Royals Prospects 2-10
Age: 25. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-0. Wt.: 175. Signed: Dominican Republic, 1997. Signed by: Santiago Villalona (Athletics).
Background: After coming from the Athletics in a three-way trade involving the Devil Rays, Berroa led all minor league shortstops with 60 extra-base hits in 2001 and was the Royals top prospect. He missed two months in 2002 after arthroscopic knee surgery in April and then battled nagging back, leg and hamstring injuries for the remainder of a disappointing season. He also turned out to be two years older than previously thought.
Strengths: Berroa has the tools to become a standout defensive shortstop, with great hands, plus arm strength and range. He also shows solid instincts for the game and a good work ethic. He has a quick bat and some pop.
Weaknesses: Trying to make up for lost time, Berroa might have gotten a little homer-happy last season as he tried to pull everything. He needs to improve his pitch recognition and plate discipline. He makes errors because hes aggressive and rushes plays, so that should stop as he matures.
The Future: Whether hes ready or not, the shortstop job is Berroas to lose in spring training after Neifi Perez was released.
3. Jimmy Gobble, lhp
Age: 21. B-T: L-L. Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 190. Drafted: HSBristol, Va. (1st round supplemental). Signed by: Paul Faulk.
Background: After two promising seasons, Gobble battled injuries that restricted his workload in 2002. A right groin tear forced him to the disabled list for three weeks in June. Four starts after he returned, he had shoulder soreness, which didnt turn out to be anything major. That scare, coupled with more groin pain, led the Royals to shut him down in July.
Strengths: Like many lefthanded pitching prospects, Gobble is compared to Tom Glavine. Few live up to the hype, but Gobble has a chance because he operates with three quality pitches, including a low-90s fastball. His curveball is the best in the system and his deceptive changeup is more than a show-me pitch.
Weaknesses: Gobble doesnt have a major weakness and just needs to stay healthy. Against more advanced hitters hell have to make adjustments, such as tightening his big-breaking curve and locating his fastball with more precision. The Royals would like him to throw his changeup more often.
The Future: Had he stayed healthy, Gobble was in line for a September callup. While winter work in the Dominican will make up for some lost time, hes ticketed for Triple-A Omaha to start 2003.
4. Ken Harvey, 1b
Age: 24. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 240. Drafted: Nebraska, 1999 (5th round). Signed by: Craig Struss.
Background: Harvey tried a new stance similar to Jeff Bagwells in 2002. He batted .27758 points lower than he had hit at any minor league stopbut everything came together for him in the Arizona Fall League. He was the league MVP after setting records for batting (.479), slugging (.752) and on-base percentage (.537).
Strengths: Harvey uses a unique grip to take his cuts, overlapping his hands as he goes into his trigger mechanism, with his right hand covering half of his left. With his inside-out, line-drive swing, Harvey smokes the ball up the middle and to the opposite field. He could add power as he learns which pitches to drive in specific counts.
Weaknesses: Despite putting in plenty of work on his defense, Harvey will struggle to become an average first baseman. He lacks first-step quickness, which also rules out a switch to left field, and his hands are a bit stiff. He doesnt walk much, more because of his ability to make contact rather than a poor eye. His weight is a concern.
The Future: Harvey has just one above-average tool, but he has left no question he can rake. His monstrous AFL campaign should catapult him into Kansas Citys 2003 plans as a DH.
5. Alexis Gomez, of
Age: 22. B-T: L-L. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 160. Signed: Dominican Republic, 1997. Signed by: Luis Silverio/Andres Lopez.
Background: An outstanding athlete, Gomez was a volleyball star in the Dominican Republic. He resembles a more slender Carlos Beltran with similar tools, albeit with less raw power. Gomez was hitting .402 in late May in Double-A until he came down with chicken pox and missed two weeks.
Strengths: Gomez had his best offensive season because he learned to use the whole field, shortened his stroke and worked deeper counts. He began to handle breaking balls, which had been a bugaboo. Gomez generates plenty of bat speed and hit more homers than he had in his entire career. He has plus speed and slightly above-average arm strength.
Weaknesses: Gomez can steal bases, but he doesnt have the technique down and needs to improve his jumps. He was caught stealing on 40 percent of his attempts in 2002. His athleticism allows him to track down balls in center field, but he can be erratic because he doesnt have great instincts. He still needs to improve his pitch recognition.
The Future: Gomez is still rough around the edges, but he has improved every year and should continue to do so in Triple-A in 2003.
6. Colt Griffin, rhp
Age: 20. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-4. Wt.: 198. Drafted: HSMarshall, Texas (1st round), 2001. Signed by: Gerald Turner.
Background: Griffin was recruited as a first baseman by Louisiana Tech before he was clocked at 98 mph in 2001. He became the first documented high school pitcher to reach 100 mph and parlayed that into a $2.4 million bonus after being selected ninth overall.
Strengths: While Griffin can dial his fastball into the upper 90s with ease, he often doesnt know where its going. Hes trying to strike a balance between velocity and command, so he has abandoned his two-seamer and kept his four-seamer at 93-94 mph. His slider is a potentially dominant pitch once he develops a feel for it. He also employs a circle change, which can be an average pitch.
Weaknesses: Griffin still has major control issues and finished fourth in the minors in walks in 2002. For all his stuff, he didnt miss many bats, either. He needs to hone his delivery and avoid overthrowing. His slider tends to flatten out when he drops his elbow.
The Future: Griffin could be a dominant starter if he figures out how to harness his control. Or he could become a tremendous bust. Command will be his major point of emphasis in high Class A in 2003.
7. Kyle Snyder, rhp
Age: 25. B-T: B-R. Ht.: 6-8. Wt.: 220. Drafted: North Carolina, 1999 (1st round). Signed by: Paul Faulk.
