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Kansas City Royals week in review: 7/25/2011

We've been waiting for a nice week of Royals baseball for a month and we finally got it. They went 4-2 against a pair of decent teams in the Chicago White Sox and Tampa Bay Rays. They even seemed to show a bit of that early season Royals magic as they won two of them in walk-off fashion in extra-innings. What's even more shocking is the fact that people continue to flock to Kauffman stadium to see a losing baseball team in sweltering heat. If this team starts winning then Royals tickets will be difficult to get.

Standings

1 Tigers

2 Indians -2.0

3 White Sox -4.5

4 Twins -7.0

5 Royals -12.0

Game 96: White Sox 5 @ Royals 2

Maligned starter Kyle Davies actually had a decent outing. He struck out 9, walked only 3 and allowed 2 earned runs in 5.1 innings. It's not enough for him to earn back many fans, but if you look at the numbers 2011 Davies is a different pitcher than he's been in his career. He's walking fewer and striking out more. What's odd is that the results aren't improving. Royal nemesis Mark Buehrle held the offense in check though Alcides Escobar and Billy Butler both had a pair of hits in the loss.

Game 97: White Sox 2 @ Royals 4

Danny Duffy has started to come into his own over his last few starts. He's finally showing at the Big League level why he was such a highly ranked prospect. On this night, he had the White Sox on their heels as he completed 7 innings, struck out 6 and allowed only 2 runs. The offense also helped him out by as Melky Cabrera hit his 12th home run and Eric Hosmer had a pair of hits. That's a lot of youth making big time contributions, something that's unusual for us Royals fans.

Game 98: White Sox 1 @ Royals 2

The White Sox recently beat the Royals with a walk-off balk and those kinds of losses stick in your craw. They Royals had felt they owed the Sox one and they got their justice on this night. In the 11th inning, Alex Gordon took off from third and scored the winning run on a wild pitch. Making White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen go bananas was just icing on the cake. To be in a position to win the game, thanks goes to starter Bruce Chen who tossed a gem of a game. He allowed a single run in 8 innings of work and allowed bullpen studs Joakim Soria and Aaron Crow to pitch important innings.

Game 99: Rays 4 @ Royals 10

In the grand-scheme, the Royals would like to be a lot more like the Rays. However on this night it was the Rays who were the envious ones. The Royals scored 3 runs in the 1st inning and continued to pile them on until they reached double digits.Melky Cabrera and Jeff Francoeur both had three hit nights and Billy Butler hit his 7th home run of the season. All of that scoring was more than enough for starter Luke Hochevar, although he hit his pitch-count limit early and completed only 5.1 innings. As has been the case, the bullpen came in the game and shut their opponents down and the Royals won easily.

Game 100: Rays 4 @ Royals 5

Another game where the Royals needed extra frames to win in dramatic fashion. It's enough to make us all remember the early season excitement if we can ignore the teams record for a moment. The player who had to get the most enjoyment out of the evening had to be Mike Moustakas. He's been struggling mightily as he tries to adjust to the MLB pitching. On this night, he seemed quite comfortable as he had 2 hits and 3 RBI. The late inning hero was his good friend Eric Hosmer who hit a walk-off double to score Mike Aviles in the bottom of the 10th inning. With the win, the Royals tied their longest winning streak of the season (4) and won back-to-back series.

Game 101: Rays 5 @ Royals 0

The week started and ended on low notes, but everything in between was pretty good. Rays starter Alex Cobb baffled the Royals as he held them scoreless through 7 innings. Chris Getz was the only Royal hitter to have a multi-hit game as the Royals were shut out. Felipe Paulino had a typical start as he struck out a bunch of guys and allowed a bunch of hits, but it's impossible to win if the offense can't score.

Position player of the week: Eric Hosmer

The young rookie had an amazing week as he hit .417/.481/.500 and even had a walk-off double. He even had 3 walks and a stolen base. He's making a strong case to be the American League Jackie Robinson Award winner.

Starting pitcher of the week: Bruce Chen

I still don't have any idea how he does it, but Bruce Chen just gets guys out. He went deeper into the game, allwed fewer baserunners and fewer runs than any of the other Royals starters this week. What happens to him after this season is a mystery, but for now he's quite productive.

Relief pitcher of the week: Greg Holland

Holland struck out 7 batters in 4 innings last week. He also allowed only 2 base runners and 1 run. He is completely locked in right now and is probably the most reliable relief pitcher available.

The week to come

Things wont get easier this week as the Royals travel to Boston and Cleveland to try and keep some of their winning mojo going.

7/25-7/28 @ Boston

7/29-7/31 @ Cleveland

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Nick Scott is a contributor to Royals Authority and is the host of the Broken Bat Single Royals podcast, you can follow him on Twitter or on Facebook.

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Kansas City Royals week in review: 7/18/2011

The Royals just seem destined to lose to the Twins. It's been inescapable the past 10 or so years and this week's four game series was no exception. On paper, it seems as if the Royals are a better team than the Twins, but it didn't work out that way this weekend as the Royals dropped 3 games in a 4 game series to lose to their I-35 foes.

Standings

1 Indians

1 Tigers

3 White Sox -4.0

4 Twins -5.0

5 Royals -12.0

Game 92: Royals 4 @ Twins 8

In the four game series with the Twins, only one Royal reliever gave up any runs: Blake Wood. Unfortunately, he gave up 4 of them in a single inning and put the game out of reach. A relief pitcher giving up that many runs isn't a rare occurrence in baseball, but it has been for the Royals in 2011 --that makes it particularly difficult. Brayan Pena and Melky Cabrera both gathered a pair of hits in the loss.

Game 93: Royals 2 @ Twins 1

This was one of the best games of the season. Starter Luke Hochever threw 7 inning and allowed only one eared run. Going into the 9th inning, that was one run too many as the Royals had only managed goose eggs against Twins starter Nick Blackburn. However, in the top of the 9th inning rookie Eric Hosmer blasted a ball over the center-field wall and gave the Royals a 2-1 lead. Closer Joakim Soria came in in the bottom of the 9th and helped give the Royals a much-needed win. If only there were more games like this each season. How fun would that be?

