he went 12-9 with a 3.65 ERA.
• His wife, Elizabeth (Patrick) Young, is the granddaughter of Lester Patrick -- the namesake of the NHL's Patrick Division and the Lester Patrick Trophy. Her father is Dick Patrick, the CEO and president of the Washington Capitals.
Danny Duffy, LHP
Born: Goleta, Calif.
HS: Cabrillo (Calif.) HS
Minors: AZL Royals (R), Burlington (A), Wilmington (A+), Idaho Falls (Rookie, Northwest Arkansas (AA), Omaha (AAA)
• He graduated from Cabrillo High School in Lompoc, Calif., and turned down a scholarship offer from Cal Poly San Louis Obispo to sign as a third-round pick with the Royals in 2007.
• Duffy abruptly retired from baseball in spring 2010, citing personal reasons. But he came back to the game that June, saying he simply missed baseball.
• He had Tommy John surgery in 2012 but came back strong and last year against Baltimore retired the first 20 hitters he faced -- the second best streak in club history behind Bret Saberhagen, who retired the first 21 hitters he faced in 1985 against Seattle.
Salvador Perez, C
Born: Valencia, Carabobo, Venezuela
Minors: Idaho Falls (R), Burlington (A-), Wilmington (A+), Northwest Arkansas (AA), Omaha (AAA)
• Perez was introduced to the sport at 6 when his mother, Yilda, enrolled him in a baseball school in Valencia, Carabobo, where he played with current Astros second baseman Jose Altuve.
• Red Sox third baseman Pablo Sandoval, who last year played in San Francisco, caught Perez's popup foul ball that clinched the World Series for the Giants. The two have been friends since Perez was 13 or 14 and greet each other whenever their teams play.
• Late in the 2013 season, he started wearing Victoria's Secret perfume as a good-luck charm after teammate Alcides Escobar sprayed some on his jersey before a game and Perez finished with four hits. Perez wears perfume for every game, either Victoria's Secret or 212 VIP.
Drew Butera, C
Born: Evansville, Ind.
HS: Bishop Moore (Fla.) HS
College: Central Florida
Minors: Brooklyn (A-), St. Lucie (A+), Binghamton (AA), New Britain (AA), Rochester (AAA)
• In 2014, he became the fifth player in Major League history to catch a no-hitter in both the American League and National League. He was behind the dish for Francisco Liriano's no-no as a member of the Twins in 2011, then again for Josh Beckett's as a Dodger in 2014.
• Butera has also made three appearances on the mound. He finished games for the Twins (2012) and Dodgers (twice in 2014). His fastball reaches the mid-90s.
• He has played the most games of anyone drafted out of the University of Central Florida. Former Tigers pitcher Mike Maroth is second with 164 appearances over six seasons. Drew is the son of former Major League catcher, Sal Butera.
Eric Hosmer, 1B
Born: South Miami, Fla.
HS: American Heritage (Fla.) HS
Minors: Idaho Falls (R), Burlington (A), Wilimington (A+), Northwest Arkansas (AA), Omaha (AAA)
• He has played more games than the combined totals of American Heritage High School's other four big league representatives: Adrian Nieto (White Sox), Antoan Richardson (Rangers), Darnell Sweeney (Phillies), Deven Marrero (Red Sox).
• Hosmer has played for the Royals throughout the entirety of his Major League career. He made his debut May 6, 2011, against the A's and finished third in American League Rookie of the Year voting that season.
• After batting .400 in the 2014 American League Division Series to sweep the Angels, he invited Royals fans to celebrate at a local bar and purchased drinks for those who took him up on the offer. The tab was over $2,000.
Omar Infante, 2B
Born: Puerto La Cruz, Anzoategui, Venezuela
HS: Guanta (Venezuela)
Minors: GCL Tigers (R), West Michigan (A), Lakeland (A+), Erie (AA), Toledo (AAA)
• Infante is the only Major League player from Guanta High.
• He shares a birthplace (Puerto La Cruz, Anzoategui) with Asdrubal Cabrera of the Rays.
• This marks his fourth season in a row making a postseason appearance. He reached the World Series in 2012 and ALCS in 2013 with the Tigers, and he batted .255 last season as the Royals won the American League pennant.
