Tuesday, July 27, 2010

How to be a Man: Be John Lamb

John Lamb doesn't kill two birds with one stone. He kills all birds with his fastball.

John Lamb doesn't read books. He stares them down until he gets the information he wants.

John Lamb isn't politically correct. John Lamb is always correct with his fastball.

John Lamb doesn't sleep. He waits to strikeout Major League hitters.

The original opening sequence for Saving Private Ryan was going to feature Tom Hanks standing in the batter's box against John Lamb, but the director's deemed it to intense for audiences.

Scientists estimate that the energy given off from the big bang can only be rivaled by the devasting force of a John Lamb outpitch.

When you are facing John Lamb anything + anything = 1. One trip back to the dugout.

Since August 6, 1945, John Lamb hasn't been allowed to pitch in Japan.

John Lamb once successfully separated conjoined twins with a fastball.

The only thing John Lamb has ever missed? Bats.

The Biblical image of the Lion and the Lamb was loosely based off John Lambs first trip to the zoo. The Lion was scared to death of Lamb's fastball.

There are only two things that cut diamonds: other diamonds, and John Lamb's fastball.

John Lamb was what Willis was talking about.

"Let the Bodies hit the Floor" was originally inspired by John Lamb's chin music.

Life is like a box of chocolates. Well if you are facing John Lamb life is like a box of outpitches that will ultimately send you back to the bench.

Because of John Lamb the Texas League has considered new rules in which anyone named John Lamb isn't allowed to pitch. They figure it is the only way to ensure competitive balance.

That's right the news just came in tonight. John Lamb has been promoted to Northwest Arkansas. I couldn't be happier for him and his family. I look forward to seeing him live as soon as possible. He hasn't had the easiest road as a prospect, and he is sure to know that it won't get easier. But I'm putting my money on John Lamb everytime.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Alberto Goes Home

Yesterday the rumors that Callaspo was going to be traded to the Angels for Sean O'Sullivan and a minor league prospect proved to be true. My suspicision is that the reason it was first reported to be rejected by Dayton Moore is that Moore wanted more than the fringe prospect that the Angels were offering. Whether Moore was successful in this tactic cannot totally be known, but I approve of the deal. Let's look at the deal piece by piece:

Royals Lose: Alberto Callaspo

Alberto Callaspo didn't feature into the Royals long term plans, you knew he wouldn't stay at third because of Moustakas right behind him and if you are one of those demented people that think the Royals would actually consider moving him back across the diamond to second then you need to get a clue. I am not of the group that believes that Callaspo's value is lost at third base, however I think at best he can be slightly above-average at the position offensively (if he can replicate his career year from a season ago). But with Moustakas knocking on the door the Royals were smart in being proactive in their search for a decent return.

The Angels get a steadier option at the hot corner with above average contact skills and the potential for a little pop. Callaspo's line drive percentage is down just a tad this year, but it's his BABIP that has really caused his decrease in offensive numbers (has dropped from .312 to .278). This would suggest that his average should improve in the second half.

Royals Acquire: Sean O'Sullivan & Will Smith

In case you haven't noticed the Royals rotation is falling to pieces. Hochevar and Meche find themselves on the disabled list and Bannister and Davies are managing to actually regress, an incredible feat for two pitchers with some promise that are reaching the prime years of their repsective careers. Not to mention that Anthony Lerew could be heading to the DL soon enough after taking a liner off the ribs on Wednesday. O'Sullivan should be able to slide into Lerew's spot and instantly upgrade the rotation, which isn't saying much. He should also be able to hold down a back end rotation spot until the farm system's pitching product is ready for harvest.

O'Sullivan has been described as a bulldog on the mound that is hard to rattle. He commands three pitches, but it's his lack of a true out pitch that holds him back from being a front of the rotation kind of guy. He has a big frame so he should be a servicable innings eater at the back end.

