Seven Royals prospects will have the opportunity to receive extended playing time this autumn with the Surprise Saguaros, Kansas City's Arizona Fall League affiliate.
Major League Baseball announced Friday that left-handers Christian Chamberlain, Walter Pennington and T.J. Sikkema, right-hander Jonah Dipoto, outfielders Tyler Gentry and John Rave and utility player Samad Taylor will participate in the AFL, a prestigious offseason league designed for baseball's best prospects to compete against each other and under-the-radar prospects to gain more exposure.
Julio Pimentel, the rehab pitching coach at the Royals' Surprise facility, will oversee Saguaros pitchers.
Chamberlain, ranked as the No. 28 prospect in the Royals organization by MLB Pipeline, was the Royals' fourth-round pick in the 2020 draft. The 23-year-old lefty has a 6.51 ERA and a .254 opponent batting average with 70 strikeouts and 44 strikeouts over 47 innings split between High-A Quad Cities and Double-A Northwest Arkansas this season. He's made 28 of his 32 appearances out of the bullpen.
Pennington, 24, was signed as an undrafted free agent following the 2020 draft. He has a 5.27 ERA with a .300 opponent average, 61 strikeouts and 30 walks in 66.2 innings this year. He, too, has pitched primarily out of the bullpen, making one start in 35 games.
Sikkema, who ranks 18th on MLB Pipeline's top 30 Royals prospects list, was acquired by the Royals in the July 27 trade that sent Andrew Benintendi to the Yankees. Sikkema, 24, had a 2.48 ERA and a 0.83 WHIP in 11 games with the Yankees' High-A affiliate in Hudson Valley, but he's struggled to a 7.44 ERA with a .313 opponent batting average while striking out 29 and walking 15 since reporting to Northwest Arkansas.
Dipoto, the 26-year-old son of Seattle Mariners president of baseball operations Jerry Dipoto, has a 3.79 ERA, a .211 opponent average, 81 strikeouts and 52 walks in 61.2 innings of relief for Northwest Arkansas this season.
Gentry, ranked eighth among Royals prospects by MLB Pipeline, has been the best hitter in the organization this year according to both traditional metrics (.323 batting average) and advanced ones (152 wRC+, a ballpark and league-adjusted stat that attempts to quantify a player's total offensive production). The 2020 third-round pick has a .323/.421/.542 slash line over 106 games between Quad Cities and Northwest Arkansas and has hit 21 doubles, one triple and 21 home runs with 84 RBIs and 10 stolen bases in 16 attempts.
Rave, a fifth-round pick in the 2019 draft who is perhaps the best defensive outfielder in the Royals system, is batting .255/.354/.405 with 14 doubles, two triples and 15 homers in 120 games between Northwest Arkansas and Triple-A Omaha. The 24-year-old left-handed hitter has driven in 77 runs and has 23 steals in 29 tries.
Taylor, the No. 27 prospect in the Royals system according to MLB Pipeline, was acquired from the Blue Jays in the Aug. 2 deal that sent Whit Merrifield to Toronto. He has yet to suit up as a member of the Royals organization due to an undisclosed injury. He batted .258/.337/.426 with 10 doubles, two triples, nine homers, 45 RBIs and 23 steals in 28 tries over 70 games for Buffalo, Toronto's Triple-A affiliate, prior to the trade.
The Arizona Fall League season begins on Oct. 3 and runs through Nov. 12, the date of the AFL championship game.