Baseball America highlighted the Royals today as they continue their team-by-team summaries of top prospects. Seven pitchers and three position players make up KC’s Top 10. Five of the players were honored at the 2008 Futures Night (above). The future, both near and long-term, appears extremely bright.
New to the Top 10 are 2008 draft picks Eric Hosmer, Mike Montgomery, and Tim Melville, as well as right-handed pitcher Danny Gutierrez and slugging first baseman Kila Ka’aihue.
We’ve compiled a few notes on each prospect. ATH had the chance to speak about the rankings with Scott Sharp, Kansas City’s Director of Minor League Operations. We’ve included his observations for some analysis you won’t get anywhere else.
The power-hitting lefty (pictured at left) recovered from a slow start to lead the Midwest League with 22 home runs in 2008 as a 19-year old. Now 20, “Moose” became the first teenager to lead the Midwest League in homers since 1982.
Sharp note: “He has great power and ability with the bat. He’ll likely start at Wilmington.”
2. Eric Hosmer, 1B
KC’s first-round selection in 2008 makes his BA debut at #2. The 19-year old also projects as the Best Hitter for Average. Hosmer spent the fall in the Arizona Instructional League.
Sharp note: “Similar to Mike, he can hit and has power. He played in three games last year so we want to see what he does in spring training before assigning him.”
3. Dan Cortes, RHP
Cortes, acquired from the White Sox in the Mike MacDougal trade, continued to shine in 2008, becoming a regular season and postseason Texas League All-Star. Still just 21, he has been ironing out some issues in the Arizona Fall League, including trying to keep the ball down in the zone more often.
Sharp note: “He met every expectation last year. He will probably start in Double-A, but could begin in Triple-A, depending on how the Omaha roster shakes out.”
4. Mike Montgomery, LHP
Montgomery, a supplemental pick in 2008, displayed great stuff as he held Arizona League opponents to a 1.69 ERA over 42.2 IP. The Royals plan to build the 19-year old’s innings slowly, as they did last year with Danny Duffy (see below).
Sharp note: “He’s a lefty with a good curveball. We’d like to see him in a full-season league. Most likely, he will start later in the year as health is paramount with our young pitchers.”
5. Tim Melville, RHP
The 2008 fourth-round selection checks in at #5. Melville, who has yet to pitch in a game as a pro, spent the fall in the Arizona Instructional League and is 19 years old as well.
Sharp note: “He’ll follow a similar path as Montgomery, though it will likely be in a short-season league. It would be unfair for him to start in a full-season league (since he didn’t appear in 2008).”
6. Danny Duffy, LHP
Duffy, a May addition to the Burlington Bees, went 6-1 with a 0.99 ERA over his last 11 starts to earn Burlington Pitcher of the Year honors. He won’t turn 20 until December 21.
Sharp note: “He proved himself at Burlington and will likely start at Wilmington. He has good mound presence and poise and can display three average Major League pitches.”
7. Danny Gutierrez, RHP
Gutierrez, 21, has risen to the top 10 after being selected in the 33rd round out of high school in 2005. BA ranks him as having the best curveball and best control among Royals farmhands.
Sharp note: “He showcases a power fastball and curveball. Danny is a good competitor who should start at Wilmington.”
8. Carlos Rosa, RHP
Rosa made his Major League debut in 2008 before finishing the year on the D.L. with a right elbow strain. The recent trades of Leo Nunez and Ramon Ramirez have left a gap in the K.C. bullpen. General Manager Dayton Moore mentioned the 24-year old as a candidate to fill one of those spots.
Sharp note: “Carlos will be in Major League camp but could begin the year at Triple-A. He’s been working on a change up.”
Ka’aihue’s meteoric rise through the farm system didn’t go unnoticed by Baseball America. Ka’aihue, 24, spent just a month in Omaha in 2008. He will likely start 2009 there as the Royals have several players battling for time at first base.
Sharp note: “He will likely start at Triple-A, but will be given every opportunity in Spring Training. He has power at his disposal but is also a good first baseman.”
10. Blake Wood, RHP
KC’s third-round pick in 2006 sits at #10 after being ranked #4 prior to 2008. This is mostly a sign of the Royals ever-increasing strength in the system. The 23-year old Wood split 2008 between high-A Wilmington and Double-A Northwest Arkansas.
Sharp note: “Blake has a power arm and a power curve. We see him starting at Double-A. He needs to get back to the way he started there.”
On Friday, front office associates joined Royals Hall of Fame second baseman Frank White, outfielder David DeJesus, GM Dayton Moore and Senior Vice President-Business Operations Kevin Uhlich to serve a Thanksgiving feast at City Union Mission’s two area facilities. This is the third straight year that the Royals have partnered with the mission.
