If you’ve been following the Royals at all recently, it shouldn’t surprise you to know that they have a really good farm system. It’s ranked the top system overall by every publication that follows the Minor Leagues. Staring down the barrel of what looks likely to be another rough season at the Major League level, many will shift their focus to the Minors early in the season. I thought I’d put together a small preview of who to keep an eye on in 2011.
I just got back from Surprise where I spent about 20 minutes watching the Major League team and somewhere around 20-30 hours watching the Minor League guys. I’ve laid eyes upon these guys , so my analysis is my own and it's supplemented with things I’ve heard first-hand. I’m not repeating things that I’ve read at other places. I think it’s important to form first-hand opinions on these guys when possible.
Salvador Perez (C) – He’s the hot pick to be the breakout player of 2011. He’s a catcher who gets rave reviews on his defense but can also handle the bat. I saw him hit two balls with bit time power in Spring Training. He’s going to likely start the season at AA Northwest Arkansas and he’s only 20 years old.
Wil Myers (OF) – He converted from catcher this offseason because he’s got a fantastic bat, he wasn’t a great catcher and the Royals have Sal Perez. He has plate discipline beyond his years and can drive the pitch that he eventually selects. I saw him take four walks this spring, which is rare in those games. He’ll also start at AA Northwest Arkansas.
Eric Hosmer (1B) – In my mind, he’s the best prospect in the Royals system. He is a well above average defensive first baseman and he has big time power. I posted a video of his homerun this Sunday on YouTube. He can also hit for average and likes to go opposite field when he can. He’s one of the best prospects in all of baseball. He’s likely going to start the season at AAA Omaha, and could be in a Royals uniform this September.
Mike Moustakas (3B) – He’s not as tall and athletic as Eric Hosmer is, but he has amazing bat speed. He can and will put the bat on the ball nearly anywhere in the strike zone. There are questions about his ability to stay at third base, but for now he’s holding his own. He’ll start at AAA Omaha, but will likely be in a Royals uniform sometime in June.
John Lamb (LHP) – Mike Montgomery (LHP) –Chris Dwyer (LHP) – Danny Duffy (LHP) – These four elite left-handed starting rotation candidates usually get lumped together and I’ll do the same here. Lamb has great control. Montgomery has a power fastball with a good changeup but has some injury concerns. Dwyer might be the most polished and most underrated. Duffy might be the best of the bunch. Any organization in baseball would love to have one of these guys, the Royals have an embarrassment of riches in that they have all four of them.
Jason Adam (RHP) – He was drafted out of high school in Overland Park, KS by the Royals in 2010. He’s been impressing people ever since. He was the buzz around Royals Spring Training and it’s well deserved. I watched him throw 94-96 and toss a curveball that he could command for strikes. At 19, that’s amazing. He’s the player I’d watch closest this season.
Other names to watch: Christian Colon (SS), Jake Odorizzi (RHP), Lorenzo Cain (CF), Cheslor Cuthbert (3B) and Johnny Giavotella (2B).
If you’d like to get a chance to see some of these players in person, then head to Kauffman Stadium on Saturday, April 2nd. The Royals are playing the Angels at 12:10 and following that game the Northwest Arkansas Naturals (AA) will play the Omaha Stormchasers (AAA) in an exhibition game. I've also posted some more detailed scouting reports from my trip at Royals Authority.
This collection of Minor League talent is unprecedented in recent Royals history and they will begin making their way to the Major League team this season. I’ve had plenty of opportunities to see these players in person and add me to the list of believers. The future is coming and it starts now.