June 14, 2017 local royals romp behind Vargas' strong start



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June 14, 2017

LOCAL
Royals romp behind Vargas' strong start

June 14, 2017 By Alex Espinoza and Jeffrey Flanagan/MLB.com

http://m.royals.mlb.com/news/article/236294006/royals-jason-vargas-gets-4th-straight-win/?topicId=27118382

Hammel to oppose former KC pitcher Cueto

June 14, 2017 By Alex Simon/MLB.com

http://m.royals.mlb.com/news/article/236378254/cueto-set-to-oppose-former-team-in-royals/?topicId=26688836

Tillo headlines pitching-heavy Day 2 for KC

June 14, 2017 By Wilson Alexander/MLB.com

http://m.royals.mlb.com/news/article/236190234/royals-take-daniel-tillo-in-mlb-draft/

Hicklen goes from UAB walk-on to KC draftee

June 14, 2017 By Wilson Alexander/MLB.com

http://m.royals.mlb.com/news/article/236345226/uabs-brewer-hicklen-drafted-by-royals/

Back along the bay, Jason Vargas and Royals roll over Giants 8-1

June 14, 2017 By Rustin Dodd/KC Star

http://www.kansascity.com/article156050064.html

Searching for rotation help, Royals turn to reliever Matt Strahm

June 14, 2017 By Rustin Dodd/KC Star

http://www.kansascity.com/sports/mlb/kansas-city-royals/article156033124.html

Royals take four left-handed pitchers on second day of draft, including a K-State product

June 14, 2017 By Rustin Dodd/KC Star

http://www.kansascity.com/sports/mlb/kansas-city-royals/article156041034.html

Royals’ Perez still leads AL catchers in All-Star voting, Hosmer closes gap

June 14, 2017 By Rustin Dodd/KC Star

http://www.kansascity.com/sports/mlb/kansas-city-royals/article155887199.html

Why rallies are more likely when the Royals don’t swing for the fences

June 14, 2017 By Lee Judge/KC Star

http://www.kansascity.com/sports/spt-columns-blogs/judging-the-royals/article156077029.html
After latest injury setback, Kyle Zimmer returns to pitching at Class AAA Omaha

June 14, 2017 By Rustin Dodd/KC Star

http://www.kansascity.com/sports/mlb/kansas-city-royals/article156064759.html

MINORS
3-Homer 5th Pushes Dodgers Past Omaha, 7-2

Chasers drop road trip opener at Bricktown

June 14, 2017 Omaha Storm Chasers

https://www.milb.com/storm-chasers/news/3-homer-5th-pushes-dodgers-past-omaha-7-2/c-236296246/t-196093384


Travelers win series with victory over Naturals

Arkansas scored five runs in the third and four runs in the fourth in the 11-4 win over Northwest Arkansas

June 14, 2017 Northwest Arkansas Naturals

https://www.milb.com/naturals/news/travlers-win-series-with-victory-over-naturals/c-236219564/t-196093316



Donnie Dewees Jr. named Texas League Player of the Week

The outfielder was recognized for his outstanding performance during the week of June 5 through June 11

June 14, 2017 Northwest Arkansas Naturals

https://www.milb.com/naturals/news/donnie-dewees-jr-named-texas-league-player-of-the-week/c-236159850/t-196093316



Rocks Eliminated From First Half Contention

Wilmington Splits Doubleheader in Lynchburg

June 14, 2017 Wilmington Blue Rocks

https://www.milb.com/blue-rocks/news/rocks-eliminated-from-first-half-contention/c-236330590/t-196097164


Asheville edges Legends in 10, 5-4

June 14, 2017 Lexington Legends

https://www.milb.com/legends/news/asheville-edges-legends-in-10-5-4/c-236326692/t-196097274
MLB TRANSACTIONS
June 14, 2017 •.CBSSports.com
http://www.cbssports.com/mlb/transactions

LOCAL
Royals romp behind Vargas' strong start

June 14, 2017 By Alex Espinoza and Jeffrey Flanagan/MLB.com

http://m.royals.mlb.com/news/article/236294006/royals-jason-vargas-gets-4th-straight-win/?topicId=27118382
The Royals used a six-run sixth-inning rally to support Jason Vargas, who won his fourth straight start in Tuesday's 8-1 victory over the Giants at AT&T Park.
The veteran southpaw made quick work of the San Francisco lineup, allowing five hits and a walk while striking out six over seven innings. Vargas (9-3) maintained his hold on MLB's second-lowest ERA (2.10) while joining Dallas Keuchel and Clayton Kershaw as the Majors' lone nine-game winners.
"Vintage Vargy," Royals pitching coach Dave Eiland said. "Changed speeds, commanded the zone."
Added Royals manager Ned Yost, "Vargy was excellent. He was sharp. On the attack. Kept his pitch count down."
Whit Merrifield and Jorge Bonifacio recorded three RBIs apiece for the Royals, who racked up 15 hits and won their third straight contest.
Giants southpaw Ty Blach was charged with seven runs in his 5 2/3 innings, as he gave up 10 hits and a walk while striking out four. Though the Royals weren't hitting the ball hard consistently against Blach, it marked his second straight start of giving up at least five runs.

