Tag Archive | "Zach Miner"

Royals minor league placements: pitchers

The Royals’ minor league clubs moved quickly into action as soon as the big league club broke camp. No sooner were the minors rosters set than they were on the field, starting games on April 5.

The Royals had the top rated farm system in all of baseball just over a year ago. But much has changed since then, and most of those top prospects are now doing battle in KC.

That doesn’t mean, however, that the cupboard is now bare. The minor league rosters are peppered with another crop of elite prospects. And though the games going on in KC should actually mean something this year, the minor leagues bear watching as the next wave of prospects matures.

Noticeably absent from the minor league rosters is John Lamb, Baseball America’s #18 prospect in 2011. Lamb is still rehabbing his surgically repaired elbow in Surprise. Still, Baseball America thought enough of Lamb to rank him sixth among Royals prospects.

Pitching prospects in the system ranked by Baseball America in 2012 are Mike Montgomery, #23, and Jake Odorizzi, #68.

Omaha:
Triple-A rosters are usually stocked at least in part with veterans who are ready to jump to the big leagues in a moment’s notice. KC’s Omaha farm team has a handful of starters who have already failed once (or more times) at the big league level.

Zach Miner fits that description. The 30-year-old who owns a 25-20 record in the bigs is still trying to work his way back from an injury that knocked him out of the entire 2010 season.

Also on Omaha’s staff will be Vin Mazzaro and Sean O’Sullivan, two who failed miserably in their chances in KC. No longer considered prospects, Mazzaro, O’Sullivan and particularly Miner will need to seize this as possibly their last opportunity.

Brandon Sisk, a 26-year-old who has received very little attention to this point, had a very good season split between NW and Omaha in 2011. Ryan Verdugo, 25, came over in the Melky Cabrera trade from San Francisco.

In the Omaha bullpen are three familiar faces to KC – Louis Coleman, Nathan Adcock and Jeremy Jeffress. Coleman has to be the most disappointed to not be on the big league roster. Coleman pitched well for the Royals last season, posting a 2.87 ERA and a 1.173 WHIP in 48 games.

Adcock was overmatched last year, but he has a chance now to prove who he truly is as a prospecT. Jeffress spiraled from KC all the way down to Double-A, struggling at every level. But his enviable physical ability keeps him in the “top-prospect” category.

Much to Ned Yost’s dismay, Montgomery solidified his spot in Omaha quite early in the spring. KC hoped to give the big righthander every opportunity to crack the big league rotation. But Montgomery failed miserably in spring training and took himself out of the running. Still ranked #1 among Royals prospects by Baseball America, Montgomery needs to improve on an awful 2011 in Omaha (5-11, 5.32 ERA), or he’ll be in danger of becoming a bust.

NW Arkansas:
Double-A tends to be the “proving ground” for prospects. Therefore it shouldn’t be surprising that most of the Royals’ premier pitching talents (aside from Montgomery) will start the season in Northwest Arkansas, even though many of them ended 2011 there.

Probably the team’s top pitching prospect at this point is 22-year-old lefty Odorizzi, the Royals’ #4 prospect according to Baseball America.  A key piece in the Zack Greinke trade, Odorizzi has moved slowly but steadily through the ranks. Odorizzi’s performances were spotty at Northwest Arkansas after dominating at Wilmington in the first half of 2011. He will probably get a promotion if he pitches well at Double-A.

The Royals’ #9 rated prospect, Chris Dwyer, will also start the same place he finished 2011. Dwyer was marginally successful last season, going 8-10 with 5.60 ERA. He will also be gunning for a mid-season promotion.

Northwest Arkansas will have an abundance of starting pitchers, and the most intriguing prospect is Noel Arguelles. The Cuban signee finally made his appearance in Wilmington last year after hiding in the shadows of a huge contract and mysterious arm troubles. Opinions of his ability vary greatly, but Arguelles had a 3.20 ERA and a 1.125 WHIP in his first professional season.

Other marginal prospects Tim Melville (22-years-old), Justin Marks (24) and Kendal Volz (24) will have a chance to prove themselves as prospects or just warm bodies against the tough Texas League competition.

Wilmington:
The Royals #8 prospect, Jason Adam and #10 prospect, Yordano Ventura, will begin the season in Wilmington. Both 20-year-olds had losing records and high ERAs at Kane County last year, but both have highly-regarded talent.

Keep an eye on 21-year-old Greg Billo. He went 9-5 with a 1.93 ERA and a 1.022 WHIP at Kane County. Billo struck out 7.9 batters per nine innings.

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Five Royals Players Who Could Surprise Fans In Surprise

The Kansas City Royals make their Spring Training home at the Surprise Recreation Campus in Surprise, AZ. I have no idea why a group of people got together and named a suburb of Phoenix, Arizona Surprise. Maybe the dry heat had something to do with it.

But it does give me an opportunity to make a dry pun about the surprise players the Royals may have in Spring Training. I picked a starting pitcher, relief pitcher, catcher, infielder and outfielder who could pleasantly surprise fans and the Royals enough to earn a spot on the Opening Day roster.

Starting pitcher Zach Miner: He’s not like the last pitcher named Zack the Royals had. Still, Miner had a solid career as a starting pitcher for the Detroit Tigers with a 25-20 W-L record, 4.24 ERA, 5.5 SO/9, 3.7 BB/9, 0.9 HR/9 from 2006-2009 before being sidelined with Tommy John surgery. The right-hander didn’t play in 2010, but Miner appeared in 23 games last season between AA Northwest Arkansas and AAA Omaha, pitching to a 3-7 W-L record, 5.26 ERA, 5.9 SO/9, 3.8 BB/9, 1.2 HR/9.

Miner is 29 years old and will turn 30 during Spring Training. Two of his prime playing years were recovering from Tommy John surgery and he’s been out of the Majors since 2009. Miner will need to step up and make a good impression for the Royals to give him a spot in the starting rotation.

Relief pitcher Kelvin Herrera: You have to like a pitcher named after a unit of temperature measurement. And like the rising temperatures of Arizona, Herrera shot up through three Minor League levels in 2011 before making two relief appearances in the Majors last September. While Herrera’s outings weren’t spectacular in the Majors with 2IP, 2 hits, 3 earned runs, 1 home run and a 13.50 ERA, the Royals saw his potential and kept him on the 40-Man roster.

