Thursday, March 25, 2010

Retiring Prospects

As most Royals fans are aware a couple of days ago prized left handed pitching prospect Danny Duffy decided to step away from the game to reassess his life's priorities. But today the Royals' system was dealt two more blows., double play partners Ben Tschepikow and Scott Lyons decided to hang it up as well. The two middle infielders were drafted in the 15th and 17th rounds respectively after playing in college together at the University of Arkansas. Neither were featured in any top prospect lists this offseason, but I admit to having a little intrigue in Ben Tschepikow-wow.

Even while in Arizona this week I took the time to watch him field some grounders and take some swings in the cage. To me he hit well and he sprayed line drives all over the diamond, however after practice he seemed down on himself and a man (I assume to be his dad or grandfather) appeared to be trying to pep him up. To me it seems like the pep talk worked and Ben left the talk with a more confident expression on his face. Obviously at the time I had no idea that this talk could be foreshadowing to Ben's decision to hang up the cleats later in the week.

Tschepikow and Lyons were both drafted as seniors and if I remember right signed to $1,000 bonuses. It is almost poetic justice that both would hang up the cleats on the same Spring afternoon after spending so many hours together in the weight room and on the baseball diamond. Lyons has been injured since his days at Arkansas, even missing parts of the College World Series, one wonders if Lyons was healthy if both would still be pursuing a shot at the major leagues. Maybe without one another to push each other the drive was no longer there for each of the two prospects, or maybe both decided that they had already reached the pinnacle of their baseball careers when the had the opportunity to compete in Omaha last summer. They both graduated from a fine institution in Fayetteville, Arkansas and while they may have surprised as prospects they won't be surprising anyone when they go on to have successful lives outside of baseball.

The spring has already been unkind to the Royals farm system and now after losing Bianchi for the season and Moustakas for roughly six weeks, the system will now lose a top flight left handed pitching prospect for what could be good. Some speculate that part of the reason Duffy has left could have to do with the Royals conservative approach to his elbow soreness. There was no damage and the Royals have chose to shut him down until the beginning of May to make sure that they don't damage one of the best pitchers in the system. It is interesting that Baseball America had this to say about Duffy entering the season. (I don't have the text with me so I will do my best.):

The only thing left for Duffy to prove is that he can overcome adversity, because so far he hasn't encountered any.

Isn't ironic that the first time Duffy encounters adversity as a pro this is the result? Retirement. Let's not jump the gun though, originally all of the stories that broke the news stated that Duffy was retiring from the game. However, in the revised additions most of the stories state that Duffy is taking a leave of absence to reassess his life's priorities. I am extremely hopeful that this will not be the last we here of Duffy as a Royals prospect, but at this point I don't really know what to expect.

In regards to minor league spring training, the phrase no news is good news seems to apply. Unfortunately this spring there has been a lot of news coming from the minor league side of the complex. I'm hopeful that the organization can move past these bumps and the system can breakout in 2010 as many scouts believe it can.

Update: After reading this article from the Kansas City star ( it sounds as though we may be dealing with another case of an undiagnosed social anxiety disorder. Do not think that because Greinke was able to rebound that this is a likely scenario for Duffy. Millions of people each year face this sort mental disorder and many are not able to obtain medication that properly fixes the issue. Of course the article doesn't say that he has a condition or has been diagnosed, but to me it reads as though this is a definite possibility.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

3/23 Live from Arizona

This may be the last Live from Arizona entry for this year, because I am heading back home after the game tomorrow. Hope you enjoy and there are several things I'd like to cover.
  • Gil Meche's shoulder scares me. Perhaps, it is because of his shoulder woes a season ago or perhaps it is because this is the Royals we are talking about but I full expect that this so called "shoulder stiffness" is going to linger and within about a month Meche wil hit the dl for an extended period of time. I hope I'm wrong but this is what my gut tells me and I hope the organization is preparing itself for the worst.
  • For those of you that haven't visited the Royals complex in Surprise and watched some practice, the primary practice area for the minor leaguers is an area called "The Clover." The Clover is four fields with a tower in the middle. On each field is a group of players and it doesn't take long to figure out that the players are divided up into their possible opening destinations. I wasn't able to see where every player was assigned but here are the few that I can definitely confirm.
  • On the Low A Burlington field were the following players: Hilton Richardson, Deivy Batista, Jose Bonilla, Rene Oriental, Carlo Testa, Bryan Paukovitis, Brendan Lafferty, Yowill Espinal, John Lamb.
  • On the High A Wilmington field were the following players: Eric Hosmer, Ben Tsechpikow, Patrick Norris, Adam Frost, Chris Dwyer, Sam Runion, Nick Van Stratten, Ryan Wood, Jason Taylor, Juan Graterol, Benjamin Theriot.
  • On the Double A Northwest Arkansas field were the following players: Ryan Eigsti, Manuel Pina, Miguel Moctezuma, Paulo Orlando, Derrick Robinson, Ernesto Mejia, John Alfaro, Kurt Mertins, Clint Robinson.
  • After watching practice on the minor league fields I went to another field to watch the big boys take batting practice before their game against the Cubs. There I saw the change to the batting cage that I had heard about. For those of you who are unfamiliar, after a Kevin Sietzer suggestion the Royals have added a three foot net hanging down from the top part of the batting cage. The hope is that the net forces players to develop a more line drive approach instead of becoming homer happy in the thin Arizona air. As some of you remember the Royals were among the leaders for Cactus League home runs a season ago. This year? Well they currently lead the Cactus League in batting average.
  • In the Royals' fourth inning today there was another example of great baserunning at work when Guillen attempted to score from third on a grounder. Not only was he thrown out at home, but the hitter, Brayan Pena was doubled off when he rounded first a bit too much. In the bottom of the ninth Aviles left on contact after a Mitch Maier liner into the outfield. Aviles should have at least held in case the ball was caught, giving him the opportunity to tag. Last year the Royals were the worst baserunning team of the decade, while many sabermetricians believe that baserunning can only change a team's record by a few games, it would be nice to see some improvement in this area moving into 2010.
  • Luke Hochevar pitched pretty good. He gave up one run in 5 innings of work and other than one inning where he got hit around a bit, he was pretty dominate. Even in that one inning though Luke was able to retire the side after a passed ball by Pena. This is good to see, because in the past this sort of thing would rattle Hochevar and he would throw harder instead of throwing smarter. I was pleased to see Hoch regain his composure, get out of the inning, and limit the damage.
  • Today Hillman hit Callaspo in the three hole which makes the top of the order look like this: DeJesus, Podsednik, Callaspo, Butler. As opposed to this:Podsednik, Gets/Kendall, DeJesus, Butler. Callaspo has been on record as saying that he approaches his at bats with the mentality of a run producer and not a table setter. Add in that DeJesus for whatever reason is a much better hitter in the leadoff spot and that Podsednik has been a stronger two hole hitter than leadoff man and it isn't hard to see why I prefer the first top of the order arrangement.

