Sunday, April 24, 2011

Don't Panic! ...Yet.

So after a weekend in which we saw the Royals get swept by their Surprise, Arizona counterparts, it is natural to believe that this will be the beginning of the end for contention hopes. We've seen this act before. You know the one where the Royals get off to a hot start and then after a rough road trip, losing streak, or a stretch of bullpen meltdowns they go into a tailspin and reclaim their rightful place in the cellar of the AL Central.

The Royals are 2-5 in the last week. They have lost three straight games in Texas by a combined eight runs. But consider this: entering the series at Texas the Royals were the last remaining AL team to not split or lose a series. This wasn't going to continue forever and while we hoped the Royals could at least steal one win, they won't be the last team this season to get swept in the home of the defending AL champions.

This week could have been the statement that the team and it's fans needed to really begin to believe. A four game showdown with the first place Indians and a trip to Texas. Instead the Royals won just two games. Dissappointing to say the least. But wait. The Royals after an incredibly dissappointing week find themselves just 1.5 games out of first place and tied for second place in the division.

The Royals just had the worst week of their young season. A week that saw them win just two of seven games. They began the week in second place and 1 game out of first and they ended the week in second place just 1.5 games out of first.

Even after a week that saw their opponents outscore them 30-42, the Royals maintain a positive run differential of 112-105, meaning they are one of seven American League teams with a positive number. Plug that figure into the pythagorean thereom for baseball records and we find that the Royals should be standing at twelve wins. The Royals record right now? 12-10.

Maybe the Royals have gotten off to the fast start because of that easy schedule we all talked about prior to the season. That would be an indication of looming dissappointment except that it isn't true. Actually thus far the Royals rank third in strength of schedule for all of baseball with a combined opponent's winning percentage of .530. The Tigers rank 15th, Indians 17th, White Sox 20th and Twins 26th. Who has really played the easy schedule?

As a result of their run differential and their strength of schedule the Royals rank fourth in espn's rpi formula (highest in AL Central) and seventh (second in the AL Central) in espn's power rankings. Of course we know that championships aren't awarded based off computer formulas (not in professional baseball at least), so the Royals need to continue to win.

This week could be the statement week for the boys in blue. The Royals will begin the week 1.5 games out of first with a three game series at the first place Cleveland Indians followed by thre home games against a defending division champ. It doesn't sound like the Royals are out of contention. Not yet.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Louis Coleman Gets the Call

Congratulations to Louis Coleman for receiving his well deserved call to the Major Leagues! Coleman was drafted in the 5th round of the 2009 draft and after he recorded the final out of the college world series signed with the Kansas City Royals. Coleman pitched his first season in Burlington and Wilmington and posted a 1.66 era with 9.1 strikeouts per 9 innings with just 1.7 walks per 9 innings.

Coleman continued his success in 2010 with double-A Northwest Arkansas and triple-A Omaha. Between his two stops he had a 2.15 era and saw his K rate rise to 10.1 per 9 innings. Coleman dazzled in Spring Training and was one of the last cuts before the club headed north to Kansas City. Had he been on the 40 man roster entering the season he likely would have been a key member of the bullpen right from the start.

Eighteen games into the season it doesn't make a difference as Louis Coleman gets the call for righty Kanekoa Texeira. Texeira had gotten by with great luck for the first part of the year and finally gave up his first run last night against the Indians. I appluad the Royals for recognizing that his early season success was unsustainable.

Coleman joining the big league club gives the Royals their sixth rookie of the season. Five of those rookies will be working from the bullpen. I expect Coleman to immediately become a go to guy for manager Ned Yost in close games.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Where can we Upgrade?

So with the Royals surprise start, I have began to think about what it means in terms of the prospects. What should the Royals do if they stay in contention? Stick with the Major Leaguers? Promote players that could help now? Trade them? Or not let the state of the Major League team affect the plan?

I don't want to get into that discussion right now, but I do want to think what positions the Royals could upgrade by promotions from within. So let's look at the weaknesses of the Major League roster.

1. Catcher

Unfortunately I see know potential solutions at the catcher position right now. No prospects are going to be ready midseason, although at some point Jason Kendall will return from injury. This would probably mean that Pena is the odd man out and the Royals would lose all offensive potential at the position.

2. First Base

Kila Ka'aihue at this point is not getting it done. Through the first fifteen games he's hitting .174/.304/.283 and with Hosmer tearing it up in Omaha an upgrade is readily available. I believe Ka'aihue will have until early June to get something going, but if he hasn't by then it will likely be Eric Hosmer's time to shine.

3. Second Base

Should Getz falter with the bat second base is another production that could be upgraded as the season progresses. This could occur in one of two ways. The most likely probably involves a Mike Moustakas promotion and Mike Aviles sliding over across the diamond. But the other solution involves the promotion of Johnny Giavotella. Giavotella's defense is much improved and after tearing up both the Texas League and the Arizona Fall League a season ago he is off to a hot start in Omaha.

4. Third Base

In case you haven't heard the Royals have the top third base prospect in all of baseball. He is in triple-A now and a year ago he led minor league baseball in home runs. He also recorded more extra base hits than strikeouts. Mike Moustakas could provide a big boost to the middle of the order should he hit the ground running on his promotion.

5. Centerfield

Right now most fans and Kansas City media treat Melky Cabrerra like he is off to a good start. Personally I'm not a fan of sub .300 on base percentages. Most fans would suggest Lorenzo Cain as an upgrade but I'd also like to throw David Lough's name into the mix. He has a great blend of tools and if he can outproduce Cain over the next couple of months then I'd like to see him granted the first opportunity.

6. Rotation

Here is where the Royals could receive the biggest boost this season. Right now the Royals have three rotation spots that have produced consistently but they could look to bolster the rotation by promoting Mike Montgomery and/or Danny Duffy. If Davies can get it going and be a servicable back end guy then the Royals could add one of the aforementioned prospects and have a decent unit. If they added both and they both perform as they could the rotation could have two of the top young starters in baseball.

