Kansas City Royals: Chat
Baseball America's Top 10 Prospects lists are based on projections of a player's long-term worth after 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 April 1, 2009.
JAYPERS (IL): Did Noel Arguelles sign too late for inclusion on your list? If not, what kept him off, and what's the skinny on him?
Hey everyone. Thanks for coming out
today. We'll start out with the question that has to be answered.
Arguelles was not officially signed at the time we put the Royals Top
10 to bed, so he's not part of it. If he had been, he would have ranked
No. 3 on the list ahead of Myers and behind Aaron Crow.
Here's a thumbnail scouting report on him: Arguelles was one of the
better young pitching prospects in Cuba, although he's seen only
limited action in Cuba's Serie Nacional because of his age and the
depth of the Havana pitching staff he was a part of. He has a 90-91 mph
fastball that has touched 93 mph and a curveball and changeup that
could both end up as average to a tick above-average pitches. He drew
some Francisco Liriano comparisons and multiple scouts have told me
that he would be a first-round pick if he was eligible for the draft.
He has the broad shoulders and muscular build that should allow him to
have good durability, although like most young pitchers his control
isn't refined yet. He still needs some time in the minors, but he has
the potential to be a middle-of-the-rotation lefthander and he has more
polish than the average teenage pitcher (he turns 20 tomorrow).
Lenny (Toronto, Canada): Will Louis Coleman be a quick mover through the system? Does he go back to being a starter this year like he was at LSU?
Coleman should move quickly but it will
because he projects as a reliever. He's really a two-pitch guy with
enough funkiness in his delivery to be deceptive out of the pen, but
the kind of delivery that you wouldn't want to see try to throw 200+
innings year in and year out.
Ben (Leland Grove): Jeff Bianchi seemed to have a good comeback season last year. Was he in consideration for the list this time?
Bianchi was a whisker away from being No.
10, Lough's more consistent success and better injury history proved to
be the difference. But Bianchi fills a serious need for Kansas City,
which has lacked shortstop prospects.
JAYPERS (IL): Did KC's farm system ranking rise or fall any since last year?
Can't give away the org talent rankings
yet, they'll be in the Prospect Handbook and we'll have an updated
version closer to the season. But after doing the Royals Top 30 for the
past two seasons I can say without a question that the system seems
deeper and more talented this year than it was last year. Guys that I
would have been ranking No. 12-15 last year rank somewhere in the
mid-20s this year. And at the front end of the Top 10, guys who were
ranked almost completely based on projection last year (Mike
Mongtomery, Tim Melville) have shown that the can succeed in
full-season ball. The hitting prospects have taken a step back thanks
to the struggles of Moustakas and Hosmer, but adding Will Myers and the
development of Lough and Bianchi makes that a small step back. The
pitching prospects in the system this year are much improved on last
year's Top 30.
Dave (Pensacola): Would Juan Abreu have made the top 30 had he not left the Royals to sign with the Braves?
Yeah, he would have been in the 25-30
range. Great arm, one of the best in the system before he was signed
away, but he has some serious command concerns and some injury problems
Kyle (Houston, TX): Will Brandon Sisk help out the big league pen at all this season? Will he be anything more than a lefty specialist?
Sisk is a great story. He went to the
independent Continental League when he couldn't land an affiliated job,
lost some weight, gained a tick on his fastball and turned himself into
an intriguing reliever. That being said, he's still a ways from the big
leagues. Sisk projects best as a lefty specialist who could end up
getting some righthanders out as well, but he'll need to prove he can
get Double-A hitters out before it's time to start thinking about his
big league ETA.
Jordan Parraz (Omaha, NE): I know I'm a year
older than David Lough and have been in the minors for longer, but my
production dwarfed his at AA. Why didn't I make the top 10?
Parraz had an excellent season between
Double-A and Triple-A when he was healthy, but hamstring problems
limited him to 80 games. The reasons Lough ranks higher is his younger
age (as you noted) the fact that he is a center fielder rather than a
corner, and his superior all-around tools. Parraz has a better arm, but
Lough shows as good, if not a better bat, better in-game power
(although Parraz puts on a better show in BP) and better speed. But
Parraz was one of the bright spots for the Royals in the minors last
Kyle Reese (The Future): The Royals seem to be
ripe for being overrated going into 2010, as a system in general. Only
one of these Top 10, Lough at 10, has been to AA yet.
