Franchise Mode

Late last night, I posed a question to our followers on Twitter: If you could start a franchise with any one current Royals minor leaguer, who would it be?

The responses have been varied. Wil Myers is the usual choice, but Bubba Starling is right behind him. Some have suggested Mike Montgomery or John Lamb, while Cheslor Cuthbert has gotten mentions as well. Christian Colon and Clint Robinson have gotten mentions too.

That’s what I was hoping for, actually. The question isn’t intended as a poll to see who most thought was the most talented or best Royals prospect, but more about who was the most vital for starting a franchise. There are so many ways to build a team, so there are many choices for the player to build around.

Myers, as arguably the Royals top prospect, is a sensible pick with a combination of athleticism, approach and hitting talent to make him a potential star. He’s maybe a year and a half from the major leagues, but he doesn’t turn 21 until next month. With the advancement of Eric Hosmer and company to the majors in 2011, Myers is the best known top prospect out there, and his strong production in the Arizona Fall League has restored the confidence that wavered during a rough season in Double A racked with injuries and mere mortal statistics.

As a high-upside player (and home grown, too), Bubba Starling fits the mold as a potential “monster of epic proportions“. He has five-tool potential and looks like the type of marketable player a franchise could build around.

Some added that Starling is at least going to get a shot in center field as a reason to name him above Myers.

That’s the interesting part of the exercise to me. If the Royals had a true stud shortstop prospect like Manny Machado, would he be the obvious pick? Teams often want to build up the middle, focusing on center fielders, catchers or shortstops. Does that make Bubba more valuable overall, even if we assume that he and Myers would be equal in talent.

I say that it does. In 2010, Myers, overall, was considered a better prospect, even if he’s going to be the same player. Why? He was still used as a catcher back then. Prior to moving to the outfield, a player of Myers’s level with his offensive upside held more value as a future catcher who could hit with power, work the count, and play passable defense than as any other right fielder out there. The issue is scarcity*.

*I could also qualify this by suggesting that Myers in the outfield will play more, see more plate appearances, and likely reduce his risk of injury, making his contributions at the plate more plentiful as an outfielder. Would you rather 450 at bats from Myers as a catcher or 625 as a right fielder? I’ll take the latter. Of course, having Salvador Perez helps make that an easier call.

Last year the Royals opened the season with Matt Treanor and Brayan Pena at catcher, and while they did fine for what was expected, neither gave the Royals any kind of edge. Many other teams get similar production from their catchers. It’s a position that focuses more on the defense and game-calling aspects, and if they can hit at all, great. That’s how the likes of Gregg Zaun, Sal Fasano and Pat Borders can bounce around the majors for so long. Despite mild production, they play the position well. If you can find a catcher who can hit, though? That’s a big deal.

If there are three starting outfielders in the major leagues, then even the 90th best outfielder is technically a starting outfielder. A .280/.370/.450 line as a right fielder is still pretty good, but relative to other corner outfielders, it’s part of a large crowd. It’s not terribly difficult to find a replacement outfielder to play in right. As a catcher, that statline stands out with only 29 other catchers out there, and many of them being modest at best at the plate.

When talking about center field, though, it’s often that we find teams putting players better suited to the corner spots in center field. Melky Cabrera is a good example of this. He can play it, but should he? Starling has the athleticism to  play center field and if some scouts are correct, could be a high-average, high-power player as well. That’s production that may not be available to other teams from their center field positions.

Fortunately, the Royals don’t have to make that decision, and have the luxury of having both players in the system. Even better, the player that I’d suggest is the key centerpiece of the upcoming Royals resurgence, Eric Hosmer, is already in the majors and thus eliminated from this discussion. The Royals have all three – and then some.

If I had the pick, though, it’d be difficult to choose, but the more I think about the factors, Starling’s ability to play center makes him more valuable to me. If he can’t cut it there, he’d be available to move to a corner spot. But starting out, Starling in center allows other spots to be filled from a wider pool of players who can’t play in center. Overall, it’s a net gain.

Things would be different if the Royals had someone like Julio Teheran or Matt Moore or Machado or Bryce Harper or other big time prospects who are in the top five of many overall rankings or play premium positions or occupy the holy grail of prospectdom – potential ace pitchers. Montgomery and Lamb can both be very good pitchers in the majors, but neither are considered future Ace material*.

*Note that there’s a difference between a number one starter and an Ace. Luke Hochevar is a number one starter. Wandy Rodriguez is a number one starter. Roy Halladay is an Ace.

I’ll put the question out to our readers here – if you had one pick from the Royals minor leagues to start a franchise, who would you take?

