Results tagged ‘ Louis Coleman ’

It’s Time To Go

*Update*

Jonathan Sanchez has been DFA’d. Jason Bourgeois was optioned to Triple-A Omaha.

That’s it. We’ve seen enough. Jonathan Sanchez, it’s time for you to go.

Jonathan Sanchez walks off the field after being relieved in the second inning. Photo Credit: John Sleezer / The Kansas City Star

The Royals were down 5-0 to the Mariners last night before Sanchez recorded an out; yet, he was trotted out again to start the 2nd inning. Two runs and one out later, Yost decided he had finally, finally seen enough. He exited to an ovation worthy of Robinson Cano after throwing 50 pitches through 1.1 innings, giving up 7 hits and 7 earned runs. But hey, he only walked one.

At 1-6, Jonathan Sanchez hasn’t won a game since April 8th – his first start of the season. His 7.76 ERA ranks 2nd worst all-time in club history for a pitcher with at least 50 innings pitched (#1: Chad Durbin – 8.21). For this season, he’s averaging 4.1 innings per start, 92 pitches per start, and 7.4 walks to 6.1 strikeouts. His longest start of the season? Six innings aginst Houston. His fewest pitches thrown? Fifty pitches through 1.1 innings last night. His best full month? April: 1-2, 6.75 ERA, 17 BB, 13 K.

His fastball velocity is noticeably down. In seasons passed, Sanchez’s fastball velocity normally sat in the 91-93 range with the ability to dial it up to 94-95 if needed. But now, he’s lucky if his fastball touches 90 mph. He’s constantly sitting somewhere in the Chen-esque 86-89 range. But that works for Bruce. He isn’t a strikeout guy, and he knows it, so he uses an economy of pitches and arm angles to get guys out. Sanchez used to be a stikeout pitcher when he was able to get the radar gun to flash numbers in the low-to-mid 90′s. But with a decrease in velocity, his approach never changed. His once unhittable fastball has become something of the past.

Do you really need any more information to decide whether or not this guy is worth a roster spot?

On top of that, his love for the game is constantly in question. Time and time again, Sanchez has looked completely apathetic on the mound. His apathy was further eveidenced when he told Kansas City reporters, when questioned about his high pitch and walk totals, “That’s just the way I pitch.”

In his last 5 starts, he’s given up 3 ER, 4 BB, 6 IP (Houston); 6 ER, 6 BB, 5.2 IP (St. Louis); 6 ER, 6 BB, 4.1 IP (Minnesota); 4 ER, 3 BB, 5.2 IP (Detroit); and 7 ER, 1 BB, 1.1 IP (Seattle) for a grand total of 26 ER and 20 BB in 23 IP.

Sanchez’s most recent outing caused the Royals to burn their bullpen again. Louis Coleman (2.2 IP) and Everett Teaford (5 IP) combined to finish out the game. Teaford was scheduled to start tonight’s game against Seattle, but 79 pitches and five innings of relief work will cause the Royals to scramble to fill that spot in the rotation.

Word is that the team will call-up either LHP Ryan Verdugo (the other piece of the Melky trade) or LHP Doug Davis to start the game, as well as RHP Vin Mazzaro to serve as the bullpen’s long reliever – now a key position in the Royals’ bullpen.

In accordance, a major roster move will likely need to be made. Could this possibly spell the end of Jonathan Sanchez’s time in Kansas City?

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.

Royals Swept by Tribe, But May Have Found a True Rival

The Indians dominated the Royals’ first home series of the 2012 season, sweeping all three games of the series and outscoring KC 32-19. And with the exception of one game (game 2), it wasn’t even close.

Game Notes

  • Game One: Loss, 8-3 Cleveland
    • Jarrod Dyson starts in CF, leadoff spot. Frenchy batted in the second spot in the order, with Gordon moving down to the no. 5 spot.
    • Luke Hochevar surrenders 7 runs on 8 hits in the top of the 1st inning. He then settled down, allowing just one hit after the 1st.
      • Luke left the game after the 4th inning. He took a Carlos Santana line-drive off his left ankle. The ball hit his ankle so squarely that it ricocheted 90 degrees, right at first baseman Eric Hosmer – who picked it up for the out. Luke wasn’t able to put any pressure on his left ankle as he was helped off the field. Hoch has been listed as day-to-day, and will most likely miss his next start.
    • Everett Teaford pitched 4 scoreless innings after Hoch’s injury, giving up only 1 hit and striking out 3. He has the upper-hand when it comes to filling in for Hochevar while he’s recovering.
    • Kelvin Herrera hit 101 on the radar gun. He was able to balance that out with an 88 mph changeup. Closer material.
    • Jarrod Dyson made an awful read on Jason Kipnis’ 1st inning triple, chasing the ball over his back shoulder. With speed like his, getting burned like that is unacceptable.
    • Even though the Royals outhit the Indians 12-11, they grounded into 3 double plays.
  • Game Two: Loss, 11-9 Cleveland
    • Scoreless until the top of the 3rd:
      • After a run scored on a single by Asdrubal Cabrera, pitcher Jonathan Sanchez hit Shin-Soo Choo with a fastball in the back of the right leg. (Some history: in 2011, Sanchez hit Choo with a pitch that broke his thumb and wrecked his season). Unhappy, Choo turns around and starts barking at Sanchez, with Indians 3B Jack Hannahan rushing over to get in Sanchez’s face. Both benches and bullpens cleared, causing the umpire to issue warnings to both teams.
      • With Sanchez struggling with his command, the Tribe were able to post 5 runs that inning – causing Yost to go to his bullpen early for the second day in a row. Enter Tim Collins. Sanchez gave up 4 BB and 5 runs in 2.2 IP.
    • In the bottom of the 3rd…:
      • Indians hurler Jeanmar Gomez threw a first-pitch fastball inside to Moustakas, which he was able to evade. But the next pitch plunked Moose in his lower back, prompting the home plate umpire to eject Gomez from the game. Once again, the becnhes cleared and Jack Hannahan stuck his nose in the middle of it all by trying to get in Moustakas’ face before being detained by the umpires – and eventually Ned Yost. In all, three were ejected: Indians starter Jeanmar Gomez, 3B Jack Hannahan, and manager Manny Acta.