Background: The seventh overall pick in 1999, Snyder was the Northwest Leagues top prospect in his pro debut but pitched just two innings in the next two years. Coming back from Tommy John surgery in September 2000, he slowly worked his way back into form in 2002.
Strengths: Snyder has regained the velocity on his fastball, which sits between 90-94 mph, and he continues to throw on a tough downhill plane. His curveball, which rivals Gobbles, and changeup can be plus pitches. He throws strikes, and his outstanding makeup helped him battle through his injury adversity.
Weaknesses: Snyder should use his curveball and changeup more often. While rehabbing, he focused on tossing a few solid innings or working on a certain pitch, rather than winning games. He has yet to show he can handle higher pitch counts. Because of his elbow problems, Snyder no longer throws his splitter, which was a plus pitch.
The Future: Snyder remains a wild card because of his health. He made encouraging progress in the AFL and seems to be regaining the form that made him a coveted prospect. Hell begin 2003 in Double-A.
8. Andres Blanco, ss
Age: 18. B-T: B-T. Ht.: 5-10. Wt.: 155. Signed: Venezuela, 2000. Signed by: Juan Indrigao/Wilmer Castillo.
Background: Berroa should have Kansas Citys shortstop job for at least a few years. Blanco is the only player in the system with the skills to challenge him, and hes not nearly as advanced. For all the defensive accolades Berroa earns, Blanco might be even better.
Strengths: Blanco has the hands, range, actions and instincts for shortstop. Hes steadier than Berroa while making the flashy diving stops and deep-in-the-hole throws. Hes an above-average runner who can steal bases, with good bat speed and the strength to become a pesky, slap-hitting leadoff batter with gap power.
Weaknesses: For all his tools, Blanco is still weak offensively at this point and needs to add muscle to his slight frame. He also could stand to improve his pitch selection, as hes a bit of a free swinger.
The Future: Gomez made the jump from the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League to high Class A in 2000, and the Royals will see if Blanco can pull off the same feat in 2003. He held his own in a brief stint there in 2002. If he learns to walk more and can hit in the .275 range, Blanco will enjoy a productive career as a major league shortstop.
9. Mike MacDougal, rhp
Age: 26. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-4. Wt.: 195. Drafted: Wake Forest, 1999 (1st round). Signed by: Paul Faulk.
Background: MacDougals 2001 major league debut ended after he sustained a skull fracture when struck in the head by Carlos Beltrans bat during a game. He lost the feeling in his right arm for a time, and still has occasional numbness in his fingertips. This may have contributed to his control problems in 2002, when he was shut down for six weeks.
Strengths: MacDougal pumps his fastball into the mid-90s with plus life and was pushing 100 mph in winter ball in Puerto Rico. His darting slider is one of the nastiest in the system, and he has shown a feel for a curveball and changeup.
Weaknesses: Command is a major issue, and learning to harness his electric arsenal has been tough. His inability to repeat his delivery is the main problem, and the life on his pitches makes it even harder.
The Future: The Royals hope MacDougals winter assignment will prepare him to compete for their closers job
10. Jeremy Hill, rhp
Age: 25. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 5-10. Wt.: 185. Drafted: HSDallas, 1996 (5th round). Signed by: Terry Wetzel.
Background: After hitting just .229 in five seasons as a catcher, the Royals put Hill and his live arm on the other end of the battery in instructional league following the 2000 season. When he hit 95 mph, the conversion became permanent. He has drawn comparisons to Troy Percival, another catcher-turned-closer.
Strengths: Hill has unconventional mechanicshe leans backward before delivering pitches to generate more velocitybut he has no trouble repeating his delivery and its tough for hitters to pick up. His quick arm action allows his explosive fastball to peak at 98-99 mph. Hes aggressive in going after hitters, but his background as a catcher reminds him that changing speeds also can be effective.
Weaknesses: Hills curveball was scrapped for a slider. His progress with that pitch will determine whether he pitches the seventh or ninth inning. He still needs to throw the slider with more conviction and velocity, and he needs to throw strikes more consistently.
The Future: After pitching in the Dominican League over the winter, Hill should make the Royals bullpen out of spring training.
Best of the Rest
Born and raised in Brooklyn, lefthander Danny Christensen doesnt drive and uses a passport for identification in lieu of a drivers license. The Royals fourth-round pick in 2002 identified himself as a prospect by going 3-3, 2.10 between the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League and short-season Northwest League. Christensen, 19, works with an average 85-90 mph fastball that tails, sinks and occasionally reaches 92. He has a good feel for pitching and near-perfect mechanics. With a bulldog mentality on the mound, Christensen is similar to Grienke, and both should move quickly.
The Royals sought a young second baseman at the 2002 trading deadline, but came up short. It might turn out all right because they have a pair of intriguing prospects already in their system. Alejandro Machado, 20, came from the Braves in the Rey Sanchez trade in 2000, and he looks like a similar player. Hes a smooth fielder who lacks the range and arm to play shortstop, but has settled in well at second. His .314 average ranked third in the Class A Carolina League.
Ruben Gotay, 20, doesnt ooze tools, but his field awareness and bat still earn him recognition. The switch-hitter led the Class A Midwest League with 42 doubles and scored more runs than anyone in the Royals organization. Hes adequate defensively, and at times shows above-average skills as a second baseman.
Back to page one.
The Top 10 Prospects lists are based on players' projected long-term worth and on discussions with scouting and player-development personnel. All players who haven't exceeded the major league rookie standards of 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched (without regard to service time) are eligible. Ages are as of Opening Day 2003.
Copyright 2002 Baseball America. All rights reserved.|
This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.