01/22/11 6:00 PM EST
Royals Awards Show offers a look at the future
By Dick Kaegel / MLB.com
Brett shared those with a Royals FanFest crowd on Saturday, as he presented Moustakas with the aptly named George Brett Award as the top hitter in the team's Minor League system.
"This year's recipient and I have a lot in common," Brett said. "We both grew up in Southern California. He was a No. 1 round draft pick, I was a No. 2 round draft pick. We both played shortstop in high school. And the first year we started playing baseball in the pros, they moved us to third base. We both hit left-handed. The one thing that I never did as a Minor Leaguer with the Royals was lead the whole Minor Leagues in home runs."
Moustakas did that, or at least shared the honor, with his 36 home runs last season for Double-A Northwest Arkansas and Triple-A Omaha. He also batted .322 and knocked in 124 runs.
"Like me, he's a student of the game. Like me, and I've seen this guy play, he loves to get dirty, he loves to slide, he loves to sweat, he loves to work hard," Brett said. "And, like me, he respects the game of baseball. I think in the very, very near future, you're going to get a good view of the man I'm talking about."
High praise from the Hall of Famer who made his mark as the Royals' third baseman, a job that Moustakas expects to fill at some point.
"If I could be anything like George, I mean, holy crap!" Moustakas said to a roar of laughter.
Moustakas is already greeted by a "M-o-o-o-s-e!" call from the fans who are clearly anxious to see what the Minor League wonder can do in the Majors.
Already he knows how to work the crowd.
"You fans are great. We're really excited to go win some championships soon -- so, go Royals!" Moustakas said as he exited the stage to cheers.
That was just one of 12 awards handed out in the Royals Awards Show, which was part of FanFest for the first time.
The big league club's three award winners -- Joakim Soria, Billy Butler and Bruce Chen -- were the closing act, but it was the Minor Leaguers who dominated the show. It was fitting, because they are getting a lot of attention around baseball for their promise and the expectation they can lift this franchise into contention soon.
Brian Poldberg, manager of the Texas League champion Northwest Arkansas Naturals, had a handle on the situation as he accepted the Dick Howser Award as player development person of the year.
"One of the reasons I'm here is that half my team is getting an award today," he said.
Only a slight exaggeration.
Moustakas played there for half the season. One of Poldberg's pitchers, left-hander John Lamb, won the top pitcher award. Outfielder Derrick Robinson, who led the Texas League with 50 thefts, won the baserunning award. First baseman Eric Hosmer, who finished the season with the Naturals, was named top fielder.
Hosmer, it should be noted, got the Frank White defensive award after a year in which he totaled 20 homers, 86 RBIs and a .338 average for two teams. The term "complete player" was heard in the dialogue about the guy who ranks right behind Moustakas.
It was a day for Royals fans to peer into the future. But Chen, who figures to be in this year's rotation, made sure they didn't forget 2011 in their hopes.
"You guys are great -- and you deserve the best," Chen told the crowd. "And we're going to win, and we're to win this year. ... We're going to succeed more than most people give us credit for -- and that's my promise."
The complete list of winners:
Dan Quisenberry Award (outstanding member of the community): Chuck Sailors, founder of KC Urban Youth Center.
Matt Minker Award (outstanding affiliate employee): Andrew Layman, assistant general manager of the Wilmington Blue Rocks.
Art Stewart Award (scout of the year): Sean Gibbs, area scout for Georgia and eastern Tennessee.
Dick Howser Award (player development): Brian Poldberg, manager of Northwest Arkansas.
Mike Sweeney Award (player who best represents the organization on and off the field): Buddy Baumann, pitcher at Wilmington.
Frank White Award (top defensive player): Eric Hosmer, first baseman at Wilmington and Northwest Arkansas.
Willie Wilson Award (top baserunner): Derrick Robinson, Northwest Arkansas outfielder.
Paul Splittorff Award (top pitcher): John Lamb, pitcher at Burlington, Wilmington and Northwest Arkansas.
George Brett Award (top hitter): Mike Moustakas, third baseman at Northwest Arkansas and Omaha.
Joe Burke Award (KC special achievement): Pitcher Bruce Chen.
Les Milgram Award (KC player of the year): First baseman Billy Butler.
Bruce Rice Award (KC pitcher of the year): Closer Joakim Soria.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.