As the Royals prepare to close out the regular season, the organization offered a nod to the future, honoring a host of minor-league standouts on Friday night at Kauffman Stadium. The players were the recipients of the player and pitcher of the year awards for each minor-league affiliate.
Here are the winners, which were announced earlier this week:
Rookie Hunter Dozier, who earned a callup in early September, was selected the Class AAA Omaha player of the year after hitting .294 in 103 games with the Storm Chasers. He began the season at Class AA Northwest Arkansas.
Right-hander Brooks Pounders, who has had multiple stints on the Royals’ big-league roster, was Omaha’s pitcher of the year after recording a 3.14 ERA (28 ER in 80 1/3 innings) in 31 appearances (seven starts) for the Storm Chasers.
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Infielder Corey Toups, 23, was chosen the Class AA Northwest Arkansas player of the year after hitting .275 with 10 homers and 16 stolen bases. He played in 86 games and helped the club to the second-half division championship. Toups was a 15th-round pick in 2014 out of Sam Houston State.
The Naturals’ pitcher of the year was right-hander Jacob Junis, 24, who finished 9-7 with a 3.25 ERA in 119 innings. The 29th-round pick in 2011 finished with 117 strikeouts.
For Class A Wilmington, first baseman Samir Duenez, 20, was selected the player of the year, posting career highs with 13 home runs, 100 RBIs and 26 stolen bases across three levels. The pitcher of the year was right-hander Zach Lovvorn, 22, who had a 3.95 ERA in 127 2/3 innings.
For Class A Lexington, infielder DJ Burt, 20, was voted the player of the year after leading the club in games (125), hits (122), triples (five), walks (51) and stolen bases (43). Burt was the Royals’ fourth-round pick in 2014. The club’s pitcher of the year was Emilio Ogando, 23, who posted a 3.80 ERA across 25 appearances while striking out 8.8 batters per nine innings. Ogando was a 12th-round pick in 2014.
Catcher Meibrys Viloria, 19, was selected the player of the year at rookie-league Idaho Falls. Viloria hit .376 with a .436 on-base percentage while being selected the MVP of the Pioneer League. The team’s pitcher of the year was right-hander Andres Machado, 23, a Venezuelan native who was signed as an amateur free agent in 2010.
At rookie-league Burlington, outfielder Kort Peterson, 22, won player of the year honors, while left-hander Christian Castillo, 22, was the pitcher of the year. At rookie-league Surprise, outfielder Khalil Lee, 18, was selected player of the year while right-hander Grant Gavin won pitcher of the year honors. Lee was the club’s third-round pick in 2016, while Gavin, a native of Parkville was selected in the 29th round in June.
Infielder Esteury Ruiz, 17, was chosen player of the year for the Royals’ Dominican academy team. The club’s pitcher of the year was right-hander Andres Sotillet, 19.