The Royals’ postseason push fell short, but Fox Sports Kansas City can feel as if it won the ratings World Series after boosting its audience by a whopping 70 percent over 2012.
By BOB DUTTON
The Kansas City Star
FSKC finished with an average rating of 6.4, which set a record for Royals cable telecasts. Its Aug. 13 telecast of a home game against Miami set an FSKC record with a 12.3 rating.
The 70-percent increase from a 3.8 average rating in 2012 was the biggest in baseball. The Royals’ ratings also ranked sixth overall among the 30 clubs, up from 15th place in 2012.
FSKC’s telecasts of Royals games dominated the summer months in the Kansas City market by finishing first in prime time on 45 nights from June through September.
Three Royals among top South Atlantic League prospects
Lo-A Lexington shortstop Raul Adalberto Mondesi heads a group of three Royals prospects cited by Baseball America in its ranking of the top 20 players in the South Atlantic League.
Mondesi, 18, placed fourth after showing “a plus arm, athleticism and good actions that should allow him to handle shortstop defensively at the highest levels, as well as a solid swing from both sides of the plate.”
Right-handed pitcher Miguel Almonte ranked sixth, and outfielder Bubba Starling was 19th. All three are generally viewed as being among the organization’s top prospects.
Mondesi is a switch-hitter who batted .261 with a .311 on-base percentage in 125 games.
“He plays with joy,” said ex-Royals second baseman Carlos Febles, who now manages Greenville in the Boston system. “We played them 26 times; I never saw him take an at-bat into the field.
“I saw him go zero for four with three strikeouts, and he was playing defense the same way as when he gets three hits.”
Almonte, 20, continued his sharp rise within the organization over the last two years by compiling a 3.10 ERA in 25 starts in his first full season outside of the Dominican Republic. He struck out 132 in 131 innings.
“Almonte’s combination of a 92-95 mph fastball that touches 97,” Baseball America reported, “along with a low-80s change-up was enough to baffle many SAL hitters, particularly left-handers (.600 OPS).
“He’ll eventually need to sharpen his breaking ball, which before this year was considered the equal of his change-up. He throws strikes, has two plus pitches and excellent feel.”
Starling, 21, was the fifth overall pick in the 2011 draft and drew cautious praise after batting .241 with 13 homers and 63 RBIs in 125 games.
Baseball America labeled him “an above-average defender in center field with a solid-average arm and above-average speed. He has plus raw power, even if it hasn’t turned into productive in-game power yet.
“Given the entire picture, scouts and managers are leery of giving up on his still impressive potential.”
Mondesi was previously cited by the Royals as Lexington’s player of the year. He and Starling are both currently taking part in the Instructional League as members of the Royals’ advanced roster.
Catcher Salvy Perez was picked as the Royals’ player of the month for the first time in his career after batting .352 in September with four homers and 19 RBIs.
Right-hander James Shields was the club’s pitcher of the month after going 4-1 with a 3.18 ERA in six starts. He also won the award in August.
Here are the 2013 month-by-month winners:
• April: OF Alex Gordon and RHP Ervin Santana.
• May: OF Alex Gordon and RHP Greg Holland.
• June: 1B Eric Hosmer and RHP Greg Holland.
• July: 1B Eric Hosmer and RHP Greg Holland.
• August: 1B Eric Hosmer and RHP James Shields.
• September: C Salvy Perez and RHP James Shields.
It isn’t a scientific metric, but ESPN’s “Baseball Tonight” offered some validation to the Royals’ season-long defensive prowess: No club had more web gems in the show’s video highlights.
The Royals finished the season with 45 such citations. Baltimore ranked second with 39, followed by Arizona with 37 and Boston with 36.
Orioles third baseman Manny Machado was the individual leader with 18 web gems, but the Royals had five players who had at least five:
Shortstop Alcides Escobar had nine, while left fielder Alex Gordon had seven, third baseman Mike Moustakas had six and and outfielders Lorenzo Cain and David Lough each had five.
It was 37 years ago Thursday — Oct. 3, 1976 — that George Brett won the first of his three batting titles by going three for four in a 5-3 loss to Minnesota at then-Royals Stadium.
Brett finished at .333, which edged teammate Hal McRae, who finished at .332, in a battle that wasn’t decided until the ninth inning when Twins left fielder Steve Brye misplayed a Brett fly ball into an inside-the-park homer.
McRae followed by grounding out to short.
If Brye had caught Brett’s fly ball — or if the play had been scored an error — Brett would have finished at .3317. McRae would have won the batting title at .3320.
To reach Bob Dutton, send email to email@example.com. Follow him at twitter.com/Royals_Report.