I am very worried about the Royals development (or lack thereof) of pitching prospects. This development issue is even more prevalent this season because several of the Royals top arms are heading to the pitching paradise that is the Carolina League, and specifically the haven that is Wilmington. There's a possibility that several of the top pitchers in the Royals system could hang up unbelievable (and inflated) numbers in Wilmington.
The park factors at Wilmington are 0.855 for runs, 0.594 for HRs and 0.905 for hits. Anything below 1 favors the pitcher. Wilmington is the 8th toughest full season park to homer in. It's the 9th toughest to score runs in.
Add to that the fact that the Royals will likely deploy a very stout defense in Wilmington. Bubba Starling will likely patrol CF. Terrance Gore and his speed will be tracking fly balls in left. It's possible that Daniel Rockett or Dominique Taylor could be the every day RF. RA Mondesi will be at short. Hunter Dozier will man the hot corner. Rumor has it that Jack Lopez will be moved from short to second. That could mean 5 above average to elite defenders playing in a park that already suppresses scoring.
An above average defense in a park that suppresses run scoring, in a league that suppresses run scoring. Is this really the best place to evaluate and develop pitchers?
Rumor has it that the Royals may have Almonte skip Wilmington altogether and head straight to AA NW Arkansas, where the Texas League is actually slightly more kind to hitters. Many a Royals pitching prospect has fallen by the wayside in the Texas League, so I am actually encouraged by this, as we could know by June what timetable Almonte is on.
I think Sean Manaea should also spend very little time in Wilmington. With the way that park suppresses righty power, there's not much for him to do there. He should be in Springdale as soon as possible to get a legitimate evaluation of him this year.
The only guy I would like to see stay in Wilmington for an extended period is Christian Binford. He's not a prospect right now, and even if he carries a sub 2 ERA into July, he probably still won't be a prospect then.