A Royals Fall League World Tour

With all the waiver claims and roster speculation, the performances of several Royals in postseason leagues has gone unmentioned.  Now’s the time to catch up on how players from the Royals organization are doing in various fall and winter leagues.

Disclaimer: small sample size caveats apply.

Arizona Fall League
Surprise Rafters
2B Johnny Giavotella: 19/58, .328/.375/.569/.944; 2 HR, 9 RBI, 4 strikeouts in 64 PA
1B Eric Hosmer: 13/70, .186/.269/.243/.512, 12 RBI, 9 strikeouts in 78 PA
C Salvador Perez: 7/34, .206/.229/.324/.552, 10 RBI
OF Derrick Robinson: 12/47, .255/.352/.277/.628, no stolen bases
LHP Danny Duffy: 10.2 IP, 10.97 ERA, 1.97 WHIP 13/6 K/BB
RHP Aaron Hartsock: 2 IP, 4.50 ERA, 2.00 WHIP
RHP Patrick Keating: 10.1 IP, 3.60 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 10/4 K/BB
LHP Mike Montgomery: 10.1 IP, 6.10 ERA, 1.45 WHIP, 11/2 K/BB
LHP Brandon Sisk: 13.2 IP, 2.70 ERA, 0.90 WHIP, 10/3 K/BB

Thoughts: Obviously, some of the key prospects in the AFL aren’t performing as we’d expect or prefer. Danny Duffy has been hit hard, giving up 15 hits in his 10.2 innings in six appearances. Mike Montgomery has given up an uncharacteristic three homers in just 10.1 innings. Considering he’s only surrendered seven longballs in his professional career over 245.2 IP, that’s a solid anomaly. His peripheral numbers, like the 5.5 K/BB ratio, look pretty good.

Eric Hosmer‘s .512 OPS is disappointing, but his meager performance could be due to the fact that among a full minor league season, including practicing and playing in the All-Star Futures Game in July, a long Texas League Playoff season, a stop in the Pan Am Games with Team USA and now 78 plate appearances in AFL play, Hosmer’s played a ton of baseball. Despite that, he leads all Royals hitters in the AFL with 12 RBI, has only struck out nine times and has walked eight times. He probably needs a break but this doesn’t seem like any kind of regression – he’s just tired.

Johnny Giavotella is starting to make a name for himself as a minor league second baseman to keep an eye on. He’s made amazing contact, as he’s struck out in just over 6% of his plate appearances. It’s no wonder then that he’s carrying a .944 OPS. It might be worth noting that Giavotella and Sal Perez are the only two Royals hitters with homers this fall.

Brandon Sisk and Patrick Keating are representing themselves quite well for being second tier prospects in the Royals system.

Dominican Winter League
IF Joaquin Arias: 10/38, .263/.300/.342/.642
C Brayan Pena: 11/37, .297/.366/.378/.744
RHP Manauris Baez: 3 IP, 12.00 ERA, 3.00 WHIP, 1/6 K/BB
RHP Louis Coleman: 8 IP, 1.13 ERA, 0.75 WHIP, 7/1 K/BB
LHP Blaine Hardy: 11.1 IP, 0.79 ERA, 0.71 WHIP, 13/2 K/BB
RHP Victor Marte: 10.2 IP, 2.53 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 10/4 K/BB
RHP Kevin Pucetas: 20.2 IP, 4 GS, 3.92 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 7/2 K/BB

Thoughts: Nothing too surprising about Arias – unspectacular average, little power. Pena’s been hitting pretty well for a catcher, and he’s made decent contact overall. For the most part, the pitchers have been very solid. Manauris Baez was tossed around a few different levels of the Royals system in 2010 and he hasn’t done much except allow baserunners in the DWL. That 1/6 K/BB ratio is ugly.

On the other hand, Kevin Pucetas, acquired from the Giants to complete the Jose Guillen deal, has shown great control with just two walks in 20.2 innings pitched. He’s also only struck out seven batters, which is concerning. A strikeout rate like that wouldn’t work long-term in any league – he’s just not missing bats. The biggest surprise in this group is Victor Marte actually performing like a professional pitcher. Louis Coleman and Blaine Hardy have been stellar, with both posting sub-1.00 WHIPs and solid K/BB ratios as well. It wouldn’t surprise me to see both pitchers in Kansas City at some point in 2011.