Overrating players such as Moustakas and Hosmer leads to cycles where
they struggle and are then downgraded, but still given chances to
rebound because they are young.
Myers at 3 is way too high and none of the arms have been AA-tested
More of a rant than a question, but just wanted your thoughts on the
soon-to-be overrating of this system.
Thanks Kyle for coming back from 2011 to
let us know how things turn out. The knock on the Royals system is that
they don't have many prospects at the upper levels yet, but at the same
time, they have a ton of high-ceiling talents. We rank prospects based
on potential. You have to make allowances for the fact that many of
these prospects haven't played in Double-A or above, but by your logic,
we should wait until guys make the majors and then rank 'em, so get
ready to see our 2005 Royals Top 10 really soon (it won't look very
good for the Royals I'll let you know, but then projecting ahead at the
time, we had them No. 28, so we had that right at the time as well).
When putting together the organization talent rankings, we do make
allowances for where a system's talent resides. Teams like the Red Sox
and Royals are dinged for having a ton of their prospects at the lower
levels of the farm system, but you also give them points for having
prospects who can project as future big league stars, not just role
Raul (Tucson, AZ): JJ, thank you for taking my
question. Hilton Richardson has been brought along slowly since being
drafted pretty high a few years ago. It seems like he figured it out
this year. Is he still someone to watch and did he factor into the top
He factors into the Top 30, but he was
nowhere near the Top 10. You hit the nail on the head, he's starting to
figure it out with lots of athleticism but he's still a long ways away.
Joe LeCates (Easton, MD): Internally, what
bothers John more: Moustakas not performing up to his Greek-American
lineage this year, or the Royals trying to cut down on Montgomery's
long-tossing? Seems like a push.
This wins the chat question of the day as
Joe clearly knows John too well. I think it would be a push, but if
Mike Montgomery could be a long-tossing Greek we'd know who would be
Yanni's favorite prospect. We're still trying to find out if George
BL (Bozeman): The Royals top 10 prospects list
gets better every year under the Dayton Moore regime, but can Royals
fans really have any confidence in Moore's ability to translate
prospects into major league success while he foists the likes of Jason
Kendall and Scott Podsednik and Mike Jacobs, et al, upon us?
Fair question. There does seem to be a
disconnect between what the Royals have done in the minor leagues
(spend heavily on high ceiling prospects) and at the major league level
(spend money on aging hole-fillers). This isn't a defense of Moore's
big league moves, but the reality is that Kansas City has had nothing
in the minors to allow them to grow from within. Now that doesn't mean
that some of the decisions, like signing Kendall or Jose Guillen,
aren't puzzling, but this is a team that has had no one in the minor
leagues to promote to fill roster spots that seems to at times have led
to some moves that can best be described as "we have to find somebody."
Was trading for Yuniesky Betancourt puzzling? Absolutely. But the
Royals couldn't keep putting Tony Pena Jr. out there to hit .083 and
there was no one in the minors who could come up to play the position.
Situations like that aren't the best environments to make moves to
shore up the position for the long-term, they're band-aids on a deep
wound. Late in the 2010 season should be the first time in years that
the Royals actually have a number of prospects to call up. If this
group of prospects develop, Kansas City should finally start promoting
home-grown prospects in waves beginning in 2011. Is that enough to turn
things around in Kansas City? It's hard to say, but it should mean that
instead of signing Kyle Farnsworth for big money Kansas City will have
in-house options to try out instead.
Greg (Cincinnati): I know this is a chat about
KC prospects, but can you give a Reds fan your assesment of the Chapman
deal. Its been said he is the best pitcher in the history of Cuba. They
are saying he chose the Reds becuase Dusty, Pitching coach Bryan Price,
Catcher Ramon Hernandez, and minor league instructor Mario Soto all
speak Spanish as well as there being 10 latin players on the 40 man
roster. With a left handed 100 MPH fastball is it reasonable to think
he could be in the rotation by the All Star break?
Sorry to interrupt the Royals chat with a
Reds question, but I'll add in this one question on Chapman. I'm not a
Cuban baseball historian, but there's no way he's the best pitcher in
Cuban history—you have to have some accomplishments to earn that title
and Chapman doesn't have any real accomplishments yet. He's getting the
money based on his potential. If you're an optimist, all of his command
problems just need some simple tweaks and he's on his way to being an
ace. If you're a pessimist, his wavering command is a sign that he's a
long ways from being a reliable big leaguer and it will require a lot
of patience. Chapman's arm is special, but so is Homer Bailey's and
Reds fans have seen how long it's taken him to put things together. He
could be in the rotation this year especially if the Reds want to give
a glimpse of what they paid for, but he likely will require some
I have a phone call, I'll be right back.
