Monday, November 30, 2009

Top Prospects #41: Adrian Ortiz

#41 Adrian Ortiz

Age: 22
HT/WT: 6-0/172
Pos: CF
Bats/Throws: L/R
Drafted: 5th Round, pick 156 in 2007 Rule IV Draft
College: Pepperdine University
ETA: 2012

2008 Accolades: Midseason Midwest League All-Star

Adrian Ortiz is an example of the current administration's push to acquire more athleticism in the system. Ortiz is one of several fleet footed outfielder that the Royals have acquired that have some tools, but have had issues swinging the bat. It had not always been this way for Ortiz however. Entering the 2009 season Ortiz had posted a career minor league slash line of .314/.346/.381 and while the slugging percentage wasn't there the on base percentage was slightly above average and when you are talking about a guy who has the type of speed that Ortiz had this was be a major asset for a ball club.

Unfortunately as you can see above Ortiz struggled to hit in the wretched confines of Wilmington's Frawley Stadium. A park that is considered by many to be the harshest park on hitters in the entire minor leagues. Ortiz is not the first hitter to have been shamed by Frawley's dimensions and thick sea air, but after a season like the one he just put together it would be hard to justify ranking him much higher on this list. Especially when one considers that even after a demotion to the Midwest League Ortiz wasn't able to rekindle that hot bat that he had in 2008.

By all accounts Ortiz is an above average fielder and should progress into at least a league average centerfielder with an above average and accurate arm. But Ortiz's best strength is his speeds which to put it in scouting terms is a true 80 on the 20-80 scale. In 2008, Ortiz used the speed often slapping the ball to the third base side and legging out grounders to first. However, as he moves through the minor league system this ability is going to dwindle as defenses and the pitching against him improve. Ortiz is going to need to improve his plate discipline and his putrid walk rate. Only then will he be able to really take advantage of his speed and begin stealing bases.

The upcoming season is going to be very important for Adrian Ortiz. He could either be given another shot in Wilmington at redemption or he could be sent back to the Midwest League in the hopes that he can get back some of that contact ability. Either way it will be extremely important that he puts on a better display in this go around or else he will be moving the wrong way on the prospect charts.

Top Prospects: #42 Rowdy Hardy

#42 Rowdy Hardy

Age: 27
HT/WT: 6-4/170
Pos: LHP
Signed: Non-Drafted Free Agent May 27, 2006
College: Austin Peay
ETA: 2010

2006 Accolades: Pioneer League All-Star, Pioneer League Pitcher of the Week and Idaho Falls Pitcher of the Year. Third in League in innings pitched and third in League in ERA.

2007 Accolades: 2-time Carolina League Pitcher of the Week, Carolina League Midseason and Postseason All-Star, and Pitcher of the Year for both the Wilmington Blue Rocks and Carolina League. Led all Royals minor leaguers in wins, led Carolina League in wins and innings pitched, and was second in Carolina League in ERA.

What more perfect guy to begin our prospect countdown than Rowdy Hardy, who very likely has the best name in all of professional sports. Hardy went undrafted in 2006 and signed with the Royals for $1,000 as a fifth year senior out of Austin Peay University where he set an Ohio Valley Conference record with 32 career victories. Hardy is an underdog in every form of the word and has not just gotten by but exceeded expectations at every stop during his baseball career.

Hardy gets by with below average stuff and perhaps the best command in the entire Royals system. His fastball hits 86 mph on a good night but usually sits in the 82-84 mph range. Hardy does get movement on his fastball and shows no fear in throwing inside to hitters. Hardy also has an above average change up that has a late sink action to it. Hardy also has a still developing curveball.

After a rough 2008 in Springdale, the Royals attempted to convert Hardy into a sidearm style reliever for the 2009 season. Although the results weren't terrible the Royals seemed to have a change in heart and moved him back into the rotation where he returned to dominate form in several starts for the Blue Rocks. He was then promoted back to the Texas League where he pitched much better in his second go around, becoming the best pitcher in the Naturals' rotation.