Puerto Rican Winter League
CF Jarrod Dyson: 12/61, .197/.279/.230/.509, 7 steals in 8 attempts
IF Irving Falu: 14/50, .280/.368/.320/.688
3B Josh Fields: 9/53, .170/.237/.189/.426, 14 strikeouts
SS Rey Navarro: 1/7, .143/.143/.143/.286
OF Paulo Orlando: 0/5, 2 walks
1B Clint Robinson: 1/12, .083/.154/.083/.237, one strikeout
LHP Dusty Hughes: 5 IP, 0.00 ERA, 0.40 WHIP, 7/1 K/BB
RHP Mario Santiago: 24.2 IP, 5 GS, 1.09 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 24/3 K/BB

Thoughts: If the Royals are using fall league performances to determine who they keep on the 40 man roster, Clint Robinson isn’t making his case. Neither is Josh Fields, who’s struck out about a quarter of the time. This group overall is comprised of players who’ll spend some time in spring training and while the hitters have been lackluster, the two pitchers have been stunning.

Dusty Hughes will be the lefty of choice out of the bullpen next year, and while it’s just five innings, his 7/1 K/BB ratio is promising. More intriguing is Mario Santiago‘s performance. He’s striking out a batter an inning and has walked less than one per start. The word is that Santiago has added a cutter to his repertoire and it’s clearly working.

Jarrod Dyson hasn’t done a lot with the bat, but when he’s gotten on base, he’s used his speed to his advantage stealing seven bases and getting caught just once. That’s the kind of stolen base efficiency that could get him the Opening Day start in centerfield.

Venezuelan Winter League
OF Gregor Blanco: 10/46, .213/.368/.283/.651, 10 walks
C Manuel Pina: 1/14, .071/.125/.071/.196
RHP Gaby Hernandez: 7.1 IP, 3.68 ERA, 0.82 WHIP, 2 K
RHP Greg Holland: 14 IP, 3.21 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 29/7 K/BB

Thoughts: Blanco’s doing what he does – hitting just a bit but staying patient at the plate. His .213 average looks bad but that .368 on base percentage looks just fine. That’s Blanco’s game. Manny Pina isn’t doing much at all, but it’s just 14 at bats, and he’s not really a prospect due to his bat, but rather for his work behind the plate.

I still don’t see Gaby Hernandez sticking around when the Royals add minor leaguers to the 40 man roster before the Rule V draft, but his solid WHIP at least indicates that he can be effective in the short term. Still, when you allow less than a baserunner an inning – an elite rate – and still give up a 3.68 ERA, that’s not the best combination of numbers, and I’d expect both to rise with more work.

The good news with Greg Holland: he’s striking out more than two batters an inning. The bad news? He’s walking one every other inning. Holland’s been a high K/9 pitcher in the minors, and often those players will walk a fair amount of batters, too. He’ll probably get a good look in spring training and likely make the Opening Day roster, but I don’t know that he’ll be much more than a short relief guy and a footnote as Dayton Moore’s first draftee to reach the majors.

Mexican League
Federico Castaneda: 11.1 IP, 7.15 ERA, 1.68 WHIP, 15/5 K/BB
Luis Mendoza: 24 IP, 1.13 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, 16/4 K/BB, no homers allowed

Thoughts: Castaneda is a dark horse candidate to pitch in the big leagues in 2011, and there were whispers of his potential to get some bullpen work in 2010 even. His K/9 numbers are good in La Liga Mexicana del Pacifico though.

Luis Mendoza, noted gas can of early 2010 fame, has had a very nice time in the LMP with a remarkable 1.13 ERA, a sub-1.00 WHIP and only four walks in 24 innings. Most remarkable – he’s given up no homers. Does this mean anything for 2011? Probably not. I don’t see him doing anything but filling a jersey in Triple A, and maybe not for the Royals.

I warned above that there’s a small sample size involved with these numbers, and hardly any players have more than 60 plate appearances or more than 20 innings pitched, so there’s not a lot to determine. The little things still jump out – Eric Hosmer is driving in runs, making contact and walking despite a much lower average than we saw all season. That’s the kind of thing you’d want to see from a franchise hitter, a guy who can produce runs even when he’s struggling. Johnny Giavotella‘s bat has been potent and he might be someone we’ll hear about all season like Hosmer, Mike Moustakas and Wil Myers were in 2010. Hopefully we’ll be asking when his estimated time of arrival is going to be.

Gregor Blanco can take a walk, Jarrod Dyson can steal a base, Greg Holland strikes out a lot of batters. These things we already knew, but to see these skill sets continue in new environments and against unfamiliar competition is a good sign for them being actual skills and not just league or level specific results. Mike Montgomery hasn’t put up great numbers, but his strikeout and walkrate are consistent with what he’s done in the past. He’s had a bit of bad luck in the short term.

Some things, like Mario Santiago‘s emergence, could be things to follow during spring training and into the early parts of 2011. Heck, even Luis Mendoza could be figuring things out (though, who are we kidding, that’s not likely). The Royals have gotten extended looks at all of these players and as the minor league and major league rosters develop over the winter, those extra looks can’t hurt.

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Tags: AL Central Baseball Eric Hosmer Greg Holland Jarrod Dyson Johnny Giavotella Kansas City Royals KC Mario Santiago Mike Montgomery MLB Royals

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