The recent major league debuts of Manuel Pina and Salvador Perez have inspired me to switch gears, at least temporarily, in my minor league coverage. Instead of examining players on a team by team level, this week we’re going to look at the position of catcher across all levels of the Royals system. This involves 26 players, and by now you know that I’m a bit verbose so I will be breaking this up into multiple parts.
This is Part 2 (for Part 1 just click here) which will cover the catchers playing in Idaho Falls, Burlington and Kane County.
Idaho Falls Chukars (Pioneer League – Rk)
Dale Cornstubble: Placed on the 60-day DL mid-June, he’s on the Reserve List and has not played this season. The Royals 40th round selection in the 2010 draft hit 0.265/.320/.294 in 19 games last year.
Edul Escobar: Signed as an International FA out of Panama back in July of 2007, he’s currently hitting 0.279/.317/.441 with 10 2B, 4 HR, 6 BB and 23 SO in 136 AB (37 G). Just 20-years old, Edul has struggled in his last-10 game (0.105/.205/.211) but is having the finest season of his 4-year career.
Lance Harper: The Royals 23rd round selection in this June’s draft has hit 0.222/.222/.278 in 18 AB (6 G) so far. Due to an unidentified arm injury – which failed to improve with regular rest – he hasn’t appeared in a game since July 8th. The team sent him to Kansas City to meet with team doctors about 2 weeks ago.
Tyler Smith: Is currently hitting 0.220/.347/.244 with 1 XBH in 41 AB (17 G).
Burlington Royals (Appalachian League – Rk)
Jin-Ho Shin: Signed by the Royals in February of 2009 for $600,000, he stayed in Korea to finish school and then made an appearance in the team’s Instructional League that fall. Shin made his professional debut last season with the AZL Royals and hit 0.152/.280/.200 in 150 PA. Now 19-years old, he’s hitting 0.229/.306/.343 in 157 PA and has clearly shown improvement at the plate. Shin had some struggles during the month of July but has bounced back to hit 0.250/.327/.386 in August.
Kenny Swab: The Royals 21st round pick this past June out of the University of Virgina, Swab is hitting 0.245/.336/.304 in 102 AB since signing with the team. He’s really picked it up recently and has hit 0.313/.405/.438 in his last 10 games.
Kane County Cougars (Midwest League – A)
Kevin David: With Idaho Falls he hit 0.277/.342/.415 in 149 PA last season after signing as the Royals 19th round pick. It was a strong debut showing for any prospect but especially so since he plays catcher. Unfortunately, David has had his struggles with MWL pitching this season and has hit 0.232/.289/.313 in 112 AB for Kane County. Despite the step up in competition, he has improved his SO/BB rate slightly from 2.9 to 2.6 which is about the biggest positive I could come up with. His numbers, while short of his 2010 output, looked better in July. In August he’s hit 0.217/.234/.304 and at 23-years old he’s already a bit behind schedule.
Juan Graterol: There’s no other way to say it, Graterol has had a rough season. He’s hit 0.174/.230/.213 between Wilmington (23 G) and Kane County (29 G) and is currently on the 7-day DL. His offensive production has steadily declined as the season has progressed and he’s a long way from 2009 when he hit 0.310/.354/.356 for Burlington (A) as a 20-year old.
Travis Jones: The team’s 50th round selection in 2008, he’s hit 0.234/.302/.351 in 170 PA for Kane County and also 0.211/.200/.263 in a 6-game stint with Wilmington from June 11th-August 4th. Jones, 22, has been prone to streaks this year and needs to find some consistency at the plate. He went 3-35 during the month of April and is 1-11 since returning from the Blue Rocks. On the other side of the coin, he hit 0.320/.358/.500 (16-50) during the month of June and was 6-17 in July before he was bumped up to Wilmington. There’s some potential in the bat and I always pull for the late round picks to have success so I hope he can find that aforementioned consistency soon
Paul Krebs: He’s 24, he’s played in 2 games for Idaho Falls, 1 for Kane County and is currently on the 7-day DL. However, Krebs is from Little Falls, Minnesota which makes him rather awesome in my book.
From this group, Both Burlington backstops (Swab and Shin) are worth keeping an eye on as is Edul Escobar. These three have separated themselves from the others listed here as they are healthy and have turned in solid offensive performances or improvement this season.
In Part 3 (most likely published on Friday) I will break down the catchers in Wilmington, Northwest Arkansas and Omaha before we move on to another topic.