Tag Archive | "Significant Time"

Matt Harvey Can Find Answers In Adam Wainwright

The following excerpt is from my latest article for Yahoo! Sports on the Yahoo Contributor Network.  You can read the entire article by clicking here.


COMMENTARY | The New York Mets were delivered a substantial blow to their future when they found out that Matt Harvey has a partial tear of his UCL, an injury that may require the infamous Tommy John surgery. Surgery could put Harvey on the shelf for the entirety of the 2014 season and impact his effectiveness for even longer. The St. Louis Cardinals and Adam Wainwright can provide a solid road map for Harvey and the Mets to follow.

Wainwright has been down the road that Harvey now faces. A partial tear of the UCL does not ensure that Tommy John surgery is necessary. It can be handled through rehabilitation and surgery can be delayed. It is a slippery slope, but one that Wainwright’s career is familiar with.

The partial tear
Wainwright suffered a partial tear of the UCL very early on in his career. He was able to continue pitching at a very productive level for over five years from the initial diagnosis. Other pitchers have tried to go the route of rehab with little-to-no success but Adam Wainwright proves that it is not impossible. Harvey may not see any significant time lost beyond the 2013 season.

Recovery time varies
It was early 2011 when Wainwright realized he did not feel right and was headed for surgery. The typical diagnosis can project almost a year-and-a-half recovery time for most pitchers. Wainwright surprised everyone when his rehabilitation from surgery was moving forward at a pace that had him throwing from a mound by the end of 2011. He showed up to spring training in 2012 ready to go and opened the season as a member of the rotation, just over 12 months removed from surgery.

That first season back is different
Once Wainwright was back on the mound, expectations were high and Cardinal fans were convinced that their ace had returned. While Wainwright’s first season back was successful by most accounts, it was not the season he is capable of that we are seeing in 2013. In 2012, Wainwright was able to throw over 198 innings and strikeout hitters at a pace similar to his career numbers before the surgery. He walked more hitters than normal, did not work as deep into games, and struggled with his command occasionally. He was back on the mound but he wasn’t completely back to normal.

Finish reading how the Wainwright Road Map can help Mets fans know what’s ahead by clicking here.

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Five reasons the Cardinals should say no to Jake Peavy

There have been numerous reports recently that the St. Louis Cardinals are interested in White Sox starter Jake Peavy. At first, I thought to myself “That would be great!” The more I thought about it, though, the more I realized that it was just the “Shiny New Toy” part of my brain talking. Once the rational part of my brain took over, I realized they should take a pass on the former Padre, and here are five reasons why:


 Cost. Unlike the recently-dealt Matt Garza, Peavy is not a free agent after the 2013 season. Garza will cost the Texas Rangers either three or four players for, at most, three months of value (unless they re-sign him during the offseason). The current collective bargaining agreement prevents the Rangers from collecting any draft-pick compensation if he departs as a free agent after the season. If Peavy is under contract for 2014, it stands to reason that the White Sox are going to expect as big a return (if not bigger) than what the Chicago Cubs obtained for Garza. That’s an exorbitant price for a 3X-year-old starter who is due to make $14.5 million in 2014 (which would make him the 2nd-highest paid pitcher on staff). And did I mention his injury history? That brings me to reason #2:

Injury-prone. Peavy was once a workhorse of several competitive Padres teams. But since 2007, he has made more than 30 starts (the standard of a consistent, healthy starter) exactly once – in 2012. He hit the DL with elbow trouble in 2008. When the White Sox traded for him in 2009, he was on the DL with an ankle injury. In 2010, he ruptured the tendon that ties the latissimus dorsi muscle to the rear of his pitching shoulder and missed significant time in 2011 as well. He has already missed several weeks in 2013 due to a rib injury.  Giving up multiple prospects (Carlos Martinez has been rumored recently) for a player with such a spotty health record? PASS.

