It’s that time of year again.
It’s the time where Royals fans can forget about whose on the team right now and look ahead to the future. Because, y’know, we don’t do enough of that around here.
Baseball America, as part of it’s annual rankings, has released it’s list of the Royals’ top 10 prospects for the 2013 season. There’s no doubt in my mind that you will be very familiar with most of the names they included, while others may require a little clarification.
1. Wil Myers OF age 21
Wil Myers just may be the top prospect in the game. If not, then he’s certainly in the discussion. We’ve done plenty of Wil Myers coverage here at Royal Blues, and I’m sure you have all heard about his unreal 2012 season that ended with him not getting a call up to Kansas City. Dayton Moore may have kept Myers down in Omaha to delay his service time. If that is the case, barring something major happening in the coming months, Wil could remain in Omaha come Opening Day 2013 for the first 30 or so games. After that, right field should be his if it isn’t already. All this being said, I expect Dayton’s man-crush on Jeff Francoeur to start in right to begin next season. But expect to see Wil in Royals’ blue sometime next season.
2. Kyle Zimmer RHP age 21
Before having surgery after the season to remove “loose bodies” in his right elbow, the Royals’ no. 1 draft pick was fairly impressive. In 9 starts (3 in Rookie Ball, 6 in Low-A), Zimmer was 3-3 with a 2.03 ERA and 42 K to 8 BB in 40 innings pitched. His fastball clocks in anywhere routinely between 92-98 mph, while his hard-biting curveball is rated as the organization’s best by Baseball America. He also throws a decent slider and is developing a solid change-up to add to his repertoire. Kyle has the makings of a pitcher who could advance through the Royals’ system quickly and could be in AA NW Arkansas (or possibly AAA Omaha) by next season’s end. He should develop into a top-of-the-rotation pitcher.
3. Bubba Starling OF age 20
It’s too bad Bubba isn’t knocking on the door to Kansas City yet like Mike Trout and Bryce Harper did in 2012. But Mr. Starling is still in need of work in the minors thanks to his limited baseball past. Regardless, he had a good showing in his first season in the Rookie league. In 200 AB, he worked a slash of .275/.371/.485, hit 20 XBH (8 doubles, 2 triples, 10 HR), 33 RBI and had 10 SB in 11 attempts. However, he struck out 70 times in his 200 AB, which will need to be addressed this offseason. Starling is still a fairly raw player, but his combination of power, speed, and major league-ready defense will allow the Royals to overlook some of his short-comings. It’ll still be a while before Bubba makes his way to The K, as it looks like he’ll begin the 2013 season in Low-A ball.
4. Yordano Ventura RHP age 21
“Lil’ Pedro” came on in a big way last season, earning him a spot on the World Team in the Future’s Game, as well as a promotion to AA NW Arkansas. At 5’11” and 140 lbs, Ventura is able to dial-up his fastball (rated by BA as the organization’s best) to triple digits at times, but normally lobs it in the 94-97 mph range. He also throws a hard-breaking curveball that he routinely uses to get hitters to chase when he’s ahead in the count. His change-up is still developing, but he just needs to use it more often for it to be effective. It’s still a question as to whether his height will translate well to being a successful starting pitcher in the major leagues. Ventura likely will start 2013 in NW Arkansas before being promoted to Omaha and possibly Kansas City before season’s end.
5. Jake Odorizzi RHPage 22
Thank goodness Jake Odorizzi’s strong season allowed us to slightly overlook Mike Montgomery and Chris Dwyer’s stinkers. Seen as they key to the Zack Greinke trade, Izzy saw his 2012 season end in Kansas City. While not overpowering, he’s able to deliver all four of his pitches well, while none of them standout more than the others. His low-to-mid 90s fastball has some sink to it, making it probably his best pitch. He has a smooth, repeatable delivery, but needs to improve on his command to make it all come together. He’ll get a chance in spring training to earn a spot in the rotation. Even if he doesn’t do so, don’t expect him to stay in Omaha for long.
6. Jorge Bonifacio OF age 19
At 19, Jorge Bonifacio is already showing signs of becoming a high-average hitter with exceptional power potential and plate awareness. In 2012, while playing in Low A ball, Bonifacio owned a slash of .282/.336/.482 while knocking 36 XBH (20 doubles, 6 triples, 10 HR). To go with his projectable bat is a terrific arm that suits him perfectly to become a future corner outfielder, particulary in RF given his average to below-average speed. If he continues to develop along the same line, he projects as a hitter likened to Billy Butler: hitting for average, both pull and opposite field power, while driving balls deep to both gaps. Class A Wilmington is where he’ll start 2013.
