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Royals sign El-Abour, outfielder with autism

25-year-old former collegian, independent-league player to join extended spring training
MLB.com

KANSAS CITY -- When 25-year-old outfielder Tarik El-Abour got the news from his mother, Nadia, that the Royals were going to sign him to a Minor League deal, he could barely contain himself.

"Nadia told me he just started walking from wall to wall," Royals special advisor Reggie Sanders said. "He kept saying he can't believe this is happening. He kept saying, 'All I ever wanted was to play baseball.'"

KANSAS CITY -- When 25-year-old outfielder Tarik El-Abour got the news from his mother, Nadia, that the Royals were going to sign him to a Minor League deal, he could barely contain himself.

"Nadia told me he just started walking from wall to wall," Royals special advisor Reggie Sanders said. "He kept saying he can't believe this is happening. He kept saying, 'All I ever wanted was to play baseball.'"

See, El-Abour became what is believed to be the first player with autism to sign a Minor League contract last week. El-Abour, a right-handed-hitting outfielder, presently is playing in extended spring training with many other hopeful young Royals.

El-Abour was diagnosed with autism when he was 3 years old. He didn't speak until he was 6. But his love of baseball at an early age persuaded Nadia to focus on his abilities, not disabilities, Sanders said.

According to the website autismspeaks.org, autism refers to a range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication. It also is characterized by unique strengths.

"The repetitiveness of autism and the repetitiveness of baseball kind of go hand in hand," Sanders said. "It's great to be able to marry those two."

Sanders is well-informed on the subject. His 40-year-old brother Demetrious is autistic, and a few years back, Sanders founded RSFCares, which works to provide a comprehensive network of support for children and families living with autism.

Two years ago, a high school mentor for El-Abour brought his story to Sanders' attention.

Sanders became fascinated with El-Abour. El-Abour graduated from San Marino High School, played baseball briefly at Pasadena City College, then received a scholarship to play baseball at Concordia (Calif.) University. But he was cut before the season began.

A determined El-Abour transferred to Pacifica College, played a year there, and when the school merged with Bristol University, he played his season year there and earned a degree in Business Administration.

After graduation, El-Abour, a 5-foot-11, 170-pounder, signed with the independent Empire League and played for the Sullivan Explorers in southern New York. He hit .323 and won rookie of the year honors. Last year, he hit .240 for the Plattsburgh Red Birds.

Sanders approached the Royals about letting El-Abour take batting practice prior to a game with the Angels last season. The Royals were all in. And when Sanders saw how easily El-Abour fit in with the Major League players personally, as well as with his bat, he decided he eventually would take things to the next level.

That next level came in February when he convinced general manager Dayton Moore and his staff to consider offering El-Abour a contract. The Royals' organization has a history of inclusion, having rescued the career of Jim Eisenreich, who had Tourette's Syndrome as well as Asperger Syndrome (a form of autism).

The Royals made the offer to El-Abour. Sanders couldn't be more proud of the Royals or El-Abour.

"After his first game, Tarik called me in extended spring training," Sanders said, "and he said, 'I'm in the right place.'"

Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter @FlannyMLB.

Kansas City Royals

Royals re-sign Zimmer to Minor League deal

MLB.com

Right-hander Kyle Zimmer -- the Royals' No. 1 selection (fifth overall) in the 2012 Draft -- has been re-signed to a Minor League contract, the club announced Friday.

Zimmer had been designated for assignment March 29 right before Kansas City's season opener and placed on unconditional release waivers on Tuesday. Zimmer cleared waivers on Thursday.

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Right-hander Kyle Zimmer -- the Royals' No. 1 selection (fifth overall) in the 2012 Draft -- has been re-signed to a Minor League contract, the club announced Friday.

Zimmer had been designated for assignment March 29 right before Kansas City's season opener and placed on unconditional release waivers on Tuesday. Zimmer cleared waivers on Thursday.

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Zimmer, a former top prospect, has struggled with injuries since beginning his career in the Minor Leagues in 2012. He is 12-19 with a 3.54 ERA and 310 strikeouts in 259 innings in the Minors.

Zimmer was experiencing arm fatigue this spring. The Royals did not announce whether he will be assigned to Triple-A Omaha or remain in extended spring training.

Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter @FlannyMLB.

Kansas City Royals, Kyle Zimmer

Skoglund patiently waiting for first start Tuesday

MLB.com

CLEVELAND -- One of these days, left-hander Eric Skoglund will get to start a game this season.

Skoglund was inserted into the rotation when the Royals put right-hander Nate Karns on the disabled list right before Opening Day. That was over a week ago, but because of snowouts, Skoglund's starts keep getting pushed back.

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CLEVELAND -- One of these days, left-hander Eric Skoglund will get to start a game this season.

Skoglund was inserted into the rotation when the Royals put right-hander Nate Karns on the disabled list right before Opening Day. That was over a week ago, but because of snowouts, Skoglund's starts keep getting pushed back.

View Full Game Coverage

As of now, Skoglund is set to start on Tuesday at Kauffman Stadium against the Mariners. Here's the other issue: Skoglund hasn't even pitched in a game in over two weeks, and that was in a Minor League game toward the end of Spring Training.

"Fifteen days, I think," Skoglund said, smiling.

Skoglund's last Cactus League game was 20 days ago. He has tried to stay sharp by throwing bullpen sessions, as he did Monday in Detroit.

"You just have to survive," said Skoglund, the Royals' No. 8 prospect according to MLB Pipeline. "It's not that bad honestly. It's just all part of it. I understand my role. I don't mind it at all. It could be a lot worse."

