Thursday, March 31, 2011

Season Predictions White Sox win it all

I could easily toss out a Philly-Boston/NY World Series which is what everyone else is doing but I thought I'd go a different way and predict a scenario in which a different team wins it all.

AL East
Tampa Bay

AL Central
Kansas City

AL West
LA Angeles

Wild Card NY Yankees

Boston beats Texas
Chicago beats NY Yankees
Chicago beats Boston

AL MVP Kevin Youkilis
AL CY Young CJ Wilson
AL Jackie Robinson Award Kyle Drabek

NL East
NY Mets

NL Central
St Louis

NL West
San Francisco
LA Dodgers
San Diego

Wild Card Philadelphia

Cincinnati beats Atlanta
Philadelphia beats Colorado
Philadelphia beats Cincinnati

NL MVP Jason Heyward
NL CY Young Roy Halladay
NL Jackie Robinson Award Freddie Freeman

Chicago shocks the world and beats Philadelphia in 6 games.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Putting the finishing touch on the Royals Winter

Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus let out a few more articles on the bright Royals future today. Those features wrap up a winter of unparalleled coverage for a team coming off yet another losing season. I definitely can't think of a time that a teams minor league players have been so extensively studied by pretty much every sports publication in this country. It sure has been fun to read, listen and watch what people have to say about these young Royals but even a prospect hound like myself has grown tired of it. I'm ready to watch them !

The final piece for Royals minor league fun will be the Royals Futures Game Saturday and as you would expect I will be there checking out the fun. After that it's opening day at Werner Park followed by a trip to Kane County April 18th and the 19th. Tweet me up if you are out at any of these events. See ya Saturday !

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Royals Nation unhappy with the final roster moves.

The Royals finished up with another win today their 20th of the spring while also finalizing their major league roster. As most people expected Coleman, Mendoza, Zach Miner, Irvin Falu and Lance Zawadzki will all be reassigned with Vin Mazzaro to minor league camps. Coleman, Mendoza and Zawadzki pushed hard going to the final day of spring but the fact that they weren't on the 40 man roster hurt their chances to break with the team. I expect Zawadzki and Coleman to get a shot at the bigs prior to the end of the year if they perform in Omaha.

Prior to these moves the Royals picked up Matt Treanor from the Rangers and added him to the 25 man roster while leaving Lucas May exposed. There are many in Royal fandom that have a problem with this and while Treanor may not be an average catcher in the bigs assuming that Lucas May who has just one average season at AAA is a huge loss is somewhat funny. I saw May quite a few times last season and he seemed like a straight fastball hitter that would get exposed by breaking stuff in the majors while also being a below average defensive catcher. I'm not saying I'm excited by this move but on the other hand I see the writing on the wall and this Salvador Perez's job and pitching staff for that matter in 2012 with a possibility of picking up a catcher via free agency if he struggles this season. I would rather the young bullpen guys had a chance to work with a experience vet like Treanor in the meantime.

The other moves that caused waves were adding Aaron Crow to the bullpen and taking Jarrod Dyson to KC while exposing Gregor Blanco to waivers. I had already expressed how I liked the Crow decision prior to KC making it here so I'll address the Dyson decision instead. Blanco is a nice player but has little to no longterm future with this team so keeping him isn't a huge addition while losing him isn't big either. Dyson is 26 going on 27 so the chance of him finding some kind of playable power to allow him to be a everyday centerfielder is asking alot especially after 1200+ minor league ABs. He is what he is a speedy defensive outfielder/pinch runner. If the Royals have a upside speedy centerfielder who could develop some pop it's Derrick Robinson in AA not Jarrod Dyson.

I don't understand the uproar about Blanco, when was he supposed to play after Cain was called up? His only available playing time at this point would be if Frenchy and Alex both fell off the canyons edge of performance something even I don't believe will happen with both of them. Maier is the better player and Blanco out of the fold is good to me in case Frenchy or Alex fold then KC might have to give David Lough a look as opposed to running Maier and Blanco both out there everyday. Lough has more upside than Gregor and Mitch and if he performs in Omaha should be in line for a spot after Cain. Blanco was given an edge to win a spot in the spring and he just didn't take hold of it.

The hyperbole is funny that has been tossed out there, these moves haven't stopped or slowed the process these were players that had little to no future with the Royals and losing them now isn't causing any losses to the huge talent pool that already exist.

Monday, March 28, 2011

2011 Kansas City Royals Prediction

It's prediction time folks ! As a blogger about the Royals I am obliged to write my prediction of what I think will happen this season so readers can requote me later to tell me what I'm wrong about. So here you go I'm putting my pinky finger on the cutting board with a bucket of ice standing by.

