Tagged: Irving Falu

Salvation is Nigh

The morning after the Omaha Storm Chasers fell to Reno in defense of their PCL title, the Royals promoted a handful a players from the Triple-A club.

Among them was a name Royals fans have been clamoring for: Jake Odorizzi.

Between Double-A and Triple-A this season, the righthander was solid: 15-5, 3.03 ERA, a 135/50 K/BB ratio, and a WHIP of 1.25 in 145.3 innings pitched (26 games, 25 starts). While Odorizzi was definitely deserving of a big league promotion, the move also comes with being added to the 40-man roster – meaning Jake will not be available to other ball clubs in the upcoming Rule 5 draft this winter.

Fans in Kansas City have been calling Odorizzi’s name for most of the season, given the inconcistent performances of starting pitchers Luke Hochevar, Jonathan Sanchez, Bruce Chen, and the season-ending injuries suffered by Danny Duffy and Felipe Paulino. But Dayton Moore opted to keep Izzy in Triple-A through the remainder of their season to work on lowering his pitch count by using his pitches more effectively (he averaged only 5-6 innings per start this season) and compete for the PCL title.

Given the heavy workload he’s already had this season, Odorizzi figures to just get a taste of big league action this season. Ned Yost has said that he’ll be in the bullpen for the time being, but is slated to start Sunday’s home game against Cleveland if he isn’t needed before then. He’s been given number 49.

The others promoted to Kansas City are catcher Adam Moore, IF/U Irving Falu, LHP Tommy Hottovy, and RHP Nate Adcock. Noth Hottovy and Adcock figure to serve as extra bullpen depth, while Falu could see some playing time all over the field.

Adam Moore was claimed off of waivers this July after the Mariners DFA’d him. The 28 year old hasn’t wowed anyone during his time in the majors (68 games, .197/.231/.295, 13 XBH (5 HR), 17 RBI, 72 K, 8 BB), but his line of .296/.381/.443 and 11 XBH (3 HR) in 35 games with Omaha this season has earned Moore a look. The Royals now have four active catchers: Sal Perez, Brayan Pena, Manny Pina, and Moore.

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Second Half Preview

At 37-47, the Royals had a less than stellar “first half” of the 2012 season. They’re currently in 4th place in the AL Central and 9.5 games back of the Chicago White Sox (47-38).

In what has been a notoriously weak division, the Royals have had many chances to control their own fate within the division. But thanks to a 12-game never-to-be-spoken-of-again losing streak, crippling injuries, terribly inconsistent starting pitching, and slumping bats, the Royals have yet to take that leap into contention. Currently, they’re on-pace for a 71-91 record.

Returning From the DL

The Royals are getting to key players back tonight to kickoff this half of the season. Both Lorenzo Cain and Chris Getz are scheduled to be in the lineup tonight as the Royals take on the White Sox.

Lorenzo Cain has been out since April 10th when he strained his left groin after running into the center field wall in Oakland. He was close to returning to the lineup in late April before he tore his left hip flexor during a rehab assignment with Northwest Arkansas, causing him to extend his stay on the DL until this past Monday.

Chris Getz has been able to see a little more playing time than Cain, even though he’s only played in 36 of the team’s 84 games (partly due to platooning with Yuni). Getz strained his left leg back in mid-June in the 1st inning of that glorious 15-inning win in St. Louis. In his place, the Royals have used Betancourt, Falu, and Giavotella. Before this stint on the DL, Getz was having a fairly good season – .290/.327/.380, 5 doubles, 2 triples, 8 RBI, 12 R, 6 SB (1 CS), and just 9 K to 6 BB. His ability to situationaly hit and steal bases will be welcome additions to a lineup starving to manufacture runs.

The Trade Deadline

The Royals are “sellers” now. Let’s just get that point out there from the get-go. Barring a miraculous winning streak, they’ll be battling it out with the Twins to say who can stay out of the AL Central cellar. But the Royals may have a few attractive trade pieces that could: a) bring value back in return; b) clear the way for a more deserving player; and c) invigorate the fan-base in what could be a long second half.

