There’s been enough talk over the past couple of seasons about how bad things were when Dayton Moore first took over control of the organization that it’s starting to lean towards excuse-making, but with the way things stand right now it is truly amazing how far the Royals have come in just a few years.
If you haven’t read the Breakdown of Prospects yet, do yourself a favor, print it out, take a trip to your – ahem – favorite spot and do so. Michael does an amazing job outlining everything you could ever want to know about the State of the System. He does such a good job, it makes you wonder what exactly the guy does with his free time other than take notes and read various baseball mags. (That’s for calling me a “California Guy”, Engel.)
What tends to get lost in the hoopla surrounding the Big 8, or Big 9 now if you’re going by Kevin Goldstein’s assessment, is what all these prospects mean not just to the big league club by being on the field in the future, but the impact they could have on trades used to supplement the playing 25. It’s a little thing called “depth” and there’s been almost none of it around these parts for about a decade or so.
I mentioned last week when talking about Johnny Giavotella that the best thing his rise up the prospect ladder provides for the Royals moving forward may just be depth at an up-the-middle position, which is something the team hasn’t seen since I was born. However great a piece he may be for the production of the lineup in 2013 and beyond; however much of a fan favorite he may be; his true value may not be realized until Christian Colon breaks camp as the starting second baseman*, and he’s then flipped for a useful part somewhere else on the roster.
*Or possibly the starting shortstop. Dayton Moore said in an interview recently that he still sees Colon as a shortstop at the major-league level – which might be more lip-service than anything else – so maybe there’s a chance that it’s a Colon-Giavotella combination, and not an Escobar-Colon combo up the middle. That, of course, is if Escobar completely fails as this team’s shortstop for the next two years. In which case that scenery underscores the point even more: the depth of the system is far better than it’s been a long, long time.
And that, above all else, is the most remarkable thing about this four year stretch of drafting and international signing: the looming logjam at second base isn’t unique.
As annoying as the words “The Process” have become you can bet the next two-to-three years will be ruled with “The Second Wave”. It’s that Second Wave that gives the Royals the opportunity to compete for longer than the initial window usual affords a smaller market franchise. When every four years new players are pushing arbitration and free agent eligible players, the true greatness of The Process will be tested.
The First Wave we’ll start to see this year with Mike Moustakas, Giavotella, Louis Coleman, Danny Duffy, Mike Montgomery, John Lamb (pattern forming) and probably more, and all of them were drafted within the last four years. In 2012 will come the arrivals of Eric Hosmer (who could actually be the end of this season), Wil Myers, Chris Dwyer, and Christian Colon, just to name a few. That’s 10 names that figure to be important pieces for the future, all coming within the next two years that were taken within the last four drafts. That’s also to say nothing of the players acquired by trades that should also be coming up within that timeframe. Pretty impressive.
Pretty Impressive also when you consider those players that could turn into trade-bait or quality bench guys like David Lough, Jarrod Dyson, and Derrick and Clint Robinson, aren’t normally included with the other more noticeable prospects.
The Second Wave will most likely (or in the perfect world we’re seemingly now living in) be Tim Melville, Jason Adam, Brett Eibner, Cheslor Cuthbert, Robinson Yambati, and Yordano Ventura. These six could just as easily be joined by another six if the Royals continue to be aggressive in international signings and pay over-slot bonuses in the draft. And if the star prospects fulfill their talents the way we all dream they do, there’s no reason to think that process will change.
So what about this season? Let’s say Kila Ka’aihue explodes and has the kind of year his PECOTA projections say he will. Dayton and Co. will have a tough decision to make by either trading him or moving what may be the best prospect in the system, Hosmer, to right field. If that happens then what position does Wil Myers play? Left? Most likely which means Alex Gordon is shipped elsewhere (NO!) making Myers have to learn his second new position in as many years. So then what happens to Eibner when he’s ready to roll?
You see the pattern forming here?
This is strange territory for a Royals fan to be in. Almost too good to be true. For the first time in a generation we can legitimately look at a list of names and try and piece them together to make a roster and not have half of them asked to play out of position, or play above their talent level.
Maybe The Process does work. Maybe I’m starting to see the light. Maybe it’s just baseball season again and too giddy to be negative anymore.
This is all Giavotella’s fault.