Moustakas, Hosmer assigned to Minors camp
Royals move premier prospects to get them more game action
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- So it won't be Mike Moustakas at third base for the Royals on Opening Day.
Moustakas and the Royals' other prize hitting prospect, first baseman Eric Hosmer, were among seven non-roster players assigned to the Minor League camp on Wednesday afternoon.
The other players cut were the organization's top catching prospect, Salvador Perez, plus pitcher Blaine Hardy, infielder Joaquin Arias, outfielder Brett Carroll and catcher Cody Clark.
None of the players was assigned to a team but Moustakas and Hosmer are likely to go to the Triple-A Omaha Storm Chasers. And at least they'll be on display at Kauffman Stadium on April 2 when Omaha will play an exhibition against the Double-A Northwest Arkansas Naturals after the Royals-Angels game.
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Manager Ned Yost said it was decided, with the Royals' opener just 15 days away, to move the two premier prospects so they could play in Minor League games.
"The thinking is that we've got [Mike] Aviles, [Kila] Ka'aihue, [Wilson] Betemit and guys we've got to get ready for the season here and it doesn't make any sense having those kids sitting on the bench in Spring Training. The Minor League games start tomorrow and the plan all along was to keep these kids in camp so that they were playing as much as they could," Yost said.
"And they've all gotten a bunch of at-bats, they've all gotten great experience. But when the Minor League Spring Training games started, [the plan was] that we'd put them down there so they could continue to their development and get to the point where they could come back to stay. That was the plan and that's where we're at."
Aviles is the likely starting third baseman and Betemit, who finished last season at third, could be an infield backup. Ka'aihue will share first base and designated hitter with Billy Butler.
Moustakas, who jumped to Triple-A midway through last season, could arrive in Kansas City sometime this year if he does well again for Omaha. Hosmer, who advanced to Double-A as Moustakas moved up, has not yet played at the Triple-A level.
Through Tuesday in Cactus League, Moustakas was hitting .238 (5-for-21) in 11 games with one home run and six RBIs.
"He had a great spring and we don't compare those two," Yost said. "There's no comparison between any of our players. Moose came in and did a great job. He worked hard on his defense while he was here and we've been very, very impressed with the changes we've seen him be able to take out into the game defensively at third base. And, quite frankly, for getting the first opportunity to play in big-league Spring Training, I thought he did real, real well."
Hosmer was especially hot, batting .474 (9-for-19) in 12 games with two homers, four doubles and eight RBIs.
"They did great, those kids have been awesome, they've had a great spring. They've got an exceptional experience and they've all held their own very well," Yost said. "Especially those young position players, Moustakas and Hosmer, and Salvador Perez. They did a great job at this camp and it won't be long until they're household names in Kansas City, I believe."
Perez, who is likely to play for Northwest Arkansas, got into six Cactus League games and batted .267 (4-for-15). His defensive work was especially impressive, particularly his strong, quick throws.
Hardy, a left-hander, was eliminated from the bullpen competition after giving up five runs in five innings including a rough outing Tuesday against Oakland.
Arias, primarily a shortstop, was 6-for-8 in five games but was held down by a troublesome hamstring injury. Carroll, a long shot in a crowded outfield, not only went hitless in 15 at-bats but has been bothered by a side injury.
Clark got into four games and was in camp primarily to provide catching depth.
The Minor League teams begin their spring schedule on Thursday with four games at four levels against the Texas Rangers' farm clubs. The games will begin at 3 p.m. CT at the Surprise complex.
"These kids have to be ready, once the season starts, to fit right in if something happens up here and you don't want to have them go through another Spring Training," Yost said, referring primarily to Moustakas and Hosmer. "They've played about every day, they've got a lot of playing time and we don't want them to miss a beat and this time of the spring it gets more difficult to find playing time for those guys."
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.