        Photo Credit: Ed Zurga / Getty Images

      • The Royals went on to score 2 runs in that half of the inning, which included a RBI triple by Alcides Escobar.
    • Cleveland was able to tag Tim Collins for two HRs in the 5th, moving the score to 9-2. That’s when KC started chipping away at the lead
      • Bottom 5: Moose doubles to deep right, Yuni scores. Alcides Escobar then drives in Moose with an infield out. 9-4.
      • Bottom 6: Billy hits a RBI double to left-center, driving in Frenchy. After a Gordon fly ball out, Yuni reached on a throwing error, moving Butler to third base. With two outs and two on, Moustakas hit a deep fly ball to right that was initially caught by Choo before he ran into the outfield wall, causing him to drop the ball. Billy scores third, Yuni (who should have scored from first since there were two outs) moved up to third. 9-6.
      • Bottom 7: With two down and Dyson on second, Eric Hosmer sends on to deep left that was about three feet from being a HR. He wound up with at second base with a RBI double. Billy drove in Hoz with a single to center. 9-8.
      • Bottom 8: After seing four straight fastballs from reliever Vinnie Pestano, Yuni sent a 2-2 slider down the left field line for a solo HR – tying the game at 9-9.
    • Cleveland didn’t score again until the top of the 10th, when facing Greg Holland, the now-extremely-hated-and-booed Shin-Soo Choo hit a two-run double off the wall in deep center that just cleared the glove of Jarrod Dyson. 11-9.
    • The Royals went down in order in the bottom half of the inning. Game over.
    • All of the Royals hitters in the starting lineup except for Alex Gordon had at least one hit, with Butler, Yuni, and Moose each getting two apiece.
    • There were a total of 15 different pitchers used throughout the game (KC – 7, CLE – 8). Jonathan Sanchez threw 75 pitches through 2.2 innings. Only 38 of them were strikes.
    • Jarrod Dyson walked to leadoff the bottom of the 9th, which usually has been a good thing for the Royals. With one out, Dyson attempted to steal second base off of rookie Jairo Asencio – who has a relatively quick delivery to home. Dyson was thrown out by catcher Carlos Santana. Hosmer then struck out to end the inning.
      • The whole point of having speed is not to steal a base every time you get on, but to also use it to distract the opposing pitcher. Everyone at The K that night knew that Dyson was going to attempt to steal second at some point. It was just a matter of when.
    • Shin-Soo Choo later said that he regretted how things went down in the 3rd inning and acknowledged that Sanchez most likely didn’t throw at him intentionally.

In between games 2 and 3, the Royals re-called reliever Louis Coleman from Omaha and optioned Jarrod Dyson back to Omaha.

  • Game Three: Loss, 13-7 Cleveland
    • Facing off against Ubaldo Jimenez, KC was able to get their first lead of the entire series in the bottom of the 2nd.
      • Moose and Pena both reached to leadoff the inning. With one down, Moose on 3rd and Pena on 1st, Escobar doubled to drive in Moustakas and move Brayan to 3rd. With two outs, Chriz Getz hit a single to right field that scored both Pena and Escobar. 3-0 KC.
    • Cleveland retaliated, scoring 6 in the top of the 3rd against Royals starter Luis Mendoza. 6-3 CLE.
      • Mendoza went 4 innings, surrendering 9 runs (5 earned), walking 4.
    • Louis Coleman gave up back-to-back HRs in the 8th to Casey Kotchman and Jason Kipnis in his season debut.
    • Mitch Maier made his second career relief appearance in the 9th inning of last night’s game. He gave up a one-out single that was quickly erased by an inning-ending 4-6-3 double-play.

      Photo Credit: John Sleezer

Even though the Royals were swept by the Tribe, they may have gained something they have severely lacked since the 1980′s New York Yankees: a rival. If you watched the game on Saturday night, you saw the real anger between the two teams. Shin-Soo Choo has become public enemy no. 1 in Kansas City, and I’m sure Jack Hannahan isn’t too far behind him.

The Royals and Indians may even have bad blood that boiled over from last season when Carlos Carrasco threw a fastball over the head of Billy Butler, causing Carrasco to be ejected from the game.

At any rate, the Royals are now 3-6 on the young season and will begin a three game series against the division leading 6-3 Detroit Tigers tonight. It will tout Detroit’s ace Justin Verlander (0-1, 2.20 ERA) against the Royals’ young lefty Danny Duffy (1-0, 0.00 ERA).

