Brett Eibner ranked as the Kansas City Royals number 12 prospect according to Baseball America heading into the 2012 season. He had a season to forget.
Many scouts believed Eibner would take off as a pitcher once he focused solely on pitching after being drafted out of Arkansas, where he was a two-way player. He wanted to hit, so the Royals have catered to that.
But how long will the Royals allow him to hit?
Eibner is a very good centerfielder. His arm is his best tool and I had a chance to see him show it off many times during the 2012 season while he played centerfield for High-A Wilmington.
The problem is, his offense leads A LOT to be desired. Eibner had one of the worst offensive seasons in minor league baseball. He hit just .196 in 120 games and struck out a whopping 165 times (over 423 at-bats). He did walk 57 times, but regularly took good pitches, putting himself into an 0-2 hole. I saw quite a few Blue Rocks games in 2012 (18 total) and there was only one game where he did not strike out.
The power is there, as he homered 15 times and doubled 26 times in a pitchers’ league and pitchers’ ballpark. However, he constantly tries to hit the ball in the air. That doesn’t work well at Frawley Stadium, where the ball does not carry.
He has also spent a good amount of time on the DL over his first two seasons. He hurt his shoulder in 2011 making a diving play and re-injured it in spring training of 2012, delaying his start to the season. He also had some back issues later in the 2012 season.
MLB.com ranks Eibner as the Royals 15th best prospect. However Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star does not even rank him. Does this mean the Royals have lost hope?
I expect to see Eibner return to Wilmington for the 2013 season. I’m hoping his time in instructional league fixed some of his hitting flaws. If not, the move to the mound is imminent.