Friday, January 22, 2010

Royals Sign Ankiel

Yesterday evening I found out that the Royals had came to an agreement with outfielder Rick Ankiel on a one year deal worth $3.25 mill and a $6 mill mutual option for 2011. By now we all know the story about Ankiel's incredible collapse on the mound and shift to the outfield so I am going to save us all time by not discussing this expect by mentioning that given his personal path it is tough to judge his current potential and what he could continue to become. He is 30 years old and past the normal peak age of 28-29, however given his position change and late return to hitting I am of the belief that there is still potential to be reached especially regarding his fielding.

Let's begin by looking at the terms of the deal. The dollar amount is fine with me and I think there is the possibility that the Royals got Ankiel for a bargain price as a result of being the only suitor left after Pittsburgh balked at the price. I am disappointed to find out that the option is a mutual option and not a team option. If Ankiel doesn't have a breakout 2010 then the Royals aren't going to want to pay $6 mill for an average guy, but if he does breakout then I don't believe that the $6 mill option will be large enough to keep Rick around. Overall financially I believe this is one of the better deals that Dayton Moore has been able to obtain on the free agent market. Of course if Ankiel repeats last year's horrific performance then fans will refer to it as Jacobs part 2 and rip Moore for wasting $3.25 mill.

What about last season's .231/.285/.387 slash line? Well it is well known that Ankiel was less than 100% over the course of the season. It would be unfair to judge Ankiel on last season's performance alone and in Ankiel's 167 games before the 2009 season, dude mashed. I think that if he can get back to 2008 form with an ops of .843 (which is quite possible considering his injuries in 2009) then he will be a fixture in the middle of the order and could perhaps be considered Moore's best free agent signing to date.

Even if Ankiel doesn't return to 2008 form and he can only rebound to an ops of in the .750-.775 range, Ankiel will still improve the Royals simply for the fact that he knocks Jose Guillen out of the outfield. I would argue that the Royals would receive more production from a tree planted in right field than Jose Guillen. At least a tree would block the balls long enough to allow the center fielder to get over in time to make a play. Other bloggers have discussed the terrible right side defense of the Royals in 2009 with Callaspo, Butler, and Guillen and one even equated it to the Bermuda Triangle of major league defenses. I cannot say that I disagree, but with Ankiel stepping in at right the Royals could now have an outfield that is above league average. With DeJesus, Podsednik, and Ankiel there should be a lot of ground being covered. Also, Ankiel will add one of the best defensive weapons in baseball that is his left arm.

When I first saw the deal I thought that it would be a precursor to other moves and I still feel as though this could be the case. Hopefully the accompanying move will be the release or trade of Jose Guillen. Even if we had to eat the deal I feel that it would be justified and the team would be stronger without him. Addition by subtraction so to speak. The way the Royals current roster stands, there will have to be moves made in order for the team to shake itself out.

I can understand why people would be annoyed by this deal, but I am surprised by the praise that it has been given across the blogosphere. Personally I like the deal and here is why. The Royals aren't going to be able to contend in 2010 unless they have multiple players breakout. Rick Ankiel is a guy that has a fair chance to have an .850+ ops season, afterall he nearly did this in his last healthy season. The Royals did not have a right fielder and Ankiel finally provides the team with an outfield that compliments Kauffman Stadium, fast guys that as a group will display plus range and cover a lot of ground. Even if Ankiel rebounds and it is being wasted by poor play from the rest of the team, then the Royals can flip him at the deadline or get their compensation at the end of the year. This is a good deal for the Royals given their current state and if he can return to form and a few other guys can breakout or improve, maybe, just maybe the Royals can surprise in 2010.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Top Prospects #30: Manuel Pina

#30 Manuel Pina

Age: 22
HT/WT: 5-11/185
Pos: C
B/T: R/R
Acquired: Via trade from the Texas Rangers along with outfield prospect Tim Smith for pitching prospect Danny Gutierrez.

