Saturday, December 26, 2009

Top Prospects #36: Jose Bonilla

#36 Jose Bonilla

Age: 21
HT/WT: 5-10/188
Pos: C
Bats/Throws: R/R
Signed: International Free Agent 9/5/2006
Birthplace: Santiago, Dominican Republic

Bonilla is the second of the young high upside catching prospects in the organization that we will discuss here at Royal Revival. According to Baseball America Bonilla's tools are stronger than the aforementioned Salvador Perez however, his tools may not grade out as strongly in the long term. Like many I had my fingers crossed that Bonilla's numbers in the Arizona League would translate to full season ball in his first opportunity, however this was not the case. His offensive numbers fell from .357/.405/.625 in 2008 to .217/.281/.311 in 2009. Even though Bonilla's numbers fell off drastically in 2009 I expect to see him receive another promotion to start 2010 due to the influx of catching prospects behind him. If Bonilla could cut down on the strikeouts (26.2%K) and his Babip is a little more fair to him he could see drastic improvement in his offensive numbers. However, if he does get the bump to Wilmington Frawley Stadium could wipe out those improvements on his numbers for 2010.

I like Bonilla but I don't see him as the long term solution at catcher. We will see my long term solution later in the countdown. Much, much later

Friday, December 25, 2009

Top Prospects #37: Kurt Mertins

#37 Kurt Mertins

Age: 23
HT/WT: 6-0/175
Pos: 2B
Bats/Throws: L/R
Drafted: 13th Round, Pick 377 in 2006 Rule IV Draft
College: College of the Desert

Mertins has been fairly consistent during his time with the Royals organization and while Dayton Moore was not in charge of the 2006 draft, he wasn't a Baird selection either. Mertins has played nearly all of his games at second base, but has also got some experience at third. This will play to his favor as he continues to progress through the system and maybe one day attempts to make a major league roster. Mertins has displayed a decent average and on base percentage throughout his career, but his slugging percentage has been lacking. I rank Mertins as the second best second base prospect in the system and the closest to reaching the majors. I expect Mertins to start the season in Omaha and perhaps one day he can make the majors as a bench utility player maybe even getting an occasional opportunity to win a starting job. This season in Omaha I would like to see him continue to develop offensively and get more experience at third and maybe in the outfield.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Royals Sign Two Former First Rounders

After a quick trade to start the offseason the Royals have been relatively quiet compared to years past and have limited their spending to the minor league free agent pool. In fact the only real spending the Royals have done was the signing of Noel Arguelles to a major league deal. Have I mentioned that I love that deal?

The Royals have now added two more minor league free agents, both of which were at one point considered first round talents. Let's start with a pitcher named Phillip Humber. Humber was drafted number 3 overall by the New York Mets and was shipped to Minnesota along with Carlos Gomez for Johan Santanna. Humber possesses a fastball that tops out at about 90 mph, an above average curveball, and an average changeup. Humber will probably be given the opportunity to compete for a bullpen spot in Spring Training but I would bet that he finds himself in Omaha's rotation to start the 2010 season. I like the move simply because there is virtually no risk involved and it provides the organization with an arm that at one point in time seemed to have an incredible amount of potential.

The Royals also have resigned former first round pick Shane Costa to a minor league deal. Costa has had limited time with the big league club, but hasn't ever shown enough to stick as a fourth outfielder. I don't have a problem with this signing but I am also somewhat surprised. Costa missed almost the entire 2009 season after getting injured on opening day for the Omaha Royals. I am surprised because it already looks like there will be a crowded outfield in Omaha for 2010 with David Lough, Jordan Parraz, Tim Smith and maybe even Jarrod Dyson needing sufficient playing in order to develop. The Royals have also signed several minor league free agent outfielder so how the playing time shakes out will be an interesting thing to keep an eye on as Spring develops.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Royals Sign Kendall

Once again I apologize for the lack of posts in the past week or so, but as we all can agree it is extremely busy time of year with Christmas shopping and all that goes with that.