Game 94: Royals 3 @ Twins 4

Royals starter Jeff Francis has done a very good job of keeping his team in the game this season. He hasn't been a great pitcher, but he's been more than adequate. It's something quite rare it seems from a pitcher wearing Royal blue. In this game, being in the game just wasn't enough. The Royals offense continued to fizzle as they were held to a mere 3 runs. Alcides Escobar accounted for most of that as he hit a two-run home run.

Game 95: Royals 3 @ Twins 4

This game was highlighted by recent Dayton Moore acquisitions. Melky Cabrera and Jeff Francouer both had a pair of hits and starter Felipe Paulino struck out 8 but allowed 4 earned runs. It simultaneously shows how much improvement this team needed and also how much improvement it still needs. While there were some solid contributions from new players, they will likely need to be replaced very soon and also supplemented with additional talent. It still only translated into yet another one-run loss to the Twins.

Position player of the week: Jeff Francoeur

There were only 4 games this week, but Francoeur lead the team in extra-base hits and even took a couple of walks. It suddenly seems as if the Royals are planning on keeping one of Francoeur and Cabrera and trading the other. Whether or not that is the ideal move, it should put some pressure on Francoeur to play well if he wants to stay because he's been significantly out-played by Cabrera as of late.

Starting pitcher of the week: Luke Hochevar

The Royals coaching staff has said that Hochevar has been working on adjustments to help alleviate his tendency towards the big inning. I'm solidly of the belief that his problems stem from issues he has pitching from the stretch, not the more widely accepted and impossible to define "mental issues". If he can put together more outings like he did this week, then he's actually deserving of a #1 spot in the rotation.

Relief pitcher of the week: Aaron Crow

It was a pretty good week for the former Mizzou Tiger. Crow got to don an American League All-Star jersey although he wasn't going to get in the game due to sickness and the fact he is a setup man for the Kansas City Royals. He did however pitch 2.1 scoreless innings in relief for the Royals and continued being a valuable asset in relief.

On the farm

Johnny Giavotella can no longer be ignored. He went 4-for-4 last night with 2 home runs. There is no reason for him to not be getting every day playing time at the MLB level today.

Lorenzo Cain is also decimating the competition in AAA. He's hitting .405/.450/.622 in his last 10 games.

Pitcher Mike Montgomery has been improving lately. His last three starts have been quality starts and he's lowered his ERA to 5.14. More importantly, he's only walked 3 batters in his last 20 innings.

The week to come

Trade talks should heat up big time this week. Watching what the Royals do on the market will be more interesting than what happens on the field.

7/18-7/20 vs White Sox

7/22-7/24 vs Tampa Bay

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Nick Scott is a contributor to Royals Authority and is the host of the Broken Bat Single Royals podcast, you can follow him on Twitter or on Facebook.

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Kansas City Royals week in review: 7/11/2011

It wasn't a great week for the Kansas City Royals, but it was an improvement over the week prior. They beat a team that I believe they are better than (Chicago) and lost to a team I know they are worse than (Detroit). So all in all, it was about what I would expect from this team. Alex Gordon not making it into the All-Star game is certainly a disappointment because he was a very deserving candidate. There were some indications this week of the trade market starting to get hot and it will dominate Royals discussion for the next month or so as they look to unload a number of players and hopefully bolster their Minor League system.

Standings

1 Tigers

2 Indians -0.5

3 White Sox -5.0

4 Twins -6.5

5 Royals -11.5

Game 85: Royals 4 @ White Sox 5

Add this one to the embarrassing loss file. Newly minted All-Star Aaron Crow loaded the bases in the bottom of the 9th in a tie game and balks in the winning run. Yep. He balked it in. Jeff Francis continued to boost his trade value as he put together six innings of decent pitching. Meanwhile Eric Hosmer continued to be one of the biggest reasons to continue watching the Royals as he went 2-for-4 with a home run.

Game 86: Royals 5 @ White Sox 3

If there has been a bright spot in the Royals starting rotation, it's unquestionably Felipe Paulino. On this night, he struck out 9 in six innings while walking only three. It proved enough as the Royals scored five of their own and the bullpen was back to their old stingy ways. Melky Cabrera went 2-for-4 and has to be getting looks from contenders around the league. Alcides Escobar is proving his bat isn't a fluke as he went 2-for-4 with a triple.

Game 87: Royals 4 @ White Sox 1

Apparently the Royals should play more teams from Chicago. The last series before this one that the Royals won was against the Chicago Cubs. Starter Bruce Chen had a very solid outing as the veteran continues to impress. Eric Hosmer continued his hot hitting as he again went 2-for-4 with a home run. Alex Gordon has been the best left-fielder in the American League, but he was denied a spot on the roster. On this night he proved the doubters wrong by going 2-for-4.

Game 88: Tigers 3 @ Royals 1

The Tigers are a very good team that has a very good pitching rotation. Former Mizzou pitcher Max Scherzer proved that as he held the Royals to a single run in 6.2 innings. Royals starter Danny Duffy did his best to keep the Royals in the game as he put together one of his best starts to date. He struck out 6 and walked only 1 in 6 innings of work. Mike Moustakas continued his offensive struggles as he went 0-for-4 and lowered his OBP to .309 on the season.

Game 89: Tigers 6 @ Royals 4

Kyle Davies allowed 5 earned runs in 6 innings and still lowered his ERA. It's been that kind of season for the much maligned starting pitcher. It was an early deficit that the Royals could never overcome even though the bullpen allowed only 1 more run the rest of the game. Melky Cabrera and Alex Gordon combined for 6 hits and 2 stolen bases, but beyond them the offense was held in check by Tigers starter Rick Porcello.

Game 90: Tigers 6 @ Royals 13

The Royals needed this game in a bad way. They needed to just blow a team out of the water, but for some reason the Tigers seemed to be just on the cusp of taking back the lead. Starter Luke Hochevar did what he does quite often: start a game strong and give up a bunch of runs in a single inning. This time it was 4 runs in the 4th inning, and he was pulled. However the Royals were on a hit parade and they showed why they have a pretty decent offense. Alex Gordon smashed a home run and Billy Butler busted out of a slump by going 3-for-5.

Game 91: Tigers 2 @ Royals 1

Justin Verlander is really good. In fact he might be the best pitcher in the American League. If anyone wanted evidence, just look at what he did on Sunday vs the Royals. He went 7.2 IP, 0 ER, 9 K, 0 BB, 6 H. There's no shame in being shut down by one of the best in the game. On the hill for the Royals, Jeff Francis did his best to duel with Verlander by going 6.0 IP, 4 h, 2 ER, 1 BB and 6 K. The oddest part of the game was Eric Hosmer getting caught stealing 3rd base with one out in the 9th inning.