The 22 year-old right-handed Herrera began his career as a starter, but elbow injuries in 2009 and 2010 put him in the bullpen. The Royals will likely keep Herrera as a reliever. With the Royals already strong bullpen, Herrera may start the season in Omaha’s bullpen if he has an average or lackluster Spring Training.

Herrera does have the talent to be a starter. If the Royals are serious about making Herrera a starter, it’s likely he will be in the Northwest Arkansas or Omaha starting rotation to build up his endurance and arm strength.

Catcher Manny Pina: The 24 year old catcher named after a pineapple played three games with Northwest Arkansas and 68 games with Omaha in 2011. Pina had a line of .239 BA, .365 OBP, .372 SLG. Pina threw out 27% of the basestealers, as opposed to the 42% of basestealers he threw out in 2010.

If Pina does make the Royals Opening Day roster, it will likely be as a backup catcher behind Salvador Perez, who the Royals project as their starting catcher. However, Pina does have options left and another year in Omaha wouldn’t hurt. Brayan Pena is 30 years old, out of options and the Royals believe his role is being a backup catcher. The Spring Training performances of the three catchers will determine who is the starter, who is the backup and who will go to Omaha.

Infielder Clint Robinson: If Clint Robinson was with another Major League team, he might be a strong candidate as their starting first baseman or designated hitter. His .326 BA, .399 OBP and .533 SLG in Omaha last year were good numbers, but when Eric Hosmer and Billy Butler are ahead of you, it doesn’t matter. And being 26 years old makes Robinson more organizational depth than a prospect.

But anything can happen in Spring Training. Hosmer or Butler could get hurt, or the Royals could trade Butler during Spring Training, unlikely as that may be. If Hosmer or Butler go down, Robinson will get a chance. If Hosmer or Butler stay healthy, Robinson will get another year mashing the ball in Omaha or he may be traded to a team who could use him.

Outfielder Jarrod Dyson: The Royals have a good outfield with Alex Gordon and Jeff Francoeur and the potential goodness of Lorenzo Cain. Mitch Maier did a respectable job as a fourth outfielder in limited plate appearances. So what gives the 27 year-old Jarrod Dyson a chance to make the Royals outfield corps?

Dyson’s main asset is his speed on the base paths and in the outfield. Last year in Omaha, Dyson played in 83 games and in 369 plate appearances stole 38 bases and got caught stealing twice. That’s pretty good, in case you are wondering. And in his 26 games and 53 plate appearances with the Royals last year, Dyson stole 11 bases and got caught once. Still pretty good.

And Dyson’s .279 BA, .356 OBP and .357 SLG line in Omaha last year is respectable and his defense is good when he’s out in the field.

But Dyson isn’t starting outfielder material. He doesn’t hit for much power and his value is being a pinch runner and playing defense, which works for a fourth outfielder or bench player. If Mitch Maier struggles during Spring Training and Dyson has a strong showing, he could be the Royals fourth outfielder.

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All They Need Is A Chance

Recently, the Kansas City Royals extended Major League Spring Training invitations to eight pitchers, three catchers, three infielders and three outfielders. Seventeen young men who dream of making their Major League debuts, or hope to make it back to the Big Show. This year, the Royals have the majority of their 25-man roster set. However, a few openings remain and injuries or poor performances from other players could provide these players a chance to make the 25-man roster on Opening Day.

Photo Courtesy of Minda Haas

Pitchers: Francisley Bueno, Chris Dwyer, Tommy Hottovy, Zach Miner, Mike Montgomery, Jake Odorizzi, Brandon Sisk and Will Smith.

Most likely to make the roster: Mike Montgomery, Zach Miner, Jake Odorizzi

Mike Montgomery is one of the Royals top prospects. Just 22 years old, Montgomery has a lot of upside, despite his 5-11, 5.32 ERA 2011 season with AAA Omaha. If Montgomery has a strong Spring Training and other starting candidates falter, he could make the Opening Day roster, or debut sometime in 2012.

Zach Miner spent 2011 rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, but appeared in 23 games between AA Northwest Arkansas and Omaha. Through 2006-2009, Miner compiled a 25-20 record with a 4.24 ERA with the Detroit Tigers. If Miner does well in Spring Training, he may win a spot in the Royals starting rotation if the team believes their pitching prospects need more time in the Minors.

Jake Odorizzi is a prospect who spent his 2011 playing for Class A Wilmington and Northwest Arkansas. Like Montgomery, Odorizzi could make the team if he has a strong Spring Training or other starting rotation candidates falter. However, it’s likely the Royals would prefer Odorizzi to start 2012 with Northwest Arkansas or Omaha for more experience.

Could make the roster: Chris Dwyer, Will Smith

Chris Dwyer is another prospect, but with an 8-10 record and 5.60 ERA over 27 starts in Northwest Arkansas last season, Dwyer will need a good Spring Training to make the Opening Day roster. Dwyer is likely to be a part of the Northwest Arkansas or Omaha starting rotation.

Will Smith had a good 2011 with Northwest Arkansas, leading the Texas League with 13 wins and was named Northwest Arkansas Pitcher of the Year. While Smith is not as touted a prospect as Montgomery, Odorizzi or Dwyer, he has a chance to make the Royals starting rotation. However, it’s likely Smith will pitch for Omaha.

Long shots to make the roster: Francisley Bueno, Tommy Hottovy, Brandon Sisk

Francisley Bueno, a 30-year old Cuban left-handed starter, is a veteran of Minor League, Korean and Mexican league baseball. Bueno appears to be more organizational depth than a legitimate starting rotation candidate.

Tommy Hottovy was born and raised in Kansas City and was a longtime Boston Red Sox farmhand before signing with the Royals this off-season. The 30 year-old left-hander made eight relief appearances with the Red Sox in 2011, but with the Royals strong bullpen, Hottovy is likely organizational depth more than a candidate for the Royals bullpen.

Brandon Sisk started the 2011 season with Northwest Arkansas and later promoted to Omaha, where he went 4-2 with a 1.41 ERA in 25 relief appearances. Sisk is a prospect, but not a top prospect. He has a chance to make the Royals bullpen, but it’s likely Sisk will start 2012 in Omaha.

