We made it. Here it is: The Top
6 7 Prospects in the Royals system. I still plan one more post-next week-that will cover the state of the system and break down our prospects in some different ways. I think a couple of my rankings may surprise you. So feel free to make your case if you disagree with me.
The Royals signed Arguelles to a 5 year/$7million contract last week. Just a couple of years ago, the biggest international bones we'd given out was around $200,000--it is good to see the increased investment--but it will be years before we know if the Royals spent that money on the right players. Arguelles is advertised as 20ish but who knows. Since 2001, the US Government has cracked down on people changing their birthdate so there are fewer instances of prospects magically aging (see: Berroa, Angel). However, I'm not sure how that affects Cuban defectors who are leaving a place that isn't going to cooperate with the US Government trying to establish how old a player is. The bottom line is: we probably can't know with any certainty how old he is. However it isn't a huge issue if he is 22 instead of 20--in fact it might reduce his change for injury a little bit. What we do know about is his stuff--you've probably read the same scouting reports I've read: FB92-94, plus changeup and potential for plus curve. Control is an issue for him. I've read some folks who prefer him over Aroldis Chapman (but that is a minority view). Really tough guy to rank but I put him right behind Duffy--and I might even put him a hair behind Melville. Reports are that he is expected to start the season at Wilmington where it will be very interesting to see how he adjusts.
Part of me thinks Duffy doesn't get enough respect. Another part of me is nervous about him for reasons I'm not sure I can put my finger on. Duffy was our 3rd Round Pick out of a small HS in California. Duffy has occasionally been falsely labeled a soft-tosser. His FB sits in the low-90s which isn't blazing but not slow either. He adds a very good curveball and a good/decent changeup. In 2008, he gave up a lot of flyballs but he increased his GB% in 2009 from 37% to 47%--he'll need to keep that rate high to thrive in the Texas League. His numbers predictably dropped from an amazing 2008--his K rate and hit rate both went up but were still quite good. In fact, he K'd the 2nd highest percentage of batters in the Carolina league and had the best FIP--all while being one of the younger pitchers in the league. No doubt he benefited from his spacious home ballpark but he actually pitched better on the road. Scouts don't see much projection left in him--but he doesn't need it--if he keeps his excellent command he can succeed at the big league level and be more than just a middle of the rotation starter. Look for him in AA to start 2010.
The #2 pick in the 2007 draft, Mike Moustakas hasn't yet lived up to the hype. In 2008, he had a horrible 1st half at Burlington but then turned it on and had an amazing 2nd half that raised expectations and allowed folks to forget those early season struggles. Things looked encouraging to start 2009 as Moose hit 274/321/507 in his first month. But his numbers plunged the next few months. He hit a little bit better to end the year but still ended up with pretty ugly numbers for a #2 overall pick (especially that .297 OBP). Moose was assigned to the Arizona Fall League where he hit 267/288/560. You can slice those numbers a lot of ways--on base problems again vs. huge power, Mike was in a very hitting friendly environment vs. he was one of the youngest players in the league (most AFL participants have AA experience and are a couple of years older). Then there were the reports of his putting on weight--a couple of AFL watchers commented on it. Personally, I'm not too worried about weight and conditioning yet. I am worried about his on base ability. In 2008, he walked about 8% of the time, last year it dropped to 6%. He needs to start pushing that number back up. Also, his BABIP has been pretty low for two straight year--not sure if he has been unlucky both seasons of if there is something else going on there. He has improved defensively at 3rd base and the amazing power is still there. As he goes to AA, he need to 1. Be more patient--he's got such a quick bat that he needs to realize that just because he can put his bat on a pitch doesn't mean he should get his bat on a pitch. 2. Enjoy the Texas league--he goes to a hitting friendly league where he should see his average and power increase. 3. Get lucky--pull that BABIP back up. I think/hope he'll bounce back to something like 280/340/500 next year.