3/22 Live from Arizona

Day three in Arizona. Today I watched some minor league bp, and a major league game against the White Sox. Here's what I got for you:
  • Paulo Orlando had a strong BP session. I didn't get to see a lot, because I was bouncing around between fields but I did witness Orlando get solid wood on the ball and hit the gaps on nearly every swing. He also hit one of the few home runs that I was able to witness. Orlando was acquired from the Chicago White Sox for Horacio Ramirez. The fact that we were able to get anything more than a bag of balls for HoRam is impressive. Orlando has average tools across the board, but thus far as a pro hasn't done much with them.
  • Rene Oriental was taking BP with the younger guys. The fields seemed to be divided up into groups of players that were at similar points in the development process. While Oriental played in the triple A game on Sunday, he played on a field with players that haven't tasted full season ball. For some reason the guy interests me and I am going to guess that he starts in either Burlington or Wilmington with a very aggressive approach to his development.
  • Didn't get to see the big names hit. Okay this isn't entirely true as I saw Myers take about 10 cuts, but he didn't do anything of note during those swings. Hosmer fielded balls at first while I was there and Moustakas was nowhere to be found due to a strained oblique.
  • Coaches will get on to a player. Spring Training isn't always a joke around section. Today one of the Royals minor league middle infielders through a ball to second behind is back and a coach immediately asked the player if that was how he would do it during the game. Of course the player looked a little embarrassed and he quickly put his game face back on.
  • Jordan Parraz has a reputation. Today after a player make a smart Alec response to a coach the coach referred to him as Jordan Parraz. Not sure if this was a reference to Parraz being a jokester or a reference to Parraz being a smart ass.
  • Kelvin Herrera and Ed Cegarra were working out. Last year both of these Latin American pitchers virtually disappeared due to arm/shoulder injuries. Today I glimpsed both, Herrera stretching out his shoulder and Cegarra leaving the field after shagging balls. Good to see both prospects around camp, of course if you have read my top prospect list you already know that I am a huge fan of Herrera and I will admit that I totally forgot about Cegarra while forming my list.
  • Aviles returns to short. It would just be a huge boost for this team if Aviles can overtake Betancourt at the short stop position, but even if he can't wouldn't he be a better option than Getz at second? Getz has an option so he could be sent to Omaha easy enough. Aviles is already the superior hitter and fielder, so this would seem to make sense. Aviles did have two errors on pop ups today, but the first was because Irving Falu didn't yield to his call, and the second he shouldn't have been the one making the play. Either way, while dropped popups are embarrassing to witness as a fan, they aren't nearly as big of a deal in the Arizona sun when players haven't played many innings together.
  • Ka'aihue made another sharp defensive play. I've heard from scouting reports that Kila Ka'aihue is a below average fielder, however from what I have seen during my time in Arizona he seems to be very quick with the glove. He has made several nice stops that I am not sure Billy Butler would have made. Perhaps, Ka'aihue's defense is underrated by scouts much like his hitting ability.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

3/21 Live from Arizona

Day two in Arizona and today I decided to go watch some minor league action. I planned on doing it at least one point this week and with Greinke on the mound I figured today would be a perfect time. So here are my thoughts on the minor league action that I saw.
  • The Royals complex is very fan friendly. I am not sure how it compares to other ballparks in the Cactus League but it was very enjoyable to catch some minor league action. The fields have about 100 feet in between them so it was very easy to stroll between them.
  • Greinke didn't pitch well. While he only gave up 2 runs in "5 innings" the damage could have been much worse, because there were a couple of jams that he got out of simply by reaching his pitch limit. He did pitch primarily fastballs but he didn't locate well and it turns out that he threw more balls than strikes.
  • Jarrod Dyson can fly. I'm starting to get legitimately excited about this guy. He has incredible speed and anything in the gap is going to be a sure triple for the speedster, just as it was in his second at bat. In his third at bat he also beat out a soft grounder to second.
  • Rene Oriental intrigues me. Oriental was signed early in the century as an international free agent, however after some legal troubles he was unable to obtain a visa into the United States. About eight years later he has obtained his visa and is now in Surprise. Oriental has a good baseball body with decent speed and a line drive swing, also part of me truly believes that if the Royals didn't feel as though potential is there then he wouldn't be in camp. I'm interested to see what kind of numbers Oriental can put up in pro ball this summer.
  • Blaine Hardy pitched well for the Naturals. Hardy three three scoreless innings and could be a darkhorse to rise quickly as a bullpen prospect.

After spending an hour or so on the minor league side, I decided to watch the remainder of the major league game.

  • Callaspo's defensive woes won't end at second. Today Callaspo made an error in the ninth and while he handles third better than second, because of his poor range becoming less than a factor I still expect him to make his fair share of errors in the hot corner.
  • Cruz had a big outing. There have been rumors this week that Colorado is interested in acquiring Juan Cruz, and I don't believe it was a coincidence that the Royals sent him out to the mound against the Rockies this afternoon. Cruz pitched 1.2 innings of scoreless baseball.
  • I'm still no Betemit fan. Wilson Betemit may have hit a game tying two run bomb in the 9th but let's not forget he made a costly error earlier in the contest. As I have said all along if Betemit sniffs Kansas City this season it is not a good thing for Royals fans.

That's all I've got for tonight, I'll be back tomorrow evening with some more thoughts on the day's action.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

3/20 Live from Arizona

So this was my first day in the beautiful Arizona sun. I'll be staying in Surprise until Wednesday, and today I elected to go to the game against the Brewers. This choice was made primarily because the tickets were cheaper and the other game was about forty minutes farther away. Anyways here are my thoughts on today's Spring Training action.
  • Kyle Davies impressed. Davies stuff was nasty today and the only problem he had was a solo home run hit by Milwaukee pitcher Yovanni Gallardo. Other than that Davies pitched 4 innings and had 6 strikeouts.
  • Brayan Pena has trimmed down. It is interested that an article has been posted on on this issue, but just earlier today I was thinking about how much trimmer he looks. Apparently he has already lost over 20 pounds.
  • The Arizona air is thin. On just about every ball hit into the outfield today I was surprised at how deep it traveled. This was especially true on Gallardo's home run. When the ball left the bat my first thought was that the Milwaukee fans were dumb for thinking it was going to get out. I thought the left fielder would take a couple of steps back and make the play. Instead the ball carried over the wall.
  • Kila Ka'aihue belongs in the Majors. He may have went 0-4 today but the guy has a major league body and he puts together good at bats very consistently. He needs to improve against left handed pitchers, but I would love to see a platoon of him and Fields at DH. Kila also made a great backhand stop in the field.
  • Colon and Thompson both looked sharp. In case you are unaware of my feelings regarding the assembly of a Major League bullpen, I'd like to fill you in. I believe that a bullpen should be built as cheaply as possible. It seems to me that there are more successful scrap heap bullpen signings than multi million dollar bullpen signings. I firmly believe that a quality bullpen can be built through minor league signings, waivers, and the farm system. I think that GM Dayton Moore has had more success in building the pen through these means (Robinson Tejeda, Ramon Ramirez, Roman Colon) than through high dollar free agents (Farnsworth, Mahay, Cruz).

