Friday, April 23, 2004

Inhale....exhale. Jeremy's not broken.

J. Affeldt (0-1): 7IP, 2H, 2R, 0ER, 2BB, 4K

Yeah, it stinks that the Royals lost this game because the bullpen (read: Grimsley, who BTW was the worst reliever in the AL last year according to Baseball Prospectus inherited run stats) didn't hold up in the clutch and the offense didn't take advantage of 14 trips on base.

But the most important thing to come out of this game is that Jeremy Affeldt had an effective and a close-to-dominating start. He's still not throwing enough strikes (he's nibbling), but this was an important performance for a guy who didn't fool anyone in his first two starts. He's clearly the key to this season. He needs to emerge as the consistent #1 starter that the Royals have desparately lacked since Ape's first tour of duty all those years ago.

Now, taking recent Royals history into perspective, it is shocking how not one of their highly touted pitching prospects has ever amounted to anything for the Royals or any other team. "There is no such thing as a pitching prospect", but is it too much to ask for ONE LEGITIMATE BIG LEAGUE STARTER to come from our minor league system, either via the draft or via minor league trade? Affeldt, Gobble, and Greinke are promising, but so were Dan Reichert, Jim Pittsley, Chad Durbin, Glendon Rusch, and host of others who tantalized and teased, but never made it - anywhere.

Starting with Ape, lets trace our first round draft picks in the past several years:

Players Drafted in the First Round

1987 - Kevin Appier
1988 - Hugh Walker
1989 - Brent Mayne
1990 - none
1991 - Joe Vitiello
1992 - Jim Pittsley
1992 - Michael Tucker
1993 - Jeff Granger
1994 - Matt Smith
1995 - Juan Lebron
1996 - Dee Brown
1997 - Dan Reichert
1998 - Jeff Austin
1998 - Matt Burch
1999 - Kyle Snyder
1999 - Mike MacDougal
2000 - Mike Stodolka
2001 - Colt Griffin
2002 - Zach Greinke

These top draft picks have produced a grand total of two regular (but marginal) major leaguers, and not one pitcher. Baseball drafts are notoriously unreliable, but many, many great players come from the first round of th draft, and this just underscores the point - in the span of 15 years, shouldn't the Royals minor league system have produced ONE solid major league pitcher?

I'm just so desparate for a Royals pitcher - any pitcher - who can show any kind of long term consistency at all. I was in Boston a few years ago for a Royals game where Dan Reichert was just filthy - he gave up something like 2 hits in 8 innings. Boston fans were wondering about "that guy". But he could never deliver anything close that with any kind of consistency, so look where he is now - on the scrap heap with every other "promising" pitcher the Royals have brought to the bigs since Kevin Appier.

But Jeremy...the kid's all right for now.


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