Tagged: Brayan Pena

On Deadline Day, Royals Set Thier 40-Man

The Royals have made a bundle of moves today.

Brayan Pena

In oder to protect certain farmhands from possibly being selected in December’s Rule 5 Draft, the Royals elected to designate seven players from their 40-man roster for assignment:

  • Chris Volstad RHP
  • Vin Mazzaro RHP
  • Ryan Verdugo LHP
  • Brayan Pena C
  • Adam Moore C
  • Clint Robinson 1B
  • Derrick Robinson OF

The biggest shocker from this list is probably Brayan Pena. The catcher will be going through arbitration for the third time this winter and was likely to make upwards of $1 million. With Brett Hayes now on board, he’ll likely serve as the Royals’ backup option next season.

Ryan Verdugo was another surprise DFA given his solid season in Omaha in 2012 and the fact that he could serve any number of roles in a pitching staff.

If any of these players pass through waivers, they can still be retained by the club by being outrighted to one of the minor league clubs.

The moves cleared space on the 40-man roster for the following (including Jeremy Guthrie):

John Lamb

  • John Lamb LHP
  • Mike Montgomery LHP
  • Chris Dwyer LHP
  • Donnie Joseph LHP
  • Justin Marks LHP
  • J.C. Gutierrez RHP

It’s no surprise to see the team add Lamb, Montgomery, and Dwyer to the 40-man roster. Given their history as top 100 prospects, if left unprotected in the Rule 5 draft, all three were likely to be off the board fairly quickly.

Donnie Joseph came to Kansas City from Cincinnati as a part of the Jonathan Broxton trade in July. He’ll likely contend for a bullpen spot out of spring training, as you can never have enough left-handed pitching.

Justin Marks, part of the David DeJesus trade with the A’s, had a terrific season in the Arizona Fall League where he went 5-1 with a 2.59 ERA in 7 starts. He reached NW Arkansas this season where he was named a Texas League All-Star by going 3-5 in 17 starts with a 3.80 ERA.

At 29, J.C. Gutierrez is a journey-man at this point in his career. He does have big league experience, making 150 appearances (3 starts) with a 4.79 ERA and 152 K in 167.1 IP. At most, he could be a long-relief option for the Royals at some point in 2013.

News and Notes From the Royals’ First Interleague Sweep in Three Years

Last night, the Royals wrapped up possibly their most exciting series this season with a second-straight walk-off win.

The hero this time was Brayan Pena. With two outs in the bottom of the 9th, down 3-2, and runners on second (Maier) and first (Dyson), Ned Yost opted to sub-in the switch-hitting Pena in place of the right-handed hitting Humberto Quintero to face Milwaukee closer John Axford.

The move paid off when Pena hit a long single into left field. Mitch Maier scored easily on the play to tie the score at 3-3. Dyson’s speed allowed him to go first-to-third on the single; that’s when things got exciting.

“That’s what speed do.” Photo Credit: Orlin Wagner / AP

Brayan took a wide turn around first base, leading the cut-off man to throw to Rickie Weeks at second, thinking they could get Pena in a rundown. Seeing that the defense wasn’t paying him much attention, Dyson took off for home plate. Weeks bobbled the ball before firing the ball home, which skipped past Brewers catcher Martin Maldonado. Regardless of the throw, Dyson had the play beat as he dove head-first into home to score the winning run and complete the comeback.

Brewers’ closer John Axford was saddled with the loss after allowing the Royals back in the game for the second straight night. He loaded the bases the previous night before surrendering a walk to Mike Moustakas to end the game.