Here are the pitching match-ups for the three game series:

Monday: Justin Verlander vs. Danny Duffy

Tuesday: Drew Smyly (0-0, 2.25 ERA) vs. Bruce Chen (0-0, 1.64 ERA)

Wednesday: Max Scherzer (0-1, 10.38 ERA) vs. TBD (likely either Hochevar or Teaford)

All games begin at 7:10 pm CT.

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

Paulino’s Elbow Paints a Clearer Picture

If you haven’t heard yet, another Royal has succumb to the injury bug: Felipe Paulino. The Royals have sent the righty to the 15-day DL with a sore right elbow/forearm. Although an injury is always a cause for concern, the shift of Paulino to the DL falls more on the side of precaution and seriousness; and the last thing you want is a pitcher who continues to throw despite a sore throwing arm (I’m talking to you, Joakim…).

Photo Credit: Jamie Squire / Getty Images

And although this may seem like bad news for the time being, Paulino’s injury rids the fuzziness from the picture that is the Royals’ pitching staff.

With Flip^ out of the picture for the near future, both Luis Mendoza and Danny Duffy will open the season as the no. 4 and 5 pitchers, respectively. Before the injury, it was unclear as to who had the upper hand between Paulino, Mendoza, and Duffy. To me, Mendoza was the most obvious lock for the rotation out of the three. If Paulino won the 5th spot, Duffy would have most likely opened 2012 in Omaha. If Duffy won the spot, Paulino would have either been shifted to the bullpen or placed on waivers (which thankfully, for right now, isn’t the case).

^Im introducing this as Felipe’s nickname, btw. It’s mine. I was the first.

The injury also helps the Royals balance out their rotation in the sense of lefties and righties.

1. Bruce Chen LHP

2. Luke Hochevar RHP

3. Jonathan Sanchez LHP

4. Luis Mendoza RHP

5. Danny Duffy LHP

Balancing lefties and righties in your rotation may be arbitrary to some, but to deeper baseball minds, it’s an advantage that some teams don’t have the priviledge to take advantage of. For any given series, Royals’ opponents won’t most likely see a starter throwing from the same side as the day before (unless it’s back-toback lefties), meaning they’ll have to play more of a guessing game with their lineup rather than just using practically the same lineup for the entire series.

Not only does Flip’s injury help the Royals settle their starting rotation, it also helps clear up some of the foggy spots in the bullpen.

Now, the Royals will most likely carry 12 pitchers. 5 of those spots are reserved for the starters, and of the 7 spots left for the ‘pen, 4 of them are most likely already locked up by righties Greg Holland, Aaron Crow, and Jonathan Broxton and lefty Jose Mijares. Meaning that as many as 6 guys are fighting for those last 3 spots: lefties Tim Collins, Everett Teaford, Tommy Hottovy – and righties Louis Coleman, Kelvin Herrera, and Jeremy Jeffress.

It orginally seemed that if Danny Duffy made the rotation, the loser between Mendoza and Paulino would shift to the bullpen and serve as the long reliever / spot starter. But with the current state of affairs, it appears that lefty Everett Teaford (who has looked great so far) has that position secured – allowing the Royals to lock in at least 2 lefties for the bullpen. I would guess that of the final 2 spots up for grabs, the Royals will take a long look at possibly keeping another lefty for the ‘pen; thus giving them even more flexability to work matchups appropriately.

I’m sure all of you are with me in wishing Flip a speedy recovery. But for right now, when it comes to the Royals, there is a little bit less weighing on my mind.

Royals Dropped By Giants 2-1

Both Luke Hochevar and Tim Lincecum had decent outings. Luke threw 3 innings, K’d 2 and BB’d 0. But he gave up 4 hits, 2 earned runs, one of which was a HR from Connor Gillapsie, and hit a batter. Timmy gave up just one hit, which was a 4th inning single off his foot to Jarrod Dyson. The 1 run Lincecum squandered was unearned.

Photo Credit: Lenny Ignelzi / AP

Starters: Hochevar & Odorizzi

Hoch took the loss in his brief outing, moving his ST record to 1-1.

 Jake Odorizzi took the mound in the 4th inning, striking out 2 and walking 2. This was a good outing by Izzy, who really needed one. He’s been roughed up a bit this Spring.

Bullpeners: Coleman, Mijares, Holland

Sweet Lou, McHardees, and Dutch combined for 4 scoreless, 3 hits, 4 K’s, and 1 BB. The Giants’ offense is still one of the league’s worst, so seeing the bullpen shut them down was no surprise. But 4 scoreless innings from the ‘pen isn’t something to roll your eyes at.

Hitters

The 5th inning was a scary one for the Royals, as both Hosmer and Moustakas were pulled from the game due to injuries.

In the top of the 5th, Hoz dove toward the line and made a play on Nate Schierholtz’s groundball for the out, but remained on the ground for a few moments after the play was over, apparently jamming his right shoulder.

Photo Credit: Lenny Ignelzi / AP

In the bottom of the frame, Moose came to bat against Santiago Casilla and took a fastball off his knee that proceeded to skip its way into the stands.

Hosmer has already been cleared to play today against Cincinnati, while Moustakas has been listed as day-to-day with a contusion on his right knee.

