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Here Comes Duffy

The Kansas City Royals were poised to make it “Our Time” in 2012 before star pitcher Danny Duffy found his way to Tommy John surgery.  The 2013 Royals, who are now four games back of both the division and the wild card, have suddenly taken on a successful feel.  Danny Duffy is set to return.

Photo Courtesy of Minda Haas

Photo Courtesy of Minda Haas

May 13, 2012 would be the most recent time that Danny Duffy, once believed to be the future ace of the ballclub, would take the mound as a Kansas City Royal.  Not long after that, it was determined that Duffy would require “Tommy John” surgery and his season plus most of the next one, would be lost.

Duffy would begin the long process of recovery.  Physical therapy would lead to soft tossing a ball.  Eventually, playing catch on level ground and long toss would assist the young lefty in building up the strength that he needed to get back on the mound.  On May 26, 2013, just over a year since his last pitch, he would throw his first one in a AA rehab assignment with the Northwest Arkansas Naturals.  The initial outings were short but productive, seeing Duffy rack up 15 strikeouts in his first three appearances, spanning just 10 innings, while only walking four.  He would allow 12 hits but would limit his early opponents to five earned-runs.  He was on his way to AAA Omaha to continue his work with the Stormchasers.

Success was moderate but noticeable as he continued his walk back to the majors.  His second appearance in Omaha on June 10 would be his worst yet, yielding seven runs on seven hits and two walks without striking out a batter.  He would only last two-and-one-third of an inning and many started to wonder if he was rushing back.  His next start would only last three innings, allowing two runs on four hits and three walks, though he would strike out five this time around.  Concerns began to mount.

Concerns were laid to rest shortly thereafter as Duffy proved that those two outings would be the shortest of his season, never failing to reach five innings again through his next eight starts.  He would never walk more than three batters the rest of the season, strike out fewer than four hitters only one time, and never yield more than four runs, which he only did twice.  His season reached a pinnacle as he made one more rehab start at AA on July 17.  That day, Duffy would last five-and-one-third of an inning, striking out a season best 13 batters and walking only one.

Duffy would return to AAA to make two more starts, both impressive, and seemingly rounded out his minor league stint for 2013.

Duffy’s season thus far has given seen him surrender seven home runs, walk 27, strikeout 77, surrender 59 hits and allow opposing batters to hit .250 against him over 64 innings pitched.

Tomorrow, August 7, 2013 is opening day for Danny Duffy.  He will return to the mound at Kauffman Stadium for the first time in almost 15 months.  He will take the ball as the starter for the Royals in the middle of a playoff run and look to solidify the rotation.

Duffy is back.

Bill Ivie is the editor here at i70baseball.
You can talk baseball with him on Twitter or read more of his St. Louis Cardinals analysis on Yahoo!.

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On The Eve Of “42” Home Release, Racism Is Alive And Well

Editor’s note: What follows is commentary on world events and popular culture.  The content is not the typical baseball-related material we tend to promote at this website but I felt the thoughts, in relation to the release of a movie that centers around the subject, were worthy of sharing in this space.  Due to the sensitive nature of this post, we will not be allowing comments to be posted to it.  Feel free to reach out via Twitter of Facebook if you wish to respectfully discuss the issues contained within.

42-FP-0292

Photo courtesy of, and trademarked by, Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

Warner Bros. will release the movie “42” on home video in various aspects on Tuesday, July 16.  The movie, which follows Jackie Robinson throughout the early part of his ground-breaking career, is an excellent adaptation of the integration of baseball and racism in America during the same time frame.

Recent events seem to suggest that the world has not changed as much as one would hope.