Catchers: Cody Clark, Max Ramirez, Julio Rodriguez

Most likely to make the roster: Max Ramirez

Max Ramirez spent eight years in the minors and had catching stints with the Texas Rangers in 2008 and 2010 as a backup. If Ramirez makes the Royals Opening Day roster, it will be as a backup.

Could make the roster: Cody Clark

Cody Clark is a longtime Royals farmhand who spent his 2011 with Omaha as the backup to Manny Pina. Look for Clark to be a backup to Pina again in Omaha.

Long shot to make the roster: Julio Rodriguez

Julio Rodriguez came over from the Wilson Betemit trade last year. The 22 year-old spent 2011 in High A ball and is more of a prospect than a candidate for the Opening Day roster. He could end up in Northwest Arkansas.

Infielders: Tony Abreu, Irving Falu, Kevin Kouzmanoff

Most Likely to make the roster: Irving Falu

Irving Falu is a long-time Royals farmhand and at 28 years old, he’s less of a prospect and more organizational filler. If he makes the big club, it will be as a bench player, unless Johnny Giavotella has a disastrous Spring Training and the Royals decide to keep Yuni Betancourt and Chris Getz on the bench.

Could make the roster: Kevin Kouzmanoff

Kevin Kouzmanoff is a six-year Major League veteran with the Indians, Padres, A’s and Rockies. Once a touted prospect, Kouzmanoff’s production has steadily declined from his career high .275 batting average in 2007 with the Padres. The Royals see Kouzmanoff as insurance in case Mike Moustakas has an injury and lands on the disabled list. If Kouzmanoff isn’t on the Major League roster by May 1, he can opt out of his contract and become a free agent. If Kouzmanoff bolts, the Royals hope Moustakas stays healthy.

Long shot to make the roster: Tony Abreu

Tony Abreu spent 2011 in Reno, the Diamondbacks AAA affiliate, playing second base and shortstop. Abreu has Major League experience as a bench player for the Dodgers and Diamondbacks and will likely be a part of the Omaha infield in 2012.

Outfielders: Greg Golson, Wil Myers, Paulo Orlando

Most Likely to make the roster: Paulo Orlando

Paulo Orlando is a six-year Minor League veteran who is yet to make a Major League roster. If he does make it in 2012, it will be as a fourth outfielder, usurping Mitch Meier. At 26, Orlando is more organizational depth than a prospect.

Could make the roster: Greg Golson

Greg Golson is another long time Minor League veteran, who’s had short Major League stints with the Phillies, Rangers and Yankees. Golson might make the Opening Day roster as a fourth outfielder, but that’s only if Golson has a monster Spring Training and if Meier and Orlando stumble or suffer injury.

Long shot to make the roster: Wil Myers

Wil Myers is one of the Royals top prospects and had a good Arizona Fall League after a down year in Northwestern Arkansas due to a knee injury. While Myers has a bright future ahead of him, the Royals would prefer Myers to begin 2012 in the Omaha outfield to get playing time as a starter. If Jeff Francour has a long-term injury or is traded, Myers could be patrolling the Royals outfield this season.

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Royals Invite 16 To Major League Camp

ROYALS INVITE 16 TO MAJOR LEAGUE SPRING TRAINING

KANSAS CITY, MO (January 25, 2012) — The Kansas City Royals announced today that the club has invited 16 players to Major League Spring Training in Surprise, Ariz.  The Royals have invited seven pitchers, three catchers, three infielders and three outfielders.

Pitchers (7):

Francisley Bueno, 30, made 15 starts last season for Monterrey in the Mexican Summer League.  Born in Havana, Cuba, the left-hander now resides in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic and was signed by Kansas City as a minor league free agent on November 17, 2011.

23-year-old left-handed pitcher Chris Dwyer will participate in his second Major League spring training.  The Royals fourth round pick in 2009 out of Clemson University was 8-10 with a 5.60 ERA in 27 starts for Northwest Arkansas (AA) in 2011, finishing third in the Texas League with 126 strikeouts.

Tommy Hottovy, 30, will make his first appearance in Major League spring training for his hometown Royals after inking a minor league deal on November 18, 2011.  Born and raised in Kansas City and a graduate of Park Hill South High School and Wichita State University, the left-hander received his first big league call with the Red Sox in 2011, making eight relief appearances.

29-year-old right-hander Zach Miner makes his second straight appearance in Royals Major League camp, although he did not pitch last spring due to rehab from Tommy John surgery.  Signed as a minor league free agent on January 3, 2011, Miner was 25-20 with a 4.24 ERA in 157 games (35 starts) for the Tigers from 2006-2009.

Recently rated as the top prospect in the Royals organization by Baseball AmericaMike Montgomery, 22, will make his second consecutive appearance in Major League spring training.  Montgomery was 5-11 with a 5.32 ERA in 28 games (27 starts) with Omaha last season.  The 6-foot-4 left-hander was the Royals supplemental first round selection (36th overall) in 2008.

21-year-old right-hander Jake Odorizzi joins Royals Major League camp for the first time in his second season in the organization.  Odorizzi was acquired with shortstop Alcides Escobar, outfielder Lorenzo Cain and pitcher Jeremy Jeffress from the Milwaukee Brewers for pitcher Zack Greinke and infielder Yuniesky Betancourt on December 19, 2010.  Born and raised in Illinois, he made 27 combined starts during the 2011 season between Wilmington (A Advanced) and Northwest Arkansas, and was named the Wilmington Pitcher of the Year.

Will Smith, 22, will join Major League spring training for the third straight year, the second with the Royals after the club acquired him from the Los Angeles Angels along with pitcher Sean O’Sullivan for infielder Alberto Callaspo on July 22, 2010.  Smith, the 2011 Northwest Arkansas Pitcher of the Year, led the Texas League with 13 wins and 161.1 innings pitched.

Catchers (3):

Cody Clark, 30, enters his sixth season in the Royals organization after playing in 2011 with Omaha (AAA).  The resident of Conway, Ark., signed with Kansas City as a minor league free agent on October 26, 2006.

27-year-old Max Ramirez joins the Kansas City system after signing as a minor league free agent on December 14, 2011.  The resident of Barquisimeto, Venezuela, has appeared in the Majors with the Texas Rangers in 2008 and 2010.

