Wednesday, March 31, 2010

I'm growing tired of GMDM and the scouting staff with the Royals

The Royals not surprisingly announced a couple transactions today sending down Kila Ka'aihue and Blake Wood to Omaha and the Braves didn't want Edgar Osuna so KC sent him to Northwest Arkansas.

It says a little about the Royals and their talent evaluation skills when the Braves won't pay $25k to get back a so called minor league prospect. Even a 4A player is worth 25k. Dayton has steadily acquired flunkies from the Braves system that he was involved in drafting or acquiring and I have grown tired of it. I could see it happening a tad in the beginning but we are in year four and it continues to happen. I wonder if these guys were only drafted by the Braves because they were the only players that Dayton and his Braves staff scouted. Dayton's skill and talents are supposed to lie in talent evaluation but I'm starting to move out of that camp. Everything looked extremely positive early when he acquired Cortes, Soria Blake Johnson and Pimintel in his first season. Of that group only Soria looks to be an impact player of any sort and besides Jordan Parraz possibility Dayton has little to show for any of his other trades. His only Braves pickup that actually looks to be worth something since Davies hasn't improved is Brayan Pena and there are rumors that he is on the trading block.

I lose a little more faith in this scouting staff as well everyday as it just seems that they target only old school conventional thinking. All the "scouts" say Kila only has slider bat speed and walks will dwindle once he's in the majors. I for one think that is total bunk. Kila is disciplined he doesn't walk just because; he walks because he knows what his strengths are. As opposed to many major league hitters that don't have a thought process and just go up there being hacktastic "Mike Jacobs" with their fastball bat speed. And even if the walks lowered what are they going to lower to? 65-75? That mark would still have lead the team last season. And as for all of this fastball/slider bat speed what is the number anyway that a guy can handle? I think Kila can handle a high 80 low 90's fastball with regularity as that is what compromises AAA so is it only the mid to upper 90's? There are 16 starters in the majors according to that average a 93+ fastball and only 7 of the reside in the American League so even if he had this phantom slider bat speed I think he would fair alright because of those 7 he would only face 6(minus Greinke) and those are the same 6 (Verlander, CC, Beckett, Lester,Scherzer and King Felix) that get everyone else out. I would say Kila can handle the breaking stuff alright or at least read it or he wouldn't be walking 100+ times 2 years in a row. Oh well I guess it'll workout for Scott Thorman.

This is the same scouting group that said Aviles couldn't hit or play shortstop at the major league level and now say he is the best infielder on the team. Hmm nice to jump on the bandwagon I guess. Now onto some other news within the minor league system.

Mike Montgomery dominated a High Class A game the other day pitching 5 innings allowing 2 hits and no walks or runs. Tim Melville was reported by Adam Foster of Project Prospect via Twitter to have poor fastball control throwing 89-92 consistently straight and touching 94. While his curve and change up flashed above average. Hopefully Melville's control will come around as he is still very young and this will only be his second full season. John Lamb was named by JJ Cooper of Baseball America as showing the most in spring training and could be ready to make a big leap forward among the Royals pitching prospects.

Cut down day is coming and the minor league rosters will be formed very soon. I will be heading to Burlington April 10 hopefully to checkout Wil Myers and either Keaton Hayenga or Tyler Sample. I will be posting some video on here and at Royals

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Breakout Candidates 2010

Last season a few of us landed on David Lough as the 2009 breakout performer and wow we're we right. He flew thru Wilmington, Arkansas and appears to be ready to start opening day in Omaha quite a jump for a off the radar "Non-Prospect". So who do I predict to breakout this season?

Starting Pitcher - Tyler Sample- Many with good reason have spotted Hayenga as the potential springboard guy this season so I won't jump on that bandwagon as well. But I'll spot another Burlington Bee Right hand starter. Sample had better peripherals than Hayenga last season and also finished the season very strong. Sample improved his control quite a bit from his '08 season in the Arizona Rookie league which will help tremendously in the Midwest League that is known for high strikeout to walk ratios. Sample has the body of a workhorse at 6'7 and 245 lbs and a good fastball 92-94 and a possible plus knuckle-curve. Those two pitches should be enough to pitch well in the Midwest league if he maintains the control he showed last season. If Sample makes a similar move forward to what he did last season then he might find himself in Wilmington late in the season where he'll need to show a better change up to be successful.

Positional Player- Johnny Giavotella- As we saw with Bianchi in '08 the Carolina League can be difficult to adjust to for minor leaguers and that was the case for Johnny. Gio suffered to a low BABIP for the season which was extremely low in April(.250) and May(.263) but maintained a patient approach (11.8% BB%) and despite only hitting .258 carried a .351 on base percentage. Expect Giavotella to bounce back in the hitter friendly Texas league if he maintains his patient line drive approach.