George Zimmerman Found Not-Guilty
In one of the most public cases directly associated with racial profiling, George Zimmerman was found by a jury to have acted within his rights of self defense when he shot and killed Trayvon Martin.  The story and the facts seem to suggest that Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer, found Martin’s actions threatening and reacted in a manner that he believed was required.  However, Martin was unarmed and many believe was only guilty of being black, wearing a hooded sweatshirt with the hood pulled up, and being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Since the announcement of the verdict, many citizens have taken to protests in their own cities, expressing concern that justice was not served in the case.  The whole situation reminds many of the trials centered around the beating of Rodney King in the early 1990’s.  The nation has reacted peacefully in this instance, but they are still striving to have their voices heard.

There are many varying opinions as to why the jury reached their verdict.  Some believe the prosecution did not do their job while others feel the legal system is flawed to the point that it was the only logical decision.  How the decision ultimately effects the country and the culture we live it has yet to be seen.

Big Brother
The CBS television reality show “Big Brother” has put together a cast of contestants that have led to severely low ratings this season.  The show takes a number of contestants and sequesters them in a house for a period of time, having them live and compete with one another in challenges that ultimately leads to a $500,000 prize.  The current cast has, however, seemingly created a focus group of life in America right now.  A few of the cast members have shown traits of bullying and extreme threatening behavior while one of the cast members in particular, Aaryn Gries, has been a source of racist comments, observations, and outbursts throughout the first eight episodes of the current season of the show.

The show reached a boiling point on that issue this week, as seen on the recent episode which aired on Sunday.  Candice, an African-American contestant who has been on the receiving end of multiple comments and outbursts, was physically removed from a room during a verbal altercation by another African-American contestant, Howard.  Speaking of the conversations that happened and his reaction, Howard had the following to say:

“It’s heartbreaking seeing any woman cry. When we share the same ethnic group, it takes on a different hurt for me because that’s my mom crying, that’s my sister crying, and all she wants to do is to stand up for what’s right. Unfortunately, we are not playing a game where you can do that.”

“It’s just reminding me of where I am from, it’s reminding me of what I heard, it’s reminding me of all the stuff we know goes on…we ain’t running from nothing, we just being smarter. It’s a game and we gonna play the game.”

That seems to bring forth the biggest concern about the entire situation, a suggestion that they are in a situation where they cannot stand up for themselves.  A situation where allowing others to continue to treat them poorly based solely on their race seems to be the only choice they have.

It should be noted that Aaryn apologized to Candice during the episode.  However, the apology seemingly came across with a tone of misinterpretation than it did as a sincere apology for racist remarks.  Aaryn has had her employment with a modeling agency in Texas terminated due to the situations brought about on the show, a termination that she is unaware of due to her involvement on the show and being sequestered from the “outside world”.

Jackie Robinson faced many of the same situations and was challenged to “turn the other cheek” in order to further a cause for an entire race of individuals.  It was a time when America had not fully come to terms with the integration of society, let alone baseball.  Jackie kept his mouth shut, his anger in check, and his emotions private in order to pave the way for many more people sharing his race to not have to do the same thing.  Jackie’s courage, along with the support of his wife Rachel, is well depicted in the film and I strongly recommend it.

In many ways, Jackie Robinson succeeded.

Some people seem to still be fighting the same fight despite his victories.

Bill Ivie is the editor here at i70baseball.
You can follow him on Twitter by 
clicking here.

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Early Patience Is Encouraging For Hosmer

The Kansas City Royals are poised to turn a corner in 2013.  Eric Hosmer and his return to form would be a big part of that.

Photo courtesy of Charles Sollars - copyright i70baseball

Photo courtesy of Charles Sollars – copyright i70baseball

In a dismal sophomore year for Eric Hosmer, there was an encouraging statistic that jumps out.  His power numbers took a big dip but he started to show patience at the plate and was able to increase his walks dramatically.  During his rookie campaign, Hosmer drew 34 walks and increased that number to 56 during the 2012 season.  Early on in Spring Training, he is showing good pitch selection once again.

It is hard to make much of Spring stats.  It is even harder to try to find something substantial about the stats this early.  The one thing that jumped out of the recent box scores to me was Hosmer drawing two walks and then drilling an RBI triple on Tuesday.