Promotions, Demotions, and the DL

  • Demoted: 2B Johnny Giavotella (Omaha), 1B Clint Robinson (Omaha), RHP Louis Coleman (Omaha)
    • The demotions of Johnny Giavotella and Clint Robinson were fairly easy to forecast. After tearing up Triple A pitching, Gio was unable to replicate his hitting ways. After hitting a meager .217/.260/.261 through 21 games, the team optioned him to Omaha to make room for Chris Getz’s return from the DL. Robinson went 0-for-4 in four pinch-hit appearances with two Ks. Everyone knew that his stay wasn’t going to be a long one. He was optioned back to Triple A Omaha before last night’s game.
    • Coleman was demoted to clear space for Jonathan Sanchez on the active roster. Lou will undoubtedly be back up sometime this summer, as he has a solid 3.15 ERA in 20 innings with the Royals this season.
  • Promoted: RHP Roman Colon (KC)
    • Roman Colon made his Royals debut way back in 2009. Since then, he’s played in Japan in 2010 and in the Dodgers system (2011). The righty reliever had a respectable 3.34 ERA in 29.2 innings this season for the Storm Chasers before being summoned to the big league level.
  • Reinstated from the DL: 2B Chris Getz (KC), LHP Jonathan Sanchez (KC), LHP Everett Teaford (Omaha)
  • DL Shift: Danny Duffy (15-Day to 60-Day)

Frenchy and Yost Ejected

For those Jeff Francoeur fans who came out on Frenchy Quarter Night, he apologizes.

“I might have to invite them all out for a `Frenchy Quarter’ Wednesday.” – Jeff Francoeur

Photo Credit: Ed Zurga / Getty Images

In the bottom of the 2nd inning and the count 0-2, Shaun Marcum delivered what was a called strike three to Jeff Francoeur to record the strikeout. The only problem was that the pitch (and FoxTrax conferred) was well inside and off the plate. Francoeur immediately turned around to question home plate umpire Dan Iassogna’s call. It was all jaw between the two until Frenchy used his bat to demonstrate how far off the plate the pitch was. If a player uses a “prop” when arguing a call, he is immediately ejected – which is exactly what happened. Jeff was forced to watch the rest of the game from the clubhouse after being replaced in right by Mitch Maier. But he wasn’t lonely for too long…

In the top of the 4th, Nyjer Morgan laid down a bunt that bounced up and hit Morgan while he was in fair territory. According to the rulebook, if a batted ball hits an offensive player in fair territory, the afforementioned player is out. But umpire Dan Iassogna, once again, didn’t it that way. Instead of calling Morgan out, he ruled it a foul ball – extending the at-bat. Yost came out fired up and was ejected because of it.

Zack Attacked

Photo Credit: Orlin Wagner / AP

In his first return to Kauffman Stadium, Royals fans welcomed former ace Zack Greinke back to a myriad of both cheers and boos. Greinke expected to hear a little bit of both due to the fact that he won his Cy Young award during his time in KC and also because of the way he basically forced his way out of the organization.

The Royals got off to a quick start against Zack when Alex Gordon lead off the bottom of the 1st inning by smashing a 3-2 fastball into the fountains beyond the Pepsi Party Porch to give the Royals an early 1-0 lead. That was the only run Greinke gave up during seven innings, but was saddled with a no-decision when the Royals broke a 1-1 tie in the 8th on a Billy Butler RBI single.

His counterpart on the mound was Royals starter/long-reliever/swing-man/mop-up guy Luis Mendoza. Mendoza one-upped Greinke by carrying a no-hitter into the 7th inning, where he gave up a leadoff single to Ryan Braun and a walk to Aramis Ramirez before Yost decided to go to the ‘pen. Milwaukee’s lone run came around to score in the inning, which was charged to Mendoza.

Rehab Updates

The return of Salvador Perez is near, folks. He’s 13-for-35 with 7 RBI thus far during his rehab assigment in Omaha and he’s catching a full nine innings. Once Perez returns, the Royals have said they may carry three catchers in order to ease him back into playing everyday. Look for Sal to be back in Kansas City by the end of this month.

Meanwhile, CF Lorenzo Cain is off to Double-A Northwest Arkansas to begin a rehab assigment. Cain hasn’t played in a game since April 10th in Oakland when he injured his groin while running into the centerfield wall.

Top prospect John Lamb is expected to resume pitching at the beginning of July. The lefty underwent Tommy John sugery last June.

