This week began with big news adjacent to the prospect realm: Kansas City fired its major league hitting coach, Terry Bradshaw, and replaced him with Senior director for player development and hitting performance, Alec Zumwalt, whose role will be bigger than that of a typical major league hitting coach. The Royals have seen big gains in the minor league hitters that haven’t carried over to the big league side, so this move makes a lot of sense from the outside looking in. 

Reading between the lines, the goal here includes creating synthesis throughout the system from the bottom up. One way the Giants and Dodgers have gotten ahead the past few seasons is having multiple voices saying similar things all the way up the development chain, so that when a young Dodger makes the majors, he’s not suddenly learning a new way to talk about the game at the same time as he’s adapting to the extreme leap in skill from AAA to MLB pitching. 

In short, this feels like good news for all Kansas City prospects but especially those with solid plate skills. In his press conference, team President Dayton Moore said, “We need to see nine players in our lineup that are committed to get on base any way possible. That means we cannot chase pitches out of the strike zone. When we do have pitches to hit in the strike zone, we can’t miss them.” Pretty good summation of baseball 101 there, but manager Mike Matheny seems due for a refresher every now and then, as he continues to run Ryan O’Hearn out there in the cleanup role for reasons that no human on the planet except Matheny can comprehend.

The Royals were becoming scary in sort of a Rockie-ish way for prospectors, blocking guys like Edward Olivares and Kyle Isbel in confusing ways. This issue was compounded by the ballpark there in KC, which allows little margin for error in the batter’s box or on the warning track. It’s regularly the lowest number you’ll find on statcast when asking the how-many-homers–in-various-ballparks question. This team needs to be better at the plate and on the mound than their competitors to win ball games. They don’t need more power, necessarily, as proven by their most recent success runs. What they need is tough at bats strung together and dominant pitching to put the clamps down on small leads when they can get them. 

Was nice to see Brady Singer come out slinging yesterday, throwing seven shutout innings to earn a 2-to-1 win against the White Sox. Was less nice to see him optioned back to Triple-A after the game. Someone (other than Dayton Moore) is apparently responsible for anything that goes wrong on the field, but this front office needs some mirror time to face a variety of difficult truths and think through why they’re doing things the way they’re doing things from top to bottom. Nobody wants to be on the shuttle between the minors and majors. If your top pitching prospect gets you a difficult win with a great performance, he better understand why he’s being sent back down because it obviously has nothing to do with baseball. Singer is the one on the bus, as Olivares was last season, but the whole organization sees this stuff. Sends all the wrong messages to everyone involved. 

I traded for MJ Melendez yesterday, for what it’s Weurtz. Sent Colorado SS Ezequiel Tovar and St. Louis C Ivan Herrera in a 15-team dynasty where I need help due to Yasmani Grandal’s annual atrophy period. I will be trying to acquire young Royals here and there wherever they fit into my build. 

OF Edward Olivares makes for a great target now, especially if he’s clogging up an IL spot on a contender in your league. 

I like 3B Emmanuel Rivera as a $1 flier. He reached a new level of zone-control at AAA this season (13.2% BB, 17.1% K) and has carried some of that success over so far. 

1B Vinnie Pasquantino seems like a natural beneficiary here. His time is nigh. 

SS/OF Nick Loftin is putting in good work this year, especially in the shadow zone.

2B Michael Massey just hits and hits and hits and is slashing .326/.368/.543 in 31 games at AA. He’s one of my favorite guys to gain ground if the organization develops synthesis in its thinking. 

OF Tyler Gentry is following the Massey path as a good college bat thriving with the Royals

2B/3B Rubendy Jaquez is old for his level at 23 just cracking into High-A, but the pandemic has goofed the math in this regard. Jaquez swiped 30 bases back in 2019 and only got caught five times. He’s slashing .317/.379/.433 with one home run and five steals in 17 games across Low and High A. Physicality comes late sometimes, and Jaquez is listed at 5’11” 174 lbs, so he’s got some man-strength upside in the frame. I’ll be zeroing in over the next few weeks to see if the plus plate skills carry over from Low to High A. 

OF Junior Marin isn’t playing yet this year but makes for a smart trade target at the moment. 

OF Erick Peña is striking out 43.7 percent of the time at Low-A. Don’t give up on him though. This development team has turned around high-strikeout hitters before. 

C Carter Jensen has five home runs and two stolen bases as an 18-year-old in Low A. He’s hitting just .192 but has a 108 wRC+ because that league is tough on hitters early in the year, and because Jensen has an impressive 16.7 percent walk rate.

Thanks for reading!

I’m @theprospectitch on Twitter.

