As many of you know, I’m in Kansas City this weekend to attend the Royals series. While I’ve spent most of the last two days doing a lot of media engagements – including my first-ever Kansas City TV appearance on the pre-game show today – tomorrow is dedicated to the fans. We’re having our first-ever Baseball Prospectus event at Kauffman Stadium tomorrow; while it’s sold out, if you happen to be at the game, feel free to stop by the right field stands in front of Rivals restaurant and say hi. I’ll be the guy wearing the 90s-era gray Royals cap.
I figure I owe you guys a column, and since the alternative is paying more attention to Kyle Davies on the mound – he’s not fooling anyone, well besides the Royals – here you go.
I have a friend I see who works as a scout for a major-league team, who I see every now and again in a social setting. I happen to run into him on Wednesday, and casually asked if he just got back from the road.
“Actually, I just came back from seeing Northwest Arkansas play,” he said.
So the following is a distillation of his comments about some of the Royals’ prospects. I wasn’t taking notes, so this isn’t a verbatim recollection. But it’s accurate enough.
On Christian Colon: “Yeah, he’s a utility player for me in the end. I guess you could compare him to a guy like Alex Cora – he’ll have a long career in the majors, he’s just not an everyday player.”
On whether, in a perfect world, Colon could turn into someone like Placido Polanco: “The problem with that is that Colon at 22 has the same speed that Polanco has today – and Polanco is 35.”
On Wil Myers: “That guy is going to hit, and hit for power. He’s just 20 years old, and I have no concerns that his doubles are going to turn into homers. [I mentioned some reports that he had a hitch in his swing.] I didn’t see that at all. My only concern with him is that he looked disinterested in the outfield – like maybe he still wants to be a catcher. But he definitely has the arm for right field.”
On Chris Dwyer: “Yeah, he’s a future reliever.”
On Kelvin Herrera: “Great arm. I had his fastball anywhere from 96 to 100. [100?] Yeah, 100. Really good curveball too. On the mound he sort of reminds me of the Nationals' Henry Rodriguez, but with much better control [4 walks in 41 innings this year]. The main issue is that he has control but not command yet. He can pump strikes in there all day, but they’re not always quality strikes.”
On Kevin Chapman: “Like Herrera, the report I filed is that he’s a future bullpen piece in the majors. Good fastball, and a really tight downer curveball. [Note: the report on Chapman when he was drafted was that he was fastball/slider; I don’t know if the curveball is new.] I saw Tim Collins in spring training and put a “50” on him [a 50 on the 20-80 scouting scale means he’s an average major-league player], and I just put a “55” on Chapman.”
On Salvador Perez: “I think he’s better than a backup catcher in the majors, but not quite an everyday guy. He’s a free swinger, and my experience is that guys who are free swingers, even as young as he is, aren’t going to change. But he has power that pitchers will have to respect.”
On my comparison of Perez to Yadier Molina: “The guy I’d compare him to is someone like Rod Barajas. He’s got a great arm behind the plate and will be a plus defender; I just worry that he’s not disciplined enough to be an above-average hitter.”
Hmmmmmm not very encouraging reports from the Scout. I guy we drafted in the 1st round is a utility guys and all of our pitchers look like bullpen dudes. Will Meyers will hit but only if he is paying attention that day.
Well that pretty much sucks.
Let's hope these guys make some strides. It appears the Roayls are going to have to sign some good FA & make some trades as the prospects are not panning out, as we knew some would not.
I don't think it means any of them aren't panning out as hoped. Some are having rough seasons (Dwyer, for example). I wouldn't give up on him as a starter just yet.
I think it's a great sign that he's pegged Chapman as an above average major league reliever (he was always expected to be a reliever, which is why he is one now.)
Will Myers is 20 years old. I know I didn't have all that high of an attention span at 20, so I don't make too much of that comment.
He also sounded very high on Herrera, just saying that he needs some more work on fine tuning his pitches, which is what the minor leagues are for in the first place.
And saying Colon will only be a utility player, well, that is the one let down. I think he can be an everyday second baseman, but average at best honestly. I've never had superstar hopes for him, but if he only becomes a utility player, it would be disappointing.
Colon sucks. It was a terrible pick from the start. He has excellent onbase skills but otherwise is a minorleague level player. He just cant hit at all. Admittedly hindsight, but they should have selected Drew Pomeranz, taken with the next pick by Clev. They got greedy. If the new BBCOR bats had been in place a year early, he and Eibner would have been exposed as the borderline prospects that they are now proving themselves to be. the '10 draft doesnt look very exceptional.
Correction: The top two picks last year dont look great, but Michael Antonio is tearing it up and Chapman and Adams look like solid prospects. Eibner has been hitting better after a coma-like post injury return. We'll see.
Let's not jump off the cliff yet. This is one guy seeing a group of players ONCE. A friend of mine saw Hosmer play last summer over two days and he was horrid those days. How has that turned out so far?
