KANSAS CITY -- Major League Baseball and People magazine announced the 90 finalists for the Tribute For Heroes campaign. The Royals' three finalists are Abel Ramos, James Rash and Clayton Zupon. Fans are encouraged to vote for their favorite stories on TributeForHeroes.com through June 30.
The Tribute For Heroes campaign is a national initiative that recognizes veterans and heroes. One winner from each of the 30 teams will be included in the All-Star Week festivities and recognized during the All-Star Game's pregame ceremony July 16 on FOX. They will also be featured in the July 22 issue of People, which hits newsstands on Friday, July 12.
Ramos, a son of Mexican immigrants, was born in Texas and spent his summers as a migrant worker. He graduated from the United States Air Force Academy and pilots the A-10 Thunderbolt II. Ramos spent 11 years on active duty and the past five-plus as a full-time reservist. He deployed once to Iraq and three times to Afghanistan. He is now the assistant director of operations for the 303d Fighter Squadron at Whiteman Air Force Base in Knob Noster, Mo. He volunteers in the community, visits retirement homes and gives presentations at his kids' elementary school.
Rash, of Galt, Mo., served as a radioman in a medical evacuation quadroon, air-lifting wounded soldiers from the battlefield to triage areas in Vietnam. In assignments with the United States Secret Service, he provided communications support for presidential candidates and both national conventions in 1972 and '76. After retiring from the Air Force, he worked for 19 years with Hughes Aircraft. Rash now coaches with Special Olympics in Missouri, serves as post adjutant for the VFW and serves as secretary for the Galt, Mo., Lions Club.
Zupon joined the Marines after passing up potential baseball scholarships. On his second deployment to the Middle East, doctors discovered a tumor in his brain and another on his spine. As a single-father with a 2-year-old son, Zupon was given 12 months to live, but he is still alive three years later. He was honorably discharged with medical retirement in 2010 and now spends time with kids at the Cancer Center at the Children's Hospital in Kansas City. He also teaches and coaches kids' bowling on Saturdays and participates in motorcycle rides to raise money for the Wounded Warrior Project.
The Tribute For Heroes campaign supports Welcome Back Veterans, which is an initiative of Major League Baseball, and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, which provides grants to hospitals and clinics that provide post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury treatment to veterans and their families.
Royals agree to terms with second-round pick Reed
KANSAS CITY -- Make it 18 Draft picks signed for the Royals after they announced Tuesday night they'd agreed to terms with second-round pick Cody Reed, a left-handed pitcher from Northwest Mississippi Community College.
"A big, physical left-handed pitcher, real strong," said assistant general manager J.J. Picollo. "From a velocity standpoint, he's from 93 to 95 [mph], which is a pretty good increase in velocity from last year to this year. He's got a breaking ball that we think is going to develop into a power slider and he's developing a feel for his changeup."
The 6-foot-5 220-pound Reed had eight victories for Northwest Mississippi and set a school record of 96 strikeouts in 73 1/3 innings. He had 15 strikeouts in a one-hit shutout against Coahoma.
Signed for close to his slot figure of $1,198,500, Reed will report to minicamp at Surprise, Ariz., and then be assigned to the Idaho Falls Chukars in the Rookie Advanced Pioneer League.
He was the Royals' third choice and the 46th selection overall in the First-Year Player Draft on Thursday. Their No. 2 pick, left-handed pitcher Sean Manaea of Indiana State, has not yet signed. He was the 34th overall selection, going in the Competitive Balance Round. Manaea is headed for hip surgery, which would keep him out until next season.
The Royals had 41 selections in the Draft, which ended on Saturday.
Fifth-round selection Amalani FukoFuka, a center fielder from James Logan High School in Union City, Cal., batted .390 with 15 stolen bases and 22 runs scored.
Sixth-rounder Luke Farrell, son of Red Sox manager John Farrell, was picked 174th overall. The right-hander posted a 2.13 ERA, good for second in the Big Ten, while at Northwestern. He ranks eighth in program history with 80 strikeouts and third in opponent batting average with .202 in conference games.
Ninth-round selection Daniel Rockett, an outfielder from University of Texas at San Antonio, was picked 264th overall. He had a .328 batting average with 66 hits and 39 runs in 48 games.