Like me the Royals did a little bit of Christmas shopping a week ago and signed Jason Kendall to a two year deal that will pay him $2.25 mill in the first season and $3.75 mill in the second plus incentives. The Royals then non-tendered catching incumbent John Buck who within thirty hours signed with Toronto on a one year 2 million dollar deal.

Let me first evaluate Jason Kendall. Kendall is a "gritty" veteran that scouts will say possesses all the intangibles that a player should have, hopefully he will provide the team with leadership and wisdom for a still young pitching staff. The problem is that when you have to use the word hopefully when describing a player it probably means that the things you can count on aren't going to be good enough to make a difference. Personally I wouldn't mind the Kendall signing, if it came for a bargain price, but it seems that the popular opinion is that the Royals overpaid for a 35 year old veteran whose numbers have regressed significantly over the past few years.

The free agent market for catcher is weak to say the least and I am confident that had their been an opportunity to acquire a young catcher via trade then Moore would have pulled the trigger on the deal. It seems like it has become the easy thing to criticize the current administration for every deal they make, and believe me if I wanted to I could make a list of all the reasons why this deal shouldn't have been made. But what it comes down to is that the Royals wanted to obtain a better defensive catcher than John Buck or Miguel Olivo and I believe that they did that with this signing. Opinions still vary on defensive metrics but according to the latest Fielding Bible Jason Kendall is a top notch pitch blocker and defensive catcher.

While I don't think Kendall deserved the deal he got, I don't think that this is a deal that is going to prevent the Royals from spending money elsewhere. The Royals will wind up saving roughly 3 or 4 million dollars on this year's catchers (Kendall and Brayan Pena) in comparison with last year's (Olivo and Buck). Hopefully Kendall can post at least a similar slash line as last season's and he can improve a defensive unit that is lacking to say the least.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Winter Meetings Wrapup & Rule V

To start the day off the Royals released two extremely disappointing players from the past year: Mike Jacobs and John Bale. Let me say that I am extremely relieved that GM Dayton Moore was able to cut ties with Jacobs and not attempt to save face by sticking with him. In my opinion by cutting ties it shows that Moore is admitted that the move was a mistake and it is a sunk cost and it is time to move on. Hopefully Moore's tenure will not be defined by the trade that sent Leo Nunez to Florida for Mike Jacobs, trading for Yunieskey Betancourt, and overpaying for Kyle Farnsworth and Jose Guillen. But so far these moves have not panned out as Royals fans had hoped and many were against the moves right from the start. Thus making the moves seem in worse in retrospect. The trade that sent Nunez to Florida was an attempt to add some pop in the middle of an order that lacked home run power, but I think that what we are learning is that in Kauffman Stadium home run power should not be valued as highly as it is in other parks.

At the time of the deal I was extremely skeptical and as Spring Training and April unfolded I admit to doing a 180 and becoming a supporter of Jacobs and if Jacobs could have posted a .500+ slug even with a .300 obp I would not mind him so much. But when a guy's only supposed tool is his power and he posts a .410 slug, then it is time to let that player go and I am extremely relieved that he was released today. Fairly or not, as the season progressed he quickly became my least favorite Royal.

I was thinking about the Rule V draft today and I came to the conclusion that for small market teams such as the Royals it is an extremely undervalued method of obtaining talent. When one considers that the league minimum is now over $400,000 then the fee of $50,000 for drafting a player in the Rule V seems like nothing. Every single season there are multiple players that are left unprotected from the draft that going into the season were highly ranked prospects. Some are a few years away and some had rough seasons the year before. However, it seems worth the rest to grab a player for that price and give them an opportunity in spring training to earn a spot on the big league roster. If the player does fail to earn a spot then you return him to his old team for $25,000 or get to keep him in your system. Either way the risk is minimal compared to other methods of acquiring talent.

Yesterday I was begging that the Royals draft a centerfielder named John Raynor from the Marlins organization. However, the Royals were not presented with this opportunity at the number 4 overall pick. Instead Raynor was selected in the second spot by the Pittsburgh Pirates. I would really like to take this moment to be satisfied that I not only predicted a player that would be chosen, but a player that actually went second overall. The player the Royals did choose was a Mexican born pitcher by the name of Edgar Osuna.