Its not just this dudes report, its many, many opinions. I would never listen to just one scout from some other ML team. Colon has done nothing as a pro to suggest he is a regular MLB player. He hit well in college using the trampoline bats of old. If doesnt hit at least a little better he may not ever even get a cup of coffee.
All those pitchers as relievers? Boy, the Royals are going to need to find some starting pitching somewhere. Using people like Davies as a 6th starter is a mystery. It's starting to make me think the team will never get to contention during the next few years.
Herrera had a few seasons of arm injuries, so moving him to the pen makes a lot of sense. His arm plays better out of the pen anyways. Chapman was drafted as a reliever, so this scout saying he would be a "55" in the pros now, is REALLY good. Dwyer is a little disapointing, but it isn't the end of the world. If he ends up a reliever in KC, there is nothing wrong with that. Better than getting nothing out of a 4th rounder, which is what he was, right?
Colon is still playing SS right now, and is playing much better defense this year from what I have heard. He was a "SAFE" 1st rounder, not necessarily the best. He has hit much better since May, but he has started slow both seasons.
You have to read his entire reports. "Myers will hit, and he will hit for power," is what I took from that report. The 20 year old is going to be a stud. He has performed as good or better than Moustakas and Hosmer at each stop at comparable ages. He could be the starting RF as early as next season.
The always clever Royals drafted an SS without foot speed?? Looks like one of those signability picks of years ago.
You certainly get the feeling that the farm system has taken a step backward this year. Maybe that's because so many of them had mosnter years last year and that Hosmer, Moose, and Lamb aren't there to up the quality.
I disagree kcghost. The farm system has graduated a few of the top prospects, I don't count that as taking a step back. Isn't the point of a farm system to get them to the pros? Yes, if Moustkas, Hosmer, Duffy, Crow, Collins, and Coleman were still prospects the listings would look better.
There are new faces that are showing up to replace injured and down year prospects. Take a look at Cuthbert, Adam, Fletcher, David, Arguelles, and Carlixte in A ball (High & Low). Odorizzi just got promoted to AA. Lough, Giavotella, C.Robinson in AAA
"It's starting to make me think the team will never get to contention during the next few years."
I share your concern, Stephen. Not only pitching, but our sure-fire phenom Hosmer is looking downright average, Moustakas looks inept (0.228 BA and RBIs in 25 games. Are you kidding me?), and Butler looks like he will be no more than a singles hitter with an occasional 2B or HR thrown in.
I'd say the future of this francise has gone from about as high as it could be, to a big question mark in less than a year. DM better learn how to evaluate and sign FAs, cuz his supposed strength in drafting and building the farm system isn't looking too stelar all of a sudden.
really neat to meet you at the Baseball Prospectus event. I don't know where you find the time to work, take care of your family and still enjoy baseball so much. You are definitely a high energy individual. And in case you didn't hear during the night because so many people were stopping by to say hi, Kevin Goldstein put you in his top 5 nicest people he knows.
Wow! There are a lot of alarmists out there. If you have to be reminded, very few minor league prospects become even average major league players. So it follows that you need a lot of guys versus a few quality guys. The Royals used to seem to operate on the few sure major leaguer model (remember the days when the farm system consisted of Gordon, Butler and everybody else?) but now has a significant load of quality guys.
So what if a scout looks at AA and says we have a bunch of marginal guys. There are a lot behind them, and a few in AAA. You have to look at the top to bottom quality of this system to see the value. Don't be so alarmist.
And of course, DM will have to find some people on the scrap heap and sign some proven quality pitching. If you look at what he did this year with Cabrera, Paulino and even Francouer you will see that he has gotten better at putting the right people in place. He does need to get a viable #1 or #2 as a stopper for the rotation, but I have nno doubt that he will.
BTW: I have been just as big a critic of DM for some of his previous moves as anyone, but he does seem to be improving.
The Royals did graduate a number of guys to the majors, but that by definition weakens the farm system. There is no one above A ball who is having a better year than he had last year with the modest exception of Giavatella. Robinson is not a prospect in GMDM's eyes. None of the guys repeating AAA are really doing any better.
Nobody at AA is doing much of anything. Yes, Myers has been injured, and we lost Lamb for the year. But this does reduce the overall quality/performance of the farm system.
Once you get by Giavatella and Cain, who project as average major leaguers, we have no one else who will be ready this year. Maybe Monty if he recovers his form.
As for GMDM doing better, you guys are probably right, but that's a pretty low bar.
Average major leaguers aren't easy to come by Ghost. If Giovatella and Cain turn out to be average, that will be a good thing, not a bad thing. They aren't expected to be our stars. That's what Hosmer, Moustakas, and Myers are expected to be.
The one area that does concern me is starting pitching, but it's always a crapshoot. I still believe Monty will be at least a #3 starter, and very well could be a #2, with the outside chance at a #1. Lamb is my favorite prospect of the starting pitching loot, but we'll have to see how he performs when he comes back from Tommy John. That will be a big reason, in my eyes, as to whether we become a decent little team or contenders.