7. Adalberto Mondesi SS age 17
Mondesi is already displaying skills that are well beyond his age. The Royals signed the son of former big leaguer Raul Mondesi in 2011 at the ripe age of 16. In 2012, the switch-hitting SS hit .290/.346/.386 in 207 AB for Rookie level Idaho Falls. He also drove in 30 runs and swiped 11 bases in 13 attempts. He’s already developing as a quality hitter, showing that he can drive pitches to deep into gaps and hit for some pop (3 HR in 47 games). His greatest assest though may be his smooth skillset in the field. He has a great glove, soft hands, and shows the ability to get to plenty of balls in the hole that most other shortstops at his age simply can’t reach. He did have 23 errors last season, but those numbers should go down with time. Given his youth, his ceiling remains very high. He could be in Low A ball to start 2013, making him the youngest player in the league.
8. Sam Selman LHP age 22
Selman was the Royals’ 2nd round pick in this summer’s draft, and like Zimmer, had a stellar debut in 2012. Sam went 5-4 in 13 games (12 starts) with a 2.09 ERA, 89 K, and a .199 AVG against in 60 innings pitched. He has developed into a real “power lefty”, as he’s able to get his fastball up to 98 on occasion. He also throws an above-average slider, giving him two plus-pitches. He’ll start his first full season of pro ball in one of the Royals’ A-level affiliates. Given his background as a college pitcher, Selman likely could progress through the system quickly.
9. Orlando Calixte SS age 20
Orlando Calixte had a great second half in 2012 after being promoted to High-A Wilmington, where he hit .281/.326/.426. He possesses an above-average bat for his position, both average and power-wise, and is a terrific defender with a strong arm. Of the organization’s handful of talented shortstop prospects, Calixte is the closest to being big league ready. AA NW Arkansas is where he’ll start 2013, but could push for a promotion to Omaha quickly.
10. Jason Adam RHP age 21
Despite his 7-12 record in 27 starts at High-A Wilmington this season, Adam still managed to post a 3.53 ERA. He also recorded 123 K to just 36 BB in 158 IP and held opponents to a .238 AVG while averaging around 6 innings per start. Jason has average big league fastball velocity (90-92). Scouts believe he’s lost some velocity due to his new and much simpler delivery. But on the other hand, his new approach on the mound has allowed him to command his pitches better by limiting the hip turn and high leg kick of his old delivery. He still needs to develop solid second and third pitches (curveball and changeup), though he controls them well. Right now, Adam looks like anywhere from a no. 3-5 starter to most. He’ll pitch in NW Arkansas to begin 2013.
- Mike Montgomery LHP
- John Lamb LHP
- Chris Dwyer LHP
- Noel Arguelles LHP
- Christian Colon SS/2B
- Cheslor Cuthbert 3B
- Brett Eibner OF
Royal Blues Prospect Watch List:
- Kyle Smith RHP
- Justin Marks LHP
- Elier Hernandez OF
- Bryan Brickhouse RHP
- Sugar Ray Marimon RHP
- Cameron Gallagher C
- Lane Adams OF
- Humbero Arteaga SS
- Alexis Rivera OF
- Jack Lopez SS
- Patrick Leonard 3B/OF
- Colin Rodgers LHP
Sorry for being a few days behind on this post, but I figure these roster moves are still worth noting.
Yuniesky Betancourt was DFA’d and Jose Mijares was claimed off the waiver wire by the Giants.
In turn, IF Tony Abreu and LHP Francisely Bueno were both promoted from Omaha to Kansas City. In a correspondence, SS Christian Colon was promoted from NW Arkansas to Omaha to take Abreu’s spot.
The two subtractions from the big league roster are a little odd. Let’s start with the Yuni move.
Coming into the season, Yuniseky Betancourt was signed to a one-year deal knowing that he would serve as the team’s utility infielder. A decent spring, Gio’s demotion, and the fact that Chris Getz is a left-handed hitter lead to Yuni becoming the right-handed half of the second base platoon. He was even the starter at second on Opening Day. Over the season, Yuni has had his ups and downs. On the plus side, he had a little bit of pop (7 HR in 215 AB) and seemed to come through in clutch situations. He also played passable defense at both second and third base (5 E, .975 Fld%) for a role-player. But that’s about it.