It is tough to say whether or not the Royals view Hardy as a legitimate prospect, but given his track record he would be a guy that I would never bet against. He is twenty-seven so I think that the Royals should give him a spot in Omaha's rotation to start 2010, however I would not be surprised to see him in Springdale again occupying a starting role until another pitcher is ready to step in. I really hope this isn't the case but so goes the career of a "soft-tosser" that is consistently older than the players he is playing against.

I am not saying that I think that Hardy if given the chance is going to be the next Jamie Moyer. But I am not saying that he won't either. What I am saying is that the guy has found a way to succeed at every stop and until he can't figure it out he should be allowed to progress.

Top Prospect List

My top prospects list is on the way. The formatting is much more difficult than I anticipated and I insist on not publishing until it looks the way I expect it too. The list will be a countdown of the top 42 Royals minor league prospects in my opinion. The age listed will be the prospect's age as of 1/1/10. Please comment on the players and critique my rankings that's why I do this so that we can have a place to get a little bit of conversation going about the team we love.

Oh and I chose to do 42 prospects because 2010 will be the fourty-second season of Royals' baseball. Enjoy.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Tug Hulett traded to Red Sox

About a week ago Tug Hulett was designated for assignment by the Kansas City Royals and now he has been traded to the Boston Red Sox. I am probably not alone in my feeling that simply by being of interest to Boston Hulett's value has been raised in my mind. Last spring the Royals claimed Hulett off waivers from the Mariners and many thought that Hulett might be given an opportunity at second base for Kansas City at some point during the 2009 season. However, Callaspo became a pleasant surprise offensively and Hulett spent most of the year in Omaha doing what he has always done in the minor leagues. Hit.

Hulett has a career slash of .284/.394/.418 in the minor leagues and even has over a hundred career steals there. However, his numbers have failed to translate in limited at bats in the majors and he has yet to get over the Mendoza line. Hulett may be the classic quadruple A players that can tear up triple A but can't cut it in the majors, but to this point he has not gotten a fair chance in the big leagues and the limited number of plate appearance that he has had aren't enough to put to rest the conversation of if Tug could cut it in the majors.

In this deal the Royals will receive either cash or a player to be named from the Red Sox. Don't expect to get any great prospect, but maybe the Royals will snag either a fringe guy or maybe an older arm that hasn't advanced like the Red Sox had hoped. Losing Tug shouldn't hurt the Royals, but this deal more than likely won't help the Royals, unless you consider that they will be receiving more from the trade than if Tug had simply been let go.

What are your thoughts? What do you think Tug's role will be with Boston for the upcoming season?

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Minor League Free Agent Signings

Let's take a look at the minor league free agents for the Kansas City Royals signings so far:

Edwin Bellorin, C: Last season in triple A Colorado Springs Bellorin posted a triple slash line of .277/.308/.351 he also received 8 at bats with the big league club. Bellorin is nothing more then a triple A roster filler, he does show off some decent contact but I see nothing in his career numbers to suggest that he could be an everyday catcher and probably not even a back up. As of now the Omaha Royals will probably have Bellorin and Cody Clark to start the season and at some point Manuel Pina as long as he progresses as hoped.

Wilson Betemit, 3B: Former top prospect for the Atlanta Braves... cue groans... he has since not lived up to his potential in virtually every way and has become nothing more than a journeyman AAAA player. Betemit could probably fill in on the big league roster in a pinch due to his limited versatility and big league experience. But, if Betemit gets more than a short stint in Kansas City in the upcoming season then the Royals are going to have plenty worse problems to worry about. Betemit provides a little Major League depth but other then that he is nothing more than a triple A roster filler. I hope.