The two walks brings his Spring total to three, in eleven plate appearances.  His average is still low and, other than the triple, there are no extra base hits on his early record.  Still, he is driving in runs early, striking out less, and driving a higher on base percentage.  If he can translate that into his game come time for the regular season, the Royals and their fans will be very happy.

Hosmer’s power numbers will increase as his plate selection gets better.  Many fans are frustrated with the under performance from Hosmer last season and rightfully so.  The team is poised with a strong pitching staff to alter their makeup and show a willingness to win this season.  To get there, Hosmer will need to be a big part of it.

Patience will be the key to his season.

Bill Ivie is the editor here at I-70 Baseball
Follow him on Twitter here.

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Royals Trade Mazzaro and Robinson

Photo Courtesy of Minda Haas

KANSAS CITY, MO (November 28, 2012) — The Kansas City Royals announced today that the club has acquired minor league right-handed pitcher Luis Santos and left-hander Luis Rico from the Pittsburgh Pirates in exchange for right-handed pitcher Vin Mazzaro and first baseman Clint Robinson.  Santos and Rico have been assigned to the Surprise Royals.

The 21-year-old Santos pitched for both Dominican Pirates clubs last season, combining for a 6-3 record and a 2.44 ERA in 14 games, including 12 starts.  In 62.2 innings, he allowed 42 hits, walked 20 and struck out 74 while holding opponents to a .184 average.  The 6-foot Santos is from Bonao, Dominican Republic, and was signed by Pittsburgh as a non-drafted free agent on April 8, 2011.

Rico, who will turn 19 tomorrow, is a 6-foot-1, 180-pounder from Guanta, Venezuela.  He went 0-1 with a 7.04 ERA in 11 games (nine starts) in 2012 for the Dominican Pirates.  Rico made his debut in 2011 with the Venezuelan Pirates after signing with Pittsburgh as a non-drafted free agent on April 9, 2011.

Mazzaro, 26, and Robinson, 27, were designated for assignment by the Royals on November 20.

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Here they go again

The kings of irrelevant success are at it early in 2012. After putting together winning Septembers in three of the last four seasons, your 2012 Kansas City Royals have started the month of August at 10-6, perhaps starting their annual trek up the standings one month ahead of time. Still trailing their division leader by 13 games, this recent hot streak means little even if it’s continued at its current pace for the next 45 days, so what does matter as we head down the stretch? Here are five numbers that I think are far more important than how many games the Royals win in the next 6 weeks.

Photo Courtesy of Minda Haas

  1. Johnny Giavotella’s fielding percentage. Technically it may actually be more important what his defense looks like to Ned Yost. We all know the Royals aren’t the most interested team in advanced defensive metrics, so it definitely doesn’t matter what his UZR looks like. Regardless, second base is the one place the Royals could most significantly improve their offense in 2013(besides right field, and Jeff Francoeur is going nowhere), assuming Giavotella can prove to management that his glove will play.
  2. Jeremy Guthrie’s contract. Guthrie has clearly earned himself a two year deal from Dayton Moore at the minimum. There is nothing more that Moore loves than featuring a player that makes him look smart, and getting anything at all for Jonathan Sanchez looks brilliant. If it’s a two year deal for $14 million, I’m good with it…and it may signal the end of the Luke Hochevar era. If it’s a three year deal for $30 million and Guthrie is starting on Opening Day next year, I’ll be furious.
  3. Billy Butler’s home run total. Should this matter? Not really,  but it’s been a sore spot for fans for far too long and could be the only thing to drive fans to the park the couple of weeks of the season. Butler needs twelve home runs over his last 44 games to break the most embarrassing franchise record in baseball. He hit 11 in 44 games earlier in the year, so it’s certainly possible.
  4. Wil Myers’ games played. The only thing that would make any sense at all would be if the Royals bring Myers up in September and let him play nearly every day. If they don’t I’m really going to have some questions about their plans for him. The only reasonable explanation to me would be that they plan on trading him this winter and don’t want him exposed at the big league level.
  5. Alex Gordon’s batting average. I am shocked that Ned Yost chose to mess with Gordon’s place in the order yet again. Let me rephrase that, I would be shocked if a competent manager chose to jerk a player around as much as Yost has with Gordon. Gordon is clearly most comfortable in the lead off role. Yost is clearly uncomfortable with someone batting lead off with that high of an on base percentage.

