The countdown continues as planned! Full steam ahead!
55. Gregory Billo RHP
Billo was selected in the 28th round of the 2008 amateur draft, since that time he has posted a 3.97 era with some glistening perhipherals. In 2009, he began to gain some attention when he posted a 1.81 era over 54 innings in rookie league Burlington. However, the next year his era shot up to 5.17 in the Pioneer League.
Interestingly enough Billo was able to maintain his walk rate of 2.6, and actually improve his strikeout rate from 8.6 to 9.1. His falling out came as a result of bad luck and a home run rate that nearly doubled.
Billo possesses three average pitches and at just twenty years old still has room for improvement. He has a 6-4 frame that suggests he could add a few ticks to his fastball. Billo should see Kane County at some point early in the 2011 season and I expect that his numbers (specificially era) will see dramatic improvement.
54. Jose Bonilla C
Bonilla returned to the Midwest League in 2010 and saw his OPS rise nearly 100 points. Unfortunately it still came in at a putrid .687. Bonilla still possesses the tools to be a Major League regular but after struggling in back to back seasons at low-A ball that is beginning to look like more of a pipe dream.
Bonilla hasn't earned a promotion to high-A Wilmington, but perhaps a change in scenery and a little faith from the organization could go a long way for him. After all in 2009, Salvador Perez produced a .466 OPS in Burlington, but in 2010 the Royals pushed him to Wilmington and saw his OPS shoot up to .732 in the pitcher friendly environment.
No matter the route Kansas City takes, 2011 is probably a make or break year for Bonilla.
53. Elisaul Pimentel RHP
The Royals decided that the Scott Podsednik to the Dodgers trade was worth pulling the trigger on because they felt as though Lucas May and Elisaul Pimentel were of greater value than the remaining two months of Podsednik and a second round draft choice. According to Dayton Moore after the trade they said that they felt as though Pimentel was worth the equivalent to a second round selection by himself, so if this holds true then the trade is definitely a win for the Royals.
When the Royals acquired Pimentel, he was a twenty-one year pitching in low-A. He had a 3.49 era and was among the league leaders in strikeouts. However, after pitching 25 innings in Burlington his era had rose to 3.98. In his time in Burlington his strikeout rate dropped from 9.7 to 6.8. His walk rate shot up from 3.5 to 5.8. Overall he didn't handle the transition well.
Nonetheless I expect the Royals to promote Pimentel to Wilmington to begin the 2011 season. I think he will pitch well there and at some point see Texas League competition. Pimentel has the upside of a back end starter and some have suggested that a transition to the pen later in his career could make him a very attractive relief prospect.
It is easy to overlook guys with back end potential like Pimentel when your system has multiple starters with front end potential. But it is important to keep in mind that not all of those starters will pan out (although my fingers are crossed) and when some don't lesser prospects like Pimentel could become crucial to the big league club's success.
52. Adrian Ortiz OF
Last season Adrian Ortiz came in at number 41 on the Royal Revival prospect countdown. One year later he is coming off a strong 2010 campaign as a twenty-three year old in Wilmington, but will see his position on the rankings drop.
Ortiz had a fine season posting a slash of .289/.322/.378 with 32 steals in 47 attempts. Ortiz has top of the notch speed so it is somewhat tantalizing that his stolen base success rate is so low. He has an above average arm for a center or left fielder. His range in center should play out around league average with the potential for improvement as his paths to the ball and instincts improve.
Ortiz is a guy that could very well continue to hit well enough to warrant promotions, but at this point he is being overshadowed by many more appealing prospects. I don't envision him jumping either Derrick Robinson or Jarrod Dyson in the ladder. Not to mention that the Royals have now acquired Lorenzo Cain to hold down the centerfield job for what they hope could be six solid seasons. Also, behind Ortiz is Brett Eibner who has the highest ceiling of the bunch.
Due to these factors and the fact that Ortiz really hasn't shown a ton to be excited about, the best case scenario for him would be to continue to hit and eventually contribute to the Major League club as a fill-in, fifth outfielder type. Ortiz should begin the season in Northwest Arkansas.
51. Bryan Paukovits RHP
Paukovits was drafted in the 44th round of the 2006 draft. Paukovits is interesting prospect primarily because of his 6-7 frame and his strong 2010 campaign. I had the privilege (thanks to MLB Network) to watch one of Paukovits starts live and was impressed by his smooth delivery and his ground ball inducing stuff.
He has heavy pitches and gets a high percentage of groundball outs but he was also able to produce a 9.4 strikeout rate in Burlington before receiving a midseason promotion to Wilmington. Paukovits is already twenty-three years old and has yet to make an appearance in the upper minors. Because of this I hope that the Royals take an aggressive approach with him and see if he can live up to his back end starter potential. If Paukovits can handle this he could be a rotation work horse capable of logging 200+ innings year in and out.
I expect Paukovits to begin the 2011 season in what should be a very strong Blue Rock rotation. He should post very good numbers there and should battle with several other starters for any potential opening on the Naturals' staff. If Paukovits posts mediocre results or doesn't move fast enough to reach his starter potential, I imagine him moving extremely quickly if he transitions to the pen.