Shortstops: The Five Names to Know

The Royals have a lot of young, raw SS’s within their system that need a lot of time to develop. But at the major league level, they seem set for the next half-decade.

5. Mike Antonio (Idaho Falls) age 20

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Photo Credit: milb.com

The Royals selected Antonio in the 3rd round of the 2010 draft out of high school. He is seen as more of a high-risk, high-reward type player. At 6’2″, 190, he’s already big for the position, leading many scouts to ponder a position change for him in the near future. But nonetheless, the Royals seem inclined to leave him alone at SS for now.

Mike is known more for his prowess at the plate than in the field, displaying a lack of range to both sides(his speed is below average as far as SS’s go), making routine plays look “flashy” (like Yuni), while botching a routine play every now and again (like Yuni, too). And with his poor .891 Fld% in 97 games thus far, you can see why many believe he won’t stick at SS for too much longer. But in 103 games with the bat, he owns a positionally exceptional line of .266/.311/.453, 12 HR, 27 2B, 6 3B and a 62:26 K:BB ratio.

Grade: B-. Right now, Mike is a work in progress. He’s a still raw, but very toolsy and athletic player. With him being selected out of high school at the ripe age of 18, the Royals absolutely should take their time with him. If the Royals were to put him on the fast track to Kansas City, he’d be either at 3B or in the OF by now. As of now, though, he’s still a project player with great potential upside with a plus bat.

4. Irving Falu (Omaha) age 28

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Photo Credit: Minda Haas

For those Royals fans are as nerdy as I am, the case of Irving Falu is a terribly confusing one. He’s a 28 year-old, switch hitting utility infielder with a 9 year career minor league AVG of .275, OBP of .342,  170 SB, and a decent .968 Fld%. So why hasn’t this guy ever got a shot at being the Utility infielder for the Royals yet?

Is he great? No. No by any means. But he has value. How many teams would love to have a guy who can play SS, 2B, 3B every few days and can fill in at all three OF positions if the circumstance should arise? My guess would be probably about 100% of them. So who knows why Irving hasn’t been given a shot in Kansas City yet.

Grade: C-. He is what he is. Breeding a utility player isn’t something that GM’s dream of, but it happened. He may be more valuable to a team in the NL, given its nature of substitutions.

3. Orlando Calixte (Kane County) age 19

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Photo Credit: scout.com

Dayton moore signed Calixte, an International free agent out of the Dominican, in 2010 for $1mil.,along with other top Royals prospects Cheslor Cuthbert and Noel Arguelles. At 5’11” and 160 lbs., he has the ideal frame for the position and has enough speed to stick there without any problem. Scouts project him to hit for average and have some above-average power for a SS.

Thus far, Orlando has struggled at the plate (.211/.275/.273), but has of his 75 hits thus far, 15 have been for extra bases. He hasn’t looked great thus far with the bat, but two factors really come into play when it comes to his numbers: he’s only 19 years young, and he’s already competing in a league consisting of a lot of seasoned college pitchers.

Grade: B. His bat should come along, and his quickness will keep him at SS. He’s got plenty of time to figure out his swing and put it all together.

2. Yuniesky Betancourt (Milwaukee) age 29

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Photo Credit: Ed Zurga AP

You know, I could sit here and Yuni-bash all day long. I could say something like “He’s statistically the Worst Player in Baseball”, but we’ve all heard that before. So if you really want to know what I think about him, you should look back at my Yuni post from last month.

Grade: C. Yuni has power potential, and will be best utilized from the bench backing up Escobar, Moose, and Gio. And that’s all I have to say about him.

1. Alcides Escobar (Kansas City) age 25

ImagePhoto Credit: Doug Pensinger / Getty Images

As of now, Alcides Escobar is the prize of the Zach Greinke trade (Jake Odorizzi pending), which wasn’t good news for the Royals faithful until June. Up until then, he was hitting a meager .216. His fielding was as graceful as could be though, conjuring up visions of Ozzie Smith and Omar Vizquel (both of which were/are superb fielders that more than made up for their lack of plate presence).

But once June hit, so did Escobar, hitting .305/.353/.432 with 8 extra base hits for the month. He cooled off a little after that, hitting .253 in July and .224 in August. He became red hot once again in September and October, putting up a .324 AVG in the last month-plus of the season.

The moral of the story is: no matter how poor or great his offense seemed, his defense never faltered, which can happen to players who find themselves in a prolonged slump.

Escobar possesses great speed as well, leading the team with 26 SBs and 8 3Bs.

Grade:B. Escobar will be one of the better fielding SS’s in the league for the next 4 or 5 years and should have enough of a bat to keep him in the lineup nearly everyday. I expect him to hit in the 9 hole for KC this season and be at or around the top of the team in SB’s.

Other names to watch: Jack Lopez, Adalberto Mondesi, Alex McClure

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