The Brewers Must Not Have Heard About Alex Gordon

Photo Credit: Jamie Squire / Getty Images

Apparently the Brewers weren’t aware of this Alex Gordon guy who roams around left field for the Royals. You know, the 2012 AL Gold Glover and outfield assists leader. That guy.

Ryan Braun, who has fairly good speed, decided to test Gordon’s arm Tuesday night on a medium-depth flyball. Not only did Alex make a perfect throw to home to record the out, the play wasn’t even close. Braun was out by four or five steps.

“That fires me up more than anything, because it feels like you’re picking your pitcher up and the crowd loves it, the fans go crazy. It’s pretty cool.” – Alex Gordon after his fifth outfield assist of the season

Second Pick Signs

Sam Selman, the Vanderbily lefty whom the Royals selected with their second pick in the 2012 Draft, has agreed to sign with the Royals to the tune of $750,000.

The Royals have officially signed their first 11 picks of the draft and 28 of 40.

Interleague Play Continues

The Royals (27-34) will travel across I-70 to St. Louis for a weekend series against the Cardinals (33-31).

Friday @ 7:15 pm – RHP Vin Mazzaro (2-1) vs. RHP Kyle Lohse (6-1)

Saturday @ 1:10 pm – LHP Bruce Chen (5-6) vs. RHP Joe Kelly (0-0)

Sunday @ 1:10 pm – RHP Luis Mendoza (2-3) vs. RHP Adam Wainwright (5-7)

After that, the Royals will make their way to Houston for a three-game series against the Astros.

2012 Spring Training Recap

With a 7-6 victory over the Padres last night, the Royals wrapped up Spring Training at 16-15. Hey, take it for what it is. Yeah, it’s only Spring Training. But you have to start somewhere, right?

The Royals 2012 Spring Training was… interesting. We saw injuries (both significant and not), position battles/tinkering, rotation and bullpen shuffles, promotions, demotions, trades, off-the-chart performances, contract extensions, etc.

So here’s a quick recap of it all:

  • Significant Injuries
    • Manny Pina C: Feb. 22 – torn right meniscus (knee), 60 Day DL
    • Salvador Perez C: Mar. 14 – torn left meniscus (knee), 60 Day DL
    • Joakim Soria RHP: Mar. 19 – Tommy John surgery (right elbow), 15 Day DL – will miss 2012
  • Slightly Less Significant Injuries
    • Blake Wood RHP: Mar. 26 – sore right elbow (ulner nerve), 15 Day DL
    • Felipe Paulino RHP: Mar. 26 – sore right elbow/forearm, 15 Day DL

Each one of the injuries required reactionary moves from the club. The injuries to Pina and Perez forced the Royals to look for a veteran, defense-first catcher; leading to the acquisition of Humberto Quintero. Soria’s injury opened up the closer role to one or all of Holland, Broxton, and Crow. It also opened up a full-time spot in the bullpen for a fresh face. Blake Wood’s spot became up for grabs, but he was a fringe bullpen guy to begin with. The loss of Felipe opened up two rotation spots for Mendoza and Duffy, as well as the long-relief spot for Everett Teaford.

  • Position Battles
    • Second base

      Photo Credit: Rob Tringali / Getty Images

      • Injuries aside, the combo of Chris Getz and Yuniesky Betancourt winning the 2B job over Johnny Giavotella was the biggest shock of the Spring. Virtually everyone, myself included, basically gave Gio the job before the Royals arrived in Surprise. But, to their credit, Getz and Yuni outperformed Gio and currently present better options defensively for KC.
    • Fifth Starter
      • The first three rotation spots were a given: Chen, Hochevar, and Sanchez. The last two spots were up for grabs, but Paulno and Duffy basically had dibs on the spots. But the performance of Luis Mendoza changed all of that. He was without a dout the best pitcher in Royals camp, forcing the Royals to give him a rotation spot. And once Paulino went to the DL, Duffy had the fifth spot locked up.
    • Lefty Relievers
      • No lefty had a bullpen spot given to them coming into Sporing Training, although Jose Mijares was close. Every bullpen should have at least one lefty, but two would be more ideal, and three would be perfect; and that’s what the Royals wound up with. Jose Mijares, Tim Collins, and Everett Teaford comprise the left-side of the bullpen – beating out other lefties Tommy Hottovy and Francisely Bueno. Mijares and Collins will serve as middle relief/situational lefties, while Teaford will be the swing-man/spot-starter
  • Eric Hosmer: Right Fielder