Osuna is your classic crafty lefty. He possesses a fastball that sits in the mid to upper 80s, a plus curveball and what Baseball America called the best changeup in the Atlanta Braves system coming into the season. He profiles as a starter, however assuming he produces decent Spring numbers I would wager that he will spend 2010 almost entirely in the Royals bullpen. This is not a bad thing. IF he can't stick with the Royals, then maybe a trade could be worked out in order to keep him in the organization. If not then he probably won't matter anyway. Hopefully though being a Rule V selection will not hinder his development like it has so many players in the past.

The way the bullpen performed last season no one should have guaranteed spots and given that Osuna and Hughes are the only lefties on the 40 man roster they should both be given all the opportunities to make the big league club. Osuna could one day be a solid member of a big league rotation, however, given that he only has a handful of inning at the double a level we will probably see him in the bullpen for now. The search for a lefty continues.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Winter Meetings Update, Rule V Tomorrow

Let's start this up with a rumor brought to us by Dick Kaegel of He is reporting that the Royals have shown interest in lefty free agent Mark Mulder. Man, if you thought Bedard was an injury give this guy's career a glance, the man hasn't been healthy for an entire season since 2005. While healthy he once was a very solid pitcher, but he has had so many arm and shoulder injuries that this may not hold true anymore. I wouldn't mind signing Mulder to an extremely cheap deal with some incentives but I would much rather the Royals go a bit further and offer Bedard a deal with similar incentives and a large enough base salary to get it done. What do you think would you rather have Mulder for 3 mill guaranteed plus incentives or Bedard for an extra 2 guaranteed? Not sure what the market would warrant for each of them but that would seem to be on the high end of what I would be willing to pay for.

Now I would like to talk about two players that I have slight man crushes on that both could be available to the Royals and perhaps even for a small price. Both are centerfielders that can cover some ground and so both could fill a major need for the Royals. Also, both are "1-3 year guys"
so they would not hurt the Royals financially and could come cheap for several years.
First I will discuss Bret Gardner. According to Jayson Stark of after the completion of the Granderson deal the Royals contacted the Yankees about their fleet foot centerfielder. Now besides the fact that Gardner seems like one of the better guys to ever don the pinstripes he is also a burner on the base paths and in centerfield. On top of his speed and defensive abilities he has displayed a knack for getting on base which is what this team is really starving for right now. He has almost no power, but if he can get on base, steal bases, and display above average range in center then he would be a great centerfielder for the Royals.

The second player I am going to mention is a player named John Raynor. John Raynor would cost nearly nothing out of David Glass' pockets, because he has been left unprotected for the Rule V draft which occurs tomorrow. This season he put up a pedestrian .257/.327/.360 triple slash but for his minor league career he has posted a line of .299/.383/.452 line with 142 steals in just 4 seasons. Unless the Royals make a trade for a centerfielder by the time the draft starts tomorrow, they absolutely have to draft this guy and if you do find someone else, you simply return him back to his previous club and you are out 25 grand. When you consider that Dayton Moore has blown several times that amount simply by non tendering players at the wrong times (Gathright, Gobble) then a $50,000 purchase of Raynor seems like a brilliant back up plan. If the Marlins don't pay you back the $25,000 and allow you to keep him if he doesn't make the major league team then that is fine as well and he provides some depth.

Coming into the season Raynor was ranked 11th in the Marlins system according to Baseball America, which is stocked full of elite hitting prospects. Baseball America also said Raynor was the fastest player in the system and possessed the tools to one day be a top notch lead off hitter. I am begging that the organization draft this guy tomorrow and throw the Marlins $50,000. I may be wrong and he never turns out to be anything, but in the grand scheme of things that amount of money is chump change for a professional baseball team.

Royals Offer Jason Kendall 2 Year Deal

Sorry about the lack of posts in recent days, but finally we have something to report on in these winter meetings. According to Bob Dutton of the KC star the Royals have offered Jason Kendall a two year deal. Last season Kendall had a triple slash of .241/.331/.305 and for this season baseball guru Bill James predicts a similar line of .254/.338/.320. Kendall will be 35 on opening day and while he is not the player that he once was he does seem to be one of the more bearable options of this year's free agent crop. I would prefer that the Royals pry a young catcher away from another team that we can have for the minimum a couple of years. However, since I doubt this opportunity will present itself a one or two year stopgap seems like a good strategy given the depth of catching prospects at the lower levels of the system.