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Moose tacos all around

Patience is truly a virtue.  For Kansas City Royals third basemen, Mike Moustakas, there is no statement more true.  Known as a notoriously slow starter, Moustakas seems to finally becoming the Major League baseball player that he looked to become while he was in the Minor League system. It just takes some getting used to before success comes around for Moustakas.

Photo Courtesy of Minda Haas

He struggled at the beginning of every level in his career including his start in his rookie year in 2011.  But just like the Moustakas of the past it seems that after getting used to playing at the level that is needed for success with the big club, he is beginning to come into his own.  All everyone had heard about was this Moose-something kid that was hitting the cover off of the ball at every level that he had been at but that he was not the greatest defensive third basemen in the world.  Well that, so far in 2012, has yet to be seen.  Moustakas continues to dazzle us all with his plays that he makes at third base.  Not only does he make the plays at third base but it also helps to have as sure-handed of a first basemen as the Royals do in Eric Hosmer.  Hosmer, whom Moustakas continues to give credit to after every question that is asked about his defense, is like a vacuum when it comes to making plays at first base.

Last season, Moustakas began to show that his bat would have a little bit of life in the big leagues.  After a horrible start to his career he had about as good of a month and a half as a rookie could have at the plate, but the speculation was still there.  Not anymore, Moustakas is currently hitting a very respectable .318 with 4 home runs and 15 RBIs, 3 of which came in Thursday night’s win against the New York Yankees.  In that game not only did Moustakas seem to put the team on his back at the plate but made a game winning play at the third base on a short ground ball of the bat of Alex Rodriguez.  The play was tremendous but it was a play earlier in that game that showed that Moustakas is becoming a Major League baseball player.  On a ground ball similar to that that resulted in the final out of the game, Moustakas charged at instead of making the play with his bare hand as he should have he went for it with his glove and could not get the ball into his mitt. Now of course for the last out of the game he would have a play that he could not make earlier in the game but he recognized that is was identical and adjusted his route to the ball making a bare handed play and strong throw to end the Royals home losing streak at 10.

Playing in the Major Leagues is all about the results.  But beyond that it is about not only the long term adjustments that have to be made but also the in game adjustments that may go unnoticed that matter.  The fact that he is a slow starter is not what people will begin to see, but the fact that he has made the adjustments necessary to lead a young Royals ball club to the success that everyone wants is what people will notice.  And again, patience is a virtue, and no one in Major League baseball knows that more right now than Mike Moustakas.  The “Moooooose” battle cry could be ringing through Kauffman Stadium for a long time coming.  A cheer that fans will never get tired of.

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Plenty Of Positives To Take From An Ugly Weekend For The Royals

Despite being swept by the Cleveland Indians while playing in front of their home crowd for the first time in 2012, the Kansas City Royals provided some reasons for optimism.

