Thursday, February 25, 2010

1st Annual Royals Top Prospect Starting Lineup

You've seen top prospect rankings everywhere that are entirely more accurate and informative than mine. So I thought to myself how can I change mine up, how can I seperate myself from the pack. And then boom and epiphany I will rank them by position only. 1 and 1a at each position, yes that brilliant thinking will set me aside from almost no one.

Starting Pitcher ACE

1)Lefty Mike Montgomery- Duh he is the #1 consensus Royals prospect. Lets see Fastball-Check already consistently 90's touches 94-95 should be able to hit those speeds consistently as he fills out. Breaking stuff- Still a work in progress two types of curveballs as usual the youngster is inconsistent with both. Changeup- I would think it won't take long for him to find a consistent grip since he likes to use the palm grip on one of his curveball deliveries. Montgomery has the drive and talent to become a #1 and hopefully will develop in time to stand next to or in place of Greinke in that spot.

1a) Righty Tim Melville- Most like Aaron Crow in this slot and that is probably the right pick but I really like Melville. Melville projected as a 1st rounder in 2008 but struggled his senior year and combined with his draft demands fell to the Royals in the 4th round where he signed for 1.25M. He didn't pitch any pro ball in '08 so for him to jump into the midwest league hold his own and not have to be demoted showed me something. Yes the midwest league is a pitchers league but for the 19 yo to hold up against much older competition and actually get better as the season(10.65 k/9 last 10 starts) went on is a very good sign for his career. Melville's repetoire is the same as the FO office prefers solid fastball touches 95 that is a good strikeout pitch but also is heavy and produced quite a few groundballs. He also is working on his curve and change up. Tim starts the season in Wilmington and will hopefully enjoy similar success as Montgomery and Duffy. Melville doesn't have the polish of Montgomery but I believe after seeing him he could match his upside. BA says 2/3 is his upside but with his body and size I think he could peak into that 1/2 range.

Honorable Mention- Kelvin Herrera, I love everything I've ever read about this kid and will definitely be checking out one of his starts if he repeats Burlington. He is yet to have a problem at any level even holding his own against much older competition at Burlington(IA) in '08 and his one '09 start. In 111 total innings Herrera has given up exactly 1 HR. While his size is not impressive 5'10 162 lbs his pitchability and combination of pitches is. Herrera could skip Burlington(IA) if he proves to be healthy in ST and bounce to Wilmington but I doubt it. I wouldn't be shocked if Kelvin started in Burlington and ended the season in Arkansas. The kid is just polished when healthy he can touch mid 90s and already has solid command on his change. I will be checking him out early in Burlington(IA) as I expect him not to last there long.

Outlook- There is nothing wrong in this system when you talk young starting pitchers. I would say Tampa Bay is the only other team that can match KCs depth from Top Major League level to the Rookie levels in terms of starting pitching talent and they don't have a CY Young winner.
Potential Major Leaguers (Potential IMO): Montgomery (1), Melville (1/2), Crow (2), Herrera (2/3), Lough (3), Lamb (3)

1) Louis Coleman- Drafted out of LSU after putting away the touches on a national title run Coleman was signed for 100k and immediately had success in his bp role. Coleman can get to the mid 90s out of the pen and has a nice slider. His 3/4 arm slot might lead one to think he would struggle against lefties
1a) Brandon Sisk- There are quite a few options in the bullpen for the Royals in the lower minors even at the upper levels they are building some arms but few have had the ups and downs of Sisk. The ups are that Sisk has had quite a bit of success in the minors at every level even a nice performance in the AFL this fall overall Sisk has pitched 151.2 Innings since the start of '08 and has 189 k's versus only 56 Bbs. That's a 11.21 K/9 with only a 3.22 bb rate and a 0.99 WHIP you would be hard pressed to find better stats out of any Royal pitching prospect. Is Sisk a prospect? Probably not he rates as a lefty specialist pitching 89-90 while touching 92-93 with a average change up but you have to like the success he had last season in Wilmington and the Arizona Fall league. Look for him to start in Arkansas or maybe even Omaha.

Honorable Mention- Josh Worrell, playing against younger competition the big Worrell (6'5 215lbs) had some nice numbers 16.46 k/9, 1.73 FIP in 13.2 IP. Lets see how he does against more advanced competition this season. He definitely has good bloodlines as the son of Todd Worrell.

