Down the stretch we come. We get to players that just about every Royals fan has heard of. The Top 8 or 9 Royals prospects are just about the same on every list--the order differs slightly--but I find those differences really interesting because they show you what the person doing the ranking values.
It's not hard to imagine the players below becoming above average major leaguers. Perhaps even some legitimate All-Star seasons. Sure some of these guys will go down in flames, but every one of the players below would be a top 3 prospect in several organizations.
12. Brett Eibner--CF--DOB:10/2/88
The Royals took Eibner in the 2nd Round of the 2010 draft out of the University of Arkansas. He hit 333/455/718 as Junior. He had a 39/55 BB/K ratio in 216 at bats. He was considered a 1st Round talent as a pitcher and something close to that as a hitter. Most teams preferred him being a pitcher but he really wanted to be a position player. He signed as a CF for $1.2 million. He was hurt so he didn't get in any time in a pro game. He did play at Instructional League and was, from reports, impressive as a potential 5 tool center fielder. From his stats in college, strikeouts could be a problem for him--but he has above average power and should draw some walks. His defense is supposed to be good. His could be a poor man's Grady Sizemore or perhaps Chris Young would be a good comparison. The addition of Lorenzo Cain means the Royals can give Eibner plenty of minor league at bats and not feel the need to rush him. He could start the year at Kane County or Wilmington in 2011.
11. Cheslor Cuthbert--3B--DOB:11/16/92
The Royals signed Cuthbert out of Nicaragua in 2009 for $1.35 million. According to Baseball America, the island he is from off of Nicaragua used to be under U.S. control and he already knows English--which makes the transition easier--especially when he goes to full season ball. His calling card is his bat where he projects to hit for average and power. He put up pretty good numbers at Surprise and Idaho Falls in 2010--especially for being 17. Unfortunately, he got hurt and missed the last month of the year. There have been some questions about his glove when he signed but he showed a good glove during his pro debut. Cuthbert has a big ceiling but a long ways to go to reach it. If he hadn't gotten injured, I would have been pretty confident he start at Kane County. It's more of a question mark now. If he can impress in Spring Training, he might get the full season assignment but he may need some more time in short season ball/stay in extended Spring Training and then go to Kane County.
10. Aaron Crow--RHP--DOB:11/11/86
Aaron Crow was the Royals 1st Round pick in 2009--after being the Nats 1st Round pick in 2008 and not signing. His 2010 was not good--especially the time at Northwest Arkansas. But his FIP at AA was 4.76 which isn't good but it's a heck of a lot better than his actual ERA. He got 63% ground ball rate there which is very good. But his command/control was bad. His FIP at Wilmington was 3.26 and he was able to display much better control. The reports on his stuff were still encouraging. His fastball was still in the low-mid 90s with good movement and he still had the good slider. The change-up is alright but definitely the third pitch in his arsenal. Several places have mentioned he would be an excellent closer candidate--but I hope they continue to give him the chance to start. I think of Crow a little bit like Eric Hosmer's prospect status a year ago--a talented guy who had a bad year--but if you dig around there are still reasons to really like this guy: good stuff and strong ground ball tendencies and could still become a #2 starter. He is a candidate to bounce back in 2011--he'll probably be at AA or AAA and if he pitches well he could see the big league roster during the summer.
9. Christian Colon--2B--DOB:5/14/89
The Royals took Colon with the #4 overall pick in the 2010 draft. He had an outstanding summer 2009 for Team USA before breaking his leg pretty badly. He came back to Long Beach State and it took a little bit for him to hit his stride. He hit 358/447/631 at
Long Beach State Cal State Fullerton during his junior season with a 34/18 BB/K ratio. The Royals signed him and sent him to Wilmington. He had a really rough start--something like 0-18. But he gradually improved his offensive numbers as the season went on. Colon projects to hit for average, should draw some walks and some power. The Royals insisted when they drafted Colon, they intended to keep him at SS. However, with the addition of Alcides Escobar, the Royals will probably shift Colon to 2B. He is supposed to be really sound defensively, just not very quick--especially after breaking his leg. He should be above average at 2B. Colon held his own offensively after an aggressive assignment to Wilmington. In 2011, he should flourish offensively and defensively at AA.
8. Jake Odorizzi--RHP--DOB:3/27/90
The player further away from the big leagues in the Greinke trade, Odorizzi has a ceiling as high or higher than any of the other three players the Royals received. The Brewers took Greinke in the Supplement 1st Round of the 2008 draft out of High School in Illinois. He was one of the top HS pitchers in the draft (taken just a few picks before the Royals took Mike Montgomery). Milwaukee waited to put him in full season ball until last year--but he put up really good numbers in his first extended season. He struck out a bunch of guys, had decent control (that got better as the year went on), and was stingy with the longball. Odorizzi features a low-mid 90s fastball with a power breaking ball (there has been some debate as to whether it is a true slider or not). The change-up is alright--improving but not great. He has good command of his pitches. Look for really eye popping numbers at Wilmington in2011--and I think he will zoom up prospects charts over the coming year. In fact, if he does well at High A, I could see him moving to AA pretty quickly--if there is room for him in that rotation.
7. Dan Duffy--LHP--DOB:12/21/88
|2010||21||4 Teams||4 Lgs||AA-A+-Rk||KCR||2.74||14||14||62.1||1.107||7.5||0.7||2.5||10.0||4.06|
It is hard to remember now, but in about mid-April the Royals farm system looked like it might be in for a long season. Mike Moustakas was coming off a bad 2009 and was hurt and Dan Duffy had walked away from baseball--and it didn't sound like he was coming back. Thankfully he returned and with a bonus--an uptick in velocity. Duffy has been successful from the moment he started playing pro ball. The highest ERA he's had at any given stop was the 3.38 he posted 2 2/3 IP for the Surprise Royals last year. His numbers almost always consist of lots of Ks/low walk rate/low HR rate. He was considered a good prospect but his stuff was not considered 'ace material'. But last year, he was working low-mid 90s from the left side with good movement. His curve can be a plus pitch but it is still inconsistent. His changeup is average to above average. He has become a little divisive to evaluators. Some folks see a pitcher with ace potential while others still see him as a decent #3. He also pitched in the Arizona Fall League where his numbers were, for the first time, not good: ERA over 8 in 15 IP--but that league is notorious for being a hitters' league. Duffy could go back to AA, advance to AAA, or he could win a Major League job in Spring Training. I'm not sure if the Royals will try to limit his innings increase from last year to this year--that will be something to keep an eye on.