The Royals have shocked baseball with their quick start much like they did in 2003. However, unlike that season the Royals could have enough bullets in the minor league gun to reload for a Central title run. Hopefully they can continue to overachieve long enough to find out.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Poll Results are in:

On the same day that Sean O'Sullivan and the Kansas City pen carved up the Mariners for a shutout the poll for Royals home run leader came to a close. Here is how you voted:

  • Billy Butler- 9 votes (18%)

  • Jeff Francoeur- 4 votes (7%)

  • Alex Gordon- 10 votes (18)

  • Kila Ka'aihue- 29 votes (54%)

  • Mike Moustakas- 1 vote (1%)

  • There were no votes for any other players.

Right now Jeff Francoeur, Billy Butler, and Matt Traenor lead the Royals with 2 home runs. This would put each of them on pace to hit 23 for the season. Behind them Mike Aviles, Wilson Betemit, Melky Cabrerra, Alex Gordon, and Kila Ka'aihue all have 1, which is a pace of 12 for the season.

Be sure to vote in the new poll regarding possible contention and the handling of prospects!

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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

2001 KC Royals Farm System Part 3

So I think we can conclude that the Royals farm system from 2001 wasn't exactly as productive as we may have hoped. Without comparing the numbers to other systems it is tough to say exactly what contibutions we should have expected, but I think a total career WAR of 6.2 for the Royals 2001 top 30 falls short of expectations.

Here is a look at how the players ranked in terms of WAR. Their 2001 ranking is including after in parenthesis.

1. Jeremy Affeldt 6.7 (16)

2. Angel Berroa 3.2 (6)

3. Mike MacDougal 2.1 (3)

4. Brian Sanches 2.0 (13)

5. Jimmy Gobble 1.9 (4)

t6. Scott Mullen 0.6 (19)

t6. Corey Thurman 0.6 (15)

8. Mike Tonis 0.0 (14)

9. Orber Moreno -0.1 (17)

10. Tony Cogan -0.2 (24)

t11. Paul Phillips -0.4 (23)

t11. Alexis Gomez -0.4 (9)

t11. Byron Gettis -0.4 (29)

t14. Kyle Snyder -0.7 (10)

t14. Ryan Bukvich -0.7 (12)

t16. Chris George -1.0 (1)

t16.Jeff Austin -1.0 (5)

18. Ken Harvey -1.2 (7)

19. Wes Obermueller -2.0 (27)

20. Dee Brown -2.8 (2)

Not too shocking to learn that Dee Brown brings up the bottom of this list. The fact is that top prospects are granted the most opportunities despite poor Major League performance. For this reason Brown was able to build up more negative WAR than many of his counterparts. This doesn't necessarily mean he was a worse player.

I was a little surprised to learn that 20 out of the 30 prospects in the 2001 snapshot of the organization reached the Major League level. A big part of this is that the Royals were about to begin the roughest stretch of their history losing 100 games or more in three out of four seasons. Because of this stretch many players in the organization were granted an opportunity that a strong organization would not have afforded them.

While the Royals had a 67% success rate at converting their top 30 prospects into Major Leaguers, arguably only one became a consistent Major Leaguer: Jeremy Affeldt. Berroa also played several years at the Major League level but other than his rookie season he didn't post a single campaign with a positive WAR value.

Here is a breakdown of WAR by position:

Obviously the position that contributed the most were the left handed pitchers. This was greatly enhanced by Jeremy Affeldt's success, but of all the positions that had more than one players in the rankings left handed pitching was the most succesful at reaching the Major Leagues. Five of the eight southpaws on the list reached the highest level.

Here is a list of the prospects that never reached the Majors:

8. Mike Stodolka LHP

11. Shawn Sonnier RHP

18. Junior Guerrero RHP

20. Mike Curry OF

21. Robbie Morrison RHP

22. Jeremy Dodson OF

26. Jason Kaanoi RHP

27. Scott Walter C

28. Ryan Baerlocher RHP

30. Jonathan Guzman OF

As you can see there probably wasn't a bigger disappointment in the system than Mike Stodolka. But there were also points when Shawn Sonnier ad Junior Guerrero were discussed as future closer posibilities. Mike Curry showed a good blend of speed and on base skills. Jeremy Dodson dominated in his professional debut. Walter was a third round pick. Baerlocher had great minor league success and Guzman was labeled as a potential five tool talent.

The position that performed the worst and seems to have been the most overrated in the 2001 rankings was outfield. There were six prospects listed in the rankings. Of the three that reached the Majors none produced a positive WAR in their career or in a single season. The three other outfield prospects ranked didn't even reach the Major League level.

What we can take from this quick study is that the Royals 2001 system produced its fair share of Major Leaguers. But this was a result of vast opportunity on the Major League team and not a result of a player being above replacement level.

As a small market team it is critical for the Royals to not only produce Major Leaguers, but for them to top tier talent. The 2001 Royals system failed to produce one top tier guy and as a result of this the organization took a huge dive that saw 100 loss seasons in 2002, 2004, and 2005. When the pipeline ran dry the results got ugly.

The talent that the Royals had at the Major League level wasn't enough to contend and the talent that was considered top tier either left via trade, free agency, or disabled list. This group was supposed to provide the team with a brand new young rotation. Instead not one pitcher in the group would become a consisten big league starter.

This group of talent was supposed to provide the Royals with a fixtures at the shortstop and right field positions. Instead the shortstop collapsed after a Rookie of the Year and the rightfielder never sniffed Major League success.

What this group did provide was a few relievers that were serviceable for a few seasons. The Royals were left to fill an entire roster with below replacement level prospects or scrap heap guys. The system that former GM Allard Baird inherited had zero future regulars and no future rotation options. Baird managed a magical run in 2003, but never had the funds necessary to commit to the farm system the way it needed to be done.

Amazingly with no players that developed into solid regulars, and only one guy that had what could be called a quality Major League career. The Royals system was ranked 14th in 2001. They ranked ahead of the Minnesota Twins, Detroit Tigers, and the Cleveland Indians, yet for the next decade more often than not the Royals would rank behind all these teams in the standings that do matter. The standings that actually track wins and losses.

2001 KC Royals Farm System Part 2

16. Jeremy Affeldt LHP- "He's a projectible 6-5 left hander."

Affeldt was a promising young starter for the Royals in 2003. However, chronic blister problems forced him to the pen, where he spent the rest of his career. Affeldt is currently a member of the Giants pen and earned a World Series ring in 2010. He has a career era+ of 110 and a career WAR of 6.7. In his five seasons with the Royals he contributed 4.1 wins above replacement.

