Royals owner David Glass, Royals Vice President and Assistant General Manager of Player Personnel J.J. Picollo, new Naturals manager Darryl Kennedy, and General Manager of the Naturals Justin Cole were on hand to answer questions and interact with those in attendance.
Mr. Glass opened up thanking the people of Springdale for the support and the amazing state-of-the-art stadium that the Naturals play in. He went on to talk about remembering when Hosmer and Moustakas were coming through. Mr. Glass talked about how they were fun to watch and you knew they were going to be really good players. He said that we have a group of players coming soon to NWA that he feels can be just as good or better. Mr. Glass said that we want to win in KC and in NWA.
Justin Cole spoke about how excited he is that they are starting their 12th season of baseball in NWA. He mentioned a few of the promotions for the 2019 season and talked about how great Arvest Ballpark is and thanked the people of Springdale for that as well.
Over the next 30 minutes, Mr. Glass, Kennedy, and Picollo took questions and gave answers for those in attendance. Topics ranged from personal life as a coach and influences to MLB policing shifts to Kennedy’s best ejection story.
Kennedy said that the two biggest influences in his professional life have been Bobby Jones who taught him that the game is not life and death and to have fun using his Vietnam service stories and Ron Wotus who taught him about preparation in all circumstances. Kennedy said he always tries to do what he thinks is best for the players and not his personal career or his coaches careers. It is refreshing to see the servant leadership that Dayton Moore talks about showing up in the Royals coaches down the line. Picollo interjected at this point to tell us that Kennedy is very modest and that he is an awesome coach. He told a story about making his team work on defensive fundamentals during BP for a week straight until his team had it down and could do it right in games. Even though it was cut work, relays, and team defense, he tries to make things fun.
A question was asked about the rise in strikeouts across major league baseball. Kennedy mentioned that four of the last five World Series champions have had the fewest strikeouts in baseball and that the Royals will continue to put an emphasis on contact skills.
Mr. Glass talked about the first baseball game he ever went to in 1946. This was in reference to a question asked about MLB possibly banning the shift. Mr. Glass said that the players from that era would have laughed at the defense and just hit the ball through the large openings on the other side of the field. He talked about how this generations players try to hit it through the shift or over the shift. He also stated that it is not MLB’s job to tell players where they can play, but it is the hitters job to dictate where defenses should play. Mr. Glass did say that Commissioner Manfred’s job approach follows the question is this good for the game of baseball.
Kennedy said that his favorite ejection of all time was in a game that he got tossed from the dugout. He said he threw some things including his hat and went out to get his five minutes worth with the umpire. He said that when he came back to the dugout there was a sweet, little old lady at the top of the dugout waiting for him to give back his hat which had ended up 8 to 10 rows back. He also said that any ejection he will try to make fun. So we’ll have to wait and see what this season brings.
Kennedy also said that he played one season in the Dominican Republic and spent parts of ten seasons coaching in Venezuela. He said that he tried to do everything like a native to those countries so he could get a better feel for what it’s like to be a player from those countries. He feels this helps him deal with the culture barriers for his players who haven’t grown up in the United States.
As far as roster construction goes, Picollo said we expect to see some guys back as well as some new guys. Some of the returners could be Khalil Lee, Samir Duenez, Xavier Fernandez, Jon Perrin, Kelvin Gutierrez (depending on whether or not Cuthbert makes the big league club), Kort Peterson, Nick Heath, Anderson Miller, and Jace Vines. Of course, all those guys could have great training camps and be in Omaha to start the year. We should see Meibrys Viloria this season as well as DJ Burt, Gerson Garabito, and Ofriedy Gomez. There are still quite a few questions as to where guys will start the season and who gets promoted and who has to move up later in the season. Of course the Royals will not hold a guy back who is deserving of a promotion, but they do want to try make sure guys are ready for promotions.
The event was a good time and good baseball atmosphere. I enjoyed it and was able to meet some great people from the Springdale area. Hopefully the 12th season of baseball in Arvest Ballpark brings another championship to Springdale.
9 thoughts on “Lunch at the Apollo 2019”
Interesting that Piccolo says Fernandez, Duenez and Gutierrez could be back in NWA to start the year. I would think all 3 have deserved promotions to Omaha.
Fernandez had an excellent year in AA and there is an opening at Omaha. Royals apparently filled one catching spot with Rabago although I think both Dini and Fernandez should be in Omaha. Why they signed Rabago is a question with all the quality catchers in Royals system.
Duenez definitely should be in Omaha with O’Hearn most likely starting in KC.
And Gutierrez is the future while Cuthbert is the past. Cut should not hold Kelvin up. That goes directly against JJs stating players will not be held back.
royalduf – I got the impression that they know Duenez needs to get 500+ at bats and want to make sure he does. He has dealt with some injuries and has had a wrist issue. He also mentioned they think very highly of Frank Schwindel and want to make sure he is getting at bats as well.
The Royals have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to catchers. Nick Dini, Xavier Fernandez, Meibrys Viloria, Sebastian Rivero, MJ Melendez could all be MLB catchers at some point. I’m not sure what their plan is with Rabago. Xavier wasn’t in NWA very long last year, just 36 games. It’s also likely that one or two of those guys could be traded. Catching talent is lacking in the majors.
I don’t disagree with you on Kelvin Gutierrez either. I think he should start in Omaha. However, they feel he needs 500+ ABs and those don’t really matter if they are between AA or AAA in the long run. Cuthbert is closer to the bigs. Perhaps they both end up there and one DHs. The same could happen with Duenez.
Spring hasn’t happened yet and who knows what will happen.
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I figured Schwindel would get most of the DH ABs for Omaha with Duenez playing 1B. Royals don’t seem to value Frank’s 1B ability although his metrics say he is as good or better than O’Hearn.
Platooning 1B and DH with Schwindel would give Duenez the 500 ABs Royals want him to have. Sending Duenez back to AA is really a step backward proving nothing. How many times the last two years have we seen prospects sent backward and their offense degrading as a result.
It seems Cuthbert might block both Duenez and Gutierrez if Royals make him the full time 3B and DH at Omaha. Sad because the ez boys have a future while Cuthbert really is the past. And sending Duenez and Gutierrez back to AA will only force players like Rivero, Burt or Cancel back to A ball. But the Royals don’t hold players back, right?
Drew, I didn’t see you in the room today. Your report captured the essence of the session. I agree that it was one of the most enjoyable and interesting preseason sessions of the past view years. Glad you got some one on one time with JJ. It is clear that Dayton and JJ are looking for continuity, similar to what we saw in 2010 and 2011 as the next wave move toward KC.
Many thanks for your detailed work.
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Michael – Thank you. I was at the table in the middle next to David Glass’s table. It’s not where I wanted to be because I’d rather be in the background and I felt very much in the middle. JJ has been very good to me and our site. I think very highly of him and that he is a genuinely great person who loves the game.
Any word on Andrew Edwards? I guess he had either a real bad injury or underwent surgery last year. I recall him having good stuff.
Edwards is listed on NWAs roster. He only pitched 8 innings last year in AZL and Idaho Falls after being injured most of year. 2017 was pretty horrible too with a 6 ERA over 42 innings at 3 stops (mostly NWA).
Edwards is 27 now and getting to the point of being roster filler. A promising career cut short by injuries. Not the first to have that happen and by far won’t be the last.
Thank you. I wish him the best this season.
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