True, Skoglund was somewhat of a surprising selection to the Opening Day roster, considering the Royals' rotation appeared set throughout spring camp, at least before the Karns injury (elbow inflammation) became known.

So Skoglund, who had a 9.50 ERA in seven outings for the Royals last season, simply is thrilled to have made it on the roster.

"I can't complain at all," he said. "It's night and day how I feel compared to last year. The boys here have been so helpful. I've learned so much just watching how the veterans do their routines. I'm learning, I hope, what it takes to be successful."

The Royals' faith in Skoglund, 25, hasn't wavered, even after some rough outings in 2017. One brutal outing happened to be here at Progressive Field when he gave up seven hits and seven runs in 1 1/3 innings in a start on Aug. 27.

It's a memory Skoglund is eager to flush.

"I know what I'm capable of," he said. "I wish I could pitch here again. I felt like I let the team down. That drove me in the offseason because I felt I let them down.

"But it's night and day with my confidence compared to last year. I was a little banged up at the end of last season. I just feel so much better this year.

"I'm just ready to go whenever they need me," Skoglund said. "I trust in my abilities."

Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter @FlannyMLB.

Kansas City Royals, Eric Skoglund

Where Royals' Top 30 prospects are starting season

MLB.com

With the 2018 season getting started, here's a look at where the Royals' Top 30 prospects are projected to start the season:

1. Khalil Lee, OF -- Wilmington Blue Rocks (A Adv)
2. Nick Pratto, 1B -- Lexington Legends (A)
3. Seuly Matias, OF -- Lexington Legends (A)
4. M.J. Melendez, C -- Lexington Legends (A)
5. Michael Gigliotti, OF -- Lexington Legends (A)
6. Nicky Lopez, SS/2B -- Northwest Arkansas Naturals (AA)
7. Hunter Dozier, 3B/OF -- Omaha Storm Chasers (AAA)
8. Eric Skoglund, LHP -- Kansas City Royals (MLB)
9. Scott Blewett, RHP -- Northwest Arkansas Naturals (AA)
10. Foster Griffin, LHP -- Northwest Arkansas Naturals (AA)
11. Emmanuel Rivera, 3B -- Wilmington Blue Rocks (A Adv)
12. Josh Staumont, RHP -- Omaha Storm Chasers (AAA)
13. Carlos Hernandez, RHP -- Lexington Legends (A)
14. Trevor Oaks, RHP -- Omaha Storm Chasers (AAA)
15. Donnie Dewees, OF -- Northwest Arkansas Naturals (AA)
16. Burch Smith, RHP -- Kansas City Royals (MLB)
17. Ryan O'Hearn, 1B/OF -- Omaha Storm Chasers (AAA)
18. Meibrys Viloria, C -- Wilmington Blue Rocks (A Adv)
19. Richard Lovelady, LHP -- Omaha Storm Chasers (AAA)
20. Daniel Tillo, LHP -- Lexington Legends (A)
21. Jeison Guzman, SS -- Lexington Legends (A)
22. Gabriel Cancel, 2B -- Wilmington Blue Rocks (A Adv)
23. Heath Fillmyer, RHP -- Omaha Storm Chasers (AAA)
24. Andres Machado, RHP -- Omaha Storm Chasers (AAA)
25. Evan Steele, LHP -- Extended spring training
26. Chase Vallot, C -- Wilmington Blue Rocks (A Adv)
27. Yefri Del Rosario, RHP -- Extended spring training
28. Janser Lara, RHP -- Extended spring training
29. Gerson Garabito, RHP -- Wilmington Blue Rocks (A Adv)
30. Samir Duenez, 1B -- Northwest Arkansas Naturals (AA)

With the 2018 season getting started, here's a look at where the Royals' Top 30 prospects are projected to start the season:

1. Khalil Lee, OF -- Wilmington Blue Rocks (A Adv)
2. Nick Pratto, 1B -- Lexington Legends (A)
3. Seuly Matias, OF -- Lexington Legends (A)
4. M.J. Melendez, C -- Lexington Legends (A)
5. Michael Gigliotti, OF -- Lexington Legends (A)
6. Nicky Lopez, SS/2B -- Northwest Arkansas Naturals (AA)
7. Hunter Dozier, 3B/OF -- Omaha Storm Chasers (AAA)
8. Eric Skoglund, LHP -- Kansas City Royals (MLB)
9. Scott Blewett, RHP -- Northwest Arkansas Naturals (AA)
10. Foster Griffin, LHP -- Northwest Arkansas Naturals (AA)
11. Emmanuel Rivera, 3B -- Wilmington Blue Rocks (A Adv)
12. Josh Staumont, RHP -- Omaha Storm Chasers (AAA)
13. Carlos Hernandez, RHP -- Lexington Legends (A)
14. Trevor Oaks, RHP -- Omaha Storm Chasers (AAA)
15. Donnie Dewees, OF -- Northwest Arkansas Naturals (AA)
16. Burch Smith, RHP -- Kansas City Royals (MLB)
17. Ryan O'Hearn, 1B/OF -- Omaha Storm Chasers (AAA)
18. Meibrys Viloria, C -- Wilmington Blue Rocks (A Adv)
19. Richard Lovelady, LHP -- Omaha Storm Chasers (AAA)
20. Daniel Tillo, LHP -- Lexington Legends (A)
21. Jeison Guzman, SS -- Lexington Legends (A)
22. Gabriel Cancel, 2B -- Wilmington Blue Rocks (A Adv)
23. Heath Fillmyer, RHP -- Omaha Storm Chasers (AAA)
24. Andres Machado, RHP -- Omaha Storm Chasers (AAA)
25. Evan Steele, LHP -- Extended spring training
26. Chase Vallot, C -- Wilmington Blue Rocks (A Adv)
27. Yefri Del Rosario, RHP -- Extended spring training
28. Janser Lara, RHP -- Extended spring training
29. Gerson Garabito, RHP -- Wilmington Blue Rocks (A Adv)
30. Samir Duenez, 1B -- Northwest Arkansas Naturals (AA)