The Royals have also been linked with Ivan Rodriguez, before he signed with the Nationals, Rod Barajas, Yorvit Torrealba, and Jose Molina. The Royals need to find a cheap catching option and as far as the catchers listed here, Kendall is probably in the middle of the pack so if he can be had for a cheap price on a two year deal, then it is a move that is not going to hurt us down the road. The last thing the Royals should do though is annie up 7+ million over the next two for a catcher that is average at best.

Hopefully, if Kendall accepts the deal his offense can stay where it has been the last few years, he can strengthen the defense, and his veteranship can provide positives for the pitching staff.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Search for a Lefty: Royals Sign Arguellas

The Royals made their first free agent splash of the winter today by announcing the signing of 19 year old Cuban defector Noel Arguellas to a 5 year, $7 million deal plus an extra $2 million in incentives.

Arguellas and teammate Jose Iglesias defected this past summer from the Cuban National Team while the team was in Canada. Iglesias, a shortstop, signed with the Boston Red Sox for an $8.25 million dollar deal. Arguellas has a reported mid 90s fastball and to developing plus pitches in his curveball and changeup. Arguellas is said to have went in the top 10 had he been in the 2009 Rule IV draft in June. Arguellas immediately becomes a top 5 prospect in the Royals system, and it has been rumored that he will start 2010 in A ball on the fast track to the majors given the major league deal.

This is a very good signing for the Royals, signing a potential ace for little more than $1 million per season. Arguellas adds to a very promising crop of pitchers that are making their way through the minor league system.

Update: There seems to be varying opinions as to how to spell his last name, but it is either Arguellas or Arguelles. Keith Law thinks it will take him 3 or 4 years to reach the majors. I am confused as to if the 7 mill is a bonus that will be stretched over 5 years, or if the Royals will only have Arguellas for 5 years. Either way he should be on the fast track to the Bigs.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Top Prospects: #38 Salvador Perez

#38 Salvador Perez

Age: 19
HT/WT: 6-3/175
Pos: Catcher
B/T: R/R
Signed: Non-Drafted International Free Agent September 27, 2006
Birthplace: Valencia, Venezuela
ETA: 2014

Perez is a part of an interesting group of young catchers that the Royals have in the lower levels of the system. When Dayton Moore became general manager of the Kansas City Royals he promised to increase spending on international free agents and he inherited a cupboard that was bare of catching. Perez represents an increased spending and dedication in both areas.

Coming into the season Perez was ranked the #19 Royals prospect by Baseball America and the top defensive catcher in the system with an above average arm and improving blocking abilities. But it was the bat he displayed in 2008 that made him really exciting given that typically the bat is the last thing to come for catching prospects. In 2008 he posted a slash line of .361/.409/.482 in 83 at bats between short season Burlington and rookie league Idaho Falls.

As a teenager Perez was given an opportunity to prove his skills in full season ball in low A Burlington, Iowa. However, Perez struggled mightily and was shut down for a period and then returned to Idaho Falls in an attempt to salvage the season for the hitter, he rebounded and put up solid numbers and should get another opportunity in 2010 to play full season ball. The issue though is that there is a potential log jam at the lower levels and playing time is going to be difficult to distribute. Perez should be in Burlington, but Jose Bonilla should probably return to Burlington as well after posting less than stellar numbers and the same could be said for Sean McCauley. Also, there is bonus baby Wil Myers, Benjamin Theriot, and Joey Lewis that are all ready for full season ball after posting strong numbers in Idaho Falls. Playing time will be an issue but hopefully the front office can come up with a plan and not hinder any of the aforementioned players development.

