Tagged: Mike Montgomery

Royals Acquire James Shields

It’s finally happened.

The Royals and Dayton Moore have done something drastic. Something bold. Something that borders on the edge of sanity.

And something that they absolutely had to do.

Last night, right around 10 pm CT, the Royals acquired starting pitchers James Shields and Wade Davis along with a player to be named or cash from the Tampa Bay Rays in exchange for uber-prospect and Minor League Player of the Year Wil Myers, right-hander Jake Odorizzi, left-hander Mike Montgomery, and third baseman Patrick Leonard.

What the Royals get:

James Shields

James Shields

  • James Shields RHP (age 30, 7 seasons, 87-73, 19 complete games, 3.89 ERA, 3.68 K/BB, 1.223 WHIP, 17 WAR)
    • “Big Game” James has been the anchor of the Rays’ rotation throughout his seven years with the big league team. While many would not consider him an “ace”, Shields definitely has the track record to be the leader of nearly any big league pitching staff, as well as the numbers to back it up. Since his first full season back in 2007, he’s never pitched less than 200 innings (averaging 227 IP per season) and averages just under 200 K per season. He’s never spent any time on the DL, as his pitching motion is relatively natural and fluid for him. His fastball sits in the low-90s; but his changeup, thrown in the low 80s, is his one of the best in baseball. He also throws an above average cutter and a decent curveball. As it stands, the Royals currently have control of James for 2013 ($10.25 million) and 2014 ($12 million team option). He’s the type of pitcher that the Royals both covet and desperately need. In 2011, he finished 3rd in the Cy Young voting. In 2012, he was 15-10 with a 3.52 ERA and a 2.2 WAR. Over the past two seasons, only one pitcher has pitched more innings (477) than James Shields: Justin Verlander.
  • Wade Davis RHP (age 27, 4 seasons, 28-22, 3.94 ERA, 2.04 K/BB, 1.315 WHIP, 2.0 WAR)
    • Although he spent all of 2012 coming out of the bullpen, the Royals undoubtedly plan to use Wade Davis in the rotation. Before shifting to the
      Wade Davis

      Wade Davis

      bullpen, Davis was 25-22 with a 4.22 ERA and finished 4th in the Rookie of the Year voting back in 2009. In 2012, he made 54 appearances out of the bullpen, spanning across 70.1 innings, ammassing a 2.43 ERA, a 3.00 K/BB ratio, and a 1.4 WAR. He throws a low-mid 90s fastball (both four-seam and two-seam) and a spike curveball, as well as a slider and changeup. The Royals will have control of Davis through 2017 (’13: $2.8 million; ’14: $4.8 million; ’15: $7 million team option; ’16: $8 million team option; ’17: $10 million team option).

  • PTBNL or Cash

What the Rays get:

  • Wil Myers OF
  • Jake Odorizzi RHP
  • Mike Montgomery LHP
  • Patrick Leonard 3B

The Royals knew going into the offseason that, if they were going to acquire a top of the rotation starting pitcher, they were going to have to pay dearly for it. Afterall, one cannot acquire talent with out surrendering talent in return.

The Rays gained two of the top prospects in baseball in Myers and Odorizzi. Mike Montgomery’s well-documented struggles in 2011 and 2012 earned him a change of scenery. Patrick Leonard is a nice prospect, but the jury is still out on his potential.

Wil Myers will forever be remembered in Royals baseball lore as a ghost – only heard from but never seen in terms of the big league level. He’s the one that got away. He’s the one that said it’s not me, it’s you.

Jake Odorizzi will be remembered as “the key piece” in the Zack Greinke trade two years ago. A pitcher that proved himself in the minors, only to get two late-September starts for the Royals that left a lot to be desired. But, nonetheless, his comparisons to Zack Greinke will be enough for Royals fans to clammor about giving him up.

Mike Montgomery has struggled mightily over the past two seasons and has been basically given up on by the KC faithful.

Pat Leonard is still a relatively unknown prospect and is basically a throw-in by the Royals. He has some projectable power and will settle in at one of the four corner positions.

This trade signals that Dayton Moore and the Royals are looking for wins now.

The Royals are now at a time when the big league team needs to start producing wins on the field. Starting pitching has been this team’s Achilles heel for years. The Royals haven’t been to the playoffs since 1985.

