The Royals made a small, but not insignificant, move this morning with the Pittsburgh Pirates.
What the Royals get:
- Luis Santos RHP
- Luis Rico LHP
We all know that teams are always looking to add starting pitching, and this trade does just that. What the Royals gained in the move is two young (Santos 21; Rico 19), low-level starting pitchers. Neither of the Luis’ are top prospects by any means, Luis Santos is said to be the better pro prospect of the two. He’s pitched as both a starter and reliever, showing improved strikeout and groundball rates. In the Dominican Summer League, Santos went 6-3 with a 74/20 K/BB ratio to go along with his 2.44 ERA in 62.2 IP. At 19 years old, Luis Rico had a 7.04 ERA in 9 starts while pitching in the Dominican Summer League as well.
What the Pirates get:
- Vin Mazzaro RHP
- Clint Robinson 1B
Vin Mazzaro fell out of favor quickly in KC, thanks in part to the record setting outing he had in 2011 where he gave up 14 runs in 2.2 IP. After that, basically everybody in Kansas City had seen enough of Cousin Vinny (Mazzaro, not the Joe Pesci film). In all, Mazzaro accumulated a 6.72 ERA in his 25 appearances with the Royals. Although he’s been a starter all througout his time with the A’s (beofre being traded to KC), as well as in the minors, Ned Yost opted to use him either as a spot-starter or long reliever more often than not.
Poor Clint Robinson. Being blocked by Billy Butler and Eric Hosmer meant that Clint was never going to see the light of day while wearing Royals blue. At 27 years old, he’s hardly a prospect anymore. He’s always shown he has the ability to hit minor league pitching (691 games: .325 AVG, 130 HR, 184 2B, 1.5 K/BB), but has always had a highly-touted prospect ahead of him in the pecking order. He did manage to get a taste of the bigs in 2012 where he went 0-for-4 with 2 Ks. Hardly enough to truly know what a guy can do, but enough to move on from.
The Royals were lucky to get anything in return for Mazzaro and Robinson. They, along with five others, were DFA’d last week – meaning that the Royals have 10 days to either trade them, release them, or send them through waivers.
The Royals have made a bundle of moves today.
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 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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
If you pay attention to Royals news, then you probably already knew this move was coming.
In an effort to bolster their bench with some much-need left-handed power while playing in National League venues, the Royals demoted lefty Ryan Verdugo back to Omaha and promoted 1B Clint Robinson to Kansas City.
At 27 years old, C-Rob is finally getting his first shot at the big leagues. His story has been well-documented by Royals faithful. Ever since being picked in the 25th round of the 2007 draft, the former Troy University star has done nothing but hit. In 2010, while playing at Double A Northwest Arkansas, Clint hit .335 with 29 HRs en route to winning the Texas League Triple Crown. He followed that up in 2011 by .326 with 58 XBH (35 2B, 23 HR). Before his promotion, Robinson was continuing his hitting ways to the tune of .314/.418/.500 with 37 RBI and 27 XBH.
But Clint has been blocked by more highly-touted prospects all along the way like Billy Butler, Kila Ka’aihue, and this Eric Hosmer guy.
Robinson’s stay with the big league club may not last very long, for this just seems like a push for a little extra offense while on the road. The Royals have routinely carried an extra pitcher on their roster this season (and if you’ve been watching the Royals, you know exactly why).
If Clint sees any playing time in Pittsburgh this weekend, it’ll most likely be as a pich-hitter / injury replacement. This could be a terrific platform for Clint, however, to prove he belongs in the majors. If not in Kansas City, then with another big league team with a 1B/DH opening.
Coming into Spring Training this year, the Royals were pretty much set at every position, with a few exceptions: 2B, CF, #4 and #5 starters, and LH relievers. That may seem like a lot of positions to have uncertainty at, but a lot of them are truly position battles. In the darker days of this franchise, it used to be there was one clear-cut favorite for a position. And no matter how he did, all he had to do was basically show up every day and the job was his. The Royals have some legitimate position battles going on this Spring, and within these battles there is always at least one dark horse.
If Salvador Perez hadn’t torn his left meniscus the other day, there wouldn’t be any questions as to who the two catchers on the roster would be coming out of camp. But now that it’s looking like Sal could be out until at least mid-June or later, a few new names have come up as the potential #2 to Brayan Pena.
Cody Clark – 30
At 30 years young, Cody Clark is hardly a young up-and-comer. He’s spent the last 2 seasons at Triple A Omaha, primarily as the backup catcher. He isn’t a great hitter, but his numbers are pretty much what you’d expect from a catcher (career .254/.320/.394). And although his arm isn’t much to brag about (33% career caught stealing), his glove is major league quality (career .992 Fld%), never committing more than 6 E in one season.
He is making his first start of the Spring today against Cleveland, ahead of Max Ramirez.
