As a Royals fan, I am long accustomed to searching for the occasional silver lining in a steady cover of heavy dark clouds. This year, more so than any other I can recall, a profound sense of hope has been radiating from our minor league affiliates, as has been well-chronicled and analyzed by Kings of Kauffman’s own Mike Engel, and others.
Mike Moustakas was just named the Minor League Hitter of the Year by Sporting News. No other major league team had more than one player named to the Sporting News all minor league team – the Royals had three; LHP reliever Tim Collins and catcher Will Myers, in addition to Moustakas.
Nobody knows how many of our young stars will pan out on the big league roster. It’s a crapshoot, at best. But as fans of the late great HBO series The Wire (one of Greinke’s favorite TV shows) know, the odds of winning with dice are greatly increased if you know your numbers. And in baseball, the more potential big league stars you have in your system, the better your odds for building a winning franchise.
Last night’s big league game with the Twins resulted in the Royals sixth loss in their last seven games. Greinke pitched okay, but some hard hit grounders found holes (as they seemingly always do for winning teams, just as losing teams smoke line drives on a rope directly to the left fielder), and our defense was shaky as usual. And yet, there were a couple of small moments that inspired hope.
In the fourth inning, Twins second baseman Orlando Hudson attempted to steal second base but was gunned down easily on a perfect throw from Brayan Pena. It’s gratifying to watch a catcher who can actually nail a good base stealer, and force the opponent to alter part of their game plan. And he can handle the bat pretty well, too. I’m not sure why the Royals have been so reluctant to play Brayan the past two years. He looks pretty good back there to me. And he’s still relatively young, and inexpensive.
Then in the top of the ninth, Alex Gordon got a big two-out hit to keep the rally alive. I used to view him as a rally killer. Now I’m actually glad to see him at bat in clutch situations, even though he has a long way to go.
The Royals are a grind to follow much of the time. But the management team should be commended for nicely resurrecting our farm system, and for getting a few important pieces in place at the big league level for the foreseeable future (closer, ace). Much of the rest is up to the baseball gods.