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Well, here we are at the exact halfway point of 2011 and our Kansas City Royals have just been swept by the San Diego Padres.   That is the same San Diego team that, despite three wins in a row, still sports a record in the lowest quarter of major league baseball.   The sweep leaves Kansas City with the worst record in the American League and the second worst record in all of baseball behind the Houston Astros.

We are entering prime trade rumor time (I’m not sure exactly how many times I logged onto MLBTradeRumors yesterday, but it was more than enough) and you can bet that more columns will follow speculating on possible trades and potential moves.   For today, however, this Royals squad has worn me out.    I don’t want to discuss Melky Cabrera or Chris Getz or, heaven forbid, Kyle Davies.    Aaron Crow to the rotation?  Joakim Soria on the block?  Not today.

Instead, let’s take a look past 2011 and, for the most part, past 2012.   While it may not necessarily be an ‘everything’s coming up roses’ sort of list, it is at least something other than the 2011 Kansas City Royals.

July 2nd is the start of the international signing period and the Royals appear to be in the lead on landing outfielder Elier Hernandez.   A five tool 16 year old (if such a person can actually exist in the real world), Hernandez could be the best signee in the history of the Royals.    He will almost certainly get the most money. 

The Royals are also in on infielder Adelberto Mondesi, Raul’s son.   He won’t turn 16 until July 27th and will have to wait for that day before signing.   Dawel Lugo is another infielder who the Royals have interest in, but are not the leaders to sign.   According to Baseball America, Lugo is a better prospect than Mondesi, but less likely to stick at shortstop.   Thanks to PineTarPress for the likely signeed, by the way.

You didn’t really expect to hear any Bubba Starling news yet, did you?  Having drafted near the top of the order for basically a decade, Royals’ fans now the drill:  nobody talks much until about August 14th when it comes to getting top level picks signed.  It doesn’t make much sense for Starling to turn down millions now to play college football with the hope that you might make millions later (not to mention that Starling is not a prototypical NFL QB type), so I think a deal will get made roughly 8 minutes before the signing deadline.

At that point, you wonder where or even if, the Royals will try to get Starling into game action in 2011.   They might well opt to wait until fall instructional games and it could be that we will have to wait until the rookie leagues start up in June 2012 before we actually see Bubba play real professional baseball.     It is possible that Starling is such an athletic freak that he could move quickly through the system, but I would hold off on buying Starling jerseys until at least March of 2014.

There is a lot of talk about Melky Cabrera, Lorenzo Cain and even David Lough when it comes to the future of centerfield in Kansas City.   As mentioned above, Starling enters into the conversation at some point down the road, but let’s not forget about 2010 draftee Brett Eibner.   After injuring his hand two games into his professional debut this April, Eiber is back in action with Kane County.   While the slash line of .206/.265/.460 may not scream future major leaguer, he does have FIVE home runs in 17 games.   Already 22 years old, Eibner could move quickly once he shakes off the rust.

Cheslor Cuthbert is probably the most recognized international signee currently in the system and he has done nothing to disappoint.  As an 18 year old in A ball, the third baseman is hitting .309/.369/.473 with 4 home runs, 11 walks and just 17 strikeouts.    While Kane County is years removed from Kansas City, Cuthbert could spend a full season at each succeeding minor league level and still make his debut in the majors at just age 22.   It is very possible that Cuthbert could move quicker than that and arrive in Kansas City just in time to push Mike Moustakas to designated hitter as Billy Butler’s contract expires.

Yesterday was a night game for the Minor Leaguers as they took on the Texas Rangers prospects. These games are fun, but can be difficult because there are four games going on simultaneously. I was trying to catch as many interesting prospects as I could, but I kept getting pulled to another field. Then I kept missing out on guys that I wanted to see.

Jonathan Keck (LHP) – He’s a tall lefty who was pretty impressive in the high A game. He was throwing his fastball 90-92 and touched 93. It had good movement and he also flashed a really good curveball. In another organization he might get a lot more love, particularly since he’s a lefty. In the Royals organization he’s one of the many talented lefties. Someone to keep an eye on in 2011.

Tyler Graham (RHP) – Taken in the 22nd round of last year’s draft, Graham pitched in Idaho Falls last season. He pitched exclusively out of the bullpen. He’s a “max effort” pitcher. When he throws the ball it looks like he’s trying to choke the life out of it—it’s a violent delivery. With that kind of delivery, he’s not going to be moved out of the bullpen and he might have some injury issues. It also hurts his ability to throw a secondary pitch, because getting a feel for it and also hiding it from the hitters can be difficult.

Shin Jin-Ho ( C) – He’s been kind of a mystery man since he was signed in 2009 as a 17 year old from South Korea. Behind the plate, he looked comfortable. He’s a “flat-footed” catcher, meaning when he crouches his heels are on the ground. It’s a technique that much better scouts than myself say they prefer. He seemed to pick balls out of the dirt pretty well, but I never saw him catch with runners on so it’s difficult to see how he would do when he has to block the ball.