Playoff-tested? Not so much. In the Walt Jocketty days, Peavy might have been the perfect trade-deadline acquisition for the Cardinals. But Peavy’s playoff history does not sparkle. He reached the postseason twice, in 2005-06 while with the Padres. Both seasons, the Padres faced the Cardinals; both times, they pounded him like a drum In those two starts, Peavy lasted a combined 9 2/3 innings and surrendered 19 hits, 13 runs, three home runs and struck out just five hitters. He hasn’t been close to the playoffs since then. Once again, PASS.

Lateral move? Although Peavy is a former Cy Young Award-winner, does he really represent a big upgrade over their current fifth starter? Pitching for an awful White Sox team this season, Peavy’s park-adjusted ERA+ is 104 (a tad above replacement level). St. Louis’ current fifth starter, Joe Kelly, has an ERA+ of 95, but most of his appearances this season have been out of the bullpen. In his past four appearances (all at least five innings), Kelly has pitched to a 2.49 ERA – which is more than acceptable for a fifth starter on a strong offensive club. If he falters, the Cardinals have Martinez, Tyler Lyons, Michael Wacha, and others ready to fill in. Peavy might stay healthy and pitch effectively, but how ill would club management (and fans) feel if they traded away Martinez, for example, only to watch Peavy go down with an injury in his third start? Think about Mark DeRosa in 2009. I don’t think any Cardinal fan is anxious to re-live that deal.

Other alternatives: I would argue that the Cardinals would be better off bolstering their bullpen. Acquiring a reliever such as Jim Henderson, Luke Gregerson, Glen Perkins, or the like would be less expensive in trade, yet it could have just as powerful an impact on the pitching staff. Remember how well Edward Mujica worked out last season? Adding another arm (or two) would alleviate pressure on young flamethrower Trevor Rosenthal and the other young arms in the pen.

While he’s not the power strikeout machine he was in his Padres heyday, he could be an effective pitcher for a contender. He could even show flashes of dominance on a good day. But, given the health risks, expensive salary and talent cost, is he worth the gamble? I don’t think so. I hope John Mozeliak agrees with me.

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King Felix Is Not Adam Wainwright

The Seattle Mariners extended Felix Hernandez‘s contract on Thursday and many St. Louis Cardinal fans reacted quickly, feeling Adam Wainwright‘s price tag just went up.  The problem with that thought is simple, Hernandez is no Wainwright, he’s much, much better.

Cardinals Spring Baseball

Hernandez agreed to a deal that will keep him in Seattle for a reported financial windfall to the tune of seven years and $175 million.

That is not to say that Adam Wainwright is not a very good pitcher, we all know that he is.  It is not to say that Adam Wainwright will not be a very wealthy man when his contract is resolved, he most likely will.  But to say that Wainwright’s price will be based off of Hernandez’s price is a bit absurd.

Both of them debuted in the same year for the team they still play for, the Mariners and Cardinals respectively, and both were due to hit free agency at the same time, after the 2013 season.  That is where the comparisons end, however.

We can start with the obvious point of age.  Hernandez (26) is five years a junior to Wainwright (31).  If you are giving a seven year deal to a pitcher, you would do so to a pitcher Hernandez’s age, not Wanwright’s.  Beyond that, Hernandez has not spent any significant time on the disabled list, has substantially better career numbers, and has earned many more accolades than his St. Louis counterpart.

Tale Of The Tape
Wainwright Hernandez
80 Wins 98
1 20 Win Seasons 0
3.15 ERA 3.22
908 Strikeouts 1487
1073 Innings Pitched 1620.1
214 Games 238
11 Complete Games 23
4 Shutouts 9
1 All Star Selections 3
0 Cy Youngs 1
1 Arm Surgeries 0
1 Missed Seasons 0

That graph shows two very good pitchers.  It also shows one with an injury history, that is older, and is not quite on the same level.

Hernandez translated his career into a $25 million a year payout.  Wainwright will probably look to translate his into $20 million a year for a much shorter period of time.

Calm down, Cardinal Fans, the price of King Felix had little to no impact on the cost of Adam Wainwright.  That price was set before and I highly doubt it moved at all with this news.

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

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St. Louis Cardinals renew affiliation with Memphis

St. Louis Cardinals renew affiliation with Memphis
Memphis will be Cardinals Triple-A affiliate through 2014 season

MEMPHIS, TN – The World Champion St. Louis Cardinals have extended their player development contract with the Memphis Redbirds through the completion of the 2014 season.

