Royals hand out awards to Minor Leaguers, staff

Royals hand out awards to Minor Leaguers, staff

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Minor League players Alex McClure, Brett Eibner and Terrance Gore were among those honored on Tuesday at the Royals' organizational awards ceremony at the training complex.

Staff member Victor Baez, executive Kevin Linton and scout Colin Gonzales also were recognized.

McClure received the Mike Sweeney Award as the player who best represents the organization on and off the field. A shortstop, he divided last season between Class A Wilmington and Double-A Northwest Arkansas. He was a regular at community events and a large part of the Naturals' Faith and Family Day celebration.

"It's not the back of your baseball card that defines you, it's the lives that you impact, whether it be your teammates or the people in your community," said Sweeney, who presented the award.

Eibner, the center fielder for Wilmington last season, was the Frank White Defensive Player of the Year. He received the award from the Royals' two-time Gold Glove left fielder Alex Gordon.

As Spring Training winds down, Eibner sounded the call for the assembled players.

"Thanks to the Royals and let's get going!" Eibner said.

Gore, an outfielder in Rookie ball, received the Willie Wilson Award as the organization's top baserunner. He led the Appalachian League last year with 36 stolen bases and 50 runs scored for Burlington.

"What's impressive is his basestealing. His percentage was 94.7," Wilson said when he presented the award. "He had really good instincts."

The winners of the George Brett Hitter of the Year Award (outfielder Wil Myers) and the Paul Splittorff Pitcher of the Year Award (Jake Odorizzi) will be sent their awards. They went to Tampa Bay in the Royals' major offseason trade for James Shields.

Baez, the coordinator of the Royals Dominican Academy, was the Dick Howser Player Development Person of the Year. In his sixth year with the organization, he led the move to a new complex last year in Mojarra, Guerra, east of Santo Domingo.

Brett and John Wathan, both players under Howser, who managed the 1985 World Series champions, were co-presenters. Brett gave the more than 200 Minor and Major League players in the audience a history of Howser's career. Wathan noted that Baez was "a father figure" to Dominican players.

Linton, director of community affairs for Wilmington's Blue Rocks, received the Matt Minker Award as an outstanding Minor League affiliate employee. It was presented by the late club owner's brother, Jack Minker.

Gonzales, area scout in Southern California, wasn't on hand, but will receive the Art Stewart Award as an outstanding scout prior to a Royals game.

Dick Kaegel is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.