Greg Schaum caused quite a stir last night when he tweeted that a major prospect for the Royals would be moving up the ladder shortly. While Schaum hasn't been able to find enough evidence to support the rumor he's heard, he has been willing to drop hints on his Twitter feed, setting off discussion in last night's post-game thread that has continued today.
So who will Schaum's mystery prospect be? Well, here's what we know so far...
- This is a player with no major league experience.
- It's a major prospect.
- The move will garner "national attention".
- It should be a surprising move.
- Other moves are necessary to accommodate the "major move".
- We know the player is not Wil Myers or John Lamb.
With this in mind, let's take a look at Schaum's Top 40 Royals Prospect list at his site, RoyalsProspects.com. This list is current as of May 2010, so this may give us some more clues as to who the Royals could potentially promote, as well as what prospects Schaum considers to be noteworthy enough to garner national attention.
I'm going to assume that for Schaum to believe a promotion in Royals system could earn national recognition (and the amount of national recognition expected is unclear at this point), it's likely going to have to be one of his top prospects. Here's what he has to say on each of his top ten, along with my thoughts on each one's chances.
1) Mike Montgomery - Has moved up on the national prospect lists
Montgomery has been fantastic this year, and I've seen his name mentioned as potentially the best left-handed pitcher in the minor leagues. The 6-5 lefty recently earned a promotion to AA, and his success this year could create a national stir if called up to the big league club after such a short stay in Northwest Arkansas. He could potentially be brought up to the bullpen or into the rotation, and either would require a move or two to create space for him. The 20-year-old is the same age Zack Greinke was when he debuted in 2004, though Greinke spent time in AAA before reaching the majors.
2) Mike Moustakas - Absolutely crushing the ball for the Naturals
Another highly-touted prospect in AA, Moustakas has been crushing the ball for Northwest Arkansas this season. He has only played 23 games for the Naturals, but he was there at the start of the season and the Royals might want to put on the fast track. I'm not sure a promotion to Omaha would be a national story (though like I said before, it's unclear what level of recognition would be required), though a callup to the big leagues might. This might also fit in with the Royals plans at third base - they recently moved Alex Gordon to LF and have given third base to Alberto Callaspo. It's conceivable the Royals want to get Moustakas up to AAA as quickly as possible for him to take over the starting role with the big league club next season, and hope Callaspo can increase his trade value by showing he can play third and continue to hit well. Alternatively, they could even decide to trade Callaspo now and call up Moustakas to man third base immediately for the big league club. With a manager like Ned Yost at the helm who has shown a willingness to stick by younger players, this is a possibility. I see this as a radical change from how Dayton Moore has handled promotions in the past, but after firing Trey Hillman, Moore might be feeling the pressure to do things differently.
3) Aaron Crow - Really needs to develop the change and be more consistent
Crow hasn't been very impressive in Northwest Arkansas so far, but when drafted he was described as being close to big-league ready. Given his age, the Royals might be tempted to call him up now and stick him in the bullpen, though this could be risky given this is his first season in professional baseball. This could potentially be a national story - there are high expectations on Crow for being drafted in the first round twice, and his route through the independent leagues adds a unique flavor to it.
4) Eric Hosmer - Treating the Carolina League like it is high school again
Since getting healthy and correcting his vision, Hosmer has started mashing in Wilmington, a place not known for its kindness towards power hitters. He's showing outstanding patience at the plate (21 BB to 12 SO), and I wouldn't be surprised by him being called up to AA, despite only being in Wilmington for 160 plate appearances. Don't think a one-league promotion would be a national story, and I can't see how he could skip AA and advance higher given the options at 1B and DH currently in front of him...but Schaum did ask "When was the last time you were surprised by a minor league move?"*, so I suppose anything is possible, although this would be highly unlikely given Dayton Moore's history with promoting prospects.
*After reading through this again, I'm not sure Schaum was actually asking that in relation to this mystery, he might have just been trying to start a separate discussion. With that said, it's more fun to imagine what "shocking" move the Royals might have in store, so I'm going to assume he was throwing this out there in relation to the move in question.
5) Wil Myers - Got off to slow start but bat is coming along nicely.
We can rule out Myers, since Schaum said it's not him. Next.
6) Noel Arguellas - Had some elbow tendinitis, but will be at Wilmington soon
This one is interesting. Arguellas got national attention when the Royals picked him up, though he has yet to be assigned to a club. I believe this is because the Royals want to protect his arm, as Arguellas was forced to throw a lot during the off-season to showcase his abilities to different clubs. The Royals invested nearly $7 million in the Cuban pitcher, and at just 20 years old, it would seem too early to expect a return of that investment at the big league level, but could they decide to start him off at AA (or even AAA) instead of Wilmington, like Schaum suggests?
7) David Lough - would like to have seen him stay in CF
Doubtful. It wouldn't create any real kind of national stir, for one thing, and Lough hasn't really done anything to warrant a promotion to the big leagues. He posted strong numbers at the plate in AA, but Omaha hasn't been kind to him.
8 ) Chris Dwyer - My interview with the very good Frankie Pillierre sold me
Not sure how this would be a national story, and I don't see what he's done to show he's ready to move up to AA.
9) John Lamb - Ignore the walk numbers he is still in the learning phase
Has done very well in low-A, but is only 19-years old and this conversation on Twitter (part 1, part 2) would indicate he's not involved in this move. (Edit: Just saw that Lamb was actually promoted recently to high-A, but considering Schaum's tweets that I linked to just above this, it's safe to say that's not the move he's referring to).
10) Tim Melville - Very concerned, kid struggles with mental part of game
Melville was a big name when drafted, but he hasn't had success this season in Wilmington and there's nothing there to suggest a promotion is imminent.
Of the names in the top ten, Montgomery, Moustakas, Crow, Hosmer and Arguellas seem the most likely. Of course, if we branch outside the top ten, there's one more name to consider...
11) Danny Duffy - I am still treating this like a DL situation
Duffy left the Royals following a strong spring this year for personal reasons, though Schaum has not yet ruled out a return. His decision to leave baseball was a national story, as he was considered one of the brightest pitching prospects for the Royals, and I seem to recall rumors that the Royals were considering him for the bullpen at the start of the season. His return could certainly be a national storyline, though that might also depend on where he is assigned (possibly back to Wilmington, or perhaps Northwest Arkansas). I'm not sure what moves would be needed to bring him back into the fold, but for the conspiracy theorists out there, this could explain the lack of confirmed details at this point, as the Royals might be especially cautious bringing Duffy back for fear of him changing his mind.