1)Wil Myers- Myers fell to the Royals in the 3rd round due to signability concerns, some speculated KC would take him in the 1st rd but they lucked out having him their in the 3rd. He is still relatively inexperienced at the position allowing 6 passed balls in only 11 games. His bat is explosive (14 extra base hits in 22 games)and might cause the Royals to move him out of this position. Expect him to start the season in the extremely tough hitting environment of Burlington (IA) where Moose and Hosmer struggled early. New position, cold weather and older competition could lead to some struggles watch his numbers after the allstar break to see if he is pickin up the position and the pitchers. If(Big) he excels early lookout KC could be onto something.
1a) No One
Honorable Mention- Salvador Perez, Perez the youngest of the Burlington trio last season struggled early in A ball but had a nice bounce back after being demoted to Idaho Falls to find Abs. Perez has nice size at 6'3 and should fill out and add some pop to his swing as he ages. He is only going to be 20 years old but could be the victim of Myers development at Burlington(A) this season making it tough for him to find time at the position but at least he should get Abs at DH. Fernando Cruz was converted from 3b to Catcher this last season and performed decently at Burlington (NC). His batted showed a little progress this season but he still has a long way to go. He'll probably play at Idaho Falls this season.
First Base

1) Eric Hosmer- A tough first year for "The Hos" but I'm still a believer. He was injured quite a bit (hand and wrist) and had problems with his eyesight(Lasik). Hopefully his eyesight is what created his bad GB rates(62.5%). I'm still a believer and think that GMDM created a little bit of the problem with the tough assignments. Midwest League A ball is difficult for any young hitter and then to give him an unjustified promotion didn't help things. All in all it was a difficult season for the Hos hopefully he bounces back with the improved wrist and eyesight.
1a) Kila Kaaihue- I really wanted to put "The Alabama Hammer" in this slot but just couldn't do it. Kila deserves to be on the 25 man roster and only GMDMs shortsighted view of him is keeping him off. Just look at Kilas Total Zone rating defensively while Total Zone isn't a great predictor of defense it should be noted that his defensive game is better than Billys and he could possibly put up neutral defensive stats. Chone has him as slightly below average defensively but positive offensively. Kila's rated as worth 2.6 million according to Chone as opposed to JoGuis 300k value under Chone but anyway.
Second Base
1) Johnny Giavotella- Gio like many position players in the KC org had a difficult season last year. Unlike many others though his was due to bad luck as opposed to his own impatience or injury. Giavotella like Kila is one of the few patient hitters in the organization and showed good patience at High A Wilmington. Gio had a nice 11.8% BB rate although that dropped from 14+% as he drew less walks the last couple months. His ISO was the same as it was in A ball .122 but with his drop in BABIP from .325 to .279 his production fell. Hopefully a promotion to AA and a better hitting environment will bring back the previous production.
1a) Fernando Garcia- Garcia, 20 probably profiles as a defensive second baseman at best had a pretty decent season at Burlington(IA) for a young guy. Garcia doesn't have much pop in the bat (.345 SLG) but has a good eye and should develop with the glove with his athleticism. He drew more walks than Ks (61 v 56) and swiped some bags when he got on (29). He is a fringe guy at best but that plate discipline combined with his athleticism gives him some tools to work with. I don't know if he could handle SS but it would be nice if KC gave him the opportunity.
Honorable Mention- This kind of shows the weakness of the Royals system when I can't place a few positions with legit 2nd spots. Irving Falu shows outstanding range and defensive skill but his lack of power makes him nothing more than infield injury depth.

