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Seuly Matias among Royals minor league free agents

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Fall Stars Game
Photo by Chris Bernacchi/Diamond Images via Getty Images

Nine Royals farmhands become free agents.

Outfielder Seuly Matias is among nine Royals minor leaguers eligible for free agency. Minor leaguers can become eligible for free agency if they are not added to a 40-man roster after six full minor league seasons. The other eight players eligible for free agency include catchers José Briceño, Jakson Reetz, and Gavin Stupienski, infielders Gabriel Cancel and Ivan Castillo, and pitchers Andres Sotillet, Stephen Woods Jr., and Jace Vines.

Matias has tantalized the Royals with 80-grade power and the ability to hit palm trees in spring training. But his development was hampered by a hand injury, and he has never been able to make contact consistently enough to be an offensive force. The 24-year-old outfielder hit .225/.330/.424 with 16 home runs and a 33.5 percent strikeout rate in 99 games for Double-A Northwest Arkansas this year.

Briceño has played 48 games in his big league career as a member of the Angels, and was brought in by the Royals this year to fill in at Triple-A. The 30-year-old hit .252/.298/.405 in 141 plate appearances for Triple-A Omaha.

Reetz played in two big league games with the Nationals in 2021, before bouncing to the Brewers organization this year. He hit 22 home runs in Double-A this year for them before they let him go and the Royals picked him up. He appeared in 21 games for Omaha this year, and overall hit .264/.359/.575 with 30 home runs in the minors.

Stupienski was signed out of the independent leagues in 2021 and filled in for Double-A Northwest Arkansas this year, hitting .228/.279/.333 in 20 games. The 28-year-old was originally a 12th-round pick by the Diamondbacks in 2016 out of the University of North Carolina-Wilmington.

Castillo was signed as a minor league free agent last year from the Padres organization, where he had spent three games in the big leagues. The 27-year-old switch-hitting middle infielder hit .242/.322/.347 with six home runs in 113 games for Omaha.

Cancel was once a promising infield prospect in the organization and originally a seventh-round pick back in 2015. He hit 18 home runs as a 22-year-old in Double-A in 2019, but his power waned and he hit just .221/.305./333 in 78 games for Omaha this year at age 25.

Soillet was signed out of Venezuela by the Royals, and shuttle between Double-A and Triple-A this year with a 1.43 ERA with 61 striekouts in 69 innings combined between the two levels. The 25-year-old has a broad frame and features a fastball in the low-90s.

Woods was originally drafted by the Giants in 2016, and was traded to the Rays in 2017 as part of the Evan Longoria deal. The Royals selected him in the 2019 Rule 5 draft, and worked out a deal with the Giants to keep him without placing him on the big league roster. The 27-year-old right-hander had a 4.50 ERA with 69 strikeouts but 49 walks in 58 innings for Double-A Northwest Arkansas.

Vines was a fourth-round pick in 2016 out of Texas A&M. The right-hander struggled to miss bats as a starter, but had a bit more success converting to relief in the upper minors. He pitched in just 14 games for Omaha this year, with a 7.24 ERA at age 27.

Minor league free agents are generally just players to be used as organizational filler for your Triple-A affiliate, but occasionally there are some gems, such as when the Royals signed pitcher Scott Barlow from the Dodgers.

You can see a complete list of free agents at Baseball America. Among the former Royals include catchers Xavier Fernandez, Deivy Grullon, infielders Jecksson Flores and Chris Owings, outfielders Jorge Bonifacio, Donnie Dewees, and Elier Hernandez, and pitchers Scott Blewett, Garrett Davila, Nick Dini, Heath Fillmyer, Grant Gavin, Ofreidy Gomez, Ashton Goudeau, Jake Kalish, Elvis Luciano, Alec Mills, Mike Montgomery, Brad Peacock, Blake Perkins, A.J. Puckett, Cody Reed, Sam Selman, Braden Shipley, Eric Stout, and Domingo Tapia.

There are also some notable former big leaguers like Fernando Abad, Jake Bauers, Derek Dietrich, Shane Greene, Brandon Kintzler, Daniel Ponce de Leon, TJ McFarland, Oscar Mercado, Yairo Munoz, Stephen Piscotty, Franmil Reyes, Victor Reyes, Daniel Robertson, Hansel Robles, Richard Rodriguez, Yoshitomo Tsutsugo, Jonathan Villar, and Tony Wolters.

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