Back in March, I gave my prediction of what the Royals Top 20 Prospects would look like at the end of the season. So before I start into my real 2010 Royals Prospect List, I thought I would look back and see how my prognostications went. I'll repost the article with my new comments in bold and italics.
1. Eric Hosmer 1B 10/24/1989 B-T: L-L
The #3 overall pick and receiver of the largest draft bonus in Royals history, Hosmer's bat was called one of the best HS bats in the past 20 years. The Hoz wreaked havoc in the Midwest league for 3 months. He hit 311/382/538 and was leading the Midwest league in homeruns with 20 when he was promoted to Wilmington in the middle of July. He hit 273/342/471 in 145 at-bats there. He hit well in the playoffs as Wilmington won the Carolina League championship. Hosmer looks like one of the most complete hitters in the minors and should hit for a high average and huge power. His arm may be wasted at 1B but the Royals are looking to expedite his path to the big leagues. They could challenge him with an assignment to NW Arkansas in 2010.
In Retrospect: The Hoz didn't exactly dominate the Midwest League--he had a bad 1st month then had a good 2nd month, got hurt and struggled and was starting to do well until the Royals promoted him to Wilmington where he struggled again. I still have a lot of faith in his ability and think he will bounce back next year but right now he clearly isn't one of the most complete hitters in the minors.
2. Mike Moustakas 3B 9/11/1988 B-T: L-R
Depending on the day you ask, you will get different answers from me about who is the Royals Top Prospect. While I gave Hosmer the nod, Moustakas has more defensive value and should help sooner. Moustakas started off slow again (but nearly as bad as 2008), this time in Wilmington, playing for the Blue Rocks hitting 245/320/400 in April. He caught fire from then on and finished with a line of 290/370/490. He has played good defense which will present a good problem to have when is ready to challenge Alex Gordon at the big league level. He could have moved up AA towards the end of the year but the Royals' brass wanted to give him and Hosmer to play together. Moustakas will start next year at AA with a promotion to AAA later in the year. The Royals don't like players to skip levels and are mindful of their last young 3rd base prospect who skipped AAA and his growing pains.
In Retrospect: On the bright side, he hit better in April than I predicted. But it was mostly downhill after that. The power was alright but getting on base was a problem. I don't know what the future holds for Moose but I'm more down on him than I am on Hosmer.
3. Kentrail Davis CF 6/29/1988 B-T: L-R
The Royals took Davis with the 12th overall pick in the 2009 draft. As a draft eligible sophomore and Scott Boras client, he had more leverage than your normal college player. Davis made the Royals 4th straight 1st round Boras pick. The Royals actually signed him early-there were a couple of hours left until the deadline on August 15th. He went to Low-A Burlington where he hit 306/367/489 in 62 at bats. Davis' bat is special as he should hit for a high average, good power and draw an above average number of walks. He defense is CF is not great but the Royals hope to work with him there and his arm is a tick below average. Being 5' 9" and a CF who can hit, one can't help but draw Kirby Puckett comparisons. He should start next year at Wilmington.
In Retrospect: At the time I made this prediction, Davis was raking. He slumped in the later part of the year and slid to the supplemental 1st round where the Brewers grabbed him. Of course, we ended up with Aaron Crow--and even though Crow wasn't my 1st choice, he's a better prospect than Davis and I didn't think we'd get a shot at such a good player with the #12 overall pick.
4. Daniel Gutierrez SP 3/8/1987 B-T: R-R
Danny Gutierrez showed why the Royals have been so excited about him. He started at Wilmington and had a 2.59 ERA in 74 innings with 92 Ks and 21 walks. He was promoted to NW Arkansas and had 3.13 ERA in 52 innings with 55k and 9 walks. He has always had a great fastball/curveball but his changeup improved this year. He could have an outside shot of being with the big club in 2010 but will probably get some more seasoning in Omaha. He has a shot at being a #2 starter for the big club at some point.
In Retrospect: Funny how things work out, huh? Gutierrez had a nightmare year--from injuries to run ins with the law to run ins with Royals management. We ended up selling low on him to the Texas Rangers. He would not be the Royals #4 prospect were he still in the organization but he remains an arm with good upside if he can get his head screwed on straight.
5. Kelvin Herrera SP 12/31/1989 B-T: R-R
19 year olds who pitch in full season ball, have outstanding stuff and command of it are a rare thing. Kelvin exploded this season going to Burlington, Iowa and posting a 2.38 ERA in 92 IP with a WHIP of 1.02, 98K's and 21 walks. He has a low-mid 90s fastball with a good change up. He tightened up his curveball this year but it is the thing he will need to work on in the future. Herrera is 5' 10" so his stuff may not get much better but it is already plenty good. He knows how to pitch and trusts his stuff. The last time the Royals had a pitcher who was this polished/this young his name was Greinke.
In Retrospect: Pitched in all of one game this year. Has some arm problems that the Royals think will heal without surgery. Hopefully will pitch next year and is plenty young enough to bounce back.
6. Mike Montgomery SP 7/1/1989 B-T: L-L
Mike Montgomery had a great first full season in Burlington. He posted 2.84 ERA in 124 innings with 119 K's and an excellent amount of groundballs. He has started to put some weight on his frame and increased velocity into the low 90s last year. He already has a good changeup that could become very good. I am a big fan of young pitchers with good changeups. The question is whether his palm ball which functions as a curveball will be effective against more advance hitters. Hard throwing lefties who get ground balls and have good control are a very good thing and Montgomery will pitch in Wilmington in 2010.