1) Jeff Bianchi- Bianchi had an extremely solid season at Wilmington and NW Arkansas w/.798 OPS. Bianchi propsect status had fallen due to prospect fatigue and lack of overall success but his nice bounceback season has people peeking once again. Bianchi like so many Royals lacks patience at the plate and will need to change that to improve. Many prospect experts didn't believe Bianchi could handle SS but the Royals showed confidence in his ability to play SS and may be rewarded with a potential solid defender at that premium position.
1a) Yowill Espinal- '07 Dominican signee has some pop in the bat but little patience to go with it. He could get his first taste of full season ball this year and could get exposed by more advanced pitching if he can't control his tendancy to swing away. According to minor league splits he only had a 6.2% line drive rate which is abnormally low. He is still young and has good frame and tools to build on. BA had some great quotes on his defense in '08 Brewers skipper Tony Diggs compared him to Alcides Escobar, who didn't hit much in the lower minors but has improved since reaching Double-A and has become one of the game's top shortstop prospects.
Third base
1) Mike Moustakas- Moose showed very little patience and a desire to pull everything last season. Those weaknesses lead to a very difficult season for him. He once again proved he can pack tons of power into his swing(52 XB hits ) but none of that will matter if he can't be more patient at the plate. His defense also seems to be improving at least according to Total Zone. Moose has a couple solid tools good pop in his bat and a cannon arm but if he can't increase his patience at the plate he will struggle. Especially at the AA ball level where he will get exposed.
Honorable Mention- Cheslor Cuthbert was signed out of Nicaragua for 1.35M. Scouts believe he is an advanced hitter although Nicaragua doesn't have the top level competition.
Right Field
1) Jordan Parraz-I've talked about Parraz in my other blog but with a good start in AAA this year he could add the depth the Royals need to trade off Ankiel or DDJ if teams come a biting at midseason. BA surprisingly said he can be a CF fill in, I knew he was athletic but didn't think he had that type of athleticism. He already has the best OF arm in the system so if he can show that kind of athleticism in Left or Right Field then KC could have a above average corner outfielder in the mold of DDJ. Above average defense with a decent offensive game.
Center Field
1) David Lough- Talk about a coming out party David had the best season of any Royal positional player last year. Lough had a solid .850 OPS in Wilmington when the FO decided to promote him and wow did he respond at AA. Finally away from the cooled off hitting environments Lough exploded on the scene putting up a .934 OPS in 265 ABs including 28 extra base hits. Lough hasn't played CF much unfortunately playing next to speedsters Adrian Oritz, Derrick Robinson and Jarrod Dyson have limited his exposure to the potential but many believe he can play average defense in CF. Lough is pushing Moustakas and others for being the highest rated positional player in the system.
1a) No one
Honorable Mention- You can name any number of Royal speedsters here. Jarrod Dyson, Adrian Ortiz, Hilton Richardson and Derrick Robinson all possess ++ speed but all have little pop with the bat and even less on base skill. The Royals FO love speed as they have drafted some 2 sport speedster pretty much every year since GMDM was hired hoping to land the next Kenny Lofton, thus far they have had little success but it's still early with some of these guys. Richardson is the most intriguing of the group as he looks like he could fill out and add some pop to his skillset but from what I've heard his swing is less than ideal to do that. All of these guys with the exception of Richardson are in make or break years of their career if they continue their struggles this season they might be done.
Left Field
1)Tim Smith- Smith doesn't possess any particular great tools but he does have decent plate discipline which is a rare trait in the Royals system. Expect the 24 year old to repeat AA where he had a .819 OPS in 36 games last season.
1A) No one

As you can see and as everyone already knew prior the Royals system is heavily pitcher weighted. This excercise proves extremely difficult with so little talent in the system positionally.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Prospect Make or Break Time

Ahh Christmas in March as my Baseball America Prospect Handbook arrived. I quickly turn to the Royals section and am reminded of the disappointment that was the 2009 season by positional prospects. More on that later. That disappointment got me thinking how big this season is going to be for some of those Royal prospects. For a few, failure this season will mean the end of a career. Here is a list of important comebacks for 2010.

#1 Blake Wood- Wood has been on the prospect scene for quite sometime and why not 6'4 225 righthander with a 94 mph fastball that touches 97 a solid curveball that can be a strikeout pitch and average change. When it's all working Wood can be unhittable and on rare occasions it has all worked but those times are coming fewer and fewer. Time for change it sounds as though KC is giving up on him as a starter and moving him to the bullpen where he can use his strong fastball and spot his curve and change. It's a move that if it doesn't work Wood might be out of the system this time next season. If successful Wood should move quickly into the bullpen possibly reaching KC this year and ready to take Farnsworth or Cruz' place in 2011.
Prospect Mountain #4-'08, #10-'09, #24-2010