I'd also like to add some highlights from today's action on the farm.

Northwest Arkansas Naturals:

  • Not really a highlight, but the Naturals were no hit today and are now 1-2. Lane Adams a 2009 draft choice, was one of several inexperienced players to fill in for the Naturals today. Adams had a walk and stole second. However, Johnny Giavotella and Clint Robinson were unable to get him home.
  • Gilbert De La Vera gave up three runs in three innings. Sugar Ray Marimon and John Bannister totaled four shutout innings and Barry Bowden pitching one giving up one run.

Wilmington Blue Rocks:

  • Yesterday the Blue Rocks defeated the Texas Rangers single A affiliate 9-6 and are 1-0.
  • Eric Hosmer went 3 for 3 today with a single, double and home run. Good to see Hosmer get off to a quick start. Hopefully he can keep it going and will get an early bump to Springdale.
  • Nick Van Stratten had two singles, a walk and a steal.
  • Salvador Perez went 2-3.
  • The second rated independent league prospect, according to Baseball America, short stop Adam Frost had a pinch hit home run. I'm very interested to see how Frost does this year, I am a huge fan of the Royals working every possible stream of talent.
  • Sam Runion allowed five runs in four innings. Runion continues to disappoint and look as though he is a second round bust.
  • Matt Mitchell allowed one run in three innings with six Ks. Good to see Matt Mitchell back, he should begin the season in an intriguing Burlington rotation.
  • Patrick Keating pitched two scoreless innings. Keating should rise quickly as a relief prospect.

Monday, March 15, 2010

LAPS Hitters 2010

So many Royals fans and bloggers have been discussing their projections for the 2010 season. I decided that instead of going with my gut I would create a projection system, much like CHONE, ZIPS, Marcel, etc. So these stats aren't necessarily what I think will happen but they are the figures that my projection system spit out. So without any further ado here are your 2010 Kansas City Royals.

* LAPS (LA Projection System) takes into consideration each of the last three seasons stat lines, last years second half line, minor league career numbers, and the three projected 2010 stat lines of Bill James, CHONE, and Marcel. Each of these lines are assigned a weight and then the final line is created.

I have not yet decided if I will do the pitchers, but I would say it is a good possibility. As for the hitters, I think that most of these lines are pretty close to being right. I think in some cases the at bats for certain players will not be as high, for example Mitch Maier and Brian Anderson probably wont combine for over 600 at bats. I think the numbers for Kendall and Guillen are a little high, but I also think that the numbers for Butler and Aviles are probably a little low. Overall I'm pretty happy with the numbers that I came up with though.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

March 13 Tidbits

  • In Baseball Prospectus' first postseason odds the Royals were given a 6% chance to win the division. Basically what this system does is it sims out the regular season a thousand times or whatever they do and figures the percentage of times the Royals win the division.
  • Those odds were figured before the Twins learned that Joe Nathan will more than likely miss the entire 2010 season. If this proves to be the case then the entire AL Central rejoices because a division with an already opened door just got the door opened a little bit wider.
  • There is a sentiment around baseball that Farnsworth could be facing a release at the end of Spring Training. However, today he pitched 3 scoreless innings allowing only 1 hit and no walks. He also recorded and 8:1 goundout to flyout ratio. As bad as Farnsworth had been thus far he became the first out of himself, Robinson Tejeda, and Kyle Davies to make a case as the number 5 starter.
  • Speaking of Tejeda last season when he dominated as a starter he pitched exclusively out of the stretch. However, this Spring Tejeda is pitching out of the windup with no one on base. So perhaps that could be the result of his early troubles and I would suggest that while it is unconventional, if Tejeda doesn't find the strike zone out of the windup then the Royals need to have him go back to the stretch only.
  • Ka'aihue has mashed this Spring. Yesterday Ka'aihue homered off former Royal prospect Dan Cortes, but just a few hours before that in a B game Ka'aihue went 3 for 3 with another homer. Also today Ka'aihue went 1 for 1 with a double. I would really like to see Ka'aihue open the season as a DH, platooning with either Josh Fields or Jose Guillen.

Top Prospects #1: Mike Montgomery

#1 Mike Montgomery

Age: 19
Pos: LHP
HT/WT: 6-5/180
Drafted: 1st Round, Pick #36 of 2008 Rule IV Draft
High School: Hart High School (CA)
ETA: 2011

As I have stated before on my top prospect countdown, I seriously believe that the top few prospects are at this point fairly interchangeable. This is not intended to be taken as there aren't any elite guys in the system, but instead as me saying there are several prospects that I feel could have elite status in a years time but at this point need to post some positive results at higher levels of competition. (Myers= no full season experience, Crow= no minor league experience, Montgomery and Moustakas= no experience above A ball.) Because of the breakout potential of several of the Royals top prospects, the system could very feasibly shoot up the rankings between now and a year from now.

Now let's talk about Montgomery. Montgomery was a supplemental first round draft choice in 2008 and like Royals ace Zack Greinke he has a reputation for his fiery, competitive attitude. Despite being the leading scorer of his high school basketball team he was kicked off the team because he recorded so many technical fouls. While some would view this as a knock on his makeup, many, including myself, would view it as a positive. Montgomery is 6-5 and his frame has yet to fill out completely which leads many scouts to believe that he could add a few miles per hour that already explodes out of his hand and comes in at around 90-95 mph. Unfortunately the Royals conflicted with Montgomery this offseason about his long toss program. From the information I have gathered it sounds as though Montgomery had some unrealistic expectations that if he continued his outrageous long toss program then he would be able to get his fastball consistently into the high 90s. The Royals afraid that this program would put unnecessary work on the arm disagreed. Luckily the two sides seem to have come to a compromise which allows Montgomery to continue his long toss program, but not to the extent that he originally desired.

Montgomery features three pitches that should translate into out pitches at the major league level:
  • Fastball: Sits between 90-95 mph, is said to explode out of his hand, could pick up more velocity as Montgomery fills out physically.
  • Changeup: Typically sits in the high 70s and low 80s, has the potential to be a plus pitch.
  • Curveball: Sits in low 70s, needs to be developed more and command of it has been inconsistent.

