This will be the first of my four previews for the full season minor league teams. For each team I am going to give a brief prediction on each of the team's top five prospects and then pick a player to have a breakout season. Let's start with the Burlington Bees:
1) Wil Myers- Like Moustakas and Hosmer, Myers will be assigned to full season Burlington for his first full season under team control. I expect Myers to post a higher average and on base than both of the aforementioned players, but less home runs than Moustakas. I also expect a midseason promotion to Wilmington as the Royals push him along in an attempt to catch him up with that first wave of talent.
2) John Lamb- John Lamb informed me several weeks ago that he would be the opening day starter for the Bees. Lamb is an extremely advanced pitcher for his age and level, so I expect him to post strong numbers early on, earning a late season promotion to Wilmington.
3) Tyler Sample- Sample has high upside, but I am skeptical that he will be able to repeat his delivery consistently enough to find the command needed for success. I expect Sample to spend the entire season in Burlington mixing dominating starts, with starts where he can't find the plate.
4a) Kelvin Herrera- After pitching well in Burlington in 2008, the Royals played it conservative with Herrera in 2009 after a shoulder injury. Herrera just managed 5 shutout innings. I expect Herrera to begin the season in Burlington and show that he is fully recovered from his injury by dominating the Low A competition early in the season. He's still young and the Royals could play it very conservative with him this year as well, but a quick promotion to Wilmington wouldn't shock me either.
4b) Keaton Hayenga- Hayenga isn't on the opening day roster for the Bees, but I'm sure that the Royals are holding him back in extended Spring Training in an attempt to limit his innings. I expect Hayenga to pitch consistently in Burlington, but not good enough to warrant any promotion mid season.
5) Hilton Richardson- I expect Richardson's average to drop off from the .292 he hit last year, probably down to the .265-.275 range. But I do think he will show more pop this season. Richardson has the tools, but he was aided by an extremely high BABIP in 2009.
Breakout Pick: Matt Mitchell has already pitching one good year int he Midwest League and I expect him to return to post even stronger numbers. Since Mitchell has already proven once that he can be successful in low A, I think his return has more to do with proving he has recovered from injury than proving his skills. Mitchell could receive a quick promotion to Wilmington if he can prove that his stuff has returned after a season ending injury a year ago.