"That's just baseball," Blach said. "A couple of bad bounces and then you don't make pitches when you have to, it's going to humble you in a hurry."


MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
So close, yet so far: Merrifield highlighted Kansas City's six-run barrage in the sixth with a three-run triple down the right-field line. Giants right fielder Hunter Pence made a sliding attempt to catch the high fly ball but it landed just inches away from his glove and bounced to the wall, allowing the bases to clear and Merrifield to reach third. According to Statcast™, Merrifield's triple only had a 4 percent chance of being a hit when it left his bat.
"It was one of those that you don't hit very well," Merrifield said, "but you know it's in a good spot. It just started dying. Those are beautiful when they happen. It was in a big moment, too."
Bad bounces: The Giants were stung by some close plays in the third inning that led to a couple of early runs for the Royals. Alcides Escobar led off the frame with a single that bounced past Giants first baseman Brandon Belt, before Alex Gordon reached on a bloop single that nicked off the glove of second baseman Aaron Hill in shallow right. Once Vargas' bunt rolled past Blach to load the bases, Bonifacio laced a two-run single up the middle to make the Giants pay.
"It's a game of inches," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "We're just not quite getting to some of these balls. I think you've got to attribute bad luck to it for the most part. Some of them, you'd think we're going to come up with a play. Most of it is just bad luck. It's just not quite there. Tonight was one of those."
Added Bonifacio, "I felt pretty good tonight. I was looking fastball there and he hung a slider and I got a good swing on it. I've been in a little slump but felt good tonight."
QUOTABLE
"It's hard to believe he gave up those runs. He had good stuff. They placed the ball just out of reach three or four times there. It's a shame because Ty threw the ball well tonight, he really did. The numbers are not indicative of how he threw." -- Bochy, on Blach
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Vargas became the fourth Royals pitcher since 1974 to record a bunt single, joining Danny Duffy, Ervin Santana and Odalis Perez.
WHAT'S NEXT
Royals: Right-hander Jason Hammel (2-6, 5.43 ERA) takes the mound for the Royals on Wednesday at 2:45 p.m. CT. Hammel continued his recent surge with a strong outing against Houston on Thursday -- seven innings, four hits, one run, zero walks, four strikeouts.
Giants: Johnny Cueto (5-5 4.33 ERA) will face the Royals on Wednesday at 12:45 p.m. PT for the first time since winning the 2015 World Series with Kansas City. The veteran right-hander has a 3.55 ERA in five starts at AT&T Park this year compared to a 4.88 ERA in eight road outings.

Hammel to oppose former KC pitcher Cueto

June 14, 2017 By Alex Simon/MLB.com

http://m.royals.mlb.com/news/article/236378254/cueto-set-to-oppose-former-team-in-royals/?topicId=26688836
Giants right-hander Johnny Cueto will face the Royals on Wednesday afternoon in San Francisco for the first time since he won a World Series championship with them in 2015.
Cueto was traded from the Reds to the Royals on July 26, 2015, and made 13 starts for Kansas City in the regular season and four in the postseason. He threw a complete game in Game 2 of the 2015 World Series, giving up one run on two hits to the Mets, helping the Royals win their first World Series in 30 years.
Cueto signed with San Francisco that offseason and went 18-5 with a 2.79 ERA in 2016. This year, he's 5-5 with a 4.33 ERA. He's 1-3 in his last five starts, only once pitching into the seventh. While he remembers the good times of his stint with the Royals, he's treating Wednesday like any other start.
"I'm proud to have been a part of that team," Cueto said. "I still have friends there, but when we talked [in April when the teams met in Kansas City], I didn't think I was going to pitch against them. But it's just another team, and I'm going to go out there and do my best."
Right-hander Jason Hammel will get the start for the Royals. After finishing the first two months of the season with a 1-6 record and a 6.18 ERA, he's thrown well in June.
In his last two starts, he's gone 13 2/3 innings, giving up four runs on nine hits and no walks while striking out 11. He threw 6 2/3 innings in beating the Indians on June 3 and kept the Astros in check for seven innings Thursday, allowing a single run on four hits. Hammel said a change to his set position has been a big factor.
"I made the adjustment to get more square with my shoulders," Hammel said. "Last year, I made the adjustment to close up my shoulders because normally I fly open so much. So I was basically trying to give myself more time, but it made it too long to catch up with my back side. I started getting too comfortable with it and I was missing too much arm side. So we opened it back up."
Hammel's ground-ball rate of 35.2 percent is seventh lowest this season among pitchers with at least 200 batted balls against them. It's also a career low for the veteran righty, coming in under his 40 percent mark from 2014.
Things to know about this game

