Opinion

Royals give awards to Bubba Starling, Terrance Gore at minor-league ceremony

Bubba Starling was chosen as the Royals’ top defensive player in the minor leagues.
Bubba Starling was chosen as the Royals’ top defensive player in the minor leagues. jsleezer@kcstar.com

They were teammates for five of the 15 seasons John Mayberry played in the major leagues, but Frank White made an impression.

Mayberry cited White during the Royals’ annual minor-league award ceremony Monday, noting that the former second baseman had the nickname “Smooth.” In presented the Frank White Defensive Player of the Year Award to Bubba Starling, Mayberry said that description fits one of the Royals’ top prospects.

“I think Bubba deserves that nickname as well, because he’s smooth in the outfield,” said Mayberry as he gave the award for the best defensive player in the organization to Starling.

Starling, who was optioned to Class AA Northwest Arkansas a hour before the ceremony, didn’t commit an error in 103 games in 201 chances with the Naturals and Class A-Advanced Wilmington.

The ceremony was held before workouts and was attended by everyone in the organization who is here, including the major-league squad. Other former stars on hand included Mike Sweeney, Willie Wilson, George Brett, Dennis Leonard and Mike Montgomery.

“Let’s continue to do what we do,” general manager Dayton Moore said at the onset, “and that’s represent the game well.”

The Willie Wilson Award, given to the best base runner in the organization, went to Terrance Gore. It was the fourth straight year the award has gone to Gore, who had 39 stolen bases in 41 attempts at Northwest Arkansas.

“It’s going to be named after you after a while,” Wilson quipped as he gave Gore the award.

The other winners:

▪ Catcher Parker Morin received the Mike Sweeney Award, which goes to the player who best represents the organization on and off the field. He played 56 of his 59 games at Northwest Arkansas and batted .309 with four homers and 30 RBIs.

▪ Jonathan Dziedzic was given the Paul Splittorff Award (top minor-league pitcher in the organization). He was 10-7 with a 3.56 ERA in 27 games (26 starts) between Northwest Arkansas and Class AAA Omaha.

▪ Ryan O’Hearn received the George Brett Hitter of the Year Award. In 127 games at Wilmington and Class A Lexington, O’Hearn had 27 homers, 21 doubles and 77 RBIs with a .263 average.

▪ Eiler Hernandez got the Carlos Fortuna Award (for a player who is dedicated to improving his English, work ethic and conduct). Hernandez, 21, batted .268 with 26 doubles, four triples, six home runs and 54 RRBIs in 124 games at Wilmington and Lexington.

▪ Ryan Keur received the Matt Minker Award (outstanding minor-league affiliate employee). Keur is the general manager of the Royals’ Rookie League team in Burlington, N.C.

Pete Grathoff: 816-234-4330, @pgrathoff

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