It will undoubtedly be the number one mission of Dayton Moore to improve the pitching for his Kansas City Royals in the off-season. While history shows that inking a true #1 starter is probably out of Moore’s reach, there has been some hope amongst fans that a steady #2 could be coming along with help from the minors. Today we’ll take a look at the top pitching prospects, and how they’re performing in the minors.
Jake Odorizzi (12-4, 3.22 ERA, 118 K, 41 BB) Easily the best hope for Royals fans hoping to find a young pitcher that can help this club in 2013. Odorizzi has put up acceptable numbers in AAA, especially for a 22 year-old, but he’s averaging less than six innings per start in Omaha and his WHIP has increased dramatically since his promotion while his strikeout numbers have plummeted.
Mike Montgomery (5-9, 5.64 ERA, 91 K, 57 BB) Montgomery has taken the opposite route as Odorizzi this year, putting up a 5.69 ERA in Omaha before getting demoted this summer. Once thought to be a possible ace in the Royals’ future, the 23 year-old is now looking like he may be a long shot to ever turn into even a decent starter. The results haven’t been much more promising since his demotion as he still sports an ERA over 5 and his k/9 inning rate has actually dropped to 6.0.
J.C. Sulbaran (7-7, 3.98 ERA, 113 K, 57BB) This 22 year-old righthander was a part of the Jonathan Broxton trade. He has electric stuff, striking out more than a batter an inning at every level so far, but far too many walks still. In his first start in Northwest Arkansas he walked three and gave up three hits in just four innings, but only allowed one run to score.
John Lamb– It’s still questionable whether he will actually get into game action in 2012. Lamb is fully recovered from Tommy John surgery, but battled tendinitis in his foot just before he was ready to return in July. He’s still just 22 years old but he has a long ways to go before he’ll be considered ready for the majors.
Chris Dwyer (7-11, 5.83 ERA, 94 K, 58 BB) Like many other pitchers in the Royals system Dwyer has lost both the ability to throw strikes and strike people out. His five starts in Omaha have been Jonathan Sanchez-like and at 24 years old it’ll be hard to consider him a prospect much longer.
Yordano Ventura (3-7, 3.78 ERA, 115 K, 38 BB) After his appearance in the Futures Game Ventura was promoted to AA and has seen mixed results. He just turned 21 years old, so a couple of bumps at this level are to be expected, but if he struggles for an extended period many think the Royals may try to turn him into a reliever. His stuff is outstanding but he’s much more likely to help in late 2014 or Opening Day 2015.
Noel Arguelles (3-12, 7.17 ERA, 41 K, 55 BB) A lot of time stats do not tell the full story, I’m not sure these need any explanation.
Jason Adam (3-11, 3.94 ERA, 99 K, 30 BB) A local kid that has been very solid in high-A ball. He just turned 21, and should get his shot in AA next season, but he probably doesn’t profile as anything more than a back-end of the rotation starter at this point.
Kyle Zimmer (1-2, 4.05 ERA, 26 K, 5 BB) The Royals 2012 first round pick started in rookie ball and was absolutely dominant in his three starts there. Since his promotion to Kane County it’s been a little different story, but it’s encouraging for him to be this far along nonetheless. A strong finish could put him in line for a trip to Wilmington in 2013.
With the exception of Odorizzi it is hard to find anyone that might help this club in 2012. What’s perhaps more discouraging is that it’s easy to wonder if Montgomery, Lamb, Dwyer, or Arguelles will ever reach Kauffman Stadium. As the big league team has put up catastrophe after catastrophe, we as fans have held on to the talent in the minors for hope. Now, six years into the process, these are our top nine starting pitching prospects; a hodgepodge collection of Tommy John surgeries, lost command and unfulfilled promise.