Julio Rodriguez, 22, was acquired by the Royals with left-handed pitcher Antonio Cruz from the Detroit Tigers for infielder Wilson Betemit on July 20, 2011.  The Hato Mayor, Dominican Republic resident was a minor league All-Star in 2008, 2010 and 2011 and named the Dominican Tigers Player of the Year in 2008.

Infielders (3):

Tony Abreu, 27, is a switch-hitting infielder who has batted .251 in 146 career Major League games with the Dodgers (2007, 2009) and Diamondbacks (2010).  The Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic resident signed with the Royals as a minor league free agent on December 1, 2011.

28-year-old switch-hitter Irving Falu batted .301 in 111 games for Omaha (AAA) last season. The Carolina, Puerto Rico resident was selected by the Royals in the 21st round in 2003.

Kevin Kouzmanoff, 30, signed with the Royals as a minor league free agent on January 18, 2012.  The six-year Major League veteran from Evergreen, Colo., is a career .255 hitter with 137 doubles, 85 home runs and 261 RBI in 672 games for the Indians (2006), Padres (2007-09), A’s (2010-11) and Rockies (2011).

Outfielders (3):

Greg Golson, 26, joins the Kansas City organization as a minor league free agent, signing on December 13, 2011.  A native of Austin, Texas, Golson has seen time in the Majors with the Phillies (2008), Rangers (2009) and Yankees (2010-11).

22-year-old outfielder Wil Myers will be a part of Major League spring training for the first time in his career.  The converted catcher and Royals third-round pick in 2009 followed up his 2011 season at Northwest Arkansas with a tremendous campaign in the Arizona Fall League, hitting .360 while finishing in the top three in on-base percentage, slugging percentage and OPS.

Paulo Orlando, 26, was invited to his first big league camp.  The right-handed hitting outfielder played at both Omaha and Northwest Arkansas in 2011.  Acquired by Kansas City from the Chicago White Sox on August 9, 2008 in exchange for pitcher Horacio Ramirez, Orlando is attempting to become the first player born in Brazil to make it to the Major Leagues.

Pitchers and catchers will report to Surprise on Monday, February 20.  Workouts for pitchers begin the following afternoon, Tuesday, February 21.  The remainder of the squad will report on Friday, February 24 and begin workouts for the 2012 campaign on Saturday afternoon, February 25.

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Royals Ink Seven Minor Deals

Royals Sign Seven Players To Minor League Contracts For 2012

KANSAS CITY, MO (December 1, 2011) — The Kansas City Royals announced today that the club has signed seven players to minor league contracts for the 2012 season, including re-signing right-handed pitcher Zach Miner and infielder Jamie Romak, who both played in the organization in 2011.

Left-handed pitcher Marlon Arias, 27, currently is 0-0 with a 3.00 ERA in five relief outings with Estrellas de Oriente in the Dominican Winter League. Arias last pitched professionally in 2009 for the Los Angeles Dodgers organization, reaching the Triple-A level with Albuquerque. He is 31-19 in his minor league career with a 5.19 ERA in 100 games, including 75 starts. The 6-foot-3, 168-pounder from Bani, Dominican Republic was signed by the Dodgers as a non-drafted free agent on March 11, 2003.

30-year-old left-handed pitcher Tommy Hottovy, a native of Kansas City, Mo., and current Parkville, Mo., resident, received his first taste of the big leagues in 2011 with the Boston Red Sox, appearing in eight contests. The 6-foot, 195-pounder also pitched at Portland (AA) and Pawtucket (AAA) last season, combining for a 2-0 record with a 2.47 ERA in 32 relief stints. Hottovy graduated from Park Hill South High (Kansas City, Mo.) and attended Wichita State University before being selected by the Red Sox in the third round in 2004. He is currently pitching for Aguilas in the Dominican Winter League and is 0-0 with one save and a 3.52 ERA in 12 appearances.

Zach Miner, 29, was re-signed by the Royals after splitting his 2011 campaign between Northwest Arkansas (AA) and Omaha (AAA). He began the season in extended spring training as he continued his recovery from Tommy John surgery on May 28, 2010. Miner made his debut with the Naturals on May 16 and was 1-6 with a 7.16 ERA in 11 starts before going 2-1 with a save and a 1.59 ERA in 12 relief appearances for Omaha down the stretch. Miner has made 157 career Major League outings, including 35 starts, for the Tigers from 2006-09. The Royals initially signed him as a minor league free agent on January 3, 2011.

27-year-old infielder Tony Abreu spent his entire 2011 season with Triple-A Reno in the Arizona organization. Playing mostly second base and shortstop, the switch-hitter batted .292 (141-for-483) with 26 doubles, five triples, 10 home runs, 72 RBI and 83 runs scored in 120 games. The 5-foot-9, 200-pounder appeared in the Major Leagues for parts of three seasons with the Dodgers (2007, ’09) and D’Backs (2010), hitting .251 in 146 games while playing second, short and third base. The Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic resident missed the entire 2008 season after having hip surgery.

Infielder Eric Duncan, 27, hit .274 (96-for-351) with 21 doubles, a career-best 22 home runs and 62 RBI in 103 games with Springfield (AA) in the St. Louis Cardinals system in 2011. The former first-round pick of the New York Yankees in 2003 played first base, second base, third base and left field last season. The 6-foot-3, 210-pounder is a left-handed hitter and resides in West Orange, N.J.

26-year-old Jamie Romak has re-signed with the Royals after serving as the first baseman and designated hitter with Northwest Arkansas in 2011, batting .251 (110-for-439) with 21 doubles, 23 home runs and 71 RBI in 123 games. The 6-foot-3, 225-pounder from London, Ontario, Canada, helped Team Canada to the Gold medal at the Pan-Am Games this fall. He originally signed with the Royals as a minor league free agent on October 24, 2010.

Infielder Sharlon Schoop, 24, spent the entire 2011 campaign with Double-A Richmond in the Giants system, batting .218 (45-for-206) in 80 games. The middle infielder and right-handed hitter is a native of Willemstad, Curacao, and competed in the 2009 World Baseball Classic for the Netherlands. Schoop, 6-foot-2 and 191 pounds, originally signed with the San Francisco on March 30, 2004.