Relief Pitcher - Chris "Disco" Hayes- Disco is just too intelligent to not build on his performance at AAA last season. Actually hitters were pretty lucky hitting off Disco to the tune of .367 with a career low 50.3% ground ball rate. Expect both of those numbers to change this season as Disco should move his GB rate higher as he has done in every repeat job season of his career as well as a dip in BABIP. Omaha should have a pretty decent defense behind him with the likes of Irving Falu 2b Wilson Betemit SS, Alex Gordon/Kurt Mertins and a pretty athletic outfield BA/Jarrod Dyson, David Lough, Jordan Parraz and Buck Coats. Disco is heavily reliant on defense and that crew should help him out quite a bit.

Besides these 3 keep an eye on Mario Santiago, Matt Mitchell and Hilton Richardson to also make jumps. I try not to pick guys in the Top 10 as breakout performers because good performances are more expected out to those type players. When I'm talking about breakout as well I am talking about seasons that could vault these guys into the ranks of Top 10 type prospects or move to the major league level in the case of AAA guys. Predicting these are never easy as it is as much about focus and player desire as it is actual skill level.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

GMDM trying to make another mistake

Jayson Stark is reporting the Royals are shopping Brayan Pena in hopes of getting another starting pitcher.

This is seems like a stupid move to me. I don't know what KC would get in return for Pena but I doubt they would get above a 5/6 type starting pitcher. That same type of value they could probably pickup off the waiver wire very soon. Why give up a catcher (premium position) who you have under team control for 5 seasons in a non-compete season for a fringe starter at best? It makes no sense at all.

KC will not compete this season they just don't have enough talent on the roster but GMDM doesn't see it. What is his deal? What good is a 5th starter the quality of which is questioned going to do them they aren't going to be in the race anyway? Pena last season proved he is at least a quality backup and could possibly be a starting catcher. He is already better than Jason Kendall but I'm sure GMDM in his idiotic wisdom sees Pena as a catcher who is going to get little playing time behind the very qualified 35+ experienced calls the good game Kendall. Every player is tradeable from Greinke on down to Pena but for a GM to shop him openly is lessening his return.

This GM is continuing his idiotic ways and just the rumor of it shows he has no idea what value is in the game.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Curse of the Prospect Royal Lefthander

The depth of Royal lefthanders in the minor leagues just fell off today by 20% today. That because of Danny Duffy's decision to step away from the game. Duffy just felt that he didn't love the game anymore and needs to make decisions about his life. The timing of this decision looks somewhat unfortunate as it came just weeks after he encountered his first bit of adversity when an injured arm had him sidelined for a few months. The timing of this decision isn't all terrible as the injury would have sidelined him until June anyway so maybe he takes this time to realize that he needs the game the way Zack Greinke needed it and if not then KC fortunately has enough depth at lefthanded starters that they might not notice. Duffy was just a prospect and at AA so to say he was going to be a success at the major league level is a stretch.

Good Luck Danny with whatever decision you do make.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Possible Omaha Royals OF should be exciting to watch.

Jarrod Dyson, David Lough and Jordan Parraz have all reported to AAA spring training. While I wouldn't be surprised if Lough or Dyson started the season in NW Arkansas the combination of the three would in my opinion make for the strongest defensive unit of any Royal minor league affiliate. Dyson showed off his speed and ability to track the ball in center field this spring while playing with the major league team. Dyson seems to be a Joey Gathright clone without the minor league hitting success, remember Gathright had a .761 OPS as opposed to Dyson's .668 effort so far. So temper any expectations to him being a starting CFr in Kansas City as I doubt he'll ever hit enough to make it but for us ORoyals ticket holders he should be fun to watch when he does get on base(82% SB %) and in the field. As for the corners Lough and Parraz are decently adept at tracking the ball and might also have the skills at the plate to contribute at the big league level. Lough exploded on the scene last season with a good effort at Wilmington(.850 OPS) prior to achieving quite a bit of success at NW Arkansas (.934 OPS). Lough probably has the speed to play CF but continues to be paired with speedsters in the minors and has only played parts of each season in center. Lough is the bright spot positionally in the system rated as my #4 prospect due to the fact that he continues to progress with the bat and his speed should make him playable in CF and a plus at the LF slot. As for Parraz he also was having an outstanding season in AA prior to some hamstring problems that developed. Before those problems Parraz was hitting at a .358 clip had earned more walks than strikeouts(29-25) and showed more pop in the bat than previous seasons with a career high .553 SLG. Parraz also has the athletic ability to play a little CF in a pinch but unlike Lough has a cannon for an arm rating #1 in the KC minor league system according to Baseball America. All things considered these three would probably give the KC current alignment a run for their money defensively.