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Topics: AL Central, Baseball, Bubba Starling, John Lamb, Kansas City Royals, KC, KC Royals, Mike Montgomery, MLB, Royals, Wil Myers

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  • oldmanduggan

    The central problem with choosing Starling over Myers is that Starling is VERY RAW and is much less likely to reach his admittedly higher ceiling than Wil Myers is to reach his slightly lower but more attainable ceiling. A vote for Bubba is a vote for tools-based projection on an extremely volatile prospect.

  • oldmanduggan

    In another year, I could well be singing a different tune, but today the vote has to be for Myers, who has, you know, played professional ball.

  • michael.allen.engel

    @oldmanduggan I take no issue with any of that. It’s very close and on any other day I’d likely go Myers, too.

  • Kevin Scobee

    @oldmanduggan Another thing about Myers is his superior plate discipline makes him much more likely to produce at an above-average level, despite whatever his other skills may turn out to be. In other words, he gets on base a ton which will always produce value, something few other players in the Dayton Moore era have been able to do

  • oldmanduggan

    The central problem with choosing Starling over Myers is that Starling is VERY RAW and is much less likely to reach his admittedly higher ceiling than Wil Myers is to reach his slightly lower but more attainable ceiling. A vote for Bubba is a vote for tools-based projection on an extremely volatile prospect.

  • oldmanduggan

    In another year, I could well be singing a different tune, but today the vote has to be for Myers, who has, you know, played professional ball.

  • michael.allen.engel

    @oldmanduggan I take no issue with any of that. It’s very close and on any other day I’d likely go Myers, too.

  • Kevin Scobee

    @oldmanduggan Another thing about Myers is his superior plate discipline makes him much more likely to produce at an above-average level, despite whatever his other skills may turn out to be. In other words, he gets on base a ton which will always produce value, something few other players in the Dayton Moore era have been able to do

  • jim fetterolf

    I’ld probably go with Montgomery or Odorizzi. A good young starter would make the most immediate impact. Myers has potential, but is a few years away. Starling is probably five years away from being a productive major leaguer.

  • jim fetterolf

    The definition of “ace” is probably worth discussion. My rule of thumb is fWAR 5.0 or better, giving us 15 fifteen aces in the bigs for the 2011 season. I see no reason why a tall, hard throwing leftie like Monty can’t become an ace. Odorizzi also seems to have that potential, as does Duffy. Hoch doesn’t seem to have that potential any more.

  • jim fetterolf

    I’ld probably go with Montgomery or Odorizzi. A good young starter would make the most immediate impact. Myers has potential, but is a few years away. Starling is probably five years away from being a productive major leaguer.

  • jim fetterolf

    The definition of “ace” is probably worth discussion. My rule of thumb is fWAR 5.0 or better, giving us 15 fifteen aces in the bigs for the 2011 season. I see no reason why a tall, hard throwing leftie like Monty can’t become an ace. Odorizzi also seems to have that potential, as does Duffy. Hoch doesn’t seem to have that potential any more.

  • Kevin Scobee

    @jim fetterolf The only thing that would worry me about either Montgomery or Odorizzi, or any pitcher, is that they are pitchers. Position players have a much higher success rate of hitting their potential or at least being very productive players, pitchers are much more hit-and-miss. But, you could also make the argument that this organization as it stands right now, needs either one of these pitchers to be stars more so than any position player in the minors.

  • Kevin Scobee

    @jim fetterolf The only thing that would worry me about either Montgomery or Odorizzi, or any pitcher, is that they are pitchers. Position players have a much higher success rate of hitting their potential or at least being very productive players, pitchers are much more hit-and-miss. But, you could also make the argument that this organization as it stands right now, needs either one of these pitchers to be stars more so than any position player in the minors.

  • jim fetterolf

    @Kevin Scobee After all the talk of the Royals needing to go out and get an ace and discussions of trading Myers and a couple of others for a top 30 major league starter, plus Justin Verlander winning the MVP and flat dominating this year, a think a potential ace is more important for starting a franchise. With Myers we can also discuss Elijer Hernandez, Bubba Starling, Cheslor Cuthbert, so potentially high impact bats with good defense is something we have quite a bit of in the minors, even after Hoz, Moose, Perez, and Cain have already come up. Only SP to come up was Danny Duffy, who doesn’t have quite the velocity or stuff as Monty or JaKKKKe, so I think a 97mph leftie already in AAA is probably the best bet, with the highly thought of and rapidly moving Odorizzi a close second. (paragraph)Perhaps more useful would be to ask for a top five that you could start a franchise in ’13 with. In that case, Monty, JaKKKe, Cuthbert, Myers, and maybe Rey Navarro, all of whom have a shot at being starters in ’13, two starters, three good gloves, two impact bats. Make it top six and add Lamb. (paragraph)Have you heard if the new pitching coach is down with long-toss? If Monty long-tosses this winter and is allowed to stay on it next year, he wins a rotation spot out of SP and wins some games for the team. Saw him in last year’s futures game and he was simply the best pitcher on the field that day, a day in which Ervin Santana pitched. He’s smooth, he’s effortless, and he’s going to be a stud. (paragraph) Any thoughts on defining an “ace”? I’m just guessing with the fWAR 5.0, seems reasonable and I consider the fifteen that meet that standard to be aces.

