At the end of the 2018 MLB season, it was fair to wonder what Alex Gordon’s role would be on the 2019 team.
Gordon will be entering his age 35 season next year and by the time he is a free agent again he will be knocking on the door of 36. While his defense is still at an elite level (10 DRS so far in 2018 with an 8.6 UZR) the offense has taken a noticeable dip these last few years. Gordon is slashing .251/.324/.356 with a wRC+ of 87 during this 2018 campaign.
Gordon has gone a long way this spring to make Royals fans, and probably the coaching staff as well, feel confident in his ability to rebound in 2019. As of this morning, Gordon has an OPS of .975 and he just hit his first HR of the spring last night.
Soler-power is particularly potent when preceded by Gordo-power. ☀️⚡️#RoyalsST pic.twitter.com/nyeO3iBqQs— Kansas City Royals (@Royals) March 12, 2019
Gordon will certainly be the Royals starting left fielder in 2019, but if he can begin to hit a little bit like he has this spring, the Royals may even be able to get something for him at the trade deadline if they’re willing to eat his contract.
Last May, I wrote that Jake Junis could potentially unlock another level if he’d work on throwing his changeup a bit more.
Junis’ changeup doesn’t have to be an all-world offering. I’m not asking Junis to throw his changeup 25% of the time or anything crazy (currently throwing it 10.3% of the time to LHH). Just ramp that number up to 17-18%, bring the 4-seam usage against LHH down to 24-25% from it’s current 31.7% usage, and allow the changeup to make your 4-seam fastball even more effective.
One of our newest writers, Michael Augustine, noted yesterday that Junis has indeed improved his changeup this off-season and noted some possible improvements that could come from a better changeup.
On Saturday, Junis was doing something a little different with the pitch. There seemed to be an adjustment on the changeup’s spin axis (219 degrees) considering the 2018 spin axis floated around 240 degrees. Junis had also altered his release point by 2-3 tenths of an inch in towards home plate. It also looks as though Junis has improved upon his spin rate since the pitch hung a bit longer than his average changeup.
Staying on the topic of Jake Junis, I saw these tweets the other day:
Results on Junis's fastball at different velos:— Jeff Zimmerman (@jeffwzimmerman) March 10, 2019
MPH: SwStr%, GB%
89: 3.9%, 34%
90: 4.2%, 34%
91: 5.3%, 37%
92: 6.6%, 40%
93: 8.3%, 44%
If Junis can hold an average of 92.5+ mph AND show an improved changeup this season, the Royals might have a very legitimate #3 starter on their hands.
Regarding the RF job.....
On the other hand, Bubba Starling is batting .391 with a 1.239 OPS. https://t.co/bdfqOkYtx8— Royals Farm Report (@RoyalsFarm) March 12, 2019
Starling added a second hit after that tweet last night, and is now batting .417 with a 1.267 OPS. If both Kyle Zimmer and Bubba Starling make the Royals Opening Day roster, I’m going to begin the apocalyptic protocols. You won’t find me.
Sam Mellinger wrote an incredible piece about Adalberto Mondesi’s rise to big league stardom.
Mondesi smiled. His eyes widened in a way that made Moore glad he said it, and wonder if the phenom needed to hear it more often. This is the Royals’ bizarre challenge: the most gifted player most of them have ever seen needs to believe it.
Owen Perkins of MLB.com would tell you that Mondesi is poised for a breakthrough year.
Mondesi isn’t fazed by that kind of talk. As the son of former Major Leaguer Raul Mondesi, he has heard the high expectations for most of his baseball life.
“I have no limit. I just go out and play the game,” Mondesi said. “I know what I can do on the field. I don’t put pressure on myself. I just go out and play the game.”
You already knew this, but the Martin Maldonado signing is officially official.
Rany Jazayerli kicked off Part 2 of his “Reviewing 50 years of Royals trades” over at the Athletic ($).
No. 6: June 24, 2004 — Royals trade CF Carlos Beltran to the Astros (in a three-team deal) for C John Buck, 3B Mark Teahen and RHP Mike Wood
Go yell at a good friend of mine. Patrick Brennan, former contributor here at Royals Review, thinks the Royals could be better off WITHOUT Salvador Perez in 2019.
Maldonado: 119 games, 3.1 FRAA, 3.12 FRAA/120 games
Perez: 129 games, -8.1 FRAA, -7.53 FRAA/120 games
Staying at Royals Farm Report, Drew broke down a potential future relief ace in Tyler Zuber.
Trevor Hooth at Kings of Kauffman is not impressed by Brett Phillips this spring.
Phillips has 18 at bats under his belt where he is hitting .167 with five walks. The trio vying for the spot coming in was thought to be Phillips, Jorge Bonifacio, and Brian Goodwin. A .053 average in 19 at bats for Goodwin seems to be removing him from the race rather quickly.
In other news:
Star safety Tyrann Mathieu is in an agreement to join the Kansas City Chiefs.
Former Texans safety Tyrann Mathieu intends to sign a three-year, $42 million deal with the Kansas City Chiefs, a league source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
Former Chiefs and Mizzou Tiger center Mitch Morse is headed to Buffalo.
Four students were injured after a school bus crashed in Kansas City.
UFC star Conor McGregor was arrested for allegedly smashing a fan’s phone that was taking a picture of him.