KANSAS CITY, Mo.—The Kansas City Royals today named their Players and Pitchers of the Year for their Double-A and Triple-A affiliates, the Northwest Arkansas Naturals and Omaha Storm Chasers.
All 12 Players and Pitchers of the Year will be honored at Kauffman Stadium on Friday, Sept. 23 on Futures Night. Totals listed below for players at Triple-A Omaha are through Sunday’s games, as the Storm Chasers have 10 games remaining on their regular season schedule.
Omaha Storm Chasers (Triple-A)
Brewer Hicklen, 26, earned Omaha Player of the Year honors and has posted a .246/.350/.499 slashline (111-for-451, .849 OPS) with 82 runs scored, 24 doubles, 28 home runs, 83 RBI and 34 stolen bases. With two series remaining, Hicklen secured the fourth “20-20-20” season by a Royals minor leaguer since 2005, joining 2021 Omaha Player of the Year Bobby Witt Jr., Alex Gordon (2006) and Alan Moye (2005). After beginning the season with an .822 OPS in April, going 20-for-74 with 8 extra-base hits, the right-handed hitting outfielder knocked a grand slam on May 17 vs. St. Paul and was selected by the Royals just 9 days later as a replacement player, making his Major League debut on May 26 at Target Field against the Twins. Through play this past weekend, Hicklen ranks among Triple-A leaders in home runs (28, T-4th), extra-base hits (55, 6th), stolen bases (34, T-7th) and total bases (225, 10th). Hicklen was originally selected by the Royals out of the University of Alabama-Birmingham in the seventh round of the 2017 First-Year Player Draft by scout Nick Hamilton.
Andrés Núñez, who will celebrate his 27th birthday tomorrow, was crowned the Omaha Pitcher of the Year and has pitched to a 3.41 ERA (23 ER in 60.2 IP) with 69 strikeouts to just 14 walks in 52 relief appearances for the Storm Chasers, going 5-3 with a team-high-tying 7 saves. Núñez began the season by posting a 1.35 ERA (1 ER in 6.2 IP) over five outings in April, including wins in each of his last two outings on April 17 and 22. Following a tough May, he responded with a perfect June, in which he went 1-0 and didn’t allow a run over 11.1 innings, striking out 12 batters while not issuing a walk. The right hander continued his hot streak through July, as he pitched 10.2 innings of 1-run ball with 18 strikeouts and just 3 walks, combining for a 0.41 ERA (1 ER in 22.0 IP) over two months for the Chasers. With two series left to play, he has gone 7-for-7 in save opportunities in September since picking up his first Triple-A save on Sept. 2 at St. Paul. A native of Southwest Ranches, Fla., Núñez was selected by Kansas City out of Florida International University in the 29th round of the 2018 First-Year Player Draft by scout Alex Mesa.
Northwest Arkansas Naturals (Double-A)
After spending the first 35 games of his season with High-A Quad Cities, outfielder Tyler Gentry earned a mid-June promotion to Double-A Northwest Arkansas, where he slugged his way to Player of the Year honors in his second professional season, posting a .321/.417/.555 (88-for-274) slashline with the Naturals. Despite spending the first two months of the season in High-A, Gentry ranked in the top five of numerous offensive categories for the Naturals, including batting average (1st), slugging percentage (1st), OPS (1st), hit-by-pitches (10, T-1st), sacrifice flies (7, T-1st), on-base percentage (2nd), home runs (16, 2nd), RBI (63, 3rd) and total bases (152, 5th). In 13 games with the Naturals in June, he recorded 6 home runs and 11 RBI, including his second career multi-homer game on June 29 at Amarillo, which helped propel him to Texas League Player of the Week honors for the week of June 27-July 3, in which he batted .435 (10-for-23) with 2 doubles, 4 HR and 11 RBI. The 23-year-old outfielder never looked back after that week as he finished with a .335/.433/.559 (79-for-236, .982 OPS) slashline, with 52 runs scored, 14 doubles, 13 home runs, 56 RBI, 37 walks and 7 stolen bases dating back to June 27. Gentry was originally selected in the third round of the 2020 First-Year Player Draft out of the University of Alabama by scout Travis Ezi.
Drew Parrish, 24, began his third professional season in Double-A with the Naturals and fashioned a 2.13 ERA (13 ER in 55.0 IP) over 10 starts while striking out 48 batters and allowing just 14 walks for a 3.4 K/BB ratio en route to Northwest Arkansas Pitcher of the Year honors. After going 1-1 with a 3.32 ERA (7 ER in 19.0 IP) in April, the left hander hit his stride in May as he took home back-to-back Texas League Player of the Week awards from May 2-8 and 9-15, and finished with the Player of the Month title, going 3-1 with a 0.59 ERA (2 ER in 30.2 IP) with 29 strikeouts, 4 walks and a .144 (15-for-104) opponents’ batting average. He made one final start in Northwest Arkansas on June 1 before being promoted to Triple-A Omaha, where he will finish the campaign. A graduate of Rockledge High School (Fla.), Parrish was selected by the Royals out of Florida State University in the eighth round of the 2019 First-Year Player Draft by scout Jim Buckley.