The other player in the deal is left handed pitching prospect Will Smith. Smith entered the season rated as the #15 prospect in the Angels organization and due to a total lack of depth and some injuries at the higher levels he has been rushed thru the system all the way up to triple A. The Royals are going to assign Smith to high A, a place he should have been assigned in the first place.

Smith possesses a fastball that typically sits in the 87-89 range but on some nights can touch 92-93. He also has an advanced curveball and change up. He has great control of his three pitches and is able to keep the ball down in the zone on a regular basis. However, like Kyle Davies he tends to nitpick around the zone at times which can get him into bad counts and cause him some trouble. Smith is a finesse guy that like O'Sullivan lacks an outpitch at this point in his career. Some scouts believe that his changeup could become one and that will probably be the decider on if becomes a mid-rotation starter or if he winds up on the back end or in the bullpen.


Royals acquire a rotational bridge until the prospects are ready in O'Sullivan. They add to their left-handed pitching prospect depth and they give up a player that has already reached his ceiling and doesn't figure into the team's long term plans in anyway. In principle this deal seems like a good move for the Royals, but as with all trades only time will tell.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Hosmer on the Way

The fact is that Eric Hosmer is ready to be tested at the double A level. However, there is a bit of a logjam at the first base position in Springdale with sleeper prospect Clint Robinson mashing the ball to a tune of 18 homers, 61 Rbis, and a slash line of .314/.392/.591 and minor league free agent and Venezuelan Winter League MVP and Rookie of the Year Ernesto Mejia. Mejia is currently third on the team with 11 home runs and has a respectable triple slash line of .268/.334/.464. All three of these guys have proven themselves in high-A so that rules out a demotion for any of the above. This leaves the Royals with two solutions to the problem in my mind.

Solution 1: Promote Clint Robinson to triple A. Obviously this can only happen if a dominoe effect occurs starting at the Major League level. For example Jose Guillen being traded, Kila Ka'aihue assuming his role at DH, and then Clint taking over first base in Omaha. I personally believe that Clint is ready for a promotion, he has without a doubt earned it and given his age it would be nice to see him pushed up to the next level.

Solution 2: Clint Robinson adds a new position to his repetiore. Recently Rany suggested that Robinson could have the upside of a Ross Gload type of player. In order for this to happen Robinson is going to have to become an adequete fielder in left. Interestingly enough Robinson has been taking reps in fielding drills in left field recently for the Northwest Arkansas Naturals. If Robinson can be servicable in Left it only improves his chances to contribute to the major league roster someday. But what these reps are really telling me is that Hosmer is on the way and that the Texas League better look out.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Baseball America's Midseason Rankings

I'll probably add more to this later but here are your Royals in Baseball America's midseason rankings.

12) Mike Moustakas
13) Eric Hosmer
18) Mike Montgomery
26) Wil Myers
Very close after) John Lamb

The last two were revealed in an online chat. Special thanks to Adam for the tip.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

A Wood Mirage

There are those that have proclaimed that Blake Wood has been a saviour to the Kansas City bullpen and that he is the key to the bullpen's turn around from its lackluster start for the first month and a half of the season. However, I'm here to tell you that if Ned Yost continues to pitch Blake Wood in a set up role he is going to regret it soon. (This moment would have came last night had not a young Mariners fan bailed him out. That fan was probably more deserving of the hold then Wood was.) It is true that Wood has posted a fine 4.13 era with 7 holds, but when it comes to relievers these numbers are often extremely misleading. Let's look at Woods peripheals for a clearer picture. Thus far in 24 innings wood is posting 3 K's per 9 innings, a 3.75 walks per 9 innings, and a 45% groundball rate. The fact is this if Wood doesn't improve on his strikeout rate his era will soon skyrocket and him as a setup man will fade into a mirage.

This is not to say that Blake Wood can't increase his strikeout rate and turn himself into a reliable set up man before it is to late. He does have the stuff to do it. A mid 90s fastball with life, a power curveball and a change up. The stuff is definitely there for him to be a bridge to Soria in the ninth, but if he can't improve upon his K rate it will beomce irrelevant.

