Kansas City Royals: Top 10 Prospects

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Josh Leventhal
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TOP TEN
PROSPECTS
1. Mike Moustakas, ss
2. Daniel Cortes, rhp
3. Luke Hochevar, rhp
4. Blake Wood, rhp
5. Danny Duffy, lhp
6. Carlos Rosa, rhp
7. Julio Pimentel, rhp
8. Matt Mitchell, rhp
9. Yasuhiko Yabuta, rhp
10. Derrick Robinson, of
BEST
TOOLS
Best Hitter for Average Mike Moustakas
Best Power Hitter Mike Moustakas
Best Strike-Zone Discipline Kila Kaaihue
Fastest Baserunner Patrick Norris
Best Athlete Derrick Robinson
Best Fastball Daniel Cortes
Best Curveball Daniel Cortes
Best Slider Neal Musser
Best Changeup Julio Pimentel
Best Control Rowdy Hardy
Best Defensive Catcher Matt Tupman
Best Defensive Infielder Chris McConnell
Best Infield Arm Mike Moustakas
Best Defensive Outfielder Jose Duarte
Best Outfield Arm Jose Duarte
PROJECTED 2011
LINEUP
Catcher John Buck
First Base Justin Huber
Second Base Alberto Callaspo
Third Base Alex Gordon
Shortstop Tony Pena
Left Field Jose Guillen
Center Field David DeJesus
Right Field Mike Moustakas
Designated Hitter Billy Butler
No. 1 Starter Daniel Cortes
No. 2 Starter Luke Hochevar
No. 3 Starter Zack Greinke
No. 4 Starter Gil Meche
No. 5 Starter Brian Bannister
Closer Joakim Soria
TOP PROSPECTS
OF THE DECADE
Year Player, Position 2007
1998 Dee Brown, of Athletics
1999 Carlos Beltran, of Mets
2000 Dee Brown, of Athletics
2001 Chris George, lhp Marlins
2002 Angel Berroa, ss Royals
2003 Zack Greinke, rhp Royals
2004 Zack Greinke, rhp Royals
2005 Billy Butler, of Royals
2006 Alex Gordon, 3b Royals
2007 Alex Gordon, 3b Royals
TOP DRAFT PICKS
OF THE DECADE
Year Player, Position 2007
1998 Jeff Austin, rhp Out of baseball
1999 Kyle Snyder, rhp Red Sox
2000 Mike Stodolka, lhp Royals
2001 Colt Griffin, rhp Out of baseball
2002 Zack Greinke, rhp Royals
2003 Chris Lubanski, of Royals
2004 Billy Butler, of Royals
2005 Alex Gordon, of Royals
2006 Luke Hochevar, rhp Royals
2007 Mike Moustakas, ss Royals
LARGEST BONUSES
IN CLUB HISTORY
Alex Gordon, 2005 $4,000,000
Mike Moustakas, 2007 $4,000,000
Luke Hochevar, 2006 $3,500,000
Jeff Austin, 1998 $2,700,000
Mike Stodolka, 2000 $2,500,000
ROYALS
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Kansas City Royals

The Royals completed the 2007 season in the same fashion they had in 12 of the previous 13 years—with a losing record. Yet unlike years past, optimism could be found in Kansas City’s 69-93 mark and fourth consecutive last-place finish in the American League Central.

That hope is tied to a restructured player-development system and draft philosophy modeled after one of baseball’s most successful franchises, the Braves. It’s no coincidence, seeing as general manager Dayton Moore and farm director J.J. Picollo worked for Atlanta before coming to Kansas City. Senior advisor Art Stewart, who has been with the franchise since its inception, said the team’s renewed efforts to build from within under Moore reminded him of the Royals’ early days, when they swiftly assembled a contender through shrewd trades and homegrown talent.

“The most important thing we have done is staff our front office and development departments with good people and a full staff,” said Moore, who noted that when scouting director Deric Ladnier arrived (also from the Braves) in 2000, he had just two crosscheckers on his staff. “Certainly, scouting and player development are the most important things we can do, and it doesn’t matter if it is in a small or large market.”

Kansas City made clear its commitment to the future by spending $6.6 million on the 2007 draft—the seventh-biggest outlay in baseball—starting with $4 million for No. 2 overall pick Mike Moustakas, the best hitter available.

The Royals have yet to show much improvement at the big league level, but they are putting more talent on the field. Four rookies who should be cornerstones for their future successfully made the transition to the big leagues in 2007. First-round picks Billy Butler and Alex Gordon had steady debuts and should anchor the middle of the lineup for years. Brian Bannister, stolen from the Mets in a trade for Ambiorix Burgos, won 12 games, while Joakim Soria, a Rule 5 draft coup, earned 17 saves.

A couple of righthanders are nearly ready to bolster the rotation. Luke Hochevar, the No. 1 overall pick in 2006 draft, made his major league debut in September. Daniel Cortes has been a revelation after coming over from the White Sox in a deal for Mike MacDougal. But other than counting on improvement from its young big leaguers, a Royals offense that finished 13th in the AL in scoring can’t count on any immediate help.

The makeup of his team spurred Moore’s decision to go off the beaten path to find a replacement for manager Buddy Bell, who resigned at the end of the season. Trey Hillman takes over after five seasons in Japan managing the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters, whose 2006 Japan Series title was their first championship in 25 years. In Kansas City, Hillman will try to implement many of the same values that worked with the Ham Fighters, an offensively challenged club that won with pitching, defense and fundamentals.

The Royals showed that they’ll explore every avenue for talent by also going to Japan to land reliever Yasuhiko Yabuta with a two-year, $6 million contract. They’ve increased their efforts on the global market, opening a new academy in the Dominican Republic last year. Domestically, they increased their U.S. farm system from six to seven affiliates.

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