Royals Announce Bevy Of Roster Moves

Sparkman, Phillips & Bonifacio optioned to Omaha, Lopez among others re-assigned

2016-18 Storm Chasers outfielder Jorge Bonifacio was one of three players optioned to Omaha in a bevy of roster moves announced by the Kansas City Royals on Tuesday afternoon. (Minda Haas Kuhlmann)

By Omaha Storm Chasers | March 19, 2019 5:39 PM

The Omaha Storm Chasers' roster is beginning to take shape as the Kansas City Royals on Tuesday afternoon announced a number of roster moves. Among the transactions announced were pitcher Glenn Sparkman being optioned to Omaha along with outfielders Brett Phillips and Jorge Bonifacio . Eight other players were re-assigned to minor league camp, including 2018 Storm Chasers pitchers Richard Lovelady and Zach Lovvorn , as well as infielder Nicky Lopez and outfielders Elier Hernandez and Bubba Starling .

Sparkman this spring posted a 2-0 mark and 6.52 ERA (7 ER/9.2 IP) with eight strikeouts in five appearances (one start) with the Royals. In 12 starts with the Storm Chasers last year he compiled a 5-1 record and 4.01 ERA (30 ER/67.1 IP), adding 48 punchouts. He began his 2018 campaign before being transferred to Omaha, ultimately appearing in 15 games for the Royals, accumulating an 0-3 clip and 4.46 ERA (19 ER/38.1 IP).

The 26-year-old was originally selected by the Royals in the 20th round of the 2013 MLB Draft out of Wharton County Junior College in Texas. He was selected by the Toronto Blue Jays during the Major League phase of the 2017 Rule 5 Draft before being returned to Kansas City, though he would eventually be returned to Kansas City.

Bonifacio in 18 Cactus League contests tallied a .235 average (8-34), adding seven runs, two doubles, two triples, two homers and seven RBI. He has played for the Storm Chasers in each of the previous three seasons, combining for a .290 average (173-597) with 99 runs, 29 doubles, nine triples, 22 homers and 107 RBI in 160 games. He briefly played with Omaha last year, recording a .392 mark (20-51) along with 11 runs, five doubles, one triple and nine RBI.

The Dominican Republic native in 182 career Major League contests has hit .244 (151-620), adding 86 runs, 31 doubles, three triples, 21 homers and 63 RBI. In 69 games last year with Kansas City he posted a .225 average (53-236) with 31 runs, 16 doubles, two triples, four homers and 23 RBI. He was signed by the Royals as a non-drafted free agent on December 9, 2009.

Phillips accrued a .167 mark (5-30) over 18 Cactus League tilts, adding nine runs, one double and two RBI, along with eight walks and a .350 on-base percentage. He spent the majority of the 2018 campaign with Triple-A Colorado Springs, accumulating a .240 average (62-258) with 42 runs, 12 doubles, seven triples, six homers and 25 RBI in 71 contests.

He was acquired by the Royals along with right-handed pitcher Jorge Lopez in a July 28, 2018 trade in exchange for infielder Mike Moustakas. Following the trade, he posted a .188 average (21-112) with 13 runs, four doubles, two triples, two homers and seven RBI in 36 contests with Kansas City. In two Major League seasons between the Royals and Brewers he has combined for a .222 clip (49-221) along with 24 runs, seven doubles, three triples, six homers and 23 RBI. He was originally selected by the Houston Astros in the sixth round of the 2012 MLB Draft out of Seminole High School in Florida.

Lovelady appeared in seven games for the Royals in Big League camp this year, posting no record and 2.08 ERA (2 ER/8.2 IP) with 11 strikeouts. The 2018 Omaha Pitcher of the Year was recently named by the Royals as the organization's Paul Splittorff Award recipient as the system's top minor league pitcher in 2018 and led all Storm Chasers pitchers in appearances (46) and saves (nine), compiling a 3-3 record and 2.47 ERA (20 ER/73.0 IP) along with 71 punchouts.

