T.J. Sikkema finishes his Arizona Fall League stint with a strong four-inning outing:
Sikkema, Kansas City’s No. 16 prospect, wraps up his Fall League campaign with a 2.45 ERA over three starts. He notched the win in his first two outings, but his final start in the desert marked his first without any earned runs crossing the dish since July 10, when he was a member of the Yankees’ High-A affiliate.
The 24-year-old southpaw deployed all elements of his three-pitch mix across his start, scattering four hits and a walk and incurring one unearned run over four innings. Sikkema’s first three punchouts all came looking, with the Javelinas lineup stymied by his fastball. All outs in the third came on swinging strikeouts — a pair against his slider and one on his changeup.
“The changeup was working really well,” Sikkema said. “The slider is obviously the swing-and-miss pitch, but the fastball command was there today, getting both sides of the plate. They were all working pretty well today.”
Alex Duvall at Royals Farm Report shares some thoughts on Royals hitters:
Melendez’ combination of plate discipline and power potential are going to make him a fantastic big league hitter for a long time. He doesn’t make a ton of contact, but he doesn’t chase bad pitches either so it really balances out in a lot of ways. I’m a little curious about how frequently he swings and misses on pitches inside the strike zone, but he hits the ball so hard that I think you’ll trade the whiffs for the power potential. I know the walks are fantastic, but I kind of question whether Melendez will hit for a high enough average long-term to stay in the leadoff spot. I didn’t mind the experiment at all this year but he seems much better suited as a 4-5 hitter long-term, especially as he grows into his power. Defensively, they have GOT to find him a home and leave him there. I personally believe in the bat so much I’d be okay with moving him to LF permanently and just letting him hit. I think you have a potential Max Muncy type of hitter here once the power comes around. Lots of walks, a good chunk of strikeouts, and lots of power as he gains experience. You just may have to live with the fact that he’ll never hit .280, but that’s more than okay.
David Lesky at Inside the Crown discusses the lack of strikeouts for Royals pitchers:
To look at the list of highest percentage of swings and misses per total pitches, the list is pretty telling. The top six teams made the playoffs. The seventh was Miami and they have a playoff pitching staff but can’t hit. Then it was Seattle and Cleveland. And then it gets a little murky with some pitching staffs with studs like the Angels, White Sox and Brewers. The Padres, Phillies and Blue Jays ranked 13th through 15th. So if you’ve been counting at home, 11 of the top 15 pitching staffs in terms of swing and miss percentage were playoff teams. That 12th one that’s left hanging is the biggest mystery to me and maybe I’ll dig into it another day, but the Cardinals were dead last.
The point is that teams that make the playoffs get swings and misses. Down with the Royals at the bottom were the A’s, Pirates, Tigers, Diamondbacks, Nationals, Rockies and the aforementioned Cardinals. Three of those teams lost 100 games. Two more, including the Royals lost 96 or more. And then the Diamondbacks lost 88 and the Cardinals just 69. I really, really don’t get that last one. But again, another day. Focus, David. In fact, in the back half of that list, only two teams, including the Cardinals even finished over .500. That was the Orioles. The Giants were 16th and they finished right at .500, so even if you include them, there’s a pretty strong correlation between getting whiffs and winning.
Craig Brown at Into the Fountains writes about the postseason and managerial searches:
All this to say that while we have yet to hear of interviews for the Royals, they are still not really behind in this process. It looks like most of these teams are in the early stages of their search. Of course, “early stages” can be relative. It is possible Miami or Chicago has collected enough info after two interviews to make a decision. Although given how teams conduct business these days, I doubt it. At least, I doubt that’s the case for Miami. Who knows what’s happening in Chicago?
A look at some Columbia Fireflies prospects at Inside the Royals:
After being selected 9th overall in the 2022 draft, Gavin Cross picked up right where he left off from Virginia Tech — a college season that saw him produce a 1.071 OPS with 12 stolen bases. His profile as a left-handed bat with raw power continued to shine as his summer transitioned from amateur to professional.
Cross hit seven home runs, five doubles and kept up his plate discipline with 24 walks in just 99 at-bats. The resulting 1.070 OPS easily led all players on the Fireflies who registered plate appearances. Already listed as the top prospect in the franchise, Cross could be on the Royals’ big league roster sooner than later if he keeps this up moving forward.
Houston opened their sixth consecutive ALCS with a 4-2 win over New York.
San Diego used a big fifth inning to even their series against Philadelphia with an 8-5 victory.
Aaron and Austin Nola became the first pitcher/hitter brothers to face each other in the postseason. Austin grounded out against Aaron in his first at-bat and slapped an RBI single in the next.
Dan Szymborski would like to remind you that the playoffs are a mess of randomness.
In a similar but more philosophical piece, Ben Lindbergh questions why we watch the postseason at all.
Aaron Hicks will miss the remainder of the postseason, while Andrew Benintendi will not play in the ALCS.
Jayson Stark presents his Weird and Wild for the NLCS. ($)
Colorado beat Cal this past weekend, making Akron the new No. 1 on this week’s College Football Bottom 10.
Zach Lowe, the best NBA writer (don’t @ me) presents the most intriguing players to watch this season. ($)
College wrestlers fought off a grizzly bear in the Shoshone National Forest.
This week’s rental opportunity is literally just a room.
A startup is attempting to develop drugs to slow aging in dogs.
The Lake Ozark Music Festival is under investigation for alleged fraud.
Kentucky’s Mammoth Cave, already the largest cave park in the world, has grown even larger.
Your song of the day is Lucid Dreams by Mat Zo