• Giants second baseman Joe Panik (sprained left thumb) missed his fourth straight start Tuesday but is expected to return to the lineup Wedensday.

• Giants outfielder Denard Span hasn't hit Hammel much, but he's made it count when he does. He's 2-for-22 lifetime against Hammel, but the two hits are a double and a triple.

• Cueto and Hammel have faced off once before, with Cueto's Reds beating Hammel's Cubs, 5-4, in 10 innings on June 12, 2015, in Chicago. Interestingly, both got a hit off the other, with Cueto going 1-for-3 while pitching seven innings and Hammel going 1-for-2 in five innings.



Tillo headlines pitching-heavy Day 2 for KC

June 14, 2017 By Wilson Alexander/MLB.com

http://m.royals.mlb.com/news/article/236190234/royals-take-daniel-tillo-in-mlb-draft/
Daniel Tillo itched to pitch. There he was, riding the bench at the University of Kentucky, pitching only 7 1/3 innings as a freshman in 2016. He told head coach Gary Henderson he would return, despite the frustration he felt. But when Henderson resigned that summer, Tillo transferred. He wanted to pitch regularly, he wanted to prove himself.
On Tuesday afternoon, that decision paid off as the Royals selected Tillo with the 90th overall pick in the 2017 MLB Draft. About a year after he decided to relocate, the 6-foot-5 left-hander will become a professional -- and on the day he turned 21.
"I didn't expect it to feel this great," Tillo said. "Leading up to the Draft, I was excited but I was calm at the same time. Now my heart is racing."
Tillo was the first in a slew of left-handed pitching selections the Royals made on Tuesday, the second day of the Draft. Of their eight picks, six were pitchers. Four of those were lefties.
The Royals will make the last of their selections when the Draft concludes on Wednesday, with exclusive coverage of Rounds 11-40 beginning on MLB.com at 11 a.m. CT.
Tillo chose to transfer to Iowa Western, a community college closer to his home. Iowa Western head coach Marc Rardin said almost a year to the day after Tillo told him he was going to Kentucky instead of Iowa Western, Tillo asked Rardin if he could come back. Rardin said of course.
This past season, Tillo used his mid-90s fastball, a slider and developing changeup to hold hitters to a .192 average while striking out 54 in 41 innings. He plans on signing with the Royals.
"He's built like a starter [and] looks like a starter," Royals director of scouting Lonnie Goldberg said. "He has a chance to be a middle-of-the-rotation arm. … This is the guy you dream on."

Not a bad birthday present.


Round 4 (120th overall): CF Michael Gigliotti, Lipscomb University
MLB.com's Jim Callis said Gigliotti entered the season as a potential first-round pick, but his stock dropped as he became passive at the plate. Gigliotti's batting average dropped from .336 as a freshman to .301 as a sophomore. Still, the Royals felt he was worthy of a fourth-round selection, particularly because of his defensive range.
"Michael, in our opinion, is one of the best center fielders in the Draft this year," Goldberg said. "He can really go get it in the outfield. Tremendous instincts to play defense, and in our ballpark it's a true asset to what we do."
Round 5 (150th overall): RHP Charlie Neuweiler, Monsignor McClancy Memorial High School (N.Y.)
In Neuweiler, the Royals picked the teammate of Quentin Holmes, whom the Indians drafted with the 64th pick. As scouts came to see Holmes, they found Neuweiler, a 6-foot-1, 205-pound player who throws his fastball in the upper 80s and lower 90s. His curveball, scouts have said, is his best pitch. Goldberg said Neuweiler has "a starter's delivery."
"We went in to see both players play on the same day," Goldberg said. "I do think he got some helium with Quentin and his notoriety, but at the end of the year we found out guys were going in to see Charlie as well."
Round 6 (180th overall): RHP Tyler Zuber, Arkansas State University
Zuber bounced back from a junior season in which he totaled a 6.59 ERA to go 6-1 with a 2.06 ERA in 25 games. As Goldberg pointed out, Zuber, who improved in every statistical category this season, struck out 80 batters in 52 1/3 innings.
"Nintendo numbers," Goldberg said.
Round 7 (210th overall): OF Brewer Hicklen, University of Alabama-Birmingham
A two-sport athlete, Hicklen played football at UAB. Well, sort of. Hicklen went through summer workouts and fall camp with the team in 2016, but as the Blazers' program had not started playing games again after being temporarily nixed by the university, Hicklen never saw game action. He was a first-team wide receiver during the team's final fall scrimmage, but he will never play college football after choosing to sign with the Royals.
UAB head coach Brian Shoop said Hicklen is a model citizen off the field and a player to emulate on it. Hicklen, a devout Christian, thanked God and Jesus after being drafted, which he called a "blessing."