The bullpen is pitching extremely well right now and it would be hard for Yost to attempt to fix something that isn't broke. But I am simply requested that Yost be ahead of the curve. Use statistics to recognize the mirage and allow Wood to pitch in less critical situations until his peripheals improve. Until then take advantage of Farnsworth's career year and pitch him in the 8th while attempting to improve upon his trade value, showing that he can continue to get outs in critical situations and not just with a four run deficit.

Update: KCroyals.com has got to be kidding me with that article about Blake Wood.

Monday, July 5, 2010

The Search for a Lefty

Others across the blogosphere have made reference to the Royals sudden stockpile of quality left handed pitching prospects, but now it is time for this blog to take a stab at it.

The left handed pitcher has became a sort of enigma for the Kansas City Royals. When Dayton Moore took over the helm the system didn't have a single quality southpaw prospect, but now just four years later the system could boast that it has the best left handed starting pitching depth in all of minor league baseball. Of course none of these prospects have reached the Major League level and attrition could very well destroy the entire crop. However when it comes to pitching prospects quantity can produce quality and with the quantity of quality that the Royals currently have there should be a quantity of quality arms to reach Kansas City within the next couple of seasons. Did you follow that?

Currently the Royals have a big five of left handed pitching prospects with others that could add their own names to the list. (I'm looking at you Crawford Simmons.) These five prospects represent a change, a commitment to assembling a wealth of pitching prospects at the minor league level. A wealth that is designed to one day anchor the major league rotation or provide the Royals with the prospects needed to acquire that one last piece to compete for a division title. Pitching is the currency of major league baseball and for this organization it is the key to a bright future.

In early June 2007 Dayton Moore took the reins for his first draft as a General Manager, and in the third round he selected a 6-2, 185 pound lefty from Lompoc, California. His name was Danny Duffy. Duffy signed on June 28, 2007 and instantly became the best left handed starting pitching prospect in the organization. He reported to Surprise, Arizona for his first stint in professional baseball. All he did there was pitch in 37 innings with a 1.45 era and a 67:17 strikeout to walk ratio.

The next season Duffy was given the opportunity to anchor Burlington's staff in the Midwest League and there he continued to dominate with a 2.20 era while striking out over 100 batters in just 82 innings. In 2009 Duffy went 9-3 in Wilmington with a 2.98 era and 125 Ks to just 41 walks. Going into the 2010 season Baseball America proclaimed "the last remaing test for the potential number 3 starter is finding out how he handles adversity- because he hasn't encountered any."

That adversity came in March when a sore elbow was going to sideline Duffy until late May Whether or not it was because of the elbow or not it was strange that right after this first sign of adversity he elected to hang up the spikes and retire from the game of baseball. Duffy took his leave and rethought his priorities and has now returned to the game and is currently building up his stamina in the Arizona League. He still has the ceiling of a mid rotation starter and I expect him to compete for a rotation spot next spring.

The 2008 Rule IV draft could very well wind up being the best in the history of the Royals franchise, but that discussion would probably best be made five years from now. In the supplemental first round of the draft with the 36th overall selection the Royals took a 6-5 left hander that had been dismissed from his high school basketball because he had received too many technical fouls. But the Royals and many of their fans saw this as more of a positive than a negative and they applauded him for his intensity when it came to competition. His name was Mike Montgomery and going into the 2010 season he was considered by most everyone as the top prospect in the Royals' system.

Like Duffy, Montgomery began his professional career in the Arizona League where he posted a 1.67 era. The following season he went to Burlington and continued to post Duffy-esque numbers with a 2.17 era prior to his midseason promotion to Wilmington. There he went 4-1 with a 2.25 era. The peripheals have not been as impressive as Duffy's heading into 2010, however Montgomery possesses a lanky but athletic 6-5 frame that offers more projectibility than his counterpart.