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Royals Farm Report: August 18th

The fine folks at the Northwest Arkansas Naturals provide us with a brief rundown of the Royals farm system every week. The details are listed below:

Omaha

Triple-A

The Omaha Storm Chasers (Pacific Coast League) rolled through another solid week, posting a 4-2 record since last week’s report. With their combination of a potent offense and strong pitching, the Storm Chasers have put themselves in prime position for a playoff spot. With just 19 games remaining in the season, the 69-55 Storm Chasers are at least five games clear of every other team in the PCL’s American Northern Division.

Who’s Hot

Before last week, speedy outfielder Jarrod Dyson had hit just two home runs in over five professional seasons. But last week, Dyson accomplished the improbable, homering in back-to-back games against the Salt Lake Bees. Dyson had four multi-hit games last week and is now hitting .294 with 35 stolen bases in 37 attempts. Several recently promoted relievers are excelling for the Storm Chasers as well. Kelvin Herrera has allowed just one run and struck out 13 batters in 9 1/3 innings with Omaha, while Willy Lebron (1.80 ERA in 3 games) and Zach Miner (1.80 ERA in 7 games) have been dominant as well.

Who’s Not

Though he has still put together an outstanding season in the PCL, Lorenzo Cain had a bit of a quiet week, going 5-for-22 at the plate with five strikeouts in six games. The recently acquired Yamaico Navarro is off to a slow start in his new organization, as the shortstop is batting .205 with two extra-base hits in 11 games with the Storm Chasers. Now working in the bullpen, Kevin Pucetas had a rough go on Aug. 13, when he allowed three runs on four hits in less than an inning against Salt Lake.

NWNaturals

Double-A

The playoff future of the Northwest Arkansas Naturals (Texas League) is a bit less secure than that of their Triple-A brethren, but the Naturals helped their cause with a 4-2 week. With 19 games remaining, the Naturals are four games ahead of the Springfield Cardinals, their chief competition for the North Division’s second playoff berth. A series to watch will take place late next week, as the Naturals head to Hammons Field to battle the Cards from Aug. 23-26.

Who’s Hot

Chris Dwyer looks like a completely different pitcher from the one who struggled with his control during the first half of the 2011 season. After a bit of a rocky start in Frisco last Thursday, Dwyer bounced back with 6 2/3 strong innings this past Wednesday night. Dwyer struck out eight while only walking one, and is now 5-1 with 40 strikeouts in his last six starts. Performing right along with Dwyer in the Natural rotation are Will Smith and Jake Odorizzi. Smith has spun three consecutive quality starts, while Odorizzi befuddled Frisco hitters to the tune of 6 1/3 scoreless his last time out.

Who’s Not

Jeremy Jeffress has spent the past month in the Natural rotation as the right-hander attempts to harness his control. After beginning the season in the Kansas City bullpen, Jeffress has struggled to throw strikes at times in Northwest Arkansas, issuing 17 walks in 23 2/3 innings of work. On the bright side, Jeffress has allowed just one home run and is inducing ground balls at a very high rate (2.83 ground out/air out ratio). Though he may have righted the ship with a scoreless outing in his last game, reliever Kevin Chapman had allowed five runs over his previous three appearances.

BlueRocks

Class-A Advanced

The Wilmington Blue Rocks (Carolina League) were not able to match the performance of their high-minors counterparts last week, as they went 2-4 and enter this week’s report having just suffered a three-game sweep at the hand of the Frederick Keys. Though the team is not yet mathematically eliminated from playoff contention, the chances that Wilmington plays into the middle of September are slim.

Who’s Hot

Nick Van Stratten put together a solid week at the plate for Wilmington, as the outfielder has hit safely in his last six games. His week included three doubles and four RBI, as Van Stratten is now batting .297 in the Carolina League. Acquired with Omaha’s Yamaico Navarro at the trade deadline, reliever Kendal Volz has yet to allow an earned run in four appearances with the Blue Rocks. Starter Justin Marks pitched into the eighth inning his last time out, allowing just two runs on four hits against Lynchburg.

Who’s Not

Wilmington is batting a collective .244, struggling to generate offense in the pitcher-friendly environs of Frawley Stadium. First baseman Ryan Stovall has hit a rough patch of late, going just 3-for-19 last week. Outfielder Whit Merrifield has also stumbled to a 1-for-12 showing in his last three contests.

KaneCounty

Class-A

Trying to make the postseason in their first year as a Royals affiliate, the Kane County Cougars (Midwest League) went 3-3 this week. Though they treaded water in the games that they played, the club took advantage of a rough week for the Quad Cities River Bandits. Kane County and Quad Cities are now tied atop the league’s Western Division second half standings, three games ahead of third-place Clinton in what could be a two-team race down the stretch.

Who’s Hot

This week saw more impressive production from outfielder Brian Fletcher. The 22-year-old racked up three two-hit games in the five contests in which he played last week and roped a pair of doubles along with his 11th home run of the season. Producing along with Fletcher of late is Brett Eibner, who has now hit safely in seven straight games. On the mound, Greg Billo has fired five consecutive quality starts. Though he allowed three runs over six frames his last time out, Billo still leads all qualifying full-season minor leaguers with a 1.56 ERA.

Who’s Not

Like Wilmington, Kane County’s offense is hitting under .250 this season, and of late first baseman Jacob Kuebler has not provided much pop. Kuebler has gone just 2-for-16 in his last five games. Shortstop Orlando Calixte is 1 for his last 18 as his batting average has slipped to .215. The right-hand batter is hitting just .189 against lefties this season. Reliever Chas Byrne was tagged for three runs in an inning of work as he suffered a loss to Peoria on Aug. 11.

 

Short Season/Rookie

IdahoFalls

The Idaho Falls Chukars (Pioneer League) broke out the lumber in the middle of last week, scoring 28 runs a two-game span. The club might wish that they could have spread those runs out, however, as the team went 3-3 last week and did not get any closer to the .500 mark. The Chukars are currently in third place in the South Division second half stadings, three games behind Orem and Ogden.

Who’s Hot

Edwin Carl has put together one of the most impressive campaigns of any reliever in minor league baseball. He struck out 8 of the 11 batters he faced last week and has now racked up an incredible total of 58 strikeouts in 27 innings with Idaho Falls. Carl has only issued three walks and has allowed just four earned runs.Richard Espy has cranked a pair of homers in his last four games, hitting safely in every game in which he played last week. Promoted after shredding the Arizona League, Nick DelGuidice is off to a hot start for Idaho Falls with six hits in his first 16 at bats.