My initial reaction to the trade that brought Manuel Pina to Kansas City was disgust. I knew nothing about the two prospects acquired, but I did know that I was a huge fan of Gutierrez and I believe he had the potential to be a mid rotation guy for the Royals at one point in time. However, once I began a little research on the motivations of the trade I can see why the Royals pulled the trigger. Gutierrez's tiffs with the organization aside, there was something to like about the two prospects. Also considering that the Royals currently are assembling pitching depth but are lacking on the hitting side of things, it seems wise to deal from a strength in order to improve upon a weakness. Since I will later talk about Tim Smtih I will now focus entirely on the other part of the deal, Manuel Pina.

Manuel Pina is a young player for the double A level. He will be 22 years of age to start 2010 and he has received great reviews on the defensive aspect of his game. GM Dayton Moore calls him a "great catch and throw guy," and his career caught stealing percentage of 33% is evidence that the GM knows what he is talking about. I am extremely excited to get to see this defense in person at the Surprise Complex in March, or Springdale soon after, although there is the possibility that Pina starts the year in Omaha.

Pina's bat has progressed slowly, however it has progressed and in double A, Frisco this past season he posted an OPS of .692. While not impressive this figure is the highest that Pina has posted at any stop. Most view Pina as a guy who could one day find a spot on a major league roster as a back up catcher and at this point in time I don't know enough about him nor have I seen enough in his offensive numbers to suggest otherwise. However I do have some optimism that he can continue to improve his slash line and perhaps get his OPS into the .730 region. I feel that if he can reach this level then his defensive abilities would be strong enough to allow him to be a serviceable starting catcher.

Personally I believe that Pina should make a return to the Texas League to begin 2010 and if he deserves it should get an early season promotion to triple A. But most of the reports that I have read expect Pina to begin the year in Omaha. Pina is on the 40 man roster and is listed as third on the Royals depth chart according to However, given the current state of the roster there is no need to rush a guy that is in over his head in the batters box in the Texas League. Let him work some things out and maybe he can become more than a future back up.

Friday, January 15, 2010

New NRIs

Today at Royals Fanfest, General Manager Dayton Moore announced that the team will also be inviting outfielders David Lough, Derrick Robinson, third baseman Mike Moustakas, and pitcher Danny Duffy to be league camp.

All four will be featured late in my top prospect list.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Royal Revival's All Decade Team

Everyone loves New Year's Resolutions, most people's resolutions focus on personal fitness, self betterment or the improvement of personal relationships. This year though I thought I would go for something a little more tangible, and so I set out to build a time machine. It took me nearly two weeks to complete the device, but I am finally complete and I have one mission in mind: assemble the All Decade team for the Kansas City Royals.

So in my assembly the only thing that would matter is a player's performance in a given year, and since you are never allowed to see yourself while you travel through time, I was allowed only one season per Royal. Otherwise there may have been three Zack Greinkes in the starting rotation. So here's the team that I brought back with me, and let me say that the telephone booth was getting extremely crowded.

The fact that there is only one catcher on my roster speaks volumes about the lack of solid catching seasons that this team has been allowed to experience. I also figured that 2000 Mike Sweeney also, might be able to serve as a backup to Zaun. I could have probably had Buck or Olivo's 2009 season, but these seasons were fresh enough in my mind that I went with a better defensive an on base option in Zaun. As you see in the "Players also Considered" section Stinnett nearly made the cut with an awesome 59 at bat stretch in 2004.

Second base was another tough position because there were three individual seasons that I was trying to decide on. Ultimately I took the defensive prowess and consistency over Callaspo's shaky defense. Even after this Callaspo might have still made the roster had not Esteban German's career year took the spot. As good as Callaspo was with the stick this year his slash line still pales in comparison to German's.

At third base I was forced to decided between several seasons from the joker and Teahen's 2006. I chose the latter because prior to his call up Teahen was a beast and the joker's best season of the decade just couldn't match him. Plus I attended a game during Teahen's power surge in which he homered twice and knocked in five.

Looking at the short stop, all that I can say is I wish Aviles could return to 2008 form in 2010.

