Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Break Up the Royals (Farm System)

For those of you who weren't paying attention (and I don't blame you), the Royals have put together an absolutely stacked farm system.  John Sickels of minorleagueball.com recently released his grades and rankings for the Royals.  Sickels tends to be pretty stingy on giving out A's,* and he gave out only seven to hitters this year.  Three of them just happen to be stud hitters in the Royals farm system (Moustakis, Hosmer, and Myers). 

* According to his site, an A grade means, "prospects are the elite. They have a good chance of becoming stars or superstars. Almost all Grade A prospects develop into major league regulars, if injuries or other problems don't intervene. Note that is a major "if" in some cases."

The fact that the Royals farm system has three "Grade A" hitting prospects is impressive, but their unbelievable pitching depth is even more impressive.  Within their top fifteen prospects, nine are currently starting pitchers.  LHPs Mike Montgomery and Danny Duffy look to be aces in waiting, while LHP Mike Lamb appears to be a very good number two.  RHPs Aaron Crow and Tim Melville were ranked #3 and #4 last year, but slipped to #s 14 and 15 this year respectively due to disappointing seasons.  Still, both pitchers have good stuff with impressive ceilings, so it wouldn't be a surprise to see one or both rebound in 2011.  LHP Chris Dwyer clocks in at #9.  While he has great stuff, there are a lot of questions about his command.  He might end up being one of those pitchers that's better off coming out of the bullpen.  Considering how expensive power relief arms are, it might not be a bad idea to consider making the change at some point in the near future.

If even five of the Royals top fifteen prospects pan out, the future looks to be fairly bright in Kansas City.  Still, sustained future success relies primarily on General Manager Dayton Moore's ability to field a cohesive, competitive team.  Moore has proven, in both Atlanta and Kansas City, to be a gifted evaluator of young talent.  Unfortunately, the same can not be said for his ability to evaluate talent currently in the major leagues.  His insistence on overpaying terrible offensive players like Jeff Francoeur and Jose Guillen, while trading for useless veterans like Yuniskey Betancourt (and calling him a great defensive player) has been nothing short of baffling.*  I'm not positive, but it almost seems as if he's actively trying to put together an every day lineup that boasts a sub-.300 OBP. 

* Yes, I know at least two of the players I named are no longer with the team.  I'm trying to establish a pattern of reckless behavior.

For the sake of Royals fans and sympathizers everywhere (most notably Bill James, Joe Posnanski, Rob Neyer, and Rany Jazayerli), I sincerely hope Moore doesn't screw this up.  The Royals have a serious shot at being very interesting over the next few years if he doesn't.

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