Kansas City Royals 2009 Minor League Review
Overall farm rankings via Baseball America (2009)
2009 (11) | 2008 (24) | 2007 (11) | 2006 (23) | 2005 (28) | 2004 (19)
Record of Major and Minor League Teams
MLB: [65 – 97] AL Central
AAA: [64 – 80] Pacific Coast League
AA: [73 – 67] Texas League
A+: [84 – 55] Carolina League
A: [64 – 75] Midwest League
R: [43 – 31] Pioneer League
R: [20 – 35] Arizona Rookie League
R: [24 – 44] Appalachian League
The Run Down
Dayton Moore gets ripped more than the current administration does for health care. The Yuniesky Betancourt trade, the Mike Jacobs trade and several signings are worthy of scorn. Well, here is some news for people, amidst all these major league signings and trades, Moore has corralled a tremendous amount of “high upside” prospects. Truly. Some experts have the 2010 Royals farm system ranked ninth overall (Keith Law) and Baseball America has yet to weigh in for the 2010 season (their book comes out in late February). Much of this talent though is at the lower levels and still needs to be developed. There are several prospects that I am not mentioning because they either just finished the 2009 season at rookie ball (John Lamb, Tyler Sample, and Tim Melville) or that they didn’t get a chance to play due to when they signed (Aaron Crow (yes, the 2008 #1 draft pick of Washington whom they failed to sign) and Noel Arguelles, a left-handed Cuban defect who has great upside as a pitcher). 2010 will be a make or break year for a couple of top prospects (Moustakas and Hosmer), more the latter than the former. Finally, Kansas City has some reason to be excited.
#23 – (OF) Mitch Maier
Arizona Fall League Players – Surprise Rafters
Pitchers – (RHP) Aaron Hartsock, (LHP) Brandon Sisk, (LHP) Ben Swaggerty, #10 (RHP) Blake Wood
Hitters – (2B/SS) Jeff Bianchi, #1 (3B) Moustakas, #15 (CF) David Lough
Players of Interest for 2010
#9 Kila Ka’aihue | 1B | AAA | 25 | .252/.392/.433 | 441 AB | 45 XBH | 17 HR | .181 ISO | 85:102 K:BB | .277 BABIP | 39.6 GB% | 18.7 LD% | 41.5 FB%
Kila Ka’aihue jacked the ball everywhere in 2008 with 27 homers at Double-A and 11 homers at Triple-A. 2009 wasn’t quite as friendly (17 homers), nor was his production anywhere near his 2008 “breakout season.” There has been speculation around his frustration with management’s decision to trade for Mike Jacobs and not let him tryout in Spring Training. A change of scenery may actually be a good thing for his future. Here is his Scouting the Unknown article I wrote about him last July. This link also has a pronunciation key. For those of you too lazy to click the link: pronounced – KEY-luh Kuh-eye-HOO-a. Grey went over Ka’aihue’s fantasy prospects in the 2009 preseason.
Hindered by a lower than normal BABIP (.277), Ka’aihue slumped through the second half of the season. His batting eye is beyond stellar (two straight years with more than 100 walks) and considering that minor league players usually play a month less than their major league counterparts, having 100 walks is pretty darn impressive. Additionally, in 555 Triple-A at-bats (across two years), he’s hit for a .211 ISO. The power is legit. If given the chance at full playing time, the Royals could have a 25 homer, .400 OBP first baseman/DH. Instead, Mr. Moobs will play first, with Mr. Slacker (Jose Guillen) DH’ing. Don’t be surprised to see Ka’aihue traded sooner rather than later. If Jose Guillen decides to get hurt, Ka’aihue should be the first man called up.
#15 David Lough | CF | A+/AA | 23 | .325/.370/.496 | 458 AB | 46 XBH | 14 HR | .171 ISO | 64:24 K:BB | 19/9 SB/CS | .367 BABIP | 48.8 GB% | 16.8 LD% | 34..3 FB%
This is a fringe prospect with the possibility of slightly overachieving. Not amazing at any one skill, Lough plays solid defense with a marginal arm, above average base running and stealing skills that are consistently improving. He doesn’t have a great feel of the strike zone and consequently is dependent upon a high average of any sort of success. With such a high BABIP (.367), this could hamper any sort of development at the higher levels. Since he wasn’t solely a baseball player at college, his age isn’t the normal indicator of minor league level in regards to his actual ability. 2010 will be the true test. His upside is 15 to 18 homers with 15 to 20 steals. A mid-summer call-up in 2011 is likely his ETA.
#8 Carlos Rosa | RHP | AAA | 24 | 10.1 K/9 | 4.1 BB/9 | 71 IP | 4.56 ERA | 3.80 FIP | 1.42 WHIP | .8 HR/9 | 8.7 H/9 | .356 BABIP | 49.2 GB% | 15.6 LD% | 30.2 FB%
With career rates of 50.4 GB% | 15.1 LD% | 31.8 FB% | 7.1 K/9 | 3.3 BB/9, Rosa looks poised to be a member of the bullpen in the upcoming season. (He threw 10 1/3 MLB innings in September 2009.) With a fastball that is clocked between 90 and 96 mph, a slightly above-average slider and a good changeup, Rosa could become a solid setup man for Soria or even eventually become the closer (in a couple of years). For all you middle reliever believers (Mr. B’s), keep your eyes keenly on Rosa’s spring training efforts, especially if you’re seeking holds.
