Friday, November 10, 2006

The "Right" Stuff

This entry will focus on the right handed starters that the Royals have throughout the system. About the only one worth mentioning from the ORoyals is right hander Danny Tamayo. Fellow 2001 draftee Angel Sanchez beat Tamayo to the majors with his 2006 September call up. The only other guy from the 2001 draft that could eventually get to KC is Devon Lowery, who had regained his stock a little of late. Tamayo saw limited action in 2006. I don't know this for sure, but I'd guess he was set back by injury. He was 3-2 with an ERA of 4.21 in 7 games (3 starts) for Omaha. Again, barely worth mentioning at all.

The only right handed starter worth mentioning from the Wranglers (since Zach Greinke isn't really a "prospect" anymore since losing his rookie status) is 23 year old Billy Buckner. Buckner appears to be a ground ball pitcher. He averaged 2.28 ground outs per fly out in '06, which undoubtedly led to his success while with the Mavericks. He began the season in High Desert and ended in Wichita where he made 13 starts for the Wranglers. In those 13 starts, he was 5-3, 4.64 in 75.2 innings. His opponents batting average was .265. He needs to cut down on his walks. He averaged 1.62 K/BB and sported a whip of 1.55 despite allowing about a hit per inning. In 2006, Buckner was averaging about 5 walks per 9 innings. He ended the season with two straight scoreless outings.

I thought there were a couple of guys worthy of note from the Mavericks in 2006, and one of them ended the season with an ERA of over 7.00 in 26 starts! Luis Cota is that guy. Cota is 21 years old and was signed by the Royals as a draft and follow out of the 2003 draft. He was signed just before the 2004 draft. On the whole, Cota was 5-11, 7.09 in 132.0 IP in '06. Blah! His opponents batting average was .290 and his whip was 1.64. He produces slightly more ground outs than fly outs at 1.09 ground outs per fly out. He allowed 19 dingers this season which translates to 1 about every 7 innings. This is a bit high. Usually 1 HR per 10 innings is considered acceptable. Of the 19 homers allowed, though, 12 were allowed at home. Here's where it really gets interesting. His HR/9 inning average was 1.67 at home and 0.94 on the road. His OPS against average at home was .940 vs. .797 on the road. His opponents were hitting .317 against him at home, but only .265 on the road. His H/9 average was much better on the road in 2006. So, the numbers look much better under the microscope and I look for this 21 year old right hander to put up some very strong numbers while in the Wichita rotation in 2007. The other Maverick worthy of mention is Kyle Crist. Crist is a 23 year old, 6'3" right hander that was a 34th round pick of the Royals in 2004. Crist has good velocity from what I've read (93-95 neighborhood) and has been a bit of a pleasant surprise for the Royals. Crist was 5-2, 4.15 in 15 starts for the Mavs. He's a ground ball pitcher, who produced twice as many ground ball outs than fly outs in '06. Of the 6 homers Kyle allowed this season, 5 of them were at home, but his overall numbers don't appear to be skewed very much like Cota's were.