2011 Record 75-87 4th Place

Hitting MVP: Billy Butler .320+ 25 HR 45 2b
Defensive MVP: Alcides Escober
Positional ROY: Mike Moustakas

DH/1b Billy Butler- I believe Butler is in line for his first .900+ OPS season. He's going to prove that the contract extension was a good decision despite splitting time at DH and 1b I think he'll put up a 3.5-4 WAR season. That's not a big improvement in WAR but I think he'll play quite a few games fewer at 1b this season.

1b/DH Kila Ka'aihue- I doubt Kila reaches BP's projections but I do think he'll be better than what KC has seen out of the DH position in the past. Somewhere in that .825-.840 OPS region with 20 HR and better defense than what Billy can provide at 1b. WAR Value 2-2.5

2b Chris Getz- I don't believe in Getz's ability to hit much. I think he'll hit his way out of Kansas City within a couple months posting a sub .600 OPS along the way and making room for Aviles to take over the spot when Moose is ready to come up.

SS Alcides Escobar- Spring training home runs are generally to be ignored but I saw one Escobar hit off the Reds while in Arizona and I came away pretty impressed. It wasn't a windy night or unusually warm but it was a high semi deep home run to left center that a light hitting SS in the TPJ mold wouldn't be able to hit. I'm not expecting Escobar to put up huge offensive numbers in KC but I think he'll put up better numbers than we expect. My guess OPS .750 range with plus plus defense 3-4 WAR.

3B Mike Aviles- Aviles will do what he does hit above .300 and mix in a little pop while moving to 2b when Moose is ready to go. OPS .800 range

Mike Moustakas- I think Mike will get off to a slow start but adjust and hit 10-15 HR's and get people excited for next season. Many in the prospect field are scared of Mike's patience which they should be but what most like is his strength combined with a flat plane swing that stays in the zone a long time that will allow him to hit for a decent average (.275-.300) and also allows him to hit any type of pitch once he's adjusted after seeing it. OPS .775 Range.

Wilson Betemit .750 OPS very limited playing time with Kila and Butler playing well.

Rookies to play this season: Mike Moustakas, Eric Hosmer(Sept.), Lance Zawadzki(Util when Getz goes down) and Johnny Giavotella(Sept.)

C Jason Kendall/Matt Treanor - More of the same out of the catching position for the Royals. Kendall and Treanor's performance will probably be interchangeable and will play too much and while putting up a sub .600 OPS.

C Brayan Pena - Pena would like the Royals to signa a longterm deal but that's not coming with Salvador on the way. Pena will struggle again at the plate and behind it as he gets sporadic playing time.

LF Alex Gordon- This is the tough one, I've watched Alex for a long time and he's got all the skill in his body to get it done but I don't think he has what it take confidencewise to as he put it "dominate". I think he'll put up numbers similar to what he did as a rookie .725 OPS range with average defense.

CF Melky Cabrerra- I think GMDM is hoping to have Melky get out of the gates fast start so they can flip him similarly to what they did with Scott Podsednik when Lorenzo Cain is ready to go. We'll see how it plays out but I think he'll play below average defense in CF while hitting in the .740 OPS range.

RF Jeff Franceour- Every Non-Royal fan rejoiced at the signing of Frenchy the day it happened and they will be treated to exactly what most expect of him a subpar performance. .700 OPS Range with 15 HRs and better defense than he has played the last couple years due to being leaner.

Lorenzo Cain- Cain will take over for Melky after the trading deadline and provide a similar OPS to Melky but with plus defense.
Mitch Maier .700 OPS Range
Jarrod Dyson .680 OPS range

Rookies to play: Lorenzo Cain, David Lough(Sept)
WAR Leaders
Escobar 4
Butler 3.5-4
Aviles 3
Kila 2-2.5

SP MVP: Luke Hochevar 4.00 ERA Range
BP MVP outside Joakim Soria:
Royals ROY: Mike Montgomery

I picked the record I did because I believe this season will go similarly to the 2008season with the Royals struggling at first but by midseason finding a good rythem with a dominant bullpen leading to a solid 2nd half of the season.

1. Luke Hochevar 4.00 ERA Range I think Luke will step up with improved defense behind him putting together is best season to date. Hoch will be the best starter over the course of the season. WAR 4 range in 185 innings

2. Jeff Francis - I think KC could get a nice stretch out of Francis to start the season while he puts up a similar season to Bruce Chen as last year earning him a ticket out of town at the trade deadline for a team looking for postseason experience. 4.50 ERA Range in about 100-125 innings 1 WAR

3. Kyle Davies - More of the same from Davies, no reason to expect anything different than what he's done over the last couple of seasons. 5.25 ERA around 2 WAR in 180 innings

4. Bruce Chen - Back to life back to reality for Bruce 5.50 ERA Range demoted prior to the All Star Break

5. Vin Mazzaro - 4.75 ERA Range for Vin not what we wanted in return for DDJ. 150-175 innings and

Mike Montgomery- A lefty that hits 97 with a good curve and change up will get into the rotation by the All Star break taking over for Chen. He'll struggle at first as most rookies do but by the end of the season will look like a figurehead at the top of the rotation for a long time. 4.25 ERA Range approx.

