There has not been a lot written about the 56 players named to the Royals Instructional League roster, so here is a primer of sorts recapping each player’s 2009 season and status, in my mind, as it stands today. This is part 2 of 5 which covers the infielders on the roster.
The roster I am working from is the one posted on www.kansascity.com back on September 5th. Finding information about Instructional League has been surprisingly challenging so if any of the following content is incorrect, please comment to this post or contact me via email with any necessary corrections.
Dievy Batista (5/7/1988) Signed out of the Dominican Republic 3/20/07 (SS=43 / 2B=8 / 3B=4 / DH=2)
2009 Idaho Falls Chukars: 0.262/.309/.500 with 13 HR, 9 SB, 19 BB, and 68 SO in 276 PA
Batista has moved up the ladder every year. While his BA and OBP dipped this season, he did improve his SLG. A wide gap has formed between his BB and SO numbers, which is concerning, but I’m hopeful for his future.
Cheslor Cuthbert (16 years old) Signed out of Nicaragua 7/3/2009
Power hitting 16 year old 3B was the big International FA landed by the Royals this summer.
Yowill Espinal (4/1/1991) Signed out of the Dominican Republic 7/2/07 (SS=53 / 2B=8 / DH=1)
2009 Burlington Royals: 0.246/.327/.407 with 7 HR, 20 SB, 22 BB, and 53 SO in 271 PA
He moved up from the AZL Royals where he played in 2008 and improved his numbers across the board in the process. Just 18 years old he is evolving into a legit prospect.
Johnny Giavotella (7/10/1987) Royals 2008 2nd Round Pick (2B=133)
2009 Wilmington Blue Rocks: 0.258/.351/.380 with 6 HR, 26 SB, 66 BB, and 54 SO in 561 PA
Johnny’s BA and SLG dipped a little bit compared to his 2008 season, but he maintained his OBP and excellent BB to SO numbers. He hit 0.227 in April and 0.220 in May but improved to hit 0.276 the rest of the season.
Eric Hosmer (10/24/1989) Royals 2008 1st Round Pick (1B=85 / DH = 21)
2009 Burlington Bees: 0.254/.352/.382 with 5 HR, 3 SB, 44 BB, and 68 SO in 327 PA
2009 Wilmington Blue Rocks: 0.206/.280/.299 with 1 HR, 0 SB, 9 BB, and 22 SO in 107 PA
Hosmer had an interesting and eventful first full season in the organization. He opened the season with the Bees and was putting up decent numbers for a 19 year old in low-A ball. The Royals aggressively pushed him up to Wilmington and he struggled. By late August he was slated to have LASIK surgery. The question remains whether Hosmer’s struggles were because of his eyes, because he was pushed too aggressively, because of some other unknown reason, or because he’s just not good enough. Instructional League will be a good place to start sorting through the reasons. It seems clear that the Royals need to ease off the gas and start him back in Wilmington to open the 2010 season.
Joey Lewis (10/13/87) Royals 2009 41st Round Pick (1B=10 / DH=9 / C=1)
2009 Idaho Falls Chukars: 0.275/.354/.406 with 1 HR, 0 SB, 8 BB, and 25 SO in 79 PA
Just 20 games into his professional career, but a solid beginning.
Adrian Martinez (1/12/1991) Signed out of the Dominican Republic 8/1/07 (SS=33 / 2B=9 / DH=4)
2009 AZL Royals: 0.220/.285/.268 with 0 HR, 12 SB, 15 BB, and 42 SO in 181 PA
Still only 18 years old, 2009 was his first season playing outside of the Dominican Republic. Espinal is 3 months younger and is seeing better results. Hopefully Martinez will take a “Yowillesque” step forward in 2010.
Clint Robinson (2/16/1985) Royals 2007 25th Round Pick (1B=94 / DH=30)
2009 Wilmington Blue Rocks: 0.298/.356/.463 with 13 HR, 4 SB, 35 BB, and 79 SO in 483 PA
His SLG has dropped from 0.593 in 2007, to 0.472 in 2008, to 0.463 this year as he has steadily moved up. His walk rate also dipped, but his BA and OBP jumped back up compared to 2008. For what it is worth, Clint is the oldest Royals IF to be sent to the Instructional League.
Ben Tschepikow (9/22/85) Royals 2009 17th Round Pick (2B=29)
2009 AZL Royals: 0.333/.333/.333 with 0 HR, 0 SB, 0 BB, and 0 SO in 3 PA
2009 Burlington Royals: 0.232/.278/.366 with 2 HR, 1 SB, 5 BB, and 14 SO in 90 PA
2009 Omaha Royals: 0.250/.357/.250 with 0 HR, 0 SB, 1 BB, and 1 SO in 15 PA
He has had kind of a shaky start, but is just 29 games into his professional career.
Ryan Wood (5/5/1987) Royals 2009 11th Round Pick (SS=42 / 2B=17)
2009 Burlington Royals: 0.174/.303/.217 with 0 HR, 4 SB, 16 BB, and 15 SO in 109 PA
2009 Burlington Bees: 0.237/.327/.371 with 2 HR, 1 SB, 13 BB, and 20 SO in 114 PA
I’m always intrigued by the guys that hit better when they go up against tougher competition. The slash stats are less than exciting but Wood did hit 0.296 with both HR in his last 10 games of the low-A season.
This will be the first chance fans will have to take a look at Cuthbert in action. It is also worth noting that, while others can play the position, Cheslor is the only true 3B among this group.
Hosmer, LASIK improved, just needs to see the ball and hit the ball and then Royals fans everywhere can take a deep breath and relax.
The rest of this group is led by Giavotella and Espinal who were ranked by Baseball America as the #11 and #29 prospects in the Royals system heading into this season. I believe both did enough in 2009 to remain in the top 30 when the 2010 rankings come out.
The three 2009 draft picks; Tschepikow, Wood, and Lewis, plus 18 year old Adrian Martinez, will certainly benefit from the extra practice and playing time.
Deivy Batista, now 21, was not even on BA’s Minor League depth chart for the Royals, but his solid 2009 season coupled with a good showing in the Instructional league could change that. I haven’t put pen to paper to fashion the first draft of the KoK 2010 prospect rankings, but my initial thinking is that Batista will be in there somewhere.
Clint Robinson is the one player among this group that doesn’t really seem to fit. It seems probable that he is on his way to NW Arkansas for the 2010 season. With that in mind my assumption is that there is something very specific the organization wants to work with him to adjust.
Topics: Adrian Martinez, AL Central, Baseball, Ben Tschepikow, Cheslor Cuthbert, Clint Robinson, Deivy Batista, Eric Hosmer, Joey Lewis, Johnny Giavotella, Kansas City Royals, KC, MLB, Royals, Ryan Wood, Yowill Espinal