Tag Archive | "Sollars"

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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Adam Moore Trying To Make His Case

The Kansas City Royals have very few “up for grabs” spots in Spring Training.  Some players are going to have to really impress to crack the opening day roster this year.

Catcher Adam Moore is making an early attempt at impressing.

Photo by Charles Sollars/i70baseball

Photo by Charles Sollars/i70baseball

Make no mistake, despite his soon to come departure to the World Baseball Classic, Salvador Perez is the Royals catcher and rightfully so.  However, the team has kept an open mind to who will travel with the team as his backup this season.  July of last year shows a waiver transaction that had the Royals claiming Moore from the Seattle  Mariners.  He would appear in four games last year and compiling only twelve plate appearances.

This Spring, Moore has appeared in three of the four games that the Royals have played.  He has shown consistent defense, which is his “calling card”.  A good glove, a strong arm, and a suspect bat.

Two out of three ain’t bad.

Moore forgot that he was supposed to have a suspect bat.  Small sample size and over-analyzing Spring stats will lead you down a dark path, but what you can see is a player that is playing with passion.  In Monday’s 16-4 drumming of the Diamondbacks, Moore hit is second home run of the young spring.  In addition, he held his batting average at .500 (again, small sample size, he has six at bats).  He came into today’s action as a designated hitter, replacing Billy Butler in the process.

None of this means a whole lot at this point, but it does give Royals fans something to pay attention to.  There is currently no guarantee who will be the backup catcher in a little over a month when the team breaks camp but one thing is for sure: starting catcher Salvador Perez leaves the team this week to represent his country in the World Baseball Classic.  That will leave a lot of at bats, as well as a lot of time to get to know the pitching staff, to another player.  That player will gain the opportunity to seize a roster spot and prove to manager Ned Yost why he deserves to be on the team.

Adam Moore can put a strong grip on that spot if he simply continues to do what he is doing right now.

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

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The Sights Of Spring: Royals And Rangers

Spring Training opened this past weekend with a few games between the Kansas City Royals and Texas Rangers.


Finding positives and negatives from Spring games is hard because players may be working on a specific skill set that cause the stat lines to blur.  When a hitter is trying to go the opposite way with every swing, he may go 0-for-4 at the plate.  When a pitcher is working on a new pitch and determining if he can throw it effectively, he may walk quite a few hitters in the process.

What, then, can you take away from Spring Training games, especially early in the year?

Well, baseball is back.  The sights and sounds of the game are filling the air and the teams will be back to their home stadiums before too long.

Here at i70baseball, we are excited to be back into the swing of things.  This site holds credentials with Major League Baseball and, in order to bring our readers the benefits of these credentials, we sent a photographer to the Royals and Rangers opener on Friday.  The below slide show has a sampling of the great pictures that photographer Charles Sollars took that day.

Inside you will find pictures of Jeff Francoeur, Salvador Perez, Billy Butler, Alexi Ogando, Eric Hosmer, Miguel Tejada, Nelson Cruz, and Ned Yost.

Enjoy the sights of Spring and stay tuned…

<b>Adam Moore</b>

Picture 1 of 37

Royals catcher Adam Moore takes a swing

Photo courtesy of Charles Sollars and copyright i70baseball

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

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Hosmer, Naturals Bash Springfield In I-70 Showdown For Texas League Championship Berth

The AA Northwestern Arkansas Naturals won the deciding fifth game on the strength of Jefferson City, Missouri native Clint Robinson. Robinson, the Texas League Triple Crown winner, went 4-5 with three doubles and four RBIs to lead the Nats to an 8-4 win over the Springfield Cardinals. The 6’4’’, 225 pound left handed first baseman ran a line of .335 BA, 29 HR, 98 RBI to take the Triple Crown. The win sets up a rematch of last year’s finals with the Midland RockHounds, an Oakland Athletics affiliate.