Only 4.5 of the 13 hitters on the final roster came from the Dayton Moore era. (Aviles, Butler, DeJesus and a half for German, Grudzielanek, and Teahen)

I strongly considered placing Curtis Leskanic on the roster, but decided against it because he only threw 26 innings in a Royals uniform. I was also somewhat surprised that none of Mike MacDougal's seasons were good enough to make my roster.

Breaking down the pitchers, it is almost a complete reverse as 8 of the final 12 came from the Dayton Moore era. Overall it was tough to find a quality rotation, even though I was looking over the entire decade. Hopefully GM Moore can continue to stockpile the arms and these days can officially be behind us.

It should be noted that 7 of the 25 players that made the final All Decade team are still in the organization. If those seven players could post seasons similar to the years that got them on this roster then 2010 would be a very exciting year for Kansas City baseball.

Dan's All Decade Team

My friend came up with the idea to come up with a Royal Revival All Decade Team. Since it was his idea I told him I would publish his team first. So without further ado here it is, Dan's All Decade Team:

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Royals Reportedly Nearing Agreeing with Paul Carlixte

It appears that my Wagner Mateo prediction was incorrect, but that's okay. Sounds like the man is Dominican shortstop Paul Carlixte. As soon as I can find some information on him I will add it to this post!

So far I have found this article from Baseball America that states that his age investigation came back irregular. Keith Law has the scoop and according to his source Carlixte is "a great looking shortstop with strong hands and a quick bat."

Monday, January 11, 2010

Top Prospects #31: Jarrod Dyson

#31 Jarrod Dyson

Age: 25
HT/WT: 5-10/160
Pos: CF
Drafted: 50th Round, Pick #1,475 of 2006 Rule IV Draft
College: Southwest Mississippi JC
ETA: Late 2010

You can't talk about Jarrod Dyson's game without beginning with his plus plus speed which Baseball America deemed the best in the entire system going into the 2010 season. Dyson's game totally revolves around this asset much like Joey Gathright. Dyson uses this speed to try to drag bunt or slap the ball to the left side of the infield, hoping that his legs can get him to first. The problem for Dyson is that his hitting numbers have been less than desirable and his on base skills haven't been good enough for him to become a truly quality prospect. The other factor that limits his prospect potential is his age, Dyson is already twenty-five years old.

Dyson was a 50th round draft choice so the odds have been against him since he began his professional career. Simply by being mentioned on this list he has surpassed expectations, but I am going to make a bold prediction that at some point in the 2010 season we will see Dyson in Kansas City. Here is why. First, Dyson was given an opportunity to compete in the Arizona Fall League this season due to an injury to David Lough and Dyson made the most of it. In 71 at bats he posted a slash of .310/.364/.408 slash line. This brings me to my second point, with his strong performance in the league the Royals felt the need to protect him from the rule 5 draft where another team could have picked him up for a mere 50K. Because Dyson is already on the 40-man roster it puts him in position to receive a call up to the big club if a need arises and he is performing well in triple A.

I think that Dyson may start the season in double A to hone his skills a bit, but given his age and his slow minor league progress due to injuries I think he will be in triple A by the end of May. If he can post decent numbers there I would expect to see Dyson in Kansas City as a September call-up. With his speed Dyson could find a role on a team as a defensive replacement and pinch runner. But if Dyson can developing his hitting to a near average level, then he may one day be given the opportunity to be an everyday centerfielder. Either way Dyson can't afford anymore injuries and he has to improve upon his hitting abilities this season. If he doesn't a career as a minor league free journeyman and roster filler could be his fate.

Top Prospects #32: Brandon Sisk

#32 Brandon Sisk

Age: 24
HT/WT: 6-3/210
Pos: LHP
Signed: Nondrafted Free Agent
College: Azusa Pacific
ETA: Late 2011

Sisk is another nondrafted free agent pitcher that the Royals have picked up that has posted great numbers through the high-A level. Since we always mention it with hitters Sisk was pitching in a very friendly environment at Frawley Stadium. However, this season Sisk averaged nearly 1.3 strikeouts an inning. This is very encouraging because strikeouts would be one of the statistics that you would expect be affected least by the stadium effects. There could be an issue with the batter's eye but other than this the stadium shouldn't have an affect on a pitcher's strikeout numbers. Sisk was one of several Royals that were invited to the prestigious Arizona Fall League and posted decent numbers there as well. (See bottom row of chart.)