“We are very pleased to have extended our relationship with the Redbirds organization and the city of Memphis for an additional two years,” said John Mozeliak, Cardinals’ Senior Vice President and General Manager.  “The Redbirds ballclub and the Memphis fans have been tremendous supporters of the Cardinals organization for many years.  AutoZone Park is considered to be among the finest ballparks in the country and we feel that there is no better place to develop Cardinals players who are one level away from reaching St. Louis and the Major Leagues.”

Memphis has been the Triple-A affiliate for the Cardinals since their inception in 1998. In that time, Memphis has been Pacific Coast League Champions twice (2000, 2009). They began playing at their current home, AutoZone Park, in 2000. 32 members of the current Cardinals 40-man roster have spent significant time playing for the Memphis Redbirds in their career.

“We are excited to extend the affiliation agreement with the St. Louis Cardinals. Memphis has been and always will be Cardinals Country,” said John Pontius, Memphis Redbirds Foundation Treasurer. “We look forward to continue watching the future stars of the franchise come through AutoZone Park before their Major League careers begin.”

The Redbirds start their 2013 campaign on Thursday, April 4th at AutoZone Park.

Global Spectrum (global-spectrum.com) manages the Memphis Redbirds, as well as nearly 100 other public assembly facilities around the world. Nearly 20-million people attended more than 11,000 events in Global Spectrum venues last year. Based in Philadelphia, PA, Global Spectrum is part of Comcast-Spectacor, one of the world’s largest sports and entertainment companies. Comcast-Spectacor also owns the Philadelphia Flyers of the National Hockey League, Ovations Food Services, a food and beverage services provider, New Era Tickets, a full-service ticketing and marketing product for public assembly facilities, Paciolan, the leading provider of venue establishment ticketing, fundraising and marketing technology solutions, Front Row Marketing Services, a commercial rights sales company, and Flyers Skate Zone, a series of community ice skating rinks. In a partnership with Disson Skating, Comcast-Spectacor annually produces eight nationally televised figure skating spectaculars on NBC-TV.

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Injury woes 2012

It would not be a St. Louis Cardinals Spring Training without health questions surrounding a key player, and once again a member of the starting rotation is awaiting test results analysis and a diagnosis before throwing again. But the name attached this time is all too familiar to these situations: Chris Carpenter.

All the facts of this story can be found in Joe Strauss’s STLtoday piece from Friday. Right now, no one really knows much about the cause of Carpenter’s neck discomfort, but updates should start trickling in this weekend as the information makes its way back to Florida from St. Louis.

The real question on everyone’s minds is simple, though. What now?

It’s hard to get too panicked over this news because, honestly, it cannot be that big of a surprise. Carpenter’s injury history is checkered, to say the least, and he threw over 270 innings in 2011 (including the postseason). No one should claim they saw this coming, but when the word came in how many had a reaction similar to “Ah…Carpenter has an injury? OK then.” Hearing about Carpenter battling through something is different than hearing about Adam Wainwright last year. Wainwright was young and durable. Carpenter is neither. But speaking of Wainwright, the Cardinals certainly managed to right the ship after his departure and ended the 2011 season on a bit of a high note. Who says they can’t do the same thing in 2012 if Carpenter ends up having to miss significant time?

Unfortunately, it may be an even longer shot this time around. Last year, the Cards had a healthy Carpenter ready to step in and take the ace role in Wainwright’s absence. This year, the Cards have Wainwright back—but he is not 100% yet. He may not be at any time in 2012. So the team cannot and should not expect him to pick up all of the slack and toss 200+ innings this season. If he ends up doing that, great. But counting on it would be a mistake.

One more thing the Cards should absolutely, positively stay away from at all costs is another bullpen-to-rotation-to-bullpen song and dance with Kyle McClellan. Last year, McClellan started off pretty well as a starter. But once Edwin Jackson was acquired, McClellan was no longer needed for the rotation. Back to the bullpen he went, but the innings had already taken a toll. By the end of 2011 McClellan was gassed. They really need to let him stick with one thing, and he has proven several times he can handle a full season as a reliever.