Photo Courtesy of Minda Haas

After what the box scores would tell fans was an absolutely miserable weekend for Royals fans at the K, the easy thing to do would be to point out all of the things that went wrong (which were many), all of the players that need to be sent packing (one already was, there may be few more), and all of the reasons Royals fans should be concerned for the rest of the season. But now is not the time to be dwelling on Jarrod Dyson’s defense, the Royals’ starting pitching, Mitch Maier’s relief pitching appearance, or the distance of Travis Hafner’s home run on Sunday. Sure, Luke Hochevar had a bad half inning. Though he wasn’t helped by his defense or an accidental check-swing bloop hit to right by Shelley Duncan, he needs to be able to limit the damage and pitch his way out of those situations without giving up 7 runs. Sure, after a decent first showing against the Los Angeles Angels, Jonathan Sanchez was erratic agains the Indians on Saturday, lost control of his pitch count, and couldn’t find the plate, unless it was being met by a Cleveland Indians’ player’s bat. Did fans really expect anything different? If Sanchez goes out and throws a 2-hitter with 11 K’s in his next outing, he will have, in 3 outings, perfectly exemplified both why the Royals wanted to acquire him and why he was available in the first place. That is who he is. Was anyone really surprised when, on Sunday, the imposter who had been running around in the Mendoza jersey revealed his true identity to be none other than Luis Mendoza himself? He of the 7.21 career ERA?

A message to Royals fans: let’s take a deep breath, back away from the ledge, and focus on the things that went well over the weekend, of which there were several:

1. The Royals did not quit in any of the 3 games. Some might consider putting Maier in as a relief pitcher on Sunday as a sign of quitting, but when the bullpen has been exhausted the way it was all weekend, and with no day off on Monday, that was about survival and living to fight another day. The Royals gave up 7 runs in the first game, and lost 8-3 with the final Indians’ run being scored on a Home Run in the 9th inning. Watching the game, you had the feeling they might have a big inning in them that could get them back in the game. They threatened several times, but couldn’t make it happen. Imagine what the final score would have been had the 2005 Royals gotten down 7-0 in the top of the first…ok, never mind. The next night, the Royals fought back from a 9-2 deficit to tie the game at 9-9, before losing 11-9 in extra innings. That speaks for itself. And on Sunday, even with the game getting out of hand, the Royals still managed to put up 7 runs.

2. Mike Moustakas appears to have grown up quickly. Despite ending the weekend with his batting average sitting at just .257, Moustakas is hitting the ball extremely hard, playing amazing defense, and does not seem to resemble the awestruck rookie he appeared to be much of last season.

3. Billy Butler is still Billy Butler. With 8 RBI’s in the first 9 games of the season, Butler is on a torrid run-producing pace. He appears poised for a true breakout season. It is hard to believe he is still only 25 years old (for 2 more days-Happy early birthday, Country Breakfast!). Butler is certainly the most underrated hitter on this team.

4. The Royals have something in Everett Teaford. What his role might be in the future will be determined, but the performance he put up in 4 innings of relief on Friday (1 Hit, 2 Walks, 3 SO, 0 Runs) was impressive.

5. Kelvin Herrera is flat out nasty. Though the radar gun at Kauffman is less than trustworthy, it had him clocked as high as 102 over the weekend. He gave up the home run on Friday night to the first batter he faced, but after that, he was un-hittable.

So settle down, Royals fans. This may not be the last weekend we see like this. There will be more bumps in the road. And though it may be time to hit the reset button on your expectations, just enjoy watching what is still the most exciting collection of young talent in all of baseball.

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Berkman and Freese injured early, don’t panic Cards fans

Less than two weeks into its championship-defending season and key St. Louis Cardinals are already suffering injuries. While that will likely raise Cardinals’ fans blood pressure, these injuries should not cause panic, yet.

Photo Courtesy of Erika Lynn

First baseman Lance Berkman suffered a calf strain while legging out a triple Tuesday in Cincinnati and has not played since. On the other side of the diamond, third baseman David Freese had an issue with one of his fingers during an at bat Friday against the Chicago Cubs and was a late scratch for Saturday’s game.

Long-term injuries to both of these players would be major blows to the Cardinals, but the team does have a good starting rotation and it does have players to fill gaps if bigger injuries crop up during the season.

Matt Carpenter has filled in for Berkman at first base while Berkman has been out this week. Carpenter is a good player, but he is not the answer at first base for the Cardinals. The best answer to fill Berkman’s spot might be Allen Craig.

Craig had a sensational postseason in 2011 and showed he could be a consistent offensive force while playing several positions throughout a season. Craig could certainly play first base, or third base for that matter, and the Cardinals would likely not see a dropoff at the plate or in the field.