Buck Coats, OF: Buck Coats is another guy who has had a cup of coffee in the majors, however he will probably not be back to eat bagels and take advantage of the free high speed internet again. Instead, I see him as a guy who provides a little minor league depth in either Omaha or Springdale. Omaha this season should already have and outfield or Jordan Parraz, Tim Smith, David Lough, and Jarrod Dyson. So unless the Royals decide to start a couple of the aforementioned players in double A for a little more Texas League refinement then Coats probably won't receive much playing time in Omaha this season.

Reggie Taylor, OF: Out of all the players described in this post, Taylor is probably the least exciting and that is really saying something. I can't even find any sort of press release announcing this signing and only know of the because I was looking through the Royals October transaction log. Taylor spent all of last season in the Mexican League and put up less than impressive numbers. No power. No speed. No discipline. I would say his destination and roles for the upcoming season would be similar to Coats.

Jorge Campillo, RHP: This may be the most exciting minor league signing thus far for the Royals. Last season Campillo was limited to just 9.1 innings, but just the year before he was a solid piece of a major league rotation in Atlanta. In 2008, Campillo went 8-7 with a 3.91 era and a k:bb rate of 107:38. For his minor league career he has a 3.12 era and a k:bb rate of almost 3:1. Campillo is 31 years old, but I think he will be given an outside shot at a rotation spot in spring training and will probably find himself in the Omaha rotation to start the season. Because most all of the Royals pitching prospects are at NWA or lower Campillo could be the guy receiving the call if the Royals need a spot start.

Brad Thompson, RHP: While Thompson has posted less than stellar career major league numbers he has been a decent option for a bullpen. He has pitched in 385.2 innings and has a career era of 4.36. Thompson will be 28 on opening day so he should be entering his pitching prime and given the current situation of the Royals bullpen may be able to win a spot out of spring training. Personally, I have always been of the belief that the bullpen is the most unpredictable aspects of the team and is better filled with reliefs prospects, waiver pickups, and minor league free agents then overpaid veterans.

Bryan Bullington RHP: A former number 1 overall selection, Bullington hasn't even came close to becoming what Pirates scouts envisioned. Then again not a lot Pirate draft choices from the early 2000s became what the scouts envisioned. Bullington at least has tasted the major leagues and has put up decent minor league numbers, especially as a relief pitcher. The rumor is that the Royals will make him a reliever this season and this is going to be his best chance to help the major league club. Perhaps by focusing solely on coming out of the pen he regain some of that former top pick gusto.

Josh Rupe, RHP: Another potential reliever Rupe spent last season in the Rangers organization. Rupe doesn't seem to have a lot going for him, but maybe he can surprise me. He has the worst shot of any of these pitchers to help out the big league club in 2010. I am going to go out on a limb and say that he doesn't end 2010 in the Royals organization.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Rumor: Guillen for Pagan

For the second time in as many days it has been reported that the Mets and Royals have discussed a possible deal for Jose Guillen. The Royals would also send cash New York's way to cover the $12 million albatross that Guillen is owed in 2010. Oh hello Mets fans I didn't see you there, of course I didn't say albatross. Anyways, the Royals have inquired on twenty-eight year old outfielder Angel Pagan.

Adam Rubin of the New York Daily News is the reporter of this rumor and according to his translation of a Dominican Newspaper. There was a story about Guillen and the 2010 season with the Royals and in that story it states "Jose Guillen would approve a trade to the Mets. Guillen is aware the 2010 season will not be with the Kansas City." Pretty strong statement, and I think a lot of Royals fans would rejoice the day when this became a reality.

Don't get me wrong there is the possibility that Guillen will rebound from his injury filled 2009 season and hit the ball extremely well in his contract year. However, he is a clogger on the bases and has become a major liability in the outfield. If the Royals can manage to acquire a young outfielder and unload even part of Guillen's salary for 2010 it would be a great deal for the Royals.

