KC Hopes Better Days Ahead For Fall Rising Stars

After a disappointing summer, the future for three top Royals’ prospects is perhaps looking a little brighter.

The Arizona Fall League hit its midway point last week, and its top prospects were invited to a Rising Stars game, which featured the likes of Bryce Harper and Mike Trout and the top pitchers selected in last June’s draft.

The prospect rich Royals sent three to the Rising Stars game who had fallen short of expectations last season. Great performances by the trio hopefully symbolize their development in the fall league and portend the stardom that was expected from each.

Outfielder Wil Myers, infielder Christian Colon and pitcher Jeremy Jeffress each played a key role in the AFL West’s dominant 11-2 win over the East, which boasted Harper, Trout and the number one pick in the 2011 draft, Gerrit Cole.

Wil Myers had a rough go of it in 2011, but showed in the Rising Stars game he belongs in the upper echelons of outfield prospects. Maybe he hasn’t earned the right to be mentioned with Trout and Harper just yet. But his 3-5 with two RBIs demonstrated his immense potential.

Most rankings of Royals prospects will place Myers in the top two or three for next season. That ranking will be based more on scouts’ opinions of his potential than his 2011 production. Myers battled an injury and never quite conquered the pitching at Double-A Northwest Arkansas. His .254 average, .393 slug and .745 OPS were less than awe-inspiring.

Myers is not going to return to Springdale, however. The subject of much trade banter in recent days, Myers may net the Royals some pitching help. If not, he’ll be moved up to Omaha, where he will most likely spend the entire season, since Alex Gordon and Jeff Francoeur won’t be going anywhere soon.

The West team turned in several good pitching performances, but perhaps none was better than the inning thrown by Jeffress. Jeffress struck out every batter he faced, including Harper.

If Myers’ 2011 season was one of fits and starts, Jeffress’ season went in reverse. Viewed initially as a component in the KC pen, Jeffress earned not one but two demotions before the year was over.

Considering his age (24 years old) and his experience (24 big league appearances), Jeffress’ performance in the All-Star game should come as no surprise. Many of the East squad’s hitters were 20 and 21 year olds – Harper just turned 19.

But wiT. Jeffress, talent is not the concern. Harnessing his stuff is the issue, and three strikeouts with no hits or walks is encouraging regardless of the competition.

Colon singled once in two at-bats. That’s an accomplishment for the thus-far light-hitting first round pick from 2010. But the story behind the story is that Colon played second base in the Rising Stars game. Primarily a shortstop in the Royals’ farm system, a shift to second may be imminent for Colon.

A good showing in some exhibition game against young, inexperienced competition is nothing to jump up and down about. But for three guys desperate for some good news, the Rising Stars game had to be refreshing.

Fans should take notice, with cautious optimism, of one great game for three more of the teams’ many prospects. The minor league cupboard needs to be replenished, and the Royals need for this trio to live up to their billing.

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