#26 Orlando Calixte
Acquired: Signed as International Free Agent in February, 2010
From: Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
Orlando Calixte finally has cast aside his invisibility cloak and stepped up into the light for Royals fans. After identity issues forced his career to start late, the Royals swooped in an signing him for a seven figure bonus in 2010. On the Hot Stove show two years ago Dayton Moore stated that with the signing of Calixte, in addition to Cheslor Cuthbert and Noel Arguelles, the Royals had nabbed three of the top five international free agents.
Of the three seven-figure Latin American shortstop signees, Calixte has the highest offensive upside projecting to hit for both average and some power. He's also an average runner and his frame should allow him to stick at shortstop.
At first glance Calixte's 2011 numbers are somewhat disappointing, but there are several things that must be remembers. First Calixte is just a teenager. It isn't rare at all for teenage hitters to struggle in the Midwest League, which tends to have a lot of college talent and is a pitcher friendly league. Also, 2011 was just Calixte's second season on American soil. One can imagine that the transition from life in the Dominican to America would be difficult enough without the expectations that follow a high dollar professional ball player.
As for Calixte's numbers, well I find his batting average to unindicative of his true success. The league average Midwest League average is .250, while Calixte came in at just .208. But more showing was Calixte's league average line drive percentage. Given Calixte's slightly above average ground ball percentage, I would come to the conclusion that in a league full of hitters in their twenties Calixte performed much more like a league average hitter than the .208 hitter that appears in the stat column.
In 2009, there was a 19-year-old middle of diamond hitter that was making the transition from Latin America life to life in the United States. It was his first crack at full season ball and after hitting .189/.230/.236 his prospect luster took a dive. Two years later Salvador Perez .331/.361/.473 in Kansas City. I don't expect Calixte to make the same quantum leap, but there are things to like about Calixte's 2011 campaign and still plenty of reasons to be optimistic for the prospect's future.
Despite Perez's Midwest League struggles the Royals assigned him to Wilmington the following season. My guess is the Royals don't take the same aggressive approach in 2012 with Calixte and instead he will make a return trip to Kane County. However, I wouldn't rule out the possibility that Calixte opens the season with the Blue Rocks.
Picture credit: MWLTraveler.com