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Royals name Minor League pitchers and players of the year08/29/2008 1:36 PM ET
KANSAS CITY -- The Kansas City Royals have named their Minor League Pitchers and Players of the Year for their respective affiliates. The 16 players are expected to be at Kauffman Stadium for Futures' Night on Friday, Sept. 19, where they will take part in a Q&A and autograph session at Gate A as well as be honored in an on-field presentation prior to the Royals game against the White Sox.
Right-handed pitcher Devon Lowery has been named the Omaha Pitcher of the Year. The 25-year old has been a stalwart in the Omaha bullpen this season, recording a 1-1 record with five saves and a 1.88 ERA in 30 appearances. A former starter, the Royals 14th round selection from the 2001 draft has held opponents to a .214 batting average. He began the season with Northwest Arkansas and posted a 0.69 ERA in nine outings before his promotion.
26-year old outfielder Mitch Maier is the Omaha Player of the Year. Playing center field for the O-Royals, Maier hit .316 (109-for-345) with 24 doubles, nine homers, 41 RBI, 57 runs and 12 stolen bases. The Royals first round pick (30th overall) in the 2003 draft was recalled by the Royals on July 24.
NORTHWEST ARKANSAS (AA)
21-year old Dan Cortes, recently named to the Texas League Post-Season All Star team, was named the Northwest Arkansas Pitcher of the Year. The 6-foot-6, 225-pounder, acquired from the White Sox on July 24, 2006, is 9-4 with a 3.98 ERA in 22 starts for the Naturals. The Pomona, Calif. native is 7-1 in his last 11 starts in anchoring the Naturals staff.
First baseman Kila Ka'aihue, 24, has burst onto the scene in 2008 and was rewarded by being named the Northwest Arkansas Player of the Year. The left-handed hitting and right-handed throwing native Hawaiian hit .314 (90-for-287) with a league-leading 26 home runs and 79 RBI in 91 games for the Naturals before being promoted to Omaha at the end of July. The Texas League Player of the Year has continued his tremendous season at Omaha, hitting .327 (32-for-98) with 10 homers in 29 games. Ka'aihue's 36 home runs are tied for the fourth-most in the entire minor leagues while he leads all minor leaguers with 101 walks. He has posted a .460 on-base percentage and .634 slugging combined in his two 2008 stops.
Right-handed pitcher Matt Kniginyzky is 9-8 with a 3.57 ERA in 27 starts and was named Wilmington Pitcher of the Year. In 141 innings, the 6-foot-3, 185-pounder has allowed 133 hits while striking out 113. The 25-year old from Ontario, Canada was the Royals 23rd round pick in the 2005 draft.
20-year old Derrick Robinson has sped his way to the Wilmington Player of the Year award. The fleet 5-foot-11, 170-pound switch hitter currently leads the Carolina League with 61 stolen bases, which is fourth in the entire minors. The Royals 4th round pick in the 2006 draft, the outfielder is hitting .244 with 20 doubles, eight triples and 66 runs scored for the Blue Rocks.
19-year old Danny Duffy was named the Burlington Pitcher of the Year after dominating Midwest League hitters all season. The 6-foot-3 lefty is 8-4 with a 2.20 ERA in 17 starts, walking 25 and striking out 102 in 81.2 innings. The Royals 3rd round pick in last year's draft has been nearly unhittable the past two months, compiling a 6-1 record with a 0.99 ERA (54.1 IP, 6 ER) in his last 11 starts. The Cabrillo High (Lompoc, Calif.) grad tossed the first six innings of a combined no-hitter on Aug. 7 at Peoria.
In his first full season as a professional, Royals 2007 first-round pick Mike Moustakas was named the Burlington Player of the Year. The 19-year old infielder is hitting .272 (133-for-489) with 25 doubles, a league-leading 22 home runs, 71 RBI and 74 runs scored.
IDAHO FALLS (ROOKIE-ADVANCED)
Right-handed pitcher Bryan Casey has had a great bounce back year after missing all of 2007 with a right elbow injury and has been named Idaho Falls Pitcher of the Year. The 6-foot-2 native of Yuma, Ariz., KC's 20th round pick in 2005, is 3-4 with a 2.85 ERA in 14 starts for the Royals short-season Pioneer League club.
Sean McCauley, a 6-foot-2 catcher, has been named the Idaho Falls Player of the Year. Last year's 12th round pick is hitting .278 (47-for-169) with 12 doubles and 19 RBI for the Chukars. The 19-year old graduated from Osbourn Senior High in Manassas, Va. in 2007.
18-year old right-handed pitcher Kelvin Herrera has been named the Burlington Pitcher of the Year. A resident of Tenares in the Dominican Republic, Herrera was 2-2 with a 1.42 ERA in 11 outings, including eight starts, for the B-Royals. In 50.2 innings, he struck out 45 and walked just five. He has since been promoted to Class A Burlington, where he is 2-0 with a 2.13 ERA in three games, including one start.
Infielder Angel Franco, just two years into his professional career, picks up his second Player of the Year award for Burlington following up last year's in the Dominican. Playing mostly at second base, the switch-hitter from Bani in the Dominican Republic hit .257 (61-for-237) with 25 RBI and 14 stolen bases.
Michael Montgomery, this year's selection in the supplemental first round, has been named the Surprise Royals Pitcher of the Year. The 19-year old 6-foot-5 left-hander from Valencia, Calif. is 2-1 with a 2.11 ERA in 12 outings (9 starts) in his first professional season, allowing 32 hits in 42.2 innings and striking out 34.
Catcher Jose Bonilla has been named the Surprise Royals Player of the Year. The 19-year old from Santiago in the Dominican is hitting .357 (40-for-112) with nine doubles, three triples, five homers and 24 RBI in 34 games.
DOMINICAN ROYALS (ROOKIE)
Right-handed pitcher Willian Avinazar is the Dominican Royals Pitcher of the Year. The 19-year old from Valencia, Venezuela is 8-2 with a 2.37 ERA in 14 starts, striking out 56 and walking 19 in 68.1 innings. His eight wins tie him for second in the 37-team league.
Catcher/first baseman Henry Moreno, signed by KC as a non-drafted free agent on May 29 of this year, is the Dominican Royals Player of the Year. Moreno, 19, from Santiago, Dominican Republic, hit .314 (53-for-169) with 20 doubles, 41 RBI and 22 runs scored. The 20 two-baggers rank fourth in the league.
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