"Real strong, athletic, physical player," Goldberg said of Hicklen. "Lot of ceiling we think left to him."


Round 8 (240th overall): LHP Holden Capps, University of Central Oklahoma
Capps transferred twice in his career. He began at El Reno Community College, where he spent two years before transferring to the University of North Carolina-Charlotte. After a year there, Capps transferred again, this time to Central Oklahoma.
He finished the 2017 season with 96 1/3 innings pitched. He allowed 47 earned runs and walked 40 batters in that time, accumulating a 4.39 ERA. He also struck out 92 batters.
Round 9 (270th overall): LHP JC Cloney, University of Arizona
Cloney pitched in Game 1 of the 2016 College World Series, holding the eventual title-winning Coastal Carolina Chanticleers to four hits in a shutout performance. Combined with his previous start, the outing extended a 16-inning scoreless streak for Cloney, who was named to the College World Series All-Tournament Team.
"Long track record of throwing strikes," Goldberg said of Cloney. "Probably not going to overwhelm you with stuff, but he's athletic, competes and throws strikes."
Round 10 (300th overall): LHP Jordan Floyd, Kansas State University
The Royals went local with their final pick on Tuesday, drafting Floyd from Kansas State. Floyd pitched 21 games in relief for the Wildcats this season.
"He's got a fastball up to 94, plus slider," Goldberg said. "Real competitor. Our scout Matt Price is extremely excited and hopefully we will come to terms with Jordan tonight and get him in a Royals uni."

Hicklen goes from UAB walk-on to KC draftee

June 14, 2017 By Wilson Alexander/MLB.com



http://m.royals.mlb.com/news/article/236345226/uabs-brewer-hicklen-drafted-by-royals/
University of Alabama at Birmingham head baseball coach Brian Shoop was leaving church one fall Sunday in 2013 when he received a call from outfielder Brewer Hicklen, telling Shoop he was ready to accept a scholarship offer. There was a problem, though. There was no scholarship to be given.
The Blazers had offered Hicklen a scholarship in July, but Hicklen wanted to see if he received offers to play football. The Blazers waited as long as they could on him, but they had a recruiting class to round out. So when Shoop received the call, he had to tell Hicklen there was no room for him.
"He cried," Shoop said.
Shoop offered Hicklen a deal to walk on and receive a scholarship later. Hicklen accepted, and on Tuesday, the Royals drafted him in the seventh round, 210th overall. He is the highest Draft pick in UAB baseball history.
"I don't feel like I deserve this," Hicklen said.
The Draft concludes Wednesday, with exclusive coverage of Rounds 11-40 beginning on MLB.com at 11 a.m. CT.
Hicklen's career at UAB began with a rotator-cuff injury that erased his freshman season, but he earned a half scholarship in 2015. The following summer, while also vying for the starting center-field job, he asked UAB football coach Bill Clark if he could compete for a spot on the football team.
UAB's football program had been cut by the university in 2014, but the the team was beginning its rebuild. Hicklen, who grew up dreaming of playing both sports in college, figured he would ask.
Hicklen, a wide receiver, earned a full scholarship to play football. He lost over 100 at-bats and most of fall baseball as a result, but Hicklen said the grueling training for football helped him gain strength and a tough mentality, which he said had benefits on the baseball field. But Hicklen will never play a college football game.
"It's going to be tough to watch those guys go out there," Hicklen said. "As crazy as it sounds, I'm going to miss the summer workouts. But God's called me to something else and I'm going to pursue that."
Hicklen notched 10 triples and 39 stolen bases in his two-year career at UAB. This season he hit .328, knocked eight home runs and had 31 RBIs while starting at center field. He also had a 19-game hitting streak and reached base in 41 straight games -- all of this while playing nearly half the season with a fractured bone in his right hand.
"Lot of ceiling, we think, left to him," Royals director of scouting Lonnie Goldberg said.
In his final collegiate game, Hicklen stood on third base with one out. After Rice's pitcher struck out a UAB batter for the second out of the inning, Shoop said the pitcher moved to the windup. Shoop told Hicklen to steal home. Without hesitation, he took off. Hecklin was safe.
Said Shoop, "He's fearless."