Who’s Not

Moved into the starting rotation in the last few weeks, right-hander Willian Avinazar has not found his stuff yet, allowing four or more runs in each of his last three starts. A move to the bullpen has not helped Arkansas native Jonathan Dooley, who retired just two batters while giving up four runs in his last appearance.

Burlington

The Burlington Royals (Appalachian League) did not fare well last week, going 2-4 as the team continues to fall off the pace. At just 20-35 overall, the Royals are likely to find themselves on the outside looking in at the end of the regular season.

Who’s Hot

Center fielder Lane Adams was an offensive bright spot for Burlington last week, notching three consecutive two-hit games at one point. Adams has at least one knock in 11 of his last 12 games, a surge that has raised his batting average from .268 to .305. On the mound, reliever Rudy Brown (2.97 ERA, 7 BB, 36 K) has been a standout on a staff that has a subpar 5.12 ERA this season.

Who’s Not

Joining the Royals at the beginning of August, reliever David Middendorf is off to a slow start as he has allowed at least three runs in each of his first three apperances in the Appy League. Opponents are hitting .448 off Middendorf to this point. Starter Angel Baez has struggled as well, posting a 9.00 ERA through three starts in the month of August. At the plate, second baseman Derek Hamblen is just 5-for-49 (.102) with no extra-base hits in 20 games with the club.

AZL

Down in Surprise, the Royals’ complex league club picked up just one win last week, as the AZL Royals (Arizona League) are now 17-29 this season. With that said, now that the amateur signing deadline has passed, there is a chance that some of the club’s recent draft picks could begin their professional careers with the team in the next few weeks.

Who’s Hot

Outfielder D’Andre Toney continues to swing a good bat down in Arizona, as he is batting .322 in 35 games with the team. Producing right up there with Toney is infielder Adrian Morales, who has three three-hit games in the last 10 days and is batting .355 with an impressive .483 on-base percentage. Morales has walked (21) more often than he has struck out (15) in AZL action.

Who’s Not

Collectively, the AZL Royals have a 6.63 staff ERA. Starter Cesar Ogando yielded three runs in four innings last time out, while Andrew Durden allowed four runs in less than an inning during a relief appearance on Wednesday. At the place, 2011 draftee Cameron Gallagher is still finding his feet at the plate, as the catcher is batting .174 in his first 11 professional games.

Former Naturals outside the Kansas City organization

A former Natural who began the season in the independent ranks is back in affiliated ball, as the Boston Red Sox recently purchased the contract of Jeff Howellfrom the Lincoln Saltdogs of the American Association. Howell has been assigned to Double-A Portland, where he will join former Naturals’ infielders Josh Johnson and Chris McConnell in the Eastern League. McConnell is currently batting .233 for the Nationals’ affiliate in Harrisburg while Johnson is batting .253 in 110 games.

After pitching sparingly in his first week or two with the Seattle Mariners, Dan Cortes is beginning to establish himself in the big leagues. The big right-hander tossed five scoreless innings last week, though he has not yet struck out a single batter in eight innings with Seattle. Fellow reliever Juan Abreu is making a case for a spot in the Houston Astros ‘pen, as he has not allowed a run in any of his last four outings with Triple-A Oklahoma City. Also now in the PCL is Blake Johnson, who fired three scoreless innings last week for the Colorado Springs Sky Sox.

Down in the Southern League, Corey Smith is hitting .270 for the Chattanooga Lookouts. He is joined in that circuit by a bevy of former Naturals, as Ernesto Mejia(.300, 30 2B, 20 HR), Ed Lucas (.281, 3 HR in 25 games) and Rowdy Hardy (3.14 ERA) all play for the Mississippi Braves.

Ben Swaggerty had been on the M-Braves roster as well, but recently eared a promotion to Triple-A Gwinnett, where he allowed a run in 3 1/3 innings over two appearances last week. He joins Jordan Parraz in the International League, as Parraz is batting .295 for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees.

Rounding out this week’s report is a look at the Florida State League. Outfielder Jose Duarte remains on the Jupiter Hammerheads’ disabled list, while Harold Mozingo has a 3.29 ERA for the Dunedin Blue Jays.

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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Royals Farm Report: August 11

The fine folks at the Northwest Arkansas Naturals provide us with a brief rundown of the Royals farm system every week. The details are listed below:

Omaha

Triple-A

The Omaha Storm Chasers (Pacific Coast League) stumbled a bit over the last week, posting a 3-4 record that has seen the club alternate wins and losses over the past six days. With that said, the 65-53 Storm Chasers still hold a five-game lead in the PCL’s American Northern Division, putting them in good shape for postseason play.

Who’s Hot

Catcher Salvador Perez bashed his way through the Pacific Coast League in less than two weeks. The 21-year-old hit safely in his final seven games with Omaha before earning a promotion to Kansas City after Tuesday night’s action. Perez cranked five doubles and a home run in 12 games in the Pacific Coast League. Though he has yet to earn a look from the big club, David Lough continues to put together a strong season, as he owns a seven-game hitting streak at the time of this week’s report. Finally, after struggling as a starter in Double-A, Zach Miner has delivered out of the bullpen for Omaha, tossing 10 2/3 scoreless innings over his last four appearances. Miner now has a 1.46 ERA in five games with the Storm Chasers.

Who’s Not

Infielder Lance Zawadzki was just 2-for-16 at the plate over the last week, dropping his season batting average to .242. Though he has hit for power at times this season, Zawadzki has just two extra-base hits in his last 11 games. Though he ended up with a win on Wednesday, Mike Montgomery allowed five runs on eight hits in six innings of work, raising his ERA to 5.31.

NWArkansas

Double-A

With a 3-3 record over the last week, the Northwest Arkansas Naturals (Texas League) were unable to pad their lead in the North Division second-half standings. But thanks to the parity within the division, the Naturals didn’t lose much ground, either. With 25 games remaining, the Naturals are two games up on each of the other three teams in the North, setting up what could be a dramatic finish over the season’s final month.