I obviously like David Lough the best of these three but could see Parraz or Dyson as major league contributors in a 4th Outfielder role.

Friday, March 19, 2010

ST Update Minor league performances

Mike Moustakas suffered a strained right oblique earlier this week on a swing and could miss the first two weeks of the season. He was reassigned March 11 to minor-league camp and was likely to open the season at Class AA Northwest Arkansas.
“He swung and fouled a ball back,” said J.J. Picollo, the assistant general manager for scouting and player development.
“He felt something and the next swing, with two strikes he hit a single, but you could see that his swing was a little funny. He jogged down the line and called the trainer out.”Read more:

Aaron Hartsock was impressive in a 3 1/3 inning stint in relief of Payano, fanning six batters and allowing just one hit. Ben Swaggerty also contributed a scoreless inning of relief in the eighth. Johnny Giavotella accounted for the Naturals only run with a solo home run. Hopefully this is a sign of things to come for Gio. Naturals lost the game 7-1.

David Lough had two singles and a walk in a 7-2 Omaha win.

Eric Hosmer was 3-3 with a double and a HR in 9-6 Blue Rocks ST win. Matt Mitchell back from Tommy John pitched strong for the Rocks going 3 innings allowing 1 hit and 1 run while striking out six. Patrick Keating also threw two scoreless.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Minor League Moves Aaron Crow to NW Arkansas

Aaron Crow was reassigned to NW Arkansas today. This is a wise decision by the Royals FO. Why am I writing about this? Well the fact that we as Royals fans have to be happy when the team makes a no brainer decision (Signing Zack) like this shows how far the opinion of this front office has fallen. This still is a smart move by GMDM none the less.

Crows path should be similar to Luke Hochevars in that Aaron should route thru Omaha on his way to the majors. The PCL is a good test for young pitchers. The parks are inflated and many teams have gotten back to using AAA as a learning tool. Just last season a pitcher could've faced the likes of Chris Coghlan, Kyle Blanks, Buster Posey, Travis Snider, Brett Wallace, Cameron Maybin, Justin Smoak,etc.. That list is impressive and that's not adding guys who already have lots of big league experience. Better more experienced competition can teach him lessons to use at the big league level.

Luke's big league success is more a question of stuff as opposed to system development and approach in my opinion.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Bees rotation as intriguing as any in the system

Keith at the Royal Tower wrote a nice piece about the Wilmington rotation last month and while the Rocks will have the premiere level talent in the organization the Bees should have some intriguing names as well.

Their rotation should be fronted by three pitchers that have similar stories all are young and have recovered from HS injuries.

John Lamb is the so called Ace of the staff and has been heralded for his pitchability. That ability should serve him very well in the pitching environment of the midwest league. Hopefully he continues to develop his curve and changeup which could be above average pitches and will have to be for him to continue his success. BA ranks him as having the best control in the system which could equal some crazy k/bb ratio if past success is an indication (Duffy '08,Cegarra'08).

Keeton Hayenga according to alot of people Hayenga was hitting 92-94 mph during the '08 instructional season but he was mostly around 89-91 during the '09 season. Hayenga has been spotted by BA and as the prospect to fly up the most charts next season. This could be very likely with his curveball and fastball both looking like possible plus pitches once he can find more consistency with them.

Tyler Sample the big righty from the rockies could be in for a big big bounce forward this season as he really started to come on towards the end of '09. Sample allowed 1 run over his final three starts (19 Ip) also only giving up 8 hits over that same span. At 6'7 and 245 lbs Sample looks like a workhorse but is going to need a bring along his change up to last as a starter. Look for Sample to build on his strong finish.

Matt Mitchell Mitchell burst onto the seen in '07 as the ERA champ of the Arizona League (1.80) and was looking for a strong follow up in '08 in Burlington. Unfortunately he couldn't match fellow teammate Danny Duffy's success at both levels. Mitchell has the makes of above average change up which shows with his better splits versus lefties than righties. He had Tommy John surgery which is the reason he will probably be repeating Burlington. UR

Kelvin Herrera My favorite young Royal prospect Herrera has had little trouble at any level even pitching very well during the Burlington '08 playoff run. Herrera is the least projectable physically of the group only checking in at 5'10 160 lbs but none of the four can really match his combination of stuff and pitchability. He throws in the low 90s and has an advanced feel for pitching. Herrera is my pick for the biggest mover this season if his arm proves healthy from the injury that sidelined him in '09. My #14 ranked prospect

What's the capper to these five well the fact that they will be having the most talked about positional prospect in the system catching them. The combination of talented arms to go with Myers at catcher should be good reason for us prospect hounds to be tracking them on a daily basis.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Reviewing a BA Top 20 League List (2005 Cal League) Starring Billy Butler