• Royals prospect coverage | Royals Top 30 prospects stats

Team to watch
The Royals have high expectations for their 2017 Draft class and have assigned four of their top five picks to low Class A Lexington: sweet-swinging first baseman Nick Pratto (first round), standout defensive catcher M.J. Melendez (second), athletic left-hander Daniel Tillo (third) and speedy center fielder Michael Gigliotti (fourth). The fifth, lefty Evan Steele (supplemental second), could join them after some time in extended spring training. The Legends also have outfielder Seuly Matias, who has the highest ceiling in the system, and right-hander Carlos Hernandez, whom one club official said could be Kansas City's best mound prospect by the end of the season.

Where baseball's top prospects are starting the 2018 season

Teams on MiLB.TV
Omaha Storm Chasers
Northwest Arkansas Travelers
Lexington Legends
Idaho Falls Chukars

New faces
The Royals spent the offseason adding right-handers to our Top 30 Prospects list. In December, they signed Yefri del Rosario for $650,000 after he became a free agent as part of the fallout from the Braves' international scandal, and also acquired Burch Smith in the Rule 5 Draft from the Rays via the Mets. In January, they grabbed Trevor Oaks in a three-team trade that sent Scott Alexander to the Dodgers and Joakim Soria to the White Sox, then picked up Heath Fillmyer as part of a deal that shipped Ryan Buchter and Brandon Moss to the Athletics

On the shelf
Everyone on Kansas City's Top 30 Prospects list is healthy to start the season.

Jim Callis is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow @jimcallisMLB on Twitter. Listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.

Kansas City Royals

Moore thrilled with KC prospects this spring

MLB.com

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- One of the benefits of Spring Training for Royals general manager Dayton Moore is the proximity to his Minor League players.

Moore regularly can be found on the backfields observing the club's prospects. And Moore has been impressed with what many believe will be the next wave of young Royals talent, a group that includes first baseman Nick Pratto, catcher MJ Melendez, and outfielder Khalil Lee.

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SURPRISE, Ariz. -- One of the benefits of Spring Training for Royals general manager Dayton Moore is the proximity to his Minor League players.

Moore regularly can be found on the backfields observing the club's prospects. And Moore has been impressed with what many believe will be the next wave of young Royals talent, a group that includes first baseman Nick Pratto, catcher MJ Melendez, and outfielder Khalil Lee.

View Full Game Coverage

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"Nick Pratto is the best hitter we've signed since I have been here," Moore said of the Royals' top prospect. "Will he continue to develop? I don't know.

"When you look at him, he's a guy who takes pitches, see pitches well. He has the right temperament. He doesn't get too excited. He's very advanced."

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Moore on Melendez: "MJ Melendez is the most confident, secure player we've signed. Some people think he's cocky, but he's just really confident. A really advanced thinker in the game."

Moore on Lee: "Khahil is the most dynamic player we've signed since Eric Hosmer."

Hammel staying behind
Because of an iffy weather forecast for the Royals' exhibition game Monday in Omaha, right-hander Jason Hammel, who was projected to start that game, will stay in Arizona when camp breaks Sunday and pitch in a Minor League game. Hammel's first regular-season start will be April 1 against the White Sox at Kauffman Stadium.

Camp battles
• Right-hander Ricky Nolasco, a non-roster invitee, struggled in the Royals' 10-0 loss to the Dodgers in a split-squad game at Surprise Stadium. Nolasco started and gave up eight runs in 2 2/3 innings, though manager Ned Yost said Nolasco actually threw the ball OK.

"He gave up that Arizona homer [to Yasiel Puig] and then some soft-contact hits," Yost said. "Not bad."

Nolasco can opt out of his Minor League deal on Saturday if he isn't added to the 25-man roster.

• Right-hander Wily Peralta, in camp on a Major League deal, has struggled most of the spring. Peralta, trying to secure a bullpen spot, gave up one run in 2 1/3 innings Friday and struck out two.

"He was better today," Yost said. "Still a little flat with his pitches but better."

Injury update
• Infielder Adalberto Mondesi, battling right shoulder impingement, continues to show improvement and may play in the field in a Cactus League game Saturday.

• Outfielder Bubba Starling is still out with a strained oblique, but he began throwing Thursday.

Up next
The Royals will play their final road game of Spring Training when they travel to Scottsdale to play the D-backs at 3:10 p.m. CT on Saturday. Left-hander Danny Duffy, the Opening Day starter, will start and get his final tune-up of the spring. Also expected to throw will be right-handers Blaine Boyer, Kelvin Herrera, Brad Keller and Brandon Maurer. The matchup will be available on an exclusive audio webcast.

Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter @FlannyMLB.

Kansas City Royals

Schwindel, O'Hearn keep raking for Royals

Gordon continues to struggle, going 0-for-4 vs. Cubs
MLB.com

MESA, Ariz. -- Nos. 66 and 69 on the Royals' roster have been doing a number on opposing pitchers in the Cactus League lately.

First basemen Ryan O'Hearn and Frank Schwindel won't be cracking the Opening Day roster, but the cracks off their bats have been plentiful in recent days.

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MESA, Ariz. -- Nos. 66 and 69 on the Royals' roster have been doing a number on opposing pitchers in the Cactus League lately.

