The Kansas City Royals on Friday optioned six players to Omaha's roster, five of whom played for the Storm Chasers last season. Among the group is Triple-A All-Star hurler Andrew Edwards, catcher Cam Gallagher, 2016 Omaha Player of the Year and infielder Hunter Dozier, infielder Ramon Torres, as well as outfielders Jorge Bonifacio and Bubba Starling. All six are also rated as top 30 Royals prospects by Baseball America.
Dozier garnered Omaha Player of the Year and George Brett Hitter of the Year honors after batting .294 (115-391) in 103 contests with the Storm Chasers last year, adding 65 runs, 36 doubles, one triple, 15 homers and 54 RBI. Those doubles ranked the Texas native second in the Pacific Coast League despite playing the first month of the season in the Texas League with Double-A Northwest Arkansas.
Kansas City selected his contract on September 2, with Dozier later making his Major League debut on September 12. In eight Big League contests he batted .211 (4-19) with four runs, one double and one RBI. He was selected by the Royals in the first round as the eighth overall selection out of Stephen F. Austin University. In 15 Cactus League Spring Training games this year he posted a .409 average (9-22), along with six runs, one double, one triple, two homers and six RBI.
Bonifacio paced the Storm Chasers in many offensive categories in 2016, including games played, at-bats, runs scored, hits, triples, home runs and RBI. He compiled a .277 average (137-495) with 82 runs, 22 doubles, six triples, 19 longballs and 86 RBI. Baseball America ranks the 23-year-old as the ninth-best prospect in the Royals farm system.
The Dominican Republic native was invited to play in the 2016 SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game in San Diego as part of MLB All-Star Festivities along with Dozier. Bonifacio was signed by the Royals as a non-drafted free agent on December 9, 2009. His older brother, Emilio, is a ten-year Major League veteran, having played for eight different clubs, including Kansas City in 2013. In his 16 Cactus League matchups in 2017 he recorded a .414 clip (12-29), adding five runs, three doubles, three homers and seven RBI.
(Photo courtesy of David Calvert)
Edwards earned Triple-A All-Star honors last year and appeared in the 2016 Triple-A All-Star Game in Charlotte, North Carolina. In 32 appearances with the Storm Chasers he accumulated an 0-1 record and 5.40 ERA (26 ER/43.1 IP) along with five saves, striking out 51. He is tabbed the 20th-best prospect in the Royals organization by Baseball America, and possesses the "Best Slider" in the organization according to the publication.
The right-hander was selected by Kansas City in the 19th round of the 2013 MLB Draft out of Western Kentucky University. In six relief outings during Cactus League play this year he accrued no record and 1.69 ERA (1 ER/5.1 IP), along with seven strikeouts and a .190 batting average against.
Gallagher played the entire 2016 campaign with Double-A Northwest Arkansas, posting a .259 average (78-301), adding 23 runs, 16 doubles, one triple, four homers and 24 RBI in 91 contests with the Naturals. He also helped lead the club to their second consecutive Texas League Championship Series. He is considered the 17th-best farmhand in Kansas City's system by Baseball America, as well as the "Best Defensive Catcher" in the organization.
The Royals selected Gallagher in the second round of the 2011 MLB Draft out of Manheim Township High School in Pennsylvania. In ten 2017 Spring Training games he accumulated a .250 average (5-20) with one run, one double and one RBI.
Starling struggled at the plate in 2016, splitting the year between Double-A Northwest Arkansas and Omaha. He combined for a .183 average (83-399) in 109 contests, along with 42 runs, 23 doubles, one triple, seven homers and 40 RBI. In 47 matchups with Omaha he hit .181 (30-166), adding 114 runs, eight doubles, two homers and 17 RBI. Baseball America rates the Kansas native as the 30th-best prospect in the Royals organization, as well as the "Best Defensive Outfielder" in the system.
The 24-year-old was selected by the Royals as the fifth overall selection in the first round of the 2011 MLB Draft out of Garner High School in Kansas. He had committed to play football and baseball for the University of Nebraska Cornhuskers before signing with the Royals. Starling held his own in 12 Cactus League games, batting .300 (6-20) with three runs and two RBI.
Torres spent the majority of 2016 in Omaha, posting a .259 average (77-297) with 35 runs, 12 doubles, one triple, two homers and 21 RBI. In 41 contests with Double-A Northwest Arkansas he compiled a .268 clip (44-164) along with 20 runs, five doubles, one triple, one homer and eight RBI. Baseball America rates Torres as the 24th-best prospect in the Royals organization prior to this season.
He also participated in the Arizona Fall League following the 2015 regular season. The 24-year-old was signed by Kansas City as a non-drafted free agent on July 13, 2009. In 14 Cactus League contests in 2017, Torres hit .300 (9-30) with one run, one double, one homer and five RBI with the Royals.
Following the Royals' announced roster moves, 45 active players remain in Major League camp, including 16 non-roster invitees. Of that group of 45, 23 have worn an Omaha uniform at some point during their professional career.