Position player of the week: Melky Cabrera

The Melk man is getting hot at exactly the right time. His trade value is likely getting to it's peak and teams are starting to make a push for the playoffs. Other than Jeff Francis or a bullpen arm, he's the most valuable commodity the Royals are looking to part with. This week he hit .414/.452/..517 and played a passable CF defense.

Starting pitcher of the week: Danny Duffy

Duffy put together one of his best performances as a Royal as he struck out 6, walked 1 and got through 6 innings. He was demoted to AAA, but only to keep him on schedule during the All-Star break. He's really starting to find his groove and is a lock (barring injury) to be in the 2012 starting rotation.

Relief pitcher of the week: Luis Coleman

Luis Coleman is the best relief pitcher the Royals have right now. Even better than Aaron Crow the All-Star. This week he threw 5 scoreless innings and allowed only 4 baserunners while striking out 6.

On the farm

Johnny Giavotella is just crushing the ball in Omaha (AAA). In his last 10 games he's hitting .333/.395/.500 with a home run and 3 doubles. The Royals know what he is doing down there and they are likely looking to shop Chris Getz at the deadline to make a spot for Gio.

Lorenzo Cain is another guy who is chomping at the bit for the Royals to make a trade. As soon as Melky is dealt, he will be called up because he has little left to prove at AAA. In his last 10 games, he's hit.444/..512/.750 with 3 HR and 2 doubles. He also has a much better glove than Cabrera does in center field.

It seems as if the small break that Mike Montgomery got in Omaha has paid off. In his last two starts, he's given up just 1 earned run in 11.2 innings pitched. More impressive than that, he's struck out 12 and only walked 3. Hopefully this is the start of something good for the young lefty.

Jake Odorizzi has made a smooth transition to AA. In his first start, he went 5 innings and gave up 2 earned runs. He was dominating high-A and looks to take the next step up the ladder.

Cheslor Cuthbert continues to impress at Kane County.He's one of the youngest players in the league and he's hitting .324/.369/.497 with 6 home runs. He also has a very good glove at third. He could be a very special player for the Royals if he continues to adjust to each new level he's faced with.

The week to come

The All-Star break starts today, so there is a light schedule of Royals games this week. After this week, we can say that the next ASG will be in Kansas City. Exciting, right? The Royals begin the second half of the season on the road at Minnesota where they can make up some ground on 4th place and try and avoid another last-place finish.

7/11 - Home Run Derby

7/12 - All-Star Game

7/14-7/17 @ Twins

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Nick Scott is a contributor to Royals Authority and is the host of the Broken Bat Single Royals podcast, you can follow him on Twitter or on Facebook.

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Kansas City Royals week in review: 7/4/2011

Ugh. Well, it just keeps getting worse, doesn't it? The Royals managed one measly win last week and managed to become not just the worst team in the American League Central, but the worst team in the American League. Nobody reading this is too shocked, right? This was a team that would eventually be doomed by it's obvious flaws, however the spectacular and customary descent has been worse that I had imagined. As I said at the beginning of the season, it may not be a great team, but it will be interesting. Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas showed flashes last night of why there is a reason to continue tuning in.

Things are never as bad or as good as people will have you believe, and the Royals are no different. The problems are over-blown and the successes, however minor, are over-sold. In the grand scheme of things, it was just a bad week of baseball. It doesn't foretell a future filled with more pain. This franchise has done the right things to dig itself out of it's own grave. It's not always pretty and it doesn't always work, but it's still interesting to watch.

Standings

1 Indians

2 Tigers -0.5

3 White Sox -3.5

4 Twins -8.0

5 Royals -11.0

Game 79: Royals 3 @ Padres 4

Going into the series with the Padres, I had high hopes. The ballpark played to the Royals strengths (gap hitters with some speed) and downplayed their weakness (terrible, terrible starting pitching). Not only that, I believe (and still do), that the Royals are a better team than the Padres. The Royals however, were bound to prove me wrong. Starter Jeff Francis seemed comfortable against his old division foes as he went 5 innings and allowed 3 earned runs. It wasn't spectacular, but it put the team in a position to win. The offense collected 10 hits, but came up a run shy as they dropped the opener.

Game 80: Royals 2 @ Padres 4

In the second game, the offense was nowhere to be found - ther than a Jeff Francoeur home run. Ned Yost elected to have Hosmer and Moustakas get a day off, which doesn't help. On the mound, Felipe Pauilino struck out 7, walked 1 and allowed 3 earned runs on 11 hits. He's a decent pitcher for the Royals who throws strikes, that nets him lots of strikeouts and a lot of balls put in play for the defense to gobble up. His ERA is a very respectable 3.21 and he's been one of the few bright spots so far this year. Unfortunately, it wasn't enough as the Royals dropped the second game in the series with the Padres.

Game 81: Royals 1 @ Padres 4

The Royals are not built to play in the NL. Having to sit either Billy Butler or Eric Hosmer so a pitcher can look silly at the plate hurts the Royals immensely. Bruce Chen gave up 4 runs, but they were all unearned. Regardless of how they came about, they stayed on the board. It was more than enough as the Padres earned their first sweep of the season.

Game 82: Royals 0 @ Rockies 9

The stadium and run environment in Denver is very different than the one in San Diego and the Rockies schooled the Royals in the series opener by scoring 9 runs. Starter Danny Duffy still seems to be working on adjusting to Major League competition. On the bright side, he struck out 6 and walked only 1. However, he also gave up 5 earned runs in as many innings pitched. It doesn't matter how many runs the pitching allows, though if the offense can't muster a single run.

Game 83: Royals 6 @ Rockies 9

The Royal bats woke up from their slumber as they scored 6 on this night. Whether it was due to adjusting to the altitude or realizing that they had Kyle Davies on the mound, we'll never know. Regardless, it was good to see the team put up some crooked numbers. Alex Gordon put on a display which should make every All-Star voter embarrassed as went 4 for 5 with a home run. Alas, it went for naught as Kyle Davies went all Kyle Davies and gave up 7 runs in 3 innings.