Max Ramirez – 27
Max Ramirez is an offensive-first catcher, period. Once a top catching prospect for the Rangers, Max has done nothing but hit during his 8 seasons in the minors, with a line of .295/.389/.478 with 85 HR and 146 2B. His glove is average at best, and his arm is less than stellar (27% CS).
With Brayan Pena already on the roster, having two mostly offensive catchers might not make much sense. But if Max keeps hitting like he has been this Spring (7 for 15, 3 HR, 9 RBI) it’d be hard not to bring him on board.
Kevin Kouzmanoff – 30
Kouz has been playing well this Spring, going 3 for 10 in 7 games played, including a walk-off double. He’s always had the ability to hit if given the chance. But the real reasons he’s here are the fact that he’s a vacuum over at 3B, and he’s a right-handed hitting alternative to Mike Moustakas against tough lefties.
If the Royals keep Johnny Giavotella and Yuni Betancourt (thus sending Chris Getz to Triple A), Kouz has a real shot at breaking camp with the Royals as the backup corner infielder.
Clint Robinson – 27
He may be a AAAA player, but right now he’s just a guy who’s never gotten a real chance to show his stuff. Clint profiles as a DH/1B, mostly due to his size (6’5″ 235) and raw power. He won the hitter’s triple crown in 2010 in Double A(.335/.410/.625 29 HR, 98 RBI, 41 2B, 58:86 BB:K ratio, and almost replicated those numbers again last year in Triple A (.326/.399/.533 23 HR, 100 RBI, 35 2B, 58:86 BB:K ratio). If he had been in almost any other organization, there’s no doubt that Robinson would have made his Major League debut by now. But since he’s been blocked by Billy Butler, Eric Homser, and Kila Ka’aihue, he has yet to see an at-bat in KC.
If he wants to make the team out of Spring, he’ll need to log more innings at one of the corner OF spots and prove he isn’t enough of a defensive liability to offset his bat. He could be a great left-handed power bat coming off the bench for Ned in 2012.
David Lough – 26
Lough does everything right. He hits, runs, and fields well, while occasionally flashing a little bit of power. He’s been compared to David DeJesus, except that he runs much better. He’s already hit 2 triples this Spring, and has logged significant innings at all 3 OF spots. Lough could very well supplant Mitch Maier as the 4th OFer on this roster.
Luis Mendoza RHP – 28
Without a doubt, Luis Mendoza has been the Royals’ most outstanding pitcher this Spring. He’s 3-0 in 10.2 IP with a 0.84 ERA, 11:1 K:BB ratio, .135 AVG against, and 0.56 WHIP. He seemed to get is act together last year in Omaha, and was called up to Kansas City to make two starts in September, going 2-0 with a 1.23 ERA in 14.2 IP.
Mendoza is in an all out brawl with Danny Duffy and Felipe Paulino for that 4th or 5th spot in the rotation. At this point, Mendoza is almost a near lock to make the team out of Spring Training. But the question is whether he winds up as a part of the rotation or the bullpen.
Kelvin Herrera RHP – 22
After being converted from a starter to a reliever and pitching at almost every level in the organization last year, Herrera has an outside shot to start the season in KC. He’s got a true power arm, being able to hit the upper-90’s consistently. He currently sports a 1.50 ERA in 6 IP this Spring with 9 K to 2 BB and a .190 AVG against.
It might take an injury to one of Coleman, Holland, or Broxton for Herrera to make the 25-man roster this April, though anything can happen between now and then.
Tommy Hottovy LHP – 30
The hometown kid has been impressive in his short time as a Royal. He hasn’t surrendered a run in 4.2 IP thus far, giving up only 5 hits while striking out 5 and walking 0. Tommy has started games before earlier in his minor league career, though his TJ surgery probably put that part of his career in the rear view. But he is capable of going more than one or two innings.
Yost has stated that he wants more than just one lefty in the bullpen, and Tommy could be that guy given the fact that he could fill a number of bullpen roles (long reliever, middle reliever, situational lefty).
The Kansas City Royals first base situation right now is the best that it has been in a long, long time. So let’s get right into it.
5. Richard (Dean) Espy- Rookie (Idaho Falls) age 22
Heckuva last name, right? The Royals selected Espy in the 15th round of this past year’s draft. He projects as more of a line-drive type of hitter given his level swing path. He has never hit for very much power for a first basemen (as evidenced by his 7 HR’s this past season in Idaho Falls), but was able to hit 17 doubles in those same 62 games. His defense is average to above average, so think along the lines of Casey Kotchman. Grade:C+. He did hit .318/.391/.489 in his first pro season, showing he can handle the bat thus far. But being in the Rookie league at 22, while Hosmer is in Kansas City at age 22, does not bode well for him.
4. Murray Watts- A (Kane County) age 24
Grade: A+. This may be the only A+ I hand out, and if you can present an argument against, I would love to hear it. Enough said.
Up next: Second baggers.
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!