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Royals Rumblings - News for July 14, 2023

Asian Baseball Midseason Check, Part I: CPBL

All-Star Red Carpet Show Portraits
Salvy and family!
Photo by Rob Tringali/MLB Photos via Getty Images

Is it gauche to reference something on the front page?

Like Max had the “big” story yesterday: Royals unveil 2024 schedule. I mean “big” is in quotes because it’s another off day and there wasn’t a lot of news yesterday. But that was easily the biggest story. The new schedule is the top story on the MLB site, for instance. It’s also the top story over at The Star.

Jaylon Thompson also gives us 3 takeaways from the first half of the season and considers two other questions.

Star interns* Lawrence Price and Mason Young put together one fun fact about each of the Royals draft picks. It’s an enjoyable read.

Round 10: Wake Forest SS Justin Johnson (No. 289)

“Lately I’ve been taking off like an astronaut,

saucing when I walk, yeah I do that a lot,

designer on me, I be clean head to my socks,

always posing for the cam I’m the one to watch.”

That’s Johnson’s walk-up song at home games — “Astronaut” by Oh Boy Prince — which was rated an 8.6 out of 10 on average by a trio of TikTokers.

*As in, they are interns at The Kansas City Star - I don’t feel I have enough knowledge about their work to judge its quality

Pete Grathoff takes issue with ESPN’s David Schoenfield giving the Royals an “F-” for his midseason grade.

Anthony Franco of MLB Trade Rumors writes about “The Most Alarming Aspect Of Royals’ Disappointing Season

There are a number of reasons for the club’s underperformance. The most concerning theme for the organization has been the down years and/or injury issues for most of their top young talent. Kansas City expected to be further along in the rebuild by now. Instead, a lot of the players they’ve envisioned as a developing core have plateaued or gone backwards.

That’s not unanimously true. Bobby Witt Jr. has stolen 27 bases, connected on 14 home runs and taken a huge step defensively. Even with a modest .300 on-base percentage, he looks like the franchise shortstop the Royals wanted when selecting him with the 2nd overall pick in 2019. Rookie Maikel Garcia has taken over third base with plus exit velocities and strong defense.

Aside from the left side of the infield, the Royals’ young players have mostly underwhelmed, however.

He then goes on to catalog all of the younger players falling short. I know we all know it and live it, but it’s pretty rough to read it all laid out like that.

Onto the blogs

Alex Duvall is back with Royals Farm Reports Midseason Top-50 Prospects:

Hello and welcome. The 2023 MLB Draft has come to a close and we can finally evaluate an entirely new Royals system with an entirely new prospect ranking. Since we last ranked the system this preseason, Maikel Garcia has graduated and made it pretty clear that I had him too low at #2. Drew Waters has also graduated and looks like having him at #6 was an appropriate place for him. Asa Lacy still has not thrown a competitive pitch this season. Samad Taylor has graduated from our list and may have justified his ranking at #23 though the jury is still out on him. Junior Marin was traded to Philly. Erick Pena has a K% over 50%. Seuly Matias is playing in Venezuela. All told, there will be six players from our preseason list that will not be on our midseason list and Asa Lacy will probably only make it on a technicality.

Much has been made of the Royals having one of the weaker farm systems in baseball, and that may be true, but I do not think we’ll be having that conversation in any capacity next spring. I fully expect that, between a couple of players rebounding in the second half (Cross/Loftin/Gentry) and any potential trades the Royals can still make before Spring Training (Barlow/Melendez/Pratto/Garcia), that this farm system will continue to get better before we release another rankings list. With that being said, I do think this system ranks somewhere between 18-23 in MLB and even with the addition of Blake Mitchell on Sunday, I think there’s still some work to be done to get to really feeling good about the Royals near future.

#1: Cayden Wallace, 3B

I may not reflect well on this in a few months but I honestly don’t know why the Royals best prospect isn’t Wallace at the moment. He swings and misses a little bit, but he’s a year younger (technically) than Cross and way outperforming him at the same level. Wallace looks like he’ll be a fantastic defender at 3B and hit a bit above a league average clip. It may take a few years to get everything ironed out, but if he’s somewhere between Ryan McMahon and 2023 Austin Riley I wouldn’t be surprised.

David Lesky looks back “at a dreadful first half”. I can’t disagree with his subtitle of “The Royals were bad and they should feel bad”

What’s Gone Wrong?

