clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

A guide to Royals minor league affiliates

New, 5 comments

In a rebuild, the minors become even more important

If you buy something from an SB Nation link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

Minda Haas Kuhlmann

The Royals are rebuilding for the future, which means there will be more emphasis on what is going on down in the minors. The Royals have had a steady relationship with several affiliates, including the third-longest running relationship in baseball, a 50-year partnership with the AAA franchise in Omaha.

You can catch Royals prospects all over the country, however, from the Midwest, to the South, even up in the northwestern part of the country. Here’s your guide to checking out Royals farmhands this season.

Omaha Storm Chasers

The Omaha Storm Chasers play in AAA-level ball, the highest level of minor league ball, in the Pacific Coast League, due to Nebraska’s proximity to the ocean. Omaha is a terrific baseball town, best known for hosting the NCAA College World Series every summer. The Royals have had an affiliation with Omaha ever since their inception in 1969, the third-longest running affiliation in professional baseball.

Do they have a freaky mascot? They have three! There is “Vortex”, an anthropomorphized tornado. I guess that’s not cute enough, so there’s also “Casey”, a blue cat, and “Stormy”, who is just a....thing.

Where do they play? Werner Park in the Omaha suburb of Papillion. The stadium, which can accommodate up to 9,000 fans, opened in 2011 and features a Family Fun Zone, mini-golf, a basketball court, and the Downdraught Bar. You can read a review of the ballpark here. The stadium is located off I-80 and you can find directions here.

When does the season start? The Storm Chasers host the Colorado Springs Sky Sox on April 5. Because of inclement weather expected Friday, there will be a doubleheader on Opening Day. The Storm Chasers play 140 games with the season concluding on September 3. You can find the complete schedule here.

How much to get in? Tickets run from $25 for the Diamond Club to $9 to sit on The Berm in the outfield. You can find tickets here. Parking is $5, although you can find free lots north of the stadium.

Who will be there? The Royals typically have their top prospects skip or spend little time in AAA, but this year’s squad should feature Adalberto Mondesi once he is healthy. Sluggers Ryan O’Hearn, Frank Schwindel, and Hunter Dozier will also have to fight for at-bats on the roster. You can see the full roster here.

Any cool promotions? The Storm Chasers will give away some cool bobbleheads of Mike Sweeney and Jarrod Dyson and will be celebrating their 50th year in AAA all season. But the best promotion is for one night the team will be honoring the most Nebraska of all delicacies, the runza. The team will change its name on June 9 to the Omaha Runzas and will auction off jerseys after the game.

Where else can you catch the Storm Chasers? The Storm Chasers will play road games in a number of western cities such as Las Vegas, Sacramento, Salt Lake City, Albuquerque, Austin, New Orleans, Nashville, Memphis, Oklahoma City, and Des Moines.

Website: omahastormchasers.com

Northwest Arkansas Naturals

The Naturals began play in 2008 and have been the AA affiliate of the Royals since their inception. They play their home games in Springdale, in the northwest corner of Arkansas, wedged just south of Bentonville and north of Fayetteville.

Do they have a freaky mascot? Yep, their mascot is this hairy son-of-a-gun.

Where do they play? Arvest Ballpark, which can seat 7,300 fans. You can read a review of the park here. You can find directions here.

When does the season start? The Naturals open up their 140-game season on April 5 at home against Corpus Christi. You can find the complete schedule here.

How much to get in? Tickets run from $13.50 for “Super Premium” tickets to $7.50 to sit out the grass berm in the outfield. Parking is $3. You can purchase tickets here.

Who will be there? Two of the best pitching prospects in the system will be in Springdale this summer - Foster Griffin and Scott Blewett. Shortstop Nicky Lopez is coming off an impressive tour of the Arizona Fall League and first baseman Samir Duenez and outfielder Donnie Dewees will be a few of the better hitters. You can see the full roster here.

Any cool promotions? The Naturals will celebrate the return of Mike Moustakas back to the organization with a bobblehead giveaway on May 12. Fans of wizardry will love August 24, when Arvest Ballpark turns into Hogwarts on Harry Potter Night.

Where else can you catch the Naturals? The Naturals play in the Texas League, which features Texas teams in San Antonio, Corpus Christi, Frisco, and Midland, but also teams outside the Lone Star state such as Tulsa, Little Rock, Arkansas, and Springfield, Missouri.

Website: nwanaturals.com

Wilmington Blue Rocks

The Wilmington Blue Rocks are the High-A affiliate for the Royals, playing in the pitcher-friendly Carolina League. Wilmington, the biggest city in the state of Delaware, is located 45-minutes southwest of Philadelphia and one hour northeast of Baltimore on I-95.

Do they have a freaky mascot? The main mascot is a moose named Rocky Bluewinkle, but the more interest feller is a weirdly awesome mascot named “Mr. Celery” who is literally an anthropomorphic piece of celery. You can read about his odd history here.

Where do they play? Frawley Stadium has typically been one of the most pitcher-friendly stadiums in baseball. The park opened in 1993 and can fit 6,532 fans. You can read a review of the park here, and an old review of the stadium from our site founder Freneau here. You can find directions to the park here.

When does the season start? The Blue Rocks open play April 5 in Potomac, with their first home game the following Thursday on the 12th against Lynchburg. You can see the complete schedule here.

How much to get in? Tickets run from $12 for a Field Box to $6 for General Admission. You can purchase tickets here. Parking is free.