Game 84: Royals 16 @ Rockies 8

A win! Runs! Bad Pitching! This game had everything. Starter Luke Hochevar got involved in the run parade as he typically does - in a single inning. A five run 5th inning for the Rockies brought the game to within a run, but the Royals kept on mashing the ball and eventually put up 16 runs. Eric Hosmer had 4 hits and hit his 6th home run of the season. The Royals salvaged a single win this week and it was a doozy.

Position player of the week: Mike Moustakas

It wasn't a pretty week in the field, but that's not his specialty. Rather, he hit .421/.476/.526 with 2 doubles 2 walks and only 2 strikeouts. The kid can rake and he's beginning to show it.

Starting pitcher of the week: Bruce Chen

It was a low bar to win this award this week, but Chen barely edged out Paulino. He struck out 6, but opponents hit .296 against him. It's not a recipe for success, but it worked this week. It is nice to have him back in the rotation since his production is a large improvement over what else the Royals have to throw out there.

Relief pitcher of the week: Luis Coleman

Aaron Crow may have been selected to the All-Star game, but he was outpitched by Luis Coleman last week. Coleman threw 4.0 innings, struck out 7, walked 1 and allowed only 2 hits.

On the farm

Johnny Giavotella (2B) continues to swing a hot bat. He's hitting .417/.476/.694 in his last 10 games with 2 home runs. He's at the point where he's forcing the Royals hands and he should be getting a chance at the Major League level very soon over the weak hitting Chris Getz.

Lorenzo Cain (CF) is hitting .308/.374/.516 on the season and will make the inevitable departure of Melky Cabrera seamless and likely an improvement.

Jake Odorizzi (SP) was promoted from Wilmington (A+) to Northwest Arkansas (AA). He has a 2.87 ERA in 15 starts while striking out 103 and walking only 22.

The week to come

It's another week where the goals include trying to work out of last place and to have some improvement from the youth. It's the last week before the All-Star game and trade talks will begin heating up. The Royals have lots of pieces to move, so there will be plenty of things to discuss as that happens.

7/4-7/6 @ White Sox

7/7-7/10 vs Tigers

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Nick Scott is a contributor to Royals Authority and is the host of the Broken Bat Single Royals podcast, you can follow him on Twitter or on Facebook.

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Kansas City Royals week in review: 6/27/2011

As Geogre Costanza learned on Seinfeld it's always best to go out on top. If that's the case, then last week wasn't too bad for the Kansas City Royals. The week ended with the Royals taking two games from the Chicago Cubs in front of a packed house. Unfortunately, those were the only two wins they had in the past seven days. On the positive front, the Royals are no longer in sole possession of last place, they've tied the woeful Minnesota Twins for the moment.

Standings

1 Tigers

2 Indians -1.0

3 White Sox -4.5

4 Royals -9.0

5 Twins -9.0

Game 73: Diamondbacks 7 @ Royals 2

In what should not come as a shock to anyone, starter Luke Hochevar was cruising through the early innings and then allowed runs in bunches in a single inning. It's easy to point to him as the reason the Royals lost, but that's mostly just ancillary blame for his other outings. The Royals failing to score more than two runs was the culprit in the series opener with the Diamondbacks. Alex Gordon did his part, going 3 for 4 and being a single shy of hitting for the cycle. Beyond that, the offense was non-existent.

Game 74: Diamondbacks 3 @ Royals 2

Starter Jeff Francis and reliever Aaron Crow gave the Royals every chance to win by holding the Diamondbacks to 3 runs, but again the struggling offense couldn't plate runs against a tough Arizona pitcher. Chris Getz, who has been the regular second baseman since the demotion of Mike Aviles collected three hits and scored the only two runs for the home team.

Game 75: Diamondbacks 5 @ Royals 3

All eight runs of this game were scored in the first four innings against each teams starting pitcher. Royals starter Felipe Paulino lasted into the 9th inning and struck out eight, but gave up five earned runs. Again, the Royals offense was held in check as no player got more than a single hit.

Game 76: Cubs 6 @ Royals 4

This was an odd back and forth affair that ended appropriately on what looked to be a blown call by the umpire on a bunt in the 9th inning. The bunt pop appeared to be caught by Mike Moustakas, but the call was that it hit the grass. The Cubs ended up scoring and going on to win the game. Jeff Francoeur smashed a long home run that hopefully snaps him out of being the Francoeur he's been over his career. Bruce Chen made his return the the starting rotation and went six innings while giving up four earned runs.

Game 77: Cubs 2 @ Royals 3

A win! It had been awhile since the Royals tasted victory, but Danny Duffy put together one of his better starts and it was just enough. Alcides Escobar hit a triple and was the only Royals to collect more than a single hit on the night. Regardless, the Royals scraped across three and got back in the win column.

Game 78: Cubs 3 @ Royals 6

Alex Gordon hit in his 13th straight game as the Royals not only won back to back games, but took a series against the Chicago Cubs. Starter Luke Hochevar went only 5.2 innings as Ned Yost might have signaled a shift in how he's going to deal with him. Rather than letting him work through trouble, he might begin pulling him at the first sign of it. In this instance it worked as the bullpen shut down the cubs in the series finale.

Position player of the week: Alex Gordon

Gordon hit in every game this week, and in fact has a 13 game streak going. In the past 7 days, he's hit .455/.520/.818 with a home run and 18 total bases. His battle with Billy Butler for the spot on the All-Star team is heating up.

Starting pitcher of the week: Danny Duffy

His one start this week ended with a good result, but the peripheral numbers weren't exactly stellar. He gave up only 2 earned runs in 7 innings, but he allowed 9 hits and 2 home runs while striking out only 2. More importantly, it just might have been the start he needed to stay at the MLB level when it's time to recall Kyle Davies.

Relief pitcher of the week: Aaron Crow

Tough call between him and Soria this week, but Crow pitched 2 more innings and that has value. I could easily be talked out of one and into the other. My biggest concern regarding these two great pitchers is that one of them will get an undeserved spot in the All-Star game over a more deserving Butler or Gordon

On the farm

In his last 10 games, Johnny Giavotella (2B) is hitting .395/.409/.488 with 4 doubles for the Omaha Storm Chasers (AAA). There are still questions regarding his defense, but his bat and plate approach are ready.

Starter Mike Montgomery has been struggling and his spot in the rotation on Friday was skipped for Omaha. The reports are that he wasn't injured.