The 23-year-old also ranked among the Pacific Coast League's best relievers, pacing the circuit in baserunners per nine innings (9.37), in addition to ranking second in batting average against (.204) and walks per nine innings (2.22). Prior to the upcoming 2019 season, Baseball America rated Lovelady as the 17th-best prospect in the Royals organization. He was selected by Kansas City in the tenth round of the 2016 MLB Draft out of Kennesaw State University.

Lovvorn recorded an 0-1 mark and 1.35 ERA (1 ER/6.2 IP) along with four strikeouts in five Cactus League appearances with the Royals. He began 2018 with Double-A Northwest Arkansas, compiling a 4-3 record and 4.80 ERA (43 ER/80.2 IP) with 52 strikeouts in 15 starts. He tallied a 2-6 clip and 5.71 ERA (40 ER/63.0 IP) with 30 punchouts in 12 appearances (nine starts) with the Storm Chasers.

The 24-year-old was rated a Texas League Mid-Season All-Star prior to being promoted to Omaha on July 5. He was also invited to play in the Arizona Fall League following the 2017 regular season. he was selected by the Royals in the sixth round of the 2012 MLB Draft out of Oxford High School in Alabama.

Lopez, named the Royals' 2018 George Brett Award winner as the top position player in the organization, recorded a .318 average (14-44) along with nine runs, one double and three RBI along with three walks and four steals in 19 Cactus League contests. Prior to this season, the 24-year-old was rated as the fifth-best prospect in the Royals organization by Baseball America.

The Creighton alum began last season with Double-A Northwest Arkansas, posting a .331 average (93-281) with 42 runs, eight doubles, five triples, two homers and 27 RBI, in addition to 33 walks compared to just 23 strikeouts. He finished the 2018 campaign with Omaha, compiling a .278 average (62-223), adding 33 runs, six doubles, two triples, seven homers and 26 RBI, in addition to 27 walks. He was selected by the Royals in the fifth round of the 2015 MLB Draft out of Creighton University in Omaha.

Hernandez posted a .118 average (2-17) in 13 Cactus League games, adding three runs, one double and two RBI with the Royals this spring. He split the 2018 season between Double-A Northwest Arkansas and Omaha, tallying a .279 average (36-129) with 13 runs, eight doubles, one triple, no homers and 15 RBI in 40 games with the Storm Chasers.

The 24-year-old was tabbed a Texas League Mid-Season All-Star prior to being promoted to Omaha on July 20, and also was invited to play in the Arizona Fall League following the 2017 regular season. Hernandez was signed by the Royals as a non-drafted free agent on July 2, 2011 out of the Dominican Republic.

Starling in 17 games with Kansas City during Spring Training this year hit .344 (11-32) along with seven runs, three doubles, two homers and six RBI. He was limited to just 20 games last year due to injuries, recording a .257 average (9-35) with five runs, two doubles and two RBI in 11 contests with the Storm Chasers.

He has worn an Omaha uniform in each of the past three seasons, combining for a .225 average (108-479) along with 54 runs, 24 doubles, one triple, nine homers and 40 RBI in 138 games. Baseball America has tabbed Starling as the "Best Defensive Outfielder" in the Royals organization prior the each of the past four seasons dating back to 2016. He was selected by Kansas City in the first round of the 2011 MLB Draft out of Gardner-Edgerton High School in Kansas.

In addition to the players above, the Royals also announced they have sent pitcher Drew Storen , catcher Xavier Fernandez and infielder Jecksson Flores to minor league camp. As a result of these moves, the Royals now have 37 players in Major League camp, including seven non-roster invites.

Following the Royals Exhibition Game presented by Cobalt Credit Union on March 25 at 6:05pm CT, the Storm Chasers begin their 2019 home slate on Tuesday, April 9 at 6:35pm CT versus the Oklahoma City Dodgers.

Tickets are available for all 2019 Storm Chasers home contests and may be purchased online at www.omahastormchasers.com/tickets. Fans may also call the Werner Park Ticket Office (402) 738-5100 or visit the Werner Park Ticket Office during open hours.

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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