Sisk should start the season in Northwest Arkansas and could fill the closer position. Sisk won't ever be a starter but he doesn't need to in order to find a successful major league career. If he can continue to post strikeout numbers close to what he did last season then he is going to have a long major league career and could be a cheap setup option for the Royals the next several seasons. Lord knows that they need some help in the bullpen right now.

The Next International Splash?

So far this offseason the Royals have signed three international free agents of note: Noel Arguelles, Cheslor Cuthbert, and Jin Ho Shin. But according to Dayton Moore there is another one on the way. Here is a quote from GM Dayton Moore's hot stove interview that was broadcast on 610 Sports Kansas City this past Thursday.

"The five best players internationally, regarded by most everybody you talk to. We've signed two of them and we're close to signing another one. Noel Arguelles obviously was made official today. Cheslor Cuthbert, the kid out of Nicaragua and then we're close to getting another one of these players within the next month or so."

Obviously when I heard this quote on Thursday night, I immediately fixated my thoughts on Aroldis Chapman. However, as we all know now Chapman signed the next day with the Cincinnati Reds for a deal in excess of 30 million dollars. Given that Chapman signed the next day it is fairly obvious that he was not the player that Moore was referring to. So I have conducted a little research and have found a list of the best available remaining international prospects. Here they are in order of their ranking according to one publication:

2. Wagner Mateo CF Dominican Republic
9. Daniel Sanchez RHP Venezuela
12. Jochi Ogando RHP Dominican Republic
13. Jacob Beltre C Dominican Republic
16. Luis Jolly CF Dominican Republic
17. Johendi Jiminian RHP Dominican Republic
19. Leonardo Perdomo RHP Dominican Republic
20. Rosel Herrera SS Dominican Republic
22. Santiago Nesi C Venezuela
24. Jairo Kelly SS Dominican Republic

Now just because the prospect isn't a top 5 guy according to this publication, doesn't mean that our front office doesn't consider him amongst the top 5 talents in this year's international crop. For this reason I have listed all of the remaining members of the top 25. However, if they are regarded top five by "most everybody you talk to" then they are probably at the top of this list, which leads me to believe that the player is either Daniel Sanchez the righty from the Dominican Republic, who many feel maybe the top pitcher in this year's Latin American group or it is centerfielder Wagner Mateo. I believe it is the latter and my fingers are crossed that I am right.

Months ago Mateo signed a $3.1 mill deal with the St. Louis Cardinals. The deal was to make Mateo the largest Latin American signing ever for the organization and at the time would have made him the highest paid Latin American hitter ever. However, when the Cardinals conducted his physical he did not achieve 20/20 vision in his right eye and the Cardinals concluded that he had a degenerative eye disease and so the contract was voided. Mateo's agent claimed that the failed eye exam was a result of infection that was caused by Mateo's contact lens.

Now there is always an amount of risk when developing prospects especially when they begin pro ball as a sixteen year old. But the amount of risk with a guy that has an eye problem could be large enough to scare away most bidders. This seems to be the case with Mateo who still remains unsigned months after his original deal was voided. Maybe he is fine and is holding out for a similar lump of money, or maybe so many teams have been scared off by the deal that he is unwilling to accept that he won't be able to get a similar sum. Either way he remains on the market.

Mateo was the winner of this year's Bo Jackson five tool challenge, a contest that has an eighteen year old age limit and includes players from several countries including the United States. He did not win any individual event but his composite was the best overall. Mateo is believed to be fully developed and he comes in at a height of 6-2 and 190 pounds. As a member of the RBI program he has displayed plus power while clobbering home runs to the opposite field, although many scouts project him to be more of a line drive guy. The only drawback other than his eye condition is that many scouts also feel that eventually he will have to make the move to left.