Alcides Escobar, SS
Born: La Sabana, Vargas, Venezuela
Minors: Helena (R), West Virginia (A), Brevard County (A+), Huntsville (AA), Nashville (AAA)
• Escobar, who won the ALCS MVP, played high school baseball in La Sabana, Venezuela and skipped school a lot to play ball. Escobar signed at 17 with the Brewers for $33,000. Growing up, he idolized Omar Vizquel.
• He made his MLB debut for Brewers in 2008 -- when Ned Yost was managing the Brewers. He came up through Brewers organization with present teammate Lorenzo Cain -- both part of the 2010 Zack Greinke trade. He's first cousin to former MLB pitcher Kelvim Escobar.
• Escobar recently applied for U.S. citizenship.
Mike Moustakas, 3B
Born: Los Angeles
HS: Chatsworth (Calif.) HS
Minors: Idaho Falls (R), Burlington (A-), Wilmington (A+), Northwest Arkansas (AA), Omaha (AAA)
• He played high school ball at Chatsworth High, and was a member of the 2004 National Championship team there. As a senior, he hit .577 with 24 home runs and was national player of the year by several media outlets.
• Moustakas was a high school teammate of Matt Dominguez, a third baseman in the Blue Jays organization. Moustakas and Dominguez were just the sixth set of high school teammates to be selected in first round (2007) of same Draft.
• Uncle Tom Robson played for the Rangers from 1974-75 and coached for the Rangers and Reds.
Christian Colon, INF
Born: Cayey, Puerto Rico
HS: Canyon (Calif.) HS
College: Cal State Fullerton
Minors: Wilmington (A), Northwest Arkanas (AA), Omaha (AAA)
• He graduated from Canyon High School in 2007 and was drafted in the 10th round by the Padres but chose to attend Cal-State Fullerton instead.
• Colon was the first player to ever be named captain of Team USA's Collegiate National Team in 2009. The year before he played in every game of Team USA's Gold-winning team.
• Colon knocked in the tying run and scored the winning run in the Royals' dramatic 12-inning, 9-8 Wild Card win over Oakland in 2014, one of the greatest games in franchise history.
Ben Zobrist, INF/OF
Born: Eureka, Ill.
HS: Eureka (Ill.) HS
Colleges: Dallas Baptist (Texas), Olivet Nazarene (Ill.)
Minors: Tri-City (A-), Lexington (A), Salem (A+), Corpus Christi (AA), Durham (AAA)
• His nickname "Zorilla" was given to him by then-Rays manager Joe Maddon in 2009. "I don't know why I do things sometimes," Maddon said at the time.
• Zobrist had planned to attend Bible college and become a minister until his high-school coach urged him to attend a nearby tryout camp. He impressed and soon accepted an offer from Olivet Nazarene.
• He played himself in a 2013 feature-length film, Ring the Bell. Zobrist has said he's open to other acting opportunities in the future."I don't know if you'd call it acting," Zobrist said. "I was a guy in a baseball uniform, which is what they needed."
Alex Gordon, OF
Born: Lincoln, Neb.
HS: Lincoln Southeast (Neb.) HS
Minors: Wichita (AA), Royals (RK), Northwest Arkansas (AA), Omaha (AAA),
• Gordon comes from a family of baseball players: Father, Mike, played at Nebraska; older brother, Eric, played at Nebraska-Omaha; younger brothers, Brett and Derek, played at Park University (Parkville, Mo.). Derek is in the low Minors of Royals organization. Alex was picked No. 2 overall out of Nebraska by Royals in 2005 -- the highest pick from Nebraska since Darin Erstad was a No. 1 selection 10 years earlier by Angels.
• Gordon earned first-team all-state honors in football (defensive back) as a senior at Lincoln Southeast as he led the state with seven interceptions. He also averaged 35 yards on kickoff returns.
• He played for five-time All-Star and Royals Hall of Famer Frank White at Double-A Wichita.
Lorenzo Cain, OF
Born: Valdosta, Ga.
HS: Madison County (Ga.) HS
College: Tallahassee (Fla.) Community College
Minors: AZL Brewers (R), Helena (R), West Virginia (A), Brevard County (A+), Huntsville (AA), Nashville (AAA), Omaha (AAA)
• Cain only started playing baseball because he got cut from the Madison County High freshman basketball team, and he first played baseball as a sophomore. His high school coach, Barney Myers, says he's about 90 percent sure Cain had never even seen a baseball game before trying out.
• He played a year at Tallahassee Community College in 2004. His best friend and college roommate, Jeremy Haynes, was drafted by the Angels and made it has high as Double-A before retiring.