Yuni didn’t strikeout a ton (25 K), but his ability to take a walk was laughable (9 BB in 228 PA). His slash line of .228/.256/.400 was worthy of demotion, he had little-to-no speed, and continually ran into outs on the basepaths. But even with all of these fireable offenses, Yuni felt that he deserved more playing time – and that’s why the Royals opted to part ways with him.
“…and Yuni did a great job for us, but he was a guy that wanted more playing time. He would get upset when he didn’t, but Getz was playing good. There were just situations. We’re trying to win the ballgame, and we’re going to put the best team on the field every day.” “…We’ve got to make sure that if we’re going to change our culture, we have 25 guys who are invested in what we’re trying to do.” – Yost on Yuni
Thus, the team designated Betancourt for assignment after Sunday’s win over Cleveland. The Royals have 10 days to trade (if another team claims him), release, or demote him. I could see a team that has suffered an injury or needs a right-handed hitting platoon partner at either 2B, SS, or 3B take a chance on claiming Yuni.
The next day, a puzzling roster move took place when the Royals let Jose Mijares go to the Giants on a waiver claim. There are a lot of confusing pieces to this one:
- Why would KC want to part with a relatively young (27), productive (51 G, 38.2 IP, 2-2, 2.56 ERA, 11 holds in 51 appearances), and affordable/controllable (arbitration eligible through 2014) lefty from the ‘pen?
- More importantly, why would they let him go for virtually nothing?
The real answer lies in Mijares’ future earning potential. The Royals signed Mijares to a one-year, $925K deal this past offseason after he was non-tendered by the Twins. Expectations were relatively low coming into the season for Jose, even after he made the team out of spring training, mostly due to his 2011 numbers: 58 G, 49 IP, 0-2, 4.59 ERA, 1.694 WHIP, and a 1:1 K:BB ratio. But given his success thus far in 2012, he’s likely to command a sizable raise next season (club officials reportedly believe he could earn up to $2.5 million in arbitration for 2013).
The team reportedly couldn’t find any takers for Mijares before the July 31st trade deadline and didn’t believe that he would be a part of this team moving forward.
“If we could have (traded him), we would have. We just need to see some other guys. We have multiple people in our organization who think Bueno can be just as effective against left-handers and get right-handers out as well.” – Dayton Moore on Jose Mijares
Now on the additions: Utility infielder Tony Abreu and LHP Francisely Bueno.
With Yuni out of the picture, the Royals were in need of a utility infielder who could fill in at second, third, and short any given day. Instead of recalling Irving Falu, the Royals opted to give 27 year old career minor leaguer Tony Abreu a chance. Abreu has seen time in the big leagues before (65 combined games for the Dodgers in ’07 and ’09, and 81 games for the Diamondbacks in ’10), so he won’t be seeing big league pitching for the first time.
Abreu, a switch-hitting utility infielder, has been hitting extremely well in Omaha while primarily playing shortstop. In 103 games, he hit .322/.347/.839 with 50 XBH (36 2B, 5 3B, 9 HR), 60 R, 73 RBI, and 7 SB (although he did have 69 K to 14 BB). His OBP is definitely aided by his high batting average, but his 50 extra-base hits through 103 games is definitely noteworthy.
Tony saw action in the first three games after his promotion, going 3-for-10 with 2 doubles, a run scored and a run batted in while both third and short.
Francisley Bueno was recalled from Omaha after Mijares was claimed by San Francisco. Bueno has already seen time in Kansas City this season, allowing 5 hits and 2 runs in 4.2 IP (3 appearances), good for a 3.86 ERA and a 1.071 WHIP. He’s been better for Omaha in 2012; in 35 games (55.2 IP), Bueno has a 2.75 ERA, 54 K to 15 BB, and a 1.042 WHIP with 6 saves.
At 31, Bueno isn’t a young prospect who needs to get his feet wet at the big league level. But he’s performed well for the Royals’ organization this year and deserves as much of a chance as anybody. if it weren’t for his left-handedness, I’m not sure he gets the call here. But given that he is a lefty, as is Mijares, Bueno will get a shot to stick on the roster.
