Royals Authority

Deconstructing The Process

Browsing Posts in Royals Prospects

Episode #034 – Clark Fosler, one of my co-writers at Royals Authority joins me to talk about the David Dejesus trade.  What does it mean for the Royals, did the Royals get good value in return and did Dayton rush to judgment?  We also talk 2011 and beyond.

:http://www.livekc.com/podcasts/bbs035.mp3|titles=BBS

Follow Nick on Twitter @brokenbatsingle or on Facebook
Follow Clark on Twitter @cfosroyalsauth

Music used in this podcast:

Tool – Lateralus

Earthless – Cherry Red

The Hipnecks – Sni-A-Bar Stomp

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Nick Scott writes about the Royals for Royals Authority, podcasts about the Royals at Broken Bat Single and writes about the Chiefs for Chiefs Command. You can follow him on Twitter @brokenbatsingle, on Facebook or email him at brokenbatsingle at gmail dot com.

This is the second post in a series of articles looking at the 2010 Kansas City Royals position by position.  In the first post, on catchers, I had an introduction which you can read here.

Below is the list of guys who had more than 20 plate appearances for the Royals while playing first base. Willie Bloomquist, Alex Gordon and Mitch Maier combined for 7 plate appearances.  I left them off this chart, but their numbers are included in the combined position table below.

Click to Enlarge

Not a gigantic surprise here.  Billy Butler got the bulk of the duties with Kila Ka’aihue coming in second.  I really liked how much time they gave Kila at first base after his call up.  I think that we already know what Butler has defensively, and it gives him the opportunity to spend some time learning the role of designated hitter.  For Kila, it was a chance to see what he could do as an every day player in the Big Leagues.  I don’t believe that 34 games is enough of a sample size to really tell what he can do and I expect him to be a regular in 2011. I heard some worries about whether or not Ned Yost would stick with Kila even if he struggled, but those questions were answered.  I think his willingness to understand sample size and to give guys an extended look are some of the best attributes of the Royals Manager.

As for Billy Butler, well I think he might be one of the most underrated players in the American League.  More than that I believe he is the most underrated player amongst Royals fans.  Usually a guy will get respect locally but not as much run nationally as he should (see Shin Soo-Choo), however Butler gets a lot of grief from the local fan base.  I don’t know exactly what to ascribe that to.  Maybe it’s that he plays at best average defense, or that he hasn’t hit for as much power as some people had projected, he certainly got a lot of heat for hitting into a ton of double plays.  But what he does well, he does extremely well.  Which brings me to the heat chart.

Red = highest in category, Green = lowest

As a group the Royals first basemen were 5th best in the American League offensively.  A couple of things jump out at me from this chart.  First, the AL Central has some really good first basemen.  Miguel Cabrera, Justin Morneau and Paul Konerko are certainly no slouches.  Maybe that is why Butler gets the Rodney Dangerfield treatment, his peers in the division are world-class.  Using the heat chart, the strikeout rate for Royals first basemen really jumps out.  It’s the lowest in the American League.  Royals first basemen struck out 90 times all season, the next team on the list, the Detroit Tigers struck out 112, or 24% more often.

Billy Butler is just getting to arbitration and Kila Ka’aihue should get another long look at first base next year.  With the results put up in 2010, there doesn’t seem to be any need to improve the position offensively.  Eric Hosmer and Clint Robinson are the guys knocking on the door from the minors, but I’d figure the earliest either make it to Kansas City barring injury is September 2011.  The production at first could drop in 2011 if Butler gets more time at designated hitter and Kila plays more at first.  It’s my preferred setup because Kila is the more polished defender.

Nick Scott writes about the Royals for Royals Authority, podcasts about the Royals at Broken Bat Single and writes about the Chiefs for Chiefs Command. You can follow him on Twitter @brokenbatsingle, on Facebook or email him at brokenbatsingle at gmail dot com.

With the football season in full swing and the baseball playoffs being Royals-free for the 25th consecutive season, it can be easy to stop paying attention to things involving the team.  However, there is still baseball being played by players in the Royals Minor League system.  There are at least 9 players I know of playing for various teams in the Pan Am Qualifying Tournament, including 6 for Team USA and tonight is the season opening games in the Arizona Fall League.  With the AFL opening I thought I’d discuss each of the prospects the Royals have sent.

For those of you unfamiliar with the Arizona Fall League here is a primer.  The AFL consists of 6 teams with 30 players on their rosters.  Each MLB team sends 6 players to an individual team, and can send along so called “taxi-squad” members who only play on Wednesdays and Saturdays.  The league is mostly for advanced and high-quality prospects to work on their skills against other high quality prospects.  A team can send up to two players from below Double-A ball.  The games are usually sparsely attended, but those in attendance are primarily scouts and executives who get a chance to see a bunch of top prospects at one time.  The games are played at various stadiums used for Spring Training, including the Royals spring home in Surprise.  The Royals will all be playing for the Surprise Rafters.