17. Orber Moreno RHP- "Moreno will have to show he's healthy before being projected as the club's closer of the future again."

Moreno had already tasted the big leagues for a brief period in 1999, however Tommy John forced him to go back to the minors to prove himself again. He eventually resurfaced for the New York Mets in 2003 and 2004. But has since toiled away in the Minor Leagues. He finished with a career era of 4.44 and a career WAR of -0.1.

18. Junior Guerrero RHP- "a pitcher can't live on velocity alone."

Guerrero never reached the Majors. In his minor league career he pitched for 5 seasons, before pitching 4 years for an Independent League team. It's true you can't get by on velocity alone.

19. Scott Mullen LHP- "He pitched well in 11 outings with the Royals, especially against lefthanders, whom he limited to a .143 average."

For 60 innings, Mullen was a decent bullpen option for Kansas City. Especially in 2002 when he posted an era of 3.15 in 40 innings. However, after an awful 7.1 innings in 2003 Mullen lost his job in the Big Leagues and never returned. So it goes. He had a career WAR of 0.6.

20. Mike Curry OF- "Curry is all about speed, which isn't surprising considering that his mother Irene was a U.S. Olympic track athlete."

In 2000, Curry hit .289 and led the Texas League with 52 steals as a twenty-three year old. This reminds me a bit of Derrick Robinson's season a year ago when he hit .286 with 50 steals in the Texas League. Curry never reached the Majors and he finished his minor league career with a .274/.371/.357 line.

21. Robbie Morrizon RHP- "He can help the Kansas City bullpen in the near future."

Morrison played three more seasons of minor league baseball, but was never able to help the Kansas City bullpen. He finished his professional career with an era of 3.03.

22. Jeremy Dodson OF- "Dodson has intriguing tools- above average bat speed and power, average foot speed and an outfield arm that has been rated the Texas League's best for tow years running- but his confidence and possibly his career have been damaged by the way he has been handled."

After an impressive pro debut that saw Dodson post a .943 OPS the Royals skipped him two levels to double A. The next year they invited him to big league camp and he spent all Spring there only receiving 17 at bats. After that he was never able to translate those tools to success. Chalk this one up as a development fail.

23. Paul Phillips C- "Named the Northwest's League No. 1 prospect... Like Dodson, Phillips was jumped two levels to Double A."

Phillips is currently a triple A catcher for the Cleveland Indians. He has played in 91 games at the big league level, including 58 as a Royal. His career WAR is -0.4.

24. Tony Cogan LHP- "His ceiling isn't as high as the average Staford pro product, but the Royals just may have something in Cogan."

Entering 2001, Cogan had pitched in just 2 innings in the upper levels of the minors. In 2001, he pitched in 23.1 innings for the big club. Once there he posted a 5.84 era, a -0.2 WAR and never returned to the highest level of competition.

25. Jason Kaanoi RHP- "High school righthanders that can touch 96 mph don't usually last until the seventh round."

I suspect that Kaanoi's career ended due to arm troubles, because in 2004 he was dominate as a reliever, and then in 2005 he struggled in limited time at High Desert before hanging up the cleats. His career minor league era was 4.61.

26. Scott Walter C- "he'll definitely need to make more contact and show more patience at the plate."

Walter never really did either of those things. He posted a career .254 batting average with a career .311 on base percentage in six seasons of minor league baseball, never reaching the Majors.

27. Wes Obermueller RHP- "(when drafted) he had limited milage on his arm and was less of an injury risk."

Ironically Obermueller batted injures in his first two professional seasons. Obermueller eventuall reached the Majors though where he was awful posting a 5.82 era across 5 seasons. His career WAR was -2.0.

28. Ryan Baerlocher RHP- "He led the South Atlantic League in ERA and ranked second in the minors in strikeouts"

This basically sums up Baerlocher's career. He never had overpowering stuff and as a result he was enver granted a Major League opportunity despite good results throughout his minor league career. He pitched for 9 seasons and finished with a career record of 67-47 with an era of 3.90.

29. Byron Gettis OF- "His power potential and arm strength are intriguing."

Gettis debuted for the Kansas City Royals on May 27, 2004. He stayed with the big club for 21 games and posted an OPS+ of 59, and a WAR of -0.4. He was never given another shot at the Major League level.

30. Jonathan Guzman OF- "Guzman is a potential five-tool player."

It is amazing how much that phrase gets thrown around. Here you have the thirtieth ranked prospect in a mediocre farm system and the writer throws out these words. Guzman never reached the Majors but let's look at his minor league numbers. Hit tool: .230 career average. Power tool: 25 career home runs in 297 games played. Speed tool: 62 steals in 82 attempts. Arm tool: 34 career outfield assists. Fielding tool: career 1.97 range factor per game.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

2001 KC Royals Farm System Part 1

I want to take a look back at some of Kansas City's farm systems when I get the chance. So let's start with the 2001 version. I am hoping that given all the hoopla regarding Kansas City's system this can keep us from expecting too much from the incredible crop of talent on the rise. The following system was ranked fourteenth in 2001.

1. Chris George LHP- "Kansas City hasn't had a lefty win more than 10 games in a season since 1988. George should end that drought soon."

George's Major League career lasted 4 seasons. During that time he appeared in 47 games, making 44 starts. He nearly recorded 10 wins in 2003, when he somehow managed to go 9-6 with a 7.11 era. His total WAR came in at -1 and George never developed into the ace that Kansas City fans were hoping for.

2. Dee Brown OF- "He also runs well enough to be a 30-30 threat."

Brown never became a 30-30 threat. In fact the closest he ever got was his 2001 season when he hit 7 homers with 5 steals in 106 games. For his career he logged 876 plate appearances between Kansas City and Oakland (only 3 with the latter). His total WAR was -2.8.