27 years for those needing further perspective.

They’ve had one winning season this century.

Dayton Moore’s reputation and future with the Royals will be determined by this trade. It is undoubtedly the biggest and boldest move he’s made during his tenure here in Kansas City. He’s taking this risk knowing full well that it could flop.

But it also could be the push that this team needs to contend in the AL Central.

This is the type of move that Royals fans have been waiting for. Are they generally happy with the price they paid for a “non-ace” pitcher plus another capable starter? No. But that comes with this city’s love for unproven commodities. Kansas City baseball fans have fallen in love with “potential” and are personally hurt to see Wil Myers go.

But this is a move that was going to happen. The writing has been on the wall for the past two offseasons. This was the time to strike. It may be considered a reach by some. But only time will tell who won this trade.

The Royals are going all-in for 2013.

Baseball America’s Top 10 Royals Prospects

It’s that time of year again.

It’s the time where Royals fans can forget about whose on the team right now and look ahead to the future. Because, y’know, we don’t do enough of that around here.

Baseball America, as part of it’s annual rankings, has released it’s list of the Royals’ top 10 prospects for the 2013 season. There’s no doubt in my mind that you will be very familiar with most of the names they included, while others may require a little clarification.

Wil Myers

1. Wil Myers OF age 21

Wil Myers just may be the top prospect in the game. If not, then he’s certainly in the discussion. We’ve done plenty of Wil Myers coverage here at Royal Blues, and I’m sure you have all heard about his unreal 2012 season that ended with him not getting a call up to Kansas City. Dayton Moore may have kept Myers down in Omaha to delay his service time. If that is the case, barring something major happening in the coming months, Wil could remain in Omaha come Opening Day 2013 for the first 30 or so games. After that, right field should be his if it isn’t already. All this being said, I expect Dayton’s man-crush on Jeff Francoeur to start in right to begin next season. But expect to see Wil in Royals’ blue sometime next season.

2. Kyle Zimmer RHP age 21

Kyle Zimmer

Before having surgery after the season to remove “loose bodies” in his right elbow, the Royals’ no. 1 draft pick was fairly impressive. In 9 starts (3 in Rookie Ball, 6 in Low-A), Zimmer was 3-3 with a 2.03 ERA and 42 K to 8 BB in 40 innings pitched. His fastball clocks in anywhere routinely between 92-98 mph, while his hard-biting curveball is rated as the organization’s best by Baseball America. He also throws a decent slider and is developing a solid change-up to add to his repertoire. Kyle has the makings of a pitcher who could advance through the Royals’ system quickly and could be in AA NW Arkansas (or possibly AAA Omaha) by next season’s end. He should develop into a top-of-the-rotation pitcher.

3. Bubba Starling OF age 20

Bubba Starling

It’s too bad Bubba isn’t knocking on the door to Kansas City yet like Mike Trout and Bryce Harper did in 2012. But Mr. Starling is still in need of work in the minors thanks to his limited baseball past. Regardless, he had a good showing in his first season in the Rookie league. In 200 AB, he worked a slash of .275/.371/.485, hit 20 XBH (8 doubles, 2 triples, 10 HR), 33 RBI and had 10 SB in 11 attempts. However, he struck out 70 times in his 200 AB, which will need to be addressed this offseason. Starling is still a fairly raw player, but his combination of power, speed, and major league-ready defense will allow the Royals to overlook some of his short-comings. It’ll still be a while before Bubba makes his way to The K, as it looks like he’ll begin the 2013 season in Low-A ball.

4. Yordano Ventura RHP age 21

Yordano Ventura

“Lil’ Pedro” came on in a big way last season, earning him a spot on the World Team in the Future’s Game, as well as a promotion to AA NW Arkansas. At 5’11” and 140 lbs, Ventura is able to dial-up his fastball (rated by BA as the organization’s best) to triple digits at times, but normally lobs it in the 94-97 mph range. He also throws a hard-breaking curveball that he routinely uses to get hitters to chase when he’s ahead in the count. His change-up is still developing, but he just needs to use it more often for it to be effective. It’s still a question as to whether his height will translate well to being a successful starting pitcher in the major leagues. Ventura likely will start 2013 in NW Arkansas before being promoted to Omaha and possibly Kansas City before season’s end.