Photo Credit: Christian Peterson / Getty Images

The lineup as a whole was able to collect only 5 hits (Dyson, Maier, Butler, Myers, Giavotella). Hosmer and Dyson both added a SB to their Spring stats. The Royals’ sole run scored on a SAC by Escobar.

Here’s the box from ESPN

SAN FRANCISCO (2) AT KANSAS CITY (1)

 SAN FRANCISCO    AB  R  H BI  KANSAS CITY      AB  R  H BI
 G Blanco cf       3  0  3  1  J Dyson cf        2  1  1  0
 -T Graham cf      0  0  0  0  -M Maier cf       2  0  1  0
 F Sanchez dh      3  0  0  0  A Escobar ss      2  0  0  1
 N Schierholtz rf  3  0  1  0  -Y Betancourt ss  2  0  0  0
 -R Kieschnick rf  1  0  0  0  E Hosmer 1b       1  0  0  0
 B Pill 1b         4  0  2  0  -B Butler 1b      2  0  1  0
 C Gillaspie 3b    4  1  1  1   -G Golson pr     0  0  0  0
 J Arias 2b        3  0  0  0  A Gordon lf       2  0  0  0
 E Adrianza ss     1  0  0  0  -D Lough lf       2  0  0  0
 -B Crawford ss    2  0  0  0  M Moustakas 3b    1  0  0  0
  -J Panik ss-2b   1  0  0  0  -I Falu pr-3b     2  0  0  0
 E Whiteside c     3  0  0  0  J Francoeur rf    2  0  0  0
 -H Sanchez c      1  0  0  0  -W Myers rf       2  0  1  0
 E Burriss lf      2  1  0  0  S Perez dh        3  0  0  0
 -J Christian lf   1  0  0  0  B Pena c          1  0  0  0
                               -C Clark c        1  0  0  0
                               C Getz 2b         1  0  0  0
                               -J Giavotella 2b  2  0  1  0
 TOTALS           32  2  7  2  TOTALS           30  1  5  1
                           123 456 789     F
 SAN FRANCISCO             011 000 000 --  2
 KANSAS CITY               000 100 000 --  1

 E--T Graham, E Whiteside.
 DP--SAN FRANCISCO 1, KANSAS CITY 1.
 LOB--SAN FRANCISCO 7, KANSAS CITY 5.
 2B--B Pill, J Giavotella.
 HR--C Gillaspie 1 (1) (off L Hochevar).
 SB--G Blanco 1 (6), E Burriss 1 (2), E Hosmer 1 (2), J Dyson 1 (1).

                                   IP   H   R  ER  BB  SO  HR
  SAN FRANCISCO
 T Lincecum (W,1-0)                 4   1   1   0   2   4   0
 S Casilla                          1   0   0   0   0   0   0
 A Kown                             2   2   0   0   0   1   0
 J Machi                            1   1   0   0   0   1   0
 W Rodriguez (S,1)                  1   1   0   0   0   1   0

  KANSAS CITY
 L Hochevar (L,1-1)                 3   4   2   2   0   2   1
 J Odorizzi                         2   0   0   0   2   2   0
 L Coleman                          1   1   0   0   1   0   0
 J Mijares                      1 2-3   2   0   0   0   1   0
 G Holland                      1 1-3   0   0   0   0   3   0

 WP--L Hochevar. HBP--E Burriss by L Hochevar, M
 Moustakas by S Casilla.
 SO--SF: F Sanchez, E Whiteside, B Pill, J Panik, C Gillaspie, E Adrianza, H Sanchez, J Arias. KC: A Gordon, C Clark, J Giavotella, D Lough, S Perez, M Moustakas.
 BB--SF: F Sanchez, B Crawford, G Blanco. KC: B Pena.
 T--2:33. A--6,243.

The Royals Spring record fell to 5-5. They’ll face off against the Reds today in Surprise at 3:05 CT, pitting Sanchez vs. Mike Leake.

Royals Blank Rockies 5-0

Starters

Photo Credit: Marcio Jose Sanchez

Both Felipe Paulino and Aaron Crow tossed two scoreless innings, with Crow earning the W, before handing the ball off to the bullpen. Paulino got out of both the 1st and 2nd inning with the aid of two double-play groundballs. This was his first appearance in a game this Spring due to a left-hamstring strain he suffered earlier in camp. Crow walked one in the 4th, but erased it by inducing a double-play.

Bullpeners

Photo Credit: John Sleezer

Jose Mijares, Louis Coleman, Brandon Sisk, Tommy Hottovy, and Jeremy Jeffress all threw an inning apiece, with all of them recording a K except for Hottovy, and all of them giving up a hit except for Sisk.

Hottovy is the most interesting potential bullpen possibility. The hometown lefty, just a few years removed from reconstructive-elbow surgery, has transitioned to a sidearm slot, leading Ned Yost to refer to him as a “left-handed Louis Coleman“. He had a stint with Boston last year, so he has big league experience. He’s currently battling with Tim Collins, Jose Mijares, and Everett Teaford for what is presumed to be the two lefty slots in the ‘pen.

Hitters

Photo Credit: John Sleezer

Max Ramirez has done it again. He and Yuni both went yard. Yuni’s solo-shot in the 4th off of lefty Josh Outman sparked a 4-run inning.  Ramirez had a pinch-hit HR in the top of the 8th, adding one more run to build the lead to 5-0.

