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If you are a real prospect hound, then you already know what you want or need to know about Cheslor Cuthbert, Orlando Calixte and Lane Adams.  In fact, just the other day, Hunter Samuels at Kings of Kaufman gave you some insight on Cuthbert.

A few posts back, I touched on how I used to pour over prospects and dream of what they would become.  Not so much anymore, for a myriad of reasons.  Among those is very simply that a more successful major league team holds my interest a great deal more than one that loses 106 games and makes me begin to believe that Justin Huber is going to win a major league batting title (or that a fat guy named Hernadez will be as good as the fat guy named Colon).

Anyway, here we are with three guys on the 40 man roster that have zero chance of making the major league club out of spring training and three that you should hope don’t see quality action for your Kansas City Royals during the 2015 season.  That’s not a criticism of these three, just a fact of where they are and where we, as fans, want the Royals to be this year.

In Cuthbert, you have a still young (22) player who still hints at some power potential, but slugged just .413 splitting time between two hitters’ parks in 2014. He is no longer the third baseman of the future, spending time at first and even a little at second last year.  There is talk of extended work at second this spring, but moving to second when one was not a very good defensive third baseman is certainly bucking tradition.

Trust me, I am not against the attempt.  When the organizational depth chart is Omar Infante to Christian Colon to whatever utility infielder gets cut on March 26th, I am all for trying Cuthbert. If the bat doesn’t play at one of the corners, then it would look a lot better at second…..assuming the glove is at least better than Albert Callaspo or Esteban German.  Of course, you could always try Calixte.

There is little doubt that Calixte can field:  be it second, short or third.  After seasons full of slick fielding alternating with a stack of erros, Calixte has limited the error total to a reasonable amount (for the minors), but it is the bat:  oh the freaking bat!

Calixte’s career minor league on-base percentage is an even .300.  That is ON-BASE PERCENTAGE, not batting average, not anything that equates .300 to being good.  The now 23 year old flashes intriguing pop for a middle infielder who can flash the leather, but intrigue does not a major league regular make.  It might make for a utility infielder.  Hey, Andres Blanco has managed to make a major league living, Calixte might too.

Lane Adams, a 25 year old right handed hitting outfielder, has never been to Omaha, but he did get to have some fun last fall in Kansas City. His career minor league triple slash of .267/.344/.406 is pretty representative of his journey through the system.  Adams is athletic, has very good speed and translates that into stolen bases.  He can field and sort of maybe can hit. Adams ceiling might be a poor-man’s Alex Gordon or he maybe it’s just being the next Paulo Orlando.

If Alex Rios falls on his face and the baseball gods give Ned Yost a lightning bolt infusion of how to actually use a platoon, you could see Adams (or Paulo Orlando!) platooning with Jarrod Dyson, but again, if you want the Royals to make 2015 exciting that is not the scenario that makes it happen.

In the end, these are three guys that I would almost guarantee will someday log some time in the Majors (more than Lane Adams’ three at-bats).  It likely won’t be this year.  If you are a Royals’ fan, you better hope it is not this year.

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.

Episode #033 – It’s the final game of the season for the Royals, but it isn’t the final podcast.  Nick quickly recaps the season and brings in special guest Greg Schaum to talk about the Royals farm system.  Nick and Greg discuss which of Wil Myers, Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas they’d rather have, who is a potential 2011 breakout candidate, the future of Clint Robinson and Aaron Crow, a bunch of other prospects and Nick tries to sell Greg on the knuckleball academy.

[audio:http://www.livekc.com/podcasts/bbs033.mp3|titles=BBS Royals Podcast #033]

Follow Nick on Twitter @brokenbatsingle or on Facebook

Follow Greg Schaum on Twitter @greg_schaum and visit his site at http://www.royalsprospects.com

Music used in this podcast:

Curtis Mayfield – Beutiful Brother of Mine

Arcade Fire – Ready To Start

John Zorn – Mow Mow

How to Get the Podcast:

Click here to be taken to the site to download directly.

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On Tuesday, I had yet another choice to make.  The Royals were playing the Indians at 6:00 and the Royals minor leaguers would be playing at 6:30.  I figured that I would be able to see the big club play 162 times starting in about a week, so I would primarily focus on seeing the prospects.

I started at the main stadium to catch some batting practice at the cages, which are a very cool feature, because they are right inside the stadium and the guys are about 3 feet away taking BP.  I wanted to get a look at Ankiels ankle to see if he would be ready to go.  I am certainly no doctor, however he looked like he was fine to me.  He was taking full swings and not easing up at all.  I watched his ankle closely and when he turns to rotate his body, he rolls up on the outside of his foot.  I don’t know if that is how he injured his ankle, but it looks like It would certainly cause some stress.

