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Independence Day Rumblings - News for July 4, 2023

Have a Happy Fourth!

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A large flag is unfurled for the singing of the National Anthem before the start of Game 1 of baseball’s World Series at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Mo., on Tuesday, Oct. 21, 2014. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group) Photo by MediaNews Group/Bay Area News via Getty Images

David Lesky at Inside the Crown reacts to the Aroldis Chapman trade and the return of Cole Ragans.

But the great thing this year is that we have access to minor league data and he threw 66 pitches in his last start in AAA, his third since getting sent down, and he still averaged 95.7 MPH. That changes the calculus a bit on him. I was able to talk to someone in the Rangers organization about Ragans and he glowed about him, but recognized the Rangers were trading from a position of strength for a spot of very real need with Chapman. He highlighted the changeup, which is a very good pitch for him but mentioned his curve and how it can be a dominant big league pitch.

Kevin O’Brien at Royals Reporter writes about what to expect from Ragans.

Also, Royals fans should notice the improvement in PLV on his cutter, which went from 4.78 in 2022 to 5.05 in 2023. The cutter is also producing a put-away rate of 20 percent and a CSW rate of 29 percent, which is his second-best pitch in the latter category, after his curve.

When paired with the harder cutter, the curve can be a very effective pitch, especially when located low in the zone and into right-handed hitters, as seen in the clip compilation below.

It will be interesting to see if Paul Gibson and the Royals’ pitching development noticed this curve-cutter combo and will push him to utilize it more as a starter in Omaha and eventually in Kansas City after the Trade Deadline.

Anne Rogers gives some injury updates, reporting that outfielder Diego Hernandez has returned to action in the minors, and that reliever Josh Taylor is out for the year.

Taylor, the reliever the Royals acquired in the trade that sent Adalberto Mondesi (who has not played a game this season) to Boston, underwent surgery on June 27 to repair a herniated disk in his lumbar spine (lower back). Taylor has been on the IL since May 28 with left shoulder impingement syndrome; the setback with his back occurred during his shoulder recovery. Taylor will likely be out the remainder of the 2023 season. He gave up 16 earned runs in 17 2/3 innings this season.

Kiley McDaniel writes about what each team’s draft strategy should be.

Picking No. 8 in a five-man draft makes that a little tricky, but grabbing a college bat with their first pick and keeping an eye on solid position player values at 44 and 66 makes the most sense. Let’s say Teel or Brayden Taylor fit at the first pick and prep infielders Adrian Santana and Nazzan Zanetello (a local product) fit the next two picks.

Fangraphs ranked the top Royals prospects.

This is one of the three worst systems in baseball at present, though if we did a “young talent” ranking rather than just the farm system, the Royals would look much better because of the Bobby Witt Jr./MJ Melendez/Vinnie Pasquantino group (and others) that graduated last year. The inability to develop pitching has resulted in many high picks stagnating at their pre-draft skill level. Since 2020, the Royals have spent $9 million in bonus pool space on high school pitching and none of those players have made any kind of leap so far.

Preston Farr reacted to the ranking here.

Ronald Acuna Jr. becomes the first player to reach 20 home runs, 50 RBI, and 40 stolen bases by the All-Star break.

Clayton Kershaw injures his shoulder and will miss the All-Star Game.

The Mets acquire reliever Trevor Gott from the Mariners by eating a bad contract.

Jazz Chisholm is back on the Injured List with the Marlins.

Padres chair Peter Seidler insists the team will not reverse course.

The Astros keep hanging around the Rangers in the AL West.

Could a teenager from Virginia become the next big two-way player?

The Rays have had some success with a no-drama, low-pressure environment.

Travis Sawchik notes that attendance is up as games have shortened.

The best free agents left in the NBA.

Netflix acquires the rights to a Jerry Jones documentary.

How Amazon is trying to dissuade customers from returning items.

The greatest performances of the national anthem.

The history of U.S. Independence Day celebrations.

Your song of the day is John Mellencamp with R.O.C.K. In The U.S.A.

From everyone at Royals Review, have a happy and safe Fourth of July and enjoy being independent of British rule!