Aaron Crow - Struggles at first but settles into the 3rd or 4th best BP guy. By midseason he takes over as the long man and swingman and start to compete for a rotation spot in '12

Nate Adcock - I don't like his chances once the lights kick on. He hasn't missed many bats and reminds me of O'Sullivan.

Sean O'Sullivan - More of the same out of O'Sullivan

Jeremy Jeffress - Fb just a bit too straight to succeed for me.

Tim Collins- the funky lefty will workout just fine for the Royals quickly becoming the regular vs lefties and working into a 7th inning role while taking over as the 8th inning guy for Tejeda when he is traded.

Robinson Tejeda - Hard to see Tejeda not matching what he has done each of his last two seasons. McClure has been able to right the ship everytime he has any falters. I do think this is the season the Royals trade him at the deadline though perhaps a Tejeda and one of the OF in a package.

Joakim Soria - He'll keep doing what he does 35+ saves in too few of innings.

Look it's easy to look at this roster and say the Royals will hover around 65 wins or so and I could just as easily make that case as what I predicted. The Royals are an organization currently that has a positive outlook on themselves and they've eliminated the players who have a negative picture of the past organization which to me is huge. Can I quantify that it a number of wins? No I can't but I do think it matters, I've seen too many people in my life with talent in a number of fields that just didn't reach their potential because of their attitude.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Aaron Crow and thinning the roster

Last season Aaron Crow showed up to spring training with big time expectations by Royals fans. He did everything in his power to meet those expectations during the spring even causing some to think he should be given a job in the bullpen. Last season that would've been too much to ask for Aaron in my opinion as a guy who sat out over a year of baseball but now I think it's time to give him a shot.

Crow's change up didn't do much progressing last season and while I don't have anything against the minor league staff I would like to see how Crow's change developed after working with Bob McClure for a full season. Aaron definitely has the two pitch combo to succeed out of the bullpen. His fastball according to pitchf/x versus Oakland this spring was 94-96 with plenty of movement (4-6 degrees) while his slider was 86-89 with 6 to 8 degrees in movement. That's plenty of velocity and enough movement that if Crow throws strikes he'll succeed in the pen and give the Royals a swing and miss power who can also create groundballs, something they don't have in their other bullpen talents.

The biggest part of this scenario is working with McClure who I think is a above average pitching coach and has done wonders with the pitchers he's had in the pen so far. McClure on multiple occassions (Tejeda, Greinke and Farnsworth) has taken failed or struggling starters and turned them into effective relievers who have at least entered the conversation as possible rotation guys while also helping one become a Cy Young winner. I'm quite confident a year with Bob in the pen would do as much for Crow's career as a starter as anything he would learn this year in AA or AAA.

Couple other notes the Royals released Aaron Hartsock, Scott Kelley, Justin Figueroa and Tom Zebroski this weekend after trading Gaby Hernandez and Alex Caldera earlier. The Royals also picked up John Whittleman from the Rangers.

Whittleman isn't much of a prospect as a 25 year old heading to High A after not posting much of a line last season in AA but I assume he is a great guy and will help fill roster at High A Wilmington.

Cut day is coming soon I think we are gonna see some interesting decisions by the Royals as they decided to send Lorenzo Cain down today.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Mike Sweeney Retires a Royal awaits his Royal HOF spot

Good stuff on part of the organization today as Mike Sweeney signed a one day contract and retired as a Royal the way he should. Sweeney was a constant role model and seemed to be a class act on the field and off it despite plenty of criticism by fans and media alike.

Sweeney according to Baseball reference finishes 7th All Time in Royal history in Career WAR PA
1. George Brett 85.0 11624
2. Amos Otis 42.3 7969
3. Willie Wilson 35.7 7302
4. Frank White 26.9 8467
5. Hal McRae 26.1 7361
6. Carlos Beltran 24.6 3512
7. Mike Sweeney 22.2 527

5th in Offensive WAR PA
1. George Brett 79.5 11624
2. Amos Otis 45.8 7969
3. Hal McRae 26.4 7361
4. Willie Wilson 25.8 7302
5. Mike Sweeney 23.3 5278

2nd in OPS to Danny Tartabull, 2nd in Adjusted OPS+ to George Brett and 2nd again to Brett in Home Runs. Simply put Mike Sweeney in a few years will find his jersey hanging in the Royals Hall of Fame as a 1st ballot Royal Hall of Famer. A fitting career end to a Hall of Fame type of person.

Revisiting Playboy 2005

As some of you may know I have a small company in Council Bluffs/Omaha and in my offices I share a bathroom with the landlord who has an office in the building. While I've been using the bathroom for months one day I looked above the cabinet for some untold reason and discovered a couple Playboy magazines peaking over the edge.

