Christmas Eve and what else could be on my mind but more prospects that are growing on the farm.
60. Keaton Hayenga RHP
Heading into the 2010 season two Kansas City pitching prospects were often discussed in the same breath; these two pitchers were Keaton Hayenga and John Lamb. The two pitchers had similarities, both were regarding as potential high round picks entering their respective drafts and both fell due to injuries before their high school senior year campaigns. The Royals scouting department rolled the dice on both and in 2009 both pitchers rewarded their good faith.
In 2010, Hayenga and Lamb were both assigned to low class A Burlington, but there is where their career paths diverged. Lamb dominated the Midwest League from the get go, while Hayenga struggled there for the entire season. The cause of this is the result of a decreased K rate (already low in the first place) a nearly doubled walk rate, and a tripled home run rate. These factors led Hayenga to a 3-12 record with an era of 6.13.
Hayenga has a natural athleticism and a tall frame. It appears that he somewhat lost his feel for pitching in full season ball, but if he can regain it then he should quickly rebuild his stock as a quality pitching prospect. He has a fastball that sits in the low 90s, a curve that has shown flashes as a plus pitch, and a changeup that needs much improvement.
In a loaded Royals' system a poor year results in a huge drop in the prospect lists. However, I Hayenga is still definitely a prospect and for poor systems could rank in the top 30. Hayenga should start the season in the Midwest League once again, and it will be interesting to see if the Kane County environment helps Hayenga rebound in 2011.
59. Leondy Perez RHP
I haven't found much about Leondy Perez's stuff, but I do know that he is just twenty-one years old and he has a career era of 3.97 in rookie league baseball. This past season on the surface was perhaps his worst as a professional as he posted and era of 5.70 in the Pioneer League. However, 2010 saw Perez's k rate to rise to 10.2 per 9 innings. His walk rate moved from 3.0 to 3.8, while his home run rate stayed virtually the same.
I suspect that his era is a somewhat fluky number do to a high BABIP against him. The Pioneeer League is notoriously in the hitters favor, and it is also rumored that the infields in the circuit are of extremely poor quality that can humble the best fielders. But we will touch on that again in just a second.
I think Perez deserves to make his full season debut in 2011, but I wouldn't be shocked to see him make a return trip to the Pioneer League.
58. Leonel Santiago RHP
Like Perez, Santiago's 2009 season may have been a statistical fluke given his k rate of 10.2 and his walk rate of 2.5 in the Arizona League. With these peripherals it didn't make sense that his era came in at 5.40 in his stateside debut. In 2010, his K rate actually dropped to 7.3 yet his era did the same and came in at 2.78.
Santiago turned 21, yesterday and I expect him to make his full season debut in 2011 in Kane County. He is one part of the Royals increased efforts in Latin America since Moore took the reins in 2006. In 2011 some of those high upside pitchers should begin to filter into full season ball.
57. Justin Trapp SS
Justin Trapp made some noise in the prospect circuits heading into the 2010 season when he was rated as the 31st best Royals prospect and chosen as a sleeper candidate by Baseball America. The pick was justified by Trapp's athleticism and his work ethic, which pushed Baseball America into saying that he could become an impact middle infielder. In a system that at the time was totally bare of shortstop prospects some Royals fans latched onto Trapp's promise.
It isn't that Trapp had a bad year in 2010; it is just that he didn't live up to the hype that Baseball America had consequently applied to him, when they labeled him a sleeper. In sixty-seven games as a nineteen year old in the Pioneer League Trapp posted a slash of .269/.346/.323 with twenty-six steals and thirty-three errors. No that wasn't a typo Trapp had thirty-three errors in sixty-seven games. But no is the time that we are reminded that the infields in the Pioneer League are questionable to say the least.
The potential is still there for Trapp and I expect him and 2010 draftee Alex McClure to split time at shortstop in full season Burlington in 2011.
56. Jin-Ho Shin C
At the time of Shin's signing, he representing the largest ever international signing bonus ever given in Royals history. Other then Yasuhiko Yabuta he also represents the only evidence of the Royals scouting efforts on the Pacific Rim.
Shin has very good arm strength and is considered by many scouts to be one of the top prospects in the system. I have read that his blocking skills should just be average. But he is offense oriented with above average plate discipline and the potential to be a very good power hitting catcher.
The downside to Shin is that in his debut in the hitter friendly Arizona League Shin hit just .152/.280/.200. But he is just 18 and there were rumors of some nagging injuries that bothered him throughout the season. I expect Shin to first surface this season in Idaho Falls when short season ball begins.