The Bees had some very strong pitching in 2006 and they were led by the big three of Carlos Rosa (minor league pitcher of the year), Chris Nicoll and Matt Kniginyzky (Na-gin-skee, I think). 21 year old Carlos Rosa was 8-6, 2.53 in 24 starts with the Bees. His opponents hit only .239 against him. He keeps it in the park. He allowed a homer every 23 innings. He got 11.1 innings in HD to end 2006, and will likely begin 2007 in Wilmington. Rosa was obtained by the Royals as a non drafted free agent out of the Dominican in 2001. Rosa reached America as a 17 year old in 2002. He was the Royals 15th best prosepect a few years back before missing the majority of the '04 season due to injury. Chris Nicoll is a 23 year old 3rd rounder in the '05 draft. Nicoll turned in an excellent first full season as a pro. He was 4-9 (and a special thanks goes out to the Bees bats for that one) with an ERA of 2.82 in 23 starts. His last three starts of the season came in a High Desert uniform. His numbers for the Bees were very solid. His whip was 1.08, 7.05 H/9, opponents batting average against was a paltry .210. He should be in Wilmington in 2007 and should do very well in the pitcher friendly Carolina League. Kniginyzky is the oldest of the three at 24 years of age. He was acqired by the Royals as a 23rd rounder in the '05 draft. He was 9-5, 3.51 in 23 starts and his opponents hit only .255 against him. He allowed a homer every 8 innings although the ratio of ground ball outs to fly ball outs suggest that he's a slight ground ball pitcher. Erik Cordier is a legit prospect. He was drafted early in the 2004 draft, but has suffered some injury problems. 2007 will have him on the shelf after Tommy John surgery. As a 20 year old, Erik was 4-1 with an ERA of 2.91 in 10 combined starts for the Bees and Chukars. Luke Hochevar was the number 1 overall pick in the 2006 draft when the Royals passed up on Andrew Miller in favor of Luke, who had held out after being picked by the Dodgers in the 2005 draft. Hochevar was 0-1, 1.17 in 4 starts for the Bees. He held his opponents to a .148 batting average while striking out 16 in 15.1 innings and only walking 2. He is currently on the shelf resting his arm after experiencing some tenderness while pitching in the Arizona Fall League. He'll probably start 2007 in Wichita, and will probably be in KC some time during the season. Daniel Cortes was acquired by Dayton Moore from the White Sox in the Mike MacDougal trade last year. Cortes will not turn 20 until March. Before the trade, Cortes was 3-9 with a 4.01 ERA in 107.2 innings for Kannapolis of the SAL. After the trade, he was 1-2, 6.69 for the Bees in the Midwest League (both are A ball). Combined, he was 4-11, 4.67 in 26 starts. His opponents batting average was .266 , his K:BB ratio was 2.29, and his K rate was 7.95 K's per 9 innings. His whip was 1.43 on the season. He's a young kid, and hopefully he was just adjusting to getting traded and such. I'd expect him to be in Wilmington in 2007.

The Chukars had some very solid right handed starters this past season. Blake Wood was a surprise 3rd round pick of the Royals in the 2006 draft out of Georgia Tech. He did put up a very solid debut in professional ball. He was 3-1, 4.50 in 52 innings. He struck out three times as many as he walked and his whip was 1.25. On the road, he was 2-1, 4.08 with a whip of 1.05. His K rate was better on the road as well as his K/BB rate, which was 4.00. Look for him in Burlington to begin the '07 season. Harold Mozingo was considered a steal in the 6th round of this year's draft, but went on to post a 3-1 record with a 6.17 ERA for the Chukars. This one, like Luis Cota, needed the microscope. His obaa at home was .361, but only .236 on the road. His home whip was 2.01, while his road whip was 1.19. The difference in OPS was staggering. He allowed an OPS of 1.051 at home, but only .657 on the road. He walked far fewer on the road and gave up half as many homers on the road. He'll be in the pitcher friendly Midwest League in 2007, so look for him to put up some great numbers. Jason Godin only pitched in 6 games for the Chukars and started 4 of them. However, I don't think his future with the club is as a starter. He was 0-1, 2.49 in his 6 games this year. As a starter, he was 0-1, 2.93 in 15.1 innings. He was a 5th rounder in '06. Josh Cribb struggled mightily in his pro debut posting record of 2-6 with a 5.19 ERA. Perhaps he'll bounce back while in Burlington next year. Tyler Chambliss (11th rounder in '06) was 4-3, 4.20 in 12 games (6 starts) for the Chukars. He was 3-1, 3.41 as a starter with a whip of 1.10 and a .223 obaa. He allowed 1 HR in 29 innings as a starter.

In Arizona, Paul Raglione was 3-0, 3.11 ERA in 10 games (7 starts). He averaged 2.5 ground outs per fly out in '06. Paul will turn 20 in January. He struck out 48 batters in 46.1 innings of work. He had a K/BB raio of almost 5.00 (48 K's, 10 BB's), and he only allowed 1 HR. Henry Arias put up some good numbers for AZ. He was 4-5 with an ERA of 3.59. He allowed fewer hits than IP, and only allowed 1 HR in 57 innings.

If I was going to rank the right handed starters that have pitched above rookie ball, I'd probably do something like this:

1. Luke Hochevar (Wichita)
2. Carlos Rosa (Wilmington)
3. Luis Cota (Wichita)
4. Billy Buckner (Omaha)
5. Eric Cordier (out for '07)
6. Chris Nicoll (Wilmington)
7. Daniel Cortes (Burlington or Wilminton)
8. Matt Kniginysky (Wilmington)
9. Kyle Crist (Wilmington or Wichita)
10. Danny Tamayo (Omaha)


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