    Photo Credit: John Sleezer

    • Say what? That can’t be right, can it? Yep. It happened. A few times, actually. In order to maximize offense against NL teams, the Royals tinkered around with Eric Hosmer in RF (and Jeff Francoeur in CF) so they could have both Hoz and Billy Butler in the lineup. Hosmer is a good enough athlete that playing RF shouldn’t be difficult at all for him. He has a terrific arm and good enough speed that I thought he could have been an everyday right fielder in the minors (this was all before we had Frenchy, Wil Myers was still a catcher, and Kila Ka’aihue was mashing in Omaha).
  • 12 Man Shuffle
    • Rotation (5)
      • Chen L, Hochevar R, Sanchez L, Mendoza R, Duffy L
        • No, Montgomery won’t be opening the season in Kansas City. Neither will Felipe Paulino, but not for the same reasons. Monty didn’t perform well in his few outings, and Paulino was sent to the DL, which opened up spots for Mendoza and Duffy.
    • Bullpen (7)
      • Holland R, Broxton R, Crow R, Herrera R, Mijares L, Collins L, Teaford L
        • Without Soria, the roles in back-end of the bullpen are up in the air. Holland and Broxton are the clear front-runners for the closing position, with Aaron Crow not far behind.
        • The most notable surprise here was Kelvin Herrera taking a spot away from Louis Coleman. Herrera had a great Spring, and Coleman scuffed a bit as roster cuts loomed. Herrera has the potential to be a closer someday. Luckily for him, someday may come soon.
  • Notable Promotions
    • Kelvin Herrera RHP, Everett Teaford LHP
      • See above.
  • Notable Demotions
    • Johnny Giavotella 2B, Louis Coleman RHP, Jarrod Dyson OF, Sean O’Sullivan RHP
      • If you’ve been reading, you already know why Gio and Sweet Lou were demoted to Omaha.
      • Jarrod Dyson became expendable with the acquistion of OF/U Jason Bourgeois. Dyson has the speed and defensive tools down, but he really needs to learn how to keep his flyball rates down so he can appropriately use his speed (similar to Juan pierre). Afterall, you can’t hustle out a pop-up.
      • The demotion of Sean O’Sullivan is no surprise. But in order to do so (since SOS was out of minor league options), the Royals had to place him on waivers – making him available to the rest of the league. Since nobody placed a claim on him, the Royals were able to send him to Triple A.
  • Trades
    • LHP Kevin Chapman and a PTBNL (KC) for C Humberto Quintero and OF/U Jason Bourgeois (HOU)
      • Chapman is a solid C+ to B- lefty reliever who would have been a welcome addition to the Royals in the future, but he (along with an unknown) helped the Royals land two veterans who can help the team this season.
      • Quintero is a career backup, but has seen enough playing time throughout his career that you pretty much know what you’llget out of him. Solid defense, below-average-but-acceptable offense. He’ll compliment Brayan Pena, as they’ll likely be splitting time at the catcher position until Sal Perez returns.
      • Jason Bourgeois is capable of playing all three OF positions, as well as some 2B and 3B. So, needless to say, his versatility is his biggest tool. And although he isn’t as fast as Dyson, he provides extra speed off the bench.
    • OF Greg Golson (KC) for cash considerations (CWS)
      • The Royals made an inter-divisional trade by shipping Golson to the White Sox for cash. Golson is a quick OF capable of filling in at each spot, but his bat has never really been there. He was a non-roster invitee this Spring, so nothing was really lost. He never really had a shot to make the roster anyway.
  • Performance Reviews

