Reshaping the Roster, A Retrospective: Part III The Minors

Last month, Will (royalsreview) reviewed the changes Dayton Moore has made to the big league roster since taking the reins of the organization in the 2006 season.  In Part I, he reviewed the major league position players and in Part II, he reviewed the major league pitchers.

In addition to inheriting a poor major league team, Dayton Moore inherited a minor league system that was in tatters.  According to Baseball America, this is how the Royals minor league system ranked in the five years leading up to his take over:

 

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

21

26

19

28

23

Now let’s see how the Royals top 20 prospects have changed from the organization that Moore inherited during the 2006 season to the one they have now (2006 is BA’s list and 2009 is my list):

2006

Rank

2009

Alex Gordon, 3B

1

Mike Moustakas, IF

Billy Butler, OF

2

Eric Hosmer, 1B

Justin Huber, 1B

3

Dan Cortes, RHP

Chris Lubanski, OF

4

Carlos Rosa, RHP

Jeff Bianchi, SS

5

Tim Melville, RHP

Luis Cota, RHP

6

Dan Duffy, LHP

Chris McConnell, SS

7

Blake Wood, RHP*

Mitch Maier, OF

8

Kila Kaaihue, 1B

Donnie Murphy, 2B

9

Michael Montgomery, LHP

Shane Costa, OF

10

Joe Dickerson, OF

Billy Buckner, RHP

11

Julio Pimentel, RHP

Brian Bass, RHP

12

Daniel Gutierrez, RHP

Adam Donachie, C

13

Edward Cegarra, RHP

Angel Sanchez, SS

14

Tyler Sample, RHP

Danny Christensen, LHP

15

Johnny Giavotella, 2B

Erik Cordier, RHP

16

Derrick Robinson, OF*

Joe Dickerson, OF

17

Blake Johnson, RHP

Jose Duarte, OF

18

Matt Mitchell, RHP

Chris Nicoll, RHP

19

Sam Runion, RHP

Kila Kaaihue, 1B

20

Jason Taylor, 3B

Bold = acquired during Dayton Moore’s tenure as GM

* The Royals, Braves and Dayton Moore made a deal that Moore would take over as GM in late May 2006 but not take part in the Royals amateur draft.  While some don’t believe Moore did not take part in the draft decisions in 2006, I think that Moore would and did honor the deal that he and the Royals made with the Braves.  So I don’t give him the credit or blame for anything in the 2006 draft.  If you disagree with this assessment, then Moore gets the credit/blame for Blake Wood and Derrick Robinson.

It is difficult to evaluate minor league systems of the past versus the present because the prospects from the older rankings have had more of a chance to prove themselves, or not, while the current prospects are all unproven.  So I’m evaluating the 2006 prospects based on how they were seen at the time.  The color coded sections are my attempt to roughly group the prospects by quality.  Blue represents top prospects (roughly top 100 MLB quality prospects).  Green represents good prospects, and so on.

First, let’s look at the pitchers:

2006

Rank

2009

Luis Cota, RHP

1

Dan Cortes, RHP

Billy Buckner, RHP

2

Carlos Rosa, RHP

Brian Bass, RHP

3

Tim Melville, RHP

Danny Christensen, LHP

4

Dan Duffy, LHP

Erik Cordier, RHP

5

Blake Wood, RHP*

Chris Nicoll, RHP

6

Michael Montgomery, LHP

 

7

Julio Pimentel, RHP

 

8

Daniel Gutierrez, RHP

 

9

Edward Cegarra, RHP

 

10

Tyler Sample, RHP

 

11

Blake Johnson, RHP

 

12

Matt Mitchell, RHP

 

13

Sam Runion, RHP

There’s no comparison here.  Going into the 2006 season, the Royals had no genuinely good pitching prospects, while the system is now loaded with quality pitching prospects.  While the cupboard was bare in 2006, in 2009 the Royals have multiple top 100 quality pitching prospects as well as tremendous depth in their minor league system.  Both Kevin Goldstein at Baseball Prospectus and Rany Jazayerli have said the Royals currently have one of some of the best pitching of any minor league system.

And now the position players:

2006

Rank

2009

Alex Gordon, 3B

1

Mike Moustakas, IF

Billy Butler, OF

2

Eric Hosmer, 1B

Justin Huber, 1B

3

Kila Kaaihue, 1B

Chris Lubanski, OF

4

Joe Dickerson, OF

Jeff Bianchi, SS

5

Johnny Giavotella, 2B

Chris McConnell, SS

6

Derrick Robinson, OF*

Mitch Maier, OF

7

Jason Taylor, 3B

Donnie Murphy, 2B

8

 

Shane Costa, OF

9

 

Adam Donachie, C

10

 

Angel Sanchez, SS

11

 

Joe Dickerson, OF

12

 

Jose Duarte, OF

13

 

Kila Kaaihue, 1B

14

 

These two lists look very similar to me.  There are two elite position player prospects and then a bunch of ok prospects.  The 2006 system might have had a little bit more mediocre depth, but that’s about it.  If the original list went beyond the top 20, I could have listed many more mediocre position player prospects for the 2009 system (whoopie!)

So how do the two systems compare overall?  In 2006, the Royals had two elite prospects.  For 2009, the Royals have five prospects who could easily make the top 100.  The Royals also currently have better prospect depth.  Depending on where you draw the line for “good” prospects, the 2009 system goes 10-15 deep, while the 2006 system went only 6-11 deep.  So the current Royals minor league system is better at the top, and has better depth.

But, as with the analysis of the major league team, great improvement has been made regarding the pitchers, but not so much with the position players.  While the Royals minor league pitching has improved greatly system-wide, the position player situation remains unimproved.  Moore has effectively replaced the top position player prospects who have graduated to the majors (Gordon and Butler), but has done little else.

So, Dayton Moore has done half of his job in rebuilding the minor league system.  The Royals minor league pitching has gone from awful to spectacular.  But the position players remain woefully inadequate.  I would argue that in two years one cannot expect a GM to completely turn everything around.  He has completely re-stocked the minors with pitchers, perhaps even overstocked.  Now, he needs to start spending the currency of baseball and start turning some of the pitchers (either major league, minor league or both) into position players.

Overall, I would say that Moore has done a good job of rebuilding the minor league system in two years.  But it is clearly not a job that is even close to being done.  I think next year’s organizational rankings will have the Royals around the middle of the pack, thanks to great pitching and multiple top 100 prospects.  But that’s not enough.  The organization needs more quality position player prospects. 

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