The Royals had 10 hits in all, with Yuni and Zo Cain each collecting 2 each. And of the 10 hits, 5 were for extra bases (3 2Bs: Gordon, Butler, Cain. 2HR: Yuni, Ramirez).

Billy Butler got his second start at 1B this Spring, and the Royals were errorless. Just saying.

Here’s the boxscore via NBC Sports

Final 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Kansas City 0 0 0 4 0 0 0 1 0 5 10 0
Colorado 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 7 0
Kansas City Royals
Player AB R H RBI TB AVG OBP SLG
A. Gordon, LF 2 0 1 0 2 .300 .417 .700
  D. Lough, LF 2 0 1 0 1 .333 .333 .333
Y. Betancourt, 2B 3 1 2 1 5 .250 .250 .583
  J. Giavotella, 2B 2 0 0 0 0 .333 .385 .500
C. Robinson, DH 5 1 1 0 1 .200 .333 .200
B. Butler, 1B 3 1 1 0 2 .417 .462 .750
  M. Ramirez, 1B 1 1 1 1 4 .667 .778 2.167
M. Moustakas, 3B 3 0 0 1 0 .250 .357 .250
  K. Kouzmanoff, 3B 1 0 0 0 0 .500 .500 .833
L. Cain, CF 3 1 2 1 3 .500 .500 .800
  G. Golson, CF 1 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000
B. Pena, C 3 0 0 0 0 .250 .250 .375
  J. Rodriguez, C 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .500 .000
M. Maier, RF 1 0 1 1 1 .333 .400 .444
  W. Myers, PH-RF 2 0 0 0 0 .300 .300 .300
I. Falu, SS 2 0 0 0 0 .444 .444 .778
  T. Abreu, SS 1 0 0 0 0 .200 .333 .200
  F. Paulino, P 0 0 0 0 0 - - -
  A. Crow, P 0 0 0 0 0 - - -
  J. Mijares, P 0 0 0 0 0 - - -
  L. Coleman, P 0 0 0 0 0 - - -
  B. Sisk, P 0 0 0 0 0 - - -
  T. Hottovy, P 0 0 0 0 0 - - -
  J. Jeffress, P 0 0 0 0 0 - - -
Totals 35 5 10 5 19 - - -
Colorado Rockies
Player AB R H RBI TB AVG OBP SLG
D. Fowler, CF 3 0 0 0 0 .125 .125 .500
  E. Young, CF 1 0 0 0 0 .200 .333 .200
J. Herrera, 2B 3 0 1 0 1 .429 .429 .571
  H. Gomez, SS 1 0 1 0 2 .500 .500 1.000
  A. Brown, PR 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000
J. Pacheco, 1B 2 0 0 0 0 .429 .500 .429
  B. Paulsen, 1B 1 0 0 0 0 .333 .429 .833
J. Giambi, DH 2 0 1 0 1 .333 .500 .333
  C. Tracy, PH-DH 1 0 0 0 0 .000 .167 .000
R. Hernandez, C 2 0 1 0 1 .429 .429 .429
  W. Rosario, C 2 0 0 0 0 .125 .125 .125
T. Colvin, RF 2 0 1 0 1 .333 .400 .556
  K. Matthes, PH-RF 1 0 0 0 0 .333 .333 .333
C. Blake, 3B 2 0 0 0 0 .000 .200 .000
  N. Arenado, 3B 1 0 1 0 2 .286 .375 .571
C. Nelson, SS 2 0 0 0 0 .222 .222 .222
  T. Field, 2B 1 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000
T. Wheeler, LF 2 0 1 0 1 .333 .500 .333
  B. Wood, LF 1 0 0 0 0 .125 .125 .250
  D. Pomeranz, P 0 0 0 0 0 - - -
  J. Outman, P 0 0 0 0 0 - - -
  M. Belisle, P 0 0 0 0 0 - - -
  D. Molleken, P 0 0 0 0 0 - - -
  E. Escalona, P 0 0 0 0 0 - - -
Totals 30 0 7 0 9 - - -
2B: KC 3, A. Gordon (1), B. Butler (1), L. Cain (3). Col 2, H. Gomez (1), N. Arenado (2).
HR: KC 2, Y. Betancourt (1), M. Ramirez (3).
Scoring Position: KC -  for . Col -  for .
Kansas City Royals
Player IP H R ER BB K ERA
F. Paulino 2.0 3 0 0 0 1 0.00
A. Crow, (W 1-0) 2.0 0 0 0 1 2 0.00
J. Mijares 1.0 1 0 0 0 1 0.00
L. Coleman 1.0 1 0 0 0 1 0.00
B. Sisk 1.0 0 0 0 0 1 0.00
T. Hottovy 1.0 1 0 0 0 0 0.00
J. Jeffress 1.0 1 0 0 1 1 0.00
Colorado Rockies
Player IP H R ER BB K ERA
D. Pomeranz 3.0 2 0 0 1 3 0.00
J. Outman, (L 0-1) 3.0 6 4 4 1 1 9.00
M. Belisle 1.0 1 0 0 0 1 0.00
D. Molleken 1.0 1 1 1 0 0 4.50
E. Escalona 1.0 0 0 0 1 1 0.00
Caught Stealing: KC 1, L. Cain (1).
Time: 2:28
Attendance – 6,773

The 10 From the ‘Pen

In order to make this process a little easier on me (which didn’t really help at all), my reliever rankings are based on who I project could be potential 8th and/or 9th inning guys.

