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Seven Royals headed to Arizona Fall League

T.J. Sikkema, Tyler Gentry and John Rave are among the headliners.

John Rave hitting a double for Omaha on June 1, 2022
Minda Haas Kuhlmann

The Royals will send seven players to the Arizona Fall League, the developmental league teams typically send players that are close to MLB-ready.

Christian Chamberlain is a left-handed pitcher who was selected in the fourth round of the 2020 draft out of Oregon State. He missed most of last year with injury, and came back to post a 4.29 ERA in 21 innings for High-A Quad Cities. The 23-year-old struggled upon a promotion to Double-A with an 8.31 ERA and 24 walks in 26 innings as a reliever.

Jonah Dipoto is the son of Mariners General Manager Jerry Dipoto. The 26-year-old right-hander had mixed results for Northwest Arkansas with a 3.79 ERA and 81 strikeouts in 61 23 innings, but 7.6 walks-per-nine-innings as a reliever. He dealt with an elbow issue last year and would need to be added to the 40-man roster or be exposed to the Rule 5 draft this winter.

Tyler Gentry is coming off a monster season where he hit .323/.421/.542 with 21 home runs in 106 games across High-A and Double-A. He was originally a third-round pick by the Royals in 2020 out of the University of Alabama. The right-handed hitter has mostly played corner outfield, and has some speed with ten steals this year.

Walter Pennington was originally an undrafted free agent out of Colorado School of Mines, a Division II program. The 24-year-old left-hander had a 5.75 ERA with 7.7 strikeout-per-nine-innings in 61 innings, mostly in relief for Double-A Northwest Arkansas.

John Rave hit .255/.354/.405 with 15 home runs and 23 steals across Double-A and Triple-A, although his numbers suffered upon a promotion to Omaha. A left-handed bat, Rave has one of the best walk rates in the organization at 13.2 percent, and has a good power/speed combo with an ability to play centerfield.

T.J. Sikkema is a 24-year-old left-hander acquired from the Yankees this summer in a trade for Andrew Benintendi. He was originally a first-round pick out of the University of Missouri, but missed all of last season with a lat injury. He has a 4.83 ERA with 10.8 strikeouts-per-nine-innings, but has struggled since being acquired by the Royals with a 7.44 ERA in eight starts for Northwest Arkansas.

Samad Taylor was acquired from the Blue Jays in the Whit Merrifield trade, but has yet to play for the Royals due to injury. A right-handed hitter who can play second base an outfield, he has a similar profile to Whit as a speedy player who hit .258/.337/.426 with nine home runs in 70 games in Triple-A before he was hurt. The 24-year-old would need to be protected from the Rule 5 draft this winter.

The players will be assigned to the Surprise Saguaros, to be managed by Mickey Storey, who is also the skipper of the Triple-A affiliate of the Astros. The league will also feature top prospects in baseball like Jordan Walker and Masyn Winn of the Cardinals, Jordan Lawlar of the Diamondbacks, Henry Davis of the Pirates, Robert Hassell III of the Nationals, Jason Dominguez of the Yankees, and Brennen Davis of the Cubs.

Play will begin on October 3 and run until the championship game on November 12. There will be a Home Run Derby on November 5 and a Fall Stars game on November 6. The league will adopt some of the new rules coming to MLB in 2023, including a pitch clock, limited pick off attempts, larger bases, and a ban on defensive shifts. The league will also use an Automatic Ball-Strike System (ABS) Challenge at Salt River and Chase Field games where batters, pitchers, and catchers can challenge ball/strike calls.