Being a man I looked around (duh no one else is in the bathroom) and was compelled to grab the Playboy magazines to discover what great articles are to be seen on the inside of the pages and to my surprise what should I find but a preview of the 2005 baseball season. While many Royal fans remember the 2004 and 2005 seasons as probably the two worst seasons in Royal history both recordwise but also because of the promise 2003 brought I thought it would be fun to revisit what a non-sport publication thought at the time.

Last Season 58-104 Last place, 34 games out. The Royals used a franchise-record 58 players, one shy of the major league mark set by Cleveland and San Diego in 2002.

Off-season focus: They splurged on free agents a year ago and went from a contender in 2003 to having the worst record in franchise histroy. So they regrouped and committed to building from within the farm system.

Who was this farm system rebuild with? Buck and Teahen? I've always thought the idea that Baird looked to rebuild with the farm system was a total joke. The guy didn't draft well, buy international talent or even use all the minor league levels to develop players. Whoever bought into Baird's idea of development wasn't watching closely.

In-season prognosis: The Royals have the potential to suprise-not by winning the division but by making everyone else uncomfortable. They have young talent and are excited about the potential of third baseman Mark Teahen, who came from Oakland. How much they improve will depend on how well Runelvys Hernandez rebounds from elbow surgery and whether righty Denny Bautista can deliver.

Of course the Royals didn't make anyone uncomfortable that season by setting a new low mark going 56-106.

Welcome to town: Outfielder Terrence Long was excess baggage in San Diego, but the Royals see him as a much needed left-handed bat who will respond to a return to regular duty.

Terrence Long was just another name in the group of failed veteran pickups by Baird. Guys he would attempt to grab onto just before they left baseball. Baird's OF picks of Gonzalez, Long and Sanders over inhouse players like Diaz and Ibanez were just a couple reasons this franchise reached incredible lows in '04 and '05.

This preview was written by Tracy Rigolsby while Christina Kahrl wrote some bits and pieces as well, it's always fun to look back and review what people thought at the time no matter how painful that season was. There was also the nice Mike Sweeney little interview with one of the following quotes "I was there when we lost 100 games. I was there when we came up just short of winning the division. It would be sweeter to win in Kansas City, having gone through the tought times." Rigolsby took it pretty easy on the Royals as I believe most thought they were going to end up where they did but he shined as much hope as he possibly could.

While the baseball intro doesn't quite live up to the James Spader interview(I'm a Boston Legal fan), Hunter S. Thompson last words or Suburban Bombshells Naked comparison of Desperate Housewives it was definitely fun to discover in my office but unfortunately I won't be reviewing the October 2008 issue that is also above the cabinet.

NEXT UP: Royals Season Predictions

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Jason Adam making waves

Jason Adam the local Royals 4th Rounder last year is making more waves in spring training after an impressive instruct debut. Jason Parks of Baseball Prospectus was very impressed by what he saw earlier this week by Adam saying his fastball was sitting 94-96 while touching 97/98. His curve was 80 mph with command, control with depth and a long break. According to Jason he has good arm speed on his change up while having good late fade on the pitch. Parks also said his polish was comparable to a AAA player which for a guy who hasn't played a pro game yet is extremely impressive.

Nick Scott also tweeted tonight that he was 94-96 today.

Parks future projection of Adam's stuff.
FB 70
Curve 60 at least
Change up 50

I highly encourage you to checkout Jason Parks stuff at BP and his own site

I've had some small amount of interaction with Adam after he was drafted and he truly is a great kid.

Other great stuff on the Royals prospects in Surprise including Cuthbert on the BP Podcast

I'm planning a trip to Kane County April 18-20 hopefully I'll be able to get video of Adam and Cuthbert.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Reshuffling the Top 35 prior to the season

When coming up with my Royals rankings prior I had put a few players further down the list based on not seeing them play or their lack of time in the minors. Having seen the likes of Calixte, Eibner, Arteaga and Michael Antonio now in person along with other Royals I had already watched play I'm now more comfortable to re-rank them all.

For those of you that don't already know I do rank players based on their likely opportunity to play. That's why you'll see Johnny Giavotella much lower on my rankings than you'll see other places. I like most other people like Gio's bat but his defense limitations combined with being sandwiched by Getz, Aviles and Colon limit his opportunity within the organization so he falls into that same range in the rankings as Lough, Bianchi and Robinson who face similar problems.

I'm going to leave the Top 14 unchanged as there is little seperating the players to reshuffle them. I'm definitely getting closer to ranking Hosmer ahead of Myers just because he looks like a Hall of Famer currently but I'll hold off to see how each looks at their new levels.

