Sunday, March 04, 2007

First Spring Training Games

Breaking News: Mark Grudzielanek will undergo knee surgery on Monday. There is no timetable for his return, but it is certainly weakens the Royals' defense up the middle until he returns. German will likely become the regular second basemen until he returns. German had an outstanding season for the Royals last year, hitting .326/.422/.459. So, he may be an upgrade offensively over Grudzielanek.

Spring Training games are finally underway and we've gotten a look at some of the Royals' new acquistions.

Game 1: Brian Bannister started for the Royals, pitching very well. Bannister went 2 innings, allowing 0 runs and throwing just 17 pitches (14 strikes). Bannister could be a nice find for the Royals. At the very least, it'll be nice to have someone in the rotation who can throw strikes. Joakim Soria's pitched two scoreless innings. A very good start for the Royals' young pitchers. The other big story was Billy Butler, who hit a 2-run single to put the Royals ahead 6-4. The Royals lost 7-6.

Game 2: Meche pitched well in his Royals' debut, pitching 3 scoreless innings and allowing just 2 hits. Gobble ended up with the victory, even though he allowed 2 runs in 2 innings. Butler continues to hit extremely well. He's 4 for 7 with a double and 2 RBIs so far. Shealy went 1 for 3 with a homerun and 3 RBIs. Huber later took over at first, going 0 for 1. Gordon went 0 for 4, making him 0 for 6 so far.

Game 3: Teahen and Buck homered for the Royals. Huber continues to play 1B, but struggled at the plate going 0 for 3. Perez pitched horribly, going 1 1/3 innings and allowing 4 runs. Perez was worth a shot, but I hope the Royals don't keep him around too long if he doesn't pitch better.

"B" game: Hochevar pitched in Friday's "B" game, throwing 2 scoreless innings. Rosa also pitched a scoreless inning and Buddy Bell was impressed with his stuff.

Sunday's game so far: Luke Hudson had a pretty good start for the Royals, going 3 innings and allowing just 1 run. Zack Greinke has pitched a scoreless innings so far. Alex Gordon got his first hit of the season, the only hit through the fourth inning.

Positives so far: The young players are doing very well. Butler, Shealy, Teahen and Buck have provided most of the Royals' offense. The Royals' young offensive talent is finally starting to show, which should make this season more exciting to watch.

Negatives so far: Perez looks like the Perez from 2006. Also, losing Grudz for an extended period of time is a blow to our defense up the middle, which already has a giant hole at shortstop.

Minor League News: Jeff Bianchi is healthy again. He will likely head to extended spring training and move to Burlington. The Royals' article also says he's throwing from the shortstop position (maybe insinuating a move to short?). Erik Cordier, who had a brillant season until getting hurt, will not pitch until the fall instructional leagues. Cordier may have the most upside of any Royals' pitcher next to Hochevar.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

College Prospect Update: James Simmons

I watched the University of Oklahoma play UC Riverside this afternoon and got a first-hand look at RHP James Simmons. Several scouts were on hand (including a Royals' scout) to watch Simmons and Sooner starter Stephen Porlier (more on him in another post). Here's a brief bio of James Simmons:

Simmons is a junior at UC Riverside. He is a 6'4", 215 lbs right-handed pitcher. Last season, he led the team with a 2.96 ERA and led the team with 94 strikeouts in 109 1/3 innings. Simmons pitched in the Cape Cod League last summer and had a 1.18 ERA in 53 innings. Baseball America listed him as the eighth-best prospect in the Cape Cod League.

Projected Draft Position:
Simmons is currently listed on Baseball America's Top 100 collegiate prospects for the 2007 draft. currently has Simmons listed as the #59 prospect in the country, which would make him an early to mid second round. If he continues performing well, he probably won't be around when the Royals make their selection with the #65 overall pick in the 2nd round. But, he's worth keeping an eye on.

2007 Stats:

4-1 2.38 ERA 34 IP 38 SOs 8 BBs .185 BAA

Simmons is off to a good start for 2007. Simmons is a candidate for the Roger Clemens' Award for the top collegiate pitcher. Before Simmon's start today, he was 4-0 with a 0.62 ERA. However, he struggled against the Sooner offense, allowing 9 hits on 7 runs in 5 innings.

Scouting Report: Simmons strongest asset is his control, which was fairly absent today. In addition to his two walks, Simmons hit two batters today. So, his performance today probably isn't the best for evaluating him. Simmons displayed an average (cut) fastball sitting at 89-90 mph. His second main pitch was his changeup, which wasn't very effective in keeping the Sooner hitters off-balance.

Simmons has a very high leg kick (see photo at start of post), but does a very good job of maintaining balance over his right leg during his delivery. He has a very clean, repeatable delivery overall and fields his position well.

Here's a short video clip of Simmons: Simmons Video

Summary: Simmons has pretty average stuff, but has plus command of his repertoire. He has a projectable frame at 6'4", 215 lbs, so he may end up throwing harder than 90 mph. If he's available when the Royals make their second-round selection, he would be a good pickup.

Coming up: Wichita State Prospects

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Coming Soon!

I will have an in-depth look at 3 of Baseball America's top 100 college draft prospects. This will be the beginning of draft coverage from the Daily Lancer featuring college player previews with photos and maybe some videos.