Twelve Royals minor leaguers became free agents last week under minor league free agency, headed by first baseman Balbino Fuenmayor. Fuenmayor reached legend status for his hitting prowess after the Royals plucked him from the independent leagues and he responded with a sensational 2015 season. Fuenmayor suffered an ACL injury and lost much of his power last year, hitting just .291/.325/.405 with 6 HR 42 RBI in 101 games for AAA Omaha. The 26-year old Venezuelan is now free to sign with any team, and with Ryan O’Hearn pushing through the system, it may not be a priority to retain the defensively-limited Fuenmayor.
Utility player Orlando Calixte also became a free agent, signing with the San Francisco Giants this week. The Royals signed Calixte for a million dollar bonus out of the Dominican Republic, but his hitting never materialized. He reached the big leagues for two games in 2015, and hit .265/.320/.428 with 9 HR 29 RBI in 88 games for AAA Omaha at age 24.
Infielder Dusty Coleman, best known for his baserunning blunder in a short stint with the Royals in 2015, also becomes a free agent, as well as Major League veteran pitchers John Lannan and Clayton Mortensen, with Mortensen already re-signing with the Royals. Infielder Irving Falu, who became Omaha’s all-time hit leader this year, also becomes a free agent. The other minor league free agents for the Royals include pitchers Aroni Nina, Benino Pruneda, Nick Tepesch, infielders Angel Franco and Steve Tolleson, and outfielder Carlos Garcia. Pitcher Malcom Culver was eligible, but already re-signed.
Players can become minor league free agents if they have been assigned to a minor league roster for six seasons, are not on the 40-man roster, and are not under contract. The list of minor league free agents from Baseball America includes former first round picks like Alex Wimmers, Michael Choice, Cito Culver, Danny Hultzen, and Casey Weathers as well as former Royals like Casey Coleman, Erik Kratz, Billy Buckner, Ed Lucas, Brett Hayes, Jeff Bianchi, Lane Adams, Jason Adam, and Pedro Ciriaco. Other interesting names include former Major Leaguers Justin Masterson, Casey Kotchman, Josmil Pinto, Jonny Ventres, and Edward Mujica, former prospects Jesus Montero, Carlos Triunfel, and Mike Olt, and Indian-born pitcher Rinku Singh, the inspiration for the movie Million Dollar Arm.
See any names that could help the Royals?