Remember the Roy Oswalt sweepstakes of a couple months ago? Still going on, except now no one is trying. Oswalt is a free agent and perhaps could be a candidate for a spot in the Cards’ rotation if Carpenter can’t go for a while. The Redbirds could also look internally for a young pitcher to step in for some starts if Carpenter is only expected to miss a few weeks. But, again, messing with the integrity of the bullpen by “promoting” a reliever to the rotation could prove to be a mistake with the potential of affecting both sections of the pitching staff. Maybe a Triple A pitcher chomping at the bit gets a look at Busch Stadium this year…

No one has all the answers yet, but you can bet the questions will continue to mount. Perhaps this is just a minor speed bump with little to no effect on the regular season. Or perhaps it is more. Hopefully the news over the weekend into next week is good news.

Chris Reed also writes for InsideSTL Mondays and Bird Brained whenever he feels like it. Follow him on Twitter @birdbrained.

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In Sanchez We Trust?

The Royals have not been quiet about their desire to add starting pitching this off-season. Nor have they shied away from discussing the many prospects they have in the pipeline in order to acquire a pitcher.

Dayton Moore was able to accomplish what most thought improbable, he improved his starting rotation and dealt from the major league roster, freeing up a spot for one of the talented youngsters going forward. In addition to not trading from the pipeline of minor league talent that Kansas City is enjoying, he added to it.

Melky Cabrera is no longer a Kansas City Royal. After one short season with the club after being released by the Atlanta Braves, the Royals have chosen to trade Cabrera while his value is high and have gained the return of Jonathan Sanchez for the Major League rotation and Ryan Verdugo for the minor league system.

Melky’s stats last year as a Royal:

2011 26 KCR 155 706 658 102 201 44 5 18 87 20 10 35 94 .305 .339 .470 .809 309
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 11/7/2011.

The goal for the Royals was to find a top of the rotation starter at an affordable price. Sounds easy enough, right? Dayton Moore has successfully added to his rotation depth, but what did the Royals get in return for an outfielder that seemed to have a solid bounce back year for the team?

Sanchez has been one of the harder pitchers to figure out, both for opposing hitters and his own coaches. A dominant pitcher with a live arm, his strikeout rates are consistently high over his six year career. However, so are his walk rates. While he keeps hitters guessing, there are times he has the same effect on his catcher. Our friends at MLB Trade Rumors had this to say about Sanchez in reaction to the trade:

Sanchez, 28, may have been a non-tender candidate for the Giants after a disappointing 2011 season that saw him walk 5.9 per nine innings and miss significant time with biceps tendinitis and a sprained ankle. The southpaw is tough to hit and has big-time strikeout numbers, but control has always been a problem. In Sanchez, Felipe Paulino, and Danny Duffy, Royals GM Dayton Moore has strong strikeout potential for three-fifths of his 2012 rotation. Sanchez projects to earn $5.2MM in 2012, after which he’ll be eligible for free agency. That he was traded for one year of Cabrera shows how much his trade value slipped during the ’11 season. Sanchez was set to battleBarry Zito for the Giants’ fifth starter job next year.

Read Tim Dierkes full take on the trade by clicking here.

On July 10, 2009, Sanchez showed just how dominant he can be by crafting a no-hitter against the San Diego Padres. One look at his line from that day and “dominant” is the only way to describe it:

Pitching IP H R ER BB SO HR ERA BF Pit Str Ctct StS StL GB FB LD Unk GSc IR IS WPA aLI RE24
Jonathan Sanchez, W (3-8) 9 0 0 0 0 11 0 4.69 28 110 77 44 12 21 6 11 1 0 98 0.220 0.30 4.6
Team Totals 9 0 0 0 0 11 0 0.00 28 110 77 44 12 21 6 11 1 0 98 0.220 0.39 4.6
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 11/7/2011.

If new pitching coach Dave Eiland can help get the six-foot tall lefty to harness his control, the Royals have found the ace of their staff for 2012. If not, the Royals may be found looking at the trade deadline to bolster their staff a bit, should they find themselves in contention in 2012.