Montgomery also features an above average palmball that he has great command of, but scouts question whether it will be effective against more advanced hitters. Montgomery's mechanics have been solid and he has had no difficulty in repeating his delivery in professional ball. This is always a huge positive for a young pitcher especially when this pitcher is a lanky 6-5 lefty.

Montgomery could start the year in either Springdale or Wilmington in 2010. But I expect the Royals to take a conservative approach where he could join an awesome rotation that would include himself, Noel Arguelles, Tim Melville, and Chris Dwyer. After he dominates the Carolina League to begin the season he should be in Springdale by the all star break. There I imagine his numbers will drop as he faces more advanced hitters in a hitter friendly league, but I still believe that he will post a sub 3.80 era and solidify himself as a top tier pitching prospect. A year from now I expect Montgomery to be a highly talked about prospect that will compete in Spring for a spot in the Major League rotation

Friday, March 12, 2010

Top Prospects #2: Mike Moustakas

#2 Mike Moustakas

Age: 21
Pos: 3B
HT/WT: 5-11/230
Drafted: First Round, #2 Overall of 2007 Rule IV Draft
High School: Chatsworth High School (CA)
ETA: 2011

I can hear the cat calls already... "What?! Mous at 2, you must be out of your mind?" "How can you put Mous ahead of Crow and Myers he had a .297 OBP last year?" "We should have had Porcello or Weiters!" "Mous wears big pants!" Well I'm going to nut up here and stick with Moustakas in the number two spot, although as far as I am concerned Crow could legitimately be in the top spot and Mous could be as low as 4th. But I am going to leave Moustakas here for several reasons that I am going to discuss shortly.

As we all know Mike was drafted at number 2 overall in Dayton Moore's first official draft as the head man. Mous had set a California state record with 54 career home runs in high school and was coming off a senior season that saw him hit .577 with 24 home runs. Moustakas was chosen to be ab All-American 7 total times (3 by Louisville Slugger, 1 by the ABCA, 2 by Ea Sports and 1 by USA Today). According to one scout Moustakas was the top high school power bat since Alex Rodriguez was drafted by the Mariners.

Moustakas was selected as a shortstop by just as most forsaw he quickly slid over into the third base position. Whether or not this will be his final stop on the diamond remains to be seen as there have been many recent reports about Moustakas's lower half becoming too thick for third base. Also, note the twenty-four errors that he recorded in the Carolina League in 2009. Now I have heard that Frawley Stadium has a tough infield to field grounders on, but I am not sure how true this belief is. But I can offer a statistic they may be rather comforting to Royals fans that are concerned about Mous's defense. According to Sean Smith's TotalZone Rating Moustakas was a +13 runs per 150 defender in 2009. Which places him somewhere between an above average or outstanding fielder for the league. I look forward to watching Moustakas play third base this season in Springdale to see his fielding first hand.

Moustakas has such an outstanding arm (clocked in the upper 90s when he entered the draft) that many have suggested the Royals move him to catcher. This doesn't sound like to terrible of an idea, except that I am skeptical about any good hitting prospect being moved to a position that can diminish the players offensive value down the road. Rumor is that the Royals did approach Moustakas about such a move, but they were quickly shot down. Reports widely vary regarding Moustakas's physical shape but I would suggest that if he proves to not be able to handle the hot corner the Royals could try him in right field where his arm could become a huge defensive asset. This not to mention the Royals have a real lack of prospects in the corner outfield spots.

Now let's look at the concerning numbers that he posted in Wilmington a season ago. In 2009, he posted a line of .250/.297/.421 with 16 homers and 86 Rbis. But looking at his splits he posted a .206/.269/.381 line in the non-friendly confines of Frawley Stadium but a line of .292/.331/.473 line on the road. Upon further examination his luck removed line that takes park factors into consideration is .288/.334/.495. This line fits with the away line and I'm going to give him the benefit of the doubt on his 2009 performance. The concern for me is that Moustakas will never post an awe-inspiring on base percentage. However, scouts still rave about is quick wrists and light tower power that project for him to hit with both average and power.

I expect Moustakas to begin the 2010 season in Northwest Arkansas and even after his 2009 performance I don't think this would be an aggressive move on the Royals part. Much like Jeff Bianchi and David Lough did a season ago, I expect Moustakas to really break out in the Texas League I'm going to predict that he homers more than 25 times in the Texas League this season. (Gordon homered 25 times in his only full stint in the Texas League.) If Moustakas breaks out like I expect then he will fight for a spot on the 2011 opening day roster and force the Royals to make a tough decision on whether or not to send him to Omaha to begin the year. Hopefully, this turns out to be the case.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Bad News on 3/7

Unfortunately, the only news today has been bad news for Royals today, but here we go...
  • Alex Gordon has broken his thumb on a headfirst slide during yesterday's Cactus League game. He should be out 3-4 weeks and then will probably need a couple more weeks to rehab. Trey Hillman sounded less than thrilled about the news and discussed how it could have been avoided had Gordon displayed proper fundamentals. Alberto Callaspo should get the nod on opening day.
  • Jeff Bianchi is out for the season and will require reconstructive elbow surgery. At this point I am not sure what happened to cause the injury. But this is devastating news for Bianchi, who it seemed at finally started to put his days on the DL behind him. I'm definitely saddened by this development. Bianchi was #12 on the Royal Revival top prospect list for 2010.
  • Danny Duffy is experiencing elbow stiffness as well. The Royals will shelve him for now and I would hope that they take an extremely conservative approach in bringing him back.
  • Finally the Cactus League game was canceled today due to rain.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Live Blog: Happy Greinke Day!

Alright, everybody I'm back on this Friday afternoon and am going to live blog today's Royals game. I'm doing this for several reasons. First, it helps me take in the game at a higher level and enjoy it more. Second, I know from experience that if you live outside of 610 sports listening area, then all you can basically do is refresh a box score, so I am going to attempt to provide more than the basic information that a box score provides. Finally, I can post some thoughts here as the game progresses and I would love for you to do the same in the comments area. Happy Greinke Day! Let's get going.

Top 1st: 0-0

  • Ryan Lefebvre says that the wind isn't blowing out like it was yesterday.
  • Greinke on the mound and up comes Julio Borbon. Flyball to short left and Getz makes the play. One out.
  • Young hits chopper to third and Wilson Betemit throws across the diamond to Ka'aihue for out number two.
  • David Murphy to the plate. Strike one. Breaking ball low, 1-1. Lined to left for a single. Man on first with two outs.
  • Guerrero steps in. High and outside, ball one. Foul ball, 1-1. Strike two. Flyball into short right, caught by DeJesus. Three outs.

Sounds like Greinke is throwing more than just change-ups and fastballs this Spring.