For months I have been hoping that the Royals take a chance on this guy. Yes the risks are there. They always are with these types of signings. But I believe that a team like the Royals would be much better served investing money into the farm than paying for one year unnecessary stop gaps. Consider that the Royals are going to pay Scott Podsednik nearly $1.5 mill this season. This is probably more than half of what Mateo's signing bonus would command. Would you rather pay a thirty-four year old $1.5 mill for one year? Or get a guy with superstar potential into the system for $2.5 mill? The answer is pretty obvious to me.

Dayton Moore stated that the Royals would add "another one of these players within the next month or so." I believe that if the Royals were going for Mateo they would want to make sure that he passed his physical before the deal was announced given his failure to do so with St. Louis. So given Moore's history of refusal to hint at deals that haven't yet been completed, I feel like this may be the case with Mateo. I think that a deal is already in place and so Moore feels comfortable mentioning it, but it will not be made official until the physical has been passed and the visa paperwork has been finalized. Don't forget how long this process took for the Arguelles signing, even though the deal had been made, it could not be finalized until the paperwork and physical had been completed.

It is more than possible that I have guessed wrong on this mystery prospect's identity. It could be a guy that we haven't heard of that the organization has discovered, but this would make Moore's statement of top five "regarded by most everybody you talk to," a false one. I am trying to connect the dots here and be ahead of the curve. To me Mateo fits the bill. He is a top five guy and it would make sense why the deal would take so long even to announce his identity. I just really hope that I am right.

*I should add that the source of this list comes from Sports Illustrated and the link can be found here:

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Top Prospects: #33 Matt Mitchell

#33 Matt Mitchell

Age: 20
Ht/ Wt: 6-2/205
B/T: R/R
Drafted: 14th Round of 2007 Rule IV Draft
School: Barstow HS (CA)
ETA: 2014

Entering the season Baseball America had Mitchell rated as the 21st best prospect in the organization knowing that he would miss the entire 2009 season with Tommy John surgery. I have him ranked here, just outside the top 30 because he is a former fourteenth round pick and due to an arm injury his progression through the system has taken a hit. Baseball America does see one positive to Mitchell's injury and they predict that he will improve the velocity of his 90 mph pre-injury fastball. This is especially good for Mitchell because as BA stated in last year's handbook (which I strongly suggest) he will have trouble reaching the majors if his velocity doesn't improve. Mitchell also boasts good control for his age, an above average changeup and a curveball that has the potential to be another above average pitch.

I expect Mitchell to start the 2010 season in extended spring training and then eased into a rotation spot at one of the Royals' single A affiliates.

THE "Speedy Centerfielder"

Yesterday the Royals announced the signing of centerfield speedster Scott Podsednik. I am italicizing centerfield there because the closest that he has ever come to being league average at the position came in 2004 when he played 153 games there with the Brewers. This zone rating probably comes as a surprise to people unfamiliar with the statistic, because they see that Podsednik has blazing speed. I would guess that GM Dayton Moore is probably a member of this crowd except that he probably still doesn't know of the uzr statistic. (After acquiring Betancourt he was very defensive of his scouts and even stated that he didn't understand advanced defensive metrics.)

One thing his speed does allow him to do is be very successful on the bases. He has 266 career steals with a success rate of around 75%. But last season he came in at a 69% success rate which is just a tad too low to be considered an attribute on the bases. Hopefully this is not an indication of the declining abilities that tend to come when a player hits his mid-30s.

The terms of the deal are bearable and won't hurt the team moving forward as past free agent deals have done. The frustration on the part of most Royals fans and bloggers comes from the fact that the move will in all likelihood doom Mitch Maier's chances at a starting job. Many fans complain that if 2010 is a wash we should be giving players like Maier all the opportunity possible to excel and reach his potential. I am of the belief that Maier's potential is of a quality fourth outfielder and that he will never be a starting outfielder for a playoff contender, so I am not as frustrated with this signing as others. I will say though that this signing is going to improve the current team much and we could have Maier starting in center for the league average and we could get a similar wins above replacement figure. My point here is simply that I don't think the signing of Podsednik is going to prevent Maier from developing into an everyday centerfielder, because I don't think Maier will ever become that guy.

