The Arizona Royals pitching staff appears to be staffed with much more talent than does their player roster. Already getting work on the club are the Royals 1st split round pick (Michael Montgomery), their 3rd round pick (Tyler Sample) their fifth rounder (John Lamb), their 8th round pick (Malcom Culver) as well as three other draft picks. The overall staff is performing fairly well. The Zona Royals have a staff ERA of 4.65, which is okay, but their peripherals are a bit more exciting. 9.3 H/9, 3.9 BB/9 and 8.7 K/9. Those all look good to me considering we are dealing with arms attached to men still too young to buy beer.
Arizona is clearly the starting point for high school draftees. Of the 10 college pitchers signed by the Royals this year only one (Brett Richardson) was sent to Arizona, and Richardson pitched at the community college level.
So, who looks good?:
Michael Montgomery was taken by the Royals as a 1st round split choice and given a signing bonus just under a million dollars so clearly big things are hoped for here. So far he is delivering. In 9.1 Innings, 6 hits, 3/7 BB/K and no runs.
Tyler Sample (3rd round) signed for $500K. Not so good so far. 7.2 Innings, 5 hits, 7 earned runs. OK, here it comes. In 7.2 Innings he has struck out 11! And walked 12! Wow. OK, let’s keep an eye on him.
John Lamb (5th Round, $165K bonus) hasn’t pitched yet. I do not know why. Maybe he has been shagging Sample’s wild pitches. That probably is a full time job right now.
Malcom Culver (8th round, $125K bonus) has only pitched two innings so far, but they were good.
Deybi De La Cruz (18 years old) pitched very well in the Dominican League last year. 33 Innings, 30 hits, 10/34 BB/K, 2.18 ERA. He has picked up where he left off. In 19 innings in Arizona he has given up 13 hits, 4/22 BB/K and has an ERA of 0.95. He is a little guy, 5’11, 155lbs. Righty. Looks really good right now.
Leondy Perez (19 years old) is another product of the Dominican League who looks great so far. Last year 40.2 Innings, 31 hits, 23/40 BB/K with a 2.88 ERA. This year 18 innings, 11 hits, 6/17 BB/K with an ERA of 1.00. The Royals have some good scouting going on in the islands. 6’1, 175 so okay frame. Righty.
Carlos Fortuna (19 years) keeps it rolling. Last year in the Dominican he did fine, 32 innings, 26 hits, 12/28 BB/K, 3.94 ERA. He has stepped it up a notch so far in Arizona, 16.2 Innings, 11 hits, 5/23 BB/K with a 3.24 ERA. Great K ratio of 12.4/9. 6’2, 185 so a pro build. Also throws right.
Brett Richardson (20 years old, 34th round) has a great build. 6’3, 195 lbs. He pitched at Wenatchee Valley CC last year and is the only member of the staff with college experience. His first nine innings went well, 7 hits, 2/3 BB/K with a 1.00 ERA. He is the team’s closer with 3 saves. Right hander. Good GO/AO ratio of 1.30.
Not looking as good right now:
Gary Cuevas (20 years old, 6’0, 184 lbs) pitched well in the Domincan Republic last year (33.1 Innings, 23 hits, 18/42 BB/K, 2.43 ERA) but is getting pounded in Arizona so far. In 14 innings he has given up 15 runs with 9 walks and 19 hits.
Onassis Sirrett (19 years old, 5’11, 170 lbs) is repeating at Arizona this year. He pitched fairly well in the Domincan last year before moving up to Arizona late were he was roughed up (8.53 ERA). So far this year he has kept his ERA down (3.75) but his peripherals all look kinda time-bomby. 12 innings, 17 hits, 3/9 BB/K, .327 BAA).
Peter Hodge Nielsen (19 years old) is repeating Arizona also. You just know he comes from a very wealthy family, given that name and all. Anyway, he pitched pretty well at Arizona last year, which is not surprising given that he was the Royals 4th round pick in 2007. 40.1 Innings, 39 hits, 23/35 BB/K, 4.24 ERA, and a great 2.04 GO/AO ratio. This year he is off to a terrible start. 7.1 Innings and an ERA of 15.95 should be all you need to hear, but I will go on. Ten walks and 2 strikeouts. Why is he repeating? Was he hurt? I don’t know. High round pick so we should pay attention to him for while longer.
Chase Hentges (14th round draft choice) is a tall kid, 6’5, 180 lbs. He his getting pounded so far but in only 4.2 innings of work.
Casey Feickert was taken in the 8th round last year and did miserably in Arizona (9.21 ERA in 14.2 innings.) He looks even worse this year so far (14.54 ERA in 4.1 Innings.) Maybe be an early wash-out for a top-10 pick.
Josh Ruhlman (22 years old) was a relief pitcher at Central Michigan and East Carolina. He struck out a lot of guys in college (76 in 77.2 innings) and he is a left hander. It looks like he was an UDFA. So far at Arizona he has 7 innings, 7 hits, 1/9 BB/K with a 5.14 ERA.
Ray Liotta (according to MiLB.com he is a “distant cousin of the actor”) has some interesting notes. He is 25 years old. 6’3, 220 lbs. A lefty. He went to Tulane for a year. The White Sox took him in the 2nd round in 2004. He was fine (not great) in the minors (here is his cube) and made it all the way up to AA by 2006 before the Royals took him in the minor league phase of the rule-5 draft last year. He missed the whole year due to shoulder surgery. In his big come-back he looks great so far, albeit in only 3 innings of work. 1 hit, 1/5 BB/K with a .100 BAA. Let’s keep an eye on him. He might be a steal, or at least an interesting story.
Matt Peterson is on the team on a rehab assignment. This guy is really intriguing. He was the Mets 2nd round pick in 2000 and was ranked at the fourth best prospect in their system in 2004 and the 9th best in the Pirates system the following year by Baseball America. He pitched at AA and AAA last year and did it well (Cube here). Cross our fingers here. Anyway, he probably doesn’t belong on this rundown as Arizona is only a rehab stop for him.
Also on the team, Aruek Bibukka (20, Dominican Republic), Jace Smith (23 years old), Angel Martinez (24 years old, trying to comeback after surgery) and Jacob Theis (18 years old, 21st round draft choice, 6’6, 220 lbs).
In conclusion, a lot of good arms on this team and some really intriguing players trying to rebuild their careers. I like this group a lot.