KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Jake Odorizzi and Wil Myers dressed side-by-side Sunday afternoon in the corner of the Kansas City clubhouse, one they hope to inhabit soon on a more permanent basis.
The two prospects started for the U.S. team in the All-Star Futures Game, along with fellow prospect Yordano Ventura, the starting pitcher for the World team. Together, they gave hometown fans a reason to cheer during an All-Star weekend largely devoid of Royals representation.
“This is my second Futures Game, but this one is a little bit better, being in Kansas City,” said Myers, a 21-year-old outfielder who has been tearing up the minors. It’s just a cool thought, to be here in front of the home crowd, to get a little taste of it now.”
He hopes to get a bigger taste of it soon.
Odorizzi and Myers are both on the cusp of their shot at the big leagues, the latest in a wave of talent that has been matriculating through one of baseball’s best farm systems. The Royals have said they want them up this season, but nobody has been willing to divulge a timetable.
Odorizzi is 5-0 with a 2.83 ERA since a promotion from Double-A Northwest Arkansas to Triple-A Omaha. Myers is hitting .315 with 14 homers in only 48 games at Omaha.
“When they’re down there in our league, in Triple-A, and you see them day-in and day-out going out and just crushing everyone, it’s time to move on,” Omaha manager Mike Jirschele said.
“There’s nothing left to learn at that level.”
The Royals have forced fans into a wait-till-next-year attitude for decades, and that has been the case again this year. Despite promising young players such as Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas, the team again languishes near the bottom of the AL Central.
They also gave fans few opportunities to cheer on the home team during All-Star weekend.
Billy Butler will DH on Tuesday night, but there are no representatives in Monday night’s Home Run Derby, and closer Jonathan Broxton missed out in the last-chance All-Star voting.
That leaves fans ready for the here-and-now to once again root on the future.
“I’d be lying if I said I didn’t think about it every day, about coming up,” Myers said, “but whatever the Royals want me to do is what I’ll do.”
Royals Hall of Famer George Brett understands that the once-proud franchise has fallen on hard times, and that there have been few reasons to fill Kauffman Stadium over the years.
As the manager of the U.S. team, Brett did his best to change that.
That’s why Odorizzi started the game – giving up a solo homer to Jurickson Profor in his one inning of work – and why Myers was slated to play all nine innings.
“Since I’m the manager and the game is in Kansas City – Wil is Kansas City Royals property – he’s going to get a chance to show off a little bit,” Brett said with a smile.
ALL-STAR SUBSTITUTION: White Sox right-hander Jake Peavy replaced Angels left-hander C.J. Wilson on the American League roster for the All-Star game.
Wilson has been dealing with a blister on the middle finger of his left hand, and physicians recommended the two-time All-Star allow it to heal during the All-Star break.
He was already a fill-in for the Yankees’ CC Sabathia.
Peavy is 7-5 with a 2.85 ERA and has four complete games in 17 starts this season. The former Cy Young Award winner was a two-time All-Star with San Diego. He was traded to Chicago in July 2009, and will be making his first appearance for the AL All-Star team.
WEB GEMS: Dylan Bundy doesn’t get rattled very easily. That’s one of the many reasons why the Baltimore Orioles drafted the right-hander fourth overall last season.
Still, he was thrown for a loop during his first season as a professional – at Delmarva in the South Atlantic League and Frederick in the Carolina League – when fans began to pounce on him for autographs, and he realized just how many people are following his every move.
“It’s a little strange,” Bundy said, “to Google your name and see your face everywhere.”
The 19-year-old Bundy drew quite a bit of attention when he began his pro career with 13 hitless innings.
The explosion of the Internet over the past two decades has changed the way fans follow their teams. Now, they keep tabs on top prospects at every level of the farm system.
“With all the social media and the Internet, people are aware of what these guys are doing,” said Royals Hall of Famer George Brett, who managed the U.S. team in the Futures Game.
“Nobody was aware of what George Brett was doing in Billings, Montana, in 1971. Nobody cared what I did when I was playing for the San Antonio Bees in 1972,” he said. “Now, you can get on the computer and find everybody’s stats. People are more into it.”