We now cover prospects #18-13. Some of these players (Herrera, Fortuna, and Sample for example) are in about they same place I would have ranked them last year--or perhaps they even dropped a little bit--not because their performance was bad but there is a lot of competition for spots as we move towards the top 10. That is a good sign in my opinion. Your questions and comments are, as always, welcomed.
Herrera was a guy I picked for a breakout performance last year. Unfortunately, injury derailed his entire season save for one start. He had some kind of arm trouble, I'm not exactly sure what it was but he didn't have surgery. The Royals have a lot of pitching depth but Herrera's ceiling is as high as anyones. He doesn't have a typical pitchers frame--he's only 5'10". He has a low 90s fastball that can reach 95 with good movement. He has a pretty good curve and a good changeup--and he commands his pitches very well and gets a lot of ground balls. He turns 20 on New Year's eve so he still has plenty of time to develop. My guess is he goes back to Burlington, Iowa and joins a ridiculous rotation (Lamb, Sample, Hayenga, Herrera, Fortuna?) but he could move quickly. Keep an eye on him--the biggest question for him is health (if I knew he were 100% healthy, I would probably bump him up 5 slots)--but if he is well, he will zoom up this list.
Another young international signee. Fortuna won't turn 20 until right before the season starts. Like Herrera, he has a good Fastball--better velocity than Herrera but not as good command. His curve and changeup are inconsistent. As you can see, he gives up the base on ball more often than he should. Think of him as a raw high school draft pick. He will probably (as I mentioned above) be a part of a very talented Burlington, Iowa staff in 2010. Success for him will mean limiting the walks and using his stuff to put away more hitters.
The Royals picked Sample out of Cherry Creek HS in Colorado. He's a 6' 7" righty who has already had Tommy John surgery as a high school sophomore. He struggled mightily in 2008 but made big progess in 2009 as the Royals worked on fixing his mechanics. As you can see, his control improved greatly and he was much less hittable. His strikeouts dropped but I think he'll get some of those back as he puts together his delivery. Sample has an above average fastball and curve. He needs to develop an effective changeup. Did I mention the Burlington, Iowa pitching staff he could be a part of in 2010 is pretty talented?
Something about KC teams and LSU. The Royals took Louis Coleman in the 5th Round of the 2009 draft. Coleman had a 2.93 ERA in his Senior season while pitching 129IP. He's a little older than most college draftees (he was a Senior pick and was even a draft eligible Sophomore). He has a good fastball/slider combo that he commands very well. He has a 3/4 delivery that makes him very tough on right handed hitters. He was practically unhitable in his professional debut showing that he can get strikeouts and ground balls. He also didn't give a homerun in his pro debut. The Royals used him in relief and fast tracked him. He could begin 2010 in AA or even AAA. If he does well there, he could be on of the first 2009 draftees to make it to the big leagues.
Johnny G. was our 2nd Round pick in 2008 out of the U. of New Orleans. He signed quickly and got in 300 ABs in High-A posting a 776 OPS. In 2009, he went to Wilmington and posted a 731 OPS--so he was worse in 2009, right? He increased his walk rate, decreased his K rate, and had the same ISP. He looks to have suffered from Wilmington's home park and a low BABIP. I'm a big believer in his bat but the biggest question is his glove. He's got decent speed so perhaps he can improve. He better because there aren't many other places for him on the diamond beyond 2B. I wouldn't be surprised to see him blow up at AA this year with a strong OBP and decent power. Some similar strengths/weaknesses to Alberto Callaspo. Another note: he was a relatively young for a college draftee so he will be just 22 to start the season.
Kila was our 15th Round pick from a Hawaii high school in the 2002 draft. He had the talent to go higher but he was thought to be a touch sign. Kila's dad, Kala, played in the minor leagues for 11 seasons for several different clubs. For the first several years of his career, Kila showed he could get on base but his power was not quite where you would want a 1B/DH to be. Everything changed last year as he dominated at AA/AAA hitting a combined 37 HRs. In 2009, Kila got off to a strong start at Omaha showing the same on base skills and good power (but not quite as good as 2008). He struggled the 2nd half of the year--his power dropped--but he also was quite unlucky on ball in play in the 2nd half (BABIP of around .230).Even with the tough 2nd half, the Royals had nothing to lose by calling him up in September--but, of course, they didn't. Kila will be 26 by Opening Day 2010 and I think he will be on a major league roster for someone. Kila doesn't field well and struggles against lefties but he does get on base and have power--two things the Royals desperately need. Dayton Moore has said he is focused on pre-arbitration eligible talent--it would be nice to see him take a relatively safe gamble and give Kila a shot. The other option is to shop Kila for some other young, affordable talent. Either way, I think he helps a major league club in 2010.