5. Jake Odorizzi RHPage 22

Jake Odorizzi

Thank goodness Jake Odorizzi’s strong season allowed us to slightly overlook Mike Montgomery and Chris Dwyer’s stinkers. Seen as they key to the Zack Greinke trade, Izzy saw his 2012 season end in Kansas City. While not overpowering, he’s able to deliver all four of his pitches well, while none of them standout more than the others. His low-to-mid 90s fastball has some sink to it, making it probably his best pitch. He has a smooth, repeatable delivery, but needs to improve on his command to make it all come together. He’ll get a chance in spring training to earn a spot in the rotation. Even if he doesn’t do so, don’t expect him to stay in Omaha for long.

6. Jorge Bonifacio OF age 19

Jorge Bonifacio

At 19, Jorge Bonifacio is already showing signs of becoming a high-average hitter with exceptional power potential and plate awareness. In 2012, while playing in Low A ball, Bonifacio owned a slash of .282/.336/.482 while knocking 36 XBH (20 doubles, 6 triples, 10 HR). To go with his projectable bat is a terrific arm that suits him perfectly to become a future corner outfielder, particulary in RF given his average to below-average speed. If he continues to develop along the same line, he projects as a hitter likened to Billy Butler: hitting for average, both pull and opposite field power, while driving balls deep to both gaps. Class A Wilmington is where he’ll start 2013.

Adalberto Mondesi

7. Adalberto Mondesi SS age 17

Mondesi is already displaying skills that are well beyond his age. The Royals signed the son of former big leaguer Raul Mondesi in 2011 at the ripe age of 16. In 2012, the switch-hitting SS hit .290/.346/.386 in 207 AB for Rookie level Idaho Falls. He also drove in 30 runs and swiped 11 bases in 13 attempts. He’s already developing as a quality hitter, showing that he can drive pitches to deep into gaps and hit for some pop (3 HR in 47 games). His greatest assest though may be his smooth skillset in the field. He has a great glove, soft hands, and shows the ability to get to plenty of balls in the hole that most other shortstops at his age simply can’t reach. He did have 23 errors last season, but those numbers should go down with time. Given his youth, his ceiling remains very high. He could be in Low A ball to start 2013, making him the youngest player in the league.

8. Sam Selman LHP age 22

Sal Selman

Selman was the Royals’ 2nd round pick in this summer’s draft, and like Zimmer, had a stellar debut in 2012. Sam went 5-4 in 13 games (12 starts) with a 2.09 ERA, 89 K, and a .199 AVG against in 60 innings pitched. He has developed into a real “power lefty”, as he’s able to get his fastball up to 98 on occasion. He also throws an above-average slider, giving him two plus-pitches. He’ll start his first full season of pro ball in one of the Royals’ A-level affiliates. Given his background as a college pitcher, Selman likely could progress through the system quickly.

9. Orlando Calixte SS age 20

Orlando Calixte

Orlando Calixte had a great second half in 2012 after being promoted to High-A Wilmington, where he hit .281/.326/.426. He possesses an above-average bat for his position, both average and power-wise, and is a terrific defender with a strong arm. Of the organization’s handful of talented shortstop prospects, Calixte is the closest to being big league ready. AA NW Arkansas is where he’ll start 2013, but could push for a promotion to Omaha quickly.

10. Jason Adam RHP age 21

Jason Adam

Despite his 7-12 record in 27 starts at High-A Wilmington this season, Adam still managed to post a 3.53 ERA. He also recorded 123 K to just 36 BB in 158 IP and held opponents to a .238 AVG while averaging around 6 innings per start. Jason has average big league fastball velocity (90-92). Scouts believe he’s lost some velocity due to his new and much simpler delivery. But on the other hand, his new approach on the mound has allowed him to command his pitches better by limiting the hip turn and high leg kick of his old delivery. He still needs to develop solid second and third pitches (curveball and changeup), though he controls them well. Right now, Adam looks like anywhere from a no. 3-5 starter to most. He’ll pitch in NW Arkansas to begin 2013.