#2 Kila Ka'aihue- Kila never a tremendous prospect exploded on the scene in 2008 with 100+ walks and 37 HRs. The most patient hitter in a system devoid of that skill is on the verge of his most important season. While Kila's career might not be over after this season (some smart GM might pick him up) another season similar to '09 or worse will more than likely end his Royals career. What does Kila need to do to get a chance? Well it might be difficult but he needs to get close to the 2008 numbers to open GMDMs eyes. I might be wrong but I think he needs to get into that .925 OPS vicinity to prove our uninformed FO that he deserves a spot in the big league lineup.
Prospect Mountain UR-'08, #9-'09, #15-2010

#3 Derrick Robinson- Robinson has been "The Project" for quite sometime and 2010 is his make or break year. According to BA the Royals were about to scrap his switch hitting prospects when he made an adjustment to his stance leading to his first breakout month of his career in August. While his RH hitting talent is limited if Robinson can't hit lefthanded then his speed value down the first base line decreases quite a bit. Robinsons speed has never been a question and according to Total Zone he uses it quite well in the field but if he can't reach base it all goes for not. For some reason Robinson is in Major League camp lets hope DeJesus rubs off on him but I doubt it. For the Robinson lovers who say hey August was a sign, I point to his next 44 abs in September in which he put up a .337 OPS, UGH.
Prospect Mountain #11-'08, #16-'09, #22-2010

Overall this season is going to be a big season for a number of Royals prospects. Lots of guys are coming back from injuries Henry Barrera, Julio Pimentel, Kelvin Herrera, Ed Cegarra and Matt Mitchell. Those guys need to prove their arms are 100% or they will fall behind a very deep Royals pitching system. Moustakas and Hosmer need to get better to prove they were worth their draft slot and the players the Royals passed for them. Even if they aren't great this year they are still young and this season won't make or break whether they can be major leaguers. While another down season by the prospect pair would ultimately be bad for GMDM and the ranking of the Royals system, Moore has already pitched an excuse for those moves by firing Ladnier essentially blaming him. You got to give GMDM credit he has never said Hoch was his pick when he could've put more influence in and now he has created a scapegoat for Moose and Hos. Myers, Crow and this years draftees I guess are going to be legacy, well until he can create another excuse.

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.

14 for 77 What does that mean and why that?

Why 14 for 77? The Kansas City Royals Baseball Academy created 14 major leaguers out of 77 prospects. I found that to be a pretty large number even if none of the 14 turned out to be hall of famers. I would think any scout that went 14 for 77 would have a pretty long and good career.

What is the goal of this blog? To just list my thoughts and give me a reason to attend more minor league games as opposed to sitting and watching the pro team get spanked night in and night out.

This blog is to be all about the Kansas City Royals and primarily the players in their farm system. While the Royals have been terrible since George Brett retired I believe we are entering a new age (at least I hope so). A Royal age of pitching domination with flurries of positional talent. Why do I think that? I don't know that I do but I'm hopeful for it. Some of them have to pan out, don't they?

Here are the main suspects in order of Minor league level (My Projected Level Very likely wrong)
Position Players
Omaha Royals
Jordan Parraz OF
David Lough OF
Tim Smith OF
NW Arkansas Naturals
Jeff Bianchi SS
Mike Moustakas 3b
Johnny Giavotella 2b
Derrick Robinson CF
Wilmington Blue Rocks
Eric Hosmer 1b
Burlington Bees
Wil Myers C/CF

Omaha Royals
Carlos Rosa
Chris "Disco" Hayes RH Specialist
Blake Wood "Relief"
Greg Holland Relief
Chris Nicoll Relief
NW Arkansas
Mike Montgomery Starter LH
Aaron Crow RH Starter
Dan Duffy LH Starter
Louis Coleman RH Relief
Henry Barrera RH Relief
Wilmington Blue Rocks
Chris Dwyer LH Starter
Tim Melville RH Starter
Kelvin Herrera RH Starter
Ed Cegarra RH Starter
Burlington Bees
John Lamb LH Starter
Keaton Hayenga RH Starter
Tyler Sample RH Starter
Greg Billo RH Starter

So there you have it, the Royals Wannabes and hopefuls !