10. Tyler Sample RHP (Wilmington) age 22

As of right now, Tyler Sample is trying to work his way through the Royals’ system as a starter. After a good showing in 2009, he’s been dipping ever since; and 2011 was his worst season yet. He went 7-12 in 27 games (22 starts), averaging less than 6 innings per start, serving up a 5.25 ERA and 10.1 H/9.

Once a top 20 organizational prospect, control issues have caused Sample’s stock to fall a bit. His career 1.42 K:BB ratio (289:204 incase you were wondering) as a starter has lead me, along with fellow Royals blogger Landon Keefer at Royal Revival, to believe that Tyler would greatly benefit from a shift to the bullpen.

Sample has a huge frame, standing tall at 6’7″ and weighs in at a cool 245-250. Not many guys with similar frames find long-term success as a starter simply due to the fact that the size of a starter’s workload takes a bigger tole on bigger pitchers. So with Sample coming out of the bullpen, he’ll be able to hone in on just a few batters and really let his arm do the talking.

Grade: C+. Tyler is still young and learning how to pitch, so I’m sure he’ll get more reps as a starter. But if he begins to struggle early on this season, I fully expect the Royals to make the switch. He should start the season in Kane County.

9. Jeremy Jeffress RHP (Kansas City/Omaha/Northwest Arkansas) age 24

Photo Credit: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images North America

I’ll admit that I was pretty excited to see Jeremy Jeffress’ name included in the Royals’ haul of the Zack Greinke trade. After all, the guy was a Top 50 prospect who could throw upwards of 100 mph and had the capabilities of one day being a part of the KC rotation. He had been racking up K after K in the Brewers system and had all the potential in the world.

But Jeffress came to the Royals with some baggage.

Back in 2007, he was suspended for 50 games for testing positive for marijuana. But that wasn’t his first failed test. Apparently he had failed before, but the MLB doesn’t suspend first-time failures if they tested positive for marijuana. In June of 2009, Jeremy again failed a drug test, technically his third offense, and was served with a 100 game suspension. If he fails one more test, he will be banned for life, no questions asked.

Jeremy also suffers from another problem: control. Although he does have a career 10 K/9 in the minors, he also averages 5.7 BB/9. The ability to be consistent has been his kryptonite. He made the Royals bullpen out of Spring Training last season. But in 15.1 IP for the Royals, he gave up 11 BBs to 13 Ks, which averages out to 7.6 K/9 to 6.5 BB/9. He was then demoted to Omaha, and it didn’t get any prettier from there. He was sent to Omaha to be transitioned back into a starter, but only managed to get in 3 starts before being shifted back to the bullpen. His 7.12 ERA and 6.8 BB/9 in only 24 IP earned him another demotion; this time to NW Arkansas.

He was inserted into the Natural’s rotation, going 1-3 with a 4.26 ERA in 31 IP (9 games 8 starts). Yet he still could not figure out the strike zone, and his BB numbers finally eclipsed his Ks (22 BB, 20 K). No doubt, a discouraging sign.

Grade: C-. Jeffress has the potential to grade as high as a B+ reliever in my opinion. He just has to somehow figure out what the hell is going on out there. Right now, he’s just a thrower. He wants to go to the mound and throw every single pitch at 99-100 mph, hoping he’ll gas every batter he faces. He needs to learn how to pitch, bottom line (very similar in stuff and inconsistencies to Edwin Jackson). Once he does that, he has the stuff of a potential closer. But until then, he’s just a guy moving in the wrong direction.

8. Brandon Sisk LHP (Northwest Arkansas/Omaha) age 25

Photo Credit: MiLB.com

Despite all of the famed lefties in the Royals’ glowing farm system, Brandon Sisk is the lone lefty on this list. Sisk split last season between AA NW Arkansas and AAA Omaha and put up fairly good numbers at both levels. In Arkansas, he had a 3.77 ERA in  28.2 IP with a 4:1 K:BB ratio and a 1.047 WHIP (BB+H/IP) (which is exactly what you would want out of any pitcher). He earned a promotion to Omaha and threw even better. In 32 IP, he had a 1.41 ERA, a WHIP of 1.0, and 2 Saves. His K:BB ratio struggled, as he had 30K’s to 16 BB’s (1.88:1 ratio).  But other than that, he had a solid season.

That solid season earned Sisk a non-roster invite to Spring Training 2012. He has an outside shot of making the Opening Day roster this season. I expect him to start the year in Omaha and could make his big league debut this summer.

Grade: C. He reminds me a lot of Jeremy Affeldt. He’ll never have a “true” role in the bullpen, meaning he could serve as sort of a Utility reliever.

7. Patrick Keating RHP (Northwest Arkansas) age 24

Photo Credit: Royal Revival

At 6’0″, 220 lbs., Patrick Keating is built like a stocky-power reliever a la Greg Holland. His fastball consistently sits in the mid-90′s and possesses an above-average slider- a great complimentary pitch that every reliever needs.

After being drafted by the Royals out of the U of Florida in 2009, Patrick has been used exclusively as a reliever. Keating had a solid 2010 campaign in Wilmington and NW Arkansas with 101 Ks in 71 IP and a 2.28 ERA, and has a minor league career average of 12.2 K/9 to 3.2 BB/9.