Photo by Charles Sollars

The real story of the series though was the breakthrough performance by first baseman Eric Hosmer. Hosmer homered in the first four games of the series before being held hitless in game five. After a game three win the Cardinals were only one victory away from advancing, but ran into a few hot left handed bats for the Nats which doused their Championship hopes. In game four Hosmer hit a two run homer in the first allowing the Nats to jump to an early lead. Trailing 5-4 in the top of the eighth, Hosmer stepped up again and hit another two run dinger relinquishing the lead for good, 6-5. Those late game heroics turned into early momentum for the Nats in game five, scoring seven runs in the first two innings.

Robinson was a 25th round pick of the Royals in the 2007 First year player draft. He attended Troy Univeristy, in Troy, Alabama. He hit .364 along with a team-leading 17 homers and 71 RBIs in his senior season for the Trojans. Those numbers were good enough to earn Robinson 2nd team All-American and 1st team All Sun Belt honors. Robinson made his professional debut with the Idaho Falls Chukars of the Pioneer League. He went on the lead the league in RBIs (66), ranked second in homers (15), fifth in slugging percentage (.593), extra base hits (34), total bases (150), along with the eight best batting average (.336). This was enough to earn Pioneer League MVP honors in 2007. Since, Robinson has put together solid years while working his way up the organization. None compared to his Texas League Triple Crown worthy season of 2010, only the second time it’s been accomplished since 1927.

Not to take anything away from Robinson, it must be noted before Mike Moustakas was promoted to Omaha he was competing for the same crown. Moustakas actually had a higher batting average by 12 points, and at season’s end only trailed Robinson by eight homers and 22 RBIs. Those are numbers which surely would have been surpassed considering Moustakas had 218 less at-bats than Robinson at Northwestern Arkansas.

The common thread with all three of these guys is they are left handed corners. It has been well documented by media outlets the Royals have a potential logjam to worry about in a few years. Their most productive offensive player is Billy Butler, who is stuck at first because of dreadful defense early in his career. With all four of these guys, along with Kila Ka’aihue most likely on the outside looking in, fans can begin to see the strategy being deployed by the Royals brass. They are all big strong corners with the ability to be in the middle of the line-up and carry the offense.

That being said you can look around the field and see similar trends at different positions. Taking a look at the outfield farmhands it is mostly a group of spray hitting, extremely fast players, who usually lack power. This apparently is the type of player the Royals feel fit the teams needs best. Kauffman has a lot of space in the outfield, these types of guys will be able to track balls down in the gap that players like Jose Guillen could not in the past. It is simple to see guys like Jai Miller, Jarrod Dyson, and Derrick Robinson are all created in the same mold. It’s also no mistake the guys the front office signed to play the outfield this season were Scott Podsednik and Rick Ankiel. Podsednik is the type of player I spoke previously about to a tee. Although Ankiel struggled with injuries and was never really accepted in Kansas City, he was brought in mainly for his defense.

The Royals feel they can sacrifice some offensive production in the outfield, as long as it is made up for in defense and on the base paths. There are two comments usually heard about the speed players like Dyson and Robinson possess, ‘you can’t teach speed’ and ‘speed never goes into slumps’. With heavy hitting corners the Royals don’t need five tool superstars to roam the outfield. Instead they need players that complement the others in their organization. Guys able to play defense and get on base are the perfect balance to their corner players. All of which are guys capable of knocking the ball out of the park, but have suspect defense and won’t be swiping a bag anytime soon.

Photo by Charles Sollars

Since the new ownership has come into power, it is easy to see where the focus is and how they are going to do their jobs. The only way to create a successful baseball organization is from the ground up. The way the game is taught and played needs to be the same for the 18 year old kids in the Arizona Rookie League as it is for Greinke and Butler. This creates an atmosphere of winning baseball at every level throughout the organization.