    Mark Kartozian - US Presswire

    • Alex Gordon, Lorenzo Cain, Eric Hosmer, and Billy Butler each hit over .360 this Spring, with Hosmer leading the league in RBI. If they can carry their performances into the season, the Royals may have one of the best 1-4 hitters in baseball in 2012.
    • Hopefully, since Mike Moustakas is a notorious “slow starter”, he got all of that out of the way this Spring. He only his .240, but came around a little bit as ST came to an end.
    • Bruce Chen and Jonathan Sanchez had rough Springs, as did Danny Duffy (even though he did show flashes of dominance).
    • Luke Hochevar showed that he may have gotten his career on the right track, and Luis Mendoza made Royals fans, scouts, and coaches a believer.
  • Extensions
    • Dayton Moore was hard at work this offseason, signing three key Royals to long-term contract extensions.
      • Salvador Perez through 2016 with club options for ’17, ’18, and ’19
      • Alcides Escobar through 2015 with club options for ’16 and ’17
      • Alex Gordon through 2015 with a player option for 2016

The season begins tomorrow night in Anaheim against Prince Albert and the Angels at 9:05 CT. It’ll be Bruce Chen vs. Jered Weaver.

Here’s to hoping the Royals can make this a fun, interesting, and competitive season! Do your part and get out to The K!

Analyzing the 25-Man Roster

It’s set. That’s it. No take backs, do overs, quitsies, or anti-quitsies. Triple stamped it, no erasies, touch blue make it true. (Dumb & Dumber, for the layperson)

The Royals have officially set their 2012 Opening Day 25-man roster. And aside from maybe one or two guys, it’s pretty much what we all should have expected it to be. So they’ll break camp with 13 hitters and 12 pitchers.

Catchers (2): Brayan Pena, Humberto Quintero

Photo Credit: John Sommers II / Getty Images

  • C’mon… Did you really expect Cody Clark to make the team? Quintero is a proven catch and throw guy, who will give the Royals solid defense when he’s behind the plate 3-4 days a week.

Infielders (6): Eric Hosmer, Billy Butler, Chris Getz, Yuniesky Betancourt, Alcides Escobar, Mike Moustakas

Photo Credit: Kyle Terada / US Presswire

  • The demotion of Johnny Giavotella (and thus the presence of Chris Getz) was the only real surprise here. Yuni and Getz will share the 2B/Utility role until Gio earns another look. Other than that, after the Yuni signing, you could have pegged everyone else from the get go.

Outfielders (5): Alex Gordon, Lorenzo Cain, Jeff Francoeur, Jason Bourgeois, Mitch Maier

Photo Credit: James Guillory / US Presswire

  • The addition of the speedy and versatile Bourgeois made light-hitting Jarrod Dyson expendable. Bourgeois mashed lefties in 2011 (.395 AVG), and spent significant time at all 3 OF positions, as well as a few games at 2B. He also can play at 3B if needed.
  • Lorenzo Cain has been off the charts this Spring, leading the league in what seems to be almost every offensive category. I don’t think we’ll see any loss of production from Melky to Zo in CF.

Starters (5): Bruce Chen-L, Luke Hochevar-R, Jonathan Sanchez-L, Luis Mendoza-R, Danny Duffy-L

Photo Credit: AP

  • Flip Paulino going to the DL really set up the rotation. If it weren’t for his injury, Duffy would have most likely been reassigned to Triple A.
  • Luis Mendoza has arguably been the best pitcher in baseball this Spring, essentially forcing the Royals to give him a spot in the rotation.

Bullpen (7): Greg Holland-R, Jonathan Broxton-R, Jose Mijares-L, Aaron Crow-R, Tim Collins- L, Everett Teaford-L, Kelvin Herrera-R

Photo Credit: Chris Vleisides / Royals

  • Once again, Paulino’s injury helped someone else make the roster: Everett Teaford. By all accounts, Teaford earned his spot on the team, but without Paulino or Mendoza in the bullpen, Teaford becomes the long reliever / spot-starter.
  • Kelvin Herrera was the true dark horse here. Louis Coleman had the job locked down until he allowed runs in 5 of his last 6 appearances, basically handing the job over to Herrera. Kelvin has been dominant so far, even earning himself 2 Saves this Spring.