Bot 1st: 0-0

  • Scott Feldman on the mound for the Rangers, great young pitcher won seventeen games last year. Won Rangers pitcher of the year last season.
  • Podsednik to leadoff. Strike one. Popped to short left, caught by Andrus. One out.
  • Jason Kendall steps in. Strike one. Ground to third. Two outs.
  • David DeJesus up. Ball one. Ball two inside, 2-0. Takes a strike, 2-1. Jam shot blooper to centerfield for a base hit. DeJesus on first.
  • Butler comes to the plate. I'm interested to see how Butler does in the cleanup spot this season after flourishing in the three hole a season ago. Taken strike one. Ball hit sharply down left field line. DeJesus scores. Double for Butler.
  • Ankiel comes to the plate with Butler on second. Ankiel grounds out to first. Three outs.

Denny Matthews says that Butler looks as though he is in better shape than a season ago.

Top 2nd: 1-0 KC

  • Ian Kinsler is going to lead off for the Rangers. Kinsler is a graduate of Mizzou, hopefully with this administration's increased commitment to scouting the backyard players like him won't sneak through as often as they have in the past. Strike one. Ball one, low and insde. Inside again, 2-1. Groundball foul, 2-2. Kinsler fooled by a slider and couldn't check swing in time, strikeout. One away.
  • Nelson Cruz grounds out to Betemit at third. Two outs.
  • Chris Davis up to bat. Ball one. Changeup strike on outside corner. Changeup swung on and missed, 1-2. Upstairs, 2-2. Fastball called for a strike and it is a one, two, three inning with two Ks for Zack.

Greinke sounded really sharp that inning. Can't wait to see him live.

Bot 2nd: 1-0 KC

  • Alberto Callaspo is going to start the inning. Callaspo is going to need an impressive spring to win back a job that has been taken away from him. Strike one. Swing and a miss, strike two. Callaspo bloop single.
  • Kila Ka'aihue steps in. Ka'aihue takes a strike. Foul ball, 0-2. Breaking ball in the dirt, 1-2. Breaking ball locks up Kila, strikeout. One out.
  • Wilson Betemit up to bat. Ball one. Foul ball, 1-1. Grounder to short, double play. End of the inning.

If Betemit gets any time in Kansas City this season it definitely isn't a good thing.

Top 3rd: 1-0 KC

  • Greinke jumps ahead of Teagarden 0-2. Misses low, 1-2. Teagarden Ks. One out.
  • Elvis Andrus steps in there. Grounder to short, and Getz throws him out. Two outs.
  • Borbon bunts on first pitch and like a cat Zack pounces on it and throws Borbon out at first three away. Nice try Julio.

Zack continues to roll. Don't forget last season he posted an era over 9 during spring.

Bot 3rd: 1-0 KC

  • Lefty C.J. Wilson comes in to pitch for the Rangers.
  • Chris Getz will leadoff the inning. I'd like to see him get some work in the two hole during Spring and would rather have Kendall at the bottom of the order. Strike one. Lined to left center, but right at Borbon. One out.
  • Podsednik up to bat. Strike one. Podsednik wiffs, 0-2. Ball one. Called strike three. Two Outs.
  • Kendall digs in. Kendall hits ground through the middle for basehit.
  • DeJesus comes up with a man on first. Takes strike one. Takes low, 1-1. DeJesus grounds into fielder's choice. Three outs.

Top 4th: 1-0 KC

  • Zack Greinke throws 27 pitches in three scoreless innings gives up one hit, no walks, with three strikeouts. Brad Thompson takes over. Thompson is a bullpen candidate that at times showed promise with the Cardinals.
  • Michael Young up to bat for the Rangers. Ball one. Strike one. Curveball low, 2-1. Groundout to Callaspo. One out.
  • Murphy up to bat. Takes strike one. Lines out to first. Two outs.
  • Guerrero takes inside, 1-0. Popped up to Callaspo. Three outs.

Good quick inning by Brad Thompson. Thompson could be a darkhorse for a middle reliever spot out of camp.

Bot 4th: 1-0 KC

  • Butler up to bat. Foul ball. Butler grounds it to Kinsler. One out.
  • Ankiel digs in. Ball one. Deep drive into left center, ball rolls to wall. Standup triple for Ankiel.
  • Here is where Royals have to improve in 2010, getting runners home from third with less than two outs. Callaspo up to bat. Foul ball. Ball in dirt, evens the count. Callaspo hits flyball to right, gets Ankiel home. Nice job by Callaspo. Royals go up 2-0.
  • Ka'aihue up to bat. Ball one. Strike one. Strike two, 1-2. Ball away, evens count. Ka'aihue hits one towards second that is backhanded by Kinsler who then makes good throw to first for the third out.

Top 5th: 2-0 KC

  • Thompson hits Kinsler to start the inning.
  • Nelson Cruz up to bat. Ball one. Rbi double for Cruz. Podsednik misplayed it off the fence, but I'm not sure if it affected the play too much.
  • Davis hit soft fly ball to centerfield for a single, but Cruz misjudges it and Ankiel throws him out attempting to go to third. One out.
  • Teagarden up to bat. Teagarden strikes out. Two outs.
  • Andrus steps in with man on first. 2-1 count on Andrus. Check swing foul, 2-2. Chopped to short and Getz misplays it. Error on Getz. Runners on first and second with two outs.
  • Julio Borbon up. Ball one. Ball hit to right, caught by DeJesus for three outs.

Bot 5th: 2-1 KC

  • Betemit leads off. I was hoping we pinch hit, but I was disappointed. Full count on Betemit. Strike taken, and Betemit picks up the backwards K. But at least it was an improvement on his last at bat.
  • Getz bunts down third base line and is thrown out at first.
  • Podsednik flies out to left field. Three outs.

Top 6th: 2-1 KC

  • Brian Anderson in for Podsednik. Mitch Maier in for Ankiel. Manuel Pina in for Kendall.
  • Lefty Andrew Bostick into the game. Leadoff single for Matt Brown.
  • David Murphy up now. 0-2 count. Murhpy gets on, first and second now.
  • Guerrero up. Strike one. Guerrero taps one foul. Guerrero whifs. Bostick with the K. Two outs.
  • Marcus Lemon up to bat. Ball one. Strike one. Ball two, up and in. Low, ball three. Strike, full count. Called strike three. Backwards K. Two outs.
  • Nelson Cruz up. Starts off by throwing two balls. Foul ball, 2-1. Ball three. Called strike, count is full. Ball four. Bases juiced.
  • Chris Davis comes to the plate. Two outs, bases loaded. Ball hit to shallow left. Caught by Anderson, three away.

