Arizona double play for Royals

By Alan Eskew
January 24, 2003

The Kansas City Royals wanted to have two teams in the short-season Appalachian League, but instead will have two in the Rookie-level Arizona League after a Thursday ruling from the commissioner's office.

The Royals lost their short-season Northwest League affiliate in Spokane, which is owned by club vice president George Brett and his brothers, when the Indians did not renew their contract with Kansas City after two bad years. Spokane went 22-54 in 2001 and 29-47 in 2002.

When the musical chairs stopped for clubs switching minor league affiliates, the Royals were left without a second short-season club. There were serious discussions of the Royals having a traveling team in the Appalachian League, which would have given the league an odd number of clubs with 11.

To counter that, the Royals said they would place two teams in the Appalachian League, plus field a team in the Arizona League, which is made up mostly of younger players just out of high school and those from Latin American academies. The commissioner's office, however, rejected the Royals' proposal.

“Our desire was to add a (minor league) club, but that won't happen this year,” Royals general manager Allard Baird said. “I'm disappointed. I would like to add a club. Ownership gave us the green light.”

This places a hardship on the Royals when they want to promote a young player from a Rookie-level to more advanced short-season club. When lefthander Danny Christensen, a fourth-round pick last June, was doing well in the Gulf Coast League, they promoted him to Spokane.

“Now he'd have to go to Burlington or Wilmington,” Baird said, mentioning the Royals' affiliates in the Class A Midwest and Carolina Leagues.