Jonathan Sanchez Career Statistics:

2004 21 SFG-min 7 1 3.72 15 9 3 0 0 48.1 38 22 20 3 28 1 61 1.366 5.2 11.4 2.18
2005 22 SFG-min 5 7 4.08 25 25 0 0 0 125.2 122 59 57 8 39 0 166 1.281 2.8 11.9 4.26
2006 23 SFG-min 4 3 2.29 19 9 4 0 0 55.0 27 17 14 1 22 0 74 0.891 3.6 12.1 3.36
2006 23 SFG 3 1 4.95 27 4 4 0 0 40.0 39 26 22 2 23 0 33 92 1.550 5.2 7.4 1.43
2007 24 SFG-min 0 0 1.90 8 5 0 0 0 23.2 15 5 5 0 9 0 32 1.014 3.4 12.2 3.56
2007 24 SFG 1 5 5.88 33 4 8 0 0 52.0 57 34 34 8 28 1 62 77 1.635 4.8 10.7 2.21
2008 25 SFG 9 12 5.01 29 29 0 0 0 158.0 154 90 88 14 75 1 157 88 1.449 4.3 8.9 2.09
2009 26 SFG 8 12 4.24 32 29 2 1 1 163.1 135 82 77 19 88 5 177 101 1.365 4.8 9.8 2.01
2010 27 SFG 13 9 3.07 34 33 0 0 0 193.1 142 74 66 21 96 4 205 127 1.231 4.5 9.5 2.14
2011 28 SFG-min 1 0 6.59 3 3 0 0 0 13.2 16 10 10 2 7 0 16 1.683 4.6 10.5 2.29
2011 28 SFG 4 7 4.26 19 19 0 0 0 101.1 80 54 48 9 66 2 102 84 1.441 5.9 9.1 1.55
6 Seasons 38 46 4.26 174 118 14 1 1 708.0 607 360 335 73 376 13 736 97 1.388 4.8 9.4 1.96
162 Game Avg. 9 11 4.26 41 27 3 0 0 165 141 84 78 17 88 3 171 97 1.388 4.8 9.4 1.96
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 11/7/2011.

Of course, the dealing of Cabrera also leaves the middle of the outfield open for 2012, paving the way for prospect Lorenzo Cain to join the team fresh from Spring Training.

Cain, a product of the trade of Zack Greinke to the Milwaukee Brewers, has had some minor success at the major league level in limited action for the Brewers in 2010. He spent most of 2011 at AAA Omaha for the Royals and showed that he can hit and field his position rather well. His strikeout rate is high, but projecting him to hit either second in front of Billy Butler and Eric Hosmer or sixth behind them and Mike Moustakas could be a safe gamble.

The Royals will not live or die with the success of Cain. His bat will be a benefit to the ball club if they need it. They will, however, need production from Jonathan Sanchez if 2012 is the turning point of this team’s path.

No one knows if Moore is done dealing this off-season, but it appears he got his man early on and next year will determine how solid of a move it was.

Bill Ivie is the editor here at I-70 Baseball as well as the Assignment Editor for BaseballDigest.com.
He is the host of I-70 Radio, hosted every week on BlogTalkRadio.com.
Follow him on Twitter here.

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Royals Farm Report: September 8th

Royals Farm Report: September 8th
Taking a season-long perspective as playoffs begin



In the postseason for the first time in 12 years, the Omaha Storm Chasers (Pacific Coast League) won Wednesday’s first game of their opening-round playoff series against the Round Rock Express. The Storm Chasers are now just five wins away from capturing a PCL championship and a berth in the Triple-A National Championship Game.

Stock Rising

Outfielder Lorenzo Cain showed that he has nothing left to prove at the Triple-A level. After exhausting his big-league rookie eligibility with Milwaukee in 2010, Cain spent all of 2011 with the Storm Chasers and hit .312 with a .380 on-base percentage, and cracked 28 doubles and 16 home runs. Right there with Cain is Clint Robinson, who hit .326 and led the club with 26 homers and 100 RBI. On the mound, right-hander Luis Mendoza posted a 2.18 ERA, a phenomenal figure in the hitter-friendly environs of the PCL as he seeks another shot in the major leagues. Finally, reliever Kelvin Herrera began the season without any experience above Class-A but excelled at three levels, striking out 18 in 17 innings with the Storm Chasers. He appears nearly ready to uncork his blazing arsenal against big league hitters and should get every opportunity to do just that in 2012.

