Royals minor league All-Star round-up

Royals minor league players participated in two All-Star games on Tuesday, as both the Midwest League (low-A) and the Texas League (AA) hosted their annual mid-season showcases. RC today takes a look at how the Royals' prospects fared against the best talent their respective leagues had to offer.

It was a mixed day for some of the Royals' top prospects. The Wichita Wranglers sent six players to Little Rock, Arkansas, to play for the North All-Stars in the Texas League All-Star game, including three starters: third baseman Alex Gordon, outfielder Billy Butler, and catcher Matt Tupman. Mitch Maier was listed as a reserve outfielder, but he actually got the start in center field. The Wranglers also sent pitchers Seung Jun Song and Ryan Braun, and both threw an inning of relief. Pitching dominated the game, and the South All-Stars prevailed over the North, 1-0.

Gordon, the Royals' top prospect, had a day we're sure he'd like to forget. Batting cleanup for the North All-Stars, Gordon went 0-for-4 with four strikeouts. Butler, who was batting behind Gordon in the fifth slot, didn't fare much better, as he went 1-for-4 with three Ks, including the game-ending punch out. Maier went 0-for-3 with a stolen base, and Tupman went 1-for-1 with a walk.

The pitchers fared a bit better. Song threw first, tossing a scoreless sixth inning while striking out a batter and allowing one hit. Braun, who's in the midst of an excellent year, followed the next inning, and he turned in the North's most impressive pitching performance. It took him only 14 pitches to strike out the side in order, finishing his perfect inning in style by blowing three straight pitches past Midland's Kurt Suzuki (Oakland).

The Burlington Bees sent four players to the Midwest League All-Star game in Davenport, Iowa, including second baseman Josh Johnson, who is the Bees' first All-Star game starter since 2000. In addition to Johnson, pitchers Chris Nicoll, Matt Kniginyzky, and Gilbert De la Vara represented the Bees on the West All-Star roster. Unfortunately, they also found themselves on the losing side, as the East All-Stars prevailed over the West, 7-1.

Johnson, who leads the Midwest League in on-base percentage, batted eighth for the West All-Stars, and he went 0-for-2 with a strikeout while playing the first five innings. Kniginyzky did not appear in the game, but Nicoll entered in the fifth and threw eight pitches, striking out both batters he faced before giving way to Peoria's Matt Avery (Cubs). De la Vara got into the game the following inning and struck out the only batter he faced, South Bend's Justin Upton (Arizona), who was the first overall selection in last year's draft.

The next All-Star game of consequence to Royals fans will be the California/Carolina League match-up in Salem, Virginia, on June 27, and RC will be there in person to see High Desert's Billy Buckner and Mike Stodolka take on the best that the Carolina League has to offer. Stay tuned.

Royal Curve Top Stories