  • jim fetterolf

    @Kevin Scobee After all the talk of the Royals needing to go out and get an ace and discussions of trading Myers and a couple of others for a top 30 major league starter, plus Justin Verlander winning the MVP and flat dominating this year, a think a potential ace is more important for starting a franchise. With Myers we can also discuss Elijer Hernandez, Bubba Starling, Cheslor Cuthbert, so potentially high impact bats with good defense is something we have quite a bit of in the minors, even after Hoz, Moose, Perez, and Cain have already come up. Only SP to come up was Danny Duffy, who doesn’t have quite the velocity or stuff as Monty or JaKKKKe, so I think a 97mph leftie already in AAA is probably the best bet, with the highly thought of and rapidly moving Odorizzi a close second. (paragraph)Perhaps more useful would be to ask for a top five that you could start a franchise in ’13 with. In that case, Monty, JaKKKe, Cuthbert, Myers, and maybe Rey Navarro, all of whom have a shot at being starters in ’13, two starters, three good gloves, two impact bats. Make it top six and add Lamb. (paragraph)Have you heard if the new pitching coach is down with long-toss? If Monty long-tosses this winter and is allowed to stay on it next year, he wins a rotation spot out of SP and wins some games for the team. Saw him in last year’s futures game and he was simply the best pitcher on the field that day, a day in which Ervin Santana pitched. He’s smooth, he’s effortless, and he’s going to be a stud. (paragraph) Any thoughts on defining an “ace”? I’m just guessing with the fWAR 5.0, seems reasonable and I consider the fifteen that meet that standard to be aces.

  • Kevin Scobee

    @jim fetterolf You know, I don’t know if there’s ever really been an objective analysis done to what people consider and “ace”. I know from listening and reading that the consensus is that there’s really only a handful in baseball – like, 10 at the most – but all of that just seems to be subjective at best and more of a “you know it when you see it” argument. I think if you had to put a WAR value to it, 5.0 might possibly be a good starting place.,

  • Kevin Scobee

    @jim fetterolf You know, I don’t know if there’s ever really been an objective analysis done to what people consider and “ace”. I know from listening and reading that the consensus is that there’s really only a handful in baseball – like, 10 at the most – but all of that just seems to be subjective at best and more of a “you know it when you see it” argument. I think if you had to put a WAR value to it, 5.0 might possibly be a good starting place.,

  • oldmanduggan

    @jim fetterolf But the exercise is starting a franchise anew with one of the prospects, not who do you value most for the Royals right now.

  • oldmanduggan

    @jim fetterolf But the exercise is starting a franchise anew with one of the prospects, not who do you value most for the Royals right now.

  • jim fetterolf

    @oldmanduggan Of the prospects right now, assuming we start the franchise season next year, I’ll go with Montgomery. Of the prospects left in the minors, he’s probably closest to being big-league ready and with a high ceiling. If we start the franchise in ’13, then maybe Myers, in ’16 I’ld say Starling or Elijer. 2012 season is “right now”. Maybe I misunderstood the test.

  • jim fetterolf

    @oldmanduggan Of the prospects right now, assuming we start the franchise season next year, I’ll go with Montgomery. Of the prospects left in the minors, he’s probably closest to being big-league ready and with a high ceiling. If we start the franchise in ’13, then maybe Myers, in ’16 I’ld say Starling or Elijer. 2012 season is “right now”. Maybe I misunderstood the test.

  • michael.allen.engel

    @jim fetterolf@oldmanduggan The question is mostly just a discussion starter – and it’s open to a lot of interpretation. I think some people would think “who is the best player in the minors right now?” and some would think “who’s the best potential player down the line?” and some may think “what position is most important to build around and who is best suited to fill it?”

    There’s no WRONG answer (other than some guy said Christian Colon on Twitter – I kid I kid; I think Colon will be fine, but KC knew going into that pick that he’d have a limited upside). I expected a large Myers vs Bubba showdown and that’s about what it is.

    I think a position player, by virtue of playing every day has a chance to impact every single game of the season. A starter can only really impact 35 and that’s even a stretch by today’s standards of pitch counts and off days and such. And for the Royals, I’d be wary of Montgomery or Odorizzi as a franchise guy. I really like both and think that Monty will have success, but he has to show me something in 2012 to really put himself into that “future ace” kind of discussion. Odorizzi, while very good, doesn’t have the same kind of ceiling as someone you’d build around. He’ll be good, but I think more of a Gubicza type – he COULD carry a rotation if he had to but is best suited to be the second guy in line.

