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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.