Who’s Hot

Over the last three weeks, left-hander Chris Dwyer has looked like a completely different pitcher than the one who struggled to a 2-9 record to begin the year. On Aug. 5, Dwyer became the third Natural – and first since 2008 – to strike out 10 batters in one game as he earned his fourth straight win. In those four starts, Dwyer has allowed just six runs in 27 innings while fanning 29. Three days later, Will Smith fired eight scoreless innings against the Arkansas Travelers, striking out six against one walk. Though the Naturals eventually lost that game in extra innings, it was Smith’s sixth quality start in his last eight games.

Who’s Not

Unlike Dwyer and Smith, Jake Odorizzi had a rough outing against the Travelers his last time out. Odorizzi allowed a pair of two-run homers, giving up a total of six runs in 4 2/3 innings of work. The right-hander will look to snap a two-start losing streak when he takes the mound on Friday night. Outfielder Derrick Robinson is one of the most dynamic players in the league on the basepaths but has struggled to reach base in recent games. Robinson has just three hits in his last eight games as his batting average has fallen from .273 to .254.

BlueRocks

Class-A Advanced

Time may be running out for the Wilmington Blue Rocks’ playoff chances. The Carolina League club went 2-5 last week to drop to 53-61 overall and 17-28 in the second half. With the team now 10 games out of first and seven back of Potomac in a potential wild-card scenario, the Blue Rocks may need a historic run to reach the postseason in 2011.

Who’s Hot

Justin Marks turned in one of his best outings of the season on Monday in earning one of his team’s two wins last week. Making the start against Winston-Salem, Marks tossed 5 2/3 scoreless innings with eight strikeouts, allowing just three hits. Acquired from the Red Sox at the trade deadline, reliever Kendal Volz has yielded just two hits in his first two outings with the Kansas City organization. At the plate, outfielder Yem Prades carries a five-game hitting streak into the writing of this week’s report.

Who’s Not

Though he bounced back with a strong showing on Wednesday, lefty Noel Arguelles endured his roughest outing of the season on Aug. 5. In that game, Arguelles allowed six runs on seven hits in just 2 2/3 innings, raising his ERA to a high water mark of 3.36. Tim Melville also struggled in two starts last week as he did not get out of the third inning on either occasion, allowing a total of 10 runs.

KCounty

Class-A

The Kane County Cougars (Midwest League) were not able to establish any momentum in either direction last week, as the team has alternated wins and losses since Aug. 4. Now 27-18 in the second half, Kane County remains one game behind the Quad Cities River Bandits in the circuit’s Western Division. The two teams to not meet again in the regular season, so the Cougars must finish strong and hope for a little bit of help.

Who’s Hot

Though it may sound repetitive at this point, Greg Billo put together a pair of dominant outings this week. After a no-decision on Aug. 5, Billo yielded just one hit in six innings on Wednesday, earning his fourth win of the year and lowering his ERA to a microscopic 1.40. Antonio Cruz is another trade acquisition who is off to a strong start in the Royals organization. Cruz tossed five scoreless innings between two games last week and has not allowed a run in 13 1/3 frames since joining Kane County. Outfielder Brian Fletcher continues to impress, as he had a four hit game and two three-hit games last week, blasting a pair of home runs as well.

Who’s Not

Kane County catcher Juan Graterol is mired in a slump, as the 22-year-old is just 1-for-16 in his last five games. This stretch has dropped his batting average to .177 and on-base percentage to .233. Fellow catcher Kevin David had three hits last week but has now drawn a walk since Jul. 28. On the mound, Santiago Garridoyielded six runs in 8 1/3 innings over two starts last week.

Short Season/Rookie

Idaho

The Idaho Falls Chukars (Pioneer League) rallied from a four-game losing streak to win each of their last two games last week, but a 3-4 mark over the last seven days dropped them to 21-28 overall. Though the Chukars are currently four games back in the South Division’s second-half standings, there is still time for the team to turn their season around and get back into the race.

Who’s Hot

Reliever Edwin Carl continues to be one of the most consistent hurlers on the Idaho Falls staff. Carl gave up just one run in four innings last week and is now a perfect three-for-three in save opportunities this season. Starter Aaron Brooks turned a dominant outing against Casper on Tuesday, striking out 10 while walking just one in 5 2/3 scoreless innings. At the plate, Runey Davis is now 5-for-12 in his last three games, raising his batting average to .328.

Who’s Not

Recently moved into the bullpen, Robert Penny followed his first scoreless outing of the season by allowing three runs in just an inning and a third on Aug. 7. Though he has struck out better than a batter per inning with Idaho Falls, Penny’s ERA now stands at 10.86. Outfielder Darian Sanford has hit a bit of a rough patch over the last few days, as he is just 2-for-15 in his last four games.

Burlington

Like Idaho Falls, the Burlington Royals (Appalachian League) lost four games in a row at one point last week. In going 2-5 over the last seven days, the club is now 18-31 and in the basement of the East Division. Barring an incredible stretch run, Burlington is likely to be on the outside looking in when the postseason begins.

Who’s Hot

Right fielder Jorge Bonifacio found a bit of a groove last week, as the 18-year-old racked up three multi-hit games and hit his fifth home run of the Appy League season. Though his plate discipline needs to improve (43 strikeouts, seven walks), Bonifacio is hitting at an impressive .298 clip. Right-hander Matt Ridings had a bit of a rough start on Tuesday but fired six scoreless innings the previous Thursday, and continues to pace the Burlington rotation with a 3.16 ERA.

Who’s Not

Reliever Abel Gonzalez was tagged for four runs in each of his last two appearances, the first of which encompassed just one inning. Gonzalez now has a 10.80 ERA through six games with Burlington. Utilityman Derek Hamblen went hitless in six at bats last week and is now just 3-for-45 this season without an extra-base hit.

AZL

In complex league play, the AZL Royals (Arizona League) went 2-4 last week to drop their overall record to 16-25. A lack of pitching has been the story of late, as the team has lost its last two games by scores of 16-14 and 11-10.

Who’s Hot

Though he is not a member of the club’s regular roster, southpaw Buddy Baumann made a pair of rehab starts for the AZL Royals over the last ten days. He excelled on Aug. 7, allowing just one hit with four strikeouts in three innings of work. Baumann has now been activated from the disabled list and has re-joined Double-A Northwest Arkansas. At the plate, Nick DelGuidice is still hitting over .400 and has shown impressive strike zone judgment, striking out just 10 times in 34 games in the Arizona League.

