The Royals’ roster additions this offseason have led them to an interesting place with a potentially interesting Omaha pitching staff as they suddenly have a flood of fringe options at the upper levels. Should the Royals decide to keep both Rule 5 picks, Burch Smith and Brad Keller, on the 25 man roster along with Nate Karns being ready or nearly ready for the opening day spot, then the roster in Omaha will feature multiple pitchers refining their stuff while knocking on the major league door.
The Prospects (7) – Kyle Zimmer, Miguel Almonte, Josh Staumont, Eric Skoglund (LHP), Foster Griffin (LHP), Trevor Oaks and Andres Machado
Generally, the big name prospects get priority and one would think if these pitchers show that they’re healthy and pitch well in spring training, they will be part of the Omaha pitching staff. On a loaded Triple-A squad, Skoglund and Oaks are nearly 100% to earn starting rotation spots with the latter perhaps having a neck up on a 25-man Royals spot should Nate Karns need to be held back early in the season.
The Lock – Skoglund and Oaks both are virtual locks to be in Omaha without a trade that would free up spots for them in Kansas City.
Wild Card – With his sutures out, is Zimmer finally ready to make that next step to being ready to contribute at the major league level?
The Vets (7) – Sam Gaviglio, Jon Dziedzic (LHP), Seth Maness, Pedro Fernandez, Sam Selman, Eric Stout (LHP), and Mike Broadway
This group has pitched significant time at Triple-A last season or the year before and seem destined to return to Omaha if the roster lays out as expected. As veterans of this level, one wouldn’t think they would start at any other level considering the majority of them are veterans and/or achieved success in Omaha or elsewhere.
The Lock – Like Skoglund, reliever Eric Stout is a virtual certainty to be on the Storm Chasers roster should he not catch a break and make the Royals roster.
Wild Card – Nine different pitchers on this list are on the Royals 40 man roster including Gaviglio and Stout in this grouping but no one
In the mix (7) – Kevin Lenik, Tim Hill (LHP), Jake Newberry, Emilio Ogando (LHP), Glenn Sparkman, Scott Barlow and Richard Lovelady (LHP)
The pitchers among this group are prospects that have either appeared in Omaha or done enough at Double-A to show that they are worthy of the bounce to Triple-A.
The Lock – Two relievers in this group posted a sub-1 WHIP last year while striking out more than a hitter per inning, but Lenik gets the slight edge here due to his age and the fact that most of his dominant performance came at Triple-A last season.
Wild Card – I have written about Sparkman in my Prospect Guide as a pitcher who could have a breakout year and shove his way to the major leagues. A four-pitch pitcher, Sparkman will be over two years removed from his surgery and while the feel for the changeup should be back the comfort of going back to a full starting repertoire should be there as opposed to the relief role that he worked last season. The reality is he made just 12 appearances last season, so getting the feel for all the pitches and being able to give a starter repertoire and rest wasn’t able to happen last season.
As you can see, the pitching staff in Omaha will be full of options which in turn will push some players onto the roster at NW Arkansas or into other organizations altogether. Below isn’t the most likely pitching staff for the Chasers, but what I believe would be the best staff for the squad and pitching development for the Royals.
Eric Skoglund (LHP)
Foster Griffin (LH)
Jon Dziedzic (LHP)
Richard Lovelady (LHP)
Eric Stout (LHP)
Kevin Lenik (Closer)
The Royals sent some of their young prospects over to the Dominican Republic this offseason to see the sites, visit the Royals Academy and experience the culture where some of their teammates come from. In addition, the young players went to Yordano Ventura’s graveside memorial. It was just another outstanding team building activity that Dayton and staff have created for his young team to create commonality between Latin players and the ones from the states. This can be valuable as not every team coming up will have players like Sal Perez or Eric Hosmer who are so eager to foster a bridge between teammates and cultures. No matter how the Royals are performing on the field, it should be remembered that GMDM and staff continually do the correct things off of it. Check out some of the videos here on the Royals Dominican Youtube channel.
The winter is grinding for major league free agents as we’ve almost reached February with many of the major products still on the board. While some have blamed Scott Boras and his methodical approach, that shouldn’t affect all the players. For example, the best value on the board in my eyes is Lorenzo Cain, non-Boras client, and his outstanding defense combined with this hitting ability. It’s mind-boggling to me that Dexter Fowler just last year got 5-82.5m from the Cardinals and teams aren’t falling all over themselves for Cain at a similar or reduced figure. Yes, there are age and injury issues, but they are the same ones Fowler brought to the table and he couldn’t play centerfield at nearly the ability that LoCain can. As more and more teams look to pass on free agency in an attempt to cut payroll, then there is major value adds to be had. Two players come to mind in Logan Morrison and Jarrod Dyson, both familiar with Kansas City they should be able to be added on or two-year deals. Even on a team that doesn’t look to making the playoffs, those types of players can show value, add butts in the seats and be traded for prospects later.
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Featured Photo Josh Staumont Wilmington Blue Rocks – Photo Jake Rose