Will Myers (OF) and Kelvin Herrera (RP) will be representing the Royals in the Futures Game in Phoenix during the All-Star Game festivities.

Jake Odorizzi (SP) has lowered his ERA to 2.61 after another solid start for the Wilmington Blue Rocks (A+).

Cuban defector Noel Arguelles (SP) has allowed one earned run in his last 15 innings for Wilmington.

The week to come

The Royals take to the road again and continue interleague play. They first visit the San Diego Padres and spend the holiday weekend in Denver playing the Rockies. The primary goal this week will be to end up not in last place, it's sort of meaningless but will get some fans and commentators off their backs a bit. The interesting decision will be what happens when the Royals promote Kyle Davies.

6/27-6/29 @ Padres

7/1-7/3 @ Rockies

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Nick Scott is a contributor to Royals Authority and is the host of the Broken Bat Single Royals podcast, you can follow him on Twitter or on Facebook.

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Kansas City Royals week in review: 6/20/2011

It seems pre-destined at this point. The Royals would somehow, someway find their way to last place in the American League Central. They actually played pretty well on the road this week, but it didn't translate into wins. They went 2-4 in Oakland and St. Louis and dropped a game below the Minnesota Twins in the standings. It's depressing, sure, but it's not unexpected. This season wasn't about contending, but taking a step forward for the franchise. In that regard, it's been a mixed bag but overall things are going as expected. My advice is to just take a step back, ignore the scores and watch the young players develop.

Standings

1 Indians

2 Tigers -1.0

3 White Sox -5.5

4 Twins 8.0

5 Royals -9.0

Game 67: Royals 7 @ Athletics 4

This might be the most illustrative game so far of how the youth on the Royals can impact the games. Starter Danny Duffy went 6 innings while only giving up 2 earned runs. Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas both collected a pair of hits, while Alcides Escobar gathered 3 of his own. It's a small example of how the young players all can put together solid outings to help a team win on both sides of the ball. It's something we should expect in the future as the rule rather than the exception.

Game 68: Royals 1 @ Athletics 2

Staring pitching was the name of the game on this night. Luke Hochevar for the Royals and Josh Outman for the Athletics both wen 7 innings. However, Hochevar gave up 2 earned runs while Outman gave up none. Alcides Escobar continued his hot streak going 3 for 3 with a double. It wasn't enough though, as the Royals lost in a pitchers duel.

Game 69: Royals 4 @ Athletics 8

The Royals hit 5 doubles and stole 3 bases, yet somehow only managed to score 4 runs. On this day, that wasn't nearly enough as Jeff Francis had a disaster of a start, giving up 6 runs in only 3.1 innings. The Royals were never able to climb out of that early hole.

Game 70: Royals 5 @ Cardinals 4

At this point, it's time to ask: "Who are you and what have you done with the real Alcides Escobar?" The weak hitting but slick-fielding shortstop has suddenly become a one-man offensive juggernaut. He went 2-for-4 in the win against the Cardinals. Felipe Paulino got the start, and other than one bad inning he kept the Cardinals offense under wraps giving them their 7th straight loss.

Game 71: Royals 4 @ Cardinals 5

It seemed that the Royals had this game in the bag. They had a one-run lead, but the Cardinals had been scoreless since the 3rd inning. The Royals took a 4-3 lead in the top of the 7th but with their bullpen it always seems safe. Unfortunately, both Tim Collins and Greg Holland allowed runs and the Cardinals took a lead they would not surrender. Oh, and ho-hum, Alcides Escobar collected two more hits including a triple.

Game 72: Royasl 4 @ Cardinals 5

This game was representative of the entire series in St. Louis. A constant back and forth, resulting in a one-run win that neither fan-base felt comfortable with until the final out. It made for interesting baseball, although this loss put the Royals in last place in the AL Central for the first time this season. Danny Duffy had an odd pitching line as he went 3.2 innings, struck out 9 and walked only 1. He was removed with a pitch-count of 90 and the bullpen was put into action early. Alcides Escobar hit his first home-run as a Royal on his way to another multi-hit game. But even that was not enough as the Royals dropped the finale and ended a rough road trip with a loss.

Position player of the week: Alcides Escobar

An absolute no-brainer of a choice. Escobar hit .545/.583/864 in the last seven days. No, that's not a mis-print. He had a home-run, a triple and two doubles and even stole 4 bases last week. Combined with his defense, he had an M.V.P. type of week. Sure, it's only 7 days in a long season, but what a 7 days.

Starting pitcher of the week: Danny Duffy

He gets a little bit of the nod here for starting two games over just one for Luke Hochevar. However he had one solid outing and one good but weird and short outing. The biggest reason I chose Duffy is the fact that he struck out 11 while Hochevar struck out 0. As we've seen with Sean O'Sullivan, strike outs are vital. The kid also got his first "win" this week. While this blog generally considers that statistic to be meaningless, it is something the kid will always remember and deserves some recognition.

Relief pitcher of the week: Joakim Soria

Joakim Soria pitched 2 innings, but struck out 3, walked one and allowed only one hit. He seems to have re-found some of what he lost earlier in the season. The strikeouts are the most important number for him right now, and he's putting some on the board. What he needs now are more save opportunities to convert.

On the farm

In his last 10 games, Johnny Giavotella (2B) has hit .415/.455/.634 and he's hit 2 home runs for the Omaha Storm Chasers (AAA). He's inching closer to the point where he's forcing the Royals to promote him.

Lorenzo Cain (CF) has hit .368/.415/.763 with 4 home runs in his last 10 games for the Storm Chasers. He's a Melky Cabrera trade away from being the every-day center fielder at the Major League level.

Wil Myers (OF) has recovered from his knee bruise and is hitting .289/.372/.500 in his last ten games for the Northwest Arkansas Naturals (AA).

Salvador Perez (C) has broken out of a slump and is now 11 for his last 31 with a home run and two doubles for the Naturals.

In his last start, Chris Dwyer (LHP) went 6 innings while striking out 9 and allowing no earned runs for the Naturals.

Jake Odorizzi (RHP) bounced back from a rough start by striking out 11 and allowing no earned runs in 5.2 innings for his last start with the Wilmington Blue Rocks (A+).

The week to come

The Royals will be back at home this week. They have two inter-league series against the Diamondbacks and Cubs, fortunately they will get to use the DH and won't have to choose between Hosmer and Butler.