Bot 6th: 2-1 KC

  • Nippert in to pitch for Texas.
  • Manny Pina will lead off with the Royals. Love his defensive reputation but worried about his bat. Wide open stance. Ground out to second. One out.
  • DeJesus steps in. 1-2 count. Bouncer back to mound. Two outs.
  • Butler comes to the plate. Strike one. Ball inside. Grounder to left side. Three outs.

Might be done doing this here soon. Hope you have enjoyed so far today.

Top 7th: 2-1 KC

  • Roman Colon in to pitch. Jordan Parraz in for DeJesus. Ernesto Meija in for Ka'aihue. Mike Moustakas in for Betemit. Irving Falue in for Getz. Parraz goes to left and Anderson shifts to right.
  • Richardson pops out to Falu for out number one.
  • Strike one to Andrus. Ball one, up and in. Called strike, 2-1. Called strike three on offspeed pitch from Colon. Two outs.
  • Craig Gentry up to bat for the Rangers. Line drive to center caught by Maier. Three down.

Nice inning from Colon. The bullpen was awful last year, so any stability that the Royals can find would be an improvement.

Bot 7th: 2-1 KC

  • Neftali Feliz in for Texas. Dude has ace potential. I curious to see how well he pitches.
  • Maier up to bat sporting number 12 this season. Strike one. Maier pops out for out number one.
  • Callaspo up to bat. Ducks away from the first pitch, ball one. Ball two. Foul ball, 2-1. Pop up down third base line, caught. Two outs.
  • Ernesto Mejia up to bat. Love this minor league signing. Great power potentil with 23 dingers in the Carolina League in 2008. Strike one. Foul ball, 0-2. Grounder to second. Three outs.

Top 8th: 2-1 KC

  • Colon out for a second inning of relief. Matt Brown to leadoff. Strike one. Moustakas catches the pop up. One out.
  • Morlan watches a strike go by. Ball one. Bouncer to second, and Callaspo throws Morlan out at first. Two outs.
  • Justin Smoak comes to the plate. Strike one. Ball one. Called strike, 1-2. Breaking ball for a called strike three.

Colon has a great outing 6 up, 6 down.

Bot 8th: 2-1 KC

  • Twenty-one year old batter here as Mous steps in against Feliz. 2-2 count on Mous now. Pitch away full count. Nice to see Mous take some pitches and work the count against a good young pitcher. Takes for ball four. Good at bat there by Moustakas. Hopefully he can continue to develop his approach and be more selective at the plate in 2010.
  • Falu grounds to right side and Moustakas advances to second. One out.
  • Brian Anderson comes to the plate with a man on second and one out. Bouncer off pitchers leg, first and third now. Hopefully Feliz is okay.
  • Manny Pina will now try to get a guy home from third with less than two outs. Ball hits Pina, and he is laying face down in the dirt. Nick Kenny the new trainer heads out to check on him. Maybe that pitch could have been caused by Feliz favoring his shin. Derrick Robinson in to pinch run for Pina. Bases juiced.
  • Jordan Parraz up to bat and he quickly gets down 0-2. Fastball high, 1-2. Offspeed high 2-2. Called strike three. Two outs.
  • Scott Thorman is going to pinch hit for Billy Butler. Line drive into centerfield. Moustakas and Anderson score. 4-1 Royals.
  • Maier steps in with runnerson first and second. Strike one. Ball one. Maier is out of options and fighting for a back up spot in the outfield. Popped up. Three outs.

Thorman comes through here, but I would have liked to have seen more from Parraz, who may not have taken the bat off his shoulders. Announced attendance was 3,532.

Top 9th: 4-1 KC

  • Bryan Bullington in to pitch. Bullington pitched well between triple A Syracuse and Toronto last season. Cody Clark in for Manny Pina.
  • Lemon grounds out to Falu to start the inning. One out.
  • 2-2 count on Boggs. Grounded into center. Runner on first.
  • Max Ramirez steps in for the Rangers. Strike one. Hanging breaking ball hit into left. Rolls to fence and it is an RBI double for Ramirez. 4-2 KC.
  • Kevin Richardson comes to the plate. Paisnao in to pinch run. Strike one. Big whiff, 0-2. Strike called. Backwards K for Richardson. Two outs, man on second.
  • Almedo (sp?) comes up for Texas. Fastball grounded to second. Three outs.

Royals win 4-2. Quick game today as pitchers for both teams kept the ball in the zone for the most part and got outs. Greinke pitched well, and Butler doubled. What else is new?

Top Prospects #3: Aaron Crow

#3 Aaron Crow

Age: 23
Pos: RHP
HT/WT: 6-3/195
Drafted: 1st Round, Pick #12 of 2009 Rule IV Draft
College: Missouri
ETA: 2010

After being drafted in the first round of the 2008 draft by the Nationals, the team failed to sign the college right hander and so Crow was again available in the 2010 draft, where the Royals nabbed him in the number 12 spot. Upon being drafted Crow immediately became the most polished pitching prospect in the organization and I feel as though it is highly probable that we will see him in Kansas City this season.

According to Baseball America, Crow features the top fastball and slider in the system to go along with a change up that could also become his third plus pitch. His fastball sits in the low to mid 90s and has a lot of movement on it with a sinking action, while his slider is a very tight swing and miss pitch. The biggest concern at this point regarding Crow is that his delivery is not effortless and when he pitches he tends to wrap his hand and wrist around the ball. However, there are many other scouts that feel as though this won't be an issue especially since he repeats the delivery with ease.

While Crow's era from the Arizona Fall League isn't what Royals fans were hoping to see from their first round selection, it is important to put these numbers in context. The Arizona Fall League is notoriously a hitter's league and while Crow's era was high, his peripherals were respectable with a 12:2 K:BB ratio. Nevertheless, I am looking forward to seeing some better results in his first year in minor league ball.

Crow has the potential to a top of the rotation starter if his change up develops into a third plus offering. Since he is already so polished with above average command of two plus pitches his floor at this point would probably be that of a set up man or closer. When the Royals number 12 pick came up in last June's draft there were two names that I had in mind, the first was USC shortstop Grant Green and the second was Aaron Crow. In the end I think the Royals made a good decision by taking the local kid with the advanced arm and top of the rotation potential. Crow will more than likely begin the 2010 season in the Naturals rotation.

Charity Game Thoughts.