JAYPERS (IL): Why do you think KC promoted Hosmer as soon as they did? Was it a mistake, in retrospect?
The Royals said they promoted Hosmer
because they expected the Wilimgton club to be a playoff team and they
weren't so sure that Burlington was going to be one and they wanted to
let Hosmer (hopefully) thrive on a team in a playoff race, with many of
the prospects who they expect him to play with as he climbs the ladder.
Of course the Burlington club ended up making the playoffs and Hosmer's
season fell apart so yeah you could say in retrospect he would have
been better off staying in Burlington.
Avery (Walnut Creek, CA): Is there a chance
David Lough will be better than the general stream of tweener OF/AAAA
types the Royals call up each year? Who is the best comp for his upside?
He's got a chance. I did get one
correction I need to make. Lough actually was recruited to play
football and baseball at Mercyhurst, not just football as I wrote it.
My apologies for the error. I kind of like David DeJesus as a comp for
his upside, although Lough is a better runner than DeJesus and he's
shown better power in the minors than DeJesus ever did.
Jacob34 (Erie, PA): I've read some reports
that Moustakas could be a good fit in the OF or behind the plate. Are
the Royals considering that at all?
I've gotten no indication that they are
considering a move, although scouts for other teams still drool at what
Moustakas could have been as a catcher.
Dave (Pueblo): What are your thoughts on
Miguel Pina and Tim Smith acquired in the Gutierrez deal? Any hope for
Royals fans that they'll be regulars down the road?
Both seem more like role players than
regulars. Pina is a decent gloved catcher who hasn't really hit
consistently except for an amazing April this year. The upper levels of
the Royals system were completely bare of catchers, so he fills an
organizational need. If everything breaks right for Smith he could be a
Matt Stairs type, but Stairs had a much better glove early in his
career. Smith is a below-average left fielder who will need to hit for
a ton of power and show his long swing works in the big leagues.
Bill (Bozeman): Any KC position prospects in the 11-20 range that catch your eye? Particularly in the middle of the diamond?
Bianchi's the best shortstop in the system. Giavotella is the next best middle infielder but he took some steps back in 2009.
Joe LeCates (Easton, MD): J.J., was Tyler
Sample in the 11-15 range? Your thoughts on him from this past year?
Was he able to develop his changeup at all?
He wasn't a top 10 guy but he wasn't that
far away. He fixed some mechanical problems that helped him put an
awful 2008 behind him. The changeup still isn't really much of a pitch
Mike (Michigan): Even though i am a Tiger fan,
i really like what the Royals are doing (farm system wise) they have
put together back to back very impressive drafts. With players like
Crow, Arguelles, Montgomery, Hosmer and Moustakas is something to be
very proud about. My question is: is the trio of Crow, Arguelles and
Montgomery the best trio of SP prospects in the minors? And should the
Royals farm system get more love than what they do?
I can't say it's the best in the
minors—the Rangers' trio of Neftali Feliz, Martin Perez and take your
pick of Tanner Scheppers, Kasey Kiker or Robbie Ross would rank higher
as would the Tampa Bay trio of Jeremy Hellickson, Wade Davis and Matt
Moore. But it is a very good trio, and the Royals' abundance of lefty
pitching prospects (Montgomery, Arguelles, Lamb, Duffy, Dwyer) ranks up
there with anyone if you're looking at that category (best depth of
intriguing lefty pitching prospects?)
Dayton Moore (Kansas City, MO): Who should I be more worried about, Moustakas [no patience, some power] or Hosmer [some patience, no power]?
Both? This year is pretty crucial for
both of them. If Hosmer puts 2009 behind him, the struggles can pretty
easily be written off as a combination of his knuckle injury and his
vision issues. But if he struggles again, it becomes harder to explain
what has happened since he was the consensus top high school hitter in
the draft. At this point it's hard to believe that Moustakas will ever
post .400 OBPs, but he has to show that he can make the distinction
between getting a pitch he can drive and getting a pitch he can make
contact with. He could also erase any memory of his 2009 season if he
shows he can work pitchers into hitter's counts in Double-A. Getting
out of Wilmington should help him at least mentally because he'll
probably hit more home runs in the friendlier parks of the Texas League.
