There are a number of blogs out there that provide extensive, everyday coverage of the Royals’ minor league system with far more expertise than I. In particular, I highly recommend checking in with Greg Schaum’s Royal Prospect site each morning for up to date happenings. However, we like to check in periodically and hit some of the high points of what is going on down on the farm.
Today, we are going to give you links to the full rosters of the four full season affiliates who kicked off their seasons on Thursday, with some hopefully noteworthy observations.
The AAA Omaha Royals have several players a lot of us would just as soon see in Kansas City right now. Without question and, for one of the few times in recent years, the O-Royals will be in a position to offer some real help when the big club needs it.
Nine of the twelve pitchers currently on the active roster have pitched in the majors, four of whom I would consider veteran major leaguers. The three who have not: Gaby Hernandez, Greg Holland and Blake Wood, might just be the three with the most potential. Wood threatened to make the big league roster this spring and might well be the first to get a callup.
Offensively, Kila Ka’aihue (who homered on Thursday night) returns once more to AAA, where his ability to get on-base will continue to be ignored by the organization. Veteran Wilson Betemit provides insurance and a little bit of pop at all the infield positions should catastrophe or potential trade opens up a spot in KC. The outfield is stocked by Jordan Parraz (who also homered on Thursday), legitimate prospect David Lough and Hillman favorite Jarrod Dyson. Dyson will begin the season on the disabled list, along with submarining blog hero Chris Hayes.
The Northwest Arkansas Naturals already sport two members of the 2009 draft class: starter Aaron Crow and reliever Louis Coleman. Both could see the majors by September, maybe sooner. Rule 5 pick Edgar Osuna ended up with the Naturals, too, after the Braves did not want him back. Keep an eye on reliever Blaine Hardy also, who had a sensational year in A ball. Looking for our old pal Rowdy Hardy? He is on this roster, too, but starts the year on disabled list.
Johnny Giavotella is the biggest prospect active right now on the offensive side of the ball. The second baseman might be poised for a big year in the Texas League. Hopefully sooner rather than later, Johnny will be joined by Mike Moustakas, who is also starting the year on the DL. A couple of big boppers, Clint Robinson and Ernesto Mejia will alternate at first base and designated hitter, while speedster Derrick Robinson will patrol centerfield and hopefully hit….for once.
Looking for a couple of potential sleepers? Why not outfielders Nick Van Stratten, who has hit everywhere when given a chance, and Paulo Orlando, who I like far better than anyone else.
Alex Gordon began his rehab assignment by going one for two with a walk and hit by pitch for the Wilmington Blue Rocks. He followed up on Friday night with two more walks, a hit and another hit by pitch. While the organization is certain that Gordon’s time in Wilmington will be brief, they are likely hoping that Eric Hosmer is ready to move quickly, too. Eric had a pretty mundane 2009, marred by finger and vision problems, and will be looking to live up to the hype in 2010. Nineteen year old catcher Salvador Perez is worth watching as well.
You want an exciting minor league rotation? Check out the Blue Rocks’ top three combo of Mike Montgomery (who dominated on opening night), Tim Melville and Chris Dwyer. Add to that the possible arrival in May of Noel Arguelles and it gets really interesting. Out of the bullpen, I love Barry Bowden, who has simply gotten everyone out everywhere since being signed as an undrafted free agent.
The big name on the Burlington Bees roster is catcher Wil Myers. While you watch his progress, also take note of outfielder Hilton Richardson who was drafted as a toolsy, but raw, prospect two seasons ago and may be ready to take a big step forward. Joey Lewis, a 41st round pick last year clubbed two home runs on Friday.
Two pitchers returning from injury will be in the Bees rotation: Kelvin Herrera and Matt Mitchell. Both have been impressive when healthy. They are joined by Tyler Sample, who made impressive improvement in his second year of rookie ball in 2009 and John Lamb.
Some names you might be looking for that do not appear on the above rosters include Shane Costa and Mario Lisson (both injured). In addition, Jason Godin, Matt Kinginzyky and Gilbert de la Vara, among others were released prior.