Other players inking deals include: 12th-round pick Brandon Dulin, a first baseman from Longview College; 13th-round selection Jonathan Dziedzic, a left-handed pitcher from Lamar University; 14th-round pick Chase Darhower, a right-handed pitcher from Northwest Florida State College; 15th-round selection Dominique Taylor, a center fielder from UC-Irvine; 16th-round selection Kevin McCarthy, a right-handed pitcher from Marist College (NY); 17th-rounder Kevin Perez, a right-handed pitcher from Miami Dade Community College; 18th-rounder Frank Schwindel, a catcher from St. John's University; 20th-round selection Glenn Sparkman, a right-handed pitcher from Wharton County Junior College; 22nd-round pick Andrew Brockett, a right-handed pitcher from the University of Richmond; 24th-rounder Riley King, a center fielder from Carroll College (MT); 28th-round selection Kevin Kuntz, a shortstop from the University of Kansas; 29th-round pick Alex Black, a right-handed pitcher from Columbia University; and 30th-round selection Andrew Ayers, a second baseman from Sacramento State University.
Naturals well-represented at Double-A All-Star Game
KANSAS CITY -- Four players and members of the coaching staff from Double-A Northwest Arkansas will participate in the 77th annual league All-Star Game on June 25 at the Naturals' Arvest Ballpark in Springdale, Ark.
Shortstop Orlando Calixte, catcher Mitch Canham, infielder Angel Franco and pitcher Santiago Garrido will play for the North Division team. Manager Brian Poldberg, pitching coach Jim Brower, hitting coach Nelson Liriano, trainer Masa Koyanagi and conditioning coach Nate Dine will also work with the North Division team.
Calixte, the Royals' No. 5 prospect, is batting .256 with 12 doubles, three triples and 21 runs scored. Canham is hitting .288 with 11 doubles, a homer and 17 RBIs in 41 games. He's hit safely in all seven games in June. Franco is batting .281 this season with three homers, 17 RBIs and five stolen bases. Garrido posted a 2.67 ERA and went 0-3 in 17 relief appearances. He surrendered just two earned runs in his last 10 appearances spanning 15 1/3 innings.
Yordano Ventura was also invited to play in the All-Star Game, but he was promoted to Triple-A Omaha on June 3. He went 3-2 with a 2.34 ERA in 11 starts at Northwest Arkansas. He held opponents to a .189 batting average with 74 strikeouts in 57 1/3 innings.
Butler ejected for arguing called third strike
KANSAS CITY -- Billy Butler was ejected in the ninth inning of the Royals' 3-2 loss to the Tigers on Tuesday night for objecting to a called third strike.
Facing Tigers closer Jose Valverde, Salvador Perez singled to left on a 3-1 pitch. Elliot Johnson ran for Perez and, on the first pitch to Butler, stole second base. Butler, called out on strike three, argued strenuously. Third-base coach Eddie Rodriguez and manager Ned Yost guided Butler to the dugout.
But Butler apparently continued to debate home-plate umpire Jordan Baker's call on a 3-2 pitch from the dugout and was tossed. Butler charged from the dugout and confronted Baker before Yost again intervened. Valverde then retired Lorenzo Cain and David Lough to end the game.
It was the second ejection for Butler this season.
Royals draw large television audience vs. Tigers
KANSAS CITY -- Monday night's 3-2 victory against the Tigers was the highest-rated Royals telecast ever on FOX Sports Kansas City. It generated an 8.1 household rating in the Kansas City market according to the Nielsen Media Research.
Royals telecasts are averaging a 5.6, up 39 percent from last year's numbers. The game topped WDAF's 9 p.m. CT news and "The Voice" and peaked at 10.6 from 9 to 9:15 p.m.
• Right-hander Felipe Paulino made his first injury rehab start for Double-A Northwest Arkansas on Wednesday night.
Paulino, who is recovering from Tommy John surgery he had last July 3, went five innings, allowing no runs and only two hits. He also had two walks, six strikeouts and one wild pitch. He threw 67 pitches, 42 for strikes.
Last year with the Royals, he was 3-1 with a 1.67 ERA in seven games.
• MLB Network will pick up the Tigers' telecast Wednesday afternoon when they face the Royals in their series finale. The game, which starts at 1:10 p.m. CT, will be available to Kansas City area subscribers.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. Kathleen Gier is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.