Back along the bay, Jason Vargas and Royals roll over Giants 8-1

June 14, 2017 By Rustin Dodd/KC Star

http://www.kansascity.com/article156050064.html

As his team enjoyed a day off on Monday, Royals manager Ned Yost spent his morning strolling around the sidewalks of Fisherman’s Wharf, the iconic tourist trap in this city by the bay.


He sauntered past restaurants along the water. He passed souvenirs stores and candy shops. He navigated the crowds of tourists and pedestrians, gawking at the seals and looking out toward Alcatraz. As he kept walking, Yost would say, he kept looking around, taken aback by the number of Royals hats and Kansas City fans on the streets. One couple, Yost said, told him they had rode their motorcycle from their home in Kansas City. Others just wanted to say hello.
It had been 12 years since the Royals’ last regular-season series here, three since they battled the San Francisco Giants in the 2014 World Series, and one night later, they returned to AT&T Park and made themselves at home here, too, scoring an 8-1 knockout over the on Tuesday in the first game of a brief two-game set. A smattering of blue was present inside the stadium’s concourses and sections. They saw a complete performance.
Starter Jason Vargas maintained his dominant form, allowing just one run in seven innings and lowering his ERA to 2.10. The offensive attack was opportunistic and relentless, swarming Giants starter Ty Blach with an array of bleeders, bloopers and broken bats. The formula resulted in a third straight win on this West Coast road trip, and for the first time since May 14, the Royals (29-34) crept within five games of .500.
“Guys were aggressive, swinging the bats well,” said second baseman Whit Merrifield, who finished 2 for 5 with a three-run triple. “We put a lot of balls in play. And [it was] one of those games where balls were dropping for us.”
Is a baseball team that sits five games under still in contention? This is not a riddle but rather a question worth asking as Vargas pitched like an ace for another night and the Royals pulled to within three games of second-place Cleveland, the preseason favorite in the American League Central. For now, the Royals remain five games behind first-place Minnesota and just as close to last place as third place. Danny Duffy is still on the disabled list. But as they began a nine-game road trip against two bottom feeders — the Padres and Giants — they have taken advantage of the moment.
On Tuesday, the Royals scored at least eight runs for a third straight game, striking for two runs against Blach in the third on a bases-loaded single from Jorge Bonifacio and exploding for six runs in the sixth. Both rallies were aided by a mix of good fortune on the placement of batted balls and some clutch hitting.
“We really excelled with the bases loaded tonight,” Yost said.
The last time the Royals were inside AT&T Park was Game 5 of the 2014 World Series, when Madison Bumgarner delivered a shutout. Three years later, Bumgarner is on the disabled list, the result of a dirt-bike accident in April. The Giants (26-40) are in last place, tied with the lowly Padres. The Kansas City offense had no problem putting up runs.
In the third, the Royals loaded the bases on an Alcides Escobar single through first baseman Brandon Belt, a broken-bat single from Alex Gordon, and a bunt single from Vargas, who placed it perfectly down the third-base line. That led to two runs when Bonifacio delivered a single to center field.
In the sixth, Escobar slapped a two-run double to right field and Merrifield cleared the bases with two outs on a shallow fly ball down the line that eluded right fielder Hunter Pence.
“It was one of those you don’t hit very well, but you kind of see it going in a good spot,” Merrifield said. “I kind of saw it dying … those are beautiful when they happen.”
In this case, beauty was a baseball bouncing off the ground, under the glove of a diving Pence, and rolling toward the wall. Merrifield sprinted into third base, scoring on another RBI hit from Bonifacio.
“The sixth inning was a big one,” Yost said. “That gave us a lot of breathing room.”
The Royals finished with 15 hits, with six players recording multi-hit games. They have piled up 28 runs in their last three games. And yet, the most impressive performance of the night belonged to Vargas, who struck out six and walked one while throwing 102 pitches. When the night ended, Vargas was second in the American League in ERA behind Houston’s Dallas Keuchel. Royals pitching coach Dave Eiland put a simple phrase atop his notes from the game: “Vintage Vargy.”
“He moved his fastball around,” Eiland said. “He pitched in just enough to get them off down and away. He changed speeds. He elevated when he had to. It was just vintage Vargas.”
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