As for Podsednik taking away time from Brian Anderson and his potential. Give me a break. This complaint is coming from the same people that complained about the Anderson signing when it occured. Anderson's role will be as a backup outfielder that is going to be overpaid in 2010(it is amazing to me that you can overpay on a guy that is only going to make 700K in 2010) .

Finally, let's look out how the signing could affect the DeJesus situation, but first let me protect myself by saying that DeJesus is a fine player and might even be the most complete everyday player in the entire organization. I think the Podsednik signing could also make it easier to trade DeJesus. It has been rumored this winter that the Royals are expecting to draw considerable interest in DeJesus as the winter unfolds and so by signing Podsednik the Royals could potentially trade DDJ and still have an adequate number of big league ready outfielders. Just put Podsednik in Left, Anderson and Maier in Center, with well... Guillen in Right. If DeJesus is on the roster on opening day I just pray that he is allowed to stay in the leadoff spot with Podsednik hitting either behind him or at the bottom of the order. Surely the Royals learned from last season that DeJesus is most comfortable at the top spot of the lineup.

Overall this a move that doesn't accomplish much, and could even be considered a waste of 1.4 million dollars. However, if the Royals wind up trading DeJesus before opening day, then the move becomes okay because the Royals would severely need a leftfielder. My biggest concern going forward is that Podsednik is coming off a career year as far as his triple slash is concerned and given that he will be 34 on opening day a drop off is to be expected. For once I don't think the Royals overpaid for the player, but at this point in time Scott Podsednik doesn't appear to be a necessary investment.
At least we can look forward to seeing this at the New K. Scott Podsednik's wife playmate Lisa Dergen.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The Royals' New Monster

How would you feel if you found out that there was a player available to the Royals that could conservatively be projected to hit a slash line of .269/.354/.477 with over 30 home runs and 10 stolen bases? What if you found out that the player could be had for less than one million dollars? If you are like myself you are probably wondering why this player has not yet been signed and penciled into the heart of the order, maybe the three hole while moving Butler to cleanup or perhaps the four or five hole where he can knock Butler in. What if I told you that the player was already under team control by the Kansas City Royals? No, I'm not talking about Kila Ka'aihue. I am talking about a platoon at third of newly acquired Josh Fields and incumbent third baseman Alex Gordon.

Let me begin by saying that this is merely a possibility for the Royals in the upcoming season and that I don't necessarily feel as though this is how the situation should be approached. I am simply trying to look at the situation in a light that I am surprised to not have seen it in.
As Royals' fans we all know the story on Alex Gordon. He was the consensus number two overall selection in the 2005 draft. He played one season of full season ball in the Texas League and was named minor league player of the year. Most people believed that he was ready to make the jump to the Majors and out of Spring Training in 2007 he was given that chance, only to hit at a sub .200 pace for almost the first two months of the season. But with a little help from Zack Greinke* he was able to find his stroke and he finished the season with a bearable slash of .247/.314/.411.

*At Gordon's lowest point Greinke showed him the video of his own home run in Arizona and told Alex "This is what a home run looks like, in case you forgot."

In Gordon's second season he showed moderate improvement and posted above average offensive numbers for a third baseman. His slash was .260/.351/.432 and many felt that 2009 would finally be the year that he would solidify himself as a middle of the order hitter. Unfortunately his season was derailed by injuries and now many doubt that Gordon will ever live up to his potential. What really hurts Gordon is not that he hasn't developed into a fine major league baseball player, because in all actuality he has became just that in his second major league season. No, what really hurts Gordon is that he hasn't became the savior that Kansas City fans were led to believe that he was. He hasn't became the next George Brett. He hasn't became an all-star and because of this Gordon is viewed by many Royals' fans as a bust.
Josh Fields was also a first round pick out of a big XII school. Like Gordon Fields was also considered one of the top hitting prospects in his own farm system and while he was a member of the White Sox farm he posted a slash of .274/.359/.459. Fields was not as complete a prospect as Gordon, but many did project 25+ power for him once he found a spot in the majors. Fields was given that spot in 2007 when he hit 23 home runs with a slash of .244/.308/.480 in 100 games for the Chicago White Sox. Since then Fields has not played more than 80 games in a single season in the bigs.