Royals Playing In The Arizona Fall League

Danny Duffy (LHP)

Just before the beginning of this season, Danny Duffy told the Royals he was leaving baseball.   The Royals were understanding of his situation, let him take his leave and told him he had a place if he decided to come back.  Luckily for the organization he did come come back and put up some eye-popping numbers.

Team Level ERA GS IP H BB SO H/9 BB/9 K/9 K/BB
Idaho Falls Rookie 1.50 2 6 4 0 6 6 0 9
Burlington Rookie 3.38 2 2.2 2 1 4 6.8 3.4 13.5 4
Wilmington A+ 2.57 3 14 8 7 18 5.1 4.5 11.6 2.57
NW Ark AA 2.95 7 39.2 38 9 41 8.6 2 9.3 4.56
Total 2.74 14 62.1 52 17 69 7.5 2.5 10 4.06

He didn’t take very long to become re-accustomed to pitching.  He moved quickly through levels and ended up at Double-A Northwest Arkansas where he was a key member of the Texas League Champions.  He currently is part of Team USA playing in the Pan Am Qualifying Tournament where he started one game, went five innings, gave up four hits, struck out one and allowed one earned run.

Patrick Keating (RHP)

Keating was taken in the 20th round of the 2009 draft.  He has been a reliever for the two seasons he has been with the Royals and has 24 saves over those seasons.  He was an under the radar signing, but was a highly though of High School prospect before having a slightly disappointing college career. I’ll be interested to see if Keating can continue is phenomenal strikeout rate against the AFL competition.

Team Level ERA GF IP H BB SO H/9 BB/9 K/9 K/BB
Wilmington A+ 1.19 6 30.1 18 10 41 5.3 3 12.2 4.1
NW Ark AA 3.10 20 40.2 33 19 60 7.3 4.2 13.3 3.16
Total 2.28 26 71 51 29 101 6.5 3.7 12.8 3.48

Mike Montgomery (LHP)

Montgomery had some injury issues which limited his games to only 20 this season, however that didn’t stop Baseball America from ranking him as the #3 prospect in the Texas League, below only Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer.  One of the nice things about the AFL is it allows pitchers who didn’t get enough work during the regular season, whether due to signing late or injury, a chance to get some work in.

Team Level ERA GS IP H BB SO H/9 BB/9 K/9 K/BB
AZ Royals Rookie 1.04 3 8.2 6 1 7 0 1 7.3 7
Wilmington A+ 1.09 4 24.2 14 4 33 0 1.5 12 8.25
NW Ark AA 3.47 13 59.2 56 26 48 0.6 3.9 7.2 1.85
Total 2.61 20 93 76 31 88 0.4 3 8.5 2.84

Brandon Sisk (LHP)

I got to see Brandon Sisk pitch for Northwest Arkansas this season.  I was extremely impressed.  He was throwing mid 90′s with low 80′s off-speed stuff.  He seems to go on a run of dominating hitters, then gives up a few runs.  The Royals seem to have been drafting and developing bullpen arms more than they have in the past and Sisk is one of those guys.  I’ll be looking for consistency during the AFL season out of Sisk.

Team Level ERA GF IP H BB SO H/9 BB/9 K/9 K/BB
NW Ark AA 4.46 25 68.2 73 28 63 9.6 3.7 8.3 2.25

Salvador Perez (C)

If you listened to my podcast with Greg Schaum, he predicted Salvador Perez to be a breakout player in 2011.  He is a young catcher with a lot of promise.  How he plays in the AFL will be one of the things I’ll be watching very closely.  He is still quite young, and has a lot of time to develop into a top prospect for the organization.

Team Level G PA H 2B 3B HR SB BA OBP SLG
Wilmington A+ 99 396 106 21 1 7 1 .290 .322 .411

Johnny Giavotella (2B)

Giavotella intrigues me more than any other player in the system. I think he will absolutely get a shot in the Big Leagues at some point, but will he be a cup of coffee guy, a steady backup, an everyday player or something better?  Opinions vary on his true ceiling, but everyone gives him high marks on his makeup.  He hit pretty well this season, but I hear his defense still needs work.  The fact he is on the AFL roster, gives some indication that the Royals think pretty highly of him.

Team Level G PA H 2B 3B HR SB BA OBP SLG
NW Ark AA 134 597 168 35 5 9 13 .322 .395 .460

Eric Hosmer (1B)

This is probably a name you’ve heard of before.  He’s one of the top prospects in the Royals system, is a part of Team USA, was in the futures game and is my personal top position prospect.  He had a breakout year and will be taking his talents to Surprise to help bring the Rafters a championship.  I am still a little shocked he isn’t able to play a corner outfield spot, so I’ll be watching his defense at first base pretty close.

