Over the next few days, I’ll preview a different Royals Affiliate. We will cover everything except the Rookie League teams, who don’t start play until later on.
First up is the Royals AAA Affiliate the Omaha Storm Chasers.
Starting Pitchers: Will Smith, Nathan Adcock, Vin Mazzaro, Mike Montgomery, Ryan Verdugo
We’ve said plenty about Montgomery already in our 10 Prospects Every Royals Fan Should Know article, expect him up early in all likelihood. Adcock was a rule 5 draftee last year who hung around in the pen all year. The Royals want to see what he can do as a starter and figures to get a full year at AAA to prove he belongs in the Royals’ long term plans. Smith, Mazzaro and Verdugo were all acquired in trades over the past year or so and fall into the same catagory as Adcock. Of the trio, Smith probably has the best upside after going 13-9 over 27 starts at AA last year (plus he’s left handed, always a help). Smith is also just 22 years old while Mazarro and Verdugo are both 25. I wouldn’t expect to see Smith in KC at all in 2012 and maybe not even in 2013.
Relief Pitchers: Tommy Hottovy, Francisley Bueno, Brandon Sisk, Roman Colon, Ethan Hollingsworth, Louis Coleman, Jeremy Jeffress, Sean O’Sullivan
Well the prize of this group is easily Louis Coleman. Coleman struggled a bit in spring training and was surprisingly demoted back to AAA. This is on the heels of a very solid rookie campaign for the Royals last year (67 K in 59.2 IP and a 2.87 ERA). This probably speaks more to the amount of depth the Royals have in the pen and some looks the big league club wants to take at players who are out of options (Luis Mendoza for instance). Jeffress is still a frustrating prospect. Acquired in the Grienke trade, Jeffress can light it up, hitting triple digits on occasion. But that comes with a price, he is horribly wild at times. He started off last season in KC but found himself all the way in AA by the end of the season as the Royals toyed with moving him back to being a starter. He could easily put it together and be a legit reliever in the big leagues, or he may just continue to toil away, eventually getting himself in enough trouble that the Royals chop him loose.
Most of the rest of the bullpen are organizational depth at best. The two that may find their way to KC at some point would be Tommy Hottovy and Sean O’Sullivan. Personally, I hope O’Sullivan never finds his way back because he’s a terrible ML pitcher and a pretty mediocre AAA pitcher. Hottovy is intriguing because he’s a lefty with a new delivery and could take over the LOOGY role if Mijares/Teaford/Collins falters.
Catchers: Max Ramirez and Cody Clark
Everything that needs to be said about these two was done when the Royals traded a legitamate prospect (Kevin Chapman) for Humberto Quintero after Perez and Pina went down with knee injuries. If the Royals thought either of these guys were gonna help, they wouldn’t have made the trade. It’s a shame, because I still like Ramirez’s bat (but the Royals want to focus on defense there).
Infielders: Jamie Romak, Clint Robinson, Anthony Seratelli, Irving Falu, Tony Abreu, Kevin Kouzmanoff, Johnny Giavotella
Well the main story here is Johnny Giavotella’s surprise demotion. Apparently Chris Getz is a new man and so the Royals think that Giavotella can learn more at AAA. What is he supposed to learn? I guess defense, because players who sub-par on defense suddenly figure out how not to suck at fielding. It certainly can’t be his hitting (.338/.390/.481 at AAA last year). I expect Giavotella to hit well enough that the Royals come to the realization that the tradeoff in defense is worth having his bat in the lineup.
Kouzmanoff signed a minor league deal with the Royals in the offseason and is looking to get back to the big league club. Personally, I’d rather have him as a utility guy than Yuniesky Bentacourt. His glove is good and he has enough pop to make sense as a late inning pinch hitter for Getz or Escobar. But the Royals are paying Yuni too much money to cut their ties. So Kouz will hold down 3B in the minors for now.
Robinson is a legitimate hitter who will likely not ever see the field for the Royals thanks to Hosmer and Butler in front of him. A trade of Robinso would be the best for both sides, otherwise Robinson will just be a quintessential AAAA player. Might as well get something out of him, right?
The rest of the guys are organizational depth, although I’ve always wondered if Romak could stick around as a corner utility guy (think Chris Davis or Ty Wiggington).
Outfielders: Derrick Robinson, Jarrod Dyson, David Lough, Paulo Orlando (?)
Currently, only three outfielders are listed in Omaha, although I expect Orlando to join them eventually. When he does, the Royals could field the fastest outfield in all of baseball with Robinson, Dyson and Orlando. Robinson is a former heralded prospect who has petered out a little bit after a disppointing year at AA last year. Still, he’s only 24 and has a ton of speed having stolen 50 or more bases each of the last three years. Dyson, who might be the fastest player in all of baseball, could find his way back to KC if he hits. He’s got a solid glove and is downright scary on the basepaths (49 of 52 on SB attempts between AAA and MLB last year). Lough is an organizational guy the Royals eyes, but might get a look as a 4th outfielder on other teams. Orlando, wants to become the first Brazilian born player to appear in the major leagues.
Players with Major League Experience: Dyson, Kouzmanoff, Giavotella, Adcock, Mazarro, O’Sullivan, Coleman, Hottovy, Jeffress, Ramirez, Colon.
Most Likely Candidates to earn a ticket to The Show: Montgomery (even if he isn’t ready), Coleman, Kouzmanoff, Giavotella, Dyson, Hottovy.
Most Likely to breakout: Derrick Robinson
Possible trade bait: Clint Robinson, Kouzmanoff, Lough, Dyson