Back in March I wrote a piece about the potential Blue Rocks roster. Many of those players were assigned to the frigid terrain that is known as Wilmington, Delaware.
Back then I noted that this could be a very talent loaded roster, and Keith Law himself agreed with me noting that:
I may be biased, but the team in my own backyard might just be the most loaded roster in all of minor league baseball. The Blue Rocks begin the season with two top-100 prospects, including the Royals' top three position player prospects and two of their top three arms after the injured Kyle Zimmer.
There was an early afternoon game for Wilmington today so some information might not be factored into below although I've done my best to add it in.
Here's the quick results from today's game that may or may not be included into the information.
Mondesi 3-5 1K 1SB
Starling 1-3 2BB 1SB
Dozier 2-3 1HR (Grand Slam) 2BB
Zane Evans 0-5 1K
Almonte 6IP 4H 3ER 2BB 5K 1HR
We'll start with the good. Well, it's actually the REALLY good.
Despite being 5 years younger than the average age in A+ and playing in an extremely pitcher friendly park, Raul Mondesi is hitting .301/.363/.408 with a 8.3 BB% 25.9 K% 6 SB and a 122 wRC+ (this wRC+ is certainly not including today's results).
The guy is doing every, really even more, that you can expect from him except hitting for power which is never really going to be a part of his game. The strikeouts are high but the guy is also facing pitchers 5+ years older than him. Mondesi will be 19 in July.
CJ Wittman, a writer for BP who lives in the Wilmington area, is the go to source for Blue Rocks player updates. Here are some choice tweets from him:
My Eyewitness Account on Mondesi is #graphic, to say the least.— CJ Wittmann (@CJWittJr) May 6, 2014
One thing Wittman praises about Mondesi is his speed.
#royals Raul Mondesi 10.50 on a triple down 1B line.— CJ Wittmann (@CJWittJr) April 27, 2014
Mondesi has hit a lot of grounders this year so far, but has distributed the ball nicely around the outfield. One thing he has been doing at a consistent pace so far this year in bunting when he leads off an inning and trying to take advantage of his good speed.
.280/.402/.380 with 2 HR 3 SB 14B% 17K% 132 wRC+
Dozier started the new season off nicely hitting .313/.389/.438 in the opening series against Winston-Salem. Then over the next 10 games he hit .086/.214/.114 with 12 strike outs and no help from the BABIP gods (.125 BABIP).
I can't count how many times I've seen Dozier sting the ball just right at someone. Those will be hits eventually. Don't stat line scout.— CJ Wittmann (@CJWittJr) April 14, 2014
Dozier then started picking up speed and now over his last 10 games he's hit .375/.524/.563 with help from the BABIP god's but also a 13:6 B:K ration. Something we've seen in the past from him. An ability to draw walks and make contact.
Currently Dozier is sporting a 15 game on-base streak and has hits in 14 of his last 15 games. He capped off todays game with a grand slam. His second home run in 10 days.
Dozier pulls the ball frequently as established by the heat map above. Just from watching him you can spot the unreliable data that can come from minor league play data as some of those hits to the left side of the infield have been line drives yet classified as ground outs. He has 22 singles on the year and I'd bet the majority of those are line drives. He does put the ball in play a lot so I wonder if that's causing more ground outs than you'd like.
One thing I've also noticed is his defense has been hit and miss. Wittman has had good report on his defense
#royals Hunter Dozier showing soft hands and clean actions at 3B today. Fielded tough hop earlier. Glove will play there.— CJ Wittmann (@CJWittJr) April 27, 2014
but there's been times when he hasn't been smooth on his actions or slow to get the ball out of the glove. His strong arm helps him make up for some of those issues.
.163/.285/.298 2HR 3SB 10B% 29K% 73 wRC+
Starling has been struggling as per usual it seems. He generally is cold the first month then picks it up, in streaks, as the summer rolls on.
The strikeouts are still there (29K%) and the balls he does put into play aren't falling anywhere (.215 BABIP).
Some think it's a neurological issue and some think it's still the hitch in his swing that's dooming him.
Starling's back side collapsing. His back elbow is pinching to his hip as he swings. Hands are hitchy, same as last year. #royals— CJ Wittmann (@CJWittJr) April 8, 2014
Whatever he is or isn't doing continues to push his stock down. We all love watching players with extremely high ceilings and athleticism, something Starling has in spades, but at some point you need results.
Jason Parks of BP had an eyewitness report released today on Starling.
Athleticism and loud raw tools but well below-average hit tool will spoil the party; terminal pitch recognition skills; will struggle with contact and could fail to eclipse Mendoza line; raw power exists because of bat speed and strength, but unlikely to play to potential because of aforementioned hit tool/recognition issues; plus athlete with major league quality defensive profile in center; speed is weapon; arm is weapon; overall profile is Drew Stubbs-lite.
Lot of fly outs. Lot of ground outs. Lot of pulled balls. Starling consistently is struggling to make good contact on the ball. He's having trouble picking up spin on the ball or is letting the ball travel too far before he swings. Seems neurological to me.
On the plus side of things Starlings defense has been superb. He's making good reads and routes to balls and his speed profile allows him to cover a lot of ground.