Royals Search for a Catcher

There are a couple of positions that we know the Royals will be searching for this offseason and one of those is catcher. Currently the Royals have built up quite a list of intriguing names at the position in the lower levels of the system, but even if those names become more than intriguing it will be years before any of those players are ready to contribute. On September 4, the Royals traded the strong yet entitled pitching prospect Danny Gutierrez to Texas and obtained Tim Smith and Manuel Pina a 21 year old Latin American catcher. Many scouts view Pina as a strong defensive catcher, but that he lacks the bat to ever become a legitimate starter at the major league level. Nonetheless he is probably the closest catching prospect to the majors, having already completed a season in double A. Pina is still a year away (at least), although if he has a strong season maybe he can force the Royals hand just a bit.

So what does this all mean for 2010? Well currently the Royals have two catchers in the entire organization that could qualify as big league catchers. One has been a major disappointment since being acquired in the trade that sent Carlos Beltran to Houston and the other is a little old for a guy that has hardly had a full season in the majors. One is a nontender candidate and the other lost his bat at the end of last season, and never brought his glove. So far this offseason the signs and quotations from Royals GM Dayton Moore have pointed to an overhaul of the catching corps going into 2010.

What are the options? Well Moore has already stated that the primary goal this offseason is to acquire as many 1-3 guys as possible. (1-3 refers to the amount of service time the players has in years, thus making him a cheaper and presumably younger option.) Catching is such a difficult position to come by that the Royals might not be able to find many options on the trade market. Especially if they want young cheap players. The most interesting name that I have heard as far as the catching market is concerned is probably Ryan Doumit of the Pittsburgh Pirates and it wouldn't seem to me like the Royals match up with the Pirates considering they are both looking to get younger at the time being.

Earlier in the offseason it was reported by a writer for the Kansas City Star that the Royals were shopping Alberto Callaspo and that the Dodgers' A.J. Ellis had been linked. A.J. Ellis is probably as old as you can be to still be considered a prospect and reviews of his defense have been outstanding. Oh, and wait til you hear this: Ellis has posted an obp of over .400 in back to back season for the Dodgers' AAA team. I have a couple of issues with the rumor though. First, if we are going to sell high on Callaspo then it would seem like we should be able to acquire more than a blocked veteran prospect. Second, Ellis has absolutely zero power, so while his on base skills are dandy in triple A, those tend to not translate so well when the player has no power to speak of and is not a burner on the basepaths.

Let's look at the other option that the Royals have for their acquirement of a catcher: Free Agency. If the Royals are not able to obtain a young, defensive first catcher via trade then I would prefer that they acquire a sort of one or two year stop gap, until one or two of the younger guys begin to emerge. It was rumored that the Royals offered Brian Schneider a contract, however he took a contract from the Phillies instead. This is most likely a good thing although Schneider's less than impressive numbers from last season will no doubt be inflated in Philadelphia.

Now for the strongest rumor that we have heard regarding the Royals' search for catching. The Royals are rumored to be interested in one of the most successful hitters in Kauffman Stadium history: Ivan Rodriguez. Ivan Rodriguez is still an above average fielder and even though his hitting skills have declined he is still an above replacement level player. If the price is right I would love to see the Royals make a move for Rodriguez. Hopefully there will be more to come with regards to this rumor.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Top Prospects: #39 Crawford Simmons

#39 Crawford Simmons

Age: 19
HT/WT: 6-2/185
Drafted: 14th Round, pick 442 in 2009 Rule IV Draft
School: Statesboro High School (GA)
ETA: 2014

Simmons is the latest of the addition of the Royals front office taking advantage of the lack of a hard slotting system. Simmons who had a commitment to Georgia Tech University fell all the way to the fourteenth round where the Royals nabbed him and signed him for a 450K signing bonus. Simmons has extra appeal given that he is a projectible lefty and a guy that scouts can dream on. Simmons has an average fastball that could potentially gain some velocity as he fills out his 6 foot two inch frame. His curveball and change up could also potentially be plus pitches.

Simmons is probably four years or more away from the majors, unless things click quicker then expected. I would bet that Simmons will stay in extended Spring Training for the start of 2010 and then either follow the Melville path and join a potentially very good Burlington Bees' rotation or go to a short season club like Sample did. Either way the Royals are sure to take there time with Simmons.