Just look around the Central division, and our opponents all have at least a few stars, on the mound, in the field, or both. I don't see anything in our organization close to resembling a Maur, Cuddyer, Pavano, or a Nathan. And thats just the Twins! You can find several superstars on all the other teams as well.
I just don't see DM developing anything remotely approaching those lineups in our future, and we WILL NOT compete with teams of that caliber when they are playing up to their potential. Aint gonna happen.
That's why my alarm bells are going off.
I'm sorry. Pavano?
Yep, the same Cuddyer that two years ago hit 32 homers, slugged .520, and had an OPS of .862. You see anyone in our future that is projected to get to that level? I could have used Morneau as an example, but I didn't want to be acused of piling on. ;0)
Yep, Antonio. That's the Pavano that that won 17 games last year with a 3.75 ERA, and 1.19 WHIP.
Look, I didn't do an exhaustive analysis on this guys, but if I do, "I'm sure your going to be more than satisfied".
But, feel free to convince me that what I perceive to be seeing when our division foes kick the crap out of us, is just a mirage. That the Hafners, Cabreras, Ordonezes, Verlanders, Konerkos, and Peavys, etc., etc., are just smoke and mirrors players that are paid a lot of money because they look good in a baseball uniform.
Look, I know we can't compete finacially with most of these teams, but if we have any chance of competing on the diamond in the future, we are going to have to start finding and developing a few stars of our own. And that is where I am seeing this organization falling behind most of the rest of MLB. When I read this scouts assessment of what was supposed to be a chunk of our bright future, as being average, or utility grade, it only confirms my fears.
In two years if one of Monty, Duffy, Lamb, Dwyer, Odorizzi aren't better than Pavano's 4.32 career ERA, I might just quit the Royals. There is an ace in that group, and a #3. If the Royals can find a #2 in FA, and/or fill in with Hochevar, Paulino, SOS, Mazzaro, or Crow.
If one of Moustakas, Hosmer, or Myers isn't hitting better than Cuddyer's careeer 796 OPS, I will also quit the Royals. That is a future 3-5 in this lineup, if Butler and Gordon aren't filling those rolls.
Giavotella 2B, C.Robinson 1B/DH, Lough OF, Cain CF, Falu Utl are all playing well in AAA. Monty has made I believe 3 great start in a row, and is back on his original workout program. That's a pretty good list in AAA.
Francis, Odorizzi, and Navarro just got promoted to AA, so that can't be a bad thing. Myers and Colon started off slow, but have been coming along nicely. There are also some nice Bullpen arms in Chapman, Herrera, Keating, Sisk, and Santiago.
Arguelles, Marriot, , Adam, Fletcher, Cuthbert, Carlixte, all names to keep an eye on over the next couple of years. Elier Hernandez just signed, Bubba Starling and other top picks will sign soon.
There is a still a pretty good least of top prospects and a TON of depth in this system. It is definitely still a top 5 system.
See Mr. Jones, I think the problem is you and I have differing opinions of what "stars" are. Apparently, you think slightly above average makes you a star. Granted, slightly above average players on the Royals makes them the teams star.
For me, they have to be way above average to be a star. On the Twins, I'd put Mauer, Morneau, and Joe Nathan (when fully healthy) in that category. The Royals can already match your Joe Nathan with our Joakim Soria. Mauer is Billy Butler with an even better batting average (see: no power) and defensive capability. Morneau is probably not even in this category anymore since injuries have really taken their toll on his body, but he's been there before.
In one year the Royals farm system went from mediocre to stellar. Then, in one more year, it apparently went back to mediocre. Forgive me if I sit back and wait and see. This is why you shouldn't get too excited about rankings in the first place.
Look at the Tigers. They drafted Verlander because they were willing to pay above slot at a time when many teams, especially the Royals, shied away. The Royals KNEW he was better than their pick, but they didn't want to spend the money. The Tigers ante'd up, and don't forget, Verlander struggled after 2006. What you didn't hear was calls for him to be traded or demoted. They got Porcello the same way.
Also, their farm system was good enough to give them chips to trade for Cabrera, and they pulled the trigger.
That is how you build a contender.
Only Matt Bush went ahead of Verlander, who went 1/2 in '04. The Royals draftee? Some fat guy named Butler, who went 1/14. I'd rather have Verlander, but it's close enough that it's made up in the difference in the draft. I guess the Royals shied away from a guy they never had a chance to avoid.
Bad on me, I was thinking Verlander was a later pick, like Porcello was. My Bad. But the point remains, the Royals passed on better players in the draft for years due to signablility issues. That will haunt them for a while.
I was all about Porcello/Wieters but can't exactly complain about Moose yet. The pre-Moore years I lay on the Glass Family waay before I lay it on Baird's ineptness.
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