Notable Ommissions:

  • Mike Montgomery LHP
  • John Lamb LHP
  • Chris Dwyer LHP
  • Noel Arguelles LHP
  • Christian Colon SS/2B
  • Cheslor Cuthbert 3B
  • Brett Eibner OF

Royal Blues Prospect Watch List:

  • Kyle Smith RHP
  • Justin Marks LHP
  • Elier Hernandez OF
  • Bryan Brickhouse RHP
  • Sugar Ray Marimon RHP
  • Cameron Gallagher C
  • Lane Adams OF
  • Humbero Arteaga SS
  • Alexis Rivera OF
  • Jack Lopez SS
  • Patrick Leonard 3B/OF
  • Colin Rodgers LHP

On Deadline Day, Royals Set Thier 40-Man

The Royals have made a bundle of moves today.

Brayan Pena

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

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

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

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

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

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

John Lamb

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

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

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

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

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

Royals, Kendall Agree to Minor League Deal

The gritty and grizzled veteran  has decided to give baseball one more go-around before he retires his mitt for good.

The Royals announced today that they have signed the former All-Star to a minor league deal and will send him to Double-A Northwest Arkansas where he’ll be expected to aid in the development of the organization’s top pitcing prospects – namely the recently-demoted Mike Montgomery.

At 38 years old, Kendall is hardly a guy who is just fighting for a shot at the big leagues. He’s basically giving one last-ditch effort in order to salvage an already historic career.

Jason last played in the majors back in 2010 with the Royals before he had surgery in September of that same year on a torn rotator cuff. After attempting to come back in 2011, he re-injured his shoulder and had to undergo another surgical procedure – causing him to miss the entire season. His contract was not renewed after the season, leading him to become free agent.

The Royals opted to sign Kendall as more of a depth move than anything. An organization can never have too much depth at any position, and we here in Kansas City have seen what can happen when two of your catchers go down with significant injuries.

Jason has been with the organization throughout his time as a free agent, serving as an unofficial catching instructor.

“He doesn’t know if he can do it. He feels good. He’s been working hard. He’s taken his rehab to a point where he feels like he can play.” – Ned Yost on Jason Kendall

Through 15 seasons (1996-2010), Kendall owns a career slash line of .288/.366/.378. His 2085 games played ranks fifth all-time amongst all catchers, while his 189 career stolen bases ranks him first all-time at the position.

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 Rotation: It’s Time For a Change

I’m going to take a step away from my usual optimistic take on the Royals right now. Now standing at 31-39, 6 games back of the White Sox, and just 1.5 games ahead of the lowly Twins, the Royals just had their most heart-breaking series as of yet. The Cardinals outscored them 30-14 during the weekend series in Kansas City. The Royals’ starting pitchers (Vin Mazzaro, Luis Mendoza, and Jonathan Sanchez) combined for 11.1 innings, 17 runs (all earned), 7 Ks, 10 BBs (6 from Jonathan Sanchez), and 238 pitches (101 of which were balls).

Something has to change.

Here is how the current rotation is fairing according to WAR (Wins Above Replacement).

  1. Bruce Chen: 6-6, 4.54 ERA, 6.4 K/9, 2.0 BB/9, 0.6 WAR
  2. Vin Mazzaro: 3-2, 5.14 ERA, 6.0 K/9, 4.4 BB/9, 0.0 WAR
  3. Luis Mendoza: 2-4, 4.95 ERA, 4.5 K/9, 3.8 BB/9, -0.1 WAR
  4. Luke Hochevar: 4-7, 5.65 ERA, 6.9 K/9, 3.1 BB/9, -0.3 WAR
  5. Jonathan Sanchez: 1-3, 6.21 ERA, 6.0 K/9, 7.3 BB/9 -0.3 WAR

Now, given, the Royals’ starting rotation has taken an absolute beating this season when it comes to health. Both Danny Duffy and Felipe Paulino are Tommy John victims; Duffy, Paulino, Sanchez have had stints on the DL; basically every starter outside of Bruce Chen has had extreme bouts of inconsistency.

The bottom line is this: No self-respecting organization would consistently trot a rotation like this one out to the mound 5-7 days a week.

In Sunday’s game against the Cardinals, Jonathan Sanchez gave up six runs (all earned) and walked six hitters in 5.1 innings while throwing 111 pitches. Photo Credit: John Sleezer / The Kansas City Star

The losses of Duffy (6 starts, 2-2, 3.90 ERA, 9.1 K/9, 5.9 BB/9) and Paulino (7 starts, 3-1, 1.67 ERA, 9.3 K/9, 3.6 BB/9) really hurt this team, as they were arguably the most effective and consistent starters the Royals have had this season.