Name- (Prev Rk) Likely Destination
1. Wil Myers - NW Arkansas
2. Eric Hosmer - Omaha
3. Mike Montgomery - Omaha
4. Mike Moustakas - Omaha
5. John Lamb - NW Arkansas
6. Christian Colon - NW Arkansas
7. Chris Dwyer - NW Arkansas
8. Danny Duffy - Omaha
9. Cheslor Cuthbert - Kane County
10. Jake Odorizzi - Wilmington
11. Aaron Crow - Omaha
12. Louis Coleman - Omaha or Kansas City
13. Tim Collins - Omaha or Kansas City
14. Jeremy Jeffress - Kansas City

15. Brett Eibner (17) Kane County
16. Robinson Yambati
17. Yordano Ventura
Kane County after May

The first change occurs at #15 where I rank Brett Eibner ahead of Yambati and Ventura. Eibner has a fast bat with pop and is a solid athlete. I think he'll zip through Kane County and find himself in Wilmington very quickly.

18. Salvador Perez NW Arkansas
19. Jason Adam Kane County
20. David Lough Omaha
21. Johnny Giavotella Omaha - Gio looked outstanding with the bat in AZ
22. Clint Robinson (24) Omaha
23. Jeff Bianchi (25) NW Arkansas

24. Tim Melville (22) Wilmington

Moving up to #22 from his previous spot at 24 is Clint Robinson. Robinson just like Hosmer looks like a beast and can turn on everything he sees in the zone. I don't know about his future with the Royals with Butler, Kila and Hosmer ahead of him but he could provide some trade value. After Robinson at 22 I'm reshuffling some guys based on positional value.

25. Orlando Calixte (UR) Kane County

Calixte makes a jump into my rankings after previously being unranked. I loved Calixte's arm strength and movement at SS and he should add even more strength to a wiry strong body if he is only 19. Calixte should be a solid gap to gap hitter with decent speed, I haven't seen enough to know about his plate discipline but he appears to be a same type of player as Escobar. Calixte could make an enormous jump next season with the amount of prospects that could graduate and if he can transfer his tools into on the field production.

26. Jarrod Dyson Omaha
27. Derrick Robinson NW Arkansas
28. Michael Antonio (UR) Kane County
29. Everett Teaford (28) Omaha
30. Will Smith (29) NW Arkansas

Another new entry to the list is Michael Antonio who impressed me with his strength and pop with the bat in Arizona. Antonio has thickened up a bit and could be destined to a switch to a corner OF position as one of his teammates Cheslor Cuthbert is a better 3b defender and prospect but he should have the arm and athleticism to handle that position switch if necessary.

31. Patrick Keating (23) NW Arkansas
32. Tyler Sample (30) Wilmington
33. Jorge Bonafacio (34) Idaho Falls
34. Crawford Simmons (35) Burlington
35. Kelvin Herrera (31) Wilmington

These players were reshuffled based off of value and upside. Bonafacio has the highest upside of the group but is also the furthest away. Sample, Herrera are facing important seasons in their career as one needs to prove he can stay healthy while the other needs to get much much better at throwing strikes. Keating fell just due to his role as a bullpen guy something that could happen to Herrera if he ends up in the pen which from the sounds of it could be likely.

Projecting the Royals Top 15 2012
1. Wil Myers
2. Eric Hosmer
3. John Lamb
4. Chris Dwyer
5. Christian Colon
6. Cheslor Cuthbert
7. Archie Bradley, Daniel Norris, Bubba Starling or whoever is taken w 1st rd pick
8. Jake Odorizzi
9. Brett Eibner
10. Jason Adam
11. Salvador Perez
12. Yordano Ventura
13. Robinson Yambatti
14. Tim Melville
15. Orlando Calixte

UP NEXT Joe Holtmeyer UNO Maverick Draft Prospect, Damek Tomscha Iowa Western Draft Prospect

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Pics of Spring Training

Michael Antonio in the cage

Myers waiting his turn

Moustakas steppin into the cage

Mike Moustakas

Orlando Calixte

Orlando Calixte

Mertins, Giavotella and Hosmer

Hosmer, Mertins and Bianchi playing catch

Cheslor Cuthbert

Cheslor Cuthbert

Orlando Calixte in the dugout

Orlando Calixte and Angel Franco

How the Omaha Roster is shaping up

Royals optioned Manny Pina, Greg Holland and Blake Wood while assigning Mike Montgomery to AAA Omaha. Montgomery wasn't a guy I projected in the Omaha rotation but it appears the Royals believe he is ready to go which adds intrigue to a stout Omaha rotation and potential roster.

Here is what is headed to Omaha currently next to what I predicted early this year.

Projection vs What I thought previously
Mike Montgomery - Didn't have him on the breakdown
Danny Duffy - 50/50
Everett Teaford - Very Likely

Blake Wood - KC
Greg Holland - KC
Blaine Hardy - Very Likely
Brandon Sisk - Very Likely
Jesse Chavez - Very Likely

C Manny Pina - Lock
1b Eric Hosmer - 50/50
1b/DH Clint Robinson - Lock
2b Johnny Giavotella - Lock
3b Mike Moustakas - Lock
LF David Lough - Very Likely

We've yet to see how the Outfield, Middle Infield and the rest of the rotation and bullpen will breakdown but it appears Omaha will have the most talented roster it has had in a long time.

