The Burlington Royals have gotten off to a 2-0 start to begin the year, with a 15-1 blowout to begin the year, and a 1-0 shutout in game two. The B-Royals play in the rookie-level Appalachian League, typically for new draftees, or inexperienced returning minor leaguers.
The B-Royals will feature 11 players taken in the 2019 draft by the Royals, highlighted by fourth round second baseman Michael Massey out of the University of Illiniois. The left-handed bat hit .317/.372/.459 with five home runs and 20 walks in 55 games for the Illini, and had an impressive showing in the wood bat Cape Cod League last summer. Massey is favorite among scouts, according to Baseball America, who ranked him as the 188th-best draft prospect.
Centerfielder John Rave was seleted in the fifth round by the Royals out of Illinois State. The left-handed Rave also performed well in the Cape Cod League, then hit .297/.377/.502 with 12 home runs and 12 steals for the Redbirds. Rave is a plus runner who can cover ground in center and Baseball America says scouts “project an average hitter with average power as he matures and gets stronger.” Rave collected four hits and a walk on opening night for Burlington hitting in the leadoff spot.
The power should come from first baseman Vinnie Pasquantino, the 11th-round selection out of Old Dominion. Standing at 6’4’’, 245, Pasquantino smacked 15 home runs at ODU with a line of .298/.402/.560. He smacked his first professional home run on opening night, then smacked his second one the very next inning.
Other 2019 draftees on the B-Royals roster this year include infielders Jacob Means (22nd) and Jay Charleston (26th), outfielder Burle Dixon (18th), and pitchers Dante Biasi (6th), Noah Murdock (7th), Alex Smith (24th), Zack Phillips (27th), and Patrick Smith (33rd).
In addition to the new draftees, there are some players returning in the organization to keep an eye on in Burlington. Dominican right-handed pitcher Delvin Capellan dominated the Dominican Summer League in 2017 with a 0.48 ERA and a 48-to-3 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 56 innings. His ERA went up quite a bit in the thin air of the Arizona Summer League last year, but he still posted a very strong strikeout-to-walk ratio of 61-to-11 in 55 innings of work. The 20-year old tossed five shutout innings with seven strikeouts and no walks on opening night and could be the ace of the rotation.
Rylan Kaufman was a 12th-round selection by the Royals in 2018, but he received a $722k bonus, suggesting the Royals thought he was worthy of a much higher round. The left-hander out of San Jacinto College, a junior college in Texas, pitched just seven innings last year and features a fastball that sits at 93-94 mph as well as a plus slider.
The B-Royals could wreak some havoc on the bases with burners like David Hollie and Kevon Jackson, both 2018 draft picks. Both struggled with the bat in the Arizona Summer League last year but are young enough and athletic enough to have tremendous potential.
Leading the club will be former big league catcher Chris Widger, who will be managing for the first time. Hitting coach Andy LaRoche will also make his professional coaching debut, while pitching coach Carlos Martinez will spend his 23rd year in the organization.
Catchers: Jesus Atencio, William Hancock, Logan Porter
Infielders: Jay Charleston, Maikel Garcia, Michael Massey, Jacob Means, Vinnie Pasquantino
Outfielders: Burle Dixon, David Hollie, Kevon Jackson, Raymond Lopez, John Rave
Pitchers: Adrian Alcantara, Dante Biasi, Noah Bryant, Delvin Capellan, Adan Frias, Rylan Kaufman, Noah Murdock, Zack Phillips, Alex Smith, Patrick Smith, Malcolm Van Buren, Marlin Willis, Angel Zerpa