The AquaSox lost a talented leadoff hitter who was a valuable clubhouse leader.
Outfielder Ryan Royster was promoted to the Class-A Clinton (Iowa) LumberKings. Royster was batting .327 this season. Appearing in 40 games, he either led or was among Everett’s leaders in average, home runs (seven), doubles (11), runs batted in (27), runs scored (38) and stolen bases (eight).
Royster found out about his promotion late in Monday’s game against Boise. He left Tuesday morning to join the LumberKings.
“I’m going to miss him,” AquaSox infielder Hawkins Gebbers said, “but we’re really happy for him because he deserves it, for sure. He was one of our veteran guys that was a leader.”
Royster, the Mariners’ 13th-round pick in the 2008 draft, began his pro career in Everett. Last season he hit .196 in 57 games with the Frogs.
“Good for him,” AquaSox manager John Tamargo said. “He’s had a good year and he really deserves (the promotion). He really has worked hard and concentrated on hitting.”
Center fielder Matt Cerione slid into Royster’s vacated leadoff spot Tuesday. Royster’s departure left Everett with just three outfielders on the roster.
Everett also lost backup infielder Deybis Benitez, who was traded to the Pirates and will leave today, Tamargo said. In a limited role, Benitez hit .231 in 13 at-bats with the AquaSox.
After playing a game for 18 consecutive days, the AquaSox got a rare day off Sunday. A few players, including Royster and James Jones, took the mellow route and explored Seattle. Others were more adventurous.
Tamargo, the AquaSox manager, traveled to Victoria, B.C., with his wife. They road the Victoria Clipper and enjoyed a well-known Canadian tradition: Afternoon Tea at the Fairmont Empress Resort Hotel.
“It was a good time. We went in there and you had different kinds of teas and different kinds of sandwiches and some sweets and things like that,” said Tamargo. He and his wife also took a bus tour of the city.
Meanwhile, Gebbers — Everett’s second baseman — spent much of his day off on the road. He drove to his hometown, Brewster. The eight-hour round trip worthwhile, as always, he said.
“Basically, I go around my little town and say hi to everybody,” said Gebbers, who went to church with his family Sunday morning. “I see how the cherries and apple harvest is going and drive back that night.”
Entering Tuesday’s game, Gebbers had an eye-popping .346 batting average, which was second in the Northwest League among players with the minimum number of plate appearances. But Gebbers is more than a hitter. He made a stellar diving catch in Monday’s contest that spoiled a Boise hit-and-run and resulted in a double play. Gebbers, who through Monday made five errors in 34 games, said working with strength and conditioning coach Gabe Bourland has boosted Gebbers’ speed and agility, thereby improving the infielder’s defensive ability.
“Guys like me just have to be all-around players,” Gebbers said. “We’ve got to work on any weaknesses.”
The AquaSox improved to 15-4 in home games with Monday’s win over Boise. In those games, the Frogs hit .307, hit 27 home runs and 39 doubles, and scored 119 runs, an average of 6.3 runs per game. … Despite the recent heat wave, the infield and outfield grass at Everett Memorial Stadium is in good condition. AquaSox general manager Brian Sloan praised first-year team groundskeeper Brian Burroughs, who spent the past two seasons with Eugene. “Our field, I don’t think it’s ever looked better, really,” Sloan said. “There’s very few dry patches out there.” … AquaSox relief pitcher Brad Reid was impressive Monday, tallying four strikeouts without allowing a hit in two scoreless innings. Entering Tuesday’s game, Reid, who leads the team with five holds, was 3-0 with a 2.86 earned-run average, 23 strikeouts and six walks in 22 innings.
Mike Cane, Herald Writer