The Royals have had a myriad of mostly ineffective fill-ins and spot-starters this season: Luis Mendoza (13 games, 8 starts), Vin Mazzaro (6 games, 5 starts), Will Smith (3 games, 3 starts), Nate Adcock (9 games, 2 starts), and Everett Teaford (3 games, 1 start). All in all, the Royals have had 10 different starting pitchers to date.

I’ll say it again: Something has to change.

Clearly, the type of work that has been done by Sanchez, Mendoza, Mazzaro, Hochevar, Smith, Adcock, and Teaford can be at least matched – if not bested – by almost anybody else (combined 253.1 IP, 11-22 record, 155 ER, 6.12 ERA).

Fans, bloggers, reporters, writers, radio hosts, and the like are all calling for the Royals to make a change.

Do something we haven’t seen before.

And most importantly for each and every Royals fan: Give us a reason to believe in this team. Show us that you want to give this organization the best chance to win.

Because these guys aren’t it.

I’m sure Dayton Moore hears us all clamoring for the team to make a move. Afterall, being harolded as a great baseball minded individual, he can’t possibly think that this is the best we can do. I’m sure he’s fielding trade offers to some degree, keeping in mind that Jake Odorizzi and Wil Myers are off the table.

Names like Matt Garza, Wandy Rodriguez, Jeremy Guthrie, Ryan Dempster, Joe Blanton, and many others are all floating around the rumor mill – with the Royals having possible interest in nearly all of them. Garza, as young and talented as he is, would command a major return since he isn’t arbitration eligible until after 2013. Rodriguez and Dempster fall more under the veteran rent-a-pitcher category for teams in a playoff push as they are both in the final year of their respective contracts. Guthrie and Blanton are both well-seasoned, over-paid veterans who could fill a spot in just about every team’s starting rotation – albeit as a teams third, fourth, or fifth starter. Outside of Matt Garza, acquiring any of the other names I mentioned would be virtual waste of time and prospects given the Royals current spot in the standings.

Of course, the other consideration: call somebody up!

Although the Royals pitching depth at the Triple-A level isn’t overwhelming right now, there are a few names who could do the same or better than what the Royals have in Kansas City right now.