2011 was a rough season for Pat, as he got knocked around a bit in his first full season at the Double A level. In 38 IP, he had an ERA of 6.16 and a WHIP of 1.421. His strikeout numbers fell a bit to 10.4 K/9, but he was able to lower his number of free passes to 2.8 BB/9. He suffered a shoulder injury in mid-June which consequently lead to a stint on the DL. The injury no doubt had a role to play in Keating’s numbers last season.

Grade: C+. I think Keating, barring anymore injuries, could open up the season in Omaha. He looks the part of a serviceable major league reliever who could possibly come in late/close games (31 career saves). He’s been a K machine this far, so he has that going for him.

6. Louis Coleman RHP (Omaha/Kansas City) age 25

Photo Credit: Jamie Squire / Getty Images

Out off all of the rookies that made their Royals debut last season, Louis Coleman’s rookie season appears to be the one that is most commonly overlooked. In 59 2/3 innings in 48 appearances in 2011, he struck out 64 while walking 26, had an ERA of 2.87, and had the 5th best Inherited Runners Scored% in the MLB at 12.8%.

Coleman doesn’t possess an overpowering fastball. But given his sidearm angle, his slider is just vicious. His Swinging Strike rate was 22%, compared to the league average of 15%. Most of that can be contributed to Coleman’s extreme release point, as he’s able to hide the ball longer more than most pitchers and seems way too far in on right-handed hitters and way too far outside on left-handed hitters.

Grade: C+. Although I doubt Sweet Lou will ever become a closer, he has the ability to shutdown opposing hitters. Down the road he may be more of a specialist pitcher, entering the game in situations that call for a righty-righty matchup. But he shows a great ability to make hitters miss, and that can never be overlooked.

5. Yordano Ventura RHP (Kane County) age 20

Photo Credit: MiLB.com

Yordano Ventura is a 5’11″, 150 lbs. (when wet) starter right now in the Royals system. In his first full season as a starter in 2011, he made 19 starts, went 4-6 with a 4.27 ERA, giving up 82 hits in 84.1 innings pitched, with 88Ks and 24BBs. While this was no make or break season, given it was his first one as a full-time starter, I think Ventura is destined for a future in the bullpen.

Ventura is a max effort pitcher, often able to get his fastball in the 95-99 mph range. Given his body and delivery type, he would have an extremely hard time making it to the bigs as a starter. Being in the bullpen would allow him to pitch to his true style, dialing up fastballs for one inning 3-4 times a week, thus allowing his arm to last as long as it possibly can. He needs to develop a quality second pitch if he wants to move up quickly though.

Grade: C+. Ventura has drawn many comparisons to Pedro Martinez, given their similar size and arm strength. But odds are he’ll be a bullpen fixture sometime soon. If that does happen, he could be this year’s Kelvin Herrera.

4. Kelvin Herrera RHP (Wilmington/Northwest Arkansas/Omaha/Kansas City) age 22

Up until 2011, Herrera had been used exclusively as a starter and spent 3 straight seasons in Single A (2008-10). He was shifted to the bullpen this past season, and what a difference it made. He skyrocketed through the entire system, making stops at all of the Royals’ upper-level minor league teams, and eventually made it all the way to Kauffman for a few cups of coffee at the big league level.

Given his time as a starter, he has the ability to throw 3 pitches that are at or around the major league level, including a fastball that consistently flirts with 100 mph, an above average change-up, and a curveball that could one day be another plus-pitch.

Herrera will get a shot to make the Royals 25-man roster out of Spring Training as a middle-relief/set-up reliever.

Grade: B. It’s extremely hard to judge any reliever’s potential. But given how fast he rose through the Royals’ system, I have little doubt that he’ll be successful. He definitely has the stuff of a future closer.

3. Jonathan Broxton RHP (Los Angeles Dodgers/Albuquerque) age 27

Even though he’s only 27, it seems like Broxton has been around forever. The 6’4″, nearly 300 lbs. hurler had a rough 2011 season as a member of the Dodgers. He began the season as the closer for LA, but was placed on the DL due to pain in his right elbow. Before being placed on the DL in May, Brox racked up a 5.68 ERA and only 7 Saves. He made a few rehab starts in Triple-A before being shut down again. Hopeful to return to the team in September, Broxton tested his elbow by throwing from a mound. When it was clear his arm wasn’t ready, he was shutdown again for the remainder of the season and became a free agent after the season ended.

Brox has pretty decent career numbers thus far, compiling 84 Saves in 117 official chances (roughly 72% Saves converted) in 2+ seasons as the Dodgers full-time closer. Not a great conversion rate by any means. Just decent. But his career ERA of 3.19 is a plus, and along with that comes 503 K’s in 392 innings and the fact that he’s only given up 25 HRs in 7 pro seasons. Before 2011, it seemed like Broxton was in line for a big payday as he was heading into free agency for the first time, but his elbow derailed that dream for at least another season.

After a hunting trip with Ned Yost, Jeff Francoeur, and Jeff Foxworthy in his native Georgia, Broxton was convinced to sign a one-year, $4 mil. deal with the Royals. He’s in line to be a 7th/8th inning guy, along with Greg Holland, setting the table for Joakim Soria.

