Monday, February 15, 2010

Omaha Royals Out with the Old in with the New

The baseball climate in Omaha has fallen victim to a decade long winter. In turn the town has become disenchanted with the Royals failures, prospects bouncing from Memphis directly to KC, GM closeout specials and bad baseall for the Omaha hometown team. Due to this fact Rosenblatt stadium became a barren stadium except for the CWS, 4th of July and Creighton-Nebraska showdowns. THIS IS ALL ABOUT TO CHANGE ! The current GM when hired made a proclamation that Omaha would no longer be a graveyard of 4A hacks and former pro castoffs. It would be a destination of development like it was in the 70's and 80's and while KC hasn't had much upper level talent in the system the few they have had have made stops thru Omaha Billy Butler (57 games in 2007) Luke Hochevar (10 starts in '07) despite having zero ML blocks. It appears the GM is going to be good to his word and route some nice talent thru Omaha and just in time for the closing of Rosenblatt and the opening of the Papillion park in 2011.

Who are the possible interesting players for the Omaha Royals in 2010.

Position Breakdown
1b Kila Ka'aihue 6'3 220-Clearly this Hawaiian born former Husker recruit never thought he would be spending multiple years in Nebraska this way but unfortunately for him he is in the wrong organization. Does he deserve a shot in the bigs? Of course he does.
Strengths- Patience and Power - Only one other Royal possesses the patience and plate discipline that Kila does, unfortunately the FO does not grade that as a skill.
Weakness- Long swing, injury prone, lack of speed. The FO might think that Kila's lack of speed offsets his great ability to get on base. That is misguided but maybe that's what it is. Who knows?

Last season Kila was blocked by Jacobs this season he appears to be blocked by Jose Guillen, Josh Fields and other DH options. In the end while I like Kila's ability no one other than Kila can be blamed for his not playing in KC. He had a window of opportunity and unlike '08 with Aviles he didn't force the front offices hand last season. Lets hope this year will be different.

1b/DH Scotty Thorman

2b Irving Falu, Kurt Mertins

SS Mario Lisson

3b Wilson Betemit

C Manuel Pina- One of the pieces in the Gutierrez trade Pina is said to be a good defensive light hitting catcher hmm sounds like a FA KC just signed. Edwin Bellorin

None of the above are anything more than minor league filler.

OF Jordan Parraz- In a very good trade prior to last season the GM traded failing lefty Tyler Lumsden to Houston for Parraz. This looks to be a very good move as Parraz busted out in AA with a .358/.451/.553 slash line prior to injuring his hamstring. Parraz definitely appears to have the game of at least a 4th OF and maybe more.

Strengths-BA rates him as having the best arm in the system. Parraz hasn't had lower than a .360 OBP since his first season of pro ball(2005-.304OBP). That OBP stat might disqualify him from getting a serious look from the org.

Weakness- Average at best defensively but his arm should makeup for that weakness. Average pop at best with the bat.

OF David Lough- Lough experienced a terrific 2009. Lough might be considered a late bloomer because he didn't fully choose to concentrate on baseball until getting drafted by the Royals. Lough season really exploded when he got away from Frawley field and to Arkansas as he got better every month he was there (.891,.910,1.057). Loughs power shined in AA as he hit 11 HRs and 15 2bs in just 265 ABs. Lough will get a look at spring training this season and could possibly start '10 in AA.
Strengths- Good Pop, Good Speed, Good Arm
Weaknesses- He is a Royal prospect = Lacks Patience. SB% isn't great despite having good speed.

BA Compared his upside to that of David DeJesus which some would say is a average ceiling. DeJesus ceiling is greater than average but he is compared that way DDJs stats don't jump off the page, this is a very good comparison for Lough but I do however think Lough has a slightly better upside than most because he does have a bit more power without the OB skills of DDJ. Hopefully KC will let him play CF in Omaha but don't count on it. Maier could get optioned back to Omaha and Jared Dyson could also get a look at AAA(I would guess a short one). I wouldn't be shocked if Lough became the Top position prospect in the system and a everyday regular by Aug-Sep once the likes of Pods or Anks doesn't work out at the ML level.

OF Tim Smith- Acquired in the Gutierrez trade, one that I absolutely hated at first glance until I read Guts was still fighting his third pitch and still fighting maturity. Smith doesn't possess any outstanding skill. His ceiling looks to be that of a ML 4th OF.
Strenghts-Has Patience
Weakness-Below Average Athlete, Avg to Below defense, Long Swing

Buck Coats CF - another light hitting fast CF type who can't really play his position.
Jarrod Dyson CF - duplicate above with better defense
Shane Costa OF - Resigned again Costa could start his 5th season in Omaha '06-'10.
Brian Anderson/Mitch Maier Loser- Mitch has no business playing in the minors and despite his light hitting should be the starting CF in the bigs. This is why our FO is very weak at building a ML roster.

Pitchers-Designing this crew is a bit of a challenge with the uncertainty of the KC Roster but I'll give it my best shot.

SP Blake Wood- Wood has enormous talent and when he is on he is as good as it gets in the system unfortunately he is rarely on. Fastball sits in the low to mid 90's with a plus changeup and curve. Wood has great size at 6'4 225 lbs but his overall lack of consistency has hurt him.
Strengths- Looks the part size, arm power and plus stuff when on.
Weaknesses- Consistency of pitches.
This could be Woods last chance as a starter, a move to the pen could allow him to touch that 97 mph mark on his fastball more consistently. Woods K numbers were down quite a bit in AA ball (7.6 to 5.44/9). He doesn't really deserve a promotion but he needs a new challenge.

SP Chris Nicoll- I expect Nicoll will be used as a starter once again in Omaha despite the fact that his best shot at making the major league roster is as a reliever. Nicoll had a strong start at AA NW Arkansas in the pen and then was transferred to the rotation in Omaha. Nicoll has a below average fastball (88-91) but has great command of his change up and curveball. Nicoll could profile as a Sorialite in the majors with his good command and 3 decent pitch combo.

SP Phil Humber, SP Bruce Chen

Relief Pitchers- Omaha's Bullpen could be quite intriguing due to the fact it might actually be better than the KC bullpen with the exception of closer Joakim Soria.

Bryan Bullington- The former #1 Overall pick in 2002 by the Pittsburgh Pirates was moved to the bullpen by the Toronto Blue Jays and enjoyed a renaissance of sorts. Why did it take so long to move him to the pen, god only knows but maybe KC will be the beneficiaries of that move. Bullington in the very hitter friendly side of the PCL put up solid numbers 2.62 FIP, 9.6 K/9, 1.56 BB/9, 53% GB Rate over 40.2 IP. Maybe the move to the pen is all Bullington needed.

Chris "Disco" Hayes- Everyones favorite blogger/submariner enjoyed some succes at AA and a little bad luck at AAA in '09. Hayes is a groundball machine and will need a return to his AA numbers and perhaps some forward thinking by the FO to get a look at the ML level.

Devon Lowery, Victor Marte

Dusty Hughes- Hughes tossed 87+ innings at Omaha last season and earned a cup of coffee at the big league level. The former starter could possibly earn a shot at the major league since he is one of the few leftees at the upper levels besides Osuna.

Overall this roster is probably one of the better ones that Omaha has had in a while. I wouldn't be surprised if the roster looked slightly different than this on opening day but either way I would expect to see most of these guys at some point in Omaha this season. People and fans have a good reason to compain about the roster of the big league club but hopefully longterm the draft strategy will pay dividends in KC. If it does work the fans of Omaha could come back and make those I-29 trips more and more.

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