 

 

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NUX
NUX
1 month ago

Hey man!
I saw your note about chipping in names in the weekend article RE: upcoming list update… here’s some I’m interested in. Not looking for you to have to comment on all of these but I guess looking for maybe one that you might feel is your fav to buy and one to sell?:
Eddys Leonard
Dustin Harris
Jarren Duran
Coby Mayo
Jay Allen
Evan Carter
Matt Canterino
Brett Kerry
Brailyn Marquez
Tommy Romero
Carson Tucker
Oscar Colas

Traded some randomly rostered player recently that I was going to have to cut for Peyton Burdick. I know he kinda just missed the most recent Marlins update during the offseason. And with BDe La Cruz getting a share of ABs recently, is that OF too crowded to think we’ll see Burdick up in 2022 at any point? He seems like he’s behind a handful of other OFs in the system too, like Bleday and so forth? I don’t think I’m down with waiting around for a low batting average player. If you can’t tell, I’m looking for a reason to drop him. Do you like him more than some of the other names on that list of 12 above though?

Gordeon
Gordeon
1 month ago

Good Stuff!

Free Vinnie

Lower the Jolly Roger
Lower the Jolly Roger
1 month ago

Itch My Dude! Traded my Vargas today … received Brennan Davis and Mateo … 12 team roto .. keep 10 farm 10…Do ok ?? Hopefully lol

Duda Want to Build a Snowman?
Duda Want to Build a Snowman?
1 month ago

Hey Itch – great advice on Olivares. Curious your thoughts on Miranda and Casas for 2022 / in general. In a 12 team keep 8 forever (7 person bench, weekly lineups) + got an interesting offer of my $6 Sale for his $0 Miranda and $0 Casas. Miranda seems like a case of mucho bad luck (.100 babip) + Casas seems like it’s only a matter of time before he’s up and starting…but you’re the prospect master!

AJ H
AJ H
1 month ago

Love these posts, keep em coming!

Was offered an interesting deal for Julio Urias. They were looking to send Jared Walsh, Jordan Montgomery, and Zac Veen.

What’s your overall take on Veen so far this year? Seems like he hasn’t really hurt or helped his stock much at all so far this season.

el famous burrito
el famous burrito
1 month ago

What’s up with Nick Pratto? Has Pasquantino moved ahead of him?

Chhhhh
Chhhhh
Reply to  The Itch
1 month ago

Itch, this sort of reminds me of the Votto vs. Jay Bruce argument back in the day. While they didn’t play the same position (like Vinnie and Pratto), the fact that people LOVED Bruce over Votto because of the power is similiar to how many LOVE Pratto over Vinnie. Bruce’s hit tool was always the question, while Votto’s never was. Votto has gone on to be a HOF (63.7 WAR) while Bruce was a 19.9 WAR player for his career (not horrible at all, but just not Votto). Not saying either player (Vinnie and Pratto) will match either of these guys. It just reminds me of how power catches people’s eyes while Hit Tool is a better trait to assess possible future performances.

toolshed
toolshed
1 month ago

Are you concerned about matos struggling?

What about hedbert pereez and his 35% k rate. I already moved on from perez.

Dr Sauce
Dr Sauce
1 month ago

The Itch, League context: 12 team, roto, 6 player keep forever … for the sake of this post, I’m rocking with Bichette, Acuna, Robert, Ohtani, Tucker and Witt. Also have some nice arms like Freddy P, McClanahan, Musgrove and others. We have 6 man bench and two IR spots. My queries are as follows;
A) Currently sitting on Kelanic and Miranda (bench bats) … do you think I would regret dropping one or both of them? I could use the roster spots to some hot ‘shmotatoes’
B) Love me some prospects, is Corbin Carroll worth rostering in a league such as this? Is it possible we see him this year? Could he be ‘next’ years Bobby Witt or Ju-Rod?
C) Speaking of my dude, Bobby Witt, what’s your expert opinion/assessment of his first 30 games as a pro? The stats tell a story, but my ask is how he looks and maybe your evaluation of him going forward.
D) I dropped Sean Murphy to pick up MJ … Murphy has been killing my average, hoping with increased play time MJ will be more productive. Agree/disagree??
Thanks ‘The Itch’, much respect for all that you do!

Dude
Dude
1 month ago

Soooo, is this Isaac Paredes guy going to even further make regret holding Brujan?

Dude
Dude
Reply to  Dude
1 month ago

Kinda like holding Miranda.

Dude
Dude
Reply to  Dude
1 month ago

I finally dropped Yepez for Melendez. Everyone is so high on Yepez. Buddy has like 2 runs, 1HR and 4 RBI…..kinda like a Qwan. If you are trying to win the batting average category only, go for it!

Dude
Dude
Reply to  The Itch
1 month ago

Maybe my frustration didn’t allow me to word my question correctly lol
Why is everyone so high on Yepez? Yes, he was getting hits but no stats.
Pick 2 or just rank, if you don’t mind. Or just say move on lol
Yepez
Melendez
Brujan
Miranda
Duran

Troy
Troy
1 month ago

Make sense of Royce Lewis back in AAA!

Steve
Steve
1 month ago

Great write up. Think the change in hitting coach helps Witt’s bat?

Also I’m wondering if you have a guess when Oneil Cruz might be called up? Think it’s still mid-June?

Thanks

Troy
Troy
Reply to  The Itch
1 month ago

Same for Roansey?