I'll Have What They're Having

For all the doom and gloom we’ve witnessed so far from the Kansas City bullpen, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. We’re getting to the end of a week featuring some spectacular starting pitching lines from important members of the Royals’ farm system. Maybe it’s just one week, but there just might be something to this Process after all…

The evidence:

  • 4/12:  Brian Bullington (Omaha), 2002 #1 overall draft pick, gets a no decision despite 7 innings pitched, 7 strikeouts, 5 hits surrendered and no walks.  He gave up 2 runs but only 1 was earned.
  • 4/13: John Lamb (Burlington) threw 4.2 scoreless innings, striking out 6 while only allowing 3 baserunners (1 hit, 2 walks).
  • 4/13: Mike Montgomery (Wilmington) made headlines, taking a perfect game into the 7th inning before giving up his first hit.  Through 7 IP Montgomery struck out 13, walked none, and only gave up one more hit (which did score a run).  After two starts, Monty has a 0.75 ERA and seems to be locating his curveball.  He’s in a groove.
  • 4/13: Aaron Crow (Northwest Arkansas) wasn’t quite as sharp as some of the other prospects, but a solid 6 innings with only 1 walk is just fine for his second AA start.  Crow surrendered 6 hits and 2 runs while striking out 5, and after two starts, carries a 1.69 ERA.
  • 4/13: Gaby Hernandez (Omaha) tossed 6 no-hit innings (though did give up 3 walks) while striking out 4 against Nashville.  Not bad for a guy the Royals claimed off waivers in the winter.  He has a 2.45 ERA right now and may be a candidate at some point to fill in for injuries or ineffective bullpen arms.
  • 4/14: Kelvin Herrera (Burlington) had the worst start of this bunch this week, but still, 5 IP and 2 runs against isn’t too bad.  He gave up 6 hits and 2 walks, but also struck out 6.  For the year, Herrera has a 3.00 ERA so far.  He’s a sleeper prospect with great upside, considering Baseball America’s Prospect Handbook tabbed 2009 as a “breakout year” for Herrera.  He missed almost all of ’09 due to injury and rehab, so 2010 will have to be the breakout.  So far so good.
  • 4/14: Tim Melville (Wilmington) rebounded from an April 9 start where he gave up 5 runs and only got 2 outs.  Yesterday, however, he went 5 scoreless innings, allowing 2 baserunners and striking out 8.  I think that’s a good sign.

Going back over that list, all but Hernandez and Bullington came into 2010 labeled as prospects within the system, and Bullington is a reclamation project as a form #1 overall.  The plan is for most, if not all, of these to be in Kauffman Stadium, dominating the AL Central within the next three to five years.  Montgomery, listed by many as the organization’s top prospect, is showing exceptional promise, and if he continues at this pace, he could be the best left-handed starter of his class.

So buck up.  Sure Roman Colon and Luis Mendoza still collect a salary.  Yeah, Kansas City is 4-5 despite the 3rd-highest team batting average in the Majors at the start of the day and a respectable 4.21 ERA from starters (and 6 quality starts in 9 games).  But just beyond the horizon, there’s a land where Mike Montgomery pitches behind Zack Greinke, where Aaron Crow takes the hill every fifth day. And hopefully, Roman Colon’s finally off the roster.

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Tags: Aaron Crow AL Central Baseball Brian Bullington Burlington Bees John Lamb Kansas City Royals KC Michael Montgomery MLB Northwest Arkansas Omaha Royals Royals Royals Prospects Tim Melville Wilmington Blue Rocks

  • http://www.esalestrack.com thehulk

    i dunno. if we don’t step it up this season and next in a pretty big way i just don’t see any way greinke stays with us past 2012, so i’m not sure how much of the talent will a) be on the 24-man roster at that point, and b) be producing as more than wide-eyed rookies if they’re on the 24-man roster at that point.

    but hey, as soon as I started raggin on guillen he went on this tear, so maybe if I predict greinke being gone by the end of 2012 (traded away to a competitive team for the second half of that season), I’ll be dead wrong and he’ll sign another extension with us.

  • Wally Fish

    I think we need to wait and see on Greinke’s lifespan as a Royal for two reasons.

    One, he is a unique individual and he may elect to stay with KC out of loyalty. He wants to win, but if some of the pitching prospects evolve into legit ML starters he might actually have a chance to win AND stay in KC. There is no doubt in my mind that the organization could afford to pay him fair market value on his next contract. A market which has seen the escalation of salaries slow just a bit.

    Two, the next CBA will be in place by the end of his deal which may drastically alter the landscape of talent acquisition, parity, and the financial landscape of the game in general.

    Until we know the details of what is worked out along those lines, worrying about Greinke being in KC past 2012 seems very premature.

  • Michael Engel

    At the rate he’s going, I’d figure on Montgomery getting up to KC about May 2011 (playing the service time game, that’s usually when prospects make it up). By that time Crow will be up, so from that point the Royals rotation will be:
    Meche (last year)

    If these guys progress as scouts project them to, that’s a young but highly talented crew to toss out there. And who’s to say the idea of that rotation (plus a replacement for Meche…John Lamb maybe?) wouldn’t compel Greinke to go for another extension? He pretty clearly doesn’t want the spotlight, so a calm Midwestern franchise on the rise just might be the best thing for him.

    If I put on my fake-GM hat for a moment, Dayton’s called pitching the currency of baseball before…some of these pitchers who don’t fit into the rotation could get moved for a young bat, perhaps a blocked prospect. Someone who can join Butler/Callaspo … well those two at least, until Hosmer/Moustakas/Myers/Lough/etc start getting into the lineup.

    Though all these rebuilding scenarios remind me of how we heard in ’06 we could contend in ’09 with Butler/Gordon/DeJesus, then 2010…keeps getting pushed back. Hmm. Now I’m depressed.