More Videos

Brett Eibner
Eibner 2nd Video

Mike Moustakas
Moose 2nd video

Johnny Giavotella
Johnny 2nd Video

Eric Hosmer

David Lough

Jeremy Jeffress

Danny Duffy

Monday, March 21, 2011

Pics and Video of Spring Training

While I was at spring training I was mostly jotting notes down but I did take some time to take a few pics and videos. Here are a few of the video's I'll post more pics and video tomorrow.

Christian Colon in the cage

Wil Myers in the cage

Orlando Calixte in the cage

Lane Adams in the cage

Michael Antonio in the cage

Royals under the gun at all levels

We've heard all the accolades and we've heard how impressive the talent pool is in the Royals organization. Even for a loaded pool of talent there are some players with tools and ability that have yet to translate those skills onto the field and for those players it is a make or break type season or they will find themselves buried behind the depth.

ML/AAA - Blake Wood - The Royals have taken their time with Wood after drafting him in the '06 draft (3rd round) letting him make 68 starts at the minor league levels despite mixed results at the upper levels. The move last season to the bullpen seemed to be beneficial to Wood at least at the AAA level although it was a small sample size but he struggled at the major league level. Wood now appears to be falling down the depth chart behind Jeffress, Collins and Coleman and with more arms coming if he doesn't find success at the ML level quickly he'll likely become nothing more than a AAA arm or trade throw in piece.

AA - Henry Barrera - The Royals placed this hard throwing righty on the 40 man roster last season prior to the Rule 5 draft so they obviously thought very highly of him at the time. He remains on the 40 man roster today and was given an audition this spring but another arm injury has set him back. He's already lost one season due to injuries and this setback has once again slowed his progress. He has the pitches to be an effective bullpen arm and has showed solid results in his last two heathy seasons ('08/'10) but if he can't make the move thru Arkansas and into KC by late this season then he'll likely face a similar scenario as Blake Wood.

High A - Kelvin Herrera - One of my all-time prospect crushes Herrera has the tools to develop into a starter and has flashed solid results but like Barrera has been bitten by the injury bug. Herrera has a mid 90s fastball and what has been described as precocious command of both the change and curveball. Both pitches flashed as future average to plus pitches for the 19 year old at A ball but injuries have sidelined him the last two seasons and now he is a 21 year old at High A swallowed up by talented arms all around him. I had hoped he would be the young right hand gun to go alongside Monty, Lamb etc but now he appears destined to a bullpen role where hopefully his small frame (5'10 170 lbs) will be able to handle the torque put on his arm.

Low A - Hilton Richardson - Looks like Tarzan plays like Jane describes Richardson the best to me. When you first arrive at the minor league complex or single A facility the first thing you see is this beast of an athlete that looks as if he should be playing as a shooting guard or wide receiver somewhere else, then you see him run in center and you are even more intrigued, then he steps to the plate and cuts all his athletic ability off with a single slap swing. Richardson appears on the surface to be strong but his swing is limiting any power that he might have in his body. As a result last season his numbers were awful at A ball .204/.272/.316 and unless he changes his approach I doubt success will happen. I saw him in Arizona last week and no change had occurred in his stance or hitting approch.

Video from last April of Richardson
Another plate appearance from April Hilton Richardson

All of these guys have some impressive tools whether it is the three pitchers mid 90s fastballs or Richardson's speed but with a system very deep and from the sounds of it about to get deeper they need to translate those tools now or get swallowed up by the talent around them.

NEXT UP: Video and pics from Spring Training

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Yost makes a decision on pitching roster

Royals_Report Bob Dutton tweeted this today
Sean O'Sullivan will break with club as long reliever.
Comparing this to my pitching roster prediction in January lays out about as I expected. I thought the Royals would use Chen as a long man until a 5th starter was needed so they could carry just one lefty in the BP. Yost announced Mazzaro will stay in Omaha until mid April when a 5th starter is needed. If I was to remake my predictions currently I would definitely put Jeffress ahead of Blake Wood who I thought was a lock. I also would slide Nate Adcock ahead of Texeira while putting Coleman and Holland in a virtual tie for that next spot.

