Remembering David Lough

Jamie Squire

David is gone, but not forgotten. Let's take a quick look back at the overnight sensation that was six years in the making.

David Dennis Lough was born January 20, 1986 in a log cabin* in Akron, Ohio. Legend has it he wrestled bears in his spare time as a youth in Ohio.* All we really know, is that he was admitted to Mercyhurst College on a bee-keeping scholarship, and was asked by the baseball coach if he would mind trying out for the team after he saw Lough tossing honey combs.*

*-not really

The Royals drafted Lough in the 11th round of the draft in 2007, the first draft Dayton Moore will take complete credit for.  Lough hit very well in 24 games that year, with an average of .337 for Burlington, North Carolina. That put him on a "sleeper" list here at Royals Review as an intriguing player (along with Kyle Davies and Ryan Shealy!) Lough's average slipped to .268 in 2008, but he showed impressive power in the pitcher-friendly Midwest League, slugging 16 homers and a .455 slugging percentage for Burlington, Iowa. The put him as #3 on doublestix's "Top Outfield Prospects" for the Royals, where he compared Lough to Nate McLouth, a comparison that looks dead-on in hindsight.

Lough had his best season in 2009, when he split time between Wilmington and Northwest Arkansas, hitting .325 between the two stops. He continued to hit for decent power with 14 home runs and a career high 28 doubles. His fantastic season put him at #6 on nwroyal's Top Royals Prospect List near the end of 2009.

Lough regressed a bit in AAA in 2010, hitting just .280/.346/.437, perhaps caught up in the bright lights of a big city like Omaha. He was downgraded to the 14th best prospect in the organization.

He needs to prove something soon. All the talent is there but he needs a better plate discipline. I don't like putting him this high because i see his ceiling being a 4th outfielder so i am skeptical.

Lough repeated the level in 2011, hitting .318/.367/.482. He was pretty much establishing himself as a guy who could hit for average, show some power, but not a lot, show some speed, field his position well, and not walk or strike out much. The mysterious Freneau asked if David Lough's 2011 was good enough, drawing comparisons between Lough and the Royals reserve outfielder at the time - Mitch Maier.

The question is was that 2011 good enough to get even a little excited again?

Overall, the package is similar to what Mitch Maier produced at Omaha in 2008. Is that Lough's career path? Is that too optimistic? We joke about Mitch and how he never plays, but the man's accumulated over three years of Major League service time, and is set to earn $865,000 next season. Nice work if you can get it.

Lough became an Omaha regular when he was asked to spend a third stint in Nebraska for 2012. He regressed again, hitting .275/.317/.420 although with a career high 26 steals. Josh Ward drew the MITCH parallel again when he asked if David Lough could be the next Mitch Maier?

If the Royals do not intend to go with a four-man bench in the future, a case could be made that Lough would be a better option than Jarrod Dyson. I have concerns about whether he will get on base enough to stick as a 4th outfielder, but the other aspects of his game (average, power, fielding range, speed) are more than likely sufficient as a bench option in 2013 and beyond.

Lough earned a cup of coffee with the Royals that summer, but failed to impress. In the spring of 2013, he was assigned to yet another stint in Omaha. Residents there began calling him "The Mayor."*

*-not really

David hit well to begin 2013, with a line of .338/.391/.474 in 37 games. On May 16, Jarod Dyson awkwardly jumped for a Mike Trout home run, injuring his ankle. The Royals promoted David Lough to fill his spot and the rest is history. Lough immediately entered the lineup in right-field for the slumping Jeff Francoeur and led off, sparking the team with an outfield assist and two hits including a double and an RBI. Ten days later, he enjoyed a four-hit game. He went 10 for his first 29, with four extra base hits, and immediately became a fan-favorite due to his hustling style, his ability to do everything competently, and his ability to not be Jeff Francoeur. Fans loved the diminutive outfielder, writing wonderful posts about his baseball card.

By late June, the Royals had rid themselves of Jeff Francoeur (dear god, did it really take that long?) and right field was David Lough's to lose. Lough celebrated with this monster game where he had three doubles and a home run, becoming the fifth Royal in franchise history with as many extra-base hits in a game. Lough was our personal Twin-killer, hitting .345/.350/.534 against those northern bastards.

David began to slump in the spotlight of a potential Wild Card race. He hit just .238/.281/.345 over his final 30 games. He struck out in the eighth inning with the bases loaded in this late September game against Detroit, although he redeemed himself a week later with a crucial walk in this game against the Rangers, helping the Royals stave off elimination for another day.

David got caught in the roster crunch this winter when the Royals stunned the baseball world by making smart decisions. He was dealt to Baltimore, a place where dreams come true (just watch the uplifting show "The Wire" some time). While he may not match MITCH in sweet, childlike innocence  or pitching ability, David Lough certainly surpassed his offensive contributions.

Best wishes David.

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