First basemen Ryan O'Hearn and Frank Schwindel won't be cracking the Opening Day roster, but the cracks off their bats have been plentiful in recent days.

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The 6-foot-1, 205-pound Schwindel went 3-for-4 with three RBIs in Sunday's 11-9 win over the Cubs at Sloan Park, and his center-field shot off Tyler Chatwood in the first inning was his fifth homer in an eight at-bat span. He also doubled.

"Frank the Tank," said starter Danny Duffy. "I saw him last year in Triple-A [Omaha]. He's got some dummy pop, man. That guy top-hands everything. He looks like Brian Dozier, only 8 feet tall. Kid's on fire about the game. I'm really excited for what the future has for him. The dude goes out and rakes and plays his butt off. There's nothing more you could ask for."

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The 26-year-old Schwindel is having himself a week. But so is O'Hearn, who has four homers in his last three games, including one on St. Patrick's Day that felt particularly appropriate, given the last name. The 24-year-old O'Hearn is the more highly regarded prospect of the two, ranking 18th on the club's list per MLB Pipeline. A left-handed bat with a compact but powerful swing, O'Hearn has work to do on his defensive game, but his bat has received an important endorsement from none other than George Brett.

"George liked him from the minute he saw him," manager Ned Yost said. "If George likes somebody, I always try to keep my eye on him, because George understands what good hitting is about."

Of course, if you've watched the Royals in recent days, you don't have to be George Brett to take note of the power O'Hearn and Schwindel can provide.

Video: KC@CHC: Schwindel doubles off the wall, plates one

"What the two of them have been able to do the last week is amazing," Yost said.

Video: KC@CHC: Schwindel on recent offense, spring success

Alas, with Lucas Duda slotted in at first, there is no easy path to big league playing time for either slugger at the start of 2018. They'll likely land back at Omaha. But the power they've provided out here has the eye of evaluators and, of course, their teammates.

Video: KC@CHC: O'Hearn doubles to left, plates a pair

Gory spring for Gordon
On the opposite end of the offensive spectrum is Alex Gordon. He doesn't have a hit since March 6, which means nothing and everything.

It means nothing because, well, duh: Spring Training stats don't count, especially for a guy like Gordon whose roster spot and lineup position is secure. And it means everything because, even in the Cactus League, it's hard not to notice when a player coming off two subpar statistical seasons is off to a very, very slow spring start.

Yost noticed.

"He's hitting like .103," Yost said on Sunday morning, and the "like" was unnecessary because Yost had nailed the number. Gordon's struggles continued as he went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts on Sunday, dropping his average to .093.

What's going on with Gordon?

"He'll find it," Yost said. "It's just a matter of timing, more than anything else. It's such a big, strong swing that it's timing. If he's a tick late, that's normally what his issues are."

All four of Gordon's spring hits came in his first six games. He's 0-for-28 with 12 strikeouts dating to March 7 and 4-for-43 overall. It bears repeating that nobody's fretting the numbers here in Arizona, where Mike Moustakas was once a Cactus League MVP type before he ever figured it out in the big leagues. But when the lights go on for real, Gordon has some serious catching up to do if he's going to get back to being at least a league average offensive contributor. Over the last two years (the first two years of his four-year, $72 million contract), Gordon has contributed just a .214/.302/.346 slash. Last season, his 62 Weighted Runs Created Plus (wRC+) mark tied teammate Alcides Escobar for the second-worst among qualified hitters in MLB.

Gordon's line-drive percentage (24.4) was consistent with his career norm, but he did see an uptick in ground balls (42.6 percent).

"The rollover is his huge culprit," Yost said.

Camp battle
The 80-game suspension of Jorge Bonifacio pretty much ensured Jorge Soler, who is out of Minor League options, will see his fair share of time in the Royals' outfield at the start of this season. But there's a difference between being handed a job and earning one, and Soler continues to prove his worth in this camp.

Video: KC@CHC: Soler belts his sixth homer of the spring

On Sunday, he faced the Cubs team that traded him in the Wade Davis deal and put on a show in a 3-for-3 effort, going deep off Chatwood in the second for his sixth homer of the spring. Soler later lined a base hit and stole second en route to a run scored in the fourth. The slimmed-down Soler has also looked good in the outfield this spring.

Soler's spring could lead the Royals to roll out a lot of lineups like the one they used on Sunday, with Gordon in left, Jon Jay in center and Soler in right.

Name to note
Less than a year after he was taken out of high school with the 14th overall pick in the MLB Draft, the Royals gave No. 2 prospect Nick Pratto a start at DH on Saturday vs. the Rangers. One NL scout in attendance was "shocked" to see Pratto's name in the lineup and impressed with what he saw from the 19-year-old kid, who homered in the game.

"He really battled in his at-bats," the scout said. "He hit an absolute shot off Jesse Chavez. He's not very big, but he can flat-out hit."

Video: KC@TEX: Pratto smacks a two-run shot to right field

Up next
The Royals have their last off-day of the Cactus League schedule on Monday before resuming play on Tuesday at 8:05 p.m. CT against the Giants at Surprise Stadium. Watch it live on MLB.TV as Ian Kennedy will get the starting nod. Blaine Boyer, Kelvin Herrera and Brad Keller are also scheduled to throw for Kansas City.

Anthony Castrovince has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2004. Read his columns, listen to his podcasts and follow him on Twitter at @Castrovince.

Kansas City Royals, Alex Gordon, Ian Kennedy, Ryan O'Hearn, Frank Schwindel

Royals view Dozier as future first baseman

Right-hander Almonte enjoying impressive spring camp
MLB.com

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- When camp opened, Hunter Dozier appeared to have at least a fair chance at becoming the Opening Day first baseman.