Team Level G PA H 2B 3B HR SB BA OBP SLG
Wilmington A+ 87 375 115 29 6 7 11 .354 .429 .545
NW Ark AA 50 211 61 14 3 13 3 .313 .365 .615
Totals 137 586 176 43 9 20 14 .338 .406 .571

Derrick Robinson (CF)

Speed, speed and more speed.  That’s the report on Derrick Robinson, however after a change in his stance, his bat has become a much better tool than in the past.  He hit a respectable .286 in the Texas League against quality pitching.  His high OBP of .345 shows his patience, and 50 stolen bases shows his speed.  I’ll be watching to see if he can continue to progress as a hitter in the AFL.

Team Level G PA H 2B 3B HR SB BA OBP SLG
NW Ark AA 127 570 146 26 8 2 50 .286 .345 .380

If you would like to get an email most days with the boxscores for the Pan Am Qualifying Tournament, the Arizona Fall League and the entire Royals Organization in the 2011 season, just drop me an email at brokenbatsingle at gmail dot com.  I’m also attempting to make a trip to the AFL to see some of these prospects in person, if you’ve been, I’d love to hear your tips and recommendations.

Contact Nick Scott via email at brokenbatsingle at gmail dot com, via Twitter @brokenbatsingle or via Facebook.

As we move into the off-season, I thought we might as well get started on the projected opening day roster for 2011.   This is an exercise that I will do every month or so in the off-season as new information comes to light.

Keep in mind, this is not my idea of the roster, but what I think the roster will actually be based upon what we know for a fact (Yuniesky Betancourt for example) or what we think is a reasonable likelihood.   We are also going to keep the speculation to a minimum (i.e. I will save the Greinke or DeJesus trade theories for another column).   As such, let’s take a look at where the Royals seem to be headed with respect to next spring.

POSITION PLAYERS

Catcher – Brayan Pena, Lucas May

First Base/Designated Hitter – Billy Buter, Kila Ka’aihue

Second Base – Chris Getz

Shortstop – Yuniesky Betancourt

Third Base – Mike Aviles

Left Field – Alex Gordon

Center Field – Jarrod Dyson

Right Field – David DeJesus

Bench – Wilson Betemit, Gregor Blanco, Mitch Maier

The Kansas City Star’s article earlier this week pointed to Aviles at third if Getz can lock down the everyday second base job with Betemit in a utility role, which surprised me some, but I don’t hate the logic, either.    

There was/has been/will be considerable talk of acquiring a veteran catcher to fill the gap before Jason Kendall returns, but I have to wonder if that really makes any sense at all for the Royals.    They don’t plan on contending in 2011, have Kendall coming back at some point and two catchers who are both out of options as it is.  

The odd man out in the above equation is Josh Fields, who might have to rely on Jarrod Dyson getting the bat knocked out of his hands in spring training to open up a spot for him.   At least that is how it stands right now, anyway.

STARTING ROTATION

Zack Greinke, Luke Hochevar, Bruce Chen, Kyle Davies and Sean O’Sullivan

To quote The Talking Heads, “Same as it ever was.”   It certainly feels like Brian Bannister is going to be non-tendered and Kyle Davies brought back.    Given that the payroll is reportedly shrinking this year, it is tough to see a free agent acquisition to bolster this group.   Of course, if Bruce Chen can repeat his 2010 performance, Luke Hochevar continues to improve and Sean O’Sullivan develops…..oh, nevermind.

BULLPEN

Joakim Soria, Gil Meche, Blake Wood, Robinson Tejeda and Dusty Hughes all seem to be locks.   The first four are certain unless the club really goes cheap and non-tenders Tejeda, which would not make much sense at all.    Hughes, being left-handed and experienced, would also seem to have a spot – at least for the first couple of months.

I will delve into a little speculation for the final two bullpen openings and project that Tim Collins will make the team out of spring training.   With 329 strikeouts in 223 innings and an outstanding debut in AAA last year (20 IP, 21K, 9 H), it doesn’t seem like there is any reason not to get his career underway.

The final spot, right now, would seem to be a battle between Kanekoa Texeira (who the organization likes) and Greg Holland.      While Holland had some dismal outings in the majors, he has always been a guy who takes a few weeks to get his feet on the ground at a new level.  He finished the year by striking out six of the last eight batters he faced.

ESTIMATED TIMES OF ARRIVAL

These are the names you care about and my educated guess as to when we will see them.   I am only looking at prospects that I think will debut in 2011.

Louis Coleman – May

Mike Moustakas – June

Blaine Hardy – June

Everett Teaford – July

David Lough – August

Eric Hosmer, Johnny Giavotella, Mike Montgomery, Danny Duffy, Chris Dwyer, Brandon Sisk - September

With respect to Montgomery and Duffy, the Royals are going to face a real innings crunch with those two.   Even with post-season action, those two will have compiled no more than 100 innings a piece in 2010.   Given that, it would be tough (and probably not prudent) for the Royals to slot them into the rotation in mid-season.   The organization has also seemed to shy away from putting starting pitching prospects into the major league bullpen as way of easing them into the bigs, so that led me to project September arrivals.