Bubba Starling got a great jump off the bat, took a great route and tracks down a ball in the gap. Plus defender profile for me. #royals— CJ Wittmann (@CJWittJr) April 10, 2014
19.1IP 12.57 K/9 2.33 B/9 0.93 HR/9 5.12 ERA 3.03 FIP
Manaea has made 5 starts and has maxed out at 5 IP twice. The ERA and FIP don't match up at all and Manaea's solid peripherals are proof that despite the poor runs allowed record, he's doing what you want from a pitcher in his debut pro ball season. Striking out guys and not walking them. Manaea has only allowed 2 home runs so far.
Manaea hasn't been as tough on lefties as you'd expect a fellow southpaw to be as he's been better against righties so far.
.286/.348/.619 7K 2BB vs LHB
.276/.317/.431 20K 3B vs RHB
He has done a very good job with runners on. .229/.282/.457 14K.
Manaea's fastball seems to have returned to Cape Cod levels as he's been challenging pitchers with it. Mostly sitting low/mid-90's with it while working the changeup and slider in.
Velocity was low in his first start of the year but has picked it up since and is showing no signs of lingering hip issues. Command is still there.
#royals Manaea still hitting 93; command is plus. CH 86; arm-side fade, deception; Plus-plus SL 82-86; hard bite with tilt, adds/subtracts— CJ Wittmann (@CJWittJr) April 28, 2014
#royals Manaea ends the inning with SL 85; great bite and tilt. Potential plus plus when he adds and subtracts.— CJ Wittmann (@CJWittJr) April 28, 2014
#royals LHP Sean Manaea sitting 93-94; brought out 97. Big sink, deception. Showed plus CH at 80. 1-2-3 inning.— CJ Wittmann (@CJWittJr) April 28, 2014
26IP 8.15 K/9 3.37 B/9 1.04 HR/9 5.54 ERA 4.70 FIP
The usually refined command has been Almonte's biggest struggle this year. Walks haven't been a huge issue for him as he's only had one game with 4 walks while all the others were 2 or less walks issued. His big problem is where he is putting those pitches. He's being challenged by more advanced hitters now (average Carolina League age is 1 1/2 years older than him) and he's not getting help from his defense despite having two really good defenders up the middle.
The fastball seems to have more life on it and the curve ball has improved. Almonte was a bit out of shape mid-season last year and has returned looking better.
#royals RHP Miguel Almonte FB 92-95; big arm-side life and downhill plane; CH 84-85; fade and vertical action; CB 78-79; tight spin, shape.— CJ Wittmann (@CJWittJr) April 10, 2014
Almonte's CH is the money pitch. Throws with identical motion as FB. Big arm-side fade and vertical action. Plus plus potential.— CJ Wittmann (@CJWittJr) April 10, 2014
Almonte's sequence to Nick Williams: 79 CB lookin strike 1, 84 CH swinging strike 2, 81 CB lookin strike 3. CB has improved 2 full grades.— CJ Wittmann (@CJWittJr) April 10, 2014
#royals RHP Miguel Almonte FB still sitting 93-95; touched 97 once.— CJ Wittmann (@CJWittJr) April 10, 2014
28IP 10.8 K/9 1.59 B/9 0.32 HR/9 1.91 ERA 2.13 FIP
Binford has been lights out and has inched his way further up the Royals prospect list. I still think as he gets higher up the ladder he's going to get hit a lot harder, but still be okay, when he's facing more advanced hitters consistently, but man... he's dominated.
Has only walked 5 batters all year. Has 3 games with 7+ strikeouts with his 7IP 2H 10K 0BB game being the crown jewel.
I can recall twice he's struck out the side on just 12 pitches.
Won't be able to dominate like this forever, but he's been extremely fun to watch. The command profile he has is outrageous.
#royals Christian Binford 90-93; plane; CH 85; SL 82-83; bite with tilt; potential to be plus. Better SL than last outing.— CJ Wittmann (@CJWittJr) April 26, 2014
.274/.330/.393 0HR 7BB% 19.8K% 1SB 107 wRC+
Evans had a really hot start to the year as he broke out hitting .556/.556/.889 in the opening four game Winston-Salem series. Evans had SIX doubles in the four game series.
He was hitting .396/.453/.563 in his first 13 games of the year, but has fallen on hard times since. Over his last 10 games Evans has hit .150/.190/.225 with 9 strikeouts.
K's have been his main trouble so far as his K% has jumped 5% over his season mark last year so far.
I haven't heard much about Evans defense behind the plate. He's only caught 6 games, Cam Gallagher receiving the lions share, while he's played primarily DH.
23IP 11.91 K/9 1.59 B/9 0.00 HR/9 4.37 1.42 FIP
Pleasantly surprised so far by the hardly mentioned Stumpf. The difference in ERA and FIP is obvious as he's striking everyone out, walking no one, and not giving up any home runs.
Stumpf made Baseball America's Sally League All-Star team and threw a no-hitter last year.
There's literally no scouting reports on Stumpf anywhere.
Reminds me slightly of former Royal Kyle Smith.