Montgomery accepted a return assignment to Wilmington, but apparently didn't want to stay on the Riverfront too long as he posted a 1.09 era with 33 K's and just 4 walks in 24 innings of work there prior to his promotion to Springdale. Once in Springdale he continued to roll to a tune of a 2.79 era until the Royals played it conservative with a sore elbow. Rumor has it though that he will return later this week while the Naturals are in Tulsa. Montgomery has ACE potential and there are only a handful of pitchers like that across the minor league baseball landscape.

In the fifth round of the 2008 draft the Royals rolled the dice on a pitcher that had missed his entire senior season due to a car accident that caused a fractured elbow. The Royals ponied up and signed him to a $165,000 bonus and held him out of professional baseball for the remainder of the 2008 season. In 2009, the Royals allowed him to pitch in rookie league ball where he went 5-3 with a 3.80 era with 71 Ks in 68 innings. The results were very promising but surely not good enough to make him a top 10 prospect. Right?

Going into the 2010 season Baseball America ranked Lamb as the number 7 prospect in the organization citing his cool demeanor and his three potentially above average pitches as their reasoning. Lamb was sent to Burlington to be the ace of the Bees' staff. He wasn't the ace long as he dominated Midwest League hitters for 40 innings before he was promoted to Wilmington. All he has done is in Wilmington is continue to post a era around 1.50 and improve upon his strikeouts per 9 innings and his walks per 9 innings. The Royals appear to want to play it conservative with Lamb's arm but if he continues to dominate they won't have a choice but to promote him to Springdale.

Going into the season Baseball America said that Lamb projects as a solid number 3 starter. While I wouldn't call him a potential Ace at this point I do think that Lamb has done everything in his power to raise his stock and he definitely looks like a future front of the rotation starter. With Montgomery currently on the shelf there is no starter in the organization that has me as excited as John Lamb.

In 2009, the Royals again drafted a lefty very high and paid him a deal so far over slot that it was rumored Bud Selig wouldn't allow it to go thru until the deadline in order to prevent the deal from inflating other signing bonuses. The difference this time is that the pitcher was coming from college. Except the pitcher represented the rarest of rare, a draft eligible freshman. His stuff was raw but impressive and the Royals wagered that with proper coaching he could be transformed into a top prospect and front of the rotation guy. His name was Chris Dwyer.

Dwyer was only able to pitch in 8.2 innings in 2009 but he showed Royals fans both why he fell to the fourth round (8 walks) and why the Royals paid him a bonus around $1.5 million (15 Ks). In 2009 Dwyer began the year in Wilmington there he pitched alright for April and May but in June he posted a 1.67 era with 36 Ks in 27 innings earning him a promotion to the Northwest Arkansas Naturals.
Dwyer possesses a 90-94 mph fastball, a power curveball that could develop into a fierce out pitch, and an advanced change up that also projects as above average. The tools are there and if he can continue to put them together he could be in Kansas City before you know it.

The final lefty member of the group came to the Royals thru a different pipeline of talent that prior to the Dayton Moore era had been virtually non-existent. He was a Latin American splash that caused even those within the industry to sit back and say "What? The Royals gave him how much?" He broke the bonus record for a Royals amature his contract could net him somewhere in the neighborhood of $8 million. His name was Noel Arguelles.

Noel is 20 years old and has yet to pitch a professional inning due to the fact that his arm is being given time to recorver after pitching for roughly 14 months straight. His fastball sits inthe low 90s and his curveball and changeups both should be average to above average pitches. He has a receiver like build and is said to have a smooth and easily repeatable delivery. Scouts believe he is near major league ready and once he does being the climb he should move quick through the organization.

The quantity of quality southpaws that Dayton Moore and company has assembled should have Kansas City fans daydreaming of future mound dominance. A return to pitching and defense at the K. The way the team was built in the beginning. Quality baseball. Odds are that all of these prospects won't reach their ceilings. In fact odds are probably that only a couple of the five will amount to anything, but Royals fans should be exciting because for the first time in the history of the franchise, the organization has a crop of left handed pitching talent that would make every team in baseball green with envy.