Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Minor League Chat

meteorologistdave: The Royals seem to have set the main positions in the roster for 2007. The Royals could still use another veteran starter or reliever to add some depth. But, for the most part, the 2007 Royals are ready to go. And of course, if someone will take Angel Berroa, then by all means take him!

garoyal23: What I'd like to see the Royals do between now and Opening Day is to trade from our position of strength (outfielders) to land some more pitching depth. It doesn't matter to me if that depth is at the major league level or a legit minor leaguer. We just need depth. Like you say, Angel Berroa is a huge question mark. His numbers have been declining every year, but his defense seems to be improving. I'm comfortable giving him another year to see what happens with him. If he declines for the 4th straight year, then cut your losses. However, if he manages a .270 average with an OPS of around .670 to .700, then that will satisfy me. That being said, I'd like to see Moore sign a veteran middle infielder that could possible slide into the SS role if Berroa fails. Someone to push him.

meteorologistdave: Using their outfield depth to acquire more pitching or a shortstop would be a welcome move. Speaking of the Royals' tremendous depth at the corners, let's get started with Alex Gordon. If you put Gordon in the lineup now, he's probably going to be the best hitter in the lineup, even as a rookie. However, that could be detrimental to his development. I think he could use at least a couple months at AAA before he becomes the Royals' everyday third basemen.

garoyal23: I haven't seen anything that makes me think that Gordon will be a liability at third base defensively. I am leaning toward having him start in out in KC in 2007. That makes the lineup stronger instantly. I'm not sure where he'd start out in the lineup (I'm guessing 6th), but he'd definitely make the lineup stronger. Teahen was rushed to the majors, in large part to Chris Truby's spring training injury, and he struggled in his first full season. I really don't see that going on with Gordon. He put up fantastic numbers last year in AA. He's more of a hitter than Teahen at AA. If he starts in KC, he'd do fine with the bat and fine with the glove.

meteorologistdave: I think Gordon is talented enough to do very well in the majors right away, I just think it would be beneficial to give him a little more experience. Gordon's draft counterpart Ryan Zimmerman has already logged 672 ABs, so I'm guessing Gordon is probably ready. I just tend to be cautious, especially considering how important his development is to the future of the franchise. The next most likely prospect to make the team, Billy Butler?

garoyal23: In my mind, the thing that will keep Butler from making the team will be his defense. He was drafted as a 3B. He was then moved to 1B. Then moved to the OF. From what I've seen, he isn't doing all that badly defensively, but he would surely benefit from spending 2007 (or the greater part of it) in AAA working on his defense. I think the Omaha OF will be Lubanski in left, Maier in center and Butler in right. Huber will get the majority of his ABs (if he's not traded) from the DH spot in the order, but he's likely to play the field as well, so he's not viewed as one dimensional when Moore is shopping him.

meteorologistdave: That's pretty much what I was thinking when I asked the question. This season will tell us a lot about the future positions of Butler and Huber. My guess is that one of the two will become the Royals' left fielder (probably Butler) and the other will see time at DH. Of course, then there's talk about Huber moving back to catcher. So, his future is really up in the air. Butler is young enough I think he can become a passable left fielder. So, with Butler/Huber in left field and Teahen in right, how does that bode for the future of Lubanski, Maier, Costa, and the Royals' other outfield prospects?

garoyal23: DeJesus is under contract through the 2010 season (there's a team option for 2011), so he's going to be a fixture in center field for a long time. Well past the time that the Royals will have to make a decision on the futures of those you mentioned. I've seen that Maier has drawn some interest from other clubs and could eventually be traded. I'm sure that Costa is one that other teams would be interested in as well. I'd like to keep Lubanski in the organization, though. He is a young kid and has reached the AAA level. Both Lubanski and Maier were drafted in '03, so they could stay in the Royals minor leagues through the 2008 season. At that time, Lubanski would be only 23 and Maier would be 26. Shane Costa (also drafted in 2003) would be turning 27 after the 2008 season.

meteorologistdave: Lubanski would be a good prospsect to keep around considering his upside. He's just a year older than Butler and he's held his own offensively over the past two seasons. Maier could also be useful as a fourth outfielder with his versatility (he can play all the outfield positions). The outfield situation looks pretty good and the Royals have plenty of options and time to make these decisions with Sanders and probably Brown in the outfield this season. The Royals seem set everywhere except the middle infield positions. German's defense will have to improve before he becomes an everyday second basemen. Are there any middle infield prospects who seem like they could be the second basemen or shortstop of the future? Outside of Jeff Bianchi, who can't get out of rookie ball, I can't think of any who stand out.

garoyal23: I can't either. There's Sanchez and Blanco in the upper minors. Sanchez has the glove for SS (Blanco, too, for that matter) but I don't think either will put up the offensive numbers that you like to see out of your SS. Sanchez is going to need a full season at AAA and then we'll have to see what happens after that. We are set at 2B this season with Grudzielanek and probably 2008, as he has a player option for '08 ($4.0 to $4.5 million). I've read that Bianchi profiles out better as a 2B, rather than SS (I guess it has to do with his range). So, the way it looks, we've got no one to look to as our SS of the future. We used to think we were set at 2B for the future with Gotay and Murphy in the system, but they are both gone and all we got was Jeff Keppinger (who was recently DFA'd).

meteorologistdave: The middle infield looks pretty bare, so it'll be interesting to see what Moore can do to fix that. Next time we'll discuss the Royals' pitching and catching prospects. I guess that will mainly be a discussion about the Royals’ pitching prospects since there aren’t really any catching prospects to discuss.


At 11:50 PM, Anonymous skillset said...

The Royals outfield depth is outstanding at the upper levels. The majors should have Brown, DeJesus, Teahen and Gathright. Omaha will have Butler-Maier-Costa with Huber as a part-timer and DH; then that leaves Lubanski repeating AA to start the year and all this relies on the Royals moving either Sanders or Brown off the major league roster.

Having said that the Royals still control Lubanski for four years before they have to have him in the majors or waive him, so he should be kept around since he has the highest potential of all the guys outside of Butler. I look for Costa and either Huber or Gathright to get traded sometime in the next two years to help clear out the numbers and fill in other spots.

At 6:26 PM, Anonymous philcat said...

I see some catching prospects in Matt Tupman and Kiel Thibault, they both did well last season. What do you think of them?

At 10:10 AM, Blogger SoonerRoyal said...

Skillset, the Royals are in very good shape in the outfield. I would like to keep Lubanski around, but he might be our best bargaining chip if we want to go after a good shortstop or pitcher.

Philcat, Tupman and Thibault project as backup catchers at the moment. Tupman has shown very good plate discipline, but doesn't have the hitting ability needed to play everyday. Thibault struggled except for his time at High Desert, so it's hard to gauge how well he did last season. It'll be nice to have the High A affiliate back in Wilmington so we can evaluate the Royals' prospects easier.


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