In Retrospect: Now the list gets more fun. I thought I was being aggressive with my prediction but he surpassed that by posting ERAs in the low 2's at both Burlington and Wilmington. Instead of Wilmington in 2010, its probably NW Arkansas and he has vaulted himself into one of the best pitching prospects in the game.
7. Dan Duffy SP 12/21/1988 B-T: L-L
Dan Duffy, after an amazing 2008 in Burlington followed it up with a very good campaign with an uber-talented Wilmington ballclub. He posted a 3.45 ERA in 117 innings for Wilmington with a 1.21 WHIP and 124 K's. He's got a good fastball and a good changeup and a curveball that is improving. If he can consistently command all three pitches, he will have a chance to be an excellent pitcher. He'll turn 21 at the end of 09, so he still has plenty of time to learn his craft.
In Retrospect: Again, did better than I predicted with an ERA a shade under 3 in 126 IP (I predicted 117) with a 1.16 WHIP (vs. 1.21) and 124K (125K). Will be interesting to see how he does in a hitter friendly Texas League.
8. Tim Melville SP 10/9/1989 B-T: R-R
Melville went into his senior year at HS rated the #1 prep player in the country by Baseball America. He had an inconsistent senior year but his stuff improved by the end of the season. He was looked at as a mid-1st round pick. But he told teams that he was committed to college-except for one team apparently. The Royals took him in the 4th round in 2008 and it was soon an open secret that he would sign for as the August 15th deadline approached-which he did for $1.25 million. Melville stayed in extended spring training but finally appeared in Low-A in June. He had an 3.88 ERA in 68ip with a 1.28 WHIP, 71 Ks and 31 walks. His fastball is a plus pitch and he has a good curveball and an inconsistent changeup. He could be an above average starter and should get more innings next year in Wilmington.
In Retrospect: My prediction was pretty good--he pitched more innings that I predicted but the rates are pretty similar. Didn't dominate but did decently for a year out of high school.
9. Dan Cortes SP/RP 3/4/1987 B-T: R-R
Cortes came into the year as one of the Royals best prospects but struggled with being ineffective and injured this year. He went back to AA as a starter and had an 4.41 ERA in 41ip before straining a hamstring and missing 6 weeks. The Royals were careful with him as they brought him back, allowing him to pitch in relief where he was quite effective-posting a 2.67 ERA in 17 IP back at NW Arkansas and Omaha. It is unclear whether the move to the bullpen is permanent. If the Royals want to keep Cortes as a starter, they will probably give him some more time at Omaha. If they like him as a reliever, he could break camp with the Royals in the spring of 2010.
In Retrospect: I was right that it was a struggle of a year for Cortes. He didn't battle injury but he did have a run in with Arkansas Justice. He then was sent to Seattle for a young, dynamic SS. He struggled initially after the trade but pitched quite well down the stretch. I'm sure he won't come back to haunt the front office.
10. Johnny Giavotella 2B 7/10/1987 B-T:R-R
Johnny Giavotella is bringing the world together-scouts and sabermatricians alike love this kid. The scouts love him, not for his classic baseball build, but he is an old time ballplayer-a scrapper, full of (dare I say it): grit. Stats minded folks love his results: a middle infielder who can hit, draw a walk and doesn't kill you with the glove. In Wilmington this year he hit 304/366/440 with 19 steals and getting caught 7 times. He looks like an ideal #2 hitter and will start 2010 in NW Arkansas but could get promoted in mid-year.
In Retrospect: Johnny G's numbers don't look great at first blush but underneath his batting average are some really intriguing stats. His defense is not very good but he can get on base.
11. Jeff Bianchi--offensive minded SS
In Retrospect: One of my better calls as Bianchi had a good year.
12. Salvador Perez C-young catcher with offensive potential
In Retrospect: Still has offensive potential but struggled in full season ball.
13. John Lamb LHP-08 draftee who recovered from injury to show potential
In Retrospect: Did just that and looks to be a good prospect.
14. Blake Wood RHP-inconsistent starter who could be above average starter
In Retrospect: Injured most of the year, disappointing numbers when he did pitch.
15. Derrick Robinson CF-fast CF whose bat is making incremental steps forward
In Retrospect: Hit horribly all year--except for the month of August.
16. Keaton Hayenga RHP-another high ceiling pitcher who is recovered from injury
In Retrospect: Pitched OK but the Ks were lacking
17. Joe Dickerson CF/LF-David Dejesus lite
In Retrospect: Got injured and then promptly retired. Weird.
18. Tyler Sample RHP-great stuff, Royals are reworking his delivery
In Retrospect: Came back with good numbers this year.
19. Guelin Beltre. SS-Latin American middle infielder
In Retrospect: Should have picked his International Free Agent counterpart--Espinal
20. Carlos Fortuna RHP-good stuff, young
In Retrospect: Still has good stuff but has gotten a year older in the past 12 months.
I whiffed pretty good on the top 5- I expected more from Hoz and Moose but they will still be top 5 prospects for the Royals. I did much better on the bottom half of the top 10. This exercise shows that it is really hard to predict a season's worth of prospects. I got some right (Montgomery, Bianchi, Lamb and Cortes were probably my best calls) and looked ridiculous on some others. I predicted the Royals would have a top 5 farm system. There's no way they are there now--we are probably about the same as last year--maybe a tad better (I'm guessing #10-12) depending on how far you mark down the supposed big bats.
Program note: Next week I should start rolling out the top prospect list, starting at the bottom and doing a few each week.