I am extremely new to Royals Review, as I just joined today. So please dont have too high of expectations for this upcoming FanPost. I am a diehard Royals fan and as an optimistic guy who is constantly looking toward the future, I just wanted to open up the discussion a bit and share my thoughts along with getting input from you guys on the construction of the 2017 Royals and beyond.
So this year has been a little strange for sure. The injury bug has bit the Royals badly this year, and this is a huge understatement. With the Royals alternating between extended winning and losing streaks, I have been paying very close attention to our farm system. I was just curious what the Royals community here thought about the roster in the future. Much has been made about a lot of our core breaking up after 2017. Hosmer is gone and should be gone, in my own opinion. While I think he is a very nice player, a winner, and a leader for this club, I also think he is a bit overrated and will definitely be overpaid after 2017. Between him and Moose, I definitely think the Royals should be at least trying to ink Moose to a long-term contract. I definitely think we should aggressively pursue signing Duffy to a long term contract immediately after this season. If we get him for 5 years 40 mill as was suggested a few days ago, I think that could be quite a steal for the market.
I mentioned Hosmer will be gone. To replace him, I think Ryan O'Hearn could be a viable replacement at 1B. While Hosmer has always been said to have elite power, I think thats his potential, and I'm not sure if he will ever fulfill this potential. O'Hearn may end up putting better power numbers in the majors than Hosmer. Hes improved his swing and miss a bit and his selectivity at the plate has improved as well. His defense isnt great, but Hosmer's isn't great either (defensive metrics overstate this quite a bit, but the fact remains that his range is very limited). We all know Mondesi should replace Escobar, and the sooner, the better. Mondesi has really turned it on in the minors this year in terms of discipline and general hitting ability. He is showing tremendous and improved power and hopefully he can continue this improvement. There is a logjam at third. As mentioned before, I really want to keep Moose for the future (I believe that he won't be as overvalued as Hosmer, especially coming off an injury this year). However, Cheslor Cuthbert has really played his tail off and far surpassed expectations as Moose's replacement this year. He has shown some real pop and at 23, he could potentially improve with more experience in the majors. Hunter Dozier, the 2013 Royals 1st round pick, has been absolutely tremendous this year at AAA after 1.5 years of flailing at NW Arkansas. Right now his combined minor league line at AA and AAA this year: .320/.383/.569/.952. He has a .327/..376/.536 line at Omaha and this is only going up after tonight's 3-4 game with an RBI, 2 runs and a walk. I absolutely love his long term potential and his current torrid hitting this season combined with good athleticism would allow him to be a very good long term 3B. We may have to use one of these 3B at least as trade bait for a SP or a really nice prospect, depending on who we include in the trade. For the OF, Gordon has been signed long term, so while he's been subpar this season, we have to hope he picks it up these next 3 years. Cain may be gone, and our main OF talent consists of Jorge Bonifacio, who has really rebounded this year, a la Dozier. He is flashing XBH potential and improved discipline this year. With a strong arm, he could end up being a very solid RF. I think we need to take a closer look at Brett Eibner as well. This kid may be 26, but its hard to dismiss him as a random AAAA player. A former 2nd round pick with very raw but visible 5 tool potential, Eibner came into his own in 2015 in the minors and obliterated AAA baseball en route to getting called up this year, where he has been a very nice player for the Royals, albeit in a very small sample size. He could be an OF candidate in the future if/when Cain leaves.
Pitchers have had a very tough time in the farm for the most part. Most of the Royals' top pitching prospects are very young and raw pitchers struggling in the lower level of the minors and therefore it is extremely hard to project them going forward. Two pitchers that have really separated themselves over the last few years for me has been Alec Mills and Matt Strahm. Mills is currently in AAA, and with his velocity up to touching 95 on his fastball (consistently 91-93) and average or slightly above average changeup and curve, he could be a nice back end starter for the Royals in the future. Strahm is a left handed, lanky pitcher who is currently in AA. Strahm was consistently throwing 94-96 in his last start and has a funky motion that creates deception. With a ton of swing and miss potential, he is very intriguing and I think he can contribute next year along with Mills. These two can be very nice mid to back end starters for years to come, and perhaps serve as the cheap rotation members from the farm. Besides these two, for the foreseeable future, I think we have Duffy (hopefully contract extended), Yordano Ventura (who hopefully can figure things out), and Ian Kennedy (signed to a 5 year contract, I really love his electric stuff, especially his fastball, but he needs to cut down on the HR).
I can talk about this all day, but I want to get your guys' thoughts on the Royals roster for the next few years. Please share your thoughts on the low A players I didn't mention here, such as Scott Blewett, Ashe Russell, Nolan Watson, Chase Vallot, Foster Griffin, Josh Staumont, etc. With the exception of Vallot (who still has a ton of swing and miss in his game) and Blewett and Staumont at times (both struggle mightily with control, especially Staumont, who has fantastic stuff), most of these top raw prospects have really floundered statistically this year, although I remain optimistic about most of their future potential. Can't wait to hear from you guys!