Sunday, February 20, 2011

Prospect Countdown: 25-21

25. Noel Arguelles LHP

Once upon a time, Arguelles was trapped behind the curtain of communism along with Boston shortstop Jose Iglesias. There they both starred for the Cuban 18 and under National team until they defected in July of 2008. Unlike most Cuban defectors Noel Arguelles defected at a very young age of 20. Because of this he only played in the Cuban League for a short amount of time and didn't post very impressive results while he was there.

Nonetheless the Royals eventually shocked the baseball world by signing Arguelles to a $6.9 million major league deal roughly 13 months ago. In his time pitching for the Cuban national team, Arguelles displayed a fastball that set in the low 90s with a curveball and changeup that could both be above average offerings. Most believed that with the combination of his receiver like build (6-3, 195) and the potential of his stuff he would have been a sure fire first round pick had he been eligible.

Unfortunately Arguelles had pitched for about fourteen months straight when he signed the contract with the Royals and they elected to shut him down for awhile to protect his young arm. However, when his stuff didn't come back like they had hoped the opted to have him undergo shoulder surgery, which took place in October.

Arguelles is throwing in Spring Training and early reports are that he should begin the year in Kane County or Wilmington and that his stuff has fully returned to pre-defection form. Due to his being on the 40 man Arguelles should rise fast and join the four headed lefty monster that is ahead of him.

24. Derrick Robinson CF

Prior to be drafted Derrick Robinson set a record for the 60 yard dash at the scouting combine he took part in. He also had a football scholarship in hand to attend college for his hometown team: the Florida Gators. Due to the football scholarship most teams were scared off from Robinson entering the draft. Robinson though was selected by Kansas City in the fourth round of 2006 draft.

At the time the Royals were in the transition process of installing a new General Manager. Due to his role in the scouting department of the Atlanta Braves, Dayton Moore did not officially oversee the 2006. Meaning that for the draft day festivities the Royals were without a GM. How much influence Dayton Moore had on the selections made that June day will probably never be known.

Dayton Moore was however in charge of what picks the Royals would sign and how much would be spent and thus began the Royals new mentality of overslot expenditures. It was not apparent as much in 2006 as it would be later on (you can't blame DM for not wanted to pay a bunch of money that he wasn't necessarily personally as high on) but the Royals did decide to sign Robinson to a deal for $850,000.

Perhaps Moore liked Robinson while he was with the Braves and was delighted that the Royals took one of the guys that he had targeted. Maybe Moore accidentally let the name slip as he was moving his things into his new office. Or maybe Moore realized that there was no top end speed in the entire system and that Robinson could immediately change that. Whatever the reason Moore shelled out the money and got Robinson signed.

Over the next four seasons Robinson rewarded the Royals 850K investment by stealing 187 bases. Oh, I guess I should mention he also didn't bat above .245 during that time. But hey he showed some flashes. Heading into the 2010 season I called for a breakout from Robinson and while many still aren't on the D-Rob bandwagon, I am surprised at how many are growing even less intrigued by his tools even though he just put together the best offensive season of his career.

In his twenty-two year old season Robinson was playing centerfield and batting leadoff for the top minor league team in baseball. There all he "did was win, win, win no matter what." He hit .286/.345/.380 while stealing 50 bases. For the first time in his career, Robinson hit and got on base. It is true that his strikeout totals were still high, but he showed tremendous improvement in his first trip to the upper levels of the minor leagues.

Many people have referenced how several Royals prospects' numbers in 2010 could be attributed to the Coors Field like park factors that Arvest Ballpark provided. I am not sure if I buy into that whole thing, but I will admit that the park did play into the hitter's favor in 2010. (Look at the Naturals pitchers numbers and tell me it was Coors Field.) I bring up this point though not to discredit Robinson's numbers, but instead to accredit them.

Unlike his fellow Natural counterparts Robinson actually hit better on the road than at home. This is probably because his game isn't as affected by park factors as the other hitters. So I believe that this means Robinson's "breakout" season was less a result of Arvest Ballpark than his actual progression. This is a very good thing for the fans in the D-Rob camp.

Also, unlike Moustakas or Giavotella, D-Rob is more of the soft spoken type. He keeps everything extremely even keel and if you only watch him once or twice this could be taken as him not caring. But I believe that this is a good mentality from a guy that would project as a leadoff hitter, given that it is a spot in the lineup that absolutely requires consistency.

Robinson has the speed to be a plus defender, but at times he does tend to make poor reads on balls. However, if given a couple more years in the minors it isn't unreasonable to think that at the same age as Dyson he could be as effective in center. The bigger concern with Robinson 's defense is his arm which is fringe average at best. If he can improve his routes and keep a quick release he should be able to get by, but it will never strike fear into the hearts of tagging runners.

With Dyson and Cain now ahead of D-Rob and Eibner possibly behind him, the pressure will continue to be on him to produce. Given Robinson's age and tools I do believe that the potential is higher for him then the two guys ahead of him and if he can continue to improve he could very conceivable pass both on the depth chart. As for Eibner many project him to wind up on a corner. So in my mind Robinson still has a very real chance at being the long term solution for Kansas City in centerfield.