There were rumors that the Royals were considering Myers with the #12 overall pick in the 2009 draft. He was an athletic catcher from a North Carolina HS who was scaring teams off with his price tag. The Royals had him in a for a predraft workout at the K and he made quite the impression. Myers is an amazing athlete with some folks speculating he could play CF if C doesn't work out. He has power and projects to hit for average as well. Myers didn't play against top level competition in HS so it was a little harder to know what his true talent level is. Myers fell into their lap in the 3rd Round and the Royals drafted him. He didn't sign until mid-August because the commissioner wouldn't let the Royals announce the way over slot signing bonus of $2 million. The Royals let him play a series in his home state of North Carolina before shipping him off to Idaho Falls for the final month of the season. Freshly drafted high schoolers normally don't go to the Pioneer League but the Royals challenged him (and the Pioneer League schedule lasted longer so he could get more at bats). The results: 426/488/735. Just a month, I keep telling myself. But those are some crazy numbers. His potential is high enough that there is a case for him to on top of this list but his lack of track record tempers my enthusiasm just a hair. He's still raw behind the plate but the questions behind him staring there are simply form the unknown. It could be that his bat will be ready before his glove is and that may make for an interesting decision. I"m guessing he will go to Burlington, Iowa to start 2010 where he will face an league/environment that has chewed up many a HS hitter. I can't wait to see how he handles it.
I feel like I'm either Eric Hosmer's agent or his mom because I don't think anyone else is going to have him this high on their list. If you liked Eric Hosmer a year ago there isn't any reason not to like him now. I know that may be tough to swallow looking at last year's numbers but I think there are valid reasons for struggles. Feel free to tell me if you think I'm just making excuses for him. He struggled his 1st month in the cold, pitcher friendly Midwest League but then hit 299/413/483 in May. He injured his hand at the end of May, I believe, and his stats in June dipped to 211/274/316 but he seemed to heal some and July was 288/377/442 until he was inexplicably called up to Wilmington. I haven't really heard a good reason why he was promoted. He really struggled and then there was the goggles/lasik incident that finished off his year. I'm not saying Hosmer didn't have issues to work on. He didn't get the ball in the air enough for a guy who was supposed to have the best power potential in the 2008 draft. Did that have to do with his eyes? Was his hand injury still lingering? I don't know but was able to get on base and power can be an elusive tool to display at a young age and I think the power will return. I think those folks who have dropped him way down their prospect lists will regret it in 2010. The Hoz will go back to the Caroline League in 2010 to try and avenge the misguided assignment he was sent on there last year.
Crow was drafted 9th overall in 2008 by the Nationals after an amazing Junior season at Mizzou going 13-0 with a 2.59 ERA, 127k/38w in 107IP. Negotiations went sour with the Nats and he didn't sign. I didn't think Crow would be availible when we picked at #12 but he was and we took him (I didn't think Grant Green would be either and that is who I would have taken but Crow was second on my list). We did take him but we didn't sign him until September. The Royals and Crow really hurt themselves as they missed valuable developmental time that Crow could have used after missing a season. Crow did got to instructional league and then the AFL where he got 15 innings in with a 5.87 ERA, 12k/2w 17h. He shook off the rust of his first couple of outings and pitched better in his last two. Crow has a great fastball--mid 90s, sinking movement and he commands it really well. He's also got a plus slider and a changeup that is a little inconsistent but can be good. Pitch F/X from AFL showed a sinker--but that might just be the FB. In college he was known to hold his velocity deep into games. Some pitching mechanic gurus don't like his motion (because of a wrist curl in his motion) and think he is a high injury risk. I don't know enough to know if their concerns are warranted. He has the tools to be a front of rotation starter--but being off for a year means that 2010 will be spent making sure he isn't worked too hard in returning to competitive pitching. I"m not sure where he'll start 2010 but I'm guessing Northwest Arkansas.
|2009||19||2 Teams||2 Lgs||A-A_adv||2.21||21||110.0||1.055||6.5||0.1||2.9||8.0||2.72|
Coming into 2009, I expected Hosmer and/or Moustakas to cement their status as our top prospects. That didn't happen and it could make Montgomery's ascension to the #1 spot seem somewhat like he made it by default. That would be wrong. He is a legitimate #1 prospect. He isn't a Top 10 in all of baseball prospect (at least, not yet) but his performance in his first full professional season was amazing. Montgomery was a supplemental 1st round pick out of HS in California. He was also a basketball player before he got kicked off the team for too many flagrant fouls. He throws a good fastball at 91-93 that generates a lot of groundballs. He has room to grow and could add more velocity. He has a very good changeup. He has the potential for a good curve but needs more consistency. He pitched very well as he started the year at Burlington. He was then promoted to Wilmington where he pitched even better. He control got better after the promotion cutting his walk rate in half. Just for fun, go compare his Carolina League numbers to Brian Matusz (top Orioles prospect who began the year at the Carolina league and is over 2 years older than Montgomery). All the ingredients are there for him to be a top of the rotation starter. He's still only 20 but its hard to argue he has much more to prove at Wilmington. Still the Royals could start him there and promote him midseason or, if he impresses in the Spring, could go ahead and put him at AA.