Avery (Walnut Creek): Is the hypothetical
ranking of Arguelles 3rd in the system more of an indictment of the
farm, or praise for Arguelles? I though he would have ranked below at
least Melville and Lamb just in terms of pitching.
Praise for Arguelles. Ranking the top two
in the Royals system was pretty easy this year, but if you took
Arguelles at No. 3 and moved him down to behind Dwyer at No. 9 I could
see the argument. There's a pretty big jumble of guys from No. 3-10 and
you could get arguments for different rankings from guys inside and
outside the organization. I had a scout tell me he thought Melville was
the best prospect in the organization after seeing him on a good night.
You could make a case for Dwyer being No. 3 because he has the
potential for two plus-plus pitches. And another scout thought Lamb
could rank No. 3 because of his command and feel for pitching. I guess
what I'm saying is that there are a lot of combinations of rankings you
could put together within this Top 10, although it's hard to find
anyone outside the current Royals Top 10 (with the exception of maybe
Jeff Bianchi) that you would argue should replace someone in the Top
10. There did seem to be a clear delination.
Phil (Manhattan, Ks): Are Duffy and Montgomery
going to have a tough time when they are promoted, and no longer have
the luxury of pitching at Class A Wilmington's Frawley Stadium? Should
we really believe in these guys, or are they just fortunate to pitch in
a park that's very friendly to pitchers?
Duffy went 6-1, 2.58 with a .239 average
against with 62 hits allowed, 5 HRs allowed, 63 Ks and 19 BB in 62 road
innings in the Carolina League. At home he went 3-2, 3.47 with a .218
average against, 46 hits, 22 BB, 62 Ks and 1 HR allowed in 57 innings,
so it's hard to say he's a product of Frawley Stadium—his numbers were
very similar home or away. Likewise Mongtomery's numbers (3-1, 2.36, 34
IP, 26 H, 8 BB, 36 K at home; 1-0, 2.04, 17.2 IP, 12 H, 4 BB, 10 K on
the road) are very similar. Neither can be explained away by their
park. Beyond that they ranked where they did as much because of their
stuff as their results, especially in Montgomery's case, as he has
Avery (Walnut Creek): Where would Cortes and Gutierrez have ranked if they had not been wasted... I mean traded mid-season?
Both would have dropped out of the Top
10. With Cortes there seem to be times the light bulb goes on and
others where it drops off. With Gutierrez the multiple run-ins with the
law are a clear concern, although the arm is still pretty special. I'd
say they would have been in the 10-15 range with Gutierrez ranking
higher than Cortes.
Howard (New York, NY): Any thoughts regarding the young Cuban prospect that was signed late, last summer by K.C. - Cheslor Cuthbert 3B?
Cuthbert actually is from Nicaragua. He
made the top 30 as he's one of the better Latin hitting prospects the
Royals have signed in years. He's got a pretty advanced body with some
power in the bat and goos bat speed.
Alan (NJ): Can you update Kelvin Herrera's status - he got a good write-up last year then looks like he must have been injured.
Herrera threw exactly one start in 2009
before being shut down with an elbow strain. The good news is that he
didn't need surgery. The bad news is that it cost him the entire
season. He should be ready to go for spring training and is maybe the
best sleeper in the Royals system. If healthy he has the stuff to be a
top 10 prospect next season.
Scott (Boston): Your 7, 8, 9 guys are all lefties. Who gets to the majors first and who has highest upside?
Duffy gets to the big leagues first.
Dwyer has the highest upside, but I think Lamb ends up being the best
of the three, which is why he ranks seventh.
Don (Rosemont, IL): How about Johnny Giovatella? How does he compare with Jeff Bianchi?
Bianchi has a much better glove than
Giavotella. Bianchi's question is whether he's a big league shortstop,
and there are a number of scouts who think he can handle the position.
Giavotella has to improve to prove he can play second base in the
majors. If he can't play second base, his bat isn't likely good enough
to handle a move to the outfield.
Brad (MO): Any info on the Royals first South Korean prospect Shin Jin-ho?