3. Mike MacDougal RHP- "MacDougal has so much life on his pitches that it's difficult to control them."

MacDougal has managed an eleven season mlb career and counting. He is currently a member of the Dodgers' bullpen where he boasts a 3.00 era in 3 innings. He pitched for Kansas City between 2001-2005 during which time he posted a 1.7 WAR. For his career he has a 2.1 WAR with a career era+ of 109. He also has 70 career saves.

The Royals traded MacDougal to Chicago for pitchers Tyler Lumsden and Dan Cortes. Lumsden was flipped for Jordan Parraz, and Cortes was paired with Derek Saito and sent to Seattle for Yuniesky Betancourt. Betancourt was then packaged with Greinke to bring the Royals Alcides Escobar, Lorenzo Cain, Jeremy Jeffress, and Jake Odorizzi.

4. Jimmy Gobble LHP- "Gobble's curve breaks so much that he struggles to keep it in the strikezone."

Gobble lasted 7 seasons in the Majors, that included 435.2 innings pitched. He served as a full-time starter in his first two years before being moved to the bullpen permanently in 2005. Gobble contributed a 2.1 WAR as a Royals before a -0.2 in his only season as a White Sock.

5. Jeff Austin RHP- "Projects as a solid starter, albeit not as a no. 1 guy."

Don't think that drafting a pitcher in the top 5 without ace potential is a new phenomenon. For their number 4 overall selection the Royals received 37 big league innings before they traded him to Cincinnati for Alan Moye and Damaso Espino. Austin had a career era+ of 68 and a career WAR of -1.0.

6. Angel Berroa SS- "He has tremendous range, an outstanding arm and an innate sense of how to catch the ball. He also has good pop for a middle infielder, can hit for average and runs well."

Berroa won the rookie of the year award in 2003 when he posted a slash of .287/.338/.451 with a WAR of 4.0. Berroa was rewarded with a long term contract but then posted ops+ of 78, 81, and 52. For his career he has compiled a WAR of 3.2 and an OPS+ of 76.

Berroa was a key part of a magical 2003 season, but after that he soon became the scapegoat for Royals' fans frustrations. Instead of being the long term answer at short he became just another mistake and disappointment for the Kansas City organization.

7. Ken Harvey 1B- "He can hit for average and gap power."

Harvey is another member of that 2003 team that was able to win 83 games for the season. However, Harvey didn't exactly put up stellar numbers for a firstbaseman. For his four year career he had an OPS+ of 88, logged 1,078 plate appearances, and had a WAR of -1.2.

8. Mike Stodolka LHP- "He should be one of the first high school pitchers from the 2000 draft to reach the majors."

Ironically Stodolka never even reached the Major League level. As a pitcher he topped out in double A, before he decided to restart his career as a first baseman. Perhaps he would have been better off as a firstbaseman from the start because in three minor league seasons he displayed great strikezone judgment with decent pop. He had a career minor league OPS of .839. His career ERA was 4.93.

9. Alexis Gomez OF- "The Royals have never had a Dominican all-star. Big League second baseman Carlos Febles has a chanceto be their first, and Gomez is their next best hope."

I was surprised to learn that Gomez did in fact make it to the Big Leagues, but not surprised to learn that he never developed into the all-star some had envisioned. Gomez had 41 plate appearances for Kansas City and in 2006 he played in 62 games for Detroit. His career WAR was -0.4.

10. Kyle Snyder RHP- "Snyder has it all."

Injuries may have been the downfall of Kyle Snyder but unfortunately we will never know. He finished his Big League career with a 5.57 era and a -0.7 WAR. The six pitching prospects in the top ten wound up posting a combined WAR of 1.3. By not reaching the Majors Mike Stodolka's was actually the third best at 0.

11. Shawn Sonnier RHP- "Sonnier may be the closer they've been looking for."

In 7 minor league seasons, Sonnier posted a 9.9 k rate with a career era of 3.50. He hung up the cleats before ever being granted an opportunity in the Majors despite promising minor league results.

12. Ryan Bukvich RHP- "He displayed a closer's mentality."

Bukvish finished his career with 1 save, an era of 6.16, a walk rate of 7.3 and a k rate of 6.4. His career WAR was -0.7.

13. Brian Sanches RHP- "Sanches led all short-season pitchers with 13.5 strikeouts per nine innings."

I was surprised to learn that Sanches didn't flame out at the minor league level, but instead still living the dream as a Major League pitcher. He is a member of Florida's bullpen for the third straight season after posting back to back seasons with an era of 2.56. He has a career era+ of 131 and a career WAR of 2.0. Meaning at this point in our analysis he is the best pitcher of the 2001 Royals' farm system.

14. Mike Tonis C- "Tonis is athletic for a catcher, to the point where he played all 9 positions in a game for Cal last Spring."

Tonis eventually made the Majors for the Royals in 2004. Once there he played in 2 games and received 7 plate appearances. Sadly, Tonis will be one of the many Major League players who finished their careers with 0 career hits.

15. Corey Thurman RHP- "He has a big body that reminds the Royals of a stronger Dave Stewart."

Dave Stewart had a sixteen season MLB career. He recorded 168 wins with an era of 3.95. Corey Thurman had a two season MLB career. He recorded 3 wins with an era of 4.75. Perhaps it would have been better if he was a bit weaker. Thurman finished his career with a WAR of 0.6 which makes him more successful than most of the pitchers on this list.

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Defector Leon'ys Martin

Several weeks ago Cuban centerfielder Leon'ys Martin was declared a free agent by Major League baseball. Martin just 22 is considered an elite prospect that has good on base skills with great speed. Scouts speculate that he should begin his professional career at the high A level, but would rise fast.

At this point there hasn't been much news on the Martin front except that the Rangers were nearing an agreement that was for more than the $12 million that the Red Sox offered. However, if was then reported by Peter Gammons that the Red Sox hadn't offered a deal over $2 million. At this point there hasn't been any more information on the subject.

I am writing all of this because I would love to see the Royals make a run at Martin. According to some the Royals barely missed out on Jose Iglesias when the Red Sox came in with an $8 million deal at the last minute and as we all know the Royals outbid all of baseball for the services of Noel Arguelles who made his professional debut for Wilmington tonight by going 4 innings, allowing 2 hits, no walks, and 1 K.