Disabled List (5): Salvador Perez (60 day), Manny Pina (60 day), Joakim Soria (IR), Felipe Paulino (15 day), Blake Wood (15 day)

  • How disappointing… The loss of Sal Perez stings the most. Given the severity of his injury, he most likely won’t be able to return to the team until after the All-Star break.
  • Losing Soria, although it may appear huge on the surface, doesn’t really affect the Royals as much as people may think. Yes, he is a proven performer, but he plays a position that is way overvalued. He got knocked around in ST, looking an awful lot like he did at the beginning of 2011.

And incase you’re wondering where everyone else who was left in camp went, here you go:

Reassigned to Triple A Omaha (2): Louis Coleman-R, Jeremy Jeffress-R

Reassigned to Minor League Camp (4): Tommy Hottovy-L, Francisely Bueno-L, Max Ramirez-C, Kevin Kouzmanoff-3B

This flurry of moves leaves the Royals with 26 healthy players in camp. But you can only break Spring Training with 25 players on your active roster, so one guy has to go. And that man is…

Sean O’Sullivan.

SOS is out of minor league options. So in order for the Royals to rid him for good, they’ll have to place him on waivers, meaning any other team can claim him for themselves. O’Sullivan will be the starter for tonight’s game against the White Sox, basically auditioning for any team who might think about claiming him.

Surprises from Surprise

  • Chris Getz/Yuni combo over Johnny Giavotella
  • Kelvin Herrera over Louis Coleman

Spring Cleaning: 3/16

Making Cuts

Photo Credit: John Sleezer

The Royals announced yesterday that they have made their first roster cuts of the Spring by sending 8 of their Spring Training invitees to Minor League camp, 2 to Triple A Omaha, and 1 to AA Northwest Arkansas.

The 8 reassigned to Minor League camp are lefties Mike Montgomery, Will Smith, Chris Dwyer, and Brandon Sisk; right-hander Jake Odorizzi, catcher Julio Rodriguez, and outfielders Paulo Orlando and Wil Myers.

Two pitchers, RHP Nate Adcock and LHP Ryan Verdugo were assigned to Omaha, while LHP Noel Arguelles was assigned to Northwest Arkansas.

Monty did little to impress in his short time this Spring. In just 2.2 innings, he gave up 6 runs, 6 hits, and 3 BBs. Mike came into camp hoping to force the Royals to give him one of the final two spots in the rotation. He’s still a top prospect, and he’ll get as much time as he needs in the minors to make adjustments to his delivery in order to make things right.

Odorizzi only made two appearances, going 2 innings apiece. He struggled in his first outing, giving up 2 runs, before finding his rhythm in the second.

Wil Myers did well, taking part in 9 games thus far. He put up a .313 AVG, but K’d 5 times while getting zero extra base hits.

Brandon Sisk and Will Smith both left Big League camp with 0.00 ERA’s in 6 combined innings (Sisk-2, Smith-4). Neither had a shot at making the team out of ST, thus earning them their respective reassignments.

These guys were all reassigned mostly because the Royals want them to get more playing time to keep their development on track. Sticking in Big League camp, getting a few innings/at-bats here and there wouldn’t really do much good for anyone at this point.

The 11 players cut reduces the number of players in camp at 46.

Salvador Perez’s Timetable

Photo Credit: Heather Moore

For those who were hoping for a quick recovery, your dreams have been dashed.

After a successful procedure on his torn left-lateral meniscus this morning in KCK, the Royals have said that Salvador Perez will most likely be out for 14-16 weeks – meaning a possible mid-June return. The 12-14 weeks include both healing time and Minor League rehab assignments.

Feeling a Little Pudgey

Photo Credit: Rob Carr / Getty Images

With Brayan Pena being the only healthy catcher on the 40-man roster, the Royals are on the lookout for a possible veteran platoon partner, much like they did last season with Matt Treanor.