6/21-6/23 vs Diamondbacks

6/24-6/26 vs Cubs

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Nick Scott is a contributor to Royals Authority and is the host of the Broken Bat Single Royals podcast, you can follow him on Twitter or on Facebook.

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Kansas City Royals week in review: 6/13/2011

After the way the Kansas City Royals have been playing the last two weeks, the bar for a successful week was lowered quite a bit. Even under the higher standards of earlier int he season, this was a pretty good week. The Royals went 4-3 and didn't lose a series. It was a nice rebound from getting swept in four games by the Minnesota Twins. In major news this week, highly-touted prospect Mike Moustakas was promoted from Triple-A. The Royals also drafted their 2011 class which was lead by local kid Bubba Starling.

Standings

1 Indians - tie

1 Tigers - tie

3 White Sox -3.5

4 Royals -6.5

5 Twins -9.0

Game 60: Blue Jays 2 @ Royals 3 - boxscore

Newly acquired pitcher Felipe Paulino continued to excel as a starter. Against the Blue Jays he threw 6.2 innings while allowing only a single earned run. He lowered his American League ERA to 0.56 as a member of the Royals. The bullpen held the Jays scoreless to keep the Royals struggling offense in the game. The offensive player of the game was Eric Hosmer, as he walked in the tying run in the 7th and singled home the winning run in the 11th. Joakim Soria got the win as he was placed back in the closers role after a brief demotion.

Game 61: Blue Jays 8 @ Royals 5 - boxscore

Vin Mazzaro returned to the Royals in what looks like a prodigal visit. His first start after being demoted for a historically rough outing was an improvement, though not improved enough. He threw five innings and gave up 6 runs. The Royals tried to claw back and eventually scored 5 runs on 11 hits, but it wasn't enough to win the game.

Game 62: Blue Jays 9 @ Royals 8 - boxscore

Danny Duffy has shown flashes of brilliance surrounded by the struggles of a young pitcher. The rookie was inefficient again with his pitches and was unable to get to the 5th inning as he surrendered 5 runs while striking out only 1 and walking 4. Homeruns by Melky Cabrera in the third Billy Butler in the 8th allowed the Royals to keep the game close, but they came up a run short.

Game 63: Blue Jays 2 @ Royals 3 - boxscore

This was a game that it seemed the Royals had to have. Ending the home-stand with a split four-game series rather than a losing one is a big difference. It's situations like these where a team counts on their "ace", in the Royals case that's Luke Hochevar. On this day, he proved he was worthy as he pitched 7 innings and gave up 2 earned runs whiel walking 3 and striking otu 3. The Royals then relied on their setup man Aaron Crow and their re-minted closer Joakim Soria. Everything in the game just seemed to go according to plan. Eric Hosmer collected a pair of hits and an RBI and Jeff Francoeur plated two runs on a single to right. It was the kind of game that can make the players and the fans take a deep breath and think "ok, this team isn't that bad", which is just what we all needed.

Game 64:Royals 4 @ Angels 2 - boxscore

Jeff Francis has been the most important off-season acquisition the Royals have made. He continued to prove his worth and increase his trade value as he went 6.1 innings while striking out 3, walking 1 and surrendering only 2 runs in the opener with the Angels. That, combined with a scoreless 2.2 innings from the bullpen was all the pitching the Royals would need, thanks to homeruns by Cabrera and Butler, and RBI hits by Chris Getz and Alcides Escobar. The most significant part of the night was the debut of Mike Moustakas, who went 1-for-3 with a walk in his first game as a Royal.

Game 65: Royals 5 @ Angels 7 - boxscore

It was one of those weird games where piecing together what happened after-the-fact can be difficult. Royals starter Felipe Paulino went 5 innings and gave up 5 runs, but only 2 earned while he walked 1 and struck out 5. Reliever Tim Collins gave up 2 earned runs on 2 walks and 0 hits. Mike Moustakas hit his first Major League home run, light-hitting Alcides Escobar had a single and a double. In the midst of all these odd happenings, the Royals ended up losing a game they never lead, but were close the whole game.

*Game 66: Royals 9 @ Angels 0 - boxscore*

It's been a while since the Royals won a laugher, a game where they just run away with it and don't let the other team get close. For a team that's struggling, and one that's on the road it is probably some of the best medicine. It's exactly what the Royals got against the Angels. They turned five double-plays and scored 9 runs. Starter Vin Mazzaro was owed by the baseball gods and should now be evened-up. He allowed 0 earned runs in 7 innings while striking out 0, walking 5 and allowing 5 hits. Usually, those kinds of starts don't end so well, but for Vin, on that day it did. En route to scoring 9 runs, Gordon, Butler, Getz and Escobar (yep, Escobar) all had multi-hit games.

Position player of the week: Billy Butler

I really wanted to go with Alcides Escobar, who hit .400/.423/.520 this week, because he'll probably never have a better week in his career, but Butler just flat out hit him. Butler hit .320/.452/.600 with 2 home runs and 6 walks. On top of that, people are starting to talk about how they don't think Butler is useful in the middle of the Royals order. It's an idea which is quite absurd. If you don't value what Butler does, I'm not sure you're paying attention.

Starting pitcher of the week: Luke Hochevar

Hochevar is one of the most enigmatic pitchers I can remember. He can go from brilliant to awful in seconds. He can cruise along not allowing hits and then POW he gets lit up for 5 in an inning. He only had one start this week, but he got through his rough patch quickly and kept the Royals in the game. He's proving he belongs on a contending staff. Not necessarily at the top, but at least in the mix.

Relief pitcher of the week: Joakim Soria

I'm not sure he's taken home this award yet this season. He's battled himself the entire year and was even demoted from the closer role. At the beginning of this week he was re-inserted into the role and he was somewhat close to his old self. He threw 4 innings and didn't allow an earned run. More importantly, he struck out 4 and walked only 1. Here's hoping he's back.

On the farm

The draft happened last week and most notably the Royals drafted local outfielder Bubba Starling from Gardner-Edgerton. He has yet to sign, but all indications are that he will, eventually.

In his last 10 games, Johnny Giavotella (2B) has hit .391/.417/.652 with 2 homeruns. On the season he's hitting .307/.370/.428 for the Omaha Storm Chasers (AAA). He's on the short-list of guys to be promoted to the big league club next.

