Friday, June 18, 2010

First Half Tops and Bottoms

Omaha Royals
The play of Kila Ka'aihue and Alex Gordon has been outstanding leading the ORoyals to only a game back of first place as of June 18th. They currently are ranked #2 and #3 in OPS in the league while Alex has learned to play a functional outfield.
The fact that the two of them are playing in Omaha is quite ridiculous and should be remedied very soon.

NW Arkansas Naturals
Mike Moustakas and Mike Montgomery didn't take long to flex their muscles at the AA level. While both have fallen victim to injuries the ability they have shown is a bright sign to all Royal fans.
The struggles of 2009 1st round pick Aaron Crow are a bit troubling as he has done a solid job creating groundballs at a near 4-1 rate but has been victim to the longball early and low strikeout totals. Johnny Giavotella's lack of power is also troubling as he is only slugging .355.

Wilmington Blue Rocks
Eric Hosmer and John Lamb have shown why they are top level Royal prospects. Hosmer came out of the gates on fire clearing thru April with a .421 BA. While he cooled in May to .301 and a .788 OPS he has heated back up to close the 1st half with a .362 BA and .978 OPS so far this month. The power isn't evident yet but considering the difficulty of hitting in Frawley stadium we can wait until Arkansas to get worried yet. Lambs performance at Burlington and so far in Wilmington has been terrific adding his name to that of Monty and Duffy as possible stud Lefties.
Nothing extremely surprising or disappointing Tim Melville's name would definitely fit the bill here if he hadn't seemed to have turned it around this month. To me the the most disappointing thing is that Noel Arguelles won't make it to Wilmington to pitch this season.

Burlington Bees
Wil Myers after the usual slow April has been fantastic prompting me and a few others to think about moving his position. While it might be too early for that this kid can flat out hit. He's improved every month and if it wasn't for his struggling glove would definitely be pushing for a promotion
The injury of Kelvin Herrera is a tough one on the Royals system. While he isn't a top name on the Royals prospect charts he definitely has an explosive arm and a knowledge of pitching that could move him thru the system. His arm injury might result in either a move to the pen or a move out of baseball all together, let's hope for neither.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Royals High School draft info on Michael Antonio and Jason Adam

The last two seasons the Royals have concentrated mostly on college players in the draft a strategy that definitely draws some mixed reviews among the fanbase. While in most seasons I wouldn't agree with that strategy either this season with a lack of talent I agree with taking college kids who are limited ceiling wise but cheaper and quicker to the big leagues for the most part. Two of the Royals Top 5 picks were High Schoolers and after reading info about both I must say I love the picks of Michael Antonio and Jason Adam. This week I luckily got a little more info into them by talking with a Royals insider on Antonio and Adam was nice enough to answer a few questions.

Jason Congratulations on getting drafted by the way it must be a huge thrill.

Were you watching the draft online when you got drafted?
My family and me were all huddled around the computer watching the draft and when we finally got that call it was incredible.

JJ Picollo stated that you and your family have a good relationship with the organization, were the Royals the leaders within your family for who you wanted to get drafted by?
The royals have been front runners in our minds because they are the hometown team and they have a great organization from top to bottom that we've been able to get very close to.

Being a local kid are the Royals your favorite team and if not who?
Yes definitely, I grew up watching them and going to their games.

What person has had the biggest influence on your pitching? When did you think you had a chance to get drafted out of High School?
My summer coach Jeremy Jones has helped me immensely these past years to improve my pitching and help me turn into a man. I didn't realize I was actually going to have this opportunity until right before my high school season when the attention really picked up.

As a Missouri commit will the rumors of the Big 12 possibly dissolving have any influence on your decision to sign a pro contract?
It doesn't really play a factor because it wont take effect until my junior year and I chose Missouri because I liked Mizzou not because I liked the big 12.

What do you think is your best pitch currently?
Probably my spotted fastball.

Finally what did you think of the scouting process and the draft process in general?
It has been very exciting and maybe a little stressful but I enjoyed every second of it.

Of all the Royals draftpicks the one that made people scratch their heads the most was the pick of Michael Antonio, a HS Shortstop from Manny Ramirez's Alma matter George Washington HS in New York. Antonio was projected to be picked anywhere from the late 3rd to 6th. His stock was said to be heading down going into the draft and to be honest I didn't know much about Antonio heading into the draft but after reading about him and checking out his swing on various sites I have to say I like the pick quite a bit. The kid has upside and almost seems like a poor mans Manny Machado in that he has a big growing frame at 6'3 190 where he possibly could grow out of the position of Shortstop but if everything went right could become a talent at the SS position that moves Colon over to second base eventually. A contact within the organization had this to say about Antonio:

Antonio is a strong, athletic kid but raw. He’ll need the full development time in the minors. He’s a dead fastball hitter and has a little difficulty recognizing off-speed stuff. Runs pretty well and is a solid defender…although he would get a little too cute/fancy from time to time in the field. I suspect that could be attributed to being a high school kid who’s the best player on his team. That attitude will probably go away once he’s around a bunch of players who are as good or better than him.

