The Royals’ farm system is not the juggernaut it once was, the system that earned accolades from Baseball America and produced two World Series appearances and a championship. Yet it is still full of intriguing prospects and future major-leaguers, some of which were honored Tuesday by the organization.
In selecting players and pitchers of the year for each minor-league affiliate, the Royals put a spotlight on some of their most accomplished minor leaguers in 2017. Here’s a look at the award winners:
Class AAA Omaha
Player of the year: Infielder Frank Schwindel
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Schwindel, 25, an 18th-round pick in 2013, set career highs with 43 doubles, 23 homers and 97 RBIs in 133 games between Class AA Northwest Arkansas and Omaha. He primarily plays first base.
Pitcher of the year: Right-handed pitcher Jakob Junis
Before he helped the Royals’ rotation in the second half, Junis, 25, finished 3-5 with a 2.92 ERA in 12 starts at Omaha, recording 86 strikeouts and just 15 walks.
Class AA Northwest Arkansas
Player of the year: Outfielder Donnie Dewees
Acquired last offseason in a trade that sent pitcher Alec Mills to the Chicago Cubs, Dewees, 23, hit .272 with 24 doubles, a career-high nine home runs and stole 20 bases in 126 games. He made 104 starts in center field.
Pitcher of the year: Left-handed pitcher Foster Griffin
Griffin, 22, appeared in the MLB Futures Game after a strong first half and went 11-5 with a 3.61 ERA in 18 starts after a promotion from Class A Wilmington.
Class A Wilmington
Player of the year: Shortstop Nicky Lopez
Lopez, 22, is one of the most intriguing prospects in the system, a shortstop selected in the fifth round of the 2016 draft. He hit .295 with a .376 on-base percentage in 70 games at Wilmington before being promoted.
Pitcher of the year: Left-handed pitcher Richard Lovelady
A 22-year-old reliever, Lovelady was dominant all year, posting a 1.62 ERA (12 runs in 66 2/3 innings) at Wilmington and Northwest Arkansas.
Class A Lexington
Player of the year: Third baseman Emmanuel Rivera
Rivera, 21, hit .310/.364/.468 and led the South Atlantic League in batting average and hits. A native of Puerto Rico, Rivera was a 19th-round pick in 2015.
Pitcher of the year: Right-handed pitcher Jace Vines
Vines, 23, a fourth-round pick in 2016, finished 9-5 with a 3.42 ERA in 19 appearances, including 14 starts, at Lexington. He pitched at Texas A&M.
Rookie league Idaho Falls
Player of the year: First baseman Robby Rinn
Rinn, a 24-year-old first baseman, hit .355/.429/.511 with 59 RBI in 69 games for the Chukars. He was drafted in the 25th round in 2016 out of Bryant University.
Pitcher of the year: Right-handed pitcher Janser Lara
Signed as an amateur out of the Dominican Republic, Lara, 21, struck out 57 hitters in 52 1/3 innings.
Rookie league Burlington
Player of the year: Outfielder Michael Gigliotti
A fourth-round pick this year out of Lipscomb, Gigliotti, 21, hit .329/.442/.477 (51 for 155) in 42 games.
Pitcher of the year: Right-handed pitcher Sal Biasi
An 11th-round pick this year out of Penn State, Biasi went 3-2 with a 2.44 ERA in nine outings (seven starts) at Burlington.
Rookie league Surprise
Player of the year: First baseman Nick Pratto
The club’s first-round pick this year, Pratto, 18, showed flashes of promise in the Arizona Rookie League, hitting .247 with 22 extra-base hits and 34 RBIs in 52 games.
Pitcher of the year: Right-handed pitcher Charlie Neuweiler
A high school pitcher from New York, Neuweiler, 18, was 3-3 with a 1.76 ERA in 41 innings across 12 appearances.
Rookie league Dominican
Player of the year: Infielder Rubendy Jaquez
Signed in 2015, Jaquez, 18, hit .267 with a .362 on-base percentage in 62 games.
Pitcher of the year: Right-handed pitcher Delvin Capellan,
Signed in 2016, Capellan, 18, posted a 0.48 ERA (three earned runs in 56 innings) in 12 starts. According to the Royals, his ERA was the franchise’s best single-season mark among farmhands (minimum 50 innings).