Stock Falling

Kila Ka’aihue put together another solid performance with Omaha, hitting .272 with a .379 on-base percentage in 95 games. But after struggling with Kansas City in the first month of the season, he may have fallen behind Robinson on the organizaton’s depth chart. After beginning spring training on the Royals’ 40-man roster, Lance Zawadzki spent significant time at both second base and shortstop but struggled at the plate, hitting just .233.


Mike Montgomery had an inconsistent campaign with the Storm Chasers, his first taste of the Triple-A level. Though his basic numbers (5-11, 5.32 ERA) do not impress, the southpaw did strike out a team-high 129 batters this season and showed glimpses of why he is considered one of the top left-handed pitching prospects in baseball.



A late-season charge put the Northwest Arkansas Naturals (Texas League) into the playoffs for the fourth consecutive season. The team opened the first round by losing to the in-state rival Arkansas Travelers, 2-1, in 11 innings on Wednesday.

Stock Rising

In his first season in the Royals’ organization, right-hander Jake Odorizzi took a big step forward in his development, spending just a half-season at Advanced-A Wilmington before joining the Naturals. Though Odorizzi struggled with the home run ball in the Texas League, he fired seven one-hit innings in his final start of the regular season and posted a 54/22 strikeout/walk rate with the Naturals. Left-hander Will Smith was a solid presence in the rotation who improved as the season progressed. Smith led the Texas League with 13 wins and 161 1/3 innings pitched, earning Naturals Pitcher of the Year honors.

Stock Falling

Challenged with an aggressive assignment to Double-A, Christian Colon was a steady presence near the top of the Naturals’ lineup, but hit a middling .257 with just 24 extra-base hits in 127 games. Toward the end of the season, Colon spent a bit more time at second base, where some think his future could reside. Reliever Patrick Keating was crucial to the Naturals’ bullpen during the 2010 championship run but battled injuries and ineffectiveness this season, allowing nine home runs in just 38 innings.


Wil Myers battled through a pair of freak knee injuries in the early part of the season and did not have a chance to truly establish himself until the second half. Still, at just 20 years old, Myers displayed an impressive eye at the plate (a .353 on-base percentage despite a .254 batting average) and hit for more power in the season’s final month. In some ways, it was a tale of two seasons for Chris Dwyer. The 23-year-old southpaw struggled to harness his stuff in the first half of the season but went 6-1 in his final nine starts. Most importantly, Dwyer stayed healthy all season after his 2010 was cut short due to a back injury. John Lamb appeared on his way to a solid season before going down with Tommy John surgery in early June. After rehab and recovery, Lamb probably won’t be ready for action until mid-season next year at the earliest, but with his arsenal and pitchability, there’s no reason to believe the southpaw won’t succeed upon his return.

Class-A Advanced

Blue Rocks

The lone full-season Royals affiliate to miss the postseason, the Wilmington Blue Rocks finished the 2011 season at 66-72. The club did finish the year on a high note, entertaining the Frawley Stadium crowd with a sweep of the Frederick Keys on the final three days of the season.

Stock Rising

Many of the team’s top early-season performers – Odorizzi, infielder Rey Navarro and southpaw reliever Kevin Chapman in particular – ended the season with Northwest Arkansas. Among those to spend the second half with the Blue Rocks, Yem Prades hit .289 in his first taste of baseball in the United States. The 23-year-old Cuban defector still needs to work on his plate discipline (10 walks against 66 strikeouts). On the mound, Elisaul Pimentel’s brief stint at Double-A didn’t go as planned, but that should not take away from a strong season that saw him walk only 31 batters in 133 innings of work. He’s likely to get a full-season taste of the Double-A level next season.