Of course, that all changed when the Royals signed veteran Lucas Duda. And on Monday, Dozier, ranked as the club's No. 7 prospect by MLB Pipeline, was optioned to Triple-A Omaha, which means he'll spend the rest of camp playing in Minor League games.

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SURPRISE, Ariz. -- When camp opened, Hunter Dozier appeared to have at least a fair chance at becoming the Opening Day first baseman.

Of course, that all changed when the Royals signed veteran Lucas Duda. And on Monday, Dozier, ranked as the club's No. 7 prospect by MLB Pipeline, was optioned to Triple-A Omaha, which means he'll spend the rest of camp playing in Minor League games.

View Full Game Coverage

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But the Royals still see Dozier as a potential future first baseman.

"I saw him get better at first base," manager Ned Yost said. "It's important that he get down to the Minor League side and get more playing time and experience.

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"He'll play mostly first base [at Omaha]. I would say primarily first base, right field and third base, in that order."

Also optioned to Omaha was right-hander Kyle Zimmer, who has battled several injuries and surgeries over his Minor League career.

"He has to get over this hump," Yost said. "He feels pretty confident. He threw really, really good in live sessions. Didn't feel as great in the game [situation]."

Almonte making a move
Yost and his coaching staff have been very impressed with right-hander Miguel Almonte, the club's No. 12 prospect, this spring. Almonte has thrown seven scoreless innings over four outings with six strikeouts and zero walks.

"I like the fact he battled back from last year when he never got on track, and he has had a great spring," Yost said. "He's pitching with a lot of confidence. He's looking like the guy we always thought he could be."

Video: Yost sees renewed confidence in Almonte

Duffy gives up seven
Left-hander Danny Duffy made his third start this spring in the Royals' 9-8 loss to the A's on Tuesday. Duffy gave up seven hits and seven runs over 3 2/3 innings. He allowed three home runs, two of them to shortstop Jorge Mateo.

"I think he swung at every pitch but one," Duffy said. "If it's the regular season, you probably back him off a little. But you don't want to see anyone get hurt down here."

Video: OAK@KC: Duffy on struggles in loss to the A's

Camp battles
Non-roster invite Ryan Goins and Ramon Torres continue to battle for the utility infielder role. Goins went 2-for-3 on Tuesday, raising his spring average to .429. Torres went 1-for-2 and is hitting .400. Right-hander Kevin McCarthy continues to make a case for the setup role. He pitched a scoreless inning and lowered his ERA to 3.68.

Injury update
Outfielder Paulo Orlando remains out for a few more days because of a grade one hamstring strain that occurred while lunging for a line drive on Saturday.

Infielder Adalberto Mondesi continues on his no-throw program for another day or two because of shoulder impingement. Mondesi was the DH on Tuesday for the second straight day and homered.

Up next
Listen live on Gameday Audio as right-hander Ian Kennedy makes his third spring start at 3:05 p.m. CT on Wednesday when the Royals take on the Cubs at Surprise Stadium. Left-hander Brian Flynn and right-hander Brad Keller also are expected to pitch. Flynn is out of options and Keller is a Rule 5 Draft acquisition.

Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter @FlannyMLB.

Kansas City Royals, Miguel Almonte, Hunter Dozier, Brian Flynn, Ian Kennedy, Adalberto Mondesi, Kyle Zimmer

Dozier, Zimmer among Royals' roster trims

Kansas City sends 15 players out of Major League camp
MLB.com

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The Royals on Monday night made their first round of camp reductions, which included optioning corner infielder Hunter Dozier and right-hander Kyle Zimmer to Triple-A Omaha.

Also optioned to Omaha: right-handers Scott Barlow, Heath Fillmyer and Andres Machado and left-hander Eric Stout.

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The Royals on Monday night made their first round of camp reductions, which included optioning corner infielder Hunter Dozier and right-hander Kyle Zimmer to Triple-A Omaha.

Also optioned to Omaha: right-handers Scott Barlow, Heath Fillmyer and Andres Machado and left-hander Eric Stout.

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Infielder Samir Duenez was optioned to Double-A Northwest Arkansas and catcher Meibrys Viloria was optioned to Class A Advanced Wilmington. Pitchers Scott Blewett and Foster Griffin, catcher Chase Vallot, infielders Jack Lopez and Nicky Lopez and outfielders Donnie Dewees and Terrance Gore were assigned to Minor League camp.

The Royals now have 51 players remaining in their Major League camp.

Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter @FlannyMLB.

Kansas City Royals, Hunter Dozier, Kyle Zimmer

KC prospect Staumont pitching only from stretch

Right-hander altering approach in effort to harness prolific fastball
MLB.com

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The talent is there. No one has ever disputed that.

Ever since the Royals took right-hander Josh Staumont in the second round of the 2015 Draft, he and his 100-mph fastball have been the center of conversation virtually wherever he has gone.

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SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The talent is there. No one has ever disputed that.

Ever since the Royals took right-hander Josh Staumont in the second round of the 2015 Draft, he and his 100-mph fastball have been the center of conversation virtually wherever he has gone.

View Full Game Coverage

But the question about Staumont, the Royals' No. 13 prospect per MLB Pipeline, is if and when he'll be able to harness that heater.

In 124 2/3 innings last season between Double-A Northwest Arkansas and Triple-A Omaha, Staumont, 24, struck out 138 hitters. But he walked 97.

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Again, the talent in Staumont's right arm is obvious. But before he becomes serviceable to the Royals at the big league level, which they're counting on soon, Staumont must be able to spot that fastball anywhere he wants.

"You're always working on command," Staumont said. "It can never be too good. I just hope we're going down the right path."