Mike Montgomery (LHP) continues to struggle as he adjusts to the Triple-A level. It's not something to worry about, he's a young kid getting his first taste of this level of competition. He's going deep into games and shows all the signs of someone who can adjust and continue his climb up the organizational ladder.

Wil Myers (OF) had his first week back after being on the D.L. with a knee injury. He's hit in 5 of his 9 games since returning and now has a line of .266/.331/.358 for the Northwest Arkansas Naturals (AA).

Last years 1st round draft pick, Christian Colon (SS) has hit .314/.415/.457 in his last 10 games for the Naturals. He's the kind of guy who isn't likely going to be a superstar, but rather someone who can do lots of things pretty well and provide value to a Major League team for a number of years.

Cuban defector Noel Arguelles continues to impress for the Wilmington Blue Rocks (A+) as he has 32 strikeouts and only 5 walks in 49.1 innings of work.

Cheslor Cuthbert (3B) is having a very nice go of things for the Kane County Cougars (A-). He's hitting .296/.363/.521 with 4 home runs. Not bad for the teenager from Nicaragua. He's a name to keep a close eye on, I've been impressed with him for the past 2 years.

The week to come

The Royals are on the road this entire week as they visit Oakland and then St. Louis for some inter-league action. How the Royals utilize Billy Butler and Eric Hosmer when they lose the DH for the three game series against the Cardinals will be of interest.

6/14-6/16 @ Oakland

6/17-6/19 @ St. Louis

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Nick Scott is a contributor to Royals Authority and is the host of the Broken Bat Single Royals podcast, you can follow him on Twitter or on Facebook.

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The Royals promote Mike Moustakas

The Kansas City Royals promoted highly-touted third base prospect Mike Moustakas. In Triple-A, Moustakas wa hitting .287/.347/.498 with 10 home runs and 15 doubles. To make room for him on the roster, they optioned infielder Mike Aviles to Omaha.

I predicted that the Royals would promote Moustakas at some point in June, now that the date for Super Two status has passed. I figured they would wait until the next home-stand so he could make his debut in Kansas City, but instead he'll make his debut in Anaheim near his hometown of Los Angeles.

What I wasn't able to predict was exactly who was going to be moved to make room for Moustakas.I thought that there might be a trade including Wilson Betemit or Mike Aviles, but in the end it was a demotion for Aviles. He'd been struggling lately with the bat, but he's been a pretty reliable offensive performer for the Royals. He's also the only player on the bench that can play a middle infield position. It seems to me as if the Royals aren't done making moves. They can't go too long without having a backup infielder.

In the end, Mike Moustakas is ready to be tested in the Major Leagues. He can learn much more facing Big League pitchers than he can from facing Triple-A pitchers. This was the one promotion that I fully expected to see come prior to the season. The Royals are starting to look like the young and talented team that they are destined to be in the near future.

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Was pinch hitting for Alcides Escobar the right call?

In the last inning of last night’s Kansas City Royals and Toronto Blue Jays game, the Royals were down by two runs with the bottom of their order due to bat. Every team’s last three batters are the most woeful on the team, but the Royals last three are worse than average. Chris Getz, Brayan Pena and Alcides Escobar currently have on-base percentages of .318, .295 and .241. So, the odds of overcoming the two run deficit were looking slim.

Predictably, Chris Getz grounded out to second base for the first out. However, Brayan Pena stroked a ball to center field for a single which put the tying run at the plate. A tying run which was represented by Alcides Escobar and his .210 batting average and matching .242 on-base percentage and slugging percentage. He isn’t just the worst batter on the Royals, he’s likely the worst option in the Majors to bat in that situation..

A logical strategy in that moment would have been to utilize the well-known Rule 3.03:

A player, or players, may be substituted during a game at any time the ball is dead. A substitute player shall bat in the replaced player’s position in the team’s batting order

However manager Ned Yost decided to waive his right to use Rule 3.03 and left significantly better hitters Mike Aviles and Mitch Maier on the bench.

Escobar watched the first pitch go by for a called strike and fouled off the next two offerings attempting to go to the opposite field. The fourth and final pitch of the at-bat was a called strike that looked to be outside, but seemed to be a good pitch to hit the other way. The strikeout was followed by an RBI double by Alex Gordon and a just-too-short bloop by Melky Cabrera to end the game.

When asked after the game if he thought about pinch hitting for Escobar Ned Yost replied:

"Do I think about pinch-hitting for him every time in those situations? Yes, yes, I’m dying to. But I know it’s in our best interest right now, that we don’t do it -- for big picture thought."

But thinking about it and doing it are clearly two different things. He also said:

“Not right now, I’m not gonna do it. I don’t care what anybody says, I’m not gonna do it.”

“This is a kid that I think is going hit some day and I want him getting as many at bats as he can get, because one day there’s going to be in line to win a championship and I want him to be able to handle himself in those situations.”

Leaving Alcides Escobar in to hit in that important game situation wasn’t a matter of inept managing; it was a development philosophy. It’s easy to scream at the manager for making a bone-headed decision, and in the context of last night’s game, that’s exactly what it was.

This decision goes deeper than that, what’s better for the Royals as a franchise: a 15% increase in the probability of getting the tying run on base in a relatively meaningless game in June, or trying to improve a player who is going to be a contributor for the next five years?

The answer depends on who are. If you are fan who goes to a couple games a year and last night was one of them, then you want to see that walk-off win – screw the development of Alcides Escobar. It’s just one at-bat! If you are building a franchise and you feel that Alcides Escobar is an important component, then things look a bit different. That slight increase in probability for a single game becomes much less important.

Context matters, sometimes you have to lose a battle to win the war. It’s not a guarantee that Escobar will eventually turn around his offensive game. Leaving him out to fail in clutch situations could eventually crush his confidence. It’s all a calculated risk.

I believe it's a risk worth taking. What does the Royals franchise gain in the long haul from giving Mike Aviles or Mitch Maier that chance last night? At best, they win one game -- a game that will be forgotten in a week's time. Neither of those players are going to be on the Royals when they are in the playoffs, while Alcides Escobar just might. Developing him at the cost of a small win probability increase is the right call.