Stock Falling

Nick Van Stratten began the season at Double-A before being dropped a level right around the midway point. Though his .271 average is respectable, at 26, Van Stratten’s odds of establishing himself as a future big-leaguer have grown slim. Wilmington’s home ballpark is a noted pitcher-friendly environment, but Tyler Sample posed a 5.25 ERA in his first season in the Carolina League.


Taken at face value, Tim Melville’s statistics (11-10, 4.32 ERA, 108 K/53 BB) are those of a player who put together a solidly-average season. But since this was the right-hander’s second full season at Wilmington, they don’t reveal much about his growth as a player. A shot at Double-A in what will be his age 22 season should give the Royals a better sense of what the former fourth-round pick’s future may hold.


Kane County

In a twist of fate, the Kane County Cougars (Midwest League) played themselves into a first-round playoff matchup with the Burlington Bees, the club which had been the Royals’ affiliate prior to this season. Kane County shut out Burlington in the first game of their series and needs just one win to advance to the next round.

Stock Rising

Perhaps no player in the Midwest League burst onto the scene in quite the same way as third baseman Cheslor Cuthbert did. In his first taste of full-season ball, the 18-year-old native of Nicaragua hit .328 from his first game with the club until the end of July. Though fatigue led him into a prolonged slump at the end of the season, Cuthbert’s full-season debut fully established him as a prospect to watch going forward. Though his velocity only reaches the mid-80s, right-hander Greg Billo befuddled Midwest League batters all season long, as the 20-year-old posted a 1.93 ERA in the regular season and fired seven innings of shutout ball in the opening game of the playoffs.

Stock Falling

A player with prodigious power, Murray Watts hit just .211 with five extra-base hits in 35 games with Kane County before going on the disabled list. Though Watts returned to action and led the lower-level Burlington Royals in home runs, the season was certainly a disappointment for the Arkansas native.


Former Arkansas Razorback Brett Eibner epitomizes the “incomplete category.” A two-way player in college, Eibner opened the 2011 season with the opportunity to get a full season’s worth of at bats under his belt. But in the second game of the year, Eibner injured his thumb when diving for a ball in the outfield. After missing two months, he returned to belt 12 home runs and draw 48 walks in 76 games – but also hit just .215 and whiffed 90 times. An injury-free 2012, likely to be spent at Wilimington, should allow Eibner to harness his impressive talent and make serious strides in his development as a prospect.

Short Season/Rookie

AZL Burlington IdahoFalls

Both the Burlington Royals and AZL Royals wrapped up their seasons before the calendar flipped to September, so the Idaho Falls Chukars (Pioneer League) remain the only of Kansas City’s short-season clubs still in action. At 33-42 overall, the Chukars have fallen short of postseason play and will wrap up their season on Sep. 8 against the Orem Owlz.

Stock Rising

Though technically no longer a Chukar, Edwin Carl had the most statistically-impressive season of any Royals farmhand. Advanced for the level at the age of 22, Carl faced 122 Pioneer League hitters – and fanned 71 of them. He only issued only three walks and held the opposition to a miniscule .145 batting average. At the plate, 2011 draftee Richard Espy made a strong impression with a .391 on-base percentage, while Daniel Mateo led the club with a .341 average. Infielder Nick DelGuidice was passed over by all 50 teams in this year’s draft, signing as a non-drafted free agent. But he batted .396 with a 1.037 OPS between Surprise and Idaho Falls and seems on track to start next year with Kane County.

Stock Falling

Like Carl, Jonathan Dooley competed in the Pioneer League as a 22-year old, where he was the Chukars opening day starter, but did not have the same success. The Arkansas native began the season in the rotation before being moved to the ‘pen, posting a 6.79 ERA in the process. Overall, the Chukars recorded a 5.38 staff ERA, with Jose Sanchez (8.17), Robert Penny (8.54) and Willian Avinazar (8.89) posting particularly high figures.

The Northwest Arkansas Naturals are the Double-A Texas League affiliate of the Kansas City Royals and play at state-of-the-art Arvest Ballpark, located in Springdale. Visit our website, nwanaturals.com, for information on season tickets and ticket plans.

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