Who’s Not

Christian Witt had a day to forget on Tuesday, as he yielded 8 runs in a relief appearance in that 16-14 loss against the Giants’ complex league club. 2011 draftee Cameron Gallagher is hitting just .179 through seven professional games, but should dramatically improve as he adjusts to a much higher level of competition.

Former Naturals outside the Kansas City organization

Right-hander Dan Cortes remains in the Seattle Mariners’ bullpen, though his last big-league outing was one to forget, as Cortes gave up hits to both batters he faced and was tagged with the loss on Aug. 5 against the Angels. The next former Natural to make a major league bullpen could be Juan Abreu, as the right-hander allowed just one run in three appearances for Houston’s Triple-A squad in Oklahoma City this past week.

Elsewhere in Triple-A, Blake Johnson had his roughest outing since joining the Colorado organization, allowing seven runs – six earned – on eight hits last Thursday. But since then, the right-hander has bounced back to allow just an unearned run over his last two appearances. In the International League, Jordan Parraz notched a pair of multi-hit games last week and is hitting .298 for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees.

Down in the Southern League, Ernesto Mejia homered on Wednesday night for the Mississippi Braves, his 18th long ball of the season. Though he has struck out 124 times in 114 games, Mejia has put together a solid season with 29 doubles and a .375 on-base percentage. Also on the M-Braves roster are Ed Lucas (.271, 3 HR in 20 games), Rowdy Hardy (3.19 ERA, 39 K:18 BB) and Ben Swaggerty (4.26 ERA, 32 K in 19 IP).

Also in the Southern League is Corey Smith, who has hit safely in each of his six games with the Chattanooga Lookouts since being sent down from Triple-A Albuquerque. In the Eastern League, Chris McConnell has doubled in two straight games for the Harrisburg Senators. Finally, in the Florida State League, Jose Duarte is currently on the disabled list for Jupiter while Harold Mozingo is carrying a 4.09 ERA through eight games with the Dunedin Blue Jays.

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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Monday Morning Linkage: Rounding Up The Royals

With less than a month until the wonderful “Pitchers and Catchers Report” story, some news has started to trickle in. Our Royals friends around the Internet have chimed in with some observations this week.

As is becoming a custom here on I-70 during the off-season, we suggest you give some other sites and writers some love and drop by to read what they have to say.

One of our favorite podcasts out there belongs to the talented guys at Broken Bat Single, and you can check in on their latest edition by clicking here.

The Royals brought back one of the most effective pitchers for the 2010 version of the ball club, Bruce Chen. Michael over at Kings Of Kauffman takes a look at the deal he received over here.

Craig over at Royals Authority took the time to break down the payroll of the 2011 bunch that the Royals will run out there. He openly wonders How Low Will The Payroll Go.

The Royals took a chance on Zach Miner for the upcoming season, and the folks at Royally Speaking break down who he is and what to expect from the young man. Read their breakdown here.

Finally, the trustworty Rany On The Royals breaks down the two left-handers that were signed this past week. One new to the franchise and one returning, they will look to shore up the rotation.

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 Continue Roster Overhaul

The Royals, who defined the term “seller” at the 2010 trade deadline, made one more deal before baseball’s waiver trade deadline was enforced. The Royals send outfielder Rick Ankiel and pitcher Kyle Farnsworth to the Atlanta Braves in exchange for pitcher Jesse Chavez, outfielder Gregor Blanco and pitcher Tim Collins.

Jesse Chavez

The story of Rick Ankiel has been told countless times, but it may need to include the underlying theme of injuries. A promising young pitcher that reinvented himself as an outfielder, Ankiel has struggled ever since to stay healthy. A change of scenery was supposed to revitalize the career of the lifetime Cardinal but an early season injury sidelined him. The trade deadline brought deals to the Royals and an injury to David DeJesus. Rick Ankiel suddenly found himself back in center field, recovered from injury and contributing to the team. Now, he finds himself traded for the first time and on his way to Atlanta.

Farnsworth is a twelve year veteran of major league baseball, having spent time with the Cubs, Tigers, Braves, Yankees, and Royals. A reliever who is enjoying a solid year for the Royals, he looks to join a Braves bullpen that can utilize him down the stretch run of a playoff caliber season. Farnsworth has pitched in 44 2/3 innings over 37 games this season. His earned run average checks in at 2.42 with only 12 walks and 36 strikeouts. He joins the Braves for the second time in his career halfway through a season. In 2005, Farnsworth went to the Braves in a July trade that sent Roman Colon and Zach Miner to the Tigers in exchange for him. He would go on to finish 18 games and save 10 for the Braves in 2005.

Jesse Chavez is no stranger to the trade game in baseball. The often dealt player has found himself traded four times and has spent

Gregor Blanco

three years in major league baseball. Most recently, in November of 2009, Chavez was traded by the Pirates to the Rays for Akinori Iwamura then dealt just over a month later by the Rays to the Braves for Rafael Soriano. This season in Atlanta, he has posted a high earned run average of 5.89, but kept a low walks per nine innings at 2.9 and a fairly high strikeouts per nine innings at 7.1. Six home runs over 36 innings does not add to a lot of confidence.

Gregor Blanco may have come to the Royals in a trade for Rick Ankiel, but his purpose may be to replace Scott Posednik. A speedy outfielder with a good batting eye, Blanco has posted a .310 batting average in Atlanta in 36 games in 2010. He has also drawn eight walks and posted an on base percentage of .394. Don’t expect power from Blanco, but he will provide a solid bat and find himself on base more times than not.

Tim Collins

Minor league pitcher Tim Collins finds himself in his second trade this month. Collins was sent to the Braves from Toronto in the deal that put Yunel Escobar in a Blue Jays uniform. The young relief pitcher has been in the minor leagues since 2007 and has shown dominant stuff at times. In 2010, he has totaled 11 saves in 41 appearances over 51 innings pitched. In those 51 innings, he has struck out 87 and walked only nineteen. That calculates to a 15.4 strikeouts per nine innings for the young reliever. With a WHIP under one at .980, Collins may find himself competing for a major league job in Royals spring training in 2011.

Overall, this trade made some sense for the club. They were two players that were not in the long term plans for a club that is rebuilding and they landed two guys with major league experience and one with significant upside.

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