Speaking of Arguelles it seems the Royals assigned Julio Cesar Pimentel to Wilmington in an attempt to help ease Arguelles into the American culture and give him a friend that he could relate to. Wait.. what level did scouts believe Martin should start at? High A.

By signing Martin the Royals could pair up the Cubans in their development by having them both spend the summer in Wilmington and perhaps Springdale should they warrant a promotion. By having a partner and friend their ease into American culture would be hypothetically be easier to bare. Also, by assigning Martin to Wilmington the club would have the high profile hitting prospect that at this point it lacks.

Quite frankly glancing at Wilmington lineup leaves much to be desired at this point. The Royals have Lorenzo Cain, Jarrod Dyson, and Derrick Robinson in the upper levels of the system but none of these guys are elite prospects. They also have Brett Eibner in low A, but many suspect him to move to a corner and he profiles as a middle of the order guy anyway. The organization is currently lacking an elite leadoff type prospect that could set the table for the boppers in the middle. By acquiring Martin the Royals would have that guy.

The Royals have money to spend. When you consider payroll is about $35 million lower than where it was last year then the Royals should have about $35 million more to toy with on the amatuer market.

Every team's fans probably want to believe that they are a great fit for any given prospect, and it probably isn't fair to be so greedy when the Royals already have the best farm system in the history of the game. But Dayton Moore has already commented that he wants middle of the order talent to be at every level of the system. If the Royals added Martin centerfield could be marked off the checklist for the time being.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Wilmington Blue Rocks Preview

This is the final preview for the full season clubs. Wilmington should have a stacked rotation, but the position prospects aren't on the same level as they are at Northwest Arkansas or Omaha.


  • Noel Arguelles- Arguelles will be one of the most closely monitor players in the system in 2011. He makes he organization debut on April 11. He is on the 40 man, and with one season already lost he should be pushed along quickly, while the Royals keep an eye on his workload.

  • Justin Marks- Marks came over in the DeJesus trade, he needs to rebuild his stock for the trade to be a win for the Royals.

  • Tim Melville- When a system breaks out like the Royals' did in 2010, some guys will be pushed out of the limelight. Melville is one of those guys. His stuff is still strong and his numbers suggest some bad luck in 2010. I expect Melville's breakout to come this year.

  • Jake Odorizzi- Odorizzi came over in the Greinke trade and for this reason there will be an enormous pressure on him to perform. Hopefully the talent in the organization can alleviate some of that this season.

  • Elisaul Pimentel- Pimentel posted some impressive strikeout numbers a year ago in the Midwest League, let's see if he can carry that success to Carolina.

  • Tyler Sample- I am going to include him here, but I expect he will be moved to the bullpen at some point this season. Sample needs to repeat his delivery and improve on his control.


  • Manuaris Baez- Baez has been an organizational warrior for Kansas City and he's a good guy to have on a young Blue Rock staff.

  • Kevin Chapman- Chapman has a big time, and has future lefty set up man written all over him.

  • Ryan Dennick- Looks like a filler to me.

  • Glenn Gibson- Never heard of him. Edit: Will begin season on DL.

  • Kelvin Herrera- Love his arm, need to see him stay healthy. Rumors out of camp are that his fastball is touching 97 from the pen.

  • Brendan Lafferty- Great moustache.

  • Michael Mariott- Could get some time in the rotation for Wilmington, was the ace of the Nebraska staff a year ago and pitched well in his first year in professional ball.

  • Bryan Paukovitis- Awesome last name, big frame but doesn't throw as hard as you would expect. He is even farther removed from Tommy John so maybe his velocity will be up a bit, especially out of the pen.

  • Julio Cesar Pimentel- Has pitched in 9 innings in the last two seasons, hopefully a move to the pen can salvage his career. Edit: Will primarily serve as mentor to Arguelles.


  • Jose Bonilla- Bonilla used to be a decent prospect for the Royals, but he hasn't hit at all in full season ball. He'll get a promotion to Wilmington this season and hopefully he can take a page out of Salvador Perez's book.

  • Juan Graterol- At one point in time I elected to rate Graterol ahead of Perez and Bonilla on my prospect list. I am ashamed. However, in my defense I hadn't been able to read much about their defense and Graterol had at least put up a solid batting average as a pro.


  • Deivy Batista- As many suspected Batista's power in 2009 was a mirage.

  • Adam Frost- Frost does it all, great utility guy for a low level club.

  • Joey Lewis-Lewis displayed good power during his collegiate career and with the look of Wilmington's office he needs to do more with the bat.

  • Alex McClure- McClure has a good glove but like the rest of the offense he has to pick up his offense for Wilmington to be competitive.

  • Rey Navarro- Good glove shortstop, but hasn't hit nearly enough to be taken seriously.

  • John Whittleman- Royals needed a body to play first in Wilmington and wound up with former Texas Leaguer John Whittleman.


  • Tim Ferguson- Ferguson averaged over a K per game last season in Idaho Falls. He'll need to vastly improve on this aspect of his game to be a solid prospect.

  • Nicholas Francis- Francis best impact bat for the Blue Rocks in 2011. He needs another big year for the Blue Rocks offense to have any punch.

  • Whit Merrifield- Thanks to Greg Schaum's reports I know that many in the orgaization view Merrifield as a future big league utility man. For this reason he should get time in the infield about once per week.

  • Adrian Ortiz- Speedy outfielder, if he can improve his plate discipline he would be a much stronger prospect. Edit: Will begin season on DL.

  • Carlo Testa- Testa was one of the few bright spots for the Burlington Bees last season when he put up a Lough-esque extra base line of 24 doubles, 14 triples, and 12 homers.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Kane County Cougars Preview


  • Keaton Hayenga- I was hoping for a breakout performance from Hayenga a year ago, however I was left disappointed. Hayenga will never be a strikeout guy, but he still needs to improve on his K rate from a year ago to have any shot.

  • Matt Mitchell- Mitchell has been rated in the Royals top 30 before, but after missing all of 2009, he didn't return to 2008 form. Hopefully now that he is farther removed from injury he can knock some of the rust off in 2011.

  • Leondy Perez- After four seasons in rookie ball Perez will finally get an opportunity at full season baseball. His era was inflated a season ago and I'll be interested to see how his stuff translates to the pitcher friendly Midwest League.