The right path this spring for Staumont has been a conversion to working out of the stretch only.

"We're just trying to simplify it all," he said. "The simpler it is, the more you can repeat it. We've been trying to do that this spring to get an idea how it feels."

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The results have been mixed. In his first three outings, Staumont had a 1.80 ERA through five innings, walking two and striking out four. But Saturday in Scottsdale, Ariz., against the D-backs, Staumont struggled with his command, walking two and giving up three hits and three runs in one inning.

"You can see him working his mechanics right now," manager Ned Yost said. "He's really concentrating on that. And through time and repetition, it will come more natural to him where he doesn't have to think about it -- he'll just be able to throw."

If anything, the new stretch-only approach has given Staumont confidence, though he says he never really lost it despite the numbers from last season.

Staumont had a 5.56 ERA overall and was sent back to Northwest Arkansas during the season. But he doesn't consider 2017 a wasted season.

"I think we just got a little tired and started compensating too much," he said. "Playing in the [Arizona] Fall League [in 2016], there wasn't much time off. Because of that and because of who I am, wanting to pitch through it all, I got a little tired.

"For the first two months, I felt awesome. Then it all started to decay a little."

True, through the end of May, Staumont had a respectable 3.88 ERA with Omaha. But over his next six starts, he posted an 11.91 ERA and gave up nine home runs and walked 24 batters in 22 2/3 innings, leading to the demotion.

"Actually, I have no problem with how last year went," Staumont said. "It was one of the biggest learning years I've had, regardless of the results. Baseball is a long career, hopefully. You don't get down because of one year."

Staumont skipped winter ball this season, lost some baby fat and feels refreshed for the 2018 season.

"We're athletes, supposedly," he said, smiling again. "I'm just trying to be the best version of me I can."

Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter @FlannyMLB.

Kansas City Royals, Josh Staumont

Pipeline Q&A: Royals' Foster Griffin

MLB.com

PEORIA, Ariz. -- As part of MLB Pipeline's visit to all 30 Spring Training facilities, we're sitting down with prospects and getting to know them a little better. At Royals camp, it was Kansas City's No. 10 prospect, Foster Griffin.

Griffin was taken by the Royals in the first round of the 2014 Draft with the 29th pick out of The First Academy in Florida after he helped his high school become the only non-California team to win USA Baseball's National High School Invitational. He spent most of the 2017 season in Double-A and pitched in the All-Star Futures Game. He led the system in wins and strikeouts and finished second in ERA.

PEORIA, Ariz. -- As part of MLB Pipeline's visit to all 30 Spring Training facilities, we're sitting down with prospects and getting to know them a little better. At Royals camp, it was Kansas City's No. 10 prospect, Foster Griffin.

Griffin was taken by the Royals in the first round of the 2014 Draft with the 29th pick out of The First Academy in Florida after he helped his high school become the only non-California team to win USA Baseball's National High School Invitational. He spent most of the 2017 season in Double-A and pitched in the All-Star Futures Game. He led the system in wins and strikeouts and finished second in ERA.

Royals camp report

:: MLB Pipeline Spring Training reports ::

MLB Pipeline: You've reached the upper levels and now you're in big league camp. Did you come to Spring Training this year realizing you're that much closer to the ultimate goal?

Griffin: Yes. It's cool in here, you see all the guys who have been playing in the big leagues, playing on TV when you're in the Minor League clubhouse watching games. Now you're here with them. We're kind of in the same boat for spring. It's been fun to be able to learn from them, knowing you're knocking on the door and I'm treated the same way they are in big league camp.

MLB Pipeline: Any veteran in particular who has taken you under their wing or you've learned the most from?

Griffin: Not really. As a whole, everyone in this organization is very open. There isn't anyone who "big leagues" anybody. All the rotation guys have been really good to me. Not anyone specific, but it's been great being able to watch the way they work and practice, how they go about their business, has been a really cool experience to learn from.

MLB Pipeline: Is there anything you've noticed in how they go about their business that made you say, 'OK, this is how I need to do this?'

Griffin: Especially in their bullpen sessions, the way they get their work done as they work on how they put guys away. Instead of just working on your fastball, going fastball arm side, fastball glove side, throw a few curveballs, a few changeups, they work on sequences. So if it's 0-1 and I go in, then now I'm going to go changeup away. If I go fastball up 0-2, now I'm going to go breaking ball down. They really work on their craft as far as putting guys away in counts like that.

MLB Pipeline: You had a certain pattern for much of your Minor League career, when you'd get to a new level and struggle, then return to that level and figure it out. Last year was the first you really didn't do that. While that's not as smooth a path as you'd want, was there some good learning that came from that?

Griffin: I've had talks with J.J. Picollo, the assistant GM, and others in the front office. They all say, 'We want you to have some trials and bumps in the road. That way you know how to overcome them.' You're going to have trials and bumps in the road in the big leagues, so it's been a great learning experience. As far as last year goes, I established some confidence in Wilmington and when I was going to Northwest Arkansas, I mentally just told myself that I wasn't going to have that bump in the road this time. I'm going to treat these hitters the same. I'm not going to pitch scared. I'm going to attack the zone. That's what I ended up doing and it worked out pretty well. I'm going to try to roll into the 2018 season with the same mindset.

MLB Pipeline: Is that what the issue was, mostly? You were giving the hitters at the new level too much credit?

Griffin: Definitely. I'd get to the next level and I'd try to nibble at corners way too much, pitch away from them, pitch to their weakness, rather than to my strengths. Last year, I stuck with my strength in attacking the zone, putting them behind in the count, staying towards the thirds of the plate instead of the corners early in the count. I think that was a big thing for me.