  • Jonathan Broxton: Brox is performing well this season. He’s recorded 21-f0r-24 in converting saves and has a 1.99 ERA in 31 appearances. The former two-time All-Star was one of five players up for the final roster spot on the AL All-Star roster this season – so there’s no doubt as to whether Broxton has regained his form. He’s signed to a one-year, $2 million deal and will be a free agent at the end of the season – where in which the Royals will not be able to collect a compensation pick if he opts to sign elsewhere. His value right now is as high as it will ever be, although relievers anymore don’t often fetch a premium return. The Royals bullpen likely would be able to pick up the slack left by Broxton, with one of Crow, Holland, or Herrera shifting to the closer role. The New York Mets have been mentioned as a possible trade partner, though the Royals are looking for Major League-eady help in return. Me thinks: NY Mets (46-40), Toronto (43-43), or Boston (43-43).
  • Jeff Francoeur: It’s time for the Dayton Moore to seriously think about life after Frenchy. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge fan of Jeff Francoeur. He’s a great guy to have in the clubhouse and I have no doubts in his work ethic at all. He gives all he’s got with every pitch of every game. But he’s hitting just .251/.289/.378 this season, knocking in only 25 runs while managing to hit just 7 homeruns thus far – which is not exactly what you want from a guy who’s trypically the no.5 hitter in the lineup everyday. But the main, loudest, biggest, over riding reason to rid our lineup of Frenchy: he’s blocking Wil Myers. Moving Francoeur won’t be easy. He’s currently in the first year of a two-year, $14 million deal, which is sure to keep trade partners at a minimum. The Royals would have to likely eat most of his contract if they want to move him. Teams in the playoff hunt looking for a lefty-mashing platoon partner will likely fill-up the Francoeur market. He won’t likely command a huge return. Me thinks: Boston (43-43), Pittsburgh (48-37), LA Dodgers (47-40), Cincinnati (47-38), or Miami (41-44).
  • Yuniesky Betancourt: Outside of his defensive shortcomings, Yuni has been serviceable this season at second base. He’s been platooning there most of the season with a combination of Getz, Falu, and Giavotella and has even played a few games at third. Although his defense isn’t anything to write home about, he does have the ability to play second base almost every day while filling in at both shortstop and third, thus increasing his value to teams with injuries or teams looking for versatility off the bench. The Royals have an adequate replacement for Yuni in Irving Falu, so losing him won’t necessarily create any holes. He’s hitting just .242 and doesn’t take many walks, but he also doesn’t strikeout a ton and has adequate power (6 HR and 31 RBI in 165 AB). He’s only signed through 2012, so moving his contract won’t be an issue. Practically every team could use a versitile bench guy with some pop. Yuni may be able to be flipped for a reliever. Me thinks: San Francisco (46-40), Tampa Bay (45-41), Atlanta (46-39), or Texas (52-34).
  • Jose Mijares: The Royals signed Mijares this offseason to a one-year deal after he was non-tendered by the Twins, and the lefty has been worth every penny thus far. In 41 appearances, covering just 33.1 innings, Jose has recorded 32 K to just 7 BB while surrendering just 6 earned runs (1.62 ERA). Given his IP vs. appearances, it’s easy to see that he’s a lefty specialist – a bullpen piece that nearly every big league manager covets. He’s able to be under team control for the next five years due to arbitration, which could be attractive to willing trade partners. A LOOGY by trade, he could be had fairly easily. Me thinks: Any team in playoff contention.

Rising Stars

Both Wil Myers and Jake Odorizzi have been dominant at the Triple-A level this season. Having said that, both are likely to see some playing time in Kansas City this season. The question is when.

Jeff Francoeur is still on the roster and Lorenzo Cain is going to be given every opportunity to show what he can do in center field – effectively blocking Myers’ path. At sone point though, his number will be called; whether it be from a trade, injury, or as a September call-up.

Odorizzi, on the other hand, will likely get the nod for the starting rotation soon. Other than Bruce Chen and maybe Luke Hochevar, nobody in the current starting rotation should be blocking Izzy’s path to Kansas City. The Royals’ rotation is atrocious right now, and giving Odorizzi a shot to prove himself can only make it better.

Then you have guys like LHPs Will Smith and Ryan Verdugo, OFers David Lough and Derrick Robinson, and 2B Johnny Giavotella who all have potential and could make an impact in Kansas City in the coming months.