A name you are likely looking for is John Lamb, but he will be just twenty next year and having vaulted through three levels in 2010, the Royals might be content to wait until spring of 2012 to give him a look.

Another name is Jeff Bianchi, but given what we saw out of Mike Aviles as he rushed back into action from Tommy John surgery, I am speculating that it might take most of 2011 for Bianchi to round back into form.  

Well, that is pass number one at this exercise.    There is a pretty good chance that come next month, this might look considerably different.   Whether change is good or bad remains to be seen.

Episode #032 – In this episode Nick welcomes Adam back to the studio to talk about reasons to continue watching the Royals this season. They talk about some of the Minor League accolades to players like Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer, a hot Mike Aviles, good beer and whatever else seems to pop in their heads.

:http://www.livekc.com/podcasts/bbs032.mp3|titles=BBS

Follow Nick on Twitter @brokenbatsingle or on Facebook

Follow Adam on Twitter @kccommi

Music used in this podcast:

Hank Williams III – 3 Shades of Black

Freddie Hubbard – Red Clay

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Yesterday, Clark wrote an article about the next Big Three Royals pitching prospects in Danny Duffy, John Lamb and Mike Montgomery.  The potential to have a trio of top of the rotation starters is something that could put a team in contention, however adding three stud everyday players is how you win pennants.  The Royals potentially do have that trio of everyday bats in the minors and they are: Mike Moustakas, Eric Hosmer and Wil Myers.  The combination of these six players would make nearly every other team in the MLB drool with jealousy.  With the minor league seasons now completed, lets take a look at what this trio did this year and look back breifly on their professional careers.

Mike Moustakas

Moustakas was drafted in the 2007 June Amateur draft out of high school in California and was projected to be a hitter.  He played shortstop in high school, but was immediately moved to third base upon beginning his professional baseball career.  In 2007 he was sent to the short-season Pioneer League to play for the Idaho Falls Chukars.  He played in 11 games and hit .293/.383/.439.

Coming into 2008 he was named the 18th best prospect in baseball by Baseball America.  He was sent to the Singl A Midwest League to play for the Burlington Bees.  Moustakas showed the power potential the Royals expected to see out of him when he blasted 22 homeruns.  He hit .272/.337/.468 over 126 games.  His batting average and on base percentage were not what people had hoped, however he was still only 19 years old and had some time to develop his patience at the plate.

Prior to the 2009 season, Moustakas was named the 13th best prospect by BA.  He was promoted to the High-A Carolina League where he played for the Wilmington Blue Rocks.  Wilmington plays in Frawley stadium, which is notorious for being a pitchers park.  Hitting a ball out of the stadium is an extremely difficult task and not surprisingly Moustakas’ homerun total dipped to 16.  Beyond that, he hit .250/.297/.421.  He didn’t improve in any area statistically, which shouldn’t have come as a huge shocker as the 20 year old was getting his first taste of the elevated competition.  However, it did generate a little bit of worry amongst Royals prospect watchers.

Moustakas’ rough 2009 hurt his BA prospect ranking prior to the 2010 season.  He dropped all the way to #80 on the list.  Fear started running amok in the Royals fan base about the potential for another first round bust.  It surprised quite a few people, including myself, when it was announced that Moustakas would be playing at Double A Northwest Arkansas for the Naturals.  The prevailing thought was that if he had trouble with High A ball, then Double A might destroy him and his confidence.  Regardless, it was an extremely important year for Mike and all eyes would be on him, hoping to see a turnaround.  Moustakas delivered in spades by hitting .347/.413/.687 with 21 homeruns in only 66 games for the Naturals before being promoted to AAA.  Just as the Blue Rocks stadium is pitcher friendly, it seems that the Naturals stadium is hitter friendly and although Moustakas dominated on offense, there were whispers it was because of the stadium.

After proving he could not only hit AA pitching, but dominate it, the Royals promoted him to AAA Omaha.  He got off to a slow start, but eventually hit .293/.314/.564 and hit 15 homeruns for the O-Royals in 52 games nearly propelling the team to a playoff spot in the Pacific Coast League.  He was recognized as the Sporting News Hitter of the Year, and earned a spot on Team USA for the Pan Am Qualifying Tournament.

Moustakas has shown he can hit for power and average at high levels of the minors, but hitting AA and AAA pitching is nothing compared to hitting MLB pitchers.  One of the chinks in his armor is his number of strikouts.  In AA Moustakas had 26 walks to 42 strikeouts and in AAA had 8/25.  You can get away with that in the minors, but doing it in the Major League is another story.  Pitchers will find his weak spots and work them mercilessly.  I’ve seen him on a couple of occasions and his defense at third is pretty good from what I hear.  He probably needs to work on that facet of his game as well to become an everyday player at the Majors.  I’d expect to see him in a Royals uniform sometime mid season in 2011.

