The first month is over and while Kansas City tries to get themselves on track, their minor league affiliates are busy getting valuable game experience and developing.
April was a good month for a lot of the higher profile prospects and some less-touted players had strong performances. That’s what we’ll look at today.
Omaha Storm Chasers (17-8)
Hitter of the Month: Tony Abreu
Abreu put up a .340/.364/.491 line and drove in 17 runs. He scattered extra base hits all month, with a pair of triples and homers and six doubles. He could be an option if the Royals find themselves facing an injury at the big league level. He’s played exclusively at shortstop (save one game at DH) but he could play any infield position if necessary.
Pitcher of the Month: Nathan Adcock
In his first appearance of 2012 at the big league level, Adcock stepped in for Bruce Chen after a rough day and continued solid pitching that started in Omaha. Across four starts for the Storm Chasers, he covered 26.1 innings and gave up just four runs. He’s been difficult to hit but he hasn’t struck many batters out. His career minor league strikeout rate is 7.1 K/9 but he’s only struck out 4.8 per nine innings in one month. He held his own at the big league level as a Rule 5 pick last year so he could be a good emergency starter/long relief option, though he may not be someone with a high ceiling. That’s okay. There’s always a spot somewhere for an organizational warrior.
Northwest Arkansas Naturals (12-12)
Hitter of the Month: Wil Myers
It’s great news to have Wil Myers in the running for a monthly recognition considering the way his 2011 started. After a strong fall league performance, Myers is keeping the momentum going and then some. He’s a slugging machine and has been improving on already strong numbers. In his first 11 games, Myers struck out 18 times. In his last ten he’s only struck out seven. He has 14 extra base hits – eight doubles and six homers. Last year, he had eight homers all season in Double A. If he keeps up this pace, I’d be very surprised to see him anywhere but Omaha come mid-June if not sooner. He’s been playing some center field too, and if he can adjust to a more demanding outfield position defensively, he’ll be even more valuable as a prospect.
Pitcher of the Month: Jake Odorizzi
Another big prospect name. Odorizzi gets this nod because he’s held back by one bad outing. On April 12 he threw just .2 innings and gave up four runs. Without that start, though, his ERA would stand at 2.74. Even at his 4.18 ERA with the bad game, his FIP is a solid 2.47. He hasn’t allowed many runners – he only has a 1.14 WHIP – but they’ve scored at a high rate. Only 55.6% have been stranded. As long as Odorizzi is avoiding allowing runners, the innings will climb and the runs against will even out and he’ll look a lot better on paper. He’s struck out 29 in 23.2 innings.
Wilmington Blue Rocks (10-13)
Hitter of the Month: Angel Franco
Franco has been hanging around the Royals system for a few years after signing in 2006. His career line to this point sits at .271/.339/.353 but in limited time in High A, he’s hitting a strong .375/.453/.446 in 18 games. He’s not going to be a power hitter, but he’s been a base-stealing threat at every level. So far this year, he’s walking more than he has typically and striking out less as well. He’s getting to an age where he can fill out and mature and if he keeps it up, could be a sleeper prospect going forward.
Pitcher of the Month: Jason Adam
His last start wasn’t great (six earned runs in four innings) but Jason Adam’s overall numbers still look great. In five starts, he threw 26.2 innings, striking out 25 and walking just eight. He’s impressed scouts and writers while pitching in a higher level in his second season of pro action. Control was a strong point last year in Kane County (2.2 BB/9) and so far it’s still a strong point (2.7 BB/9). He’s been striking out more batters per nine innings though, and has been inducing more ground balls than last year (54% vs. 45%). Adam has given up a hit 37% of the time when the ball is put into play, which suggests he may have been unlucky to this point if that regresses to the norm of around 30% historically. Those are fantastic signs for a young pitcher. Limiting walks + increased strikeout rate + increased ground ball rate is a recipe for potential breakout.
Kane County Cougars (11-14)
Hitter of the Month: Jorge Bonifacio
There have been many candidates for best hitter in Kane County. Lane Adams, Justin Trapp and Daniel Mateo are all hammering the ball right now. Bonifacio, though, gets the nod because he’s the most highly regarded of the group. Many picked him as a sleeper breakout candidate and he’s lived up to the acclaim. His .340/.415/.443 line is strong and his plate discipline has improved. In 2011 he walked 6.2% of the time. This year, he’s drawing a walk 10.8% of the time but it hasn’t caused him to get passive at the plate. He’s still ripped 32 hits.
Pitcher of the Month: Santiago Garrido
Garrido has been in the Royals organization since early 2007 and this is his first sign of success. So far he has a 4.87 career ERA and Kane County is his highest level of competition, but so far, he has a 0.84 ERA in 21.1 innings. He’s shown the ability to get ground balls (50% or better GB rate since 2009), but walks too many to be the real deal so far (4.2 BB/9 career). He’s worth keeping an eye on though just in case he’s put it all together.