Royals Fans have been searching for something, anything that might point to a resurgence of an organization that was not even good enough to cheat properly during The Steroid Era. I’m not talking about the usual rays of sunshine that come from the Kansas City media every March in hopes you’re still reading and listening to them in June. I’m talking about unbiased opinions that the Royals have something going for them.
Over the off-season early returns appeared on the radar. Baseball Prospectus, Keith Law, and Baseball America named the Royals Farm System the best in baseball. In some cases the farm system was named the best of all time. Finally, someone outside Royals Nation has something positive to say.
Understandably, even with the accolades the Royals organization is still facing criticism. Detractors have said they’ll trade off the prospects. People point out quite correctly, that the prospects are in fact prospects, and have not done anything at the major league level. Finally, the Royals won’t re-sign the prospects if they become stars.
The criticism that the Royals will trade off the prospects is baseless. If anything the Royals should be criticized for trading Cy Young winners, and proven outfielders for prospects. You can’t have it both ways. With the signing bonuses and contracts Dayton Moore has been handing to Scott Boras clients coming out the Amateur Draft the Royals clearly want to hang onto their prospects.
The argument that the players in the farm system are just prospects does have some merit. After all, Royals fans are still waiting for the last “can’t miss prospect” to dominate. But let’s take a closer look. The Royals have nine prospects in Baseball America’s Top 100. Chances are two of them won’t make it in majors beyond their cup of coffee. Most of them will go the way of Alex Gordon and not meet expectations, but play roles on the major league roster. This means we’re hoping that two of them become stars.
How many stars has the organization produced since 2003, the last year the Royals had a winning record? One, Zack Greinke; whose Cy Young Award and hype are propped up by one excellent season. The rest of his work is rather pedestrian. If two out of the Royals’ magnificent nine turn into stars the Royals are ahead of the game. Not to mention the myriad of other roles players that will emerge. The current farm system is so deep a guy like Clint Robinson isn’t making any lists. He only hit for the Texas League Triple Crown last year, and has made the most of his performances in the short spring. But he’s still a prospect.
I’m just as anxious as any Royals Fan for the organization to begin winning at the major league level. At least now the organization has something going for it. What makes a farm system great isn’t the individual talent. It’s the quantity of individual talent. It’s nice not to have one star prospect in the system and have the local media label him “The next George Brett”. This allows the prospects to develop without added pressure. Which we all hope increases the likely hood that they will produce at the major league level.
If the Royals are truly going to ascend into relevancy, pull itself out of the ashes like the early 90’s Braves, late 90’s Twins, and more recently Rays, and Rangers this process has to take place. This brings me back to the criticism that the Royals will not sign long term contracts to any stars they do produce. First off, there are only four or five teams that don’t have to worry about that. Finally, if the farm system is continuously producing winning teams will you care?