Eric Hosmer

Eric Hosmer was drafted in the first round of the 2008 June Amateur Draft out of high school in Florida.   He was an extremely late sign and played just 3 games that year for Idaho Falls.

Prior to 2009 he was ranked the 24th best prospect by Baseball America and was sent to play for the  Burlington Bees.  He hit .241/.334/.361with 5 homeruns in 106 games for the low-A Bees.  The Royals decided that they would promote him to Wilmington, possibly to boost his confidence or for a change of scenery.  He played even worse for the Blue Rocks, hitting .206/.280/.299 with 1 homerun in 27 games.  These numbers combined with the rough season that Moustakas had in 2009 were enough to really shake the confidence of the fan base.  The team at the MLB level was flailing and the much heralded prospects were failing in epic fashion.  We’d seen this before, and it wasn’t surprising.What most fans didn’t know though, was that Hosmer had a hand injury and needed eyesight correction.  Both of those complications certainly could have caused the rough season that he had.

In the off season, Hosmer got his hand healthy and he got eye surgery.  He also got completely dropped off of the BA prospect list and came into 2010 with expectations lowered just a tad.  He was re-assigned to High-A Wilmington and the power sapping nature of Frawley Stadium.  However, like he was reborn, Hosmer tore the roof of of the place.  He hit .354/.429/.545 with 7 homeruns and 6 triples in 87 games for the Blue Rocks.  He earned a trip to the Futures Game in Anaheim for the All-Star break, and subsequently earned a promotion to Northwest Arkansas.  There, he continued his torrid hitting pace and hit .313/.365/.615 with 13 homeruns in 50 games.  He helped replace the bat of Moustakas, who had been promoted to AAA, and helped lead the Naturals to the Texas League Championship.

Hosmer is a tall athletic young kid who is still only 20 years old.  He has been playing first base since his arrival in the Royals organization.  Personally, when I’ve seen him he almost looks too athletic to play first, but he is a very big guy.  I was higher on Moustakas until I got a look at Hosmer at the futures game.  His body type and plate discipline are what really impressed me.  I believe he can grow into even more power and should be able to be a very good defensive first baseman.  If you forced me to pick, I’d take Hosmer over Moustakas for my team.  He will be joining Moustakas in the Pan Am Games this fall and he will be in the Arizona Fall League,  I expect him to play a full season in AAA in 2011 with a call to the majors in mid 2012.

Wil Myers

To catch or not to catch, that is the question.  Wil Myers is the third of our trio of players and he is also the youngest.  Continuing the theme, he was drafted out of High School in the 3rd round of the 2009 June Amateur Draft.  The Royals offered the young catcher money well above the recommended slot bonus for a third round pick and Myers chose the professional route in lieu of a scholarship to North Carolina.

Myers got to work early in 2009 and played 22 games for Idaho Falls and hit .369/.427/.679 with 5 homeruns in 22 games.  He was quickly promoted to the Burlington Royals of the Rookie level Appalachian League.  He only played in 4 games and accumulated 2 hits in the brief stint.

The question going into 2010 for Wil Myers, was his spot on the field.  He’d been a catcher in high school, but there was plenty of talk that his bat was too good to be behind the plate, and his defense there was not spectacular.  He was sent to Burlington, Iowa to play for the Bees and was still behind the plate.  He hit .289/.408/.500 with 10 homeruns in 68 games before being promoted to the Wilmington Blue Rocks.  There, he hit.346/.453/.512 with 4 homeruns in 58 games.  More importantly, he continued to catch and DH.

Opinions on his defense vary, but I haven’t heard anyone call him a great catcher just yet.  Rumors of him moving positions will probably follow him all the way to the Major Leagues if he stays behind the plate.  That isn’t uncommon for a great hitter, which Wil Myers certainly is.  I don’t have a huge issue moving him, and I don’t have a huge issue with keeping him at catcher.  What I would have an issue with is moving him to a defensive position once he gets to the MLB.  The Royals continually try and put players in a new defensive position at the Major League level and it confounds me.  They need to identify NOW whether they think Wil Myers is a catcher or not.  If he isn’t get him used to an outfield spot today.

These three players, Moustakas, Hosmer and Myers make are the core of the Royals future position players.  Combining them with Duffy, Lamb and Montgomery you have six players with elite potential.  How they perform the next two to three years will tell you everything you need to know about the Royals chances to compete in the near future.  Fans like to compare this crop of guys to past failures like Roscoe Crosby, Dan Reichert and Dee Brown.  Sure, they have a chance to fail just like those guys, however this crop is significantly more talented than anything the Royals have seen in decades.  The odds are good that not all six of them will become elite talents, but the good news is, when you have 6 players this good, not all of them HAVE to be, that is the difference.