Finally Having the Optimal Lineup

For the first time this season, the Royals will debut the batting order they thought they would have coming out of Spring Training. But then Salvador Perez went to the DL, followed by Lorenzo Cain and then Chris Getz. But now that all three are back and presumably healthy, the Royals’ lineup should look a lot like this:

  1. LF Gordon L
  2. SS Escobar R
  3. 1B Hosmer L
  4. DH Butler R
  5. 3B Moustakas L
  6. RF Francoeur R
  7. C Perez R
  8. 2B Getz L / Betancourt R
  9. CF Cain R

If KC had this lineup to begin the season, we might be thinking about the trade deadline a little differently.

Jonathan Sanchez Drama

Okay, drama might not be the right word. For now, at least. But it is baffling to me that the Royals are still letting Jonathan Sanchez trot out to the mound every fifth day while he’s still surrendering more walks than strikeouts. “That’s just the way I pitch,” was Sanchez’s rebuttle when asked about his high walk totals.

That may be the way he pitches, but that’s not the way any team wins. The guy’s body language stinks – which you’ve probably heard Rex Hudler say once or twice before. He has all the demeanor of a guy who either doesn’t love baseball or doesn’t want to be here.

Either way, he’s gotta go.

I know we gave up Melky for him, and gosh does that look bad right about now. But at the time, most of us probably would have made the same deal that Dayton did.

He’s a free agent at the end of 2012, and the Royals can’t possibly be contemplating bring him back for 2013 and beyond. But with a 1-5 record and a 6.75 ERA while giving up an average of 7.4 BB/9 to just 5.4 K/9 (not to mention a WHIP of nearly 2.00), trading him for anything but a bag of peanuts is likely out of the question.

Shape up, or ship out.

What a Week It Was For Kansas City

The All-Star festivities have officially come and gone in Kansas City.

Billy Butler doffs his hemlet before his first at-bat in the 7th inning to a roaring crowd.

FanFest was an overwhelming success.

Talk about sensory overload…

Upon going up the escalator to the show room at Bartle Hall, when you see the banners hanging from the ceiling, authentic baseball memorabilia on walls and tables, Cal Ripken and Barry Larkin instructing a local high school baseball team on proper fielding techniques, everybody thinking and talking about baseball, and nearly 80% of the fans attending wearing Royals gear, you knew you were in baseball heaven.

If you didn’t do anything else baseball related during All-Star week in Kansas City, I hope you at least took a few hours to venture downtown, take a stroll through Barney Allis Plaza on your way to FanFest. It was a living, breathing baseball museum with every ounce of baseball history covered from head-to-toe. And for $30 a ticket, you got way more than what you paid for.

The All-Star Future’s Game drew a record crowd.

40,000+ attended the Future’s Game most likely due to the presence of future Royals Wil Myers, Jake Odorizzi, and Yordano Ventura. If that doesn’t make Dayton Moore call-up Myers and/or Odorizzi, I don’t know what will.

It goes to show you though, if you put an exciting product on the field, the stadium will be filled almost every single night. This is a baseball town. We just haven’t had many teams to rally behind in the past 10+ years.

The Homerun Derby… was everything a Royals fan could have ever wanted (outside of seeing Billy Butler send a few BP fastballs into the fountains).

Apparently word gets around. #BooCano Photo Credit: H. Darr beiser / US Presswire

Oh, what a night it was.

The Homerun Derby is, and always will be, an exciting affair. And this year’s was no exception.

We all know the story. Robinson Cano, the captain for the American League’s half of the Derby, stated publicly that he would assuredly select a Royal to participate – which happened to Billy Butler. Then Robby snubbed him.

Feeling like Robinson Cano slapped the entire KC community across the face, the outraged Royals fanbase (myself included) took their anger to the Twitterverse. And boy, did it work.

Robinson Cano drew the biggest collective “boooooooooo” I have ever had the priviledge of hearing. I also have never heard a louder crowd collectively cheer for one person as they did when they called for Billy Butler. My wife and I, watching from home, couldn’t help but laugh, smile, and throw in a few cheers and “boos” of our own during Cano’s failed hacks. Watching him hit pop-up after pop-up into the outfield literally made my week. In all, Robinson was a glorious 0-fer – hitting absolutely zero homeruns. That itself made it all so, so sweet.

Outside of Cano, the fans were treated to a great show by Mark Trumbo and Derby champ Prince Fielder. Trumbo, who Cano supposedly picked over Butler, hit possibly the most impressive homerun I have ever seen when he launched a ball onto the roof of the Royals Hall of Fame in left field – some 475+ ft. Equally impressive was the amount of balls Prince was able to send into the fountains deep in right center.

