The Minor League seasons are winding down. But with the end of the season come a lot of things that shed hope on the future. Yesterday we mentioned some of the post-season awards which have already been won, but today we have two more things to celebrate down on the farm.
September is next week and that means September call-ups aren’t too far away, and with so much success going on in the minors, we’re not even going speculate what might happen, but we can talk about the positives in the system right now. To do that, let’s go Around the Horn…
The first moment of celebration for the organization was the debut of Eric Hosmer (wearing No. 21) last night at Idaho Falls. Hosmer was hit in his first professional at-bat – as if to say welcome to the pros Mr. No. 3 overall pick. But Hosmer showed some of what earned him his draft position, ending the night 1-for-3 with a double, a run scored, a run batted in and a walk. Hosmer’s Chukars mustered 10 hits, but could not hold off the Raptors. ATH expects he’ll be back out there again tonight as Idaho Falls finishes its season series with Ogden. The Chukars have 10 games left after tonight, a five-game series versus the Orem Owls through the weekend and then five game in Casper to face the Ghosts (we still love that Casper nickname).
The other big celebration for the organization includes another First Rounder. 2007 first round pick Mike Moustakas and his Burlington Bees are in the playoffs. They officially entered the postseason on Sunday despite losing. They are still in contention for their division title but are guaranteed a playoff spot and a postseason series starting next week in Burlington. Moustakas leads the Midwest League with 21 homers, is second in total bases, sixth in slugging and is in the top 10 in hits and runs.
While we’re mentioning high draft picks, this year’s sandwich pick is tearing up his first professional assignment. Michael Montgomery is throwing very well in Surprise for the Surprise Royals. He owns a 1.91 ERA in 37.2 innings and has 31 strikeouts to 11 walks. Opponents are hitting just .217 off him.
Finally, yesterday we devoted some space to Kila Ka’aihue, the slugging first baseman who won Double-A Texas League Player of the Year despite playing the last month in the Triple-A Pacific Coast League. The pronunciation of the Hawaiian’s name has been a question mark among several media outlets. Well, we’ve got an official ruling on how to say his name. It’s Kila (KEY-luh) Ka’aihue (Ky-uh-HOO-A). Or, you can call him K.K., which is what manager Trey Hillman and the baseball operations people call him. And for those curious on his status because he left Sunday’s game after being hit by a pitch, Ka’aihue hit a double in going 1-for-3 with a run and two walks last night. He has walked 98 times this season and struck out 62 times and owns a .462 on-base percentage with a .635 slugging (combined Double-A and Triple-A stats).
Manager Trey Hillman has his rotation set – hopefully – for the remainder of the season. The current quintet is locked in to finish out. Tonight’s starter is Zack Greinke, with Brian Bannister throwing tomorrow. Kyle Davies will open the Detroit series on Friday followed by Brandon Duckworth on Saturday and last night’s starter Gil Meche draws Sunday’s assignment.
Hillman said he’s comfortable with the rotation as it is. He said last night Meche just didn’t have the same he has of late and it probably wouldn’t have mattered as much if he were facing a lesser hitting team. Hillman said tonight, Greinke needs to have all of his pitches working to have success.
This group has combined to start all but 35 games for the Boys in Blue this season. Duckworth is the low man on the totem pole, making his first start last Sunday, while Gil Meche leads the team with 28 starts.
Hillman said Kip Wells is probably stretched out the most in the bullpen and would merit the emergency start if need be, but that’s without knowing exactly which players will get the September 1 call-up. Triple-A Omaha finishes its season on Monday the 1st, an off-day for the big league Royals.
Currently nine players on the O-Royals are on the 40-man roster. Of those players, five are pitchers and four have spent time in the Majors this season (Jimmy Gobble – 31 MLB games, Tyler Lumsden – no MLB experience, Neal Musser – one MLB game, Josh Newman – four MLB games and Carlos Rosa – two MLB games). Although Rosa is on the 7-day D.L. and Gobble is finishing a rehab assignment.
Double-A Northwest Arkansas, which is still in the playoff hunt, has two players on the Royals 40-man. The lone pitcher is Julio Pimentel, who threw a scoreless inning in the 2008 MLB Futures game during the All-Star festivities. But with the Naturals entering today’s play tied for the division lead and fighting for the post-season, Around the Horn doubts the Royals will subtract any players from their roster on Sept. 1.
Two other quick Naturals notes: Pitching Coach Larry Carter was selected as the Texas League coach of the year…Veteran Minor Leaguer Cory Aldridge drove in seven yesterday with two homers.
David DeJesus knocked in his 58th run last night, tying his career high set last season…10 of John Buck’s last 15 hits have been for extra bases including six doubles, a triple and three homers…Alberto Callaspo collected his first RBI since before going on the Disabled List in late June. His last RBI was June 22 versus San Francisco…From Trey Hillman: He does not expect Alex Gordon back anytime soon. He told Gordon there is no timetable because there is no precedent for how the third baseman heals from an injury of this type since he’s never had one…Also from Hillman: With Gordon out and veteran Mark Grudzielanek out, Callaspo will see a the majority of the time at second…Last word from Hillman: He thinks instant replay will be a good addition and will take pressure off of umpire crews. He respects the umpire’s way of life, living on the road for the sixth-month season and anything that can help alleviate their stress and is good for the game is a good thing in Hillman’s opinion.
Yesterday we mentioned in passing the Hot Dog Derby contest. You, yes you, can sign up to be either Relish, Mustard or Ketchup. If you’d like the opportunity to don the color of your condiment, you can do so right now, all you have to do is enter.
The last weekend of the season, nine lucky fans will become hot dogs and compete for the ultimate glory – winning the Kauffman Stadium Hot Dog Derby Race. September 19-21 is your chance.
Today’s Official Game Notes.