I took a quick look at the stat sheets from the Royal’s top three minor league teams today and thought I’d pass along a few of my thoughts. (At this point I picture all of the Royals Review faithful clapping their hands excitedly and wispering "yipee!")
Pitching: Omaha has a bad pitching staff this year. If the Royals needed help I think Brad Salmon is the only arm at Omaha right now that might be counted upon to deliver average performance at the MLB level. Carlos Rosa (41.2 Innings, 44 hits, 8/35 BB/K) Brandon Duckworth (95.1 Innings, 92 hits, 35/73 BB/K) and Neal Musser (49.1 Innings, 43 hits, 27/60 BB/K) would probably be above replacement level. The rest of the staff is performing poorly. Good lord, Tyler Lumsden sucks like Kenny G. Matt Wright is disappointing in what might be his last real shot at a career in baseball. Roman Colon needs more development time apparently.
Things are not much brighter at Northwest Arkansas pitching wise, which is a surprise as that roster is stacked with prospect tagged talent. Blake Johnson, Rowdy Hardy, Julio Pimental and Blake Wood are all struggling. I give a thumbs up to Daniel Cortes (64.1 Innings, 56 hits, 30/67 BB/K), Jarod Plummer (43 Innings, 45 hits, 11/43 BB/K). Kinda intriguing are Chris Hayes (40.2 Innings, 31 hits, 9/22 BB/K) and Chris Nicoll (15 Innings, 11 hits, 2/16 BB/K). But overall the Natural’s pitching staff has not set the world on fire like I had hoped they would.
Lots of good stuff going on at Wilmington. Evertt Teaford, Matthew Kniginyzky, Greg Holland, Henry Barrera and Ben Swaggerty are striking out everyone. The stat sheet for these guys all look great. Aaron Hartsock is also worth noting. Two years ago the Royals traded Jeff Keppinger to the Reds. This was considered a bad move at the time here at RR, and history has once more proven that the RR consensus opinion is always correct. In return for Keppinger the Royals picked up a guy with a fascinating name. Russell Haltiwanger. Cool name, but it turns out he sucks. (34.1 Innings, 38 hits, 22/21 BB/K.) Still stuck in high A and not looking good.
Infield: At Omaha Ryan Shealy is putting together a fine year. .280/.361/.486. Does hope remain? Maybe a glimmer. Mike Stodolka and Matt Tupman are having very disappointing years. David Matranga (3B) is new to me and looking good. (.265/.347/.453) Of course, being a third baseman in the Royals system does not bode well for him. In Arkansas Kila Kaaihue has set the world on fire (.309/.454/.636). Kaaihue has a 62/35 BB/K ratio in 236 at bats. I guess he moves ahead of Shealy and Stodolka if he maintains numbers anywhere near these in the second half of the season. Marc Maddox (2B) is kinda intriguing. (.280/.370/.362) and 14/22 in SBs. Mario Lisson is having a horrible year, which is disappointing. I guess those of us who didn’t already do this can now go about forgetting about his existence. Down at Wilmington another second baseman is looking good. Kurt Mertins (.301/.374/.433) with 16/20 SBs. Mertins only has 11 errors, but I have no idea of how good he is in the field beyond that. Josh Johnson, a third baseman, has a .420 OBP, which rises eyebrows. Jeff Bianchi might be looking for an apartment to share with Lisson in the village of washed out second base prospects (.231/.270/.410).
Outfield: The outfielders in the KC high minors look more promising than do the infielders. At Omaha Mitch Maier (.315/.363/.460) and Shane Costa (.295/.354/.469) look ready to come up and play at KC if needed. Chris Lubanski can be forgotten now (.238/.305/.410). I guess getting left off the 40 man roster did nothing to change his level of performance. At Arkansas a couple of guys are stealing bases, but they all have kinda crappy OBP’s so I can’t get too excited about them. Ovandy Suero (33 SBs, .317 OBP) and Jose Duarte (21 SBs, .317 OBP). Brian McFall is showing some power (.240/.351/.471) , which is in short supply in the Royal’s organization.
The Wilmington outfield is full of speedsters who, for the most part, appear to lack complementary skills. Derrick Robinson (42/50 SBs, .296 OBP, .606 OPS) and Jarrod Dyson (28/36 SBs, .314 OBP, .566 OPS). Joseph Dickerson is more promising at this point (24/38 SBs, .299/.380/.447).
Summing up, the Royals do not have a lot of pitching help major league ready, but they do have plenty of live arms at Wilmington. The Northwest Arkansas pitching class of 2008 has been a letdown, but none of the golden prospects have collapsed either. There are some intriguing second and third base prospects and speedy outfielders at Arkansas and Wilmington. Costa and Maier both are doing fine and look to be ready to help out the Royals if need arises. The only unqualified success stories so far in 2008 are Kila Kaaihue and the Wilmington fire-ballers (Teaford, Kniginyzky, Holland, Barrera and Swaggety.)