Contact Nick Scott via email at brokenbatsingle at gmail dot com, via Twitter @brokenbatsingle or via Facebook .  If you would like to receive his daily Royals system boxscores via email, just drop an email and request it.  He will be sending out boxscores for both the Pan Am Games and the Arizona Fall League.

On Monday it was announced that speedy outfielder Jarrod Dyson (Juh- ROD)  had been promoted to the Kansas City Royals.  I’ve been a big fan of Dyson since I saw him play for the Northwest Arkansas Naturals  a couple of times last year.  His primary talent seems to be his defense, where he utilizes his super-human speed to track down fly balls from center field.  However, it isn’t just his speed that makes him a solid defender, he has great instincts and takes fantastic routes to fly balls.   I’ve seen enough of guys like Joey Gathright in the outfield, who have superior speed but don’t have the skills to make proper use of it.  Dyson, from what I’ve seen and what other scouts have said does take advantage.

Before the season started, I pegged Dyson as a candidate for a mid-season promotion, however a couple of  injuries limited him to 71 games in the minors this year, mostly at AAA.  He is 25, which is still young enough to develop, however he has notoriously been a slow mover through the minors.

Dyson was selected in the 50th and final round of the 2006 draft out of Southwest Mississippi Community College.  If  he gets in a game he will be the first player from that round of the 2006 draft to log time at the MLB level.  He was selected 1,475th overall and will be the first player in Major League history to get an AB, drafted at that point.  He will also be the first player in Royals history drafted in the 50th round to get Major League playing time.

Dyson might instantly become the fastest player in the majors, but he will need to find a bat to make an impact.  The Royals seem to be loaded with 4th and 5th outfielder types, and unless something changes that will be Jarrod’s destiny.  In five Minor League seasons, Dysons slash line is .278/.344/.343.  In fact, he only hit his first homerun in professional baseball this year.  Dyson doesn’t need to bang 25 homers to be a productive player, however at his age, a season with 10 or more would be encouraging.  I think his upside is someone like Coco Crisp, however Crisp broke into the majors at a younger age and was producing double digit homerun seasons.

There is a lot of talk around baseball that speed and defense are coming into vogue over power.  I don’t know if that is completely true, but I can assure you that teams still would prefer as much power as possible, and will sacrifice speed to get it.  I am extremely excited to see a burner like Dyson get a shot at the Major League level.  At the very least, it provides one of those unique baseball moments where we get to see a player get his first plate appearance and his first hit.  Jarrod Dyson has a great set of unique tools, but it is his weakest one, his bat, which will make or break him.

http://www.baseball-reference.com/minors/player.cgi?id=dyson-001jar

Yesterday, the Royals had a much needed off-day.  However, while the Major League club isn’t playing a game, the action does not stop in the organization.  Yesterday, there were eight games played throughout the Royals Minor League system.  I know that when the Major League team struggles, the focus can start to turn towards the Minor Leagues and for good reason.  The minors represent a brighter future and hope of a renewed organization.  For a lot of reasons, there is some excitement building around the current crop of Royals Minor Leaguers.

If you are anything like me, you spend most mornings looking at all of the minor league box scores to see how some of the younger guys like Eric Hosmer, Wil Myers and Christian Colon are faring.  However, going to individual team pages to find a box score can be a little tedious with nine different minor league teams.  Recently, I began putting together a .pdf of the previous days action around the Royals organization.  It has every box score and a quick rundown of who had a pretty good night.  It is still a work in progress, and there are some days where I am unable to put the document together.  But, recently I’ve been sending it around to some people via email and it has had a pretty good response.  So now, loyal Royals Authority readers, I offer it up to you as well.

If you would like to be added to the email list to receive this, just send an email to brokenbatsingle at gmail dot com, and ask to be added.  Keep in mind though, that it is still a work in progress so there are formatting things I need to iron out and it may come slightly sporadically.  All you will receive via email will be an email from me with the .pdf file.  You can print it out, read it on a Kindle, a laptop or any .pdf reader.  I hope you get some value out of it.  If you would like to preview todays file, click on the link below.

Nicks Royals Report 8-16

Nick Scott is the host of the Broken Bat Single Royals podcast, a hopeless Royals fan and hates preseason football.  You can follow him on Twitter at @brokenbatsingle

Prior to the 2010 season, many of us thought that the starting rotation might one of the Kansas City Royals’ strengths.   With the reigning Cy Young Award winner heading the staff and a healthy Gil Meche returning, it seemed that the Royals would have a one-two punch on par with anyone in the division.

Behind Greinke and Meche, there was a very reasonable chance that Luke Hochevar would take the next step and become a reliable number three starter while Brian Bannister was likely to remain a serviceable number four starter.   Plus, maybe this was the year that it all came together for Kyle Davies.   Even if Davies continued as he had been, he was still just the number five starter, anyway.

