The Kansas City Royals announced on Monday they have optioned right-handered pitchers Miguel Almonte, Jake Junis and Kevin McCarthy to the Storm Chasers' roster. All three pitched for Omaha at some point during the 2016 campaign, totaling 52 appearances between the trio.
Almonte was the Storm Chasers' Opening Day starter in 2016, though he struggled in his 21 outings (12 starts), recording a 3-7 mark and 5.55 ERA (37 ER/60.0 IP), adding 57 strikeouts. He was transferred to Double-A Northwest Arkansas to finish the year, tallying a 2-1 mark and 7.31 ERA (13 ER/16.0 IP) in 11 relief appearances.
Rated the 25th-best prospect in the Royals system by Baseball America, Almonte will look to bounce back in 2017. The 23-year-old made his Major League debut with the Royals on September 1, 2015, and was signed by Kansas City as a non-drafted free agent on November 20, 2010. He appeared in five Cactus League contests for the Royals, posting no record and 12.60 ERA (7 ER/5.0 IP).
Junis was optioned Monday morning before later being announced as the Royals' 2016 Paul Splittorff Award recipient, given to the organization's top pitcher. The 24-year-old combined for a 10-10 record and 4.05 ERA (67 ER/149.0 IP) over 27 starts, adding 143 punchouts. He finished tied for first among Royals minor league hurlers in wins, in addition to second in strikeouts behind only Josh Staumont.
He completed the 2016 campaign with the Storm Chasers, compiling a 1-3 mark and 7.20 ERA (24 ER/30.0 IP), along with 26 punchouts. He is considered the 15th-best prospect in the Royals system by Baseball America, and also possesses the "Best Curveball" in the organization. Kansas City selected Junis in the 29th round of the 2011 MLB Draft out of Rock Falls High School in Illinois. The righty in four Spring Training outings this year accumulated an 0-1 record and 15.19 ERA (9 ER/5.1 IP) with five strikeouts.
McCarthy began last year with the Double-A Northwest Arkansas Naturals, his first of three stops in 2016 that ended in Kansas City. Between the Double-A and Triple-A levels he combined for a 5-6 record and 3.04 ERA (23 ER/68.0 IP) in 47 appearances, along with 16 saves and 31 games finished. He led all Royals minor leaguers with his 16 saves last season.
The 25-year-old made his Major League debut on September 9, 2016 versus the Chicago White Sox, ultimately tallying a 1-0 clip and 6.48 ERA (6 ER/8.1 IP) with seven strikeouts in his first Big League experience. Baseball America also tabbed him as the 28th-best prospect in the Royals organization prior to this year. He was selected by Kansas City in the 16th round of the 2013 MLB Draft out of Marist College. McCarthy recorded a 1-0 mark and 1.80 ERA (1 ER/5.0 IP) in five Cactus League relief outings, along with five strikeouts.
One additional roster move the Royals announced was optioning infielder Samir Duenez to Double-A Northwest Arkansas. As a result of the moves, Kansas City now has 51 players in Major League camp, including 16 non-roster invitees. Of those 51 players remaining, 28 have worn an Omaha uniform during their professional career.