MLB Pipeline: You threw two-thirds of an inning in the Futures Game. That's a small amount on just one day, but what kind of motivation has that provided for you?

Griffin: The Futures Game was an awesome experience. I'd never experienced anything quite like it. I did some events in high school, but the Futures Game was next level. They treated you like big leaguers, in a big league stadium, and you're playing with the best of the best in the Minor Leagues. It was a lot of fun. It's something I'll never forget.

MLB Pipeline: Was it hard to go back to the Texas League after that?

Griffin: Not really. We were in the playoffs. We were in the second half at that point, so I was ready to get back with the team, get back to work and get ready for the playoffs.

MLB Pipeline: You had a good playoff start. Had you ever pitched in the postseason before?

Griffin: I hadn't. That was the first winning team I had been on in the Minor Leagues, so that was fun. To pitch in the playoffs was a cool experience. The atmosphere was fun; everyone was ready to play. It's a different kind of vibe.

MLB Pipeline: I saw you pitch at USA Baseball's National High School Invitational. Your high school is still the only non-California team to win it. You were teammates with Phillies 2017 first-rounder Adam Haseley. He went on to college, you signed out of high school. How often do you guys compare notes about where you are and the paths you've taken?

Griffin: We actually lived together this offseason. We got an apartment. We did a little bit of that. Our relationship goes way past baseball. We've been friends since sixth grade, something like that. We came up together, played baseball together through high school. We do compare notes a little. It's been interesting to see what the college route was like and he did instructional leagues, so now he knows a little bit about how the pro thing works. He went his route and I went mine and we're both in the same boat now. We'll see it come full circle.

Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLB Pipeline. Follow him on Twitter @JonathanMayo and Facebook, and listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.

Kansas City Royals

Pipeline report: Royals camp

MLB.com

Every Spring Training, prospects get a chance to show what they can do as they prepare for the upcoming season. Some compete for jobs in big league camp, while others vie for spots on Minor League affiliates. MLB Pipeline will visit all 30 camps this spring, and today we check in on the Royals.

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The Royals are one of three teams without a representative on MLB Pipeline's Top 100 list, and no one will deny that the system has thinned out since they boasted perhaps the best organization in baseball in 2011. Much of that is a result of the run the Royals made in 2014 and '15 that led to back-to-back World Series appearances and the title in '15.

Every Spring Training, prospects get a chance to show what they can do as they prepare for the upcoming season. Some compete for jobs in big league camp, while others vie for spots on Minor League affiliates. MLB Pipeline will visit all 30 camps this spring, and today we check in on the Royals.

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The Royals are one of three teams without a representative on MLB Pipeline's Top 100 list, and no one will deny that the system has thinned out since they boasted perhaps the best organization in baseball in 2011. Much of that is a result of the run the Royals made in 2014 and '15 that led to back-to-back World Series appearances and the title in '15.

Royals Top 30 Prospects list | Q&A with Foster Griffin

:: MLB Pipeline Spring Training reports ::

It's something the Royals front office is aware of, this seeming lack of impact talent. But as much as it's something they do want to address, they also know that they're not going to hang the entire organizaton's hat on that one peg, and they have past history to point to in order to make the argument that having prospects on lists isn't the be all end all.

"We do have to examine why don't we have those guys," Royals assistant general manager J.J. Picollo said. "On the other hand, when we did have all those guys in the top 100 a few years back … that Top 100 is not a great indicator of who is going to impact your team long-term. Also not on that list were guys like Salvador Perez, Greg Holland and Kelvin Herrera, so there were a lot of players who impacted our World Series team who weren't on that list just a couple of years earlier.

"You have to take it with a grain of salt. It's something you should be aware of, but that's not going to be our motivating factor. We have to develop what we have here. We can't change what we have here. We just have to be sure the guys who have the ability to play in the big leagues, get to the big leagues. The job doesn't change."

Picollo and his staff do have a bit more to work with as Minor League camp opens in earnest in Surprise. Initial steps toward rebuilding the system were taken, courtesy of the 2017 Draft. Three of the organization's top five prospects come from the top four rounds of last June's efforts. Once again, the Royals looked at their own archives to figure out the right direction.

"You go back to 10 years ago and ask, 'How did we do this?' and examine what we did right and what we did wrong," Picollo said. "With that first pick, you always want to get who you think is the best player available. We really had an affection for Nick Pratto all along. We thought he had the best pure swing in the Draft. We felt very comfortable with his makeup. You love guys who have been on championship teams and he won at an early age.

"You look at the kind of player we'd like to have again ... similar to what we had in 2014-15. It might not be the best thing to say, but he reminded us a lot of Eric Hosmer. His mannerisms, the way he carries himself, his presence on the field, defensively, especially. They're different kinds of hitters. You look at him and you think he could be the leader of a team down the road, aside from just his ability."

In second-rounder MJ Melendez and fourth-rounder Michael Gigliotti, they got back to the approach of drafting up the middle. Both had solid pro debuts and both have already shown outstanding makeup in how they go about their business, boding well for their futures.

"Melendez has a ton of skill and tools, the arm strength and power, at a premium position," Picollo said. "He's an incredible worker. It's been neat to watch him and how he takes to instruction. Sometimes players who have had the accolades he's had, playing in all these All-Star Games, sometimes they may have all the answers. MJ's not like that. He's very open to different ideas and what he needs to improve.

"Gigliotti was a guy we thought was going in the first round based on his previous summer," Picollo continued. "Our scout who knew him very well was Sean Gibbs, who is now a southeast supervisor. When he was struggling early in the year, we had Sean telling us, 'Don't worry. This guy, let's stay on him.' His second half of the year was much better than the first half. He has maturity and presence at a premium position and we've seen him have an impact already on some of the younger players, just because of the way he goes about things."

