Back on August 5, the world of Royals fans celebrated the symbolic freedom from the spectre of Jose Guillen, as the Royals found a taker for the beleagured outfielder slash designated hitter. The San Francisco Giants, in the heat of a three-way race for the NL West, took on the slugger in a post-deadline deal that sent the famous player to be named later to the Royals.
Fans waited weeks with baited breath, speculating on who the lucky player would be. Who would be this young man who would be our payment for the slugging enigma?
Wait no longer, fans. The Royals received right handed pitcher Kevin Pucetas from the Giants to complete the trade.
It’s worth noting that often in a PTBNL scenario, the PTBNL ends up being known as “cash considerations”, and sometimes, it’s a crisp one-dollar bill (as one might find involved to settle a bet between Randolph and Mortimer Duke). So to get anything with a track record for Guillen, whose 16 homers tied for the Royals lead with Yuniesky Betancourt, is a good deal.
Pucetas was a 17th round draft pick in 2006 by the Giants, and in his first professional season, started 15 games, going 7-1 with a 2.17 ERA and a 60/19 K/BB ratio over 70.2 innings in the short season Northwest League. He followed that up with a 15-4 1.86 ERA season in Low A the following season over 27 games (23 starts) and 145.1 innings. In 2008 in High A, Pucetas continued the production, going 10-2 in 24 starts with a 3.02 ERA and struck out 102 batters in 125.1 innings while walking only 27.
The three solid years earned him a jump to Triple A Fresno in 2009 where he maintained decent control, but the strikeout numbers dropped. He also got hit hard and ended up with a 5.04 ERA in 159 innings. In 2010, he regressed, walking more batters and putting up a 5.69 ERA in 26 starts. In his time with Fresno, Pucetas has given up 32 total homers in 295 innings after surrendering only 15 combined in the A levels of minor league baseball.
Pucetas, 6’4″ and 225 lbs., looks like an organizational depth kind of player, one who may make some spot starts after injuries at the major league level. At 26 years old (once November rolls around), he’s getting to the age that he either needs to get into the Show or give up the dream.
Still, there’s talent here. Pucetas represented the Giants and Team USA in the All Star Futures Game in 2008 and was on the American Olympic team in the same year. He’s also been ranked as high as #15 among San Francisco prospects in 2009 in Baseball America’s Prospect Handbook. Armed with a fastball around 88 mph, has a strong changeup and apparently, has a chip on his shoulder.
Considering the Royals were close to cutting Guillen altogether, even as early as Spring Training (or at least, many wanted that to be the case), to get anything – even a reasonable minor league arm – is something. So we’ll take it. Here’s to hoping that Pucetas picks up the command that gave him so much success in the early levels and he can be a contributor to the franchise in 2011 (probably in Omaha’s rotation unless a lot of weird pieces fall in very weird ways.)