Since the 2006 draft remains the “ghost” draft that no one will claim during the period the team was transitioning from Allard Baird to Moore, 2007 is Dayton’s 1st official draft. Read on to see how the first 5 picks from that draft are faring in the system today.
3B-Mike Moustakas (1st Round/2nd Overall) Chatsworth HS (California)
High-A – Wilmington Blue Rocks (Royals #1 Prospect)
Moustakas is hitting .273/.310/.433 in 238 AB for Wilmington. In 61 games he has drawn 16 walks, struck out 36 times, hit 7 HR and stolen 5 bases. He is hitting .276/.301/.469 off of RHP and .269/.310/.376 off of LHP. In 2008 he hit .272/.337/.468 with 43 BB, 86 SO, 22 HR and 8 SB in 496 AB. Moustakas hit just .228 before the all-star break last year before catching fire in the 2nd half of the season when he hit .321. In 2008 he led the Midwest League in HR and in October was named a Low-A All Star by Baseball America.
The signs are pointing toward stardom for Moustakas the way things are trending. Not only is he holding his own at the plate after moving up a level from 2008 to 2009, he is performing equally well against lefties and righties in the process. He has managed to maintain his solid BB to SO totals, drawing 1 walk for every 2 time he strikes out. He’s just 20 years old and almost certainly will be in Double-A to start next season. The only concerns I have are related to his defensive play. His fielding percentage at 3B dropped from .942 last season to .904 this season. If he doesn’t right the ship in the field, the projected move to the OF will have to become a reality. The impact his position shift would have on the ML roster is obviously a positive. Gordon has already proven to be ML average at 3B and he still possesses the significant upside that made him one of the top prospects in all of baseball in 2006 and 2007. While much of the story remains to be told, right now the selection of Moustakas by the Royals is looking to be an excellent one.
RHP-Sam Runion (2/66) Reynolds HS (Asheville, NC)
Low-A – Burlington Bees (Royals #28 Prospect)
Runion has thrown 63.2 innings as a starter this season with a 6.50 ERA, 92 H, 19 BB, 30 SO, and 8 HR allowed. In 2008 he started out in Low-A with the Bees but after a 5.75 ERA, 54 H, 9 BB, and 11 SO in 40.2 inning pitched he was demoted to the Burlington Royals in rookie ball. There he seemed to right the ship throwing 48.1 innings with a 3.35 ERA, 47 H, 10 BB, and 30 SO.
Right now things aren’t looking so good for Runion. His SO/BB is awful, his WHIP is awful, and his ERA is awful. He is basically repeating low-A and pitching worse than he did last year. The Royals knew they were getting a raw project out of high school when they drafted him, but I don’t think they expected this. Runion is only 20 years old and will be given several years in the system to figure it out. He is pitching as a starter in the minors, but if he ever makes a ML team it will most likely be as a reliever.
LHP-Danny Duffy (3/96) Cabrillo HS (Lompoc, CA)
High-A – Wilmington Blue Rocks (Royals #6 Prospect)
In 67.0 innings as a starter this season, he has a 2.69 ERA, 54 H, 20 BB and 60 SO. What is even more exciting about Duffy in 2009 is that he has gotten better every month. In April he had a 4.35 ERA in 20.2 IP. In May he had a 2.10 ERA in 34.1 IP. Thus far in June he has a 1.50 ERA in 12.0 IP. In 2008 for Low-A Burlington Duffy threw 81.2 IP with a 2.20 ERA, 56 H, 25 BB and 102 SO in 17 starts. Before the break last year he had a 4.61 ERA in 27.1 IP. After the break he had a dazzling 0.99 ERA in 54.1 IP.
They Royals may have missed badly on Sam Runion in the second round, but they more than made up for it by selecting Duffy in the 3rd. He may have started the year as the Royals #6 prospect but he has climbed up the list with his early season performance. After moving up a level he is still striking out 3 batters for every 1 batter he walks, is still allowing less than 1 hit per inning, and has a 1.10 WHIP. He should probably be moved up to Double-A NW Arkansas at some point this season.
RHP-Peter Hodge Nielsen (4/126) Prince of Wales SS (Vancouver, BC)
Rookie – Arizona League Royals
Season does not start until June 21st
Hodge pitched for the AZL Royals in 2008. In 30.1 innings pitched, he had a 9.79 ERA, 47 H, 31 BB and 14 SO. He appeared in 11 games, 6 of them were starts. Hodge was repeating the level after spending 2007 with the AZL Royals during which time he was “decent” so I don’t know what exactly precipitated the 2008 drop off. Hopefully he gets back on the right track and can at least have a decent minor league career if nothing else.
OF-Adrian Ortiz (5/156) Pepperdine University
High-A – Wilmington Blue Rocks (Royals #22 Prospect)
Ortiz is hitting .242/.259/.268 with 11 SB in 190 AB and 55 games for Wilmington this season. He has drawn only 5 walks to go along with his 35 strikeouts. Ortiz started 2008 out in Low-A with the Burlington Bees, but after hitting .308/.334/.386 with 29 SB, 15 BB, and 68 SO in 422 AB, he was promoted to Wilmington. Once with the Blue Rocks he hit .311/.388/.398 with 5 SB, 9 BB, and 11 SO in 103 AB.
Right now, Ortiz is most notable for being the 1st college player drafted in the Dayton Moore era. His 2009 BA is down in large part because he is hitting .146 in the month of June after hitting .258 in April and .277 in May. Whether or not he gets his average back up to the .300 level, it doesn’t seem likely that he is going to be much of an OBP guy in his career.
In the 1st five picks of the 2007 draft it looks like the Royals have found two future frontline ML players in Moustakas and Duffy and one fringe ML player in Ortiz. Runion and Hodge look like they will probably never see the majors unless they get things figured out in a hurry. Drafting 4 high school players out of their top 5 and getting 2 legitimate prospects out of those 4 make the top of the 2007 draft class an absolute slam-dunk success for Dayton Moore and the Royals staff. If Ortiz, Runion, or Hodge can give them any return on the Royals investment it will just be icing on the cake.