Xavier Fernandez threw out 44 runners attempting to steal in 2016.
Chase Vallot and Xavier Fernandez, who handled most of the catching duties for the Lexington Legends in 2016, are among 22 non-roster invitees to major league spring training with the Kansas City Royals. In all, nine former Legends are in the non-roster invitee group that will report to Surprise, Arizona in February, along with players on the Royals’ 40-man roster. The 40-man roster includes 15 more former Legends. The Legends are entering their fifth year as a Royals’ class A affiliate.
Vallot, 20, was chosen by the Royals in the Competitive Balance Round of the 2014 first-year player draft, and was the 40th overall choice in the draft. After hitting 13 home runs with 44 runs batted in in 80 games with the Legends in 2015, he returned to Lexington in 2016 and hit 13 homers with 40 RBI in 82 games overall. He was behind the plate for 53 games in 2016. Vallot was chosen to be the starting catcher for the Southern Division in the South Atlantic League All-Star game, but was unable to play due to injuries suffered when he was struck in the face by a pitch on June 14. He was sidelined until July 20.
Vallot’s walk-off HR Aug. 8
Fernandez, 21, caught in 71 games for the Legends last season and appeared in 92 games in all. He hit nine homers and drove in 42 runs. Fernandez threw out 44 runners attempting to steal, the third best total in the league.
Fernandez’ sliding catch
“Chase and Xavier both had excellent years for the Legends in 2016,” said Legends President/CEO Andy Shea. “It’s great that they’ll get an opportunity to work with the major league players in spring training. With each passing year, we’re seeing more former Legends moving up the ladder in the Royals’ organization, and that’s always exciting.”
Catcher Chase Vallot is ranked sixth among Kansas City Royals prospects by mlb.com. (Photo – Mary Lay)
Other former Legends among the non-roster invitees are pitchers Luke Farrell (a Legend in 2014) Eric Stout (2014) and A.J. Puckett (2016), first baseman Ryan O’Hearn (2015), infielders Corey Toups (2015) and Humberto Arteaga (2013,’14, ’15), and outfielder Alfredo Escalera (2014, ’15).
Former Legends on the Royals’ 40-man roster include pitchers Scott Alexander (2013), Miguel Almonte (2013), Andrew Edwards (2014), Jake Junis (2014), Kevin McCarthy (2014, ’15), Alec Mills (2013-14), Matt Strahm (2015) and Kyle Zimmer (2015); catcher Cam Gallagher (2013); infielders Hunter Dozier (2013), Raul Mondesi (2013) and Ramon Torres (2013, ’14); and outfielders Samir Duenez (2014, ’15, ’16) Terrance Gore (2013), and Bubba Starling (2013).