Royals Prospect Review: Chris Dwyer

If you’re looking for a pitcher with more upside in the Royals system, Chris Dwyer might be it. If you’re looking for the most bustable, Dwyer holds that distinction as well.

Dwyer, 4th round pick in 2009, ranked among Baseball America’s top 100 prospects before 2011. His performance assures that he can’t rank in that group again this year. In 141.1 innings in 2011, Dwyer put up a 5.60 ERA and 1.429 WHIP while walking more than five batters per nine innings for Double A Northwest Arkansas. For Dwyer, who turns 24 in April, it’s not the performance that he’d have wanted to assure the Royals that he was ready for the next step.

It begs the question: does Chris Dwyer have a next step?

 

Dwyer has major league stuff. His curveball was ready when he was drafted and his fastball hangs around 92 mph and can touch 94 or 95. He’s not afraid to pitch inside. His changeup could be an average offering.

The issue with Dwyer is command.

It’s not enough that he doesn’t get the ball in the strike zone, but Dwyer allowed opponents to slug .515 against him in 2011. His fastball can be a little flat at times and he’ll leave it up as well. That’s bad news.

Most maddening is his inconsistency. Dwyer has gone through stretches where he can shut down offenses, only to turn around and get blasted in his next month of starts. He’s shown flashes of brilliance, but merely flashes.

The jump to Double A isn’t an easy one, but the Royals had to expect a better year out of Dwyer than what he gave them. Going into 2011, Dwyer had struck out better than ten batters per nine innings but had walked a shade over four. That puts him into Jonathan Sanchez territory, which isn’t too bad, but it’s not reliable either. Sanchez has thrown no-hitters and has had games where he can’t make it through four innings.

Dwyer’s not a bust yet, but his consistency will limit his upside. If he figures it out, he could be a left-handed strikeout machine. He doesn’t have sharp splits that make him a flyball or home run risk. He gave up only 0.89 homers per nine innings last season and eight of his homers came with nobody on.

When a runner did get on – and Dwyer allowed a runner to reach base with nobody on at a .351 clip – Dwyer had a 12.49 ERA.

Despite those struggles, Dwyer is still a good strikeout pitcher and if he continues that trend a higher walkrate (in the upper 3s or lower 4s) is tolerable to make him a #3 or #4 starter in the big leagues. If he can figure out how to get that walkrate even lower and continue to strike people out, he’ll be back on track for success.

Dwyer figures to start next year in Double A for a few starts, but isn’t unlikely to start in Omaha either. He may get an invite and some early work in spring training which may determine his assignment for 2012. He remains as enigmatic as ever.

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Topics: AL Central, Baseball, Chris Dwyer, Jonathan Sanchez, Kansas City Royals, KC, KC Royals, MLB, Royals

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  • jim fetterolf

    I sound like a broken record, but was Dwyer’s training program also changed when moved to Arkansas? I’ve heard that Jake Odorizzi’s was and we know that Mike Montgomery was restricted from long-toss when he went Omaha. I don’t think it just bad luck that a whole flock of hot young arms regressed last year.

  • jim fetterolf

    I sound like a broken record, but was Dwyer’s training program also changed when moved to Arkansas? I’ve heard that Jake Odorizzi’s was and we know that Mike Montgomery was restricted from long-toss when he went Omaha. I don’t think it just bad luck that a whole flock of hot young arms regressed last year.

  • michael.allen.engel

    @jim fetterolf I can’t find a source about Dwyer’s training before or after the draft, so I don’t know the answer to that question. He performed well in rookie ball and A ball, but I think it’s more that the jump from A to Double A is wider than the jump from Triple A to the majors.

    That’s the jump where you start to figure out who can play this game and who can’t . Odorizzi dominated the Carolina League, but struggled upon reaching NWA. Monty’s long-toss situation is known, but the Royals have softened recently – not sure what to attribute his problems to, but he owned every other level prior to 2011, long toss or not. I don’t think it’s that simple to say “they changed the program, thus, struggles” because even in the period where these players were “off program” they were doing well. Sometimes they just hit adversity and now it’s time to see how they adjust to it.

  • michael.allen.engel

    @jim fetterolf I can’t find a source about Dwyer’s training before or after the draft, so I don’t know the answer to that question. He performed well in rookie ball and A ball, but I think it’s more that the jump from A to Double A is wider than the jump from Triple A to the majors.

    That’s the jump where you start to figure out who can play this game and who can’t . Odorizzi dominated the Carolina League, but struggled upon reaching NWA. Monty’s long-toss situation is known, but the Royals have softened recently – not sure what to attribute his problems to, but he owned every other level prior to 2011, long toss or not. I don’t think it’s that simple to say “they changed the program, thus, struggles” because even in the period where these players were “off program” they were doing well. Sometimes they just hit adversity and now it’s time to see how they adjust to it.

  • jim fetterolf

    @michael.allen.engel I saw Monty in the futures game last year and he was the best pitcher on the field on a day that Ervin Santana started. Comes out of the winter an absolute stud, then regresses. I have heard that Odorizzi was dialed back when he went to AA, so it is reasonable to wonder if Dwyer also was. This isn’t a new trend, according to either Clint or Greg at pine tar press, Hochevar was long-tossing in college when he was throwing 98mph and his training was restricted after he signed. Athletes are creatures of habit and something that isn’t broken shouldn’t be fixed. I think it stretches coincidence that about every young pitcher we had regressed over the season and command and control were common issues.

  • jim fetterolf

    @michael.allen.engel I saw Monty in the futures game last year and he was the best pitcher on the field on a day that Ervin Santana started. Comes out of the winter an absolute stud, then regresses. I have heard that Odorizzi was dialed back when he went to AA, so it is reasonable to wonder if Dwyer also was. This isn’t a new trend, according to either Clint or Greg at pine tar press, Hochevar was long-tossing in college when he was throwing 98mph and his training was restricted after he signed. Athletes are creatures of habit and something that isn’t broken shouldn’t be fixed. I think it stretches coincidence that about every young pitcher we had regressed over the season and command and control were common issues.

  • jim fetterolf

    @michael.allen.engel@jim fetterolf Heard from Greg Shaum that he is hearing that the new pitching coach signals a paradigm shift for the Royals and program-training. If true, this time next year we’ll be talking about stud rookies and what the Royals can get for Hochevar, Chen, and Paulino

  • jim fetterolf

    @michael.allen.engel@jim fetterolf Heard from Greg Shaum that he is hearing that the new pitching coach signals a paradigm shift for the Royals and program-training. If true, this time next year we’ll be talking about stud rookies and what the Royals can get for Hochevar, Chen, and Paulino