The Royals are getting closer to narrowing down their roster as spring training comes to a close. On Wednesday, they moved four players to the minors, leaving 32 players in camp.
Infielder Irving Falu and left-handed relievers Donnie Joseph and Francisley Bueno were all optioned to Omaha and lefty Atahualpa Severino was assigned to minor league camp. With Bruce Chen newly sent to the bullpen and Tim Collins‘s position secure, the Royals will opt for another righty for the final bullpen spot. The most likely choice is J.C. Gutierrez, then Louis Coleman and Dan Wheeler. Gutierrez has never been very successful in the big leagues, but he’s coming off of a good winter ball season and in the two innings I’ve seen of him (which is obviously a small sample), he’s thrown hard and demonstrated a good breaking ball.
Whoever gets the last spot probably won’t be relied upon in high leverage situations most games with other solid options in the back of the bullpen, but Gutierrez, who is out of options, has probably done enough to make the team.
-The Royals also acquired minor leaguer Desmond Henry from the Rangers as the player to be named later in the Tommy Hottovy trade. Henry was a fourth round pick in 2011 and has only played at the rookie ball level so far. He’ll turn 20 in July.
Henry is the typical speedy, athletic center fielder type, and the Royals are taking a chance that he develops into something in a couple of years. He has 29 strikeouts in 73 plate appearances, so there’s work to do.
-Keith Law scouted some Royals prospects recently and shared his notes on ESPN (requires Insider). He discussed Kyle Zimmer, John Lamb and Miguel Almonte. He noted that Zimmer was showing good secondary stuff but his fastball was getting hit. Lamb’s velocity was still discouraging, according to Law, but Almonte seemed to impress him.
I don’t sense much concern about Zimmer who might just need to adjust something on his fastball to get more movement, and Almonte is flying up the rankings, but concern would be appropriate for Lamb. He’s far enough removed from Tommy John surgery that his velocity should be getting back, and Law suggested he may have been holding back. You’ll hear often enough about athletes who get hurt, and it’s not always reinjury or complication that gets in the way of their full recovery but the mental block of going back to 100% for fear of blowing something out again. Lamb’s always been reported to have tough disposition – he came back from an elbow fracture before his senior season of high school to be a top 20 overall prospect – but it can’t be an easy road back.
– Apparently, Lorenzo Cain has been working with sprinting trainers and that his legs feel better than ever. He’s already fast, but according to the article, he’s working on shortening his running stride. Dutton also reported that the Royals will try Eric Hosmer in the outfield on Thursday as a possible preparation for their early interleague games at Philadelphia and Atlanta in April. That experiment didn’t go very well last season when the Royals tried it in Pittsburgh, but they seem willing to give it another try.
– Speaking of the Pirates, Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported that former Royals Clint Robinson was designated for assignment on Wednesday to make room for Jonathan Sanchez. Robinson hit .200/.227/.250 in 12 spring training games with the Pirates. Robinson turned 28 last month and has always had some questions about his ability to be an everyday player.
Prior to his big league debut last year (which occurred in Pittsburgh, coincidentally enough), Robinson was a prolific minor league hitter, but he may be destined to be a AAAA player.
– Sam Mellinger of the KC Star tweeted that Forbes has valued the Royals at $457 million. That’s second lowest in the majors behind Tampa Bay. Glass bought the team for $96 million in April 2000.
– Finally, the Royals reached out and took care of a fan today with a Random Act of Opening Day. When Twitter user Paul Prather was wishing he was watching a Royals game at Kauffman Stadium, the Royals responded by randomly setting him up with tickets to the last game of the home opening series against the Minnesota Twins.
Makes me wish I’d mentioned something first…
The Royals have two more spring training games before the season opens next Monday. It can’t come soon enough.