While there are only a handful of available veteran catchers, one name seems to standout above the rest:

Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez.

With Perez out, I’m sure GMDM is looking for someone who could come in and garner instant trust from the pitching staff. So, of the available names, who could be better than a 14-time All-Star, 13-time Gold Glove award winner, former AL MVP?

At 40, his numbers have declined as his age has risen. His bat is nowhere near where it used to be. But in 21 seasons, Pudge has a career slash line of .296/.334/.464. He’s still a tough at-bat and still has a solid-arm behind the plate, throwing out 52% of would-be base stealers in 37 games with Washington in 2011.

The Royals are also said to be sifting through rather lackluster options, like career minor leaguers Craig Tatum, Corky Miller, and Wil Nieves, all of which are extra-light hitting, average defense catchers.

In my mind, Pudge would be the perfect guy to come in and hold Sal’s place while he recovers. Then once Sal is ready to come back, keep Pudge around as a mentor for Perez for the rest of the season. Afterall, if I were a young Latino catcher, who could be better to learn from then one of the best catchers of all-time?

Now have a happy 3:16 day, ’cause Stone Cold said so!

Say It Ain’t So, Sal.

**UPDATE 2**

The Royals have stated that it is a torn left lateral meniscus. Sal will have surgery in Kansas City sometime in the next couple of days. A speedy recovery would mean at least 4 weeks, while the average recovery time is 6-8 weeks. 

*UPDATE*

The Royals have announced that Salvador Perez has torn cartilage in his left knee and that there currently is no timetable for his return.

Cross your fingers KC! And hope that Salvy is a quick healer!

Before yesterday’s 7-5 ST victory over the Reds, Sal Perez and Jonathan Sanchez were doing their usual pre-game warm-up when Salvy suffered some degree of a knee injury. Ned and Royals trainer Nick Kenney checked him out beofre Perez said he was good to go.

Salvy was able to crouch, so he wasn’t scratched from the lineup card. He took the field and caught the 1st inning before being pulled, leaving the game with a “noticeable limp”. And according to his Twitter account, Perez is heading to Kansas City today to have an MRI done on said knee.

Salvador Perez, while he is far from he best player, may be the most valuable and irreplacable guy on the Royals roster right now. He is supposed to be the guy who is the anchor behind the plate and earn the trust of the pitching staff. And he just signed a long-term contract

If all goes well, Perez will be listed as day-today, with his trip to KC just being strictly precautionary. He’ll ice it up, take a few days off, and then get back to work.

If all goes to hell, we’re left with the lovely tandem of Brayan Pena and Max Ramirez/Cody Clark/Free Agent’s name here.

Without Perez behind the plate, the defense obviously takes a huge hit. Brayan Pena and Max Ramirez are both, to a degree, offense first catchers. Pena’s defensive struggles have been well noted in Kansas City, even though he has improved his game.

Manny Pina is already out for at least the first few months of the season due to a tear in his right knee, so he’s out of the short-term equation. Ramirez and Clark are non-roster invitees, meaning that neither one of them are currently oin the 40-man. So to put one of them on the roster would require removing smoeone from the current 40-man. Same goes for a FA.

So for right, now I’m in Hold-Your-Breath Mode. We should know more about the severity of Sal’s knee some time later today and I’ll update as soon as I hear something new.

Breaking Down the Royals Organization by Position: Catcher

Over the next several posts, I’ll be breaking down the entire Royals organization, position by position. My rankings shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone, and most of the top players at each position will be names that you are very familiar with. I’ll be giving you my top 5 guys at each position (excluding outfielders and pitchers, which I’ll expand to 10), a brief synopsis on them, and how I believe their careers shake out. I’ll hand out grades in a typical A-F scale.

Tonight, I’ll start with the grittiest of the grit: Catchers.