  • Leonel Santiago- Santiago is the opening night starter for the Cougars. He is already twenty-one and has just 81 innings under his belt. It'll be important for him to pitch well to avoid falling behind the curve.

  • Crawford Simmons- I've heard that Crawford Simmons has a top notch changeup and in some ways he reminds me of John Lamb in that he was an overslot guy not drafted in the first few rounds. He's a lefty that dominated in his first professional season, but he can't afford a dip in velocity that some reported in Spring. Good guy to keep a close eye on this season.


  • Greg Billo- I've never jumped on the Greg Billo like others have.

  • Chase Boruff- This is the first time I have recall reading his name.

  • Chaz Bryne- Byrne was dominate last year in the Appy League, maybe he can be a good relief prospect.

  • Mitch Hodge- Fifth year in the system, still in Low A.

  • Jon Keck- Not impressed with his numbers after two stints in rookie ball.

  • Sugar Ray Marimon- Awesome name, decent stuff. Some people are hoping for a breakout this year.

  • Dusty Odenbach- Didn't impress in his first season in Low A, hopefully he can improve in his second go around.

  • Nick Wooley- Another less than impressive bullpen arm for the Low A club.


  • Ryan Jenkins- Jenkins had decent power at while catching at Auburn. Last season he put up decent offensive numbers, let's see what he does in full season ball.

  • Travis Jones- Once upon a time he won a high shool home run derby against Eric Hosmer, since then he has hit 5 homers in 89 professional games.


  • Fernando Cruz- Hasn't done much since being drafted in the sixth round of 2007 draft.

  • Yowill Espinal- Has a good set of tools, but this is his first opportunity in full season ball. I'm looking forward to seeing what he can do.

  • Angel Franco- Showed good contact and on base skills last year in Idaho Falls, but the Midwest League isn't as friendly to hitters.

  • Gerald Hall- Just a low level roster filler at this point.

  • Ryan Stovall- Already twenty-four and still in low A. Not a good sign.

  • Murray Watts- Big guy that has shown big power. Looks to become Clint Robinson part two for Kansas City. Could be a very telling year for Watts.


  • Geulin Beltre- Beltre received a six digit signing bonus for his tools as a teenager. He's in full season ball now so it's time he starts to display them on the field.

  • Brett Eibner- Most exciting guy on the entire roster. Could put it together and move extremely fast or he could spend the summer striking out 100+ times in the Midwest League. Here's to hoping it is the former.

  • Brian Fletcher- Fletcher had big time power at Auburn, clubbing 22 homers for the Tigers last season. His 49 career homers tied him for third in Auburn history with Frank Thomas. I'm intrigued by the power and want to see what he can do this season.

  • Alex Llanos- Another toolsy guy, that hasn't done much as a pro other than a thirty-one game stint in the Arizona League in 2009.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Northwest Arkansas Naturals Preview

Let's take a look at the Naturals Opening Day roster for 2011.


  • Chris Dwyer- Dwyer is to be the Opening Night starter for the Naturals. I want to see him log a full season's workload and continue to improve upon his command. Could see Kansas City at some point this season, but will likely split the year between Northwest Arkansas and Omaha.

  • John Lamb- Lamb climbed three level in 2010. If he can hit three levels in 2011 he'll find himself in the Bigs. This is possible, but there will have to be plenty of openings ahead of him. First, Lamb needs to go back to Springdale and show the stuff and command that led to dominance in Wilmington and Burlington.

  • Edgar Osuna- Osuna posted a 6:1 K:bb in the Texas League a year ago, as a soft tosser he needs to continue to silence the doubters by posting top notch results.

  • Heath Rollins- Rollins came over in the Minor League phase of the Rule V draft via the Tampa Bay Rays. Typically these players are non prospects, however this doesn't seem to be the case for Rollins since many commented that the Royals just added another Major League prospect to the bunch.

  • Will Smith- Perhaps with a proper development strategy and a good progression plan Smith can turn himself into a top lefty prospect. He still has a long way to go, but last season's postseason starts for the Naturals and success in Wilmington were great building blocks.


  • Eric Basurto- Needs to improve on his command, but is a decent relief prospect.

  • Buddy Baumann- I would rather see him in the rotation than Heath Rollins, but his future likely lies in the pen, so I guess it makes since for him to make the transition there now and get acclimated.

  • Blake Johnson- At one point was a solid prospect, now more of an organizational guy. Nonetheless he'll be a reliable option for the Naturals as they look to repeat on their Texas League title.

  • Patrick Keating- Keating garnered alot of praise in big league camp this Spring, he has big league stuff and with a strong season he could be in position to legitimately fight for a big league job next spring.

  • Harold Mozingo- At this point I don't see him as more than a filler for Northwest Arkansas. Could drop to Wilmington whenever an arm there is ready for a promotion.

  • Eduardo Paulino- If his stuff can play up more from the pen he could go from organization guy to big league prospect again.

  • Mario Santiago- See above. I like his chance more than Paulino's his cutter could be a valuable asset in the pen.

  • Brandon Sisk- Like the other big league prospects he'll need a great season to separate himself from the pack.


  • Ryan Eigsti- Has never hit enough to be considered as a prospect. Good professional experience though should help with the staff.

  • Salvador Perez- Perez is a guy I greatly look forward to seeing. I'm hoping for a breakout year with the bat. It will be important for the organization that he continues to step forward as the catcher of the future. If he regresses with bat the organization could be on the lookout for another option.

  • Ben Theriot-Ben has had very good contact in his first year and a half in professional baseball. I'd like to see him to continue to hit and be a good back up catching option for the Naturals. He could also provide some innings at first as well.


  • Jeff Bianchi- I'm excited to see Bianchi back on the field. He has to stay healthy and I hope to see him repeat his results from his last stint in the Texas League.

  • Christian Colon- I can't wait to see this guy live again. At the futures game he looked extremely fluid at the shortstop position. He did make an error but in the replay I saw Seratelli's foot wasn't pulled from the bag. I hope the Royals leave Colon as long as possible. I expect him to compete for a Texas League batting title. Yes I said it.

  • Mario Lisson- Can he translate his tools in the results? That's always been the question.