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Kansas City Royals week in review: 6/6/2011

On the bright side, the Kansas City Royals won twice as many games last week as they did in the week prior. On the not-so-bright side, that means they only won two games in the last seven days. The one thing this team had been doing well this season was playing at home. The series against the Angels continued that trend, however losing four straight to the Twins was enough to dash the hopes of even the most optimistic fans. With the team falling so far out of contention, the beginning of the MLB Draft couldn’t be better timed. The first round begins tonight at 6:00 p.m. and fans around the league can begin to look to the future, again.

Standings

1 Indians

2 Tigers -2.5

3 White Sox -7.0

4 Royals -9.0

5 Twins -12.5

Game 53: Angels 10 @ Royals 8 - boxscore

The Royals were finally back at home where they've had some success this season. Early on, things seemed to be going their way as they took a 6-1 lead in the bottom of the 2nd thanks to homeruns by Alex Gordon and Eric Hosmer. Starter Luke Hochever wasn't great but he was adequate holding the Angels to 4 runs in 5 innings. However the Angels chipped away until they were down only 1 run going into the top of the 9th. Fans everywhere covered their eyes as the Royals again summoned Joakim Soria. What would have been nearly unimaginable last year was suddenly unsurprising as Joakim Soria handed the Angles 3 runs and earned his 5th blown save, the 2nd in as many days. After the game Ned Yost announced that Joakim Soria was no longer the closer and that Aaron Crow would get the nod most often.

Game 54: Angels 3 @ Royals 7 -boxscore

It's becoming clear that when starter Jeff Francis struggles in the 1st inning, it doesn't mean he is going to strugle for the entire game. This time, he surrendered 2 runs in the 1st frame, but it was all he would give up until the Angels scored one more run in the 6th. It was plenty of pitching for the Royals who scored 5 runs in the 3rd inning on a hit-parade where 5 different Royals had RBI hits.

Game 55: Angels 0 @ Royals 2 - boxscore

When Felipe Paulino was purchased from the Colorado Rockies, he had a 7.36 ERA. In his second appearance with the Royals he was placed in the starting rotation and threw 5 innings of scoreless baseball. It was exactly the kind of start the Royals were dying for and they took advantage, barely. Billy Butler's two-run walk-off home run represented the entirety of the Royals offensive output.

Game 56: Twins 8 @ Royals 2 - boxscore

Sean O'Sullivan continued to be ineffective as he could only get through 2.2 innings while surrendering 8 hits, 7 runs and striking out only 1. He would be placed on the 15-day disabled list the next day. It was a deficit the offensively struggling Royals could not overcome. Jeff Francoeur was the lone bright spot, going 3 for 4 with 2 RBI in the loss. Joakim Soria got his first taste of non-closing action as he pitched a scoreless 8th and 9th.

Game 57: Twins 5 @ Royals 2 - boxscore

Rookie starter Danny Duffy has improved each and every start he as made, however his biggest issue has been getting deep into games. This was no exception as he completed 5 innings and had to leave with 96 pitches under his belt. He allowed 7 hits and 3 earned runs while walking 3 and striking out 3. It wasn't a great start, but one to build on for the youngster. The story again was the struggling offense. Butler had 3 hits and Hosmer had a pair, but neither had an RBI.

Game 58: Twins 7 @ Royals 2 - boxscore

Luke Hochevar started well, as he threw 5 innings and gave up 1 run. However, in the 6th and 7th the Twins plated 5 while he was on the mound. The top of the Royals order did their jobs as they got on base 7 times in 15 plate appearances. They just couldn't string hits together and get runners across. It was the third game in a row where the Royals put up 2 runs against the Twins, and the third game in a row where it wasn't enough.

Game 59: Twins 6 @ Royals 0 - boxscore

In an ugly end to an ugly series, the Royals went down without scoring a single run in the finale. Starter Jeff Francis had his typical struggles in the 1st, but settled in as he is wont to do. Billy Butler continued is torrid hitting streak by going 3-for-3. That's about where the positives end. It was a four-game sweep by the worst team in baseball, there's no sugar-coating that.

Position player of the week: Billy Butler

He's the best hitter on the team and his last week is more proof of that fact. He hit .400/.483/.520 with a walk-off home run last week.

Starting pitcher of the week: Jeff Francis

There wasn't much to be excited about in the starting pitching front, but Jeff Francis continues to deliver. He had a 2.57 ERA in 14 innings of work last week. He struck out only 3 while walking 4, but he's been successful. He should be getting lots of notice in trade talks which are the inevitable result of the way the Royals have been playing recently.

Relief pitcher of the week: Greg Holland

It could have been Blake Wood, but Holland gets the nod as he has yet to give up a run. He threw 3.2 innings last week and struck out an eye-popping 7. He's just another guy in a stacked bullpen that seems to rarely get the lead as of late.

On the farm:

The Royals announced last week that John Lamb (LHP) would undergo Tommy John surgery. It's a big setback for the team and for the young starter. It's unfortunate, but the list of pitchers who've come back from that surgery is long. He's a great kid and I'm personally rooting for a great comeback.

In his last 10 games, Mike Moustakas (3B) has hit .378/.370/.600 with 2 homeruns for the Omaha Storm Chasers (AAA)

Starter Mike Montgomery (LHP) continues to struggle with command as he has given up 15 runs in his last 3 games combined. He has a 5.23 ERA in 63.2 IP for Omaha this season.

Wil Myers (OF) played yesterday in his first game back since an injury that put him on the shelf in early May. He didn't seem to miss a beat as he went 2 for 4 with a double for the Northwest Arkansas Naturals (AA).

Jake Odorizzi (RHP) continued his dominance of the Carolina League (A+) as he now has 74 strikeouts to 14 walks in 52.2 innings. In his last outing, he went 6 innings, struck out 8, walked 2 and have up 3 hits and no runs.

The week to come:

The MLB Draft is likely the most important thing happening for the Kansas City Royals this week. The draft is extremely deep and the Royals have the 5th overall pick. The other story of local interest is where Gardner-Edgerton star Bubba Starling will end up. Some have him going to the Royals, but my guess is that it's unlikely. In terms of on-the-field action, the Royals continue their long home-stand against the Blue Jays and then go on the road to face the Angels.

6/6-6/9 vs Blue Jays

6/10-6/12 @ Angels

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Nick Scott is a contributor to Royals Authority and is the host of the Broken Bat Single Royals podcast, you can follow him on Twitter or on Facebook.*

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