The All-Star Game was a lopsided affair.

Former Royal Melky Cabrera rounds the bases after hitting a two-run homerun in the top of the 4th inning of the 2012 All-Star Game in Kansas City. Photo Credit: David Eulitt

Justin Verlander got rocked. How often have you ever been able to hear that?

The NL was able to talley five runs off of him in the first inning thanks to a Pablo Sandoval bases-loaded triple (the first such occurance in All-Star Game history).

Another Giant earned the All-Star Game’s top honor. Former Royals great Melky Cabrera won the All-Star Game MVP award thanks to his two-run homerun. It was great to see Melky make his first All-Star team and win the MVP award in Kansas City, but it makes the Jonathan Sanchez trade sting that much more…

But without a doubt, the most memorable moment of the game didn’t come when Bryce Harper lost a flyball in left field. Or when Derek Jeter and Ryan Braun chummed it up on the field in the midst of Braun’s triple. Or when Robinson Cano was booed yet again. Or even when Billy Butler finally got his first AB in the 7th inning (although that was a close 2nd).

For me, it was when Chipper Jones took his first at-bat ever in Kansas City. Before Tuesday, the long-time veteran had played in every single stadium in the league except for Kauffman Stadium. He hit a choppy groundball between first and second that was “just” out of Ian Kinsler’s reach for a basehit. You could see Chipper smiling at Kinsler when he reached first base. Any other day, Kinsler makes that play.

Royals Notes

  • Both CF Lorenzo Cain and 2B Chris Getz have been activated from the DL and placed on the active roster. RHP Nate Adcock and INF/U Irving Falu were the roster casualities, as both were sent back down to Omaha.
  • After having a solid showing at the Future’s Game, Wil Myers went 2-for-3 with a run scored and a RBI in the Triple-A All-Stars game as the PCL beat the International League 3-0. Wil was named the games’ MVP.
  • Yordano Ventura, who started the Future’s Game for the World Team, was promoted from Single-A Kane County to Double-A Northwest Arkansas.
  • Joining Ventura in Double-A is lefty Mike Montgomery. In his second season at Omaha, Monty seems to have regressed significantly. In 17 starts (91.2 IP), he’s 3-6 with a 5.69 ERA with just 67 K to 43 BB and a 1.67 WHIP.
  • Taking Montgomery’s spot in Omaha’s rotation will be another promising young lefty: Chris Dwyer. Through 16 starts and 85.2 IP this season for the Naturals, the 24-year old hasn’t faired much better than Montgomery. He was 5-8 with a 5.25 ERA, 71 K to 44 BB, and had a WHIP of 1.43. Dwyer’s promotion may have more to do with the Rule 5 Draft this offseason more than anything. In order to protect Dwyer from of the Rule 5 Draft, the Royals will have to place him on the 40-man roster sometime between now and the draft. If the Royals opt not to do so, they risk losing him to any team that decides he’s worth a spot on their 25-man roster for all of 2013. Note: In 2011, Baseball America ranked Dwyer as the 83rd best prospect in the game.

Overall, Kansas City showed Major League Baseball and its fans a great time and was a more than gracious host to thousands of visitors. Here’s top hoping it doesn’t take another 39 years to have another one of these.

The Curious Case of Johnny Giavotella

During the 5th inning of the Storm Chaser’s Wednesday night game in Sacramento, Johnny Giavotella was pulled from the game for “a good reason”. Being pulled for a “good reason” can mean one of three things: he’s being promoted, traded to a team who needs him, or he’s become a father.

Well the third option was basically crossed off the list immediately by the Royals Twitterverse.

So it had to be a trade….right?

Let’s look at the Royals’ situation:

  • The team currently has two second basemen on the active roster: Chris Getz and Irving Falu.
  • Once Yuniesky Betancourt comes off the DL (probably sometime next week), presumably Falu will be optioned back down to Omaha.
  • Chris Getz is performing very well at the moment, hitting .306/.353/.452 with 7 XBH, 6 RBI, 5 SB and has commited only 1 error thus far. He’s been a solid clutch hitter and has a .333 BAbip (batting average on balls in play).

On Thursday morning, Dayton Moore was on 610 Sports Radio with Bob Fescoe and Josh Klingler where he gave an intriguing interview. Immediately, they asked him about what was going on with the Giavotella situation. Dayton stated that they were working out a way to get Johnny up to the big league club, they just had to “cross some T’s and dot some I’s”.