Don’t believe me? In 2009 the Royals roster was comprised of the lowest percentage of homegrown players in all of baseball except the Astros (Finished second to last in NL Central in front of the Pirates). For those of you naysayer out there thinking this is some sort of aberration, take a look at the top five AL teams on the list; New York Yankees (56%), Detroit Tigers (52%), Los Angeles Angels (52%), Boston Red Sox (48%) and Minnesota Twins (48%). Hmmm… coincidence, I think not. The Yankees, Angels, Red Sox, and Twins represented the AL in the playoffs. To take it even further the top two NL teams on the list were the Colorado Rockies (68%) and the Los Angeles Dodgers (48%), also both playoff teams.

Even the Evil Empire who is constantly criticized for over paying the top free agent talent understands the significance of player development. Most world champions aren’t built on the strength of creating a compellation of superstars. Instead it is a precise mixture of players who understand their roles on the team and know how to win. These are all things bred in the minor leagues. Sure all the teams listed have superstars, but they only get to hit once every nine batters just like everyone else in the game. Teams don’t get to pick who comes up when the game is on the line in the playoffs. That is why this game is so great, because a lot of the time it doesn’t come down to A-Rod. Instead it falls on the back of a journeyman utility player just called up from AAA, you are only as strong as your weakest link.

The First Year drafts, along with international amateur signings are the most cost effective and efficient way to create a roster. Free agent signings call for big, long contracts that don’t always go the way teams plan. The perfect example is the $55 million man, Gil Meche. When healthy, Meche’s talent is undeniable. Injuries are a part of the game though, and the Royals don’t get any discounts or refunds because Meche has run into arm problems. The current trend for the younger superstars in the MLB is to stick around with the organization in which they came up. Joe Mauer just inked an eight year deal to stay in the Twin Cities. Evan Longoria, possibly the best third baseman in the game, signed a nine year, $44 million contract, to turn Tampa into a threat for the next decade. $44 million??? I guarantee you every Royals fan would enjoy having Longoria around instead of Meche, while saving $11 million.

When teams bring in a group of young talented ball players working their way through the organization it breeds success. These guys have been playing with each other for years as pro ball players and learn to pull for each other. Two of the best examples I can give are the previously mentioned Minnesota Twins and Tampa Bay Rays. The Rays were well documented losers, not even able to break 20,000 at the box office for most of their existence. All of a sudden though, there was an influx of young homegrown talent that blew the doors of Tropicana Field. B.J. Upton, Carl Crawford, Evan Longoria, Reid Brignac, David Price, Andy Sonnastine, Wade Davis, Dan Wheeler, and now Jermey Hellickson are all homegrown Rays. If you were wondering this is nearly half of the second best team in baseball.

The Twins are another well documented small market team, consistently finding ways to win. The Twins have bred Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, Michael Cuddyer, Scott Baker, Jason Kubel, Denard Span, and Nick Blackburn from high school draft picks to the core of most likely the 2010 AL Central Champs. With Ron Gardenhire at the helm, the Twins are notorious for playing sound baseball. Playing team baseball, solid defense, minimizing errors, and finding ways to win (small-ball) are all traits associated with the Twins.

On Monday the 24 man roster for the Pan-Am Games Qualifying Team was announced. A quarter of the team was made up by Royals minor leaguers. Kansas City sends more prospects (6) than any other MLB organization. The next closest squad was the Rockies (3). Left handed pitchers (another trending player mold with KC) Tim Collins, Danny Duffy, Mike Montgomery, and Everett Teaford, as well as infielders Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas were asked to join Team USA.

The Royals Assistant GM in charge of scouting and player development, J.J. Picollo, had this to say about the Royals presence on Team USA in an interview with MLB.com’s Benjamin Hill.

“One thing we tend to do as an industry is overvalue our own players,” he said. “But [the Royals] don’t have any say in who Team USA adds to the roster, so this serves as an affirmation that we’ve got some good players.

