A few thoughts for this selection Sunday morning.....
I am in agreement with Rustin Dodd and David Lesky about how the second base position will play out. The Royals value inventory, and the fact that Cheslor Cuthbert and Christian Colón are out of options will give them the leg up on making the roster and getting action at second base. However the Royals have been very aggressive promoting Raúl Mondesí, no doubt intrigued by his tools and upside.
The Royals have been very aggressive promoting top prospects to the big leagues in the past - Eric Hosmer, Salvador Pérez, and Alex Gordon were all up very quickly. Mondesí's hot spring - despite all the reasons why spring training stats should be discounted - is probably helping his case to make the team. It wouldn't be totally out of character for the Royals to decide they need Mondesí's speed and defense and carrying him north with the club, hoping his bat can come around.
It is interesting that for all the attention that Mondesí getting, Hunter Dozier is quietly hitting just as well - 6-for-16 with a double, triple, home run and a pair of walks. It doesn’t mean anything of course, but it makes me wonder, why have the Royals not considered moving him to second base? Unlike Cuthbert, Dozier has actually played up the middle before - as a shortstop in college, and a handful of games in the minors.
He would be quite tall (6'4'') for a second baseman, but there have been tall second basemen before, like Jeff Kent and Ryne Sandberg, and there aren’t any obvious reasons second basemen can’t be tall. There seems to be a bias against tall second basemen based on stereotypes. Dozier seems much more polished offensively than Mondesí, but is blocked at third. With no clear starter at second, it seems like the Royals should at least see what Dozier could do there.
One minor leaguer in camp that was waaaaay off my radar was Yender Caramo. The 25-year old Venezuelan right-hander has allowed just two hits in four spring innings, garnering attention from Ned Yost.
"He's got that heavy sinker," Royals manager Ned Yost said of Caramo. "And good life on his fastball. Interesting guy."
He has never been on prospect lists despite quietly putting up pretty good numbers in the minor leagues, with a 2.45 ERA for Northwest Arkansas last year. He doesn’t miss bats much at all, but he has gotten by with very low walk rates (1.2 per-nine-innings) and a lot of ground balls. I'm not saying he's going to make the team or anything, but keep your eye on him as a guy that could contribute at some point, perhaps even this year.
What started as apathy for the World Baseball Classic for some has turned into negativity to the tournament after the injury to Salvador Pérez. To many, the World Baseball Classic doesn't matter, which has been reinforced by the fact that Team USA is not sending many of their best players - Clayton Kershaw, Madison Bumgarner, Mike Trout, and Bryce Harper are still in camp with their respective teams.
It is interesting what we place importance on. College basketball teams are sweating it out today about whether or not they'll make the NCAA Tournament, but there was a time in which that tournament didn't matter, and teams frequently turned it down to attend the prestigious NIT. The Super Bowl is one of the most-watched sporting events in the world, but when it first came to fruition, it was seen by many football fans to be a silly exhibition game against an inferior startup football league, less important than winning the NFL Championship.
I don't think I like the trend in baseball and other sports that league championships are all that matters. Lots of other things should matter. Winning the pennant is no small task. Finishing with the most regular season wins is arguably a more difficult task than winning a championship. The World Baseball Classic should matter. But it won't matter for some until ALL of baseball's best are present.