Royals name 2017 Players, Pitchers of the Year for eight Minor League affiliates

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

September 26th, 2017

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

All of the players will be at Kauffman Stadium on Friday, September 29 for Futures Night, where they will take part in a pregame autograph session at 5:30 p.m. inside Gate A, and will be honored in an on-field presentation prior to the Royals game with the Arizona Diamondbacks. On Friday morning, all players will tour the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum and the Urban Youth Academy, before visiting patients at the KU Medical Center.

OMAHA (AAA)

Infielder Frank Schwindel, 25, was named the Omaha Player of the Year. He set career highs in doubles (43), home runs (23) and RBI (97) in 133 games between Double-A Northwest Arkansas and Omaha, leading Royals farmhands in doubles and RBI. His 43 doubles also ranked tied for second in all of minor league baseball. He recorded a hit in 47 of his last 50 games, including three double-digit-game streaks, the longest of which lasted a team-high tying 18 games from July 15-August 1. Schwindel was selected in the 18th round of the 2013 First-Year Player Draft.

Right-handed pitcher Jakob Junis, 25, was named the Omaha Pitcher of the Year after winning the honors with Double-A Northwest Arkansas in 2016. He went 3-5 with a 2.92 ERA (23 ER in 71.0 IP) in 12 starts, recording 86 strikeouts (10.9 SO/9) and just 15 walks (0.8 BB/9). He matched a career high with 12 strikeouts in 7.0 innings on May 26 at Nashville, tying the Omaha record (since 1998). He made his Major League debut on April 12 vs. Oakland. In 31 appearances (27 starts) between both levels, he's 11-8 with a 3.75 ERA (68 ER in 163.1 IP), including eight big league wins. Junis was the Royals' 29th-round pick in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft.

NORTHWEST ARKANSAS (AA)

Outfielder Donnie Dewees, 23, was named Northwest Arkansas Player of the Year. He hit .272 (126-for-464) with 24 doubles and a career-high nine home runs in 126 games, and ranked tied for third among Texas League players in triples (six), sixth in stolen bases (20) and ninth in runs (67). He played 107 games in center field (104 starts), second most in the league, and made just two errors in 340 chances (.994 fielding percentage). He was named Texas League Player of the Week twice. Dewees was acquired via trade from the Chicago Cubs on February 8, 2017.

Left-handed pitcher Foster Griffin, 22, was named Northwest Arkansas Pitcher of the Year. He went 11-5 with a 3.61 ERA (42 ER in 104.2 IP) in 18 starts following a promotion from Wilmington and ranked tied for second in the Texas League in wins, despite not making his Double-A debut until May 30. His 15 wins between both levels were most by a Royals farmhand since Jake Odorizzi won 15 between Omaha and Northwest Arkansas in 2012. He was named a Carolina League All-Star for his efforts prior to his promotion, and was selected to the 2017 SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game in Miami. Griffin was the Royals' first-round pick (28th overall) in the 2014 First-Year Player Draft.

WILMINGTON (A+)

Shortstop Nicky Lopez, 22, was named Wilmington Player of the Year. He hit .295 (84-for-285) with a .376 on-base percentage in 70 games before his promotion to Northwest Arkansas on June 26. He was named a Carolina League midseason All-Star after being named an Appalachian League postseason All-Star in 2016. Lopez was selected in the fifth round of the 2016 First-Year Player Draft.

Left-handed pitcher Richard Lovelady, 22, was named Wilmington Pitcher of the Year. He went 1-0 with seven saves, a 1.08 ERA (4 ER in 33.1 IP) and 41 strikeouts (11.1 SO/9) to just four walks (1.1 BB/9) in 21 appearances, earning Carolina League All-Star honors before his promotion to Northwest Arkansas on June 26. His 1.62 ERA (12 ER in 66.2 IP) between both levels ranked first among Royals farmhands (min. 60.0 IP) and his 10 saves ranked second. Lovelady was selected in the 10th round of the 2016 First-Year Player Draft.

LEXINGTON (A)

Third baseman Emmanuel Rivera, 21, was named Lexington Player of the Year. He hit .310/.364/.468 (144-for-464) to lead the South Atlantic League in batting average and hits, and ranked fifth in on-base percentage and slugging percentage. His 27 doubles and 12 home runs marked career highs, as did his team-leading 72 RBI. His career year earned him league postseason All-Star honors. Rivera, a native of Puerto Rico, was the Royals' 19th-round pick in the 2015 First-Year Player Draft.

