The Kansas City Royals have included 25 players on the preliminary roster for the 2014 Omaha Storm Chasers, who will look to repeat as Triple-A National Champions as well as a team record fourth straight division title. Thirteen of the 25 players appeared for the Storm Chasers during the 2013 season, including five returning position players and eight returning pitchers.
Headlining returning pitchers is 2013 Omaha Pitcher of the Year, 2013 PCL All-Star and Triple-A National Championship Game MVP Chris Dwyer (Royals No. 21 prospect), who led the Chasers in innings pitched (159.2), starts (28) and ERA (3.55) last season. Joining him on the staff will be 2011 and 2013 Storm Chasers alum Danny Duffy, 2013 saves leader Michael Mariot (Royals No. 15 prospect), 2013 team strikeout leader Justin Marks, Donnie Joseph (Royals No. 22 prospect), John Lamb, Buddy Baumann and Spencer Patton (who made his Triple-A debut during Omaha’s playoff run).
Roaming the Werner Park infield once again will be 2013 Omaha Player of the Year Christian Colon (Royals No. 25 prospect), who last season became the fifth player since the Chasers joined the PCL to lead the team in hits (140), runs scored (72) and RBI (58). Coming to Omaha for a fourth consecutive season will be 2013 batting average leader Johnny Giavotella, the 2011 Omaha Player of the Year. Playoff heroes Gorkys Hernandez and Brian Fletcher join Paulo Orlando as returning outfielders.
Seven position players will make their debut with Storm Chasers this season. Two players who will make their Triple-A debut are infielder Brett Eibner, the highest rated Kansas City position player prospect on the Omaha roster at No. 17, and infielder Matt Fields, who led all of Double-A last season with 31 home runs for the Northwest Arkansas Naturals. 2013 playoff foes Jimmy Parades, an infielder/outfielder formerly with Oklahoma City, and Jesus Flores, the starting catcher for the Durham Bulls in the Triple-A National Championship Game, will now join the Chasers’ side. Catcher Francisco Pena, former Royals manager Tony Pena’s son, infielder Brian Bocock and outfielder Melky Mesa round out the new position players.
New pitchers to Omaha feature four veteran signings by the Royals this past offseason, and the 2013 Northwest Arkansas Pitcher of the Year Aaron Brooks. The four veterans include Brett Tomko, who returns to the Minors after spending 2013 in Independent ball, as well as Ramon Troncoso, Cory Wade and P.J. Walters, who all spent time in Triple-A last season.