At the plate, he seemed a little over-matched in the Low A game as he got blown away with a high fastball. It was only one plate appearance, so I wouldn’t take much away from it. He’s still very young and very raw. He might never be worth what the Royals paid for him, but he bears watching. He spent all of last year in the Arizona League (Rookie) and might graduate to Burlington (Rookie) this year.

Johnny Giavotella (2B) – Giavotella is an interesting prospect.  Pretty much everyone who gets a chance to watch him likes what they see, but there is plenty of debate on what his ceiling is. Some say average Major Leaguer, some say below average some say possibly above average. What makes him difficult to guage is that he does lots of things well and no one-thing great. He’s kind of like David Dejesus in that way. I’ve gotten to see him as much as any prospect in the system and I’m a believer in his ability. There are some questions about his defense and whether it’s Major League or not.

Scouting position players can be difficult without watching them every single day. What I see and continue to see in Spring Training this year is a player who can and will get a shot to be a Major League player.  He has a decent bat with some occasional power and he has a decent glove that he works hard on.

Wil Myers (OF) – Myers continued to impress, but by not swinging the bat. I watched him walk three times in a Minor League Spring Training game. His pitch recognition and plate discipline are that good. It’s disappointing not to see him swing the bat when he can do it so well, but a guy who has the ability to take walks like that in that kind of game is advanced.

Brett Eibner (OF) – One of the guys I was really anxious to see, but kept missing when I went to his field. People that did get to see him said he looked really good and put some charge into the balls he got a hold of.

Christian Colon (SS) – His bat will play in the Major Leagues, questions linger over his glove and ability to stick at shortstop. I haven’t had a chance to see him field much so I can’t comment,  but I do like his bat. I think he has a really good season this year.

I am going to take a break from my normal routine here and pause the positional season in review posts I’ve been putting up.  To be honest, the main reason is because I’ve been very sick and my brain is only at about a quarter capacity.  Instead for my regular Tuesday installment, I am going to just do some bullets and notes from around the Royals and baseball.  When you’re sick, it’s always best to let other people do most of the heavy lifting.  So let’s just get right into it.

  • First, let’s start with some tone setting music, John Zorn’s Electric Masada – Kairaim Part 1 and Part 2.
  • It’s not Royals related, but in a way it’s Kansas City related.  John Klima at Baseball Beginnings writes The Last .400 Hitter, about Artie Wilson who hit .402 in the Negro American League.  Also, if you are not, you should consider becoming a member of the Negro League Museum.
  • The Royals named Lonnie Goldberg the new Director of Scouting.  The title of the article was “Goldberg named new KC director of scouting” and I’m not gonna lie, I was like “wow, Joel Goldberg is getting out of the TV game?”  Lonnie Goldberg has been with the Royals since 2007 and was the director of baseball operations.
  • I found this to be hilarious.  I know that the likely audience of people who would enjoy pitch f/x comedy is small, but I am in that small group.
  • Jeff Zimmerman at Royals Review asks David Glass to vote for Marvin Miller for the Hall of Fame.  I agree 100%.
  • The Omaha Royals have been re-named the Omaha Storm Chasers.  Yes, seriously.  I expected to read Minda Haas ripping it apart, but she’s not.  I’ll defer to her on this and accept it.
  • Todd Gold of Perfect Game has a scouting report from the AFL Rising Stars game at Royals Prospects.  I came away from the game thinking that Mike Montgomery had electric stuff, but needed to be more consistent.  However it was only two innings.
  • Phil Wood of MASN writes “I was told by someone privy to the situation that there indeed have been preliminary discussions between the Nationals and the Royals regarding righthander Zack Greinke.” He goes on to say “As the story goes, K.C. GM Dayton Moore…believes that any Nationals’ package would have to begin with either pitcher Jordan Zimmerman or shortstop Ian Desmond.” To be honest, I don’t know a whole lot about either of these guys.  What do you think?
  • Baseball America has posted their Top 10 Royals prospects.  They agree with me and have Eric Hosmer at the top.  Brett Eibner the 2010 draft pick out of the University of Arkansas is number 10, he’ll be someone to keep an eye on in 2011 along with Salvador Perez.
  • Clark and I discussed the David Dejesus trade in detail on the podcast last week, but I never got to write down my thoughts.  The questions come down to these:

1. Is this good return for Dejesus? It’s hard to tell, and we won’t know until time has passed. But the Royals are giving up only one season of a corner outfielder without power who is coming off of a season ending hand injury. The needed return for that isn’t extremely high.
2. Why did it happen so early? I figure Dayton Moore has been trying to deal Dejesus for a year now and has a pretty good idea of what his value on the market is. While it’s early in the off-season, its not early in the Dejesus talks.

  • Former Royal Ed Kirkpatrick died on Monday. He was 66.  He was a member of the original 1969 Royals and was on the team until he was traded in 1973 with Winston Cole and Kurt Bevacqua to the Pirates for Nelson Briles and Fernando Gonzalez.

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.

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