I’m not sure if he’s getting weirder or if I’m just appreciating it more, but Scott Boras time is just awesome. I’m sure it’s at least partially intentional, but some of the things he says absolutely crack me up. I’m not sure if Boras is good or bad for baseball, but his beginning of the offseason conversations with the media are absolutely good for something because I love them. Hey, anything to get through the offseason, right? And there’s only 139 days before Opening Day, 106 days until the first spring training game and around 96 or 97 days until pitchers and catchers report. So yeah.
- Prospect lists are starting to come out, and it’s not a surprise that the Royals sytem isn’t highly regarded yet, but the prospect people out there are starting to come around on how the system is developing nicely. A BP subscription is required for the top prospect list on the home site, but the prevailing opinion is that the system has some serious potential. It’s no surprise to see Seuly Matias at the top of these rankings after he was the Royals only top-100 prospect prior to last season and then went out and showed off that prodigious power. What is a surprise is that John Sickels had him ranked number 11 after this season when he was number nine last year. If a guy with the power and potential of Matias is ranked 11th, the system is in pretty darn good shape, I think. And not that you asked, but here’s my top ten…for now:
1. Khalil Lee
2. Nicky Lopez
3. Daniel Lynch
4. Seuly Matias
5. MJ Melendez
6. Jackson Kowar
7. Brady Singer
8. Nick Pratto
9. Yefri Del Rosario
10. Kyle Isbel
It should be noted that I’ve moved people around about 40 times here, which shows just how many interchangeable parts there are because the system lacks a true elite prospect. But there are some steady guys like Lopez, Isbel and Kowar in there and some potential star power like Matias, Lee and Melendez. It’s not there yet, but the system is definitely on the rise and will get the benefit of the number two pick in a few months.
- Yesterday, Clint talked about some minor league free agents who have ties to the Royals and a few they might want to look at. So I did some highly professional stat scouting and want to add a few guys to his list the Royals might have interest in as minor league free agents. Josh Martin has had some minor league success in Cleveland’s organization as a relief arm. He was a Padres Rule 5 pick prior to the 2017 season and didn’t stick, but he’s had success. He’d be worth a look. Johnny Barbato was horrible with the Tigers this year, but he was dominant in Toledo and carries a mid-90s fastball. Maybe he’d be horrible, but on a minor league deal, this 26-year old would be an interesting guy to look at to help shore up the bullpen. Tyler Higgins was in the independent league last year before the Mariners picked him up and he was fantastic for Tacoma down the stretch, throwing 35 innings in 28 games while striking out 38 and walking just nine. It’s not like there’s a ton of upside with any of these guys, but that’s why they’re minor league free agents. They’re certainly worth shots. And if you like the guys who have been there, done that, Jose Ramirez and Jake Petricka are out there and Zach Lee, a former top prospect, can be had as well. There are certainly some options for the Royals to sift through. Hopefully, they can find the next Ryan Madson and not the next Justin Grimm.
- The first group of projections is out as Steamer has been released, and there are some interesting ones for the Royals. I have a feeling most fans aren’t going to be pleased with projections for guys like Adalberto Mondesi and Ryan O’Hearn after their fantastic finish to the season. The issue for both is that they have a limited track record prior to this year and what they do have to look back on is unimpressive. Mondesi’s projection is to hit .252/.291/.434, which is actually pretty good considering what he did prior to 2018. O’Hearn’s is at .234/.309/.420, which is also pretty good considering his limited upper level minor league success prior to his callup. Some other notable projections are Whit Merrifield (.274/.329/.405, I’ll take the over on all that) and Jorge Soler (.243/.335/.437, yeah, that’s probably about right). The SLG leader is Salvador Perez at .451. Soler’s .335 OBP paces the offense. And 2.9 WAR is projected for both Perez and Mondesi. On the pitching side, it’s not pretty, but really why would it be? It’s based on past results, comparable players and aging patterns, so it’s no surprise that the projections are poor. Tim Hill and Richard Lovelady are the only two Royals projected for a sub-4.00 ERA and the next two projected are Jesse Hahn and Reid Redman, so yeah, there’s that.
- The AL Central is such a disaster. You’ve got the Tigers in the beginning stages of a lengthy rebuild. The Royals are right there with them. Both teams could pop up quicker with some surprises, but neither team is likely to be good until 2021 at the earliest. You’ve got the White Sox, who seem to have quite a bit of talent but are missing enough that they’re still no good. They might spend this year, or at least try to, but they’re not there yet. Then you’ve got the Twins, who are kind of in no-man’s land. They have some talent, though the building blocks they thought they had in Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano had such bad 2018 seasons that they have no idea if they really are building blocks. And then there’s the Indians with a stranglehold on the division, a Cy Young candidate, another pitcher on the fringe and a couple other really good starters to go along with two of the top 15 players in baseball in their infield and they’re talking about trading players to start reloading. The Indians will probably win 90 games even if they do deal Corey Kluber, but come on. I understand the economics of baseball and all that, but go for the damn kill here. The Red Sox, Yankees and Astros are all top top tier right now, but the Indians can go toe to toe with them and win a World Series. To even suggest they might tear it down now seems shortsighted and silly to me and annoys me way more than it should. I don’t really have a point here other than that, but I had to get it off my chest.