Sorry about the live blog not working out this afternoon. I believe the problem is solved, and tomorrow I should be able to do the majority of the game as long as nothing else pops up. Anyway I decided to post my thoughts on the Charity Game in a new thread so here we go.
  • Davies- didn't get off to a good start today in what might become the most fierce position battle in camp: the 5th spot in the rotation. Davies was wild and fell behind in the count on nearly every hitter, then again so did the rest of the pitching staff on the afternoon. It is just the first game so I'm not going to get to worked up, still this has been Davies problem all throughout his career and it doesn't do much good to have three above average major league pitches if you can't throw strikes and get ahead of hitters.
  • Scott Podsednik- The guy was signed to get on the bases and make things happen for a potentially weak offense that will need to be creative in scoring runs. Well in the first game he fit the bill. After reaching on a grounder through the hole, Podsednik stole second and was able to advance to third on a throwing error. He then scored on a grounder and we will get to that in the next point.
  • Jason Kendall- The Royals grew tired of Miguel Olivo for two major reasons. First, he couldn't block balls. Second, he couldn't get runners home from third with less than two outs. In Kendall's first game he was able to successfully do both of those things. Which makes the Kendall signing the best move of the offseason. Just kidding, but it was a positive in today's blowout.
  • Yuniesky Betancourt- Interesting comments from Dayton Moore on the post game interview. Moore talked about how teams very seldom ask players to commit extra time and often only prescribe workouts if the players approach the staff about an area that they need to improve. But according to Moore this offseason the Royals demanded (maybe too strong of a word, but sounds like more than just a request) that Betancourt show up during the winter and work on all aspects of his game including: defense, hitting, and strength and conditioning. So it sounds like Betancourt has been one of the hardest workers of the offseason. We'll see what the results are but I like that the Royals are taking the initiative, but then again... should they have to?
  • Alex Gordon- Doubled in today's contest and it sounds like he made a couple of pretty good plays on the defensive side of things as well. Man the expectations of this team would totally change if Gordon were to breakout.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Exhibition Opener Live!

I'm going attempt to live blog here, and keep refreshing this post with my thoughts throughout today's season opening contest with the Texas Rangers. If things become a hassle though, I may abandon my attempt. So let's see how this works and have some fun!

Top 1st: 0-0

  • Kyle Davies is on the mound and things are about to get underway!
  • Julio Borbon to lead off, a .312 hitter for Texas last season. Lines to left with a hit.
  • Michael Young comes to the plate. Strike one. Davies bluffs to first. Ball one. Ball two and Borbon steals second. Chops ball to Butler for an out, Borbon to third with one out.
  • David Murphy comes to the plate with a man on third. Infield deep. Liner to Betancourt for out number 2.
  • Vladimer Guerrero steps in for the Rangers. Ball one. Up and in for ball two. Foul ball 2-1. Strike 2 on the lower inside corner. Ball blocked by Kendall 3-2. Popped up to Getz and inning is over.

Overall it didn't sound like Davies was to sharp there, not a lot of swings for misses and was behind in the count a couple of times. Nice to have a catcher that can block a ball in the dirt.

Bot 1st: 0-0

  • Rich Harden is on the mound for the Rangers and will face Podsednik, Kendall, and Butler in the bottom of the first.
  • Podsednik takes for ball one. Groundball into rightfield for a base hit.
  • Kendall hitting in the second spot. Can't say I like it, but Denny Matthews says he fits the role well given his tendency to hit it to right. Takes ball one. Takes ball two. Ball three, 3-0. Strike on outside corner 3-1. Attempted pickoff, Podsednik back in time. Swing and a miss, but ball hits Podsednik on foot as he steals. Podsednik moves to third. Full count. Check swing roller to short and Kendall is thrown out, but gets an RBI as Podsednik scores.
  • Billy Butler comes to the plate with no one on and one out. Takes strike one. Takes strike two. High for ball, 1-2. Foul ball. Billy strikes swinging at a slider.
  • Rick Ankiel steps in. Ball one. Ankiel blasts one down right field line, but foul. Fooled on offspeed pitch, 1-2. Grounds out to first baseman inning over.

Podsednik does exactly what the Royals signed him to do. Gets on base then makes something happen with his legs. I'm not looking forward to seeing Kendall hitting in the two hole this season.

Top 2nd: 1-0 KC

  • Kinsler up to bat. Ball one. Chopper to Gordon at third, one away.
  • Nelson Cruz up to the plate. Strike one. Ball low and away. Ball low, 2-1. Foul ball, 2-2. Groundball into center base hit.
  • Chris Davis to the plate. Ball one. Davies behind in the count again. Ball two. Ball three. Ball four. Walk, Cruz to second.
  • Jarrod Saltalamachia to the plate. Ball one. Kendall makes way to mound to discuss things. Strike one, 1-1. Ball two. Foul ball, 2-2. Home run.
  • Elvis Andrus up. Ball one.
  • Okay I missed a little bit there, but now Daivd Murphy is coming up after Young knocks in a run. 4-1.

Unfortunately my internet is no longer working properly. Tomorrow I plan to try again, hopefully with more success. My internet basically went out there for half an hour or so, and it's continuing to have issues. So hopefully by tomorrow the connection with be steady and we can do this the whole game. Thanks everybody! I'll put my post game thoughts on here tonight!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

March 3: Tidbits

  • According to this site the Royals reportedly have interest in Min-Tzu Chen, a recently pitcher recently converted from outfield. He throws in the low 90s and is very raw. He could command a bonus up to 250K. Even if the Royals don't sign him its nice to see them linked. As some of you know almost a year ago they signed Korean catcher Jin-Ho Shin to what was then a club record bonus of 600K. The Royals efforts in the pacific rim and latin america should be noted and hopefully at some point they begin to pay dividends.

Also my thoughts on the two intrasquad scrimmages thus far (thanks to Robert Ford for the in game Tweets):

  • Ankiel hits two homers. Nice start for Rick, but let's not forget that Surprise has extremely thin air and the dimensions of the park aren't big enough to hold balls that normally would just be fly outs in normal air. Also, Jacobs hit 7 homers in spring training last season.
  • Callaspo has done nothing but hit. Basically this statement sums up his 2009 performance as well. I am all for improving defensively but Getz better be a huge step up to make for the lack of offensive production that I expect from him.
  • Crow looked sharp. According to Robert Ford he was the best looking pitcher on Day 1. I've heard that he is as polished as first year players come, so I wouldn't be surprised to see him on the major league roster by the middle of the season.
  • Bannister rolled. Personally I am a big Bannister fan and I think he is blazing a trail as far as sabermetrically minded baseball players go. Bannister is a big thinker on the mound and is a guy who has admitted to using statistics to target areas of need in his pitching style.
  • Welcome to the show. According to Robert Ford, Danny Duffy jammed Ankiel with a good pitch and Rick still took the ball out of the park. Nonetheless this spring should be a great learning opportunity for the young lefty.

Royals claim Gaby Hernandez

Today the Royals claimed right handed pitcher Gaby Hernandez. The Royals are the fifth organization that has possesses the rights to the pitcher which is a little strange for a twenty three year old that supposedly possesses three above average pitches. Nonetheless I really like this move, because as the old adage goes you can never have too much pitching. The guy has been young for his level at every stop throughout his career.