I can see him developing more power...that’s definitely a possibility. He has tremendous athleticism and upside if handled right and with patience.

In the end this draft didn't have the flash of Hosmer, Melville and Montgomery or the second 1st rounder like Myers but it has added some talent at the top end with the additions of Colon and Chapman while adding some upside potential in Eibner, Antonio and Adam. Hopefully like all drafts a diamond in the rough will be uncovered as well.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

The Good The Bad and the Yasmani

John Lamb is quickly showing why many had him rated extremely high in the Royals minor league rankings. With his Sunday performance 6 IP 2H 9 Ks 2 BBs 1 ER and one pickoff Lamb looks even more impressive than Mike Montgomery did while there a year ago. Lamb from the get go has shown his ability to strikeout hitters averaging 10.5 K per 9 while carrying a 1.04 WHIP pretty impressive for a still 19 year old in High A ball against more advanced competition. Look at Lambs start compared to that of other prospects in the same league.

Danny Duffy 1.11 WHIP 8.65 K/9 2.82 BB/9 Carolina Lg #11 Prospect
Mike Montgomery 0.87 WHIP 9.04 K/9 2.02 Bb/9 Royals #1 Prospect
Casey Kelly 0.85 WHIP 6.7 K/9 1.34 BB/9 Preseason #24 Overall
Brian Matusz 1.15 WHIP 9.94 K/9 2.82 BB/9 Preseason #5 overall prospect Car Lg #2
Lambs numbers 1.13 WHIP 10.5 K/9 2.63 BB/9

With all the excellent performances by Royal minor leaguers Lamb's pitching has went under the radar but if he keeps it up he'll be at the top of most prospects charts alongside Moustakas, Hosmer and Montgomery.

As good as Moose and company have been almost equally disappointing 2009s first round pick Aaron Crow has been. Crow is striking out only 5.5 per 9 innings while allowing 4.16 BB/9 and 8 HRs in 12 starts. Crow is creating groundballs at nearly a 4:1 ratio so those Homers should start to lessen but he has got to develop that change up and hit the strikezone more often to become anything of value in the rotation. His 1.65 WHIP is a scary stat but he could still be working on things after being off for quite some time so his second half stats might be more telling. Hard to believe some thought he might start the season on the big league club.

The 2010 draft takes place today and if you follow the rumors as I do KC is down to basically two players. Yasmani Grandal and Chris Sale, I think most of you that have read my blog or comments at Royals Review know that I'm more in favor of taking Sale than Grandal. I lean towards higher ceilings and Sale has a much higher ceiling than Grandal who is a safe pick. Frank Piliere has let out many rumors that a deal is being worked on with Grandal, his people and the Royals somewhere in the neighborhood of 3 million. At those figures I can't say I have a problem with the pick but anything in the neighborhood of Buster Posey money would be absurd. Grandal is having an excellent season and while this could be a step forward offensively I'm still worried about his past track record in college, the cape and for Team USA. Whoever KC picks in the first round is just preliminary as this draft and any draft can be changed greatly by adding talent in the 2nd rounds and on like KC has each of the last two seasons. We fans might not be having this discussion if KC would have gave Yasmani the 1 million in 2007 that he desired instead of saving 500K on 2nd rd bust Sam Runion.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Great News Danny Duffy is back and so is Tim Melville !

Danny Duffy returned to the Royals Arizona facility Wednesday to restart his baseball career. This is a big deal to the Royals as Duffy was a Top 10 minor league prospect and any organization like KC can't have Top 10 guys just up and quit. He'll begin is road back from arm injury in Surprise and hopefully get back to AA where he can show what he has against more advanced competition. This is Danny's first bit of adversity in his career and hopefully he will show his ability to conquer challenges as there will be many more during his baseball career.

Along with the comeback of Duffy another Royal minor leaguer has seemed to have righted the ship. Tim Melville's first seven starts were definitely forgettable but his last four have been much better. Over his last four starts he's pitched 24.2 innings yielding just 16 hits against 5 walks while striking out 21 and allowing 8 ERs(2.92 ERA). Melville has started to create more groundballs over his last two starts causing 15 groundouts compared to 5 flyball outs. It's still early but if this is going to become a regular thing but it is a definite good sign.