Over the past couple of days, we’ve trimmed the Royals current 40 man roster down to 34 players. There were some tough cuts to make but with a large number of talented players getting closer to the big leagues, you have to make room somewhere.
A look at the pitching staff is here.
The hitters are examined here.
Today, we’ll look at who should fill those vacant spots and why.
For the purpose of this process, I’ll assume no free agent signings and no more middle infielders claimed on waivers. Neither of these are guarantees, so it’s subject to change at a moment’s notice or whenever a former Atlanta Brave hits the market.
The first player I would add is left-handed pitcher Everett Teaford. He’s developed slowly, but after a solid year at Double A, Teaford’s performed well enough for a spot at the top of Omaha’s rotation next season and has the potential to be the first starting pitching prospect the Royals call up from the minors. He broke out last year by striking out 10.3 batters per nine innings while walking less than three batters per nine. In a notorious hitter’s league and a homer-friendly ballpark, Teaford allowed just 0.6 HR/9. He doesn’t have the same upside as Mike Montgomery or John Lamb, but he could be a decent back of the rotation starter until some of those guys come up. Also, by adding him to the 40 man roster, the Royals protect him from the Rule V draft.
Another young player the Royals should add to the 40 man is David Lough. With the departure of Jai Miller yesterday, every player with big league experience in the outfield hits from the left side. Jordan Parraz is a righty, but has yet to get to Kansas City. Of the Royals Triple A outfielders, Lough is considered the closest to major league ready and has drawn comparisons to David DeJesus – a steady, balanced player who won’t be spectacular in any one area, but won’t be lacking in any one area either. Jack of all trades, master of none. Lough struggled early in 2010 in Triple A, but finished with a .280/.346./.437/.783 line with double digits in doubles, triples, home runs and stolen bases. He improved his walkrate as well (though for his career, he’s well below average). There’d be an outside chance that if the Royals felt Mitch Maier was expendable and Jarrod Dyson needed to play everyday in Omaha, Lough could make the squad as a fourth outfielder or platoon with Gregor Blanco. Like Teaford, he’d also be protected from selection in the Rule V draft by being on the 40 man roster.
I’m not sure where he fits in to the Royals plans, but Clint Robinson is another player who’d otherwise be eligible for the Rule V draft. Position players are rarely retained all season, but Robinson, the Texas League’s Triple Crown winner in 2010, is valuable enough to avoid the hassle altogether. He’s old for his age, especially since he hasn’t touched Triple A yet, but all he’s ever done is hit. He has yet to post an OPS below .800 as a professional. At present, the Royals have Billy Butler and Kila Ka’aihue at first base, with Eric Hosmer on the way, but there’s no guarantee Kila hits like we want him to and Butler isn’t untouchable in trade discussions. Robinson could be an important bridge should anything happen with the first basemen ahead of him on the organizational depth chart.
That puts us at 37 players on the 40 man and would probably be sufficient. While they won’t be big spenders in the offseason, the Royals will likely look for a right-handed bat and may need to snag a starting pitcher, so for practical purposes this COULD be a place to stop. I, however, do want to mention three more players who would be worth stashing on the roster.
Derrick Robinson – Hey, another player eligible for the Rule V Draft! Robinson is the likely centerfielder of the future and while he’s had his struggles, his 2010 built off of a strong finish in 2009 and the speed has always been there. Robinson should start the year in Omaha regardless, but he may have a shot at a September callup if he continues to progress as a hitter.
Louis Coleman – Coleman is one of my favorite prospects. He tore up the competition after being drafted out of LSU in 2009, and continued his dominance. With a strikeout rate of 9.9 K/9 as a professional and a 2.3 BB/9 walkrate, Coleman should be in the Kansas City bullpen sometime in 2011. Adding him to the 40 man roster makes it easier when his time comes.
Tim Collins – The left-handed dynamo has placed himself in the ranks of the top minor league relief prospects in the game both for his size and his eye-popping numbers. Barely 21, he had a 1.33 ERA in 20.1 innings in Triple A. Sure, his strikeout rate dropped . . . to 9.3 K/9. Dropped. To 9.3 K/9. And he’s 5’7″. Like Coleman, he should get a look sometime in 2011. He’ll be on the 40 man roster at some point, so why not now?
Free agent signings will no doubt cause this to shift some, as the Royals could still go look for talent. They could use another starting pitcher unless the rumblings of moving Tejeda to the rotation pick up steam like they did last season. They aren’t in a position to add a lot of payroll, so they’ll likely stick with what they have and maybe add bit parts (like in the cases of Arias and Zawadzki) at little expense.