Lastly, even though it wasn’t a big league promotion, SS Christian Colon – the no. 4 overall pick in the 2010 draft – was promoted from Double-A NW Arkansas to Triple-A Omaha after the Storm Chaser’s everyday SS (Abreu) was called up to Kansas City.
Colon, who many see as a second basemen/utility player in the future, was hitting .289/.364/.392 with 5 HR, 27 RBI, and 12 SB in 73 games for the Naturals this season. Given he’s 23 years old, most feel that Colon should have been at Omaha to start the season since the Royals selected him with the intention that he would be on the fast track to Kansas City. Colon will serve as the everyday SS in Omaha given the fact that Johnny Giavotella (who is raking, by the way) is holding his own at second base.
Personally, I would like to see Colon in Kansas City sometime this season, and he’ll likely be a September call-up.
Second base is without a doubt the position the Royals have the most unanswered questions about. Johnny Giavotella, Yuniesky Betancourt, and Chris Getz all have very legitimate shots at making the 25-man roster out of Spring Training. One will win the starting job, one will be the back up, and one will be sent to Omaha or released. It’s not particularly a deep position within the organization, but it contains a few names that are worth keeping an eye on.
5. Tony Abreu- (Reno – Dbacks) age 27
The Royals signed Tony Abreu, a switch-hitting IF, to a one-year minor league contract with an invite to Spring Training this past December. He spent all of last season in Reno (the Dbacks AAA affiliate), where he .292/.335/.429, though he has a career line in parts of three big league seasons with the Dodgers and Diamondbacks of .251/.279/.309. He showed a little bit of power last season (10 HR, 26 doubles), but failed to earn a big league promotion. For his career he’s hitting left-handed than right-handed, but not by much (.255 to .241), and has almost a 4:1 K/BB ratio, which doesn’t bode well for him.
His value though lies in his versatility on the defensive side of it all. In the majors, he’s played 49 games at 3B, 38 games at 2B, and 22 at SS; though in the minors he’s played 531 games at 2B, 105 at SS, and only 28 games at 3B. His defense itself leaves a lot to be desired (career dWAR of 0.03), but as a guy off the bench who can play twice a week and occasionally pinch hit, he holds some value.
Grade: C-. Tony mainly provides the Royals with organizational depth this season with the potential of playing in a handful of games in Kansas City this summer barring injuries. His value lies in his utility-ness (submit that one to Webster’s) and his ability to switch-hit. He’ll be in Omaha for sure.
4. Rey Navarro- (Northwest Arkansas) age 22
Up until this past season, Rey Navarro was a primarily a SS in the Diamondbacks organization (the Royals acquired him 2010 for Carlos Rosa). After becoming a member of the Royals, he was switched over to the other side of the bag, however. After a hot start to his season that started in Single-A Wilmington, hitting .285 with 8 HR and 7 triples in 72 games, he was promoted to Double-A Northwest Arkansas. He cooled off a bit after the promotion, but maintained a decent ability to get on base (.332 OBP) and a 2:1 K:BB ratio. He is a high contact middle infielder, which is why I am fairly high on him.
Grade: C+. I see Navarro starting the season in Northwest Arkansas. Though if he starts the season off on the right foot like he did in 2011, he could quickly earn a call-up to Omaha. As far as his position, I’m not quite sure though. It all depends on if the Royals plan to keep Christian Colon at SS for another season. Rey’s ceiling may be as a Tony Abreu-type player, given the fact that he is also a switch hitter and has the ability to play all over the field.
3. Chris Getz- (Royals) age 28
More affectionally known as “Getzy”, Chris Getz will find himself this Spring competing for a spot on the 25-man roster. Last season, Getz struggled to stay consistent. He was above average in May and June, hitting .274 and .292. He cooled off quickly after that though, hitting .233, .217, and .235 in the remaining three months of the season; thus losing his job to the Royals organizational hitter of the year, Johnny Giavotella.
After Gio’s call-up, Getz was relegated to Utility duty, backing up at 2B, SS, and 3B. He would occasionally pinch run in the later innings of close games for Billy Butler due to his speed (84% career SB rate).
Grade: C. If Getzy is on the 2012 Opening Day roster, it will be as a UTIL player. His defense is sub-par (as well as his arm) and his bat is not good enough to make up for it. But a speedy, left-handed hitting utility infielder who is regarded as the best bunter on the team could be of value as Ned plans to make more in-game substitutions this year.
