When he was drafted by the Royals in the 2nd round of the 2012 draft, Sam Selman was expected to have a high ceiling as an impact starting pitcher, as long as he could refine his command. The 6’3″ lefty known as “Crazy Legs” had issues with walks while at Vanderbilt, handing out 43 of them in 76 innings during his final season in college. It was surprising then, when Selman debuted as a professional later that year and walked 3.3 batters per 9 innings, and striking out 13.3 per 9 while pitching 60.1 innings for Idaho Falls.
Unfortunately, things started going downhill after that. In 125.1 innings in 2013, Selman walked 6.1 batters per 9 innings, and his strikeouts fell to 9.2 per 9. This season wasn’t going much better, as he made 16 starts, walking 42 batters in 76.1 innings. Selman’s prospect shine was beginning to fade, so at that point, the organization shifted Selman to the bullpen, hoping he could harness his stuff in shortened bursts. It’s a small sample, but the move has paid off thus far.
In 10 appearances out of the bullpen, Selman has pitched 13.2 innings, allowed 6 hits, 0 runs, and struck out 14. He’s still walked 5 batters, but in those short inning appearances, baserunners have fewer opportunities to come around and score. In the last two weeks, Selman’s faced 30 batters. One of them has gotten an extra-base hit, nine of them have struck out, and just two of them have reached via walk. He still has some work to do, but the Royals’ decision seems to have given Selman new life as a prospect.
Who’s Hot: Cheslor Cuthbert (Northwest Arkansas, IF)
When Hunter Dozier was promoted to Double-A, Cuthbert was forced off of his natural position at third base, and the organization started moving him around the diamond, giving him time at first and second base. The defense still needs some developing, but Cuthbert has been on a tear offensively, hitting .409/.480/.681 in his last 50 plate appearances, including 7 extra-base hits and 2 home runs.
Who’s Not: Hunter Dozier (Northwest Arkansas, 3B)
Speaking of Dozier, he’s been in something of a nasty funk in the last two weeks, going 3 for his last 41, good for a line of .073/.174/.098. He’s also struck out 12 times in 11 games. His long-term prospect status isn’t really affected by this stretch, but it’s a nice reminder that becoming a major league baseball player is hard.
Here are some other notable stat lines from several Royals prospects in the last two weeks.
- Brandon Downes (Idaho Falls, OF): 58 PA, .352/.368/.481, 5 XBH
- Ryan O’Hearn (Idaho Falls, 1B): 54 PA, .419/.537/.581, 10 K, 11 BB
- Corey Toups (Idaho Falls, SS): 56 PA, .333/.473/.524, 6 XBH, 8 K, 12 BB
- Humberto Arteaga (Lexington, 2B/SS): 39 PA, .132/.154/.158, 17 K
- Alec Mills (Lexington, RHP): 3 GS, 16 IP, 7 BB, 14 K, 1.69 ERA, .569 OPS allowed
- Pedro Fernandez (Lexington, RHP): 2 GS, 9 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 10 K, .259 OPS allowed
- Bubba Starling (Wilmington, OF): 46 PA, .302/.348/.581, 7 XBH, 2 HR
- Ramon Torres (Wilmington, 2B/3B): 30 PA, .154/.214/.154
- Sean Manaea (Wilmington, LHP): 3 GS, 19.1 IP, 12 H, 1 R, 8 BB, 18 K, 0.47 ERA
- Brandon Finnegan (Wilmington, LHP): 3 GS, 11 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 11 K, 0.82 ERA
- Jorge Bonifacio (Northwest Arkansas, OF): 47 PA, .200/.255/.200
- Christian Binford (Northwest Arkansas, RHP): 3 GS, 19.1 IP, 5 R, 2 BB, 16 K, 1.40 ERA
- Whit Merrifield (Omaha, 2B/OF): 52 PA, .360/.365/.480, 3 XBH
- Francisco Pena (Omaha, C): 47 PA, .239/.255/.543, 6 XBH, 4 HR