Due to a crowded projected outfield in Omaha I expect Robinson to return to Northwest Arkansas to start the 2011 season. However, if he can get off to a good start and some things break right for him and a spot in Omaha opens up he could find himself donning a Storm Chaser jersey sooner rather than later.

23. Tim Melville RHP

Tim Melville represents two major aspects in the change of draft philosophy in the Kansas City Royals. First: control the backyard. Melville attended high school at Wentzville Holt, which is located just outside St. Louis, Missouri. Second: draft the best player available and screw the slotting system. Melville was considered by most to be an upper first round draft choice when he entered his senior campaign. However, due to signability and a slightly disappointing season he fell like a rock on draft day. The Royals drafted him in the fourth round and agreed to pay him first round money and seven figures to join the organization. Victory.

Melville pitched extremely well in his first full season and nearly averaged a k per inning. In 2010, he was to head to Wilmington and many (myself included) expected him to dominate in the Carolina League circuit. He didn't.

His strikeout rate dipped just a bit, his walk rate increased just a bit, and his era shot up by a over a run. He pitched a couple of gems, but there were too many games in which he got hit way too hard. Overall the change in his peripherals don't really match up with the change in his era.

Melville pitches from a 3/4 arm slot and has a good projectable frame. He has fastball that sits in the low 90s that sometimes even hits 95 or 96. The problem that he tends to find is that he pitches to contact too much and doesn't effectively attack hitters. His curveball displays a 12-6 drop and could one day be a plus pitch and his change up lags behind, but could one day be an above average offering as well.

The only pitcher that got as good as reviews in instructional league as Melville was fellow local overslot product Jason Adam. The Royals have time to be very patient with Melville due to the pitching depth in the system, but his 2010 season was no reason to lose faith in the righty. He should return to Wilmington to begin 2011. Once again I expect him to post outstanding results.

22. Jarrod Dyson CF

In the same draft class that produced Derrick Robinson the Royals nabbed another speedster in the last round of the process: Jarrod Dyson. Despite being a college senior when drafted, Dyson has moved slowly through the Royals system. In 2010, as a twenty-five year old Dyson finally got his first cup of major league coffee.

His numbers weren't good, but during his brief stint he showed more power than he ever had in the minors, even hitting his second professional home run. His offensive output was disappointed but he did display why the Royals brass was so high on him despite his meager minor league numbers.

During his time in Kansas City Dyson stole safely in 9 out of 10 attempts and tied a Royals record for put outs in a single game. I am not sure that there is a better defensive outfielder in the entire organization and even if Dyson can't improve offensively he could find a bit of a career as a late game defensive replacement/pinch runner.

I like Dyson as a fourth outfielder. But at some point don't you have to hit to actually be considered a future starter? Ranking Dyson and Robinson was hard for me. I like Dyson's current abilities more and I believe that he is a more sure fire bet to have a major league career, because like I said he already has what it takes to be a fourth or fifth outfielder. But I believe that Robinson has shown more than Dyson with the stick and I wonder if in two years Robinson will be the same fielder that Dyson is.

In the end, I'm giving Dyson the nod, because he is closer and seems to be in more favor with the organization. I'd just like to see him hit some at the upper levels of the minors before the Royals hand him a starting job.

Dyson will see Kansas City at some point in 2011, although his future becomes a bit hazier with Lorenzo Cain in the fold. The Royals want both to start in Omaha and last I checked you typically only want 1 centerfielder at a time. With Dyson already proven in center they probably push him to left until Cain is promoted.

21. Louis Coleman RHP

When the Royals drafted Coleman in the fifth round of the 2009 draft, I decided to watch some of LSU's games in the college world series to get an early look at a prospect. Quickly Louis Coleman became a personal favorite as he guided LSU to a national title.
In college Coleman pitched primarily as a starter, but the Royals decided to make him into a reliever believing that the cross action of his delivery could be an extremely effective tool against right handed hitters. They were right.
Since he began his professional career the Royals have pushed Coleman up the ladder ad he has rewarded them with a 2.06 era in 113.2 innings pitched. He has averaged over a K an inning while giving up just 2.3 walks an inning. He has dominated.
Coleman has a low to mid 90s fastball, an above average slider in the low 80s, and lastly a changeup that could become an average offering. He has shown great command, but there are concerns that his delivery could be hard on his arm. This may be true but when a delivery is as deceptive as his is and such a critical part to a player's suggest there really isn't a reason to try and fix it. Hopefully by keeping Coleman in the pen the Royals can limit the stress on his arm and Coleman can continue to be a weapon.
Coleman has the opportunity to win a bullpen job out of camp, however given that he is not on the 40 man he will probably begin the season in Omaha. When he continues his success there he should be one of the first men promoted to the big league club in season. Coleman should one day join relief prospect Jeremy Jeffress, Patrick Keating, Tim Collins, and Blaine Hardy in what could be a lights out Royals bullpen.

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