One of the most successful seasons in Burlington Royals history has been recognized by the Appalachian League with four honorees on the League's All-Star Team. The All-Stars, voted on by league executives and local media, were released this morning.
Manager Scott Thorman (Manager of the Year), LHP Cristian Castillo (Pitcher of the Year and Left-Handed All-Star Pitcher), SS Nicky Lopez (All-Star Utility Infielder), and OF Kort Peterson (All-Star Outfielder) were honored.
With four honorees, the Royals are tied with the Johnson City Cardinals, the first place team in the league's Western Division, for the greatest representation on the All-Star Team.
Thorman is in his second year at the helm of the Burlington Royals and third overall in Burlington, having served as bench coach in 2014. He has led the Royals to a 34-23 record, putting Burlington in first place in August for the first time since 2012. The Cambridge, Ontario, Canada native enjoyed a playing career that spanned parts of 12 seasons after being selected in the first round of the 2000 Major League Baseball draft by the Atlanta Braves. He reached the Major Leagues for 175 games in 2006 and 2007 with the Braves, hitting 16 home runs and driving in 50 runs. His first stint in the Kansas City organization came in 2009 and 2010, when he played for the Class AAA Omaha Royals.
Castillo entered the history books of the Appalachian League on July 29 when he threw a complete game shutout one-hitter against the Pulaski Yankees at Burlington Athletic Stadium. The lefty from Monterrey, Mexico allowed just one hit, one walk and allowed a batter to reach via a strikeout wild pitch. He struck out 11 and needed just 94 pitches to complete the effort in an 11-0 Royals win. The start was the first nine-inning complete game shutout in the league since August 2013. His very next home start, on August 11 against the Princeton Rays, was nearly as dominant. Castillo was part of a combined one-hit shutout of the Rays in a 10-0 victory. He threw 85 pitches in seven innings, allowing a leadoff single in the first, a walk, and a hit batter. Castillo struck out seven Rays in the game, which was finished by RHP Alex Massey. The duo combined to retire the final 19 Rays hitters in the game.
Castillo is now 4-3 with a 3.19 ERA. His ERA ranks fourth in the league among qualifiers. Over 62 innings, a league high, he leads the league in strikeouts with 64. Castillo is the only qualifying pitcher in the league with a WHIP under 1.0, coming in at 0.92.
Castillo signed with the Royals as international free agent in 2014. He spent 2015 with the Dominican Summer League Royals, posting a 2.67 ERA in 14 starts. He struck out 58 and walked just 15 in 67.1 innings.
Lopez has turned heads all season through usage of his multiple tools. He has impressed with his speed, which has helped the shortstop to 23 stolen bases, second in the league. His defense has also been dazzling, carrying a .974 fielding percentage over 462 innings in the field. Lopez has committed just six errors, while handling 155 assists and 70 putouts. Lopez routinely shows off his range and arm at shortstop, turning would-be hits into ground ball outs. On top of his speed and defense, Lopez carries a .275 batting average and .396 on base percentage. Lopez has amassed five doubles, three triples, five home runs and 26 RBI. In his first 30 professional games, Lopez reached base safely in each one. Lopez has recorded 13 multi-hit games thus far, including a 2-for-4 effort in an August 8 game at Johnson City that was highlighted by an inside-the-park home run.
He has crossed the plate a league-high 46 times in 2016, and has drawn 33 walks, second in the league. Rarely taking a day off, Lopez is currently tied for the league lead with 54 games played.
Lopez was a fifth round selection in the 2016 Major League Baseball Draft by the Royals out of Creighton University. He is a native of Naperville, Illinois.
Peterson used a midseason surge to place himself among the leaders in the Appalachian League in batting, slugging and on-base percentage. After games on August 22, Peterson is batting .340, third among qualifiers in the league. He also sports an on base percentage of .438, second in the league by just a single point. Additionally, a .535 slugging percentage places Peterson third in the league. He has collected 11 doubles, four triples, three home runs and 26 RBI. A mainstay in right field, Peterson has put together a number of multi-hit games. In an eight-game span from July 20-August 1, Peterson notched six multi-hit games. He went 16-for-32 (.500) in the span, racking up a double, triple, home run and eight RBI. The second game of the span was a 4-for-5 effort that included a home run in an 8-5 win over the Princeton Rays on July 21 at Hunnicut Field in Princeton.
Peterson was a 23rd round selection in the 2016 Major League Baseball Draft by the Royals out of UCLA. He is a native of Santa Cruz, California.
The Royals, currently 34-23, lead the Appalachian League East Division by one game over the Bluefield Blue Jays. The Royals conclude their 2016 home schedule tonight at 7:00 p.m. against the Greeneville Astros. Join us at Burlington Athletic Stadium for Fan Appreciation Night! The first 1,000 fans in attendance will receive a free admission to our final home game of the season as well as a free hot dog!
Fans can also listen to the game live and for free at www.burlingtonroyals.com with Matt Krause on the call. Coverage begins at 6:45 p.m. Eastern time.
2016 Appalachian League All-Star Team
Catcher: Andrew Knizner, Johnson City
First Base: Bobby Melley, Princeton
Second Base: J.R. Davis, Johnson City
Third Base: Vladimir Guerrero, Jr., Bluefield
Shortstop: Allen Cordoba, Johnson City
Utility Infielder: Nicky Lopez, Burlington
Designated Hitter: Lewin Diaz, Elizabethton
Utility Outfielder: Matt Fielder, Johnson City
Outfielder: Kort Peterson, Burlington
Outfielder: Eleardo Cabrera, Princeton
Outfielder: Alex Kirilloff, Elizabethton
Right-Handed Starter: Ethan Clark, Princeton
Left-Handed Starter: Cristian Castillo, Burlington
Relief Pitcher: Patrick McGuff, Elizabethton
Player of the Year: Alex Kirilloff, Elizabethton
Pitcher of the Year: Cristian Castillo, Burlington
Manager of the Year: Scott Thorman, Burlington