Founded in 1924, City Union Mission has provided warm beds, nutritious food and a safe place for thousands of poverty stricken and homeless men, women and children in the Kansas City area. The facilities rely solely on support from individuals, churches, foundations, organizations and businesses. For more information on how you can become involved with City Union Mission, visit http://www.cumission.org/.
Coco Crisp is usually awakened around 9 a.m. by his kids at his California home. Today’s wake-up call came a bit earlier, around 7 a.m., when he learned that he had been traded to the Royals. Crisp had an idea that he might be dealt this week and was excited to learn about his move to Kansas City.
Coco described himself as down to earth, competitive, a family man, and a person who tries to stay within his abilities on the baseball field. He wants to win and brings a presence to the park every day. The winning attitude comes from his roots in a competitive family. Every family event from Monopoly to ping-pong was a must-win competition in the Crisp household.
His time in Boston was hampered by nagging injuries, but he described it as a good learning experience. He knows only a few of his new teammates, but he is looking forward to a return to the AL Central, where had success as a member of the Cleveland Indians from 2002 to 2005.
We welcome Coco to the club. It’s likely that he’ll be the first player to patrol centerfield at the “New K”, so make plans today to watch Royals baseball from his perspective in some of our brand new seating areas in 2009.
General Manager Dayton Moore spoke with local media members about the Coco Crisp-Ramon Ramirez trade during an afternoon press conference. Here are some of the highlights:
According to Moore, Crisp was the best available player to meet the Royals need for a center fielder. He sees Crisp as an impact player for the top of the lineup and a player who will raise expectations in the locker room.
Moore believes the acquisition will help the club move toward a set lineup. However, he doesn’t see a set lineup as a must-have for a championship-caliber club. He pointed out that the World Series champion Phillies had offensive holes in their every day lineup.
Moore feels that the trade is a good baseball deal but did acknowledge that it would be difficult to replace Ramirez and Leo Nunez, who was traded to Florida last month for Mike Jacobs. Ramirez and Nunez both offered high levels of performance at reasonable salaries.
The fortification of the bullpen is Moore’s next priority. It won’t be easy, but Moore did point out that the bullpen wasn’t set in stone at this point last season. The team signed Ron Mahay in December, Nunez exceeded expectations, and Ramirez, a member of the Rockies until the end of spring training, was not on the team’s radar at this time last year.
The Royals have now had two major trades in the early weeks of the offseason. Are their more deals or free agents to be acquired? Media outlets have floated rumors in recent days, which Moore calls “very imaginative”. He did say that the club has “flexibility” and that he looks at how many productive years a player has remaining more than his cost when deciding on free agents and trade possibilities. Stay tuned!
The Royals landed another piece to the puzzle on Wednesday, acquiring center fielder Coco Crisp from the Boston Red Sox for right-handed pitcher Ramon Ramirez.
Crisp, 29, batted .283 with seven home runs, 41 RBI, and 20 stolen bases in 2008. He was a member of Boston’s 2007 World Series championship team. Dayton Moore will be speaking with the media shortly and Coco will take part in a teleconference later this afternoon. Check back later for a wrap up of the press conferences.
Today marks the beginning of the free agent signing period. While no players were signed today, the Royals were busy with roster moves and an addition to the front office.
We start in the front office, where the Royals named Mike Arbuckle the Senior Advisor to the General Manager/Scouting and Player Development. Arbuckle comes to the Royals after earning a ring with the World Champion Philadelphia Phillies. He started with the Phillies after the 1992 season as the Director of Scouting, and was most recently the Assistant General Manager. He drafted several key components of the 2008 champs, including outfielder Pat Burrell, Ryan Howard, Ryan Madson, Brett Myers, Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley and World Series MVP Cole Hamels. Mike, a Trenton, Mo. native, currently resides in Liberty. We welcome Mike to the club!
The Royals also made a series of roster moves, since today was the MLB deadline for removing all the 60-day Disabled List players and placing them on your 40-man roster. Right-handed pitchers Ryan Braun, Luke Hochevar, Luke Hudson and Carlos Rosa, and outfielder Shane Costa were activated from the 60-day DL. In addition, the Royals requested Unconditional Release Waivers on Braun while designating Hudson and left-handed pitcher Josh Newman for assignment. The Royals 40-man roster now stands at 40. Keep an eye out next week, as all teams must finalize their “winter” 40-man roster on Thursday, Nov. 20. This means teams must protect some of their minor leaguers or risk losing them in the Rule 5 draft, which will take place during the Winter Meetings in Las Vegas on Dec. 11.
Soria hopes that the team can start 2009 with the same level of play that they had in September of 2008. As for topping his own season, he just wants to keep working hard and help the Royals win games.
The All-Star Game was one of his biggest moments, as he felt pressure to help the A.L. continue its All-Star dominance. He says does get a bit of an adrenaline rush when he reaches the mound but he tries not to think too much. Fans of his are amazed he feels pressure. He always seems like “Captain Cool” to us.