The other Cardinals utility player who could fill a gap created by an injury is Daniel Descalso. Descalso is a very solid fielder and started the season for the Cardinals at second base ahead of Tyler Greene. Descalso also came up with several key hits for the Cardinals last season down the stretch and into the playoffs.

However, the key to all of that is to get Craig healthy. I’m not convinced Greene is the answer at second base or shortstop if Rafeal Furcal gets hurt. Many people have said Greene didn’t play well because of former manager Tony La Russa’s style. That’s a nice theory, but he is going to have to start showing consistent production to prove he’s not just a great college player at Georgia Tech who was drafted in the first round in 2005 but couldn’t produce in the major leagues.

The Cardinals do expect to get Craig and Skip Schumaker back early in the season, and that is the depth the team desperately needs with a lineup that includes four players age 32 or older.

La Russa was always great at getting maximum production from his bench players, and this isn’t to say new manager Mike Matheny won’t do the same. Still, Craig and Schumaker are much less of a dropoff from Berkman and Freese than Carpenter and Descalso and/or Greene.

This is a team that could be a strong World Series contender if its starting lineup and pitching staff stay healthy, but with an older team that if is even more pronounced than it has been for many recent Cardinals teams.

While early injuries are never good, fans can take solace that these are minor injuries and the Cardinals will have the depth to sustain some injuries to position players throughout the season. The pitching staff’s depth might be another story, especially with Chris Carpenter’s injury, but hopefully those questions don’t have to be asked and the staff remains healthy.

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The Deadly Sin Of Greed

Alex Gordon and his new contract have been the hot topic of the Kansas City Royals off season.  To pay or not to pay? But the Royals have to take into consideration that if they show they are willing to pay players now, the younger players, with future contract opportunities, will be shown the willingness of the Glass family to spend a little money.

Photo Courtesy of Minda Haas

Young talent can be both a blessing and a curse.  Yes the upside of young talent means that you will be able to have success at a reduced rate.  But, the other side of that is the fact that as the youth of your organization grow older they become arbitration eligible and ask for the big money. So will the Royals be willing to pay these younger generation of players in their organization?

Well, Alex Gordon for example, had a career defining year last year.  Which for his was great timing because not only was it his last chance to show fans that he is the player everyone thought he was but also his last chance for the Royals to keep him on the team.  The one thing that the Royals do not want to do now is lose Gordon.  But they may have to dip deep into their pockets to keep him.  Paying Gordon now will kill two birds with one stone. Not only will the Royals be able to lock up a solid leadoff hitter, who plays great defense, and also is a leader for this team. But they will also show the young guys that the checkbook is open and that they are willing to win.

The problem with the Royals of recent past, i.e. Glass family regime, is that they were all about making money.  While everyone on Earth would love to be able to make money in every venture they are involved in sometimes you have to take risks to get the bigger rewards.  The one thing that every Royals fan wants is to win.  The fact that the organization has been in the green amidst having a team that is a perennial loser should show how loyal this city is to their team.  Now if you make money by losing how could you not think that you will make more money with a winning team.  This city would go bonkers to have a winner at the Truman Sports Complex.  The stadium would be filled every night.  The merchandise flying off the shelves.  The money just rolling in. So making a little they have accomplished by spending a little.  But spending a lot will make them a lot more money in return.

If the Royals are willing to show the Hosmers and Moustakas’ of the world that they money will be their when their time comes, not only will this allow them to keep players in house but also the word will spread and free agents will want to come play in Kansas City.

For example, the 2003 Detroit Tigers lost 119 games.  They spent nearly 46 million dollars on payroll that season.  Over the last nine years they have gone from worst to perennial best in the Central Division. Not only did they do this by developing their young talent that they acquired through high draft slots but also by showing the willingness to pay free agents the big money to play in Motown, i.e. Victor Martinez, Maglio Ordonez, and most recently Prince Fielder. By showing some players that they will pay them whatever it takes, others have come along with them.