Christian Colon- (Northwest Arkansas) age 22
SS Christian Colon was the Royals first round pick (4th overall) out of Cal-State Fullerton in 2010. Regarded as a slight reach, but one of the safest picks in the draft, Colon signed quickly enough that he was able to get in 60 games at Wilmington where he hit .278/.326/.380 with 17 extra base hits while playing exclusively at SS.
He spent all of the 2011 season at Double-A NW Arkansas, where he was solid, but unimpressive, hitting .257 with 24 extra base hits. The most exciting thing was his nearly 1:1 K:BB ratio (51:46). His advanced plate discipline and ability to consistently make contact have put Christian on the fast track to Kansas City.
Due to his slower speed (as far as shortstops are concerned) and lack of range for the position, I see him moving to 2B full-time this season (he played 15 games at 2B in 2011).
Grade: B-. Colon has a real chance at making an appearance at the K this September if his transition to 2B goes smoothly. He has the ability to become a steady player at the big league level, but he most likely won’t be a star. He is very comparable to Orlando Cabrera.
1. Johnny Giavotella- (Kansas City) age 24
Although Gio’s debut in Kansas City left a lot to be desired, he absolutely killed it in Omaha last season, hitting .338/.390/.481, including 34 doubles, 9 HR and a 57:40 K:BB ratio. Putting up numbers like that will always get a player recognized, earning him the Royals’ George Brett Hitter of the Year award, a spot on the Topps AAA All-Star team, and a promotion to Kansas City.
Johnny’s bat is what got him here and it’s going to have to be what keeps him here, as his defense leaves a lot to be desired (-0.6 dWAR) and he’s not particularly quick on the basepaths (though Doug Sisson will probably change that). His line drive stroke though is too sweet to overlook. Some of those deep gap doubles will turn into HR’s as his pitch selection improves.
Grade: B-. To me, Giavotella is one of the most exciting young players on the roster right now. He’s a “lightning in a bottle” type of player who gives everything he’s got for all 9 innings. I’m not sold on his defensive staying power yet, but if he can come close to replicating what he did in Omaha last year, his bat will be more than enough to keep him around.
Next time – Moving our way across the diamond: Shortstops
Word around the web is that the Royals are possibly talking about a deal that would send closer Joakim Soria to the Blue Jays for either Travis d’Arnaud and/or a #1 starter, which has reportedly hit a snag. Let me explain to you one of the ways this could make any sense for KC:
Blue Jays get: Joakim Soria CL
Royals get: James Shields RHP
Rays get: Travis d’Arnaud C, Clint Robinson 1B, Christian Colon 2B/SS, Cheslor Cuthbert 3B
Blue Jays get: Joakim Soria CL
Royals get: Travis d’Arnaud C, Kyle Drabek RHP
A straight-up trade sending Soria to Toronto for d’Arnaud would be just ridiculous. While having young catching depth within the system would provide insurance incase this whole Salvador Perez experiment doesn’t work out (sarcasm), it just doesn’t make sense unless another piece is sent to KC in return.
We’ve been hearing rumors all off-season about how the Royals would be more than happy to take James Shields off the Rays hands, and this might be a fairly logical way of doing so.
In my first scenario, the Jays would get the proven, All-Star caliber closer they need in that division in Soria. The Royals would get the #1 starter in Shields they have desperately been seeking since the days of Saberhagen and Appier. The Rays would gain not one..not two.. but three young players who could step potentially quickly into their big league lineup and a young power hitter with a high, high ceiling. Robinson would finally get his shot since he would be blocked by absolutely nobody in Tampa, Colon would be a welcome addition at either position in an abysmal middle infield, Cuthbert would provide them with a young, top-tier prospect at either 3b, 1B, or corner OF position, and d’Arnaud would give the Rays another option incase Robinson Chirinos doesn’t pan out.
The second scenario seems likely as well. The Jays would be selling low on the former top prospect, yet still very young promising starter Kyle Drabek. He had a rough go-around last season, starting only 14 games and surrendering more BB’s than K’s (55-51). But there is a reason the Jays wanted to hold onto him last year when the Royals were shopping Greinke. The potential is there.
I’m not saying either one of these scenarios have a snowball’s chance of happening. But hey, it’s fun to talk about and a good way to kick-off the blog’s first post!