International Reviews: Kansas City Royals




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Baseball America's annual International Reviews provide scouting reports on every team's top international amateur signings from the 2012 calendar year, as well as a look at any notable signings from the Cuban market.


See also: 2011 American League Central International Review


Kansas City Royals

Top signing: 3B Samir Duenez, Venezuela, $425,000.
Six-figure signings: RHP Julio Pinto (Venezuela), 3B Ryan Dale (Australia), OF Alberto Saez (Panama), LHP Junior Reyes (Venezuela), RHP Ofreidy Gomez (Dominican Republic), SS Jose Martinez (Venezuela).
Notable Cuban signings: OF Roman Hernandez.

Kansas City invested heavily in Dominican players in 2011, a signing class that netted shortstop Adalberto Mondesi for $2 million and outfielder Elier Hernandez for $3 million. While Hernandez struggled in an aggressive assignment to the Rookie-level Pioneer League, Mondesi made a strong impression in the league in his pro debut. In 2012, the Royals ended up spending more money in Venezuela, with four of their top six Latin American amateur signings coming from the country.

Kansas City's top international signing last year was Cuban outfielder Roman Hernandez, who signed for $550,000 in February. Hernandez, who turned 25 last month, played his final season in Cuba for Matanzas in 2009-10, when he hit .299/.376/.463 in 268 at-bats with eight homers, 25 walks and 44 strikeouts. Hernandez reported to high Class A Wilmington and struggled, hitting .223/.281/.270 in 74 games, but he also dealt with a vision issue that bothered him during the season. A 6-foot, 195-pound righthanded hitter, Hernandez is an average runner with an average arm, but he doesn't have any standout tools and his bat is raw, especially for his age.

Among international amateur players, Kansas City's top two signings came from Luis Blasini's program. The Royals spent $425,000 in July to sign Blasini's third baseman, 16-year-old Samir Duenez, for $425,000.  Prior to signing, Duenez had played in the Liga Paralela (the minor leagues of the Venezuelan League) in 2011 and hit .313/.329/.448 in 67 at-bats to lead the Navegantes in batting average. The Royals were drawn to Duenez for his lefthanded hitting and his makeup. He has an uppercut stroke and an aggressive approach but he's shown he can hit good pitching in different environments, including when he traveled to the Dominican Prospect League's Perfect Game International Series event last May. He's flashed solid raw power at times, though he's a hit-first, power-second profile for now. Duenez is listed at 6-foot-1, 196 pounds, but he's built like a young Pablo Sandoval and might end up at first base because his defense needs work, though he does have a good arm.

The Royals got Duenez in a package deal from Blasini along with Venezuela righthander Julio Pinto, who signed for $375,000. Pinto, who turned 17 in November, is a projection guy at 6-foot-3, 185 pounds with an 88-92 mph fastball. He's shown some feel to spin a breaking ball and he's flashed an occasional changeup. Pinto only converted to pitching from the outfield around a year and a half ago, so he's still relatively new to pitching. Even so, he's shown he can already be competitive on the mound, as he was named the pitching MVP during the DPL's Perfect Game International Series all-tournament game last May.

Royals scout Charlie Kim saw Australian third baseman Ryan Dale play a lot and Kansas City signed him for $245,000 in July. Dale is the son of Phil Dale, a Braves scout who has managed in Australia and coached on several national teams for the country. Ryan Dale earned MVP honors at Australia's 16U National Championships in Geelong and played in MLB's Australian Academy, where he hit .272/.377/.360 in 125 at-bats last year. The Royals had followed Dale for a few years and were drawn to his power projection. He tied for second in the Australian academy last year with eight doubles, though he's still learning to cut down on his strikeouts and refine his defense.

Outfielder Alberto Saez, the son of a former amateur player in the '90s from Panama, signed out of the country for $170,000 when he turned 16 on July 11. Saez has a skinny frame (6-foot-2, 155 pounds), good bat control and uses his hands well at the plate. He doesn't have much power now and may have to be brought along conservatively due to his light build.

Venezuelan lefthander Junior Reyes, a 16-year-old who trained with Alex Quiroz, is 5-foot-11, 165 pounds and signed in July for $155,000. Even though Reyes doesn't have much projection left on his 87-89 mph fastball, he stands out for his advanced feel for pitching. He throws strikes, understands how to attack hitters and mixes in a curveball as well.

Venezuelan shortstop Jose Martinez didn't turn 16 until Aug. 15, so he was one of the youngest players from last year's July 2 class. He signed with the Royals for $100,000 in September. Martinez, who trained with Guido Mendez, is 5-foot-10, 165 pounds and shows the ability to manipulate the bat head with a line-drive stroke. He's an average runner with good baseball instincts.

The Royals signed Dominican righthander Ofreidy Gomez for $115,000 in May, but his contract didn't get approved until August, so he didn't play in the Dominican Summer League. Gomez, who turned 17 in July, is 6-foot-2, 180 pounds with a loose arm and a fastball that touches 92 but should become plus in the future. He's still a raw projection for now, so the rest of his game is still in the early stages.

The Royals also agreed to terms with 17-year-old Dominican righthander Jose Geraldo for $100,000 in June, but his contract is still pending approval. Geraldo will also have to face a 50-game suspension after he tested positive for a steroid stack of Stanozolol and Nandrolone.