Despite making his debut in professional baseball last season, former Crowder College Roughrider Sam Bates is finally getting his feet wet in the minor leagues in 2013.
A native of Cabot, Ark., Bates, 23, is off to a hot start for the Burlington (N.C.) Royals, a short-season rookie level affiliate of the parent Kansas City Royals. With 33 games under his belt this season the first baseman is hitting .294 with six home runs, seven doubles and a triple to go along with 22 RBIs, a .559 slugging percentage and a .950 OPS. His plate discipline has been a plus, too, as he’s struck out only 19 times in 102 at-bats while drawing 14 walks.
Bates was particularly good this past week hitting .381 over seven games with four doubles, a triple, two homers, six RBIs, seven runs scored, five walks and three strikeouts. That was good enough to earn him Appalachian League Player of the Week honors for the first time in his career. All but one of his hits on the week went for extra bases.
His slugging percentage (.559) currently sits more than 30 points higher than anyone else in the league. According to MILB.com, Bates also ranks second in the league in OPS, is second in runs scored with 23 and fourth in RBIs with 22.
The 6-foot-4, 215 pound left-handed hitter began his collegiate career in Neosho with the Roughriders under coach Travis Lallemand in 2009, and helped lead the Roughriders to the NJCAA Division I World Series in 2010 in Grand Junction, Colo. After a stellar career at Crowder in which he hit .435 with 14 home runs and 63 RBIs his sophomore year, Bates was drafted by the Florida Marlins in the 39th round of the 2010 MLB First-Year Player Draft, but did not sign.
He instead attended the University of Arkansas, where he spent two productive years with the Razorbacks in the outfield. After concluding his run with the Razorbacks, the Royals took him in the 28th round in 2012 and he made his pro debut with the Idaho Falls Chukars that same year. Bates, however, only played in five games for the Chukars before an injury cut his season short and forced him to sit out the remainder of the season after just 18 at-bats.