Watching the big league team, we get to see Alcides Escobar and Jeremy Jeffress with regularity. Jake Odorizzi is destroying High A lineups – and was the Princes of Kauffman Pitcher of the Week for the second week in a row.
We haven’t heard much about Lorenzo Cain.
That will probably change after going 4-5 tonight in hitting for the cycle and driving in seven.
Cain wasted no time to make an impact. After two singles and a walk, he homered to right center for a grand slam. That alone would make for a big game, but he didn’t stop there.
He led off the third inning with a double, singled in the fourth, and finished the feat with a triple in the sixth. Lance Zawadzki had a big night as well, missing just the double for a cycle of his own. Johnny Giavotella had four hits, too, including his second homer of the year.
Cain is carrying an .885 OPS in Omaha and, believe it or not, isn’t the most productive outfielder on the team either. That distinction belongs to David Lough, who’s leading the team in extra base hits with 20, just ahead of Clint Robinson (18 – 9 doubles and 9 homers) and Cain (14 – 10 doubles, 2 triples, 2 homers). Lough didn’t play tonight after hurting his shoulder while diving for a ball earlier in the week.
Having both in Omaha adds to the depth of talent the Royals have right now. In the event that either Melky Cabrera or Jeff Francoeur get injured, either would be fine replacements. If the plan was to trade either (or both) after signing them to one year contracts in December, then it may be July before we see either Cain or Lough in the majors.
In a sense that’s good, because it means the Royals outfielders are performing. It’s tough to wish that they do poorly, especially when there’s likely to be a market for near-.900 OPS outfielders come July (assuming they keep up their pace, which is optimistic). Even if both Royals tail off, they should fetch something from some team near the deadline. Even Jose Guillen got Kevin Pucetas (3.13 ERA in 31.1 innings for Omaha) from the Giants last August.
Lough’s been waiting for his opportunity for a while and could have been an option last September or if the Royals hadn’t signed anybody in the offseason. He was our #17 prospect back in February.
Cain was probably ready to man center field full time on opening day, but when the Royals signed Cabrera, they still had Zack Greinke. There was controversy all spring as Ned Yost talked about the promise of opportunity they were determined to give Melky. So far he’s run with that chance and hasn’t given fans a reason to clamor for Cain the same way they did for Robinson or Eric Hosmer while Kila Ka’aihue was struggling. Or how they’re on Danny Duffy watch while Kyle Davies is, well, Kyle Davies.
Cain hit .306/.348/.415 in 158 plate appearances with Milwaukee last year, while playing good defense and showing high energy and athleticism. He also stole seven bases in eight attempts. He’s a player who’s still a bit raw (he didn’t start baseball until he was a junior in high school).
It was a big night for Omaha and Cain especially. If Melky falters and Cain keeps producing, it won’t be long before fans are asking when he’ll be up. Until then, and until he can be assured to play every day in the big leagues, Cain will have to keep producing in Omaha and wait his turn.