It was evident throughout Spring Training that players who have worn and will wear the Naturals uniform are capable of making a positive impact with the big league club. Aaron Crow had a solid spring making appearances with the big league club and with the Naturals in camp. While he was with the big league club Crow did not allow a run in three appearances. Crow was optioned to the Naturals and indications are that he may start on Opening Night.
Other pitchers that will be in Naturals uniforms that made appearances with the big league club included: Edgar Osuna, Blaine Hardy, and Rowdy Hardy. Osuna who was a Rule-5 pick by the Royals and pitched fairly well especially early in camp. In an effort to keep him and send him to the minors, he was offered back to the Braves who declined, and he cleared waivers, giving the Royals the chance to outright his contract to the Naturals. It was the first time the Naturals had received a player on an outright assignment.
In the field the Naturals were again well represented. In seven games with the big league club, Cody Clark hit .571 with three RBI's. Naturals outfielder Paulo Orlando also made five appearances with the big league club and hit .286. Jose Duarte hit .400 with the Royals in three games.
Former Naturals really had their time to shine for the Royals in Spring Training. David Lough played in four games with the Major League squad and hit .750. Lough will be with Triple-A Omaha to start to the season and play primarily in left field. Another former Natural Kila Ka'aihue made a strong case for a roster spot as he had one of the best Spring Training camps out of anyone in the organization. Ka'aihue played in 25 Spring Training games and hit .347 with a team high four home runs. His 11 RBI's were tied for the fourth most on the team as well. Due to the Royals having 1B and DH filled, Ka'aihue was optioned to Triple-A Omaha to start the season. Another former Natural that will start the season with Omaha is Jarrod Dyson. Dyson had a strong showing, hitting .263 with six RBI's in 11 games with the big league club this spring. Irving Falu batted .257 with nine RBI's as part of the Royals' big league team will be part of the Triple-A roster. Blake Wood also shined after a shift to a pure relief role and made strong push for a bullpen spot with the Royals. He is another former Natural who will begin the year in Omaha.
One former Natural still with the big league club is Anthony Lerew. Lerew will pitch in the Royals' final Spring Training game Thursday in a final audition to try and get one of the final spots open in the Royals bullpen.
The Naturals play their final Spring Training game Thursday before breaking camp Friday. For their final game of the spring the Naturals will make one more stop to Peoria, AZ where they will take on the West Tennessee Diamond Jaxx. The Jaxx are the Seattle Mariners' Double-A affiliate. After a 1-3 start to the spring, the Naturals won six of seven.
Just like their parent club, the Naturals were not immune from the injury bug this spring. Former Naturals Jeff Bianchi who was in big league camp and pushing for a roster spot in Omaha is out for the year after Tommy John surgery on his throwing arm. Mike Moustakas, who is poised to man third base for the Naturals, will remain in extended spring training rehabbing from a strained right oblique. Add in Danny Duffy, who was looking like he was going to be part of the Naturals' rotation. He was initially shelved as a precautionary measure against some elbow soreness before he decided to step away from the game for personal issues. There have been numerous unconfirmed reports that indicate Duffy should be back with the Royals' organization by summertime, however, although those reports are largely unsubstantiated.
With Spring Training in its final day, the talk now shifts over to the start of the regular season for the Naturals. Opening day for Northwest Arkansas is Thursday, April, 8th as the Naturals will host the San Antonio Missions. With the Naturals first six games at home this season, fans will get an early peek at what could be a very exciting season in Springdale. Fans are also encouraged to come to the team's open public workout on Monday at 6:00 at Arvest Ballpark.
News and Notes From Spring Training...
Alumni Report: Cory Aldridge (2008) has had a blistering hot bat for the Los Angeles Angels this spring. He's hit .378 with two homers and four RBI in 37 at-bats over 23 games. The left-handed slugger will probably find himself with Triple-A Salt Lake. Former shortstop Angel Sanchez (2008) has been with the Boston Red Sox for most of spring training and has seen action in 22 games. He's had 36 at-bats and has a .194 average with five RBI. Sanchez is likely bound for Triple-A Pawtucket.
Aaron Hartsock out with injury: Right-hander Aaron Hartsock was a noticeable omission from the Naturals' preliminary roster, not among the 28 names listed as bound for Northwest Arkansas and also not on the list of players ticketed for Triple-A Omaha. The Royals player development staff reported that Hartsock has a knee injury and could miss a significant portion and possibly the entire 2010 season. Hartsock had been pitching well this spring and went 3-1 with a 2.82 ERA and eight saves in 28 appearances with the Naturals last summer and pitched in the Arizona Fall League after the season. His absence creates an opportunity for saves in Northwest Arkansas for other relievers, as Hartsock likely would have seen many of the save opportunities.
Diverse group of Naturals: This season the Northwest Arkansas Naturals will field players from all over the world. In total the Naturals will have players from six countries as well as Puerto Rico. Those countries include: United States, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Venezuela and the Dominican Republic. The US-born players span the country, from Washington State to Florida, and lots of points in-between.
Former Natural Chad Orvella Released: Right-hander Chad Orvella, who spent eight games with the Naturals last season, was released by the Angels' organization Thursday. Orvella was singed by the Angels last month and was competing for a job with Triple-A Salt Lake.
Vance Wilson opts out: Former Natural and Springdale resident Vance Wilson opted out of his contract with the Royals Thursday. Wilson, who appeared in 59 games with the Naturals last season, also hit one of the two walk off homers in Naturals history. Royals' skipper Trey Hillman has indicated Wilson, the eight-year big league veteran, is planning to retire. "We didn't have a position for him and he's elected retirement," Hillman said. "Wonderful guy, very professional, did everything that he could."
Clark, Lucas both make Triple-A: Infielder Ed Lucas and catcher Cody Clark, who have both spent the vast majority of the past two seasons in Northwest Arkansas, both will start with Triple-A Omaha this season. Clark, the former Fayetteville High graduate, looks to get a good share of time in the starting lineup. We'll keep you updated on the progress of these two fan favorites as well as the other former Naturals now donning an O-Royals uniform during the season, right here on nwanaturals.com.
The Northwest Arkansas Naturals are the Double-A Texas League affiliate of the Kansas City Royals and play at state of the art Arvest Ballpark, located in Springdale. You can purchase season tickets and group outings with the Naturals by calling (479) 927-4900.