  • Kurt Mertins- Should be a dependable veteran for the Naturals in 2011.

  • Jamie Romak- I was impressed with his bat last season and he did hit an impressive home run in the futures game. I'm not sure how much of a prospect he is, but he is a good player for the Texas League.

  • Anthony Seratelli- No matter what I put here, won't do justice to how Seratelli makes the Naturals better in 2011.


  • Wil Myers- When I go down to Springdale this summer I'm going to keep a close eye on Myers in right. Some said that he overran Hosmer's flyball in the futures game but that isn't correct, he took the correct angle prior to it taking a wiked turn due to the wind at the ballpark that day. Oh yeah, I guess I'm a bit excited to see him hit too.

  • Derrick Robinson- For whatever reason people don't get excited about Robinson's vast improvement that he showed with the bat last season. He led the Texas League in steals while hitting .286/.345/.380. If he can continue to show improvement hopefully more people continue to take notice.

  • Tim Smith- Smith returns to the Texas League for the second time. He has consistently hit at the level but I just don't see future big leaguer. He has good contact but none of his other tools have impressed me.

  • Nick Van Stratten- Good arm in the outfield, good contact, great walkup song.

Omaha Stormchasers Preview

Here are my thoughts on the players reporting to Omaha to begin the the 2011 season.


  • Mike Montgomery- Montgomery is the future ace of the Kansas City Royals staff. First though he will begin the season as a Storm Chaser and by mid summer he could be the first of the Royals pitching prospects to find a spot in the big league rotation.

  • Danny Duffy- Duffy struggled with control in the Arizona Fall League and Spring Training, but his stuff his top notch. I expect him to hit no speed bump in Omaha and he will race against Montgomery for that first rotation spot that opens up.

  • Everett Teaford- I hope to see Teaford continue to build off of last season's second half. It will be important that Teaford gets off to a hot start or he will risk being passed by the organizations top arms.

  • Vin Mazzaro- Mazzaro won't be in Omaha long, but hopefully he will display heavy stuff in his one or two starts in the Pacific Coast League.

  • Kevin Pucetas- Pucetas came in the Jose Guillen trade which automatically makes me a fan. I don't see him ever contributing at the big league level, but he could be a valuable swingman for the Omaha team.

  • Jeff Suppan- I expect to see Suppan in a Royals uniform at somepoint in 2011. I hope that in his time in Omaha he can be a valuable mentor for Montgomery, Duffy, and company.


  • Jesse Chavez- To think that Chavez was once traded for Rafael Soriano blows my mind. He throws hard, but with the shape of the current pen it wouldn't mean good things have happened if he logs innings for Kansas City.

  • Louis Coleman- Coleman pitched wonderfully in Spring Training, but due to an inventory situation will begin the year as the Storm Chasers' closer. I expect him to be the first guy up when the big team goes fishing for a replacement.

  • Blaine Hardy- Yost wanted two lefties in the Royals pen. If Hardy dominates in the pen like he is capable of he could easily see KC at somepoint this season.

  • Greg Holland- Another arm that could be an asset in the big league pen. He has always posted a strong K rate, so I look for that to continue in 2011.

  • Luis Mendoza- If he returns to Omaha and continues to post mediocre results his days on the 40-man roster are numbered.

  • Steven Shell- Should provide a veteran presence in an otherwise young bullpen.

  • Blake Wood- Would like to see that stuff translate into results before he is given another big league opportunity.


  • Cody Clark- Clark has been an organizational warrior with the Royals, but this is probably the peak of his progression.

  • Lucas May- It was nice that the Royals were able to keep May after removing him from the 40 man. It will take a bigtime performance for him to get another opportunity with the big team though.

  • Manny Pina- If Pina can hit just a little I'm convinced that Yost would be partial to him over Pena and May due to his defensive prowess.


  • Irving Falu- Falu has been in the organization for along time, he has good versatility and gets on base at a decent clip. He's a good player to have in the upper levels because you never know what spots will need to be filled due to a lack of prospects. I'd rather have a home grown organizational warrior than a 6-year minor league free agent.

  • Johnny Giavotella- With a strong 2011 campaign Giavotella would put himself in prime position to win a job with the Royals for 2012. He can't afford to stall too much with Colon breathing down his neck.

  • Eric Hosmer- I'd like to see Hosmer log some time in the outfield for the Storm Chasers this summer. If he can handle the position or if Ka'aihue proves incapable of hitting big league pitching he should find himself in Kansas City midseason.

  • Marc Maddox- Maddox has steadily progressed through the organization but he's final stop will likely be in Omaha.

  • Mike Moustakas- Moustakas needs a strong start, and needs to show that he can hit lefties. If he can do this through May, he will likely hit Kansas City in early June.

  • Clint Robinson- At this point the best case for Clint is that he continues to pound pitching and hopefully he will get noticed around the league. His future as a big leaguer will likely be in a jersey other than Kansas City's.

  • Lance Zawadzki- At the end of Spring it looked as if Zawadzki might snag a job on the Big League team. Instead the Royals "smartly" elected to go with an 8 man bullpen. Zawadzki may have been a waiver claim but he still is a Major League prospect. He could be a decentshortstop option for the Royals if Escobar were to go down to injury.


  • Gregor Blanco- It was good to see Blanco clear waivers and remain in the organization. He has proven to be a solid fourth outfielder and it was nice to keep inventory.

  • Lorenzo Cain- Has already lost prospect status, but hasn't had many at bats in the upper levels. It will be important for Cain to hit and get on base at a high clip in Omaha.

  • David Lough- I'm a big fan of David Lough. His ceiling isn't as high as some of the other outfielders in the system, but I believe he is more likely to reach his potential than many others. I'd like to see him get some time in KC, but I'm not sure if he ranks high enough on the outfield pecking order at this point.

  • Paulo Orlando- Orlando reminds me alot of Willie Wilson although he doesn't have as much ability in the stolen base department. I love watching this guy leg out triples and go first to third. Good tools and I really am rooting for him to be the first Brazilian to reach the Majors.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Jeff Suppan returns to KC

It doesn't come as much of a shock but the Royals have agreed to sign Jeff Suppan to a minor league deal. I like this move. The Royals already have more pitching depth than they have had in the past couple of years and this only deepens that group.