Grade: B. Broxton is a 2-time All-Star and a pure-power pitcher. His fastball has consistently sat in the upper-90′s throughout his career, but also possesses a power slider to complement it. This, to me, looks like a show-case season for Broxton, who’s looking to prove he can still effectively close games. If the Royals are out of contention by the trade deadline, expect to see him in a different uniform to end the season.

2. Greg Holland RHP (Omaha/Kansas City) age 26

Photo Credit: Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Greg Holland was one of the most effective relievers in all of baseball last season. Over 60 innings, Greg had an ERA of 1.80, 74 K’s to 19 BB’s, and had an MLB best 6.1 Inherited Runners Scored % in his first full season in Kansas City.

Holland has been a K’s machine throughout his baseball career, so that number never caught anyone off guard. But the fact that he allowed just 37 hits in 60 innings (.175 AVG) and only 2 of 33 inherited runners to score leads many to believe, myself included, that the Royals could shift him into the Closer role if something were to happen to Soria (converted 4 of 6 save opportunities and recorded 18 holds in 2011).

Grade: B. Holland definitely has closer potential, given his ability to locate his high-90′s fastball, an 11.1 K/9 ratio, and the ice water that apparently runs through his veins.

1. Joakim Soria RHP (Kansas City) age 27

Joakim Soria has been arguably one of the best Royals relievers of the last 20 years outside of Jeff Montgomery and the late Dan Quisenberry. Over his 5 year career, Soria has compiled a 13-15 record, 160 Saves, a 2.40 ERA, and 341 K’s (3.92:1 K:BB ratio) in 315 Innings Pitched.

Although he has been a top-tier, lights out closer thus far in his career, 2011 was undoubtedly his worst season to date. He blew 5 of his first 12 save opportunities, and was eventually replaced by Aaron Crow as the team’s closer for a few games. During that stretch however, the Royals didn’t play a single game that required a closer, and Soria resumed his familiar role about a week later.

There have been rumors and talk about the Royals shifting Soria to the rotation ever since he came to KC. Soria definitely has the skill-set to be a quality starter, as he possess 3 plus-picthes (FB, Curve, Change) and the cool, calm, and collected demeanor necessary to be a starter. Just after he was selected by the Royals in the Rule V draft in 2006, he threw a perfect game in the Winter League. So it goes without saying, he’s more than capable of making the switch.

But for now, Joakim is the team’s closer for 2012 and beyond.

Grade: B+. If he didn’t basically implode last season, I would have given him at least an A-. Given the shelf life of closers anymore and how they’re not as big of a commodity as they once were, Soria needs to come back in a big way in 2012 and re-prove himself to the Royals Faithful.

Other names to watch: Tim Collins, Ryan Verdugo, Kendal Volz, Blaine Hardy, Buddy Baumann, Michel Mariot, Bryan Paukovitz

How the AL Central Will Look in 2012

Last season, the AL Central was dominated by two teams. The first half of the season, it was all the Cleveland Indians. After they flamed out, the Tigers took over – winning the division by 15 games. The Twins and White Sox both took unexpected plunges after they placed first and second in the division respectively in 2010. All the while, the Royals were busy promoting talent from their #1 ranked farm system

Before the All-Star Break, the Royals took their lumps, going 37-54 and getting outscored 449-402. During this time, rookies Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Danny Duffy, Louis Coleman, Nate Adcock, Everett Teaford, and Tim Collins were getting their feet wet at the Major League level, while fellow rookie Aaron Crow was busy earning a spot on the AL All-Star roster. Gordon, Melky, and Frenchy were forming (at least offensively) the best OF in all of baseball. Billy Butler was still a doubles machine, but wasn’t putting up the power numbers that the fans and organization were looking for (until that unforgettable series in Boston). Matt Treanor and Brayan Pena were doubling up behind the plate, Escobar’s bat was ice cold then red-hot while his glove was consistently pure gold, and Chris Getz was… well… Chris Getz. The rotation got knocked around quite a bit. As did Vin Mazzaro

Post All-Star break, the Royals went an unimpressive 34-37. They did, however, outscore their opponents 328-313. With August came the debuts of Johnny Giavotella and Salvador Prerez. Gio put up lower numbers than expected, while Perez dominated behind the plate as well as in the batter’s box. The Royals’ highlight of the second-half was their 7-game winning streak in mid-September against the hapless Twins and White Sox. Regardless, this showed me something: these young guys, this entire roster, played like they were in the middle of the pennant race. Every game was exciting. Nobody seemed like they were going through the motions of a lost season, because this season was anything but. It was a stepping stone, building block, spring board… however you want to put it. And they knew it, too.

So with that all said, this is how I see the most winnable division in baseball shaking down in 2012:

1. Detroit Tigers
2. Kansas City Royals
3. Cleveland Indians
4. Chicago White Sox
5. Minnesota Twins

I think that the Tigers’ pitching staff will be what allows them to just squeak by the Royals this year, as it is just that much better than those of their division foes. Offensively, the Royals should have one of the top 10 offenses in the league (#8 according to Buster Olney). I don’t buy into the hype of the Indians’ pitching staff. The White Sox are selling off their top pieces left and right, and the Twins are in the middle of a re-building process.

2012 is going to be a huge step in the right direction for Kansas City, and may possibly invigorate a hungry fan-base for a strong run for a division title in 2013.

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