The Royals made room for Hernandez by placing reliever Henry Barerra on the 60 day DL. After being placed on the 40 man over a year ago to protect him from the Rule V draft, Barerra has been riddled with injuries and the his potential has faded. Nice move by the Royals to grab an arm that not only has potential, but two option years. Hernandez should provide some nice depth in triple A, and maybe with a some time to develop could reach his ceiling as a back of the rotation starter. Even if he doesn't I like the move and I've just been waiting for someone to take Barrera's spot.

Top Prospects #4: Wil Myers

#4 Wil Myers

Age: 19
Pos: C
Ht/WT: 6-3/190
B/T: R/R
Drafted: 3rd Round, Pick #91 of 2009 Rule IV Draft
High School: Wesleyan Christian Academy (NC)
ETA: 2013

Believe it! I love this guy as a prospect and I had a really hard time putting him at number 4 and not higher. In fact I struggled with my 4, 3, and 2 spots a great deal but in the end I am going to drop Myers at 4 due to his lack of professional experience and his level in the development process. On draft day most viewed Wil Myers as a first round talent, and many thought he would be taken by either the Royals at #13 or the Red Sox later in the first round (I'm too lazy to look up when their pick was). However, Myers fell in large part because of signability concerns and when all was said and done the Royals nabbed him with the 91st pick of the draft and signed him to a bonus of roughly $2 mill.

Myers will begin his professional career as a catcher, but since he hasn't played much at the position thus far in his life, he is a bit of a project at the spot. While he has a strong arm with a quick release, he definitely needs to improve on his pitch blocking skills and with his lack of experience I would imagine his game calling needs to improve as well. I expect him to stick at the position and be the long term solution for Kansas City. But if he doesn't stick most scouts agree that he could handle the move to any spot that isn't in the middle of the infield, and some scouts even believe that he could be an above average centerfielder.

Myers has a very refined approach at the plate for a player his age and already has good plate discipline. He should hit for both average and power as he progresses, with some scouts comparing him to former Braves slugger Dale Murphy. Considering Murphy won back to back MVP awards in 1982 and 83, I'm would be fine if Myers turned into a similar hitter. I've got really high hopes for Myers and I expect him to move quickly through the system. He should start he year at full season Burlington, probably splitting catching duties with Salvador Perez.

Top Prospects #5: Danny Duffy

#5 Danny Duffy

Age: 21
Pos: LHP
HT/WT: 6-3/195
Drafted: 3rd Round, Pick #96 of 2007 Rule IV Draft
High School: Cabrillo High School (CA)
ETA: 2011

Since Danny Duffy was drafted in 2007 he hasn't done anything but dominate professional baseball. As an eighteen year old in the Arizona League he posted a 1.45 era with 63 Ks in just 37.1 innings pitched. In 2008 the Royals promoted him to the Midwest League for his first opportunity in full season ball, where as a teenager Duffy did what? Dominate. In 81.2 innings he had a k:bb rate of 4:1 and an era of 2.20. And just a season ago Duffy was promoted to Wilmington where he recorded a nearly a strikeout per inning and had an era of 2.98. In three minor league seasons Duffy has produced a k:bb rate of 290:83 and an era of 2.49.

Duffy is an extremely advanced pitcher and this season even received an invite to big league camp with an outside shot at a spot in the bullpen. He features a fastball that sits around 90 mph, an above average curveball that should be a quality out pitch as he develops, and a change that has came along way since he was drafted in '07. While Duffy doesn't have the same "potential" as other guys in the system and projects as a number 3 starter, I have him this high because the guy hasn't had any difficulty in professional baseball. I doubt when he was drafted in 2007 many scouts envisioned him dominating for the first two and a half years of his pro career either. Duffy should begin the year in the Naturals rotation and it could be an interesting race between him and after Aaron Crow he should be the first Dayton Moore pitching prospect to reach the Majors.

Top Prospects #6: Tim Melville

#6 Tim Melville

Age: 20
Pos: RHP
HT/WT: 6-5/210
Drafted: 4th Round of 2008 Rule IV Draft
High School: Wentzville-Holt (MO)
ETA: 2012

Heading into the 2008 season many expect Tim Melville to solidify his stock as a top ten draft choice in the 2008 first year player draft. However, after a disappointing senior campaign, a commitment to North Carolina, and a high bonus demand he fell all the way to the fourth round where the Royals happily drafted him and signed him to a bonus of $1.25 mill. Melville features a plus fastball that sits in the low 90s with a changeup and curveball that have the potential to also join the fastball as plus pitches. With Melville's height he has quite a bit of projectability and could still add some miles per hour to his fastball. At this point in his career though the lack of command in his secondary pitches limits his dominance. Although his spike in strikeouts (75 in his last 67 innings) in the second half indicate that maybe he began to turn the corner in this regard.

Melville has the potential to be front of the rotation starter and I expect him to begin the year in Wilmington where he'll join a potentially epic Blue Rock rotation. His numbers should be very strong and it wouldn't be shocking to see him donning a different shade of blue in Springdale at some point in the summer.

Top Prospects #7: Eric Hosmer

#7 Eric Hosmer

Age: 20
Pos: 1B
B/T: L/L
HT/WT: 6-4/215
Drafted: 1st Round, Pick #3 overall in 2008 Rule IV Draft
ETA: 2012

I am being a little aggressive on my estimated time of arrival for Hosmer. But this is because I still like Hosmer as a prospect and I expect that when he turns the corner it will be in a big way, causing him to advance through the system rather quickly. I also believe that the organization is also going to be aggressive with Hosmer in an attempt to catch him up with other top prospect Mike Moustakas. However, he comes in at number 7 because of his disappointing 2010 season.

There aren't any really positives to point out from 2009, except that while he was in Burlington he was able to maintain a respectable on base percentage despite hitting just .254 for the season. So instead of talking about his 2009 offensive numbers let's talk about what went wrong. First, it has been revealed that Hosmer suffered a broken knuckle that he played through for most of the season. This could provide an explanation to his low slugging percentage and decline in bat speed. Also, at some point in between the time he was drafted and the time he began life as a professional baseball player, Hosmer developed an astigmatism, that ultimately ended his season. According to the Royals the problem has been fixed after Hosmer underwent Lasik eye surgery in the offseason. Also, his knuckle should be fully healed so he should enter 2010 at 100%.

I still have a lot of faith in Hosmer and I expect his numbers to improve from 2009 a great deal despite the fact that he will most likely begin the season hitting in the Carolina League. The league is tough on hitters and since 2009 was basically a wash for him, I wouldn't be surprised to see him slump at the beginning of the year. At some point though he is going to get going and his numbers at the end of the year to be very respectable all things considered.