Minor League round-up: 8/14

Alex Gordon hit two more home runs on Sunday

RC takes a look at the minor league playoff races, and we point out some notable performances from the weekend's action. In addition, the Royals on Sunday brought in some new personnel to oversee the Royals' minor leagues, and we recap all the details in today's Minor League round-up.

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Royals add more Braves' personnel

It didn't take Dayton Moore and the Royals long to replace Shaun McGinn and Donny Rowland, who were dismissed over the weekend from their respective duties. The Royals on Sunday announced that J.J. Picollo and Rene Francisco are leaving the Braves to join the Royals' front office. Picollo was the Braves' minor league director, and he will take over as the Royals' director of player development. Francisco was the Braves' director of international scouting, and he'll work to boost the Royals' efforts in Latin America as the Royals' special assistant to the general manager/international operations.

It will be interesting to see what changes these new additions will bring. Moore speaks glowingly of Picollo, who as a scout with the Braves was responsible for signing a number of key players before moving to the front office. Francisco was instrumental in signing Odalis Perez, Rafael Furcal, and Wilson Betemit.

Scout.com's Bill Shanks, Publisher of the Braves Show, sat down for an interview last summer with Picollo. They spoke at length about Picollo's approach to player development, and it might be a good preview of what we can expect to see as Picollo's reign over the Royals' minor leagues begins. You can read the interview here.

Omaha Report:

After a 10-inning loss on Sunday, the O-Royals have dropped seven straight and 12 of their last 13 en route to the worst record (45-77) in the Pacific Coast League. Shane Costa made his return on Saturday, and he's gone 3-for-8 in his first two games back after his demotion from KC. His batting average in Omaha is currently .381. Justin Huber is hitting .286 with two homers and two doubles in 28 at bats since returning from the DL with a hamstring injury. After going 1-for-5 on Sunday, Jeff Keppinger's batting average stands at .372 in 94 at bats with the O-Royals.

Wichita Report:

Alex Gordon led the charge, belting two more home runs (23, 24) and driving in four as the Wranglers maintained their four-game lead in the Texas League's North division by topping Corpus Christi, 8-6. Billy Butler added two hits, raising his batting average to a league-leading .327. In his last 12 games, Butler's hit .408 with 15 RBIs and 11 runs scored. Chris Lubanski went 0-for-3 on Sunday, but he did walk twice, and it's notable that those walks give him 60 free passes on the season. Lubanski has made major strides with his plate discipline this year after walking just 38 times in 531 at bats last season with the High Desert Mavericks.

High Desert Report:

Daniel Christensen pitched masterfully on Sunday, picking up the victory after allowing two runs on six hits with five strikeouts and three walks in seven innings. The win allowed the Mavs to remain 2.5 games behind the first place Lancaster JetHawks, who won their fourth straight game on Sunday. Sunday's win over Rancho Cucamonga came against one of the best pitching prospects in baseball, Nick Adenhart, who surrendered five earned runs in 4.2 IP.

Burlington Report:

Erik Cordier didn't have his best outing on Sunday, but he was good enough as the Bees topped the Peoria Chiefs, 8-6. Jose Duarte hit his first home run of the season to lead off the game, and Mario Lisson added a pair of hits and an RBI to Bees' attack, which plated seven runs in the first two innings. At 21-29, the Bees trail the Beloit Snappers by nine games in the Midwest League's western division, so the playoffs at this point are something of a pipe dream for Burlington. Nevertheless, what was already an outstanding pitching staff is set to get even better this week, as first round pick Luke Hochevar is still set to make his affiliated professional debut on Wednesday.

Idaho Falls Report:

After falling one game short of the first half Pioneer League southern division crown, the Chukars are having a tough time in the second half. After losing on Sunday to first place Orem, Idaho Falls now trails the Owlz by five games. Everett Teaford, the Royals' 12th round pick in the 2006 draft, continues to pitch well. Teaford on Sunday picked up a no decision after tossing 5.2 innings, surrendering three hits and a run while striking out six. On the season, Teaford is 3-0 with a 2.79 ERA and 38 strikeouts in 48.1 IP. RC will be in Idaho Falls later this week, and we're looking forward to the trip.

Arizona Report:

After dropping a 10-inning contest on Sunday, the Arizona Royals trail the Giants by a game for the second-half title. Brent Fisher took a no decision after pitching five innings while surrendering two runs and striking out six. On the season, Fisher's ERA stands at 2.53, and in 53.1 innings he's allowed just 33 hits and 14 walks while striking out 72. Another interesting player to watch is Jarrod Dyson, who was the Royals' 50th and final pick of the 2006 draft out of Southwest Mississippi Junior College. After going 2-for-5 on Sunday, Dyson raised his batting average to .302, and he stole his 12th base of the season. It's rare to see such a late round pick do so well, and it will be interesting to see if he can keep it up.
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