As a huge fan of Baseball America and overall prospect junkie I thought I would take an opportunity during a slight downtime and review some of their Top 20 League lists. My first review is the 2005 Top 20 Prospects in the California League. Why start there? Billy Butler the leader of the Royals of course, why else? Billy had an amazing year at High Desert as a 19 yo he obviously must have been the top prospect in the league. Try again #5

BA 2005 TOP 20 Cal League Prospects w/Team at the time Fangraphs WAR Value
#1 Brandon Wood SS (Angels) -0.7 86 Games
#2 Stephen Drew SS (Diamondbacks) 5.6 WAR 496 Games
3. Howie Kendrick SS(Angels) 6.2 WAR 357 Games
4. Ian Stewart 3B (Rockies) 2.7 WAR 263 Games
5. Billy Butler LF (Royals)- 3.1 WAR 375 Games
6. Daric Barton 1b (A's)- 2.2 WAR 212 Games
7. Edinson Volquez SP (Rangers)- 4.8 WAR 62 Games/58 Starts
8. Thomas Diamond SP (Rangers)-No Pro Action
9. Adam Jones SS (Mariners)- 4.1 WAR 324 Games
10. Eddy Martinez-Esteve OF (Giants) No Pro Action
11. John Danks SP (Rangers) 8.8 WAR 91 Starts
12. Asdrubal Cabrera SS (Mariners) 5.4 WAR 290 Games
13. Chris Ianetta C (Rockies) 6.5 285 Games
14. Miguel Montero C (D-Backs) 4.4 288 Games
15. Ubaldo Jimenez RHP (Rockies) 11.1 83 Starts
16. Nate Schierholtz OF (Giants) 1.8 174 Games
17. George Kottaras C (Padres)
18. Jim Miller RHP (Rockies)
19. Juan Morillo RHP (Rockies)
20. Chris Lubanski OF (Royals)

ReRank Based on WAR Value
1. Ubaldo Jimenez- Rockies
2. John Danks- White Sox
3. Chris Ianetta-Rockies
4. Howie Kendrick-Angels
5. Stephen Drew-DBacks
6. Asdrubal Cabrera-Indians
7. Edinson Volquez-Reds
8. Miguel Montero-DBacks
9. Adam Jones-Orioles
10. Billy Butler- Royals
11. Ian Stewart- Rockies
12. Daric Barton A's
13. Brandon Wood-Angels

What a difference playing time makes. Wood's career could have turned out quite differently if David Glass had allowed the Mike Sweeney proposed trade to go through. He instead has languished in an organization that felt he couldn't handle the middle infield thus logging 317 games in AAA where he has crushed pitching to the tune of a .902 OPS and 76 Hr's. He'll finally get his opportunity to prove he was worth the wait as he'll get to start at 3b this season. As for the rest of this list how many teams would trade most of this list for the #9 and 10 ranked WAR players currently? Jones was an All Star and Gold Glove winner(Hello Franklin Gutierrez) in '09 while Billy Butler had a breakout offensive season with 51 Doubles and 21 Hrs the type of season BA scouts envisioned. Jimenez is a fringe #1 starter while Volquez was solid in '08 but has experienced arm issues and underwent TJ surgery in '09. Danks might be the most consistent of the pitching core while having the lowest upside. He should be able to be a solid #3 starter type for sometime and build on his 91 starts having a decent and long career. Danks was the youngest of the Rangers DVD crew (Diamond-Volquez-Danks) but has proven to be the most solid of the young hurlers while none of the three made it up with the Rangers.

As I do more and more of these we'll keep a list of most successful list based on a totally ludicrous value system that I put together.

BA Percentage 13 (6.5 pts) Major Leaguers, 1 (0.25pt) Fringe Type(Wood) out of 20 Prospects=6.75 pts

2 All Star selections = 2 Pts

0 Pts Franchise Players currently=3 possible Franchise Players (Butler, Jones, Jimenez)= 0 Points Currently

2005 Cal League List = 8.75

Franchise Players = 3 Pts

MVPs/CyYoungs = 2 Pts

Allstar Selections =1 Pts

1.0+ War Career equal to .5 Pts

Starter in ML equal to .25 Pts

Tough News on the Royals Prospect Front

SSJeff Bianchi to undergo Tommy John surgery. Bianchi has been hit with the injury bug again in his young career. After having a promising resurection of sorts last season in Wilmington/NW Arkansas it appears he will have another setback. BA said he had the stuff to stay at SS but this setback may hurt his arm and any move off of SS will be tough for him to recover from to become a ML'r

Danny Duffy is also experiencing some elbow discomfort hopefully this is just precautionary with him.