Video: Dozier, Skoglund excited about 2018 possibilities

Lopez making a name for himself

Gigliotti's presence and instincts remind some Royals staffers of a 2016 draftee who has jumped on a faster track. Nicky Lopez didn't have the kind of "potential first-rounder" fanfare when he was coming out of Creighton, though he went just one round later than Gigliotti, in the fifth. There were two main questions the Royals had about Lopez as he entered his first full season a year ago: Would he be able to hold up over the course of 162 games and would he be able to handle an above-average fastball?

"He had a little bit of a lull in August, but he had a couple of weeks off and bounced back in the Arizona Fall League," Picollo said. "And he showed us he can handle that fastball in the fall as well."

Lopez spent most of the second half of 2017 in Double-A and finished with a solid combined average of .279 with an on-base percentage of .348 (he walked the same amount of times he struck out). The Royals' No. 6 prospect then finished second in the AFL by hitting .383 over 81 at-bats. He can flat out play shortstop and has shown that sliding over to second is no problem. All of that earned him a non-roster invitation to big league camp, where he's continued to impress with things beyond his tools.

"At that position, you're looking for leadership, you're looking for instincts, you're looking for someone who can direct," Picollo said. "He has all those qualities. We feel very good about some of the position players who are somewhat under the radar. Nicky is certainly one of them."

Camp standout

Khalil Lee, the Royals' No. 1 prospect, was a two-way standout in high school. Some teams liked him best as a pitcher, but Kansas City liked his tools in the outfield. So far, he's proving them right.

In his pro debut in the Rookie-level Arizona League, Lee led the circuit in total bases. He got an aggressive push to full-season ball and while he compiled a high strikeout total, he also finished among the league leaders in home runs and walks. That successful full-season debut has helped Lee come to camp this spring brimming with confidence.

"Every time we see him he gets better and better," Picollo said. "He's matured in a lot of ways. I like to refer to him as a dynamic player. He has power, he can run a little bit, he can really throw. He does some special things in the outfield. The way he's approaching it right now, it stands out."

Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLB Pipeline. Follow him on Twitter @JonathanMayo and Facebook, and listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.

Kansas City Royals

Oaks delivers with scoreless debut for Royals

Mondesi continues fast start with pair of singles vs. A's
MLB.com

MESA, Ariz. -- Right-hander Trevor Oaks, acquired from the Dodgers in the off-season and in the hunt for a back-of-the-rotation spot, admits he had some butterflies prior to his first Cactus League start on Sunday.

But Oaks came through just fine, tossing two scoreless innings in the Royals' 4-4 tie with the A's. He gave up one hit while walking one.

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MESA, Ariz. -- Right-hander Trevor Oaks, acquired from the Dodgers in the off-season and in the hunt for a back-of-the-rotation spot, admits he had some butterflies prior to his first Cactus League start on Sunday.

But Oaks came through just fine, tossing two scoreless innings in the Royals' 4-4 tie with the A's. He gave up one hit while walking one.

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Royals Spring Training: Info | Tickets | Schedule

"The first one's always kind of nerve-wracking because you haven't pitched in games in a while," Oaks said. "The game speed is a little different, especially with a new team. You know, you obviously want to impress the coaches and stuff.

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"But I got some good advice from friends that said, 'Just be who you are. Don't try to do too much. They know exactly what they wanted when they traded for you, so just be who they traded for.'"

Royals manager Ned Yost liked what he saw from Oaks.

"He had really good movement on his pitches," Yost said.

Oaks gave his day a thumbs up as well.

"Fell underneath my slider a little bit so I wasn't too pleased with that, but there's a lot of time to work on it," Oaks said. "But fastball had decent command."

Mondesi starts hot
Like he did last spring, the switch-hitting Adalberto Mondesi is off to a quick start. Mondesi had two line-drive singles to left while hitting left-handed. He now is 3-for-4 after two games.

Video: Adalberto Mondesi explains changing his name

"That second one the other way was on a breaking ball, too," Yost noted.

First-base competition
Frank Schwindel, the Royals' George Brett Hitter of the Year in 2017, got the start at first base on Sunday and made one fine play when he snared a foul fly down the right-field line over his shoulder.

Tough chance
Left fielder Jorge Soler was hit with a three-base error on Saturday after dropping a fly ball near the wall in left-center at Surprise Stadium. Yost didn't seem overly concerned.

Video: Ned Yost on Jorge Soler, Royals Spring Training camp

"He kind of just misjudged it a little," Yost said. "Just getting used to finding the track, dealing with the wind. All early camp stuff. I thought he looked good out there. The first ball hit to him he got there quickly, made a good turn, nice play."

Funky delivery
Left-hander Tim Hill and his sidearm delivery continue to impress early in camp as he battles for a bullpen spot. Hill threw a scoreless ninth on Saturday.

"Some funkiness to [that delivery]," Yost said. "Lot of action to that sinker/slider. Good velocity. Interesting guy for sure. That sinker, that ability to keep it down, makes it tough for righties, too."

Up next
The Royals will travel to Scottsdale, Ariz., to take on the Giants at Scottsdale Stadium on Monday at 2:05 p.m. CT. Left-hander Brian Flynn, who is out of options and trying to secure a spot in the bullpen, will get the start. Also expected to pitch are right-handers Sam Gaviglio, Scott Barlow, Brad Keller, Blaine Boyer, Glenn Sparkman.

Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter @FlannyMLB.

Kansas City Royals, Tim Hill, Raul Mondesi, Trevor Oaks, Frank Schwindel, Jorge Soler