Joakim is resting his arm this offseason, with no plans to play winter ball as in year’s past. He and his wife, Karla, have enjoyed some time in Cancun.
Zack was his usual modest self about his performance, saying that he did ‘ok’. Greinke was pleased that he stayed healthy and kept the team in games. He acknowledged some rough patches and feels he can do better in 2009 and beyond.
Greinke returned to the rotation in 2008 after spending most of 2007 in the bullpen. He believes that the opportunity to start and relieve has helped make him a better pitcher as he was able to throw at top velocities as a reliever, building up his arm strength.
A trio of Royals received special recognition for their 2008 campaigns today. Mike Aviles, who burst onto the scene with a .325 batting average, earned Les Milgram Player of the Year honors. Joakim Soria was a unanimous choice for Bruce Rice Pitcher of the Year after collecting 42 saves and his first All-Star appearance. Zack Greinke, who established career bests with 13 wins and and 183 strikeouts, garnered Joe Burke Special Achievement recognition. All of the awards were voted on by members of the Kansas City Chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA). Aviles becomes the first KC position player to win the organization’s Minor League Player of the Year award and follow that up the very next season with the Major League award. Interestingly enough, Greinke is the only pitcher to do it, accomplishing the feat in 2003 and 2004.
Aviles spoke with the media via teleconference a few minutes ago. He described his season as a ‘whirlwind’ as he was a non-roster invitee to spring training, a minor league player in April and May, and now the Royals Player of the Year. Mike said he doesn’t think much about awards during the season, yet this gives him a sense of happiness. A key to his success was the family-like atmosphere of the club. His teammates welcomed him from the day he joined the Major League roster from Triple-A Omaha. After going 0-for-3 in his debut, Mike made adjustments as he realized that this was the same game he had played his entire life, just a little quicker. He loved the challenges that Major League competition posed as he was always facing new pitchers and learning new things.
Mike is playing winter ball in Puerto Rico until December 15. He noted that the league is very competitive and his goal is to keep his swing on the same path. Congratulations, Mike, and thank you for taking time away from your winter ball schedule (and trips to the beach, or ‘la playa’, as they say in Puerto Rico) to speak with the media today.
Check back for comments from Zack and Joakim, who will have teleconferences with the media later this afternoon.
Whew! They call the baseball off season the “Hot Stove”. Here in Kansas City, just five days after the Phillies secured the final out of the World Series, that “Hot Stove” is already a roaring.
Royals GM Dayton Moore and his trusted staff has assembled in Dana Point, Calif. for the GM Meetings, which began today. Around The Horn seriously doubts Moore and his staff will be spending most days enjoying the beautiful Southern California weather (although who can complain about this KC weather?!?). Instead, they’ll be incredibly busy discussing items (including trade talk) with other Baseball Operations folks around baseball.
Case in point:
The Royals acquired slugger Mike Jacobs last Thursday and today assured that a former Jacobs’ teammate will return to the squad in 2009.
Catcher Miguel Olivo and the Royals both exercised their options for the 2009 season. What
this means is Olivo will bring his power bat, strong throwing arm and infectious smile back to the Royals next season. In addition to guaranteeing the 2009 contract, the Royals and Olivo added a mutual option for 2010.
As the Royals attempt to finalize a winter version of their 40-man roster, KC has added catcher Brayan Pena to
the mix, selecting his contract from Omaha. Pena, if
you’ll recall, was claimed from the Braves in late May. He is 26 and a switch-hitting catcher who, as many Sports Illustated junkies can tell you, was featured in that magazine earlier this year along with life-long friend, Yunel Escobar, about their separate journeys from Cuba to the Major Leagues.
As some are added to the 40-man roster this time of year, some are also removed. Today, the Royals outrighted both catcher Matt Tupman and pitcher Yasuhiko Yabuta to Omaha. In addition, shortstop Angel Sanchez was claimed on Outright Waivers by the Toronto Blue Jays.
The moves do not necessarily preclude Tupman or Yabuta from making the Royals in 2009, but make their climb a bit tougher.
Keep checking this blog for more updates and excitement from the GM Meetings and beyond.
Do you have what it takes to entertain with the best? The Kansas City Royals will be holding auditions for the 2009 K Crew. If you feel you have the style, skill and enthusiasm to be a member of the premier MLB interactive team, this is your chance to show us!
The K Crew will be in its third season as a MLB entertainment team, and the Royals are eager to select individuals that will demonstrate excellent entertainment and performance ability and a highly enthusiastic personality. In addition to providing entertainment at Royals
home games during the 2009 MLB season, the K Crew is called upon to make Royals promotional appearances and participate in community and charity events.
It’s your time to shine, so come out to this year’s K Crew auditions. Auditions will be held Saturday, December 6th at the Overland Park Convention Center from 10 a.m.-2 p.m.. Make sure to fill out all the necessary paperwork to ensure your spot. Registration information can be found on the Official K Crew Web page.