This is what the Royals should model themselves after.  Yes everyone want them to win within the next two years and that is a very good possibility but what happens after that. How does this team become a dynasty and perennial contender not only for the division but also for the American League pennant.

They achieve this by spending money now to show potential future Royals that they will spend the money on them as well.

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Royals Minors: Number One No Longer

Just as quickly as the Kansas City Royals’ minor league system was the best in all of baseball, it wasn’t. That sort of ranking isn’t meant to last, and it really isn’t something you can repeat, nor would you want to.

Photo Courtesy of Minda Haas

The farm system sent a treasure trove of talent Kansas City’s way in 2011, but that meant that the number one ranking from Baseball America was just a fleeting alignment of the stars.

This season’s rankings will look night and day different from a year ago. While last season the Royals placed eight players in the top 100 (not counting Jake Odorizzi), this season their prospects will rank considerably lower. With Moustakas, Hosmer and Duffy having matriculated to the big leagues, it’s likely the remaining players ranked last season will drop on this year’s list.

Wil Myers came in at #10 last year. After battling injuries last season, he’ll likely drop in this year’s ranking.

John Lamb was in the #18 spot before blowing out his arm and going under the knife. If he makes it in the top 100 at all, it will be more a vote of confidence in Lamb’s surgeon than in his pitching.

Baseball America has released its ranking of the top 10 for each organization. Last year’s #19 overall, Mike Montgomery, is in the top spot in the Royals’ Top 10 this year. He struggled mightily last year and probably won’t rate that highly this year, even though he’ll be given a shot to make the big league club.

Christian Colon, last year’s #51, won’t continue to get credit for his collegiate accomplishments for much longer. If he’s ranked at all, it will be a surprise.

Odorizzi, who was rated #69, is rated fourth in the Royals franchise this year, and therefore might not move up in the overall list.

Chris Dwyer, after a mediocre season at Double A last year, won’t repeat last year’s #83 ranking.

So with Hosmer, Moustakas and Duffy moving off the list, and everyone else moving down, things are looking bleak. A few newcomers should provide a little bit of silver lining to this otherwise dark cloud, however.

Baseball America ranks Bubba Starling #2 in the organization, even though he’s done nothing right on the field and everything wrong off it so far. He’ll be somewhere in the top half of the list, most likely.

And look for 19-year-old Cheslor Cuthbert to break in somewhere, after two promising seasons at the lowest levels of the farm system.

Here is Baseball America’s ranking of players within the Royals’ organization this winter:

1) Mike Montgomery
2) Bubba Starling
3) Will Myers, outfielder
4) Jake Odorizzi, RHP
5) Cheslor Cuthbert, 3B
6) John Lamb, RHP
7) Kelvin Herrera, RHP
8) Jason Adam, RHP
9) Chris Dwyer, LHP
10) Yordano Ventura, RHP

And while we wait for Baseball America to announce it’s top 100 list, MLB.com announced this week its top 10 at each position. And predictably, Royals prospects, which dominated the lists last season, were few and far between this year.

Compare last year’s Royals entrants to this year’s:

2012 MLB position rankings:

#3 Outfielder (Starling)
#4 Outfielder (Myers)
#7 Left Handed Pitcher (Montgomery)

2011 MLB position rankings:

#1 First Baseman (Hosmer)
#10 Second Baseman (Johnny Giavotella)
#1 Third Baseman (Moustakas)
#2 Catcher (Myer)
#2 Left Handed Pitcher (Montgomery)
#9 Left Handed Pitcher (Lamb)

There are still tons of things to be excited about in the Royals’ developmental program, but a top ranking won’t be one of them.

Nonetheless, the team now has several players that are about one year away from the big leagues – most notably Montgomery, Lamb, Myers and Odorizzi. And for them, this season will be a huge one, ranking or no ranking.

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