The Major League Game

I grabbed my seat for the start of the game so I could watch at least the first inning or so before heading off to the back fields.  I guess the Royals were intent on helping me out, since they scored 5 runs in the first and let me see everything I wanted to see.

The first thing I noticed was that I was seeing the battle of 5th starters.  Talbot for the Indians and Davies for the Royals.  Every single team is “concerned” about their 5th starter, but I was reminded that it could be worse.   Davies had his fastball hitting 93 consistently and an off sped pitch at 82.  Talbot was sitting at 89 and 83 respectively.  Both guys didn’t command the ball particularly well, but Talbot was all over the place walking 3 Royals, which in itself is quite a feat.  The bottom line is that Davies looked better than Talbot and is a perfectly fine 5th starter regardless of some of the chatter you hear.

I also wanted to get a look at Aviles and Kila.  Aviles absolutely crushed a ball to the wall with Dejesus on second and Podsednik at first.   Dejesus scored and Podsednik was hustling right behind Dejesus, he was looking to get a sign from the third base coach and wasn’t getting one.  He was clearly motioning to the coach asking whether he should score or not and finally stopped at third.  It would have been a close play for Podsednik at home, and stopping him in Spring Training is probably the right call, but it was just odd that the coach was not decisive in the situation and made Podsednik ask for the sign.  I wanted to see Kila hit, but it was kind of perfect to watch him walk.  Kila also saved a double play by picking a throw from Yuniesky out of the dirt.  Brayan Pena’s home run was a bomb and afer him came Yuniesky Betancourt, time to hit the minor league camp.

Minor League Camp

The Royals and Rangers minor leaguers were playing a rare night game and had four simultaneous games going on.  The games weren’t posted, so big thanks to Adam Foster at Project Prospect for giving me the details about the games.  The first thing I saw was a huge crowd at one of the fields.  I moved over and realized Neftali Feliz was pitching for the Rangers.  He had pitched the previous day in the Rangers v Rockies games, so I was pretty shocked to see him.  I got to see Ernesto Mejia face off against Neftali which was extremely entertaining.  Mejia is a big dude and really held his own versus one of the best pitching prospects in the MLB.  He ended up striking out, but he fouled off some of Feliz’s sick curve balls and probably saw 10 pitches in the AB.

I moved over to the field that the  A ball team was on and saw Tim Mehlville pitching.  I moved in behind Adam Foster and jotted down the radar gun readings for Mehlville.  His fastball was 89 or 91 mph pretty consistently and he occasionally hit 93 and 94.  However, his command was less than spectacular.  I don’t recall seeing a single ground ball hit off of him, while there were plenty of fly balls due to leaving the fastball up.  His curveball on the other hand was extremely good and he commanded it better than his fastball.  He seemed to change speeds with the curve quite a bit as well going anywhere from 72 to 79 mph.  Mehlville is still young and can certainly improve.  I was impressed with what I saw, but he will need to work on his fastball command to become an elite pitcher.*

*Special thanks to Adam Foster for pointing some of these things out to me and letting me use his radar gun.  www.projectprospect.com is a great site.  Check it out.

Earlier in the day I had a chance to see Cheslor Cuthbert take fielding practice with Buck Coats, Kurt Mertins and Malcom Culver.  Cuthbert seemed to be the best fielder in that group.  He didn’t miss a single ball, while all the other guys did.  He exhibited very good range and good instincts.  It was only one practice, but I was impressed with his fielding.

Hosmer didn’t get on the field at all in the games I saw and there was some talk that he is maybe coming off of a slight injury.  I didn’t get a chance to talk to him or confirm this.  He was the bat boy in the A ball game and seemed to be moving around fine, so if he is injured it doesn’t seem serious.

There was one other player who impressed me: Patrick Norris.  He played CF for the A ball team and showed great speed on the bases, threw a guy out at home and played with some good range in the outfield.  He is a switch hitter who pulled the ball with a quick bat from the left side and poked one the opposite way from the right side.  It is of course  a small sample size but I liked him a lot.  He doesn’t get much love around the prospect rankings, and that is probably for a good reason.  But I will be keeping my eye on him this year.

Nick hosts a podcast about the Royals at Broken Bat Single and welcomes feedback via Twitter (@brokenbatsingle) and e-mail (brokenbatsingle [AT] gmail [DOT] com)

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