  • michael.allen.engel

    @jim fetterolf@oldmanduggan The question is mostly just a discussion starter – and it’s open to a lot of interpretation. I think some people would think “who is the best player in the minors right now?” and some would think “who’s the best potential player down the line?” and some may think “what position is most important to build around and who is best suited to fill it?”

    There’s no WRONG answer (other than some guy said Christian Colon on Twitter – I kid I kid; I think Colon will be fine, but KC knew going into that pick that he’d have a limited upside). I expected a large Myers vs Bubba showdown and that’s about what it is.

    I think a position player, by virtue of playing every day has a chance to impact every single game of the season. A starter can only really impact 35 and that’s even a stretch by today’s standards of pitch counts and off days and such. And for the Royals, I’d be wary of Montgomery or Odorizzi as a franchise guy. I really like both and think that Monty will have success, but he has to show me something in 2012 to really put himself into that “future ace” kind of discussion. Odorizzi, while very good, doesn’t have the same kind of ceiling as someone you’d build around. He’ll be good, but I think more of a Gubicza type – he COULD carry a rotation if he had to but is best suited to be the second guy in line.

  • Kevin Scobee

    @michael.allen.engel@jim fetterolf@oldmanduggan I wasn’t looking at it from the “right now” perspective (although now that Jim brings that up I feel dumb for not looking at it that way) but even then I’d be hard-pressed to pick someone other than Myers. Even though Montgomery is “further along” because he’s in AAA and Myers isn’t, I’d say mostly that’s circumstantial to the rate at which position players develop and pitchers develop. If I had to make a bet, right now, I would say Myers as the bigger impact in 2012 for the Royals (much like Hosmer in 2011) and thus makes him that better choice. But I’m certainly open to entertaining Montgomery. I do love me some pitchers, especially ones that I am mutual friends with, and train with the program I taught for so long.

  • Kevin Scobee

    @michael.allen.engel@jim fetterolf@oldmanduggan I wasn’t looking at it from the “right now” perspective (although now that Jim brings that up I feel dumb for not looking at it that way) but even then I’d be hard-pressed to pick someone other than Myers. Even though Montgomery is “further along” because he’s in AAA and Myers isn’t, I’d say mostly that’s circumstantial to the rate at which position players develop and pitchers develop. If I had to make a bet, right now, I would say Myers as the bigger impact in 2012 for the Royals (much like Hosmer in 2011) and thus makes him that better choice. But I’m certainly open to entertaining Montgomery. I do love me some pitchers, especially ones that I am mutual friends with, and train with the program I taught for so long.

  • jim fetterolf

    @michael.allen.engel@oldmanduggan Good point on the value of position player v starting pitcher, and I normally prefer the everyday player, but in this scenario we don’t have a catcher or short stop in play. If Perez or Escobar were at Omaha, then I’ld take either as the foundation for a franchise based on premium position and defensive skills, but a corner outfielder probably not. Because of that and all the discussions this year and eyeballs on SPs, I’ve started to lean toward a potential ace as primary target. At Omaha, Monty is the likely one. Odorizzi will be at Omaha next year, so will be close, and looks to have the tools. Those are, to me, the two closest, potentially dominant starters we have. (paragraph) One thing that has helped change my opinion is the trade talks. If Atlanta thinks Jair Jurgens is worth Myers and Monty, and Sanchez is worth Melky, then even adequate starting pitchers seem worth a disproportionate amount of everyday talent, Zack Greinke a real obvious example, we get a starting SS and CF for him, both plus defenders, one of them with offensive skills, both premium positions. (paragraph) Good thread, thanks.

  • jim fetterolf
  • jim fetterolf

    @michael.allen.engel@oldmanduggan Good point on the value of position player v starting pitcher, and I normally prefer the everyday player, but in this scenario we don’t have a catcher or short stop in play. If Perez or Escobar were at Omaha, then I’ld take either as the foundation for a franchise based on premium position and defensive skills, but a corner outfielder probably not. Because of that and all the discussions this year and eyeballs on SPs, I’ve started to lean toward a potential ace as primary target. At Omaha, Monty is the likely one. Odorizzi will be at Omaha next year, so will be close, and looks to have the tools. Those are, to me, the two closest, potentially dominant starters we have. (paragraph) One thing that has helped change my opinion is the trade talks. If Atlanta thinks Jair Jurgens is worth Myers and Monty, and Sanchez is worth Melky, then even adequate starting pitchers seem worth a disproportionate amount of everyday talent, Zack Greinke a real obvious example, we get a starting SS and CF for him, both plus defenders, one of them with offensive skills, both premium positions. (paragraph) Good thread, thanks.

  • jim fetterolf

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