A beautiful night at Werner Park
After the Royals had their Futures Game earlier this year, The Amazing Michelle and I thought it would be cool to take a short weekend trip to Omaha and check out a couple of games. We planned for a weekend in early June, hoping a) the weather would be good, and b) Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas would still be playing there. Well, we got half of our wishes. Hosmer, of course, has been raking at the major league level for over a month now. And the Royals pulled the trigger on the Moustakas call-up the day before we headed north.
However, the nice thing about The Best Farm System Ever is that there are still plenty of prospects at Omaha waiting for their turn in the majors. Also, there's the little matter of the Storm Chasers' shiny new ballpark, Werner Park.
We visited Arvest Ballpark, home of the Northwest Arkansas Naturals, a couple of years ago and were impressed by that facility. Werner Park feels very similar. Just like the "new" Kauffman Stadium, it is possible to walk all the way around the ballpark and still see the game. There are some good concession stands, too--we enjoyed the cheeseburgers at the Omaha Steaks stand, although the concession workers seemed a bit overwhelmed by the large crowd (the Friday night game set a Werner Park attendance record, which was broken at the Saturday night game).
The games were enjoyable, too. The Storm Chasers were taking on the Oklahoma City RedHawks for the weekend. I am not much of an expert on other teams' farm systems, but I have to admit I had not heard of any of the Oklahoma City players, except for a few pitchers with major league experience and Koby Clemens (yes, Roger's son), who I don't believe is a top prospect.
As for Royals prospects, I was most impressed with Johnny Giavotella and Lorenzo Cain. In the two games, Cain went 3-6 with two walks and two doubles, plus made a couple of nice diving catches in center field. Giavotella was 4-8 with two walks and a home run. I guess left field can be a good home run area in Werner Park if the wind is blowing out, but both games were played with more of a cross wind, so I don't think Giavotella's blast was wind-aided. I know the knock on Gio is his defense, but he looked OK to me. He started one nice double play on Saturday night, and almost had another one (frankly, I think the ump blew the call at first base).
David Lough had a good night Friday (2-5) and a bad one Saturday (0-5), although he did hit a couple of balls hard in the second game. Clint Robinson was only 2-9 in the two games, although he did hit a home run to right field that definitely got no help from the wind. Anyways, Robinson's numbers for the season are impressive, and I hope he gets a shot at the majors somehow. It will be tough for the Royals to find a place for him with Hosmer and Billy Butler around.
Johnny Giavotella, ready to hit
If you have a chance to go up to Omaha sometime, I recommend it. We had a great time. And if you don't get there this summer, just remember that next summer there's a good chance Wil Myers and some other prospects will be there. Hmm...this might be an annual event!
(Photos courtesy of The Amazing Michelle)