As for Pagan he plays an average centerfield and an above average left. Pagan also hit the ball extremely well last season posting a slash line of .306/.350/.487 if this deal does happen and Pagan could manage to put up similar numbers next season he would probably be the Royals second or third best hitter. Currently the Royals have one starting outfielder for the 2010 season and his name is David DeJesus. Acquiring Pagan would help fill out that oufield picture or be the first piece to a brand new outfield in 2010 should the Royals decide to deal perhaps their strongest chip: David DeJesus.

Link to article:

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Rumor: Royals Push for Bedard

It is an historic day for Royal Revival. This will be the first rumor ever discussed here. According to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports the Royals are making a very strong push for free agent starter Erik Bedard. Last season in 15 starts Bedard threw 83 innings and had a k:bb rate of 90:34 plus an era of 2.82. For his career Bedard is 51-41 with a 3.71 era and and k:bb rate of 831:325.

Obviously the major drawback to Bedard would be the injury risk, but let's be realistic here he wouldn't be available to the Royals without this drawback. The Royals have several options for their rotation for the upcoming season (Davies, Hochevar, Tejeda, and Bannister) and two locks in Meche and Greinke. Bedard is the perfect kind of guys for the Royals to attempt to sign to a one year incentive laden contract. No big risks involved but very high rewards. If Bedard is able to stay healthy then the rotation either helps carry the team to a surprise season or you flip him at the deadline for a couple of prospects. If he isn't able to stay healthy no loss he wasn't blocking a prized prospect anyway.

Right now the Royals are stockpiling a great amount of high potential arms, but they are all at least a full season away, except for maybe 2009 first round pick Aaron Crow. Signing Bedard would be a great deal for Kansas City for the right price and even if he flops it would not hurt the future of the club. The potential gains though could be huge. Let's hope that Dayton Moore continues to push.

Update: This information comes from a very questionable source, but Bleacher Report has reported that Bedard has signed a one year deal worth 3.2 million dollars with the Kansas City Royals.

Update: Bleacher Report was obviously wrong, as usual.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Belated Analysis of the Teahen Trade

So for the second straight year the Royals, led by General Manager Dayton Moore kicked off the offseason by sending Mark Teahen and reported $1 million to Chicago for Josh Fields and Chris Getz. At first glance most Royals fans are probably going to look at this trade and be angered that Kansas City Royals would trade off a fan favorite and only get back to sub-par major league players. Kansas City fans are going to remember the power surge that Mark Teahen had in the second half of 2006. Fans are going to remember the funny videos of Mark Teahen that were shown on the Royals pregame show, and in between innings at Kauffman Stadium. I will go ahead and say this now, but I love this trade.

Obviously when evaluating trades we never know for sure what other offers were on the table so it is important to evaluate the trade as is and not what the rumors stated could have been. However, I think it would be naive to believe that the Royals maximized value on Teahen and considering how the 2009 season played out it probably would have been wise to sell high on season near the trading deadline, as opposed to the offseason when he is about to command a raise in arbitration that makes him a non-tender candidate.

Back to the deal at hand. Let's start with Teahen. Teahen was a personal favorite of mine, but his potential to become an above average major league player while in Kansas City had all but vanished. Fans have made excuses for Teahen and I do believe that one of the downfalls of Teahen's offensive potential were probably a result of him spending offseason preparing for a new position for the upcoming year. I think that there is a decent possibility that Teahen could go to the Windy City and see his offensive numbers improve by a considerable margin, and I think it is possible that he could even get back to the high teens as far as home run totals as a result of moving to a much more hitter-friendly park and knowing his role for an entire offseason.

Now for Chris Getz. Last season in Getz' rookie year for Chicago he posted a slash line of .261/.324/.347 with 25 steals in 27 chances. However, in the minors Getz posted a of .286/.362/.380 career line. Scouts would also say that Getz is an average fielder and even if his metrics at second last season didn't live up to that billing it would be impossible for him to be a worse defensive second baseman than Callaspo. Getz will provide depth at second base and allows the Royals the flexibility to shop Callaspo after coming off what could become his career year. Getz also has 5 years left of service time and most likely wont be arbitration eligible until after the 2011 season.