Who will be there? The Blue Rocks will have two of the best young hitters in the organization in catcher Chase Vallot and outfielder Khalil Lee. Joining Vallot behind the plate is Meibrys Viloria and slugger Chris Devito, known as “Red Hercules” will mash homers at first. You can see the full roster here.

Any cool promotions? Wrestling fans will appreciate the May 31 appearance of former WWE wrestler Booker T. But baseball fans will probably be more excited about the appearance of Chauncey Leopardi, the actor who played “Squints” in the movie The Sandlot, as the Blue Rocks celebrate the movie on July 27.

Where else can you catch the Blue Rocks? Myrtle Beach has a club in the Carolina League, and there are four teams in North Carolina. If you’re in the D.C. area, the Potomac Cannons play about an hour away in Woodbridge.

Website: bluerocks.com

Lexington Legends

The Legends have been the low-A affiliate for the Royals since 2013 after over a decade of affiliates in the Midwest League. The Legends play in the South Atlantic League and have only been around since 2001, previously serving as an Astros affiliate. The Legends have branded the team well with an iconic mustache serving as the team logo. They will also be just the second team in the minors to feature a female play-by-play announcer with Emma Tiedemann calling games.

Do they have a freaky mascot? It began with “Big L”, a strapping man’s man with a luxurious mustache. But he became lonely, so they gave him a companion in “Elle.” Eventually, the two had a baby boy named “Little L”, and while they won’t admit it, I think the anthropomorphic baseball named “Pee Wee” is theirs too.

Where do they play? The Legends play in Whitaker Bank Ballpark, which can accommodate up to 9,000 people. You can read a review here. The ballpark is located near the I-64 and I-75 interchange and you can find directions here.

When does the season start? The Legends open up their schedule at home on April 5 against Charleston. You can find the complete schedule here.

How much to get in? Tickets run from $23 for Diamond Club to $9 for Box Seats. You can find tickets here. Parking is $3 or $5, depending on the lot.

Who will be there? The Legends have perhaps the best power hitter in the system with outfielder Seuly Matias. They’ll also have one of the faster players with outfielder Marten Gasparini. First baseman Nick Pratto, catcher M.J. Melendez and outfielder Michael Gigliotti are also hitters to watch from the 2017 draft, and keep an eye on pitchers Garrett Davila, Carlos Hernandez, and Daniel Tillo. You can see the full roster here.

Any cool promotions? If you’re a Saved by the Bell fan, Richard Haskins, a.k.a. “Mr. Belding” will appear in Lexington on May 24. A more charitable endeavor is J.R. Smith Night, where the NBA star who was suspended for throwing a can of soup at a coach will inspire a canned soup drive, where fans can earn $3 off a ticket for bringing in a can of soup.

Where else can you catch the Legends? The South Atlantic League runs throughout the Appalachian Mountains with four teams in North Carolina - Greensboro, Hickory, Kananpolis, and Asheville, and another four in South Carolina - Augusta, Charleston, Columbia, and Greenville. The Rome Braves play just an hour from Atlanta, and the Hagerstown Suns play just an hour north of Washington, D.C.

Website: lexingtonlegends.com

Idaho Falls Chukars

The Chukars are named after the chukar partridge, a gamebird native to the Idaho region. The team plays in the Pioneer League, and advanced short-season league for players recently drafted out of college, and for advanced high school draftees and international players. The season begins right after the draft in June, and the league is typically a very high scoring league.

Do they have a freaky mascot? Charlie the Chukar is like a long-lost cousin of the San Diego Chicken.

Where do they play? The Chukars play at Melaleuca Field, a 3,400-seat stadium that opened in 2007. You can read a review here. The stadium is located near I-15 and Highway 20, just east of Snake River. You can find directions here.

When does the season start? The Chukars don’t start their season until June 15 at home against Ogden. They play a 76-game schedule through September 6.

How much to get in? The Chukars haven’t made ticket prices available, but prices have generally been around $10 and under.

Who will be there? It will be college players taken in the 2018 draft, and a few younger players already in the system. Rosters will be announced just before the first game.

Any cool promotions? The Chukars have not yet announced their 2018 promotional schedule.

Where else can you catch the Chukars? The Chukars play in the Pioneer League, which has teams up and down the Rocky Mountains with four teams in Montana. In Utah, Orem and Ogden are both within an hour of Salt Lake City, and the Grand Junction Rockies play four hours west of Denver in Colorado.

Website: ifchukars.com

Burlington Royals

Less advanced players, generally in their first or second year of professional baseball, will play in a short-season rookie league like the Appalachian League. The franchise in Burlington, North Carolina has had an affiliation with the Royals since 2007.

Do they have a freaky mascot? Yes. This is Bingo, the love child of the Western Kentucky Hilltopper and the Syracuse Orange.

Where do they play? The Burlington Royals play about 20 minutes east of Greensboro, or about two hours northeast of Charlotte. Their games are played at Burlington Athletic Stadium,which seats 3,500 fans, and you can find directions here.

When does the season start? Like the Chukars, the Burlington Royals begin their season after the draft.

How much to get in? The Burlington Royals have not set ticket prices yet.

Who will be there? Rosters will be announced a few days before the first game in June.

Any cool promotions? No promotions have yet been announced.

Where else can you catch the B-Royals? The league plays in towns in the Appalachian region of West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina, and Tennessee.

Website: burlingtonroyals.com

Will you get out this summer and see some minor league baseball?