Top 100 Bound?
The candidates are the aforementioned Matias and Lee, along with the triumvirate of Nick Pratto, MJ Melendez, and Chase Vallot. All are candidates to take a major step forward this year, and all have similar concerns: here are some numbers for you: .239, .246, .247, .262, .226. Batting average is not a sexy stat but has been on the back of baseball cards for one hundred years and tells you something about the type of player pictured on the front. Those are the career numbers of the fellas listed above.
Here is another string of stats: 34, 31, 26, 31, 36. Those are the strike out rates for the same guys. The guy that can maintain/improve this number as he moves up a level will be the one to watch. I put Lee #1 on my 2018 Royals Top 50 Prospects because I think it will be him. I am probably wrong.
Who’s on First?
Cuthbert. Dozier. O’Hearn. Schwindel. Duenez. Pretty good law firm. Cuthbert stepped up during the 2016 campaign after Moose went down and was pretty meh, essentially replacement level as a 23 year-old. Dozier is a year older, and was having his best season at Omaha during Cuthbert’s reign and never got a look. This spring the team announced that Dozier would get looks at first with Cuthbert at third before the Duda signing, and I think that tells us all we need to know. O’Hearn struggled in his first exposure to AAA. Schwindel had a great season but his numbers are not likely to hold up at the big-league level. It would be fun if they did. Duenez’s main asset is that he has always been an average-ish hitter while young for his level. None of these guys are likely the long term answer, but the team might as well let it play out and see.
The Horror! The Horror!
Kurtz’s last words. Also an apt description of the Royals’s pitching development. Here is a list:
That is every pitcher drafted in the first five rounds by the Royals since 2011. Obviously Manaea, Reed, and Finnegan were sacrificed to Jobu and our lovely flag flying in left field. Staumont still has a whiff of sulfur and gunpowder as his long fuse hisses at Omaha. Of the rest I think it is fair to say that none have yet exceeded expectations. On the international front Miguel Almonte still might just make it into something from the same time period.
That is it. There is no one here to front a rotation or slam the door shut from the bull pen. The rest of them are letting it fly and hoping for the best, which leads to a dull forecast of upcoming 70-win seasons.
Of course there is one name missing from the list, the greatest Royals development story of the Moore era. We miss you Ace.
KC Shankland lives in Maple Valley, Washington. His Royals fandom runs from the Royals/Yankees blood feud of the ‘70s to Hosmer’s mad dash home.
‘People ask me what I do in winter when there’s no baseball. I’ll tell you what I do. Obsess over prospects.’