9/20/2013 9:00 P.M. ET
Soria happy Royals are enjoying success
By Dick Kaegel and Kathleen Gier / MLB.com
KANSAS CITY -- Of all things, the first year that Joakim Soria is no longer with the Royals they're in contention for a postseason berth.
"They got good by subtraction," Soria joked, laughing.
Actually, he's not surprised.
"We know that the Royals have really good talent and they were growing up baseball-wise in life, and they pulled all that together and they're playing for the Wild Card," Soria said.
Oddly enough, Soria's new home, Texas, is one of the teams the Royals are trying to pass in their bid for the two American League Wild Card spots. And they're squaring off this weekend at Kauffman Stadium.
Soria's brilliant career as Kansas City's closer ended after Tommy John surgery in Spring Training 2012. He missed the season, signed as a free agent with the Rangers and returned to the Majors with a scoreless inning last July 7.
"I'm pitching more consistently now, and I'm feeling better and it's all good," he said. "I have confidence in all my pitches now so I'm ready to compete."
Soria arrived for his first series as a visitor with 22 appearances, no record and a 3.10 ERA, primarily as a seventh-inning setup man.
"It's really weird," he said. "I've never been to this side of the field. I had to find all the things in the clubhouse and the weight room so it's kind of funny, but that's baseball, it's my career and now I'm in another family."
Soria took time on Friday to have lunch with two friends from his Royals days, Bruce Chen and fellow Mexican Luis Mendoza.
In the closer department, the Royals have come up with a stellar replacement in one of Soria's old bullpen buddies, Greg Holland.
"I told you. That guy has an amazing talent," Soria said. "I talked to him a couple of minutes ago. They're all good and I'm really happy for them."
Mondesi among honorees on Futures Night
KANSAS CITY -- Adalberto "Raul" Mondesi grew up around baseball so it's no surprise he's already the Royals' No. 4 prospect, according to MLB.com, at 18 years old.
His father, Raul, was named the National League Rookie of the Year in 1994 for the Dodgers and two Gold Glove Awards in his 12-year career.
"He always helped me, he played his game and gave me good tips," Mondesi said of his father. "That helped a lot."
After batting .261 with seven homers, 47 RBIs and 24 stolen bases, the switch-hitting shortstop was named the Class A Lexington Player of the Year.
"I feel good," Mondesi said. "I had a great year, but I can do better."
Mondesi and the Royals organization's other Pitcher and Player of the Year honorees were recognized in a Futures Night ceremony before the game against Texas on Friday night.
The Pitcher and Player of the Year recipients from each team are as follows:
Left-hander Chris Dwyer and infielder Christian Colon from Triple-A Omaha:
Right-hander Aaron Brooks and first baseman Matt fields from Double-A Northwest Arkansas:
Left-hander Sam Selman and outfielder Lane Adams from Class A Advanced Wilmington:
Right-hander Christian Binford and Mondesi from Class A Lexington:
Left-hander Patrick Conroy and third baseman Hunter Dozier from rookie classification Idaho Falls:
Right-hander Luis Santos and third baseman Mauricio Ramos from rookie classification Burlington:
Right-hander Pedro Fernandez and first baseman/outfielder Samir Duenez from rookie Surprise:
Right-hander Yunior Marte and infielder Angelo Castellano from the Dominican Royals.
Dozier adjusts well in first Minors campaign
KANSAS CITY -- For shortstop Hunter Dozier, the Royals' first-round pick in the 2013 First-Year Player Draft, his first season was all about transitions.
Not only did he have to make a quick adjustment to Minor League life with Rookie-Advanced Idaho Falls, but Dozier also earned an early promotion to Class A Lexington.
"There's always an adjustment period and I faced that at the beginning of the year," Dozier said. "Once I settled down and started playing ball like I knew how to, everything slowed down."
Dozier, the Royals' No. 7 prospect, according to MLB.com, finished his first season of professional baseball with a .308 average, 30 doubles, seven homers and 52 RBIs in 69 games.
After spending 15 games in Lexington, he returned to Idaho Falls for its postseason run, which paid off with a Pioneer League championship.
"I was glad to come back, make the playoff run and win the whole thing," Dozier said. "It was a great way to finish off my first year."
After a brief break, Dozier will report to Arizona for advanced instructional league.
Prospect Selman covets his second award
KANSAS CITY -- Sam Selman wasn't recruited by any of the Texas schools despite growing up in Austin. In fact, he had to go all the way to Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn., to find a school interested in taking a chance on a 6-foot-2, 140-pound left-hander.
Selman, the Royals' No. 15 prospect, according to MLB.com, said that's made his run of back-to-back Pitcher of the Year honors in the Royals' Minor League system even sweeter.
Selman attended a camp at Vanderbilt, which offered him a spot on the team. Since then, he's bulked up to 192 in his first two seasons with the Royals, who selected him in the second round of the 2012 First-Year Player Draft.
Selman went 5-4 with a 2.09 ERA in 13 games (12 starts) for rookie classification Idaho Falls last season and was named its Pitcher of the Year. This season, he went 11-9 with a 3.38 ERA in 27 starts for Class A Advanced Wilmington and earned another Pitcher of the Year award.
It hasn't all been smooth sailing this year, however. Selman went 5-5 in 13 starts in the first half of the season with a 4.79 ERA before some help from former Major Leaguer and Blue Rocks pitching coach Steve Leubber. With some help, he improved to 6-4 with a 2.22 ERA in 14 starts after the All-Star break.
"I think I was just putting too much pressure on myself at the start of the year," Selman said. "I was just trying to do too much and not staying within myself. Toward the end of the year, Steve Leubber helped me figure it out and get into a rhythm, and things started to roll. That's when the numbers came in and I felt pretty good."
One of the things they worked on was expanding his pitching arsenal by bringing back the 12-to-6 curveball he threw in high school to add to his fastball, slider and changeup.
Selman's season peaked with the second to last game in which he carried a no-hitter through eight innings with 11 strikeouts. Wilmington defeated Potomac, 1-0, in the 11th inning.
"That was the highlight," Selman said. "That was a good end of the season."
After throwing a career-high 130 innings this season, Selman is going to take a break from baseball until Jan. 1, 2014. His previous career high was 79 innings in college with a short break and then 60 innings for Idaho Falls.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. Kathleen Gier is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.