Here's a bullet point list of my thoughts from my last day in Surprise.
- I arrived at minor league camp, planning on rotating pretty evenly among the four fields. What actually happened, was I took a few minutes to watch each field and get a feel for the players at each level at the moment, and then got hooked on watching the youngsters. I love the quantity of high end talent the Royals have assembled deep in the depths of the Minor League system thanks to hard work on the Latin American front over the past three seasons and last year's draft. (It helped that on the other fields, I had seen most of the players at one point or another.)
- Michael Antonio worked on third during fielding drills. Antonio was drafted as a short stop and the field is pretty split on where he should play in both the short and long run. Some argue that he can handle short and his value is higher at that position. Others would combat that by saying he'll wind up too thick for the position and his bat is good enough to play at third. What I found interesting today, was that during fielding drills Antonio lined up at third, but during batting practice Antonio went to Shortstop. Purely speculation here, but I wonder if the coaching staff is planning on moving him this season, and he is a bit resistant to the change.
- During some throwing drills, there were a couple outfielders whose arms stood out to me. First, was Bubba Starling. The ball had a whistle to it, that you didn't sense from the other outfielders. The other guy that most impressed me with the hose was Jorge Bonifacio. Bonifacio, also was a bit thicker than I imagined him to be. He isn't fat by any stretch, but he does have a very impressive muscular build.
- Starling, was also very impressive with bat. Well except for when the coach blew a batting practice pitch right by him. Of course this caught the attention of the rest of Starling's hitting group, prompting one player to ask the coach what he kind of dirty pitch he was throwing today. Starling had to take a moment to regain his composure before finishing his cuts for the day.
- The guy that really caught my eye was Cam Gallagher. During the time I was watching Gallagher, he squared up the ball on nearly every pitch and sprayed the ball around the park.
- Batting practice pitches are pretty rapid fire, so if you take the time to follow each and every ball, you'll sometimes miss a subsequent pitch. With that being said the only home run I saw during batting practice on the youngster field was hit by Jorge Bonifacio to dead center. Don't read anything into this all of the players are focused on lining the ball around the field and not creating the lift that is typically necessary for batting practice homers. Nonetheless, I wanted to mention Bonifacio's homer.
- I want to talk about the "good-face." The good-face is a scouting term that was mocked a bit in Moneyball, and generally I agree it is unwise to stereotype a player simply based on appearance. Not to mention the idea of picking out a prospect simply by looking at his face is absurd. Nonetheless, Starling, Hernandez, Gallagher, Lopez, Leonard, all these guys have what I would qualify as the "good-face." It is something you can't describe, but when you see it you know.
- I expect improvement from Alcides Escobar on the offensive side of things in 2012. At this point I am beginning to wonder if he could be the best fit for the two hole to open the season. Giavotella just hasn't gotten it done this Spring and if Alcides Escobar can continue to show the hitting ability he has this Spring he'd be a good rabbit to have on the bases in front of Hosmer, Butler, Francoeur, and Moustakas.
- I was really looking forward to watching Mendoza for awhile, unfortunately he took a liner off the back of the leg in the first and so I didn't get to see much of him. Word is that it is just a bruise so hopefully Mendoza can shake it off and jump right back into the fray.
- For a split second, it did look like Giavotella was about to kick start his Spring with a blast out to left. Instead, he jumped the gun by just a split second and the ball curved foul at the last moment. I feel for Giavotella, because a bomb like that was just what he needed to alleviate some of the pressure that he has mounted on himself.
- Greg Holland was absolutely dominate in his first inning of work, however, in his second inning the A's jacked a couple of balls deep down the left field line but foul. Holland, who is one of the few relievers guaranteed a spot entering camp, has stated that he is working to refine his command on the inside half and is working on his curve ball and change. Both of these exercises would easily explain why A's hitters were able to turn on Holland's pitches so easily.
That's all I've got to report on from Surprise this season. Unfortunately, the 21st was my last day in town. Hopefully, you've found something in my ramblings that made reading this mess worth your time.