The dozen or so young men in coats and ties filed through the dugout and onto the turf Friday, making a semicircle behind the batting cage. One day, the Royals’ minor-league players and pitchers of the year hope to be dressed differently at Kauffman Stadium.
“I am absolutely ready to be here in uniform,” said Hunter Dozier, player of the year for Class A Wilmington. “This is all where we want to end up.”
Dozier, a third baseman, is considered one of the organization’s top prospects. In 66 games at Wilmington he hit .295/.397/.429 with four home runs and 39 RBIs.
He spent the second half of the season at Class AA Northwest Arkansas and in 64 games his numbers dipped to .209/.303/.312 with four home runs and 21 RBIs.
“I started off pretty well in AA and fell off a bit toward the end,” Dozier said. “It’s good competition there. I learned a lot about my swing, small fundamental stuff that will help me create more power.
Dozier is one of six from the organization who will play for the Peoria Javelinas in the Arizona Fall League.
He was a shortstop at Stephen F. Austin. The Royals moved him to third base, where he’s spent two minor-league seasons.
Mike Moustakas occupies that spot on a regular basis for the Royals, replacing Alex Gordon, who moved to left field. Would the organization consider a similar move for Dozier?
Nobody from the Royals has mentioned it to him, but “I would not be opposed to anything,” Dozier said. “I just want to be out there. They want me to work at third really hard. But I’ll play any position.”
Left-handed reliever Tim Collins rejoined the team on Friday after a 2 1/2-month absence.
In 23 appearances in Omaha, Collins went 2-1 with a 2.76 ERA. He had been demoted in June after going 0-3 with a 4.15 ERA in 18 appearances with the Royals.
“He’s throwing the ball well,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “He’ll fit in with everybody else (in the bullpen).”
Collins gives the Royals a third left-handed relief option along with Brandon Finnegan and Scott Downs.
Royals minor-league award winners
▪ Pitcher: Aaron Brooks
▪ Player: Whit Merrifield
Northwest Arkansas (AA)
▪ Pitcher: Andy Ferguson
▪ Player: Lane Adams
Wilmington (A advanced)
▪ Pitcher: Glenn Sparkman
▪ Player: Hunter Dozier
▪ Pitcher: Jake Junis
▪ Player: Frank Schwindel
Idaho Falls (Rookie advanced)
▪ Pitcher: Torey Deshazier
▪ Player: Ryan O’Hearn
▪ Pitcher: Nik Stephenson
▪ Player: Logan Moon
▪ Pitcher: Yimaury Pena
▪ Player: Meibrys Viloria