What has really held back both of these promising young hitters is their inability to hit pitchers throwing from the same side of the rubber as the batters box that they stand in. Gordon can't hit lefties. Fields can't hit righties. So what if the Royals had the best of both worlds? What if Gordon and Fields were platooned at third base and the other was used as a late game pinch hitter? Let's look at what their combined stat line could be.
First I took the career stats of both against their ideal competition (Fields vs L, Gordon vs R) then I figured that roughly thirty percent of the at bats over the course of a season would come against a lefty, while the other seventy would come against a righty. I then multiplied these percentages by 650 and that left me with 460 at bats for Gordon against righties and 190 at bats for Fields against lefties. I then took each of the respected players career numbers against their ideal competition and adjusted it to this number of at bats. The table below are my results:

Obviously this table does not take into consideration park factors which would probably cause Fields slug% and home run totals to drop, however it is also just a display of the players career numbers. Both players are both young and each have to a certain degree potential to improve their numbers by a considerable margin. So it is my suggestion that if the goal of 2010 is to simply win as many games as possible then the Royals should platoon Alex Gordon and Josh Fields. However, if the goal of 2010 is to lay the foundation for a successful season in 2011 and to hope for the best development of Alex Gordon and to a lesser extent Josh Fields then a platoon should absolutely not be used, because both of these players have to learn to hit off pitcher throwing from the same side of the rubber and if the both can learn to do this, then the Royals not only will have one monster, but two for the next several seasons.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Top Prospects #34: Juan Graterol

#34 Juan Graterol
Age: 20
Pos: C
Bats/Throws: R/R
Signed: International Free Agent 9/6/05
Birthplace: Maracay, Venezuela

Juan Graterol is the third young Latin American catcher that has been featured in the top prospects list here at Royal Revival. However, he is an aberration in that he is a holdover from the Allard Baird era having signed in 2005. Graterol seemingly has above average plate discipline and contact skills at this point in his career, especially when you consider that a catcher's hitting skill are usually the last thing to develop. What I would like to see though is an improvement in his power game, however for the time being I'm happy with the high average at such a young age in full season ball. I don't know much about his defense but out of Graterol, Salvador Perez, and Jose Bonilla, he gets the edge given his deeper progression in the system. I expect him to get an assignment to the friendly confines of Frawley Stadium for the 2010 season.

Top Prospects #35: Clint Robinson

#35 Clint Robinson

Age: 24
HT/WT: 6-4/225
Pos: 1B
Bats/Throws: L/L
Drafted: 25th Round, Pick 756 in 2007 Rule IV Draft
College: Troy

Robinson has progressed one stop at a time as a member of the Royals organization and when that comes after being drafted as a college senior that typically doesn't make you much of a prospect. However, I am a big Clint Robinson fan and the guy has hit at stop. While he didn't have a jaw dropping stat line this season in Wilmington he did nearly win the Carolina league batting title even though he put up a sub .300 average. That should be taken not as a dis on the hitters in the league this past season but instead as another piece of evidence that the Carolina League is extremely hard on hitters.

For his minor league career Robinson has put up a triple slash of .295/.356/.497 in three stops: Idaho Falls, Burlington, and Wilmington. The latter of the two are both full season and known to favor pitchers. Unfortunately Robinson remains old for his league and I doubt the organization views him as much of a prospect. He is a guy that is going to constantly have to prove himself, because any sort of prolonged slump could put whatever optimism that the organization has in him in jeopardy. Robinson should have been penciled in as Northwest Arkansas' opening day first baseman, however, it appears as though he will have to share time with minor league free agent Ernesto Mejia. Although I like Mejia as a minor league free agent, I am somewhat disappointed that Robinson will most likely have to split time with him at first base for a potentially prospect loaded Naturals team.