SP Luke Hochevar #1
SP Jeff Francis #2
SP Vin Mazzaro Omaha/#5
SP Kyle Davies #3
SP Bruce Chen #4

RP Joakim Soria (LOCK)
RP Robinson Tejeda (LOCK)
RP Blake Wood
RP Sean O'Sullivan Long man Announced
RP Kanekoa Texeira
RP Greg Holland
RP Tim Collins

Thursday, March 10, 2011

More Heyman Greinke Rumors

Heyman tweeted todayFor greinke #royals asked #rangers for pitchers hunter, holland and kirkman, grt kid ss profar, cf beltre. Smart to say no

How does this haul compare to what they got from the Brewers?
Lorenzo Cain > Engel Beltre - Beltre has an interesting toolset that if he ever capitalized on it could be a solid player but he has one big negative as reported by
Jason Parks at Texas Farm Review - Well below-average approach at the plate; overly aggressive; plays too fast;
I doubt Beltre will ever be able to adjust his approach at the plate something Cain has had no problems with at every level. Beltre might have the higher upside but reaching the ceiling is very doubtful.

Alcides Escobar = Jurickson Profar - This is a matter of what you prefer, Escobar is further along in development while Profar in the long run might have the better overall tools. Profar is very young but he could become a second Elvis Andrus, a player who zips thru the minors due to his advanced feel of the game. Escobar has more speed and while both have good hit tools Profar might have the better approach and possibly more power in the longrun. Profar if all things go right could be the better player but Escobar offsets that some by already being in the majors and showing above average defensive ability.

Derek Holland, Michael Kirkman and Tommy Hunter > Jeremy Jeffress and Jake Odorizzi - I still think Holland could be a solid 2/3 in the bigs after last season increasing production in basically every category. To me the Rangers are in a better position than some analyst think with CJ Wilson, Derek Holland, Colby Lewis, Neftali Feliz and Tommy Hunter in their rotation. I believe the first four listed are solid 2/3 with Feliz having the eventual ceiling of a one. As I'm sure you noticed I listed Hunter as a 5 and that is what he is but it's a 5 in the bigs which is worth exactly what the Royals already have plenty of. I would rate Odorizzi as slightly ahead of Kirkman but it's close and the combination of Holland with him takes the Rangers ahead with Jeffress being a bullpen only option.

Overall this offer from the Rangers was probably equal to if not slightly better but I like the Brewers offer more because the combination of players are closer to the bigs. It's nice to dream about our prospects or any prospect but if you can cut down on your development curve then you are ahead of the game.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Danny Duffy and the tale of two fastballs

This spring has been a test to young Duffy's control so far as he has walked 6 in just 5 innings of work. Yesterday was more of the same for Danny after as he surrendered a 3 run homer to Drew Stubbs after walking the previous two hitters. In a boxscore it would look like a pitcher struggling with control but after looking at the pitches before and after the home run you can see it was a tale of two fastballs.

Prior to Drew Stubbs HR 19 Fastballs = 12 Balls 7 Strikes
Hitters Johnny Gomes, Ramon Hernandez, Chris Valaika, Ryan Hanigan
After the Drew Stubbs HR 15 Fastballs = 3 Balls 12 Strikes
Hitters Edgar Renteria, Joey Votto, Scott Rolen and Jay Bruce

For a guy that runs an average fastball up there around 93 miles per hour while peaking yesterday at 95.1 I would like to see him attack the zone the way he did following the HR. It's likely that he was nibbling more because prior to the home run he was facing all righties while post home run he faced a couple lefties but still it's the difference in facing Jay Bruce, Scott Rolen and Joey Votto and attacking the zone with them as opposed to nibbling against Chris Valaika and Ryan Hannigan.

I hope he learned from that appearance and will trust his stuff more in the future.

Found out Orlando Calixte is already in Arizona according to Baseball America, I'll try to get some video of the young 19 year old who will likely play this season for one of the three Royals rookie clubs.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Royals make a couple moves

Bob Dutton tweeted that the Royals assigned Noel Arguelles to Wilmington while reassigning Brandon Sisk to minor league camp. While I like Sisk he is a symbol of how this team is becoming more talented. When GMDM first arrived in 2007 a guy like Brandon Sisk would have almost certainly made it to the end of big league camp challenging Jimmy Gobble or even last year Dusty Hughes but with the depth of the talented arms in the bullpen he'll spend the season in Omaha. Tim Collins, Danny Duffy and perhaps Bruce Chen(if he loses out in the rotation) look to be the leaders in the clubhouse for those lefty spots. I like Sisk but I see him as more of a LOOGY type and with the depth of Lefty arms in the system some of which will almost certainly land in the pen if for only short periods of time it's going to become very difficult for him to make it with the Royals. Hopefully for his sake he'll get an opportunity for another team at some point and earn the Royals something in return.

As for Noel Arguelles it appears he will be starting the season in Wilmington where he'll join Jake Odorizzi, Tim Melville, Justin Marks (acquired in the DDJ trade) and probably either Eric Cantrell or perhaps Tyler Sample.