The odds are against Simmons, but there is the possibility that things click and he becomes a top of the rotation guy. For this reason he makes the Royal Revival top 42 prospects list. The potential is there and this is the perfect kind of guy for the Royals to take a chance on as the draft progresses.

I'd like to add that there are rumors that Selig is pushing extremely hard for a hard slotting system for the draft and on the surface this would appear to favor the small market clubs that can't afford to pay the big bonuses. However, given how the Royals currently function this would hurt them just as much as any club in baseball and maybe even more. They have been extremely aggressive in the draft since Moore took over and for this reason I am able to keep faith in the current administration which will not be defined by the first few year's win totals but by the fruits that the farm system begins to bare next season and maybe even a small way this season.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Top Prospects: #40 Chris Hayes

#40 Chris "Disco" Hayes

Age: 26
HT/WT: 6-1/195
Pos: RHP
Signed: Non-Drafted Free Agent March 2, 2006
College: Northwestern University
ETA: 2010

If Rowdy Hardy has the best name in all of professional sports then Chris "Disco" Hayes has one of the top nicknames. Why is his nickname "Disco" you ask? Because he survives with pitch speeds in the 60's and 70's. Disco's fastball makes Hardy look like the next Randy Johnson. But all kidding aside Hayes can get outs, so well in fact that through nearly forty innings in Springdale this past season he maintained an era under 1.00 and a k:bb rate of nearly 3:1.

I have had the pleasure of seeing Hayes pitch on (I think) four separate occasions. I say pleasure because there are not that many opportunities for a baseball fan to watch professional hitters whiff on 78 mph fastballs and 67 mph curve balls. Some would rather see a flame thrower blow balls past hitters, but I can tell you now that I thoroughly enjoy watching Hayes baffle hitters into strikeouts or what is most common a groundout to the pitcher. Last season Hayes produced a groundball rate of 55% and for his career has a rate of 57%. You see when a pitcher causes groundball rates of these percentages he is going to have an incredibly easy time getting outs and as long as the defense behind him isn't Alberto Callaspo he is going to be an extremely effective pitcher. Wait... Kansas City's second baseman is Alberto Callaspo. Well he should still be effective nonetheless.

Chris Hayes is able to produce such high groundball rates because, as you can see in the picture, he is a submarine style pitcher. Not sidearm, but full fledged submarine. With this arm angle hitters not only are forced to find the ball in a place that they are not used to finding it, but also Hayes is able to produce a wicked spinning effect that causes the ball to find the turf as soon as possible after the impact with the bat. I went to a game in Springdale this past season and three consecutive batters pounded the ball into the ground in front of homeplate so hard that I was sure they would have to replace the divots with sod.

Hayes numbers in Omaha are somewhat deceiving and he has been hurt by a fairly high opponent's babip. Also, I am going to guess that the infield defense was pretty sketchy this past season for the O-Royals. Surely this is a good guess considering they finished in last place in their division. I also think that Hayes wasn't used in his best role in Omaha and often times they used him in long relief, when judging by his numbers he is much more effective in one or two inning appearances.

Hayes reminds me a lot of Chad Bradford and I am positive that I am not alone in this feeling. However, Bradford is an extremely shy guy and hates to even see himself on camera. Hayes on the other hand seems to be a little bit different. While he is extremely humble like Bradford he also connects with fans much more than the average ball players. Hayes has his own blog ( which is probably much better writing than my own blog considering he went to one of the top journalism schools in the country. Hayes also has done several question and answers with which you can also find online if you are interested.

I believe that Hayes should have been given a Spetember call-up and added to the 40-man roster but with an era of nearly 4.60 in Omaha I can see why he wasn't. Although like I just stated I don't think his era was a fair assessment of his tenure with the O-Royals. I really hope that Hayes is not yet eligible for the Rule V draft (I don't think he is), because it would really be a shame to lose him when he could be a key to strengthening an awful 2009 bullpen. If the Royals are wise Hayes will at least be invited to big league spring training and given a shot at winning a job in the pen to start 2010. If not hopefully Hayes can dominate the Pacific Coast League and then become a fan favorite in Kansas City.