Right-handed pitcher Jace Vines, 23, was named Lexington Pitcher of the Year. He went 9-5 with a 3.42 ERA (38 ER in 100.0 IP) in 19 appearances (14 starts), earning South Atlantic League midseason All-Star honors before his promotion to Wilmington on August 28. He recorded a scoreless streak of 25.0 innings that began on April 17 and extended through the third inning of his start on May 14. In 27 outings (22 starts) overall, his 12 wins ranked second among Royals minor leaguers. Vines was a fourth-round pick in the 2016 First-Year Player Draft.

IDAHO FALLS (R)

First baseman Robby Rinn, 24, was named Idaho Falls Player of the Year. He hit .355/.429/.511 (100-for-282) with 30 extra-base hits and 59 RBI in 69 games for the Chukars and ranked among the Pioneer League leaders in hits (first), doubles (22, first), runs (58, tied for second) and RBI (tied for third). He had a 21-game hitting streak from July 29-August 27, one shy of the Pioneer League's longest this season. His efforts earned him both midseason and postseason All-Star honors. Rinn was the Royals' 25th-round pick in the 2016 First-Year Player Draft.

Right-handed pitcher Janser Lara, 21, was named Idaho Falls Pitcher of the Year. In his first season stateside, he went 4-2 with a 4.13 ERA (24 ER in 52.1 IP) and 57 strikeouts (9.8 SO/9) in 12 appearances (10 starts), earning Pioneer League midseason All-Star honors. Lara was signed as a non-drafted free agent out of the Dominican Republic on July 3, 2015.

BURLINGTON (R)

Outfielder Michael Gigliotti, 21, was named Burlington Player of the Year. He hit .329/.442/.477 (51-for-155) in 42 games and ranked among Appalachian League leaders in on-base percentage (third), stolen bases (15, third), walks (32, third), and batting average (sixth), despite being promoted to Lexington on August 9. The first-year player was named to the Appalachian League postseason All-Star team. Gigliotti was the Royals' fourth-round pick in the 2017 First-Year Player Draft.

Right-handed pitcher Sal Biasi, 21, was named Burlington Pitcher of the Year. After starting his season with four appearances for Surprise, he went 3-2 with a 2.44 ERA (12 ER in 44.1 IP) and .186 opponents' average (29-for-156) in nine outings (seven starts) with Burlington. He recorded 5.0 scoreless innings without allowing a hit or a walk in a 3-1 win at Princeton on August 18, earning Appalachian League Pitcher of the Week honors. Biasi was selected in the 11th round of the 2017 First-Year Player Draft.

SURPRISE (R)

First baseman Nick Pratto, 18, was named Surprise Player of the Year. He hit .247 (49-for-198) with 22 extra-base hits and 34 RBI in 52 games and ranked first among Arizona League players with five sacrifice flies. The first-year player had a 16-game on-base streak from July 22-August 13, in which he had a .380 on-base percentage. Pratto was the Royals' first-round pick (14th overall) in the 2017 First-Year Player Draft.

Right-handed pitcher Charlie Neuweiler, 18, was named Surprise Pitcher of the Year. He went 3-3 with a 1.76 ERA (8 ER in 41.0 IP) and .192 opponents' average (28-for-146) in 12 appearances (five starts), and would have led the Arizona League in ERA, but fell just 4.0 innings shy of qualifying. Neuweiler was selected in the fifth round of the 2017 First-Year Player Draft.

DOMINICAN (R)

Infielder Rubendy Jaquez, 18, was named the Dominican Royals' Player of the Year. He hit .267 (56-for-210) with a .362 on-base percentage and led the team in games (62), at-bats, stolen bases (19) and total bases (71). He made starts at first base (20) and second base (39), committing just four errors in 371 total chances (.989 fielding percentage). Jaquez was signed as a non-drafted free agent out of the Dominican Republic on September 7, 2015.

Right-handed pitcher Delvin Capellan, 18, was named the Dominican Royals' Pitcher of the Year. The first-year player went 3-2 with a 0.48 ERA (3 ER in 56.0 IP) and 48 strikeouts to just three walks (16.0 SO/BB) in 12 starts, and finished the season with a 27.0-inning scoreless streak. In the 49-year history of the Royals' organization, his ERA was the best single-season mark among farmhands (min. 50.0 IP). Capellan signed as a non-drafted free agent out of the Dominican Republic on July 6, 2016.