  • Jake Odorizzi: Izzy is the concensus’ top pitching prospect in the Royals’ system (and maybe even the organization’s best pitcher talent-wise). At 22, the right-hander has been dominating minor league hitters at both the Double-A and Triple-A levels. In his first 7 starts, while at Double-A NW Arkansas, Jake was 4-2 with a 3.32 ERA in 38 IP with a K:BB ratio of 4.7:1 and a WHIP of 0.97. Jake has continued to roll through minor league lineups after being promoted to Omaha to the tune of a 5-0 record with an ERA of just 2.72, a K:BB ratio of 3.2:1, and a 1.36 WHIP in 7 games (6 starts) totaling 39.2 innings. At this point, what more does he have to accomplish at the minor league level? This guy is big league ready in my opinion. It’s time for him to make the jump.
  • Mike Montgomery: Monty has been passed by Odorizzi in the prospect rankings lately, as he has seen his performance decline since being promoted to Omaha in 2011. Struggles aside, Mike still has the stuff to pitch in the big leagues. So far, Mike has a 3-4 record in 14 starts this season with a less-than-stellar 4.76 ERA. He has 53 Ks in 79.1 IP, but he also has 38 BB – a 1.4 K:BB ratio (a 2:1 ratio is the standard). His performance as of late has been progressing, but it’s the lack of talent in Kansas City right now that could warrant his promotion. Maybe he just needs a change of scenery.
  • Ryan Verdugo: The other guy KC got in the Melky Cabrera-Jonathan Sanchez trade, lefty Ryan Verdugo has been fairly good this season in Omaha. Before last season, Duggy had been used primarily as a reliever. He was converted into a starter while still in the Giants organization and has continued to start for the Storm Chasers. He’s 5-2 in 14 starts (79 IP), owning a 3.65 ERA, a 1.5:1 K:BB ratio, and a WHIP of 1.28. He was called up to the big league club back in June to serve out of the bullpen, but he never made an appearance before being optioned back down to Omaha. Given his numbers this season, Verdugo appears to be a serviceable rotation arm who should garner a serious look in Kansas City.
  • Nate Adcock: After being selected by the Royals in the 2010-11 Rule 5 Draft, Adcock spent all of last season in Kansas City as the long-reliever/spot-starter – and did a failry decent job. The 24 year old sinkerballer was 1-1 with a 4.62 ERA in 24 games (3 starts) totaling 60.1 innings. In 2012, Nate has split time between Omaha (where he’s in the rotation) and Kansas City (in the same role he had last season). He’s done well enough in both spots (Omaha: 6 games/5 starts, 3-2, 3.03 ERA, 1.07 WHIP; KC: 9 games/2 starts, 0-3, 3.12 ERA, 1.57 WHIP) that one could assume that he could replicate those numbers against big league lineups. He at least deserves a chance.
  • Everett Teaford: After toiling around in the minor leagues for 5+ seasons, lefty Everett Teaford, now 28, made his big league debut last season to the tune of a 2-1 record and 3.27 ERA in 26 games (3 starts). Like Adcock, Teaford has split time between Omaha and KC. In 3 games with Kansas City this season, he’s left a little to be desired given his 5.73 ERA and 7 walks in 3 games (1 start, 11 IP). But he’s pitched very well in Omaha, thus far going 4-0 with a 1.09 ERA in 7 games (6 starts).  His WHIP is solid at 0.97, and he’s striking out nearly 7 hitters per 9 innings. He’s the most likely to be called up soon in my mind since he’s a lefty and can fill a hole in either the rotation or the ‘pen.
  • Will Smith: Will got a shot at being a member of the big league rotation in late May and early June, sandwiching one quality start with two less-than-quality outings (1-2, 9.00 ERA). His record in Omaha doesn’t look much much better (1-4, 11 starts), but he has a semi-respectable 4.65 ERA and a 3:1 K:BB ratio. At 22 years old, Will may not have been ready to play with the big boys when he was first called up. And he may not be ready if his name is called once again. But, as I’ve said before, he presents more hope and potential than most of the starters the Royals a currently sending to the mound.
  • Doug Davis: At 36, Doug Davis is hardly a top prospect. But, for what it’s worth, the 13-year veteran is pitching well in Omaha. In 7 games (3 starts) Doug is 3-1 and sports a 3.08 ERA in 26.1 IP. I wouldn’t particularly like to see him take up space on the big league roster, but I guess there are worse choices.

Or just call up Wil Myers already. #FreeWilly

Who’s Next?

The Royals’ minor league system has been vaunted as one of the best stockpiles of young talent in baseball history. Last season Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Salvador Perez, Johnny Giavotella, Danny Duffy, Aaron Crow, Tim Collins, Louis Coleman were all a part of the system’s “first wave of talent” to make their way to Kauffman Stadium.

But even though most of the system’s more notable names have gone on to play in bigger and better games, the Royals still boast one of the league’s top farm systems (Baseball America no.2Keith Law no.5, Baseball Prospectus no.5John Sickels no.6) with names like Bubba Starling, Wil Myers, Mike Montgomery, Jake Odorizzi, Cheslor Cuthbert, John Lamb, Christian Colon, and Jason Adam.

Well on Wednesday night, another Royals farm-hand made his major league debut. Left-handed starter Will Smith got the call from Omaha to make his first career start againt the Yankees. In New York. Needless to say, his first big league appearance didn’t go as well as he had wished. He only lasted 3.1 innings while giving up 5 earned runs on 6 hits (3 homeruns).

With the call-up of Will Smith from Omaha to KC and the recent promotions of Wil Myers and Jake Odorizzi from Northwest Arkansas to Omaha, the “second wave of talent” could be making its way to Kansas City sometime soon.

Here is my take on who could be the next minor leaguers to reasonably make the jump to the big leagues relatively soon:

Mike Montgomery LHP, 22

Photo Credit: Kyle Terada / US Presswire

Monty’s struggles at the Triple-A level have been well documented. He was 5-11 last season in Omaha with a 5+ ERA and is 2-1 with a 4.38 ERA thus far in 2012. His walk rates are way up (4.2 BB/9) and is averaging less than 6 innings per outing.