Well so much for that…

At our annual Royals Authority winter meetings in Bora Bora, we discussed that Zack Greinke’s ERA could go up an entire run and he still could be the best pitcher in the American League.   At the same time, we doubted that Zack would regress that much.   As it turned out, Zack’s ERA has gone up by just under two runs this year and while he is still a force to be reckoned with, Greinke is not dominating as he did in 2009.

That said, Zack is hardly the major issue with the Royals’ rotation.  Gil Meche started all of nine games and now, if he ever pitches again as a Royal, will do so out of the bullpen.   Luke Hochevar, who had shown signs of progress, was sat down for ‘a start or two’  on June 12th and has not been seen since.   Brian Bannister is currently sporting an ERA of barely under six and Kyle Davies remains Kyle Davies.

How bad has it been for the rotation this year?   Well, Bruce Chen, who found no takers for his services over the winter is arguably…not even arguably..IS the team’s number two starter and recently acquired Sean O’Sullivan, who has been tagged for 11 runs in 16 innings of work seems like an improvement over Bannister and Davies.

Of course, as I have often written, the end result of 2010 is not so important as building this team for the future.   In that respect, the Royals have plenty to look forward to when it comes to the rotation.   The AA level of the system boasts Mike Montgomery, John Lamb, Danny Duffy and Chris Dwyer – all potential Top 100 prospects by the time those rankings come out this winter.   Behind them is disappointing, but still talented, Aaron Crow, who is joined by another slew of good young arms in Tim Melville,  Tyler Sample, Brian Paukovits and Will Smith.   The system is positively bubbling with potential major league starters.

Here’s the bad news:  if you throw out Crow’s 119 innings of work at Northwest Arkansas and Will Smith’s bizarre trip through three levels of the Angels’ system this season, the rest of the guys we just named COMBINED, have 60 innings of experience above A ball.      That’s no one’s fault, just a result of some minor injuries, a two month ‘retirement’ and the simple fact that these pitchers are all very young.

Sixty innings of combined AA experience makes it highly unlikely that we see any of these hurlers in Kansas City before September of 2011.    That bodes well for the rotation in 2012 and beyond, but it doesn’t do much for next year’s starting five.

Here is what we know about the 2011 rotation:  Zack Greinke will be the number one starter and Gil Meche won’t be in it.

Long pause….

Chances are, and given the Royals’ recent performance/luck at getting major league starting pitchers healthy, it is just a chance, Luke Hochevar will be in the rotation, too.      Before he went down in June, Luke had shaved over a run and one-half off his 2009 ERA (and yes, I think ERA is still a decent if somewhat crude measurement of the effectiveness of  a starting pitcher) and gone six or more innings in nine of his thirteen starts.   Should Hochevar make it back for even just a handful of starts yet this season, we could once more make a reasonable assumption that he might be able to take that ‘next step’ and settle in as a legitimate number three or number four starter.

After that, the Royals’ options to fill out the rotation are Bruce Chen, Brian Bannister, Sean O’Sullivan and, sigh, Kyle Davies.  

Chen’s a guy that will be interesting to watch the rest of the year.   After moving into the rotation, Bruce allowed 16 earned runs in his first 39 innings, but has been tagged for 20 runs in his last 25 innings.   That is a bad trend, which if not reversed means Chen is not a realistic option in 2011.

Bannister’s performance has degraded to the point that the Royals are skipping his next turn in the rotation.   Getting skipped in a rotation that includes Chen, O’Sullivan and Davies is not exactly a good trend, either.   I don’t know what you do with Bannister, I really don’t.   He is pretty much posting the worst numbers of his career across the board and getting worse as the season goes on.  

Kyle Davies now has 641 innings on his major league resume and they pretty much all look the same.  He is not horrible – well, not in comparison to Bannister or that guy who was wearing Gil Meche’s jersey earlier this year – but he is not anywhere near good, either.   Frankly, I think you could put Kyle’s game logs for the last couple of seasons next to those of Odalis Perez during his Royals’ career and not be able to tell them apart.  I don’t really view that as a ringing endorsement.

That brings us to Sean O’Sullivan, whose best asset at the moment is that he is just 22 years old.   What we have seen out of Sean to date is in line with what the scouting reports indicated:  a competitor, decent stuff and control, lacks a true out pitch and loses effectiveness the second and third time through a batting order.  As many have pointed out, O’Sullivan is not the picture of physical conditioning, so it may be a case of simply maturing and getting in better shape.     Frankly, I like O’Sullivan and could see him developing into a real number four starter (i.e. better than Bannister or Davies), but that might just be the ‘we always like the new guy syndrome’ at work there.

The options in AAA right now are pretty much Philip Humber, Gaby Hernandez and Edgar Osuna.  Of the three, Osuna is intriguing, having pitched extremely well in AA with a 2.95 ERA and a 1.162 WHIP.   He was pounced on pretty good in his first AAA start, but is worth watching in August.   If Chen or Bannister continue to crumble or Ned Yost just gets as bored with Kyle Davies as I am, it might be worth three or four starts in September to get a feel for what Osuna has to offer.

