My trips to Surprise for Spring Training are one of the highlights of my baseball season. The Surprise baseball complex is fantastic and seeing young talented Minor Leaguers playing in such an intimate and casual atmosphere is amazing. The Arizona Fall League would be a great way to bookend the season, however I haven’t been able to make that trip, yet. So instead, let’s take the trip together via the magic of the intertrons and see what’s going on with the Royals prospects out west.
This is familiar face. The Rule V pickup spend the entire season at the Major League level with the Royals and was a pretty solid contributor considering his experience. He has started one game where he pitched 3 innings and struck out 7. He was named pitcher of the week last week as well. Not too shabby.
Jeffress was a bit of a disappointment last season. He arrived in the Zack Greinke trade and could light up the radar gun, but couldn’t find the strike zone. He was eventually sent back to the Minors and couldn’t really make it back because of the depth the Royals had in relief. Sending him to Arizona says that the Royals still believe in him and that they think he needs to work on a few things. So far he’s pitched in 3 games and has allowed 10 hits and 3 walks in 3.2 innings while striking out only 2. It might be getting to the point where it will be best to let him just take a breather and come back fresh in 2012.
Lafferty was taken in the 18th round of the 2009 draft out of UCLA. He hit a speed bump this year in Wilmington and Northwest Arkansas as his ERA jumped from the low 3′s to the mid 4′s. He breezed through his first two games in Surprise, but in the last two he’s given up 5 runs in 4 innings.
Paukovits had been a starter from the time he was drafted in 2006 until he moved to the bullpen this season. The move dropped his ERA a full point and his ground ball rate increased markedly. He has 3 innings under his belt in Surprise and has struck out 3, walked 2 and given up 6 hits. Things don’t seem to be going well for Royals relievers in the AFL.
In his second pro season Christian Colon kept his OBP at a respectable but notthing-to-write-home-about .325 while dropping his batting average from .278 to .257 and his SLG from .380 to .342. That’s the wrong direction when he moved into the more hitter-friendly park in Northwest Arkansas. He still seems like a player who will have a role in the Majors, but unless he can improve his bat he won’t be much more than a Willie Bloomquist type guy. In the AFL he’s 4-for-24 at the moment with a double. Not quite what the Royals were hoping for, but it’s still early.
Serratelli is one of those guys that you really root for to get a shot at the Majors, if even for a moment. He went to Seton Hall, then to the Independent leagues then to the Royals where he has slowly climbed the ladder to Double-A last season. He out-hit Christian Colon with a .282/.392/.398 line, but since he’s older and not a 1st round draft pick, he will always be put behind Colon. It’s not fair, but that’s just the way it goes in baseball. He has to prove himself over and over to get a shot. The fact that he’s in the AFL is a good sign that he just may get that shot at some point. So far he’s making the most of his opportunity by going 7 for 22 with a home run and a double in Surprise.
The big-time prospect had a bit of a let-down season as he struggled with injuries, a new position and a step up to Double-A. He still kept his patience as he posted a .353 OBP, but that’s a far cry from the .429 he posted in 2010. He’s still young so there’s nothing at all to worry about, which is one of the messages I’m sure the Royals are trying to send by putting him on the roster. So far, he seems to have gotten the message loud and clear as he’s 9-for-28 so far with 2 home runs. 2 triples and a double. He’s also the same Wil Myers as he’s walked 10 times to 7 strikeouts.