• Cain is a big Dallas Cowboys fan and wanted to play high school football -- his mom, Patricia, wouldn't let him because she didn't want him to get hurt.
Alex Rios, OF
Born: Coffee, Ala.
HS: Guaynabo (P.R.) HS, San Pedro Martin (P.R.) HS
Minors: Medicine Hat (R), Queens (A-), Hagerstown (A), Charleston (A), Dunedin (A+), New Haven (AA), Syracuse (AAA)
• Rios went to San Pedro Martin High School in Guaynabo, P.R., but was actually born in Coffee, Ala.
• He participated in the 2013 World Baseball Classic playing for Puerto Rico. His two-run homer in the semis vaulted Puerto Rico to its first WBC finals appearance, where it lost to the Dominican Republic.
• Rios, along with Kelvin Herrera, contracted chicken pox in late August and missed almost two weeks.
Jarrod Dyson, OF
Born: McComb, Miss.
HS: McComb (Miss.) HS
College: Southwest Mississippi Community College
Minors: AZL Royals (R), Burlington (A), Wilmington (A+), Burlington (A), Northwest Arkansas (AA), Omaha (AAA)
• He was the 1,475th overall pick of the 2006 Draft and was selected after Riley Cooper and Jake Locker, who didn't sign and opted instead for NFL careers.
• In 2006, his Southwest Mississippi Community College baseball team earned a surprise No. 3 ranking nationally, which Dyson said felt "about the same" as the Royals' World Series run last fall.
• He's known for dancing on third base after swiping the bag in the ninth inning of the 2014 American League Wild Card Game. He scored the game-tying run moments later to force extra-innings.
Paulo Orlando, OF
Born: Sao Paulo, Brazil
Minors: Kannapolis (A), Winston-Salem (A+), Wilmington (A+), Northwest Arkansas (AA), Omaha (AAA)
• Orlando is one of three Brazilian players who have played in the Major Leagues. He joined Yan Gomes and Andre Rienzo in the exclusive club.
• He was a track star and competed for Brazil in the Junior Olympics. He ran the 200-meter sprint and the 400-meter dash.
• Orlando became the first player in Major League history to tally three triples as his first three hits.
Terrance Gore, OF
Born: Macon, Ga.
HS: Jones County (Ga.) HS
College: Gulf Coast Community College
Minors: AZL Royals (R), Burlington (R), Lexington (A), Wilmington (A+), Omaha (AAA), Northwest Arkansas AA)
• During his senior year in high school, Gore had 49 steals with a .472 average. He stole 145 bases in high school.
• Gore played one season at Gulf Coast Community College in Panama City, Fla. He hit .330 and stole 51 bases that year, second most in school history.
• He ranks second in Major League history for the most runs scored (five) with two or fewer plate appearances. Herb Washington is first (33 runs scored, 0 plate appearances).
Jonny Gomes, OF
Born: Petaluma, Calif.
HS: Casa Grande (Calif.) HS
College: Santa Rosa Junior College
Minors: Princeton (R), Bakersfield (A+), Orlando (AA), Durham (AAA)
• Gomes went to Casa Grande High School in Petaluma, Calif., where his No. 1 baseball jersey is officially retired.
• He has an older brother, Joey, also an outfielder, who was drafted by Tampa Bay in 2002 and played five Minor League seasons in the Rays and Padres system.
• Has an "AW" tattoo on his right biceps in honor of Adam Westcott, a childhood friend killed in a car accident that Jonny survived. That was one of five near-death experiences in Gomes life. He also had a heart attack at age 22, was asleep in a sleeping bag that caught fire, got shot at, and was attacked by a wolf.
Kendrys Morales, DH
Born: Fomento, Colombia
Minors: Rancho Cucamonga (A+), Arkansas (AA), Salt Lake (AAA)
• As a Cuban amateur, he owned a career .330 batting average, and later, in the Cuban equivalent of Triple-A, he was named Cuban Rookie of the Year playing for Havana Industriales.
• Later, Morales played for the Cuban national team but then was banned from that and the Industriales for allegedly talking to an agent (he denies this).
• Morales eventually escaped from Cuba to south Florida -- it was his eighth attempt at escape -- but wound up in the Dominican Republic, where he was scouted by several MLB teams. He wound up signing with the Angels on a six-year deal that had $3 million up front.