Now, when a GM has to “cross T’s and dot I’s”, it usually means some sort of roster shake-up is in the works.

Hours went by between the interview and the actual move; and during that time, Twitter blew up with trade speculation*. There were Getz and Hochevar rumors, Getz and Sanchez rumors, Getz, Hochevar, Francoeur rumors, etc etc etc…

*I’ll admit that I contributed to the madness…

In essence, a potential Chris Getz trade made the most sense. Getz’s value is most likely at an all-time high right now and Giavotella was clearly ready to come back to Kansas City, evidenced by his .331/.408/.504, 5 HR, and 25 RBI through 31 games with Omaha.

But the move that the Royals made yesterday just doesn’t add up…

Royals DH Johnny Giavotella sends a line drive to center field in the first inning against the Red Sox. He reached base on an error by center fielder Marlon Byrd. (Photo Credit: John Sleezer / The Kansas City Star)

The team ended all of the Twitter speculation yesterday afternoon by sending picther Jonathan Sanchez to the 15-day DL with biceps tendonitis; thus calling up Johnny Giavotella to take his spot on the 25-man roster.

Now, correct me if I’m wrong: if a pitcher is placed on the DL, doesn’t a team normally replace him with another pitcher to take his spot on the roster? I would have loved to see the Royals promote Mike Montgomery to take over for Sanchez and get a taste of the big leagues.

With Giavotella, the Royals now have three second basemen on the active roster (Getz, Giavotella, and Falu). You don’t call up guys like Gio to platoon with Chris Getz at second. He is an everyday type of guy and is billed, right now at least, as the second basemen of the future. So it makes absolutely no sense to call him up right now.

So what happens when Yuni comes off the DL sometime in the near future? Like Gio, he’s right-handed and was Chris Getz’s platoon partner at second. Do you shop Yuni? Do you shop Getz? Because, out of the three of them, Yuni is the only guy who can really fill in at multiple positions. Getz technically can and has filled in at short and third, so he could serve that role for the team. Giavotella is strictly a second basemen and has put in a ton of work at improving his defense there, so playing him anywhere else would be doing him a real disservice.

Maybe the Royals are in talks with the Brewers about sending Yuni back to Milwaukee…?

If not, then somebody please explain to me what just happened.

Falu Impresses in His Debut

If you’re a Royals fan, or just a fan of baseball in general, you can’t help but root for guys like Irving Falu. After playing nearly 950 games in the minors, the 28 year old former 21st-round pick of the 2003 draft (the same draft class of former first-round pick Mitch Maier) finally got the call he’s been waiting for his whole life. Upon receiving the call of his promotion to the bigs last Wednesday night, Falu said he was “crying like a baby”.

Fast forward to Sunday.

Irving Falu celebrates his first career hit, a triple, in the second inning of Sunday’s game against the Yankees. (Photo Credit: John Sleezer / The Kansas City Star)

Irving Falu was thrown in the fire and came out clean.

He made his first career start at shortstop, giving Alcides Escobar his first day-off of 2012. He was put to the test almost immediately when he retired Alex Rodriguez on a can-o’-corn groundball with a runner on third to end the first inning.

In his first career at-bat, with his mother, brother, niece, and nephew in the stands, Falu ripped a two-out triple down the right field line. In doing so, Irving became the 3rd Royal to hit a triple in his first career AB (Brian McRae – ’90, Edgar Caceras – ’95). After he popped up from his head-first slide into third base, he was congratulated by Alex Rodriguez, who proceeded to hand Falu the ball that he had hit.

Falu followed that up by hitting a leadoff single to right in the bottom half of the fifth. He would eventually come around to score on a two-out single by Alex Gordon.

He finished the day going 2-for-4 with a triple, one run scored, and one strikeout.

In the grand scheme of a 10-4 loss to New York, Falu’s big day was slightly overshadowed by yet another Luke Hochevar one-inning meltdown. But the switch-hitting utility player will never forget how he made his pro debut in Kansas City against Derek Jeter, A-Rod and the New York Yankees, in front of his family, and alongside many of the guys who he saw come and go during his nine seasons in the Royals’ minor league system.

Here’s to you, Irving. Keep it up. You never know who could be watching.

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