KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Jake Odorizzi and Wil Myers dressed side-by-side Sunday afternoon in the corner of the Kansas City clubhouse, one they hope to inhabit soon on a more permanent basis.
The two prospects started for the U.S. team in the All-Star Futures Game, along with fellow prospect Yordano Ventura, the starting pitcher for the World team. Together, they gave hometown fans a reason to cheer during an All-Star weekend largely devoid of Royals representation.
"This is my second Futures Game, but this one is a little bit better, being in Kansas City," said Myers, a 21-year-old outfielder who's been tearing up the minors. "It's just a cool thought, to be here in front of the home crowd, to get a little taste of it now."
He hopes to get a bigger taste of it soon.
Odorizzi and Myers are both on the cusp of their shot at the big leagues, the latest in a wave of talent that has been matriculating through one of baseball's best farm systems. The Royals have said they want them up this season, but nobody has been willing to divulge a timetable.
Odorizzi, a native of Highland, Illinois, is 5-0 with a 2.83 ERA since a promotion from Double-A Northwest Arkansas to Triple-A Omaha. Myers is hitting .315 with 14 homers in only 48 games at Omaha.
"When they're down there in our league, in Triple-A, and you see them day-in and day-out going out and just crushing everyone, it's time to move on," Omaha manager Mike Jirschele said.
"There's nothing left to learn at that level."
The Royals have forced fans into a wait-till-next-year attitude for decades, and that's been the case again this year. Despite promising young players such as Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas, the team once again languishes near the bottom of the AL Central.
They also gave fans few opportunities to cheer on the home team during All-Star weekend.
Billy Butler will DH Tuesday night, but there are no representatives in Monday night's Home Run Derby, and closer Jonathan Broxton missed out in the last-chance All-Star voting.
That leaves fans ready for the here-and-now to once again root on the future.
"I'd be lying if I said I didn't think about it every day, about coming up," Myers said, "but whatever the Royals want me to do is what I'll do."
Royals Hall of Famer George Brett understands that the once-proud franchise has fallen on hard times, and that there have been few reasons to fill Kauffman Stadium over the years.
As the manager of the U.S. team, Brett did his best to change that.
That's why Odorizzi started the game — giving up a solo homer to Jurickson Profor in his one inning of work — and why Myers played all nine innings, going 2 for 4 and driving in three runs to help pace the U.S. team to a 17-5 victory over the World team.
"Since I'm the manager and the game is in Kansas City — Wil is Kansas City Royals property — he's going to get a chance to show off a little bit," Brett said with a smile.