The other player in the deal is third baseman Josh Fields. Former quarterback for the Oklahoma State University Cowboys, Fields probably has the athleticism that would be required for a move into a corner outfield spot and if the Royals do not make anymore moves this offseason (not going to happen) I believe that Fields should be given the starting gig in right field to begin 2010. Fields best season thus far in his young career came in his rookie season when he clubbed 23 home runs, however since then Fields has not been able to put together a full season, much less a solid slash line.

In his career Fields has punished lefties for a .285/.356/.580 career line and has a .206/.280/.348 against righties. Unlike Getz, Fields is out of minor league options though so the Royals will not have the luxury of giving him some more time in triple A to figure out right handed pitcher. Perhaps though Fields can make an adjustment and become a solid middle of the order bat. If not he provides the Royals with a cheap alternative at third, first and perhaps even left and right field.

Overall I think this is a very good trade for the Royals. They trade one year for averageness in Mark Teahen for five years of Getz and Fields. The Royals will also save about 3.5 million dollars in the deal and I assume that unlike the pre-Dayton era, David Glass will not pocket the money and instead invest into another aspect of the club. Teahen will be missed, but I like the depth that Getz and Fields provide the Royals.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Introduction to Royal Revival

The last twenty years have been a dark age for Royals fans. After such a promising beginning that was capped off with the ultimate prize in 1985, the franchise stumbled. Kansas City went from being a league icon to becoming the joke of the league. Perhaps, the rock bottom came when they were the punchline to a joke in the 2005 romantic comedy Fever Pitch. More embarrassing than being a joke in a romantic comedy was probably the fact that the joke was made by Jimmy Fallon.

I have been a life long Royals fan and have to say that I haven't one had the privilege of watching the Royals in a playoff game. But I do have hope. As my fellow Royals fans know hope is an integral part of our being. Without hope and optimism it would be impossible to look forward to that crisp March day when hope springs eternal. In the past decade times have been particularly harsh and the must fun season is the offseason, when all that is possible is dreaming of the promise the new season brings.

I considered starting this blog months ago it was a time when all was well in Royal Nation and the season that was approaching just felt different. However after an 18-11 mirage the team tanked. So it is probably not a coincidence that I decided to start this blog in the offseason when I knew that I could have at least four months of optimism before the potential reality of the upcoming season set in.

There has been a lot of talk recently about the fans needing to "trust in the process." A lot of people think that the front office is foolish and thinks that the team without the injuries could have actually won the division. I disagree. I believe that the front office made several moves over the offseason that were designed to excite the fans for a year that the Central was obviously down and the gates to a New Kauffman Stadium would be opened. I think that they were successful in creating excitement and even successful in convincing Zack Greinke that this was a place that was committed to winning.

Personally I feel that as terrible as last season was for Royals fans I do not feel as though it will hamper the long term goals of an organization that will be defined by its ability to build a farm system that can flood the major league roster with talent. This is the true process that Royals fans must focus on and while we cannot say with certainty which prospects will and will not be successful Major League players, we can say that the Royals system has been gaining praise and the front office does appear to be putting all of the necessary resources to create a productive farm.

Many are already writing the Royals off for the 2010 season and this is probably fair considering the decade that Royals have had and the disappointment that 2009 provided. However, on this blog we will not be pessimistic when talking about the upcoming Royals season. We will be realistic and do our best to offer unbiased analysis of all Royals moves and rumors. This blog will also have a strong focus on the minor league system, because currently this is where Royals fans can be excited without being overly optimistic. The Royals also have the best pitcher in baseball and an all star closer locked up through 2012, and perhaps the best homegrown hitter in the past decade locked up through 2013. There is reason to be excited. There is reason to hope. And most importantly there is reason to expect a Royal Revival.