How much time do you have? Some of it is sort of out of the team’s control. Pasquantino’s injury really stinks. Kris Bubic looked like he might be taking a step forward and then he had to go under the knife. Daniel Lynch missed the first two months of a very important season for him. Drew Waters missing time to start the year was unfortunate and then Kyle Isbel missing time as well didn’t help in that evaluation. I think you can make an argument that injuries require some blame to be placed on the team, but also, they happen.

On the field, some things have been a disaster. Similar to what’s gone right, two players stand out to me where things have gone so horribly wrong. I honestly don’t even know which one is the more glaring issue, but the two are Brady Singer and MJ Melendez. I think the bigger concern for me is Singer actually. He looked like he had broken through with a very strong 2022 season that made many believe he could be a long-term answer in the rotation. And it wasn’t just fans desperate for optimism. He had a 3.23 ERA and a 3.58 FIP in 153.1 innings. He walked just 5.6 percent of hitters and struck out 24.2 percent. Those are legitimately good big league numbers.

Got a new substack writer I haven’t seen before. Hunter Samuels writes at Swinging Bunts. He posts his “Thoughts on the Draft and the Royals’ Second Half”:

The first “half” of the Royals season was, to put it gently, not very enjoyable. To put it less gently: it sucked. From the massive underperformances from players expected to progress, to the injuries to players expected to contribute, there was a lot to loathe about the first three months of the 2023 season.

Thankfully, that’s over now. So we can begin the offseason and -

*puts finger to earpiece*

Ah, I see.

It turns out we have more than 70 games of Royals baseball left this year, which seems like a violation of the Geneva Convention, but alas, the baseball will continue until morale improves.

Blog Roundup:

As we just passed the All-Star break, it’s time to check in on the Asian baseball leagues. This week, we’ll look at the CBPL. Next week, the KBO. And the following week: NPB.

Just a reminder, here was our season preview for the CPBL.

The second half of the season starts today (ok, it already started a few hours ago because the people of Taiwan live in the future). First half games ended back on July 3rd and there has been a week and a half without baseball. I’m not entirely sure, but I thought, in the past, I had seen some space on the calendar to accommodate the numerous games that get rained out there.

The Uni-Lions won the first half title. They went 34-2-24, finishing comfortably above the Dragons, Monkeys, and Brothers, who all finished within 1.5 games of each other. The Guardians had a dreadful first half and were 12 games back.

After clinching the first-half season title, the Uni-Lions now have a guaranteed placement in the 2023 CPBL Postseason. Whether they will be in the five-game Playoff Series or go straight to the seven-game Taiwan Series is still yet to be determined.

The CPBL All-Star Game is coming up in a couple of weekends. The logo looks decidedly 90s:

The game hasn’t been played since 2019. This was probably because of the whole global pandemic. But I’d also like to think that it was because the world needed a couple of years to recover from the fun of the 2019 CPBL All-Star game that featured a different take on the hidden ball trick and a pitcher taking a selfie and posting it to Facebook while on the mound.

Speaking of fun? Promotions and mascots:

Finally, want some Taiwanese connections to MLB?

A note about MLB All-Star starting OF Corbin Carroll: “Carroll is biracial. His father is white, and his mother was born in Taiwan and moved to Louisiana with her parents at the age of four.”

The St. Louis Cardinals signed Taiwanese pitcher Lin Chen-Wei for $500K:

On July 3, the St. Louis Cardinals announced the signing of 21-year-old university pitcher 林振瑋 (Lin Chen-Wei) as an international free agent. It is worth mentioning that Lin Chen-Wei is the first player that the Cardinals signed out of Taiwan in their franchise history.

Finally, Tim Melville was released due to arm injuries. We’ve talked about him a couple of times and I tried to sum up his CBPL history back in the season preview:

Tim Melville, former Royals farmhand, has one of the more interesting international player stories of the past few years. He helped the Uni-Lions win the 2020 Taiwan Series. He threw a 143-pitch no-hitter in 2021. He took 2022 off due to injury (hm... 143 pitches, you say). This offseason, he left the Uni-Lions and signed with the Wei Chuan Dragons.

Second half of the season starts tonight. This is going to be confusing: time to revisit an older game (Just Shapes & Beats) but with a new song. Except the new song for the old game is called “New Game” by Nitro Fun. It’s one of the first boss levels in the game.