But there are many reasons why he’s been ranked in Baseball America’s Top 50 Prospects three years running (2010 – no.39, 2011 – no.19, 2012 – no.23). Mike is a tall, powerful lefty with the ability to throw three plus pitches. Keep in mind, he’s only 22 years old and is pitching in his second season in the Pacific Coast League (a notorious hitter’s league).

If Mike can turnout solid, consistent outings, he could soon force his way into the big league rotation. Barring an injury or a trade, I don’t think we see Monty until after the All-Star break.

Wil Myers OF, 21

Photo Credit: Minda Haas

Wil Myers has been absolutely tearing up minor league pitching this season. In 35 games at the Double-A level, he hit a ridiculous .343/.414/.731 with 25 of his 46 hits going for extra bases (11 2B, 1 3B, 13 HR). He scored 32 runs, drove in 30, and even managed to swipe 4 bases while logging time in RF, CF, and even 3B.

He’s continued his swing since being promoted to Triple-A Omaha to the tune of .314/.385/.657 with 5 XBH (1 2B, 1 3B, 3 HR), 6 RBI, and 5 runs scored.

The Royals have been moving Wil around the field essentially to get his bat to Kansas City as quickly as possible. But in he end, he’ll most likely stick somewhere in the outfield.

Now even though Jeff Francoeur is riding a hot streak right now, his time in Kansas City could be close to expiring. It’s not his fault really. One of the game’s top outfield prospects is waiting in the wings and is doing everything he can to get to Kansas City as soon as possible.

Jake Odorizzi RHP, 22

Photo Credit: Minda Haas

Of all of the names on this list, Jake Odorizzi most likely will be the first to get the big league call.  The right-hander has a fastball that can touch 95 mph, but usually works more efficiently at 90-94 mph. He also possesses an above average curveball and changeup. His slider is still developing, but his first three pitches alone should be enough to translate unto big league success.

In 9 combined starts between Double-A and Triple-A, Izzy is 5-2 with a solid 3.20 ERA. He also is averaging a spectacular 10.2 K/9 while only allowing an average of 2.0 BB/9.

Jake is compared to Zack Greinke by scouts, given their simliar frame (6’2″, 185 lbs), smooth delivery, and strong command of the strike zone. However, scouts do differ when it comes to projecting Izzy’s future role in the big league rotation. Some say he’s a future ace (ahead of Mike Montgomery), while other’s see him more as a no. 2 or no. 3 guy.

Given the Royals’ rotation struggles this season, with both health and consitency, Odorizzi looks primed for a big league promotion sometime before September.

Ryan Verdugo LHP, 25

Photo Credit: Around the Horn KC

Duggy is already a member of the Royals’ 40-man roster, so promoting him to the big leagues wouldn;t require removing anyone from the 40-man. This fact alone makes him primed for a 2012 call-up.

After coming over to Kansas City via the Melky Cabrera-Jonathan Sanchez trade, Verdugo has been pitching at Triple-A Omaha exclusively as a starter (he had started only 1 game before 2011 when he started 25 games in Double-A). So far, he’s been impressive. He has a 3-1 record with a 3.61 ERA. He’s always had great strikeout numbers (career: 10.4 K/9, 2012: 7.2 K/9), but his walk rate is a little discouraging (career: 4.5 BB/9, 2012: 4.4 BB/9). He’s averaging nearly 6 innings per start this season and has a solid WHIP of 1.186.

Ryan has a three-pitch arsenal, consisting of a fastball, a changeup, and a slider. MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo had this to say about RyanVerdugo:

The 24-year-old has an aggressive approach and goes right after hitters. His fastball is a tick above average, occasionally plus. His breaking ball, a slider, is Major League average, but he uses it well. He throws an average changeup, too.

Verdugo gives the Royals organizational depth and flexibility given the fact that he’s logged considerable time in the ‘pen  (75 relief appearances, 13-1 record, 2.64 ERA, 13.4 K/9) and as a starter (36 starts, 11-7 record, 4.13 ERA, 8.6 K/9).

If Verdugo is brought up to Kansas City at some point in 2012, he would likely fill the same role as Everett Teaford – a lefty that can pitch multiple innings out of the bullpen as well as start games as needed.