|12-03-2002, 02:00 AM||Topic Starter|
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Royals sign four more minor-league free agents & formal Royals sign elsewhere
Royals sign four more minor-league free agents
By BOB DUTTON
The Kansas City Star
Posted on Tue, Dec. 03, 2002
The Frontier League is coming to Kansas City, Kan., but the man for whom its most valuable player trophy is named is among the Royals' latest off-season signings.
Morgan Burkhart, 30, won the award three times while playing for the Richmond (Ind.) Roosters in the late 1990s. He is a switch-hitting first baseman/designated hitter who also led Central Missouri State to the NCAA Division II national title in 1994.
Burkhart, who played last year in Japan, was one of four minor-league free agents signed Monday by the Royals.
The others were San Diego infielder Julius Matos, Milwaukee left-hander Jimmy Osting and a former Royal, infielder Mendy Lopez, who played last season in the Pittsburgh organization.
Matos, 27, is the most-likely candidate among the four to make the major-league roster. He batted .238 last season in 76 games for the Padres after hitting .312 in 50 games at Class AAA Portland.
Matos could emerge as the team's starting second baseman or serve as a backup for both middle-infield positions. He played primarily shortstop in the minors but split time at second and third once he joined the Padres.
Lopez, 29, projects as a full-time backup if he makes the team. He batted .252 last season as a shortstop in 101 games at Class AAA Nashville before going hitless in three at-bats for the Pirates.
Lopez played in the Royals' organization during 1992-99 and batted .257 in 81 games for the major-league club in 1998-99. He has experience at second and third in addition to shortstop.
Osting, 25, was 0-2 last season in three starts for the Brewers after going 5-7 with a 3.48 ERA in 22 starts for Class AAA Indianapolis.
All four players will join third baseman Jarrod Patterson and right-hander Jason Turman as non-roster invitees to spring camp. Patterson and Turman signed last week.
Burkhart became the first position player from the Frontier League to reach the majors in 2000 when he batted .288 with four homers and 18 RBIs in 25 games for Boston.
He spent most of 2001 at Class AAA Pawtucket before getting released. A shoulder injury limited him to 42 games last season with Japan's Fukuoka Daiei Hawks.
Burkhart batted .394 with 70 RBIs in 60 games in leading Central Missouri to its 1994 title. He was also 7-1 as a pitcher.
Several former Royals have signed recently with other teams: first baseman Dave McCarty with Oakland; first baseman Chan Perry with Pittsburgh; outfielder Donzell McDonald with Atlanta; and infielder Jed Hansen with Milwaukee.