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.