So, what do you do in 2011 if you are running the Royals?   Do you hold the line, trust the process (no sarcasm intended…for once) and wait for your truly impact arms to reach the bigs in 2012?   Probably that is the smart course of action.

If Greinke rebounds from simply good back to dominant, Hochevar comes back healthy and effective (yikes, that probably jinxed him right there!), O’Sullivan matures and improves and you find two guys who are this side of awful out of Osuna, Chen, Bannister and Davies, then you have an ‘okay’ rotation.   I don’t think the Royals can contend with that rotation, but those thoughts might not be realistic for next season, anyway.

Now, if you cannot tolerate a season of that rotation or you believe contending is a real possibility in 2011, then one has to look to free agency.   The list of free agents this off-season can be found here, and there are a number of interesting names on the list.   That said, how many that are upgrades can the Royals reasonably afford?  

As you can see, projecting the 2012 starting rotation will be a lot more fun than doing so for 2011.   What would you do?

No, not really.  

Mike Moustakas should not be promoted to the major leagues, at least not right now.   It is simply too soon, too quick and not worth the risk at this point.   That said, Mike Moustakas should be promoted to AAA Omaha sooner rather than later.

I touched on this last Thursday and this column may seem odd in its timing given that Moustakas is currently in an zero for fourteen skid.   However, I don’t really see the point of keeping Mike in AA and one step further removed from a big league team that needs a power bat any longer.

Despite the recent slump, Moustakas is still posting a line of .338/.406/.676/1.082.  Most of us know that the Texas League is considered a hitter friendly association and hence might say that those numbers are inflated.  Well, keep this in mind:

  • Mike’s .338 batting average has him leading the league by TWELVE points.
  • His on-base percentage is second in the league (Aaron Luna of Springfield leads at .417) and is thirteen points better than the next player and fifteen better than teammate Clint Robinson, who is fourth.
  • Okay, here’s the number that really clinches it.   Robinson is second in the league in slugging percentage, lagging behind Moustakas by ONE HUNDRED AND TWENTY-EIGHT POINTS.      Third place Wilin Rosario and fourth place Koby Clemens have slugged .505 and .504 respectively.

It is also worth noting that Moustakas was coming off a 15 for 30 streak before the recent zero for fourteen slide (during which he has struck out just three times).   In fact, after striking out 90 times in 129 games last year, Mike has struck out just 37 times in 57 games thus far in 2010.   While that is more incremental improvement than dramatic improvement, he has upped his walk total at the same time (23 right now, versus just 32 all of  last season).  

Rany wrote a week ago about how Alex Gordon and Kila Kaaihue are putting up numbers so big that the Royals may simply not believe it is possible and hence ignore them.    Given that Chris Lubanski is tearing up the same league as Gordon and Kila, I can almost understand the logic, but no one in the Texas League is doing anything like what Moustakas is accomplishing.     His dominance is such that I have to wonder if the two slumps he has endured in June that have led to a monthly line of just .293/.333/.566  is in part attributable to simply being bored with the competition.

Now, the decreased production in June is one reason to argue against the promotion to AAA.   I can see that and frankly would be fine with waiting for the next hot streak (which is probably all of two games away) before moving Moustakas up.   When Mike gets hot again, there would be only two reasons not to move him and I don’t agree with either.

First, the Royals can fall back to the ‘gain experience playing with a winning team’ argument.  You know, the one that worked so well for Gordon, Butler, Greinke and the rest of the very good Wichita team of several years back.      The concept of develop players together and bringing them up has merits on a theoretical level, but simply does not work in real life.   To begin with, a small budget team like Kansas City simply cannot have all its young players reach arbitration and free agency at the same time.    Not if they want to compete year in year out, which is supposedly the end result of The Process.

The second reason is the argument that Alex Gordon tore up AA pitching and ‘look how he’s turned out’.   Well, Moustakas is not Gordon.   Other than they have played the same position on the diamond and sign autographs with the same hand, they actually have virtually nothing in common developmentally.    A closer comparison is Billy Butler, who also tore up AA, spent the next two seasons bouncing between Omaha and Kansas City and now is legitimate middle of the order major league bat.

Doesn’t it make sense to move Moustakas to AAA in early July and preparation for letting him get thirty or forty big league at-bats in September?   Maybe he competes for a major league spot next spring or maybe he returns to Omaha for a couple more months of seasoning.   Either way, with any luck, the Royals would have Moustakas ready to be in their everyday lineup by June of 2011.  

If the goal is to compete, really compete, in 2012, then you don’t want a rookie Mike Moustakas batting fourth behind Butler, you want a second year Moustakas in that slot.   

Don’t be stubborn because another number two pick has not yet panned out.   Move Moustakas now.

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