Obviously you don't want to rush the prospects and there are service issues at play so if the Royals are able to stay in the thick of the AL Central and a guy goes down to injury, or they decide that Kyle Davies and his 5+ era aren't cutting it, or Bruce Chen and his inability to get outs with a 5-0 lead in the second isn't good enough they will now have a respectable option to call upon.

Suppan posted an era of 5.06 in the National League. But for one of the teams he played for his era came in at under 4. I am not saying that Suppan will find past success but if he can just prove to be a serviceable guy he could get a shot in the rotation by July.

Good depth signing, the Royals should have three viable rotation options to call upon if the need arises in Suppan, Zach Miner, and Sean O'Sullivan. Plus by midseason that groups should include the likes of Everett Teaford, Mike Montgomery, and Danny Duffy.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Fans' Win Expectancy

  • 43 votes are in and only 1 believed that the Royals would reach the triple digit loss mark.

  • 3 voters (6%) expect between 62-67 wins.

  • 13 voters (30%) expect between 68-73 wins.

  • 15 voters (34%) expect between 74-79 wins. This is the group I sided with.

  • 6 voters (13%) expect the Royals to reach the 80-85 mark.

  • 2 voters (4%) believe in the Royals enough to predict 86-97 wins.

  • 3 voters (6%) are drinking enough Spring Training Kool-Aid to project 98+ wins.

Be sure to vote in our newest poll regarded who will lead the Royals in home runs.

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Friday, April 1, 2011

Knee Jerk Reactions Plus Tonight's Wishes

Since everyone else is jumping off the cliff after a 4-2 loss on Opening Day to the Angels I thought I would provide my knee jerk reactions as well. These aren't me exaggerating to be funny these are thoughts I had throughout the game.

  • Gordon didn't show a different approach or swing at the plate. I didn't have any slow-mo footage on Gordon to analyze, but it seemed as though it was the same routine of getting deep into counts and then not having enough contact ability to get the ball in play with two strikes.

  • Luke Hochevar pitched well. I thought he did a fantastic job all day of getting ahead in the count and keeping the ball down. He had an 11-1 groundout to flyout ratio (phenomenal) and 5 strike outs to no walks. The killer for Hochevar was a home run he gave up to Mathis. I can't remember if it was Mathis or Hunter that hit a home run immediately after what the ump called a ball on what looked like a backwards K. If Hochevar pitches like that all season his era will be the best of his career, but he will also lose alot of games against opposing teams' aces.

  • Crow looked awesome. I have heard that Crow was very restricted a season ago on when he could use his plus slider. But yesterday he of course wasn't which led to 3 Ks in 1.1 innings of work. Crow could be lights out in the pen this year.

  • Tim Collins makes me a bit nervous. It was my first time watching Collins and it even though I have seen Collins on film, I couldn't help but wonder how easy he could totally lose the ability to find the plate. When he missed the zone some early on, it concerned me even more. Hopefully it was just debut jitters and he will show a bit more command early on in future games.

  • Melky Cabrerra hit the ball well. He didn't necessarily hit it hard everytime but he had some good at bats spread the ball well. Cabrerra is under team control for another season, and with Lorenzo Cain, Jarrod Dyson and to a lesser extent Derrick Robinson looming, most Royals fans would probably actually prefer him to perform poorly so that they can see what the future holds.

  • Mike Aviles looked extremely unimpressive at third. He botched a hard hit ball that he could have backhanded, he misjudged a foul pop up, and he decided to throw across the diamond when he could have simply stepped on third to end the inning. None of these plays wound up hurting the Royals, but they were fortunate in this regard. Even on the play that he still recorded the out on, it would have been a much safer route to trot to third and get the force. It is the little things, gentlemen.

  • Ka'aihue's at bats are quality. He gets good cuts and he has great discipline, but we already knew that. Ka'aihue could have easily had a double of the centerfielder's head yesterday, if that centerfielder wouldn't have been the defensive wiz Peter Bourjos.

  • They say a pitcher's success can often be predicted by k:bb ratio and groundball percentage. Yesterday the Royals posted 9:1 and recorded 14 of their other 17 outs via the groundout. The Angels meanwhile went 10:6 and 6 of the 11 outs were recorded via the groundouts.

  • The Royals got walks and singles in the innings they couldn't get big hits and they got big hits in the innings that didn't get walks and singles. In just one game this leads to a loss, but over the course of a season luck should even out and more runs should be scored.

  • I agreed with all of Ned Yost's decisions in yesterday's game. The only one I questioned was when he elected to pinch run with Maier instead of Dyson after Butler drew a walk. However, after some thought I like this because then he was allowed to use Dyson to pinch run to be the go ahead run and since he didn't use Dyson to pinch run for his DH he was able to use Dyson in center to improve the defense in the late innings. But this raises another thought: if Dyson is your best pinch runner and Butler is the most likely guy to be pinch ran for isn't this going to be a bit of an issue. For this reason alone would it be worth starting Butler at first over Ka'aihue? Just a thought.

Now for what I'm looking for tonight:

  • I want to see how the bats respond after putting up just two runs yesterday. I want to see if Kansas City can get a timely extra base hit. I want to see if they can keeping using the walk as a tool. I want to see if they can do any damage against a top notch starter.

  • I want to see how Gordon responds after his Opening Day performance. Opening Day results are magnified way beyond what they actually represent and I want to see if the extra Gordon complaints are going to carry over today or if he will shelve his performance as just another day.

  • I want to see what Francis can do. I have a lot of optimism about Francis for the 2011 season and I want to see if he can be a consistent option for the Royals. Quality starts can go along with the young bullpen.

  • Speaking of the bullpen I want to see more results. They could be great. They could be one of the top pens in the Majors. But we need more than 3.1 innings before we can annoint them as the best bullpen in Royals history.

  • I want to see Escobar and Getz make some plays in the middle infield that other infielders couldn't have made. They weren't tested much yesterday, so I'm still looking for this.

  • I want to see Aviles rebound. Aviles has to be a better fielder at third. Simple.

  • I want to see a Royals W. Let's get that record back to .500. Go Royals!