A couple of years ago, MLB and the Players’ Association agreed to some changes for the amateur draft process. Some of those changes may have some detractors, but something that should be universally praised is their moving the signing deadline up to mid-July. Prior to that, many players would hold off on signing until the last minute, which would postpone their time with the organization’s development staff. Now, the deadline, combined with the slotting system, have allowed more players to start playing sooner, and that should pay off for all parties involved.
One of those players who’s taken advantage of his early start is Ryan O’Hearn, the Royals’ 8th round pick from this year’s draft. The 20-year old first baseman has been a monster in the last two weeks, hitting .424/.482/.673, with 2 home runs and 8 extra-base hits in 56 plate appearances for rookie-level Idaho Falls. O’Hearn comes out of Sam Houston State, and you would hope a college pick would be successful right away, even if it doesn’t happen all the time.
It could be interesting to see if O’Hearn’s hot start earns him a promotion to full-season Lexington before the end of the year. I wouldn’t expect it, but if he continues to dominate Pioneer League pitching, the Royals may not have much of a choice.
Who’s Hot: Glenn Sparkman (Wilmington, RHP)
Sparkman is coming off an absolute gem of a start, in which he allowed just 1 hit through 7 shutout innings, while striking out 9 and walking none. That start came on the heels of a stellar 6 inning, 1 run effort. In the last two weeks, he’s struck out 14 batters in 13 innings, with a 0.69 ERA. Those numbers surprisingly aren’t that far off from his season-long numbers as a starter (39.2 IP, 1.13 ERA).
Who’s Not: Cheslor Cuthbert (Northwest Arkansas, 1B)
In his last two weeks, Cuthbert has hit .184/.238/.211 in 42 plate appearances, although most of his struggles have come even more recently, as he’s gone 0 for his last 20, with just 2 walks since June 30. For a guy who is trying to show the Royals he can make the transition to first base (and possibly second base) those numbers are not exactly encouraging.
Let’s now take a look at a few other notable stat lines from Royals prospects from the last two weeks.
Joel Arias (DSL Royals, OF): 35 PA, .355/.429/.484
Alfredo Escalera-Maldonado (Lexington, OF): 56 PA, .260/.327/.580, 4 HR, 7 XBH
Elier Hernandez (Lexington, OF): 51 PA, .225/.235/.280, 13 K, 0 BB
Jake Junis (Lexington, RHP): 3 GS, 17 IP, 2 BB, 14 K, 4.76 ERA
Michael Antonio (Wilmington, IF): 39 PA, .459/.474/.784, 2 HR, 8 XBH
Terrance Gore (Wilmington, OF): 30 PA, .038/.138/.038, 3 SB, last hit came on 6/23
Raul Mondesi (Wilmington, SS): .106/.125/.149, 12 K, 1 BB
Lane Adams (Northwest Arkansas, OF): 50 PA, .378/.400/.844, 4 HR, 12 XBH
Sam Selman (Northwest Arkansas, LHP): 2 GS, 7.1 IP, 8 ER, 5 BB, 9 K, 9.39 ERA
Andy Ferguson (Northwest Arkansas, RHP): 2 GS, 12 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 4 BB, 11 K, 0.75 ERA
Whit Merrifield (Omaha, 2B/OF): 64 PA, .373/.406/.542, 7 2B, 1 HR
Francisco Pena (Omaha, C): 45 PA, .275/.333/.600, 4 HR
Aaron Brooks (Omaha, RHP): 2 GS, 10.2 IP, 10 K, 1.029 OPS allowed, 5.91 ERA