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Royals explain philosophy for Surprise move

KANSAS CITY -- The Royals' recent decision to drop their Rookie classification team at their training complex in Surprise, Ariz., basically was made for one reason.

"We're not really big fans of complex baseball for the development of players," said director of player development Scott Sharp. "We feel that players can develop better outside the complex environment."

There's just a better feel for competitive baseball with the Rookie clubs at Idaho Falls and Burlington, N.C. There are fans in the stands, there's a community presence at the ballpark, there are road trips, and all the trappings of Minor League baseball.

That was missing at Surprise, where most games were played on the complex's back fields, "fans" consisted of idle players or visiting scouts, the atmosphere was subdued and summertime temperatures boiled. Not only that, players might be in Arizona virtually year-round for Spring Training, extended camp and the summer league followed by the fall or instructional leagues. For some players, there might be a second year at Surprise.

"We feel like guys can stagnate by spending 20 months in Arizona before they ever get out. That was why we did it," Sharp said.

The Royals didn't cut any coaching or staff positions and likely will make up for lost player slots by adding a second team in the Dominican Republic. The dropping of Surprise leaves them with seven Minor League clubs.

Dick Kaegel is a reporter for
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