5. Jin-Ho Shin- Rookie League (Burlington) age 19

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The Royals signed Shin, an international free agent, out of Korea in 2009. He has been promoted as a Kurt Suzuki type of catcher (advanced eye at the plate, moderate power, and sure-handed defense). To date, he has done little to back that up. After 85 games in two seasons, he’s hitting .189 with 17 extra-base hits and 102 K’s. On defense he hasn’t been any better, throwing out only 14% of base runners. Not exactly awe-inspiring numbers.. He’s only 19 though and still has a chance to prove his worth. Grade: C+. Could increase his grade with a decent showing this season. May be in the major leagues in the next 5 years, but no sooner than that.

4. Manny Pina- AAA (Omaha) age 24

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The Royals acquired Manny Pina from the Rangers in 2009. He split 2010 at AA and AAA, and made his major league debut this past season. Many see Salvador Perez as the Royals catcher for the next 10 years.. Well Manny Pina could be the guy that backs him up. He’s still very young and possesses great knowledge of how to operate behind the plate (35% caught stealing, 31 passed balls in 435 career minor league games). His OBP jumped from .310 in 2010 to .365 in 2011, showing that his plate discipline has taken a step forward (though his batting average hovered around .239 last season). Think Matt Treanor when it comes to Manny’s career. He’ll always be a defense first guy, which is a dying breed as far as starting big league catchers go. Grade: C. See last two sentences.

3. Brayan Pena- MLB (Kansas City) age 30

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How could you not like this guy? He is a clubhouse dream, and one of the nicest, most humble guys you will ever meet, and loves the organization. Brayan, like most Royals these days, is a former Atlanta Brave brought to the heart of America by Dayton Moore. Brayan spent 2010 backing up Mr. Grit himself, Jason Kendall, and split time behind the plate in 2011 with Matt Treanor and Manny Pina before Salvador Perez was called up to take his rightful place.

Brayan is not your typical big league backup catcher, in that he is better known for his bat than his glove. He possesses a little bit of pop (no more than Mitch Maier does) and gets an extra-base hit every now and again, making him a viable bat off the bench. But he has been looking to improve his glove game recently, as he sees what his future in the majors is beginning to look like. In 69 games last season, he had an impressive .995 Fld% while with a caught stealing percentage of 36%. Brayan is an honest, hard-working, and fun-loving guy. Signing a veteran catcher is never off the table to replace him, but as for now he will serve as a decent choice for our backup to Sal. Grade: C. He’ll never be more than what he is now. And I think he’s ok with that. 

2. Cameron Gallagher- Rookie League (Idaho Falls) age 19

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Cameron was the Royals’ second round pick in this past season’s amateur draft. He has only been catching for the past two years, so he will need (and get plenty) of time to grow into the position. At 6-2, 210, he already possesses a big enough frame that some scouts don’t see him sticking behind the plate in the big leagues. But his above average hands could keep him there. His bat should come around, and bring power along with it, supplying offense to a defensive position. If he doesn’t stick behind the plate, however, look for him to take the route of Wil Myers and switch to a corner position. Grade: B. With Salvador Perez being just 22 by Opening Day this coming season, I don’t see Cam sticking as a catcher for too long if the Royals want him to be a part of their big league team in the future. Could serve as trade possible trade bait, but possessing organizational depth is a great asset to have as well.

1. Salvador Perez MLB (Kansas City) age 21

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Salvador Perez is the catcher of the present and future of the Royals. He has all the tools to be a Sandy Alomar type of catcher. Nobody in Kansas City expected him to be playing at The K last season, and certainly nobody expected him to perform as well as he did. Sal had a slash line of .331/.361/.473 in 39 games at the highest level last year with 13 extra base hits (including 3 HRs), and even came within a triple of hitting for the cycle.

We haven’t had anyone with a gun for an arm like his in a long time, as he was seemingly throwing out runners on the corners once a week. And at 6-3, 230, he’s a monster for his position, but he shows the agility and quickness of a shortstop. Perez still has plenty to prove, but he’s off to a tremendous start and has already become a fan favorite. Grade: A. As young and as good as he’s been, I just can’t see him being any worse than a top 10 catcher for years to come.

Next up: First base.