He's a very long ways away but he's got a
short swing with some present power and plenty of arm strength. It's
hard to even really project him right now because so few people outside
the organization have seen him that there's not a lot of good info out
there that can be checked against secondary sources. The Royals are
pretty excited about him.
Frank (Weston, MA): Not based on their
"baseline" projection but their potential upside, who of all these
Royals pitching prospects have a ceiling as a No. 1 or 2 starter?
To be a true No. 1 starter means having
two plus pitches with an average third pitch, plus-plus command and
plus makeup. Putting all that together, the ones who have a chance are
Montgomery (plus fastball, plus cball, potentially plus change), Crow
(plus fastball and slider, avg change) and Lamb (although that requires
a lot of projection). Now that's the guys who have a chance, but do
remember that for every five guys who have No. 1 starter potential,
it's lucky if one of them fulfills that projection.
Brad (MO): Did any scouts think Derrick Robinson's little power surge could eventually lead to some power and how bad is his hit tool?
Outside the organization it's hard to
find many believers. After all, scouts have seen Robinson struggle for
years and aren't enamored with his swing. But the Royals have always
been believers in Robinson, so understandably, they are very encouraged
by his late-season surge. At this point the safe bet is to remain a
skeptic until Robinson proves it over a longer time-frame. In June, I
didn't think I'd be ranking Robinson at all this year, but that
late-season surge does give some hope that he still has some chance of
becoming a big leaguer.
Ken (Arizona): What are your thoughts on
Jarrod Dyson? He reminds me of a Kenny Lofton type player with his
speed and the way he tracks down balls. Do you think he could be a 4th
OF who can steal some bases?
The Royals clearly believe in Dyson as
they put him on the 40-man roster and he has great speed to go with a
great glove. But I see a lot of reasons to be skeptical. It's hard to
see a Kenny Lofton comp—Lofton was stealing 66 bases in the big
leagues as a 25-year-old while Dyson was just making it to Double-A.
Dyson did show improved power this year to hit the ball over the heads
of infielder and into gaps, but he is still completely helpless against
lefthanders. This may be the most amazing stat I came across this year,
In 208 career pro at-bats against lefthanders, Dyson has one extra base
hit—a double in the AZL in 2006. Now he's never going to be a power
threat, but it's hard to see how Dyson can face big league lefties down
the road if he's not capable of getting the ball out of the infield
against them, even with his great speed—the Royals found that out with
Joey Gathright. Add in the fact that he's just reached Double-A as a
25-year old and there are plenty of reasons to be skeptical. He could
be a pinch-runner type, but he has a long ways to still go offensively
to earn a spot on a big league roster.
alan (NJ): Can you update us on one of last year's sleepers Keaton Hayenga? Thanks
Hayenga had a solid first year back from
a shoulder injury that cost him two seasons of work. His stuff was
mostly back, although the Royals hope it's back more consistently in
2010—last year it varied from start to start. He's got a lot of
projection as a pitcher with projection to have a 55 curveball to go
with a 55 fastball, but he's still working to get back to 100 percent
of what he had in high school.
Brad (MO): When will Matt Mitchell pitch again?
He threw off the mound this fall and will be ready to go for spring training by all accounts.
Koz (Ontario): What is your opinion on the future of Kila Ka'aihue? I certainly think he should be given a fair shake...
The decision to leave Ka'aihue in
Triple-A while Jacobs struggled in the big leagues is one of the more
puzzling decisions of the Royals 2009 season. Clearly the Royals don't
believe Ka'aihue has a lot of upside and they worry about his bat
speed, but he does get on base, and it's hard to say he couldn't have
equalled Jacobs .228-.297-.401 line at a much cheaper price. At this
point it's hard to see how Ka'aihue will end up as a regular in Kansas
City, but he is still waiting in Triple-A hoping he's not ending up on
the Justin Huber career track.
Avery (Walnut Creek): How do Cuthbert and Espinal project? Are there any other Latin players I should keep my eye on?
I talked about Cuthbert before. Espinall
still has plenty of potential but there are questions about whether he
can play shortstop in the big leagues and he needs to improve his plate
discipline.If you're looking for deep sleepers Sugar Ray Marimon and
Santiago Garrido are a pair of Latin pitchers who are very unpolished
but have big arms that could develop.
I better wrap this up but thanks for all
the questions. John Manuel will be back with the Twins chat on
Wednesday so get your Nick Blackburn-comps ready.