The [Team USA] scouts recognized the ability of our players and put them on their recommendation sheets,” he added. “And as the committee went through their selection process, they saw that a lot of our players would make a good fit for the club. We’re proud that they’re on the team.”

While the Royals season sputters to an end, seeing the youngsters come from behind in a playoff series is refreshing. This along with national officials holding Royals prospects in such high regard are good barometers to measure whether the Royals can turn from worst to first, a la the 2008 Tampa Bay Rays.

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An I-70 Photo Gallery

Recently, Charles Sollars was sent to Hammon’s Field in Springfield, Missouri to cover a rehabilitation start for Cardinal hurler Kyle Lohse. While there, Charles took over 500 pictures throughout a very rough outing from Lohse. You can read his take on the game by clicking here.

Below, feel free to scroll through the pictures Charles took that day of Kyle, Dennis Martinez, prospect Darryl Jones and other players from the Cardinals AA affiliate in the Texas League.


Picture 1 of 50

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The Hits Keep Coming For Lohse


Singles, doubles, hard liners, pop outs, long hard hit balls that were five feet from being homers were all common place tonight in Springfield. Kyle Lohse was making a rehab start for the AA club but it looked more like he was trying to make the AA club. The crowds all gathered around the bullpen as Lohse warmed up. There were six different camera men following Lohse around the ballpark. Everyone there was there to see a St.Louis Cardinal dominate. Fans near me were all talking about how Lohse was going to put on a show. Everyone there was there to see a St.Louis Cardinal dominate. but what unfolded was the farthest thing from a show.


Photos by Charles Sollars

The game started with a double by Tyson Auer and it set the pace for the rest of the night. The Texas League batters were swinging and connecting on what seemed like every pitch. The next two batters were outs but both were making good contact. Charlton Jimerson singled driving in Auer for the first run of the night. Bad base running got Lohse out of the inning or there might have been more than one run on the scoreboard.

Lohse gave up two doubles and a single in the second leading to another two runs scoring. Even the first two outs were good contact hits that just happen to land in a glove. Lohse ended the second by getting the leadoff hitter you had already batted around called out on strikes.


Photos by Charles Sollars

A double started off the third inning followed by a single that moved the runner to third. A strikeout of Charlton Jimerson gave fans some hope that Lohse might finally have stopped the pattern everything that crossed the plate being hit. Sadly this was not the case with a run scoring sacrifice to the next batter and a ground out to last batter of the inning.


It looked as if Lohse might be pulled because he was struggling with getting men out with no solution in sight but Lohse returned to the mound for the fourth inning. The first two batters singled continuing the domination of Lohse by the AA squad. Lohse managed to get out of the inning without giving up a run after a sacrifice bunt, a fielders choice and strikeout.


Photos By Charles Sollars

The fifth started off with yet another single by the Travelers. The inning would see two more singles, a fielders choice, a ground out and finally a strikeout of Beau Brooks swinging.

The fifth would be the last inning for Lohse this night in Springfield but after this dismal outing of five innings with 12 hits, 5 runs all of which were earned runs, and 4 strikeouts points to the fact that Lohse will most likely see another start or two in the minors. Lohse did not give up a walk but that was mainly because the Travelers were getting wood on every ball over the plate.

Also on another note I noticed a Tampa Bay Scout in the crowd who had his gun on Lohse for the first two innings. It appeared that the scout was there for just a routine scouting visit staying well after Lohse left the game but this could be something to be aware of if he was indeed there to take a look at Lohse.


Photos By Charles Sollars

There was one last thing that I noticed at the game which kind of struck me as a small sign of disrespect. The act I am talking about is not wearing your socks high. Lohse was the only member of the Springfield team to not have his sock stripes visible on field. It is not a huge deal but when a team and a manger have something that they all do even if it is required by the manager I think you should respect the culture. Yes, you are a big league guy but for that one night you are a Springfield Cardinal so dress like the rest of the Springfield Cardinals.

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