In these two subsections, you will find the Royals top two hitting prospects (Moustakas and Hosmer) and their top pitching prospect (Montgomery). This is because they are all still so young and low in the minor league ladder.
#1 Mike Moustakas | 3B | A+ | 20 | .250/.297/.421 | 492 AB | 50 XBH | 16 HR | .171 ISO | 90:32 K:BB | 10/6 SB/CS | .280 BABIP | 42.3 GB% | 13 LD% | 44.4 FB%
After arriving with 22 homers in his first year, his sophomore slump came. Sickels, of Minor League Ball, points out his Home/Road splits were the main culprit to his stats (Home: .208/.269/.381 Road: .292/.331/.473), noting that the Royals High-A home field is difficult to play in if you’re a hitter. Another concern a few scouts have noted is how his body is transforming into a doppelganger of Butler. The added weight hasn’t deterred the Royals yet. From a fantasy perspective, he’ll have to hit well next year to stay on the fast track to the majors. This doesn’t necessarily mean 30 homers with a .350/.425/.550 slash line. However, we will want to see an improvement upon his nearly 3:1 K:BB ratio. Furthermore, it would be reassuring to see a higher line drive rate. This would show that he is making more consistent hard contact. I am still on his bandwagon, but he needs to continue to move forward.
#2 Eric Hosmer | 1B | A/A+ | 19 | .241/.334/.361 | 337 AB | 29 XBH | 6 HR | .120 ISO | 90:53 K:BB | .296 BABIP | 62.5 GB% | 12.4 LD% | 24.8 FB%
Hosmer struggled hardcore at High-A. Receiving Lasik surgery this past year, Hosmer, like other baseball players, claimed he wasn’t seeing the ball well and is hoping this surgery will improve his problem. Extremely talented and skilled, Hosmer was drafted straight out of high school with the third overall pick as scouts were drooling over his polished swing and poised hitting approach, not to mention a potential power hitting lefty. Playing in the pitching heavy Midwest League (Single-A) for most of the year, Hosmer held his own, but he’ll have to show that 2009 was more fluke than the norm.
#11 Johnny Giavotella | 2B | A+ | 21 | .258/.351/.380 | 476 AB | 38 XBH | 6 HR | .122 ISO | 54:66 K:BB | 26/9 SB/CS | .286 BABIP | 47.2 GB% | 17.4 LD% | 35 FB%
Nothing spectacular here, just a solid second baseman. And not solid like, “Oh, I really, really want him to anchor my infield (fantasy wise).” Solid like Luis Castillo. Someone who can work the count, steal bases well and doesn’t slack off. Giavotella has never been regarded as an extremely powerful hitter, but he could develop like Castillo and give the fantasy player 25 steals. He has a career slash line of .273/.352/.395 in 754 at-bats with 91:88 K:BB ratio.
#4 Mike Montgomery | LHP | A/A+ | 19 | 8 K/9 | 2.9 BB/9 | 110 IP | 2.21 ERA | 2.84 FIP | 1.06 WHIP | .1 HR/9 | 6.5 H/9 | .260 BABIP | 49.7 GB% | 12.3 LD% | 31 FB%
His walk rate was 3.7 BB/9 at Single-A and was only 2.1 BB/9 at High-A, and this was only some of his improvements. Pitching 58 innings at Single-A and 52 innings at High-A, Montgomery’s stock shot up the board. His curveball is considered his best pitch, but scouts still think his 89 to 93 mph fastball has more potential to develop velocity and movement. He also throws an average changeup and the rare palmball. He is already on the fast track, don’t be surprised if Montgomery receives a September call-up if his 2010 season goes well. He’ll probably be getting a Scouting the Unknown article sometime in the upcoming summer.
As a Twins fan, he’s is the one player I would worry about in the Royals farm system with Mauer, Morneau, Span, and Kubel all being left handed hitters, especially Kubel who can’t touch lefties.
#16 Danny Duffy | LHP | A+ | 20 | 8.9 K/9 | 2.9 BB/9 | 126 2/3 IP | 2.98 ERA | 3.08 FIP | 1.18 WHIP | .4 HR/9 | 7.7 H/9 | .294 BABIP | 42.2 GB% | 12.1 LD% | 37.4 FB%
Projecting as a number three pitcher in the rotation, Duffy has pitched well to date. The strikeout rates and control are worthy of more than I can give him at the moment. Playing above his age group and pitching well has improved his stock. With an 88 to 92 mph fastball that grades above-average, a deceptive changeup and a curve that’s his out-pitch, Duffy could see major league action, at the soonest, in 2011.
Blaine Hardy | LHP | A | 22 | 9.2 K/9 | 1.7 BB/9 | 92 1/3 IP | 2.05 ERA | 2.50 FIP | .95 WHIP | .3 HR/9 | 6.9 H/9 | .285 BABIP | 39.6 GB% | 11.9 LD% | 44.1 FB%
I’m a sucker for good strikeout rates and above-average control. Hardy is a fringe prospect at best. With a 87 to 89 mph fastball and marginal curve and a power slider (80 mph), he’ll need to repeat these numbers again for any serious consideration. Could become a solid reliever or fifth starter.