The Royals are all in. For the first time in years, the rebuilding process that has been the Kansas City Royals organization may finally be coming to fruition. With the addition of youth onto the 25 man roster this past summer the Royals, and their fans, were finally getting to view the youth that only few had seen before but everyone had heard about.
First off, a late addition to the 2011 roster was the catching prospect, Salvador Perez. Little was known about the ability of this young battery player. As soon as he came up, everyone knew what this guy was all about. His defense is his specialty, which manager Ned Yost has been heard raving about over the past six months. Yost has compared him to Javy Lopez, whom he had a chance to watch grow up in Atlanta. Perez lit up the headlines, after making his debut in Tampa Bay showcasing his canon of an arm. The surprise of the season was the fact that this defensive catcher just kept hitting. His opposite field power was tremendous, which is not evident in most young players. He has the ability to hit to the opposite field, which as a bottom of the order guy is a plus because he needs to be able to move runners over and get on base for the hitters at the top of the order.
The youth invasion that is still up in the air is that of the starting rotation. Aaron Crow looks to be a pretty good prospect for a spot on the rotation out of Spring Training. This could bode well for a south paw dominated rotation. The problem that faces the Royals is who will take Crow’s place in the bullpen and also which of the young arms in the Minor League system will step up to the mound and be able to fill the open fifth position that it seems the Royals will have. Pitchers like Mike Montgomery, Chris Dwyer, John Lamb, and Jake Odorizzi all will be applying for that spot which would not only make the roster younger but also more inexperienced.
The strength of the Royals progress in 2012 will be on the shoulders of five players in total. Alex Gordon, Jeff Franceour, and Billy Butler will have to continue provide the veteran leadership that is needed for such a young ball club. Coming off of a career year, Gordon will have to continue to prove himself to fans who may say he was just a flash in the pan, but with the position change, the pressure was taken off his shoulders. Butler has to increase his power out of the ballpark or his trade rumors may not be rumors for long. Franceour must be able to be consistent in 2012 being, most likely, the most experienced player in the field.
The cornerstone of this ball club will be the the players on each side of the diamond. The sophomore slump may become just cliche with first baseman Eric Hosmer and third baseman Mike Moustakas. While proving that he has everything needed to play at the level needed for an everyday first baseman, Hosmer must keep playing to the level he is projected to for the Royals to have success. Moustakas has a different curse to conquer. Kansas City is still looking for that third baseman to fill the shoes of Hall of Famer George Brett. Everyone already saw what that pressure did to Gordon as he has been moved to an outfield position. Moustakas could one day be that player to fill those big shoes. He must keep his head on his shoulder and not get ahead of the grueling developmental period that all players must go through in Major League Baseball.
The 2012 season is just on the horizon, but it is still yet to be seen if the sun will shine over the Truman Sports Complex this coming summer or if the overcast of that last 20 years will continue to blanket brightness form shining through.