Draft talk
George Springer is off to a very slow start to the college season. He was projected as a Top 5 pick by most everyone but the way it looks currently he is going to have to get on a real hot streak to realize those dreams. Current line .172/.306/.345 1 HR

Next Up: Spring Training Mar 13-18

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Two amazing talents in Lincoln

Friday I went and dealt with 40 degree and windy weather to watch #2 MLB Draft prospect Gerrit Cole and UCLA pitch against Nebraska during the start of their weekend series. Cole made Nebraska look very overmatched as only Kale Kiser and 3b and #88 College Draft prospect Cody Asche were able to get solid swings on Cole all day. I was clocking him on my scout watch(unreliable) in the mid to upper 90s well into the 8th inning. From my vantage point (1st baseline) I couldn't get a good idea of how his breaking stuff was performing but from the looks of the Husker hitters it was definitely doing its job. All together Cole was quite dominate even if facing a subpar lineup finishing off 9 innings at 101 pitches with 70 strikes 8 K's 2 hits (none thru the first 6 innings) and two intentional walks.

Kale Kiser and Cody Asche looked solid at the plate showing solid balance and quick bats. Kiser jumped on a 1st inning pitch of Coles lining out to the right fielder but he did well to compete against the first rounder. Kiser offers just average speed and no projection however. I'll say more on Asche later in the year when I've seen even more of him.

Khiry Cooper the Huskers CF looks the part and covers a decent amount of ground in CF but was severly overmatched against Cole. His bat needs alot of work to become any type of prospect especially as a right handed hitting CF without much bat speed. His best prospects might be as a WR. Husker reliever Casey Hauptman looked strong going 5 innings yielding just 3 hits and 1 run against 5 strikeouts but I was not clocking him.

Jon Keller, the Huskers pitcher according to my clock was in the low 90s and like Cole was making the UCLA offense look poor from innings 3-6 after a shaky start in the first two innings when he was leaving everything up in the zone. Keller only allowed one hit walked four and struckout 8 in his 6 innings although a better hitting team could have probably done much more in the first two innings when he was missing up in the zone. UCLA has an even less impressive offense than Nebraska from what I saw. Maybe it was the cold weather but these SoCal kids weren't putting many swings on Keller and the only hard hit ball off their bats all day was a Dean Espy lineout to the wall that RF Josh Scheffert misplayed into a spectacular wall crashing catch.

UCLA CF Beau Amaral showed solid speed down the 1st baseline but as a whole UCLA's offense looks rather poor and if this is their everyday appearance even in warm weather I don't anticipate a return trip to the CWS despite outstanding pitching. Eventually you have to be able to push some runs across the plate.

I did not attend Saturdays game featuring 1st Round prospect Trevor Bauer because I had tickets for me and my sons and it was too cold for them to be dragged out to the ballpark. It was more of the same as tweeted by Keith "doublestixx" saying his fastball and curve were very impressive. Bauer went 10 innings striking out 17 while allowing 1 R via a Kalkowski HR. Again UCLA's offense couldn't produce much and the Huskers won 2-1 in 12 innings.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Spring Quote of the Day

Greinke's desperation not to endure yet another losing season in Kansas City was such that he is said to have tried to convince Cashman that he wanted to come to New York. And that he could actually thrive in New York.
However, people who were briefed on that meeting said Cashman ultimately decided that Greinke's first thought about New York was probably correct -- that it wasn't the best spot for him. Greinke told people the day he accepted his Cy Young Award in New York City that he didn't think he could ever live in New York, and kept telling friends the same. But as the days dwindled this winter, he made his surprise plea to Cashman to make him a Yankee.

Jon Heyman-SI

That's really too bad because I believe the best possible package the Royals could've gotten would have been from the Yanks. Banuelos, Betances look like stud starters down the line and we've already discussed Monetoro's big bat. Gary Sanchez, Austin Romine look to be solid ML starters down the line with Sanchez having All Star type talent. Obviously the Royals couldn't get all those guys but I believe whatever package the Yanks could've put together would have been slightly better than what the Royals got from the Brewers.

I'm not a fan of Greinke's remarks this summer from not being interested in the 2nd half of the season to acting like the bad guy he comes off more and more like a diva. All Royals fans want is a guy who goes out and puts max effort every time out and for the most part doesn't rock the boat. No realistic fan was upset about Zack wanting out, nobody likes to lose but he hurt his trade value by not pitching to his full capability. In the end I hope the Brewers do well and he does well with them.

Mike Montgomery was throwing 93-95 while touching 96 yesterday according to pitchf/x which is pretty impressive early in the spring. He threw 23 pitches, 21 of which were fastballs that had a break of 2.9-4 degrees in movement as opposed to Jeremy Jeffress who was getting 1-2 degrees of movement while hitting 98 mph. Montgomery has the best fastball in the organization according to McClure and he flashed that a bit yesterday in that one inning. He'll probably begin working that secondary stuff next time out.

The Royals will air on MLB Network tonight at 8pm CST facing the Dodgers. John Lamb one of the top 2 lefties in the system is scheduled to appear.