Back again to continue the review of the 2007 draft class. This time we will be covering picks 6-15. I have made a few improvements to this edition. First I have listed their stats in chronological order instead of in reverse chronological order. I have also included the 2007 season statistics for the players that follow, which is something I neglected to do on the players picked in rounds 1-5.
3B-Fernando Cruz (6th Round/186th Overall) Dorado, Puerto Rico
Rookie – Burlington Royals
Season does not start until June 23rd
In 198 at bats with the Burlington Royals last season, Cruz hit .237/.260/.283 with 3 BB and 43 SO. He was drafted as a SS but played just 3 games there before being switched to 3B in 2007. Cruz started his professional career with the Arizona League Royals after being drafted. He went on to hit .210/.254/.265 with 8 BB and 43 SO in 181 AB as a 17 year old in the 2007 season. Cruz was drafted as a raw prospect, but he is projected to develop above average power. He possesses average defensive ability with a plus arm. He improved in BA, OBP, and SLG from 2007 to 2008, but his plate discipline and strike zone judgment need to improve significantly. In his first 2 seasons in the Royals organization, he has 11 walks to go with 86 strikeouts.
CF-Hilton Richardson (7/216) Lake Washington HS (Kirkland, WA)
Rookie – Arizona League Royals
Season does not start until June 21st
Richardson started his professional career with the Arizona League Royals in 2007. While there he hit .199/.295/.304 with 20 BB, 60 SO, and 12 SB in 191 AB. He opened the 2008 season with the Burlington Royals and hit .229/.293/.327 with 17 BB, 61 SO, and 10 SB in 205 AB. He was then moved back to the AZL Royals and hit .474/.500/.684 in 19 AB to finish out the year. The left-handed Richardson is a 6’3″ 200 lb athlete with blazing speed who has played CF every game of his Royals career to date. He will be in rookie ball to open the season for the 3rd straight season and needs to start performing at the plate if there is any hope for him. It will be interesting to see if his last 19 AB of 2008 were a sign of things to come in 2009, or just a simple hot stretch.
RHP-Casey Feickert (8/246) Antelope Valley JC (Lancaster, CA)
Rookie – Arizona League Royals
Season does not start until June 21st
Feickert pitched for the AZL Royals in 2007 and threw 14.2 IP with a 9.20 ERA, 19 H, 8 BB, and 17 SO. In 2008 he again pitched for the AZL Royals and had similar results. In 13.1 innings pitched as a reliever, he had a 13.50 ERA, 28 H, 9 BB, and 5 SO. Will the third time be the charm or will it mark the end of his career? Based on the results of the previous 2 seasons it doesn’t look good for him.
RHP-Zach Kenyon (9/276) Davenport HS (Iowa)
Kenyon did not sign with the Royals. He opted to attend the University of Iowa and play baseball there. As it turns out, that decision may have been the best thing for both parties. In two seasons as a Hawkeye, he has thrown 65.2 IP with a 7.45 ERA, 81 H, and only 39 SO. I hope he’s getting a good education.
RHP-Greg Holland (10/306) Western Carolina University (North Carolina)
Double-A – Northwest Arkansas Naturals
In 2007 Holland started his career on a good note. At Idaho Falls he threw 33.2 innings with a 3.48 ERA, 28H, 15 BB, 37 SO, and 6 SV in 22 games as a reliever. He was aggressively promoted to High-A Wilmington to start the 2008 season, and Holland did not disappoint. In 84.1 IP for the Blue Rocks he posted a 3.42 ERA, 70 H, 35 BB, 96 SO, and 4 SV in 32 games. He even made 7 starts. Thus far in 2009, Holland is again having an excellent season as a member of the Double-A bullpen. In 31.0 IP this year he has a 2.61 ERA, 34 H, 12 BB, 32 SO, and 5 SV in 19 appearances.
Jackpot! Holland looks like someone that we might actually see pitching at the major league level as early as next year. He has pulled off the rare feat of skipping a level while improving his numbers at the same time. Now it appears he has made the most difficult jump in the minors going from A ball to AA and has once again improved upon his numbers. The success continues with their next selection.
OF-David Lough (11/336) Mercyhurst College (Erie, PA)
High-A – Wilmington Blue Rocks (Royals #15 Prospect)
Lough started out with the Burlington Royals in 2007. He wasted no time showing that Kansas City might have something special in their 11th round pick. In 86 AB he hit .337/.380/.477 with 2 HR, 6 SB, 4 BB, and 13 SO. After his success in rookie ball, the Royals moved him up to the Low-A Burlington Bees to kick off the 2008 season. Lough was solid hitting .268/.329/.455 with 16 HR, 12 SB, 35 BB, and 70 SO in 488 AB. He was moved up to High-A Wilmington and once again he is producing. In 206 AB this season Lough is hitting .335/.388/.485 with 4 HR, 6 SB, 12 BB, and 31 SO. In his last 10 games he has a .417 BA and .805 SLG. His .335 BA ranks him 2nd in the Carolina League behind Baltimore’s C-Caleb Joseph who is hitting .341.
As noted above he is ranked #15 in the Royals list of prospects by Baseball America. He is also the #1 ranked CF prospect in the organization. This season he has only played LF and RF but that is a direct result of CF-Derrick Robinson who is also currently playing with the Blue Rocks. I already used “Jackpot” on the selection of Greg Holland so I’ll go with “Eureka!” for the selection of David Lough.
C-Sean McCauley (12/366) Osbourn HS (Manassas, VA)
Low-A – Burlington Bees
McCauley started off with the rookie ball AZL Royals in 2007. He went on to hit .286/.375/.476 with 10 BB and 19 SO in 84 AB. In 2008 he was bumped up to the advanced rookie ball team in Idaho Falls. With the Chukars, McCauley hit .278/.347/.385 with 17 BB and 28 SO in 169 AB. Thus far in 2009 he is hitting .223/.290/.321 with 10 BB and 16 SO in 112 AB for low-A Burlington.
McCauley’s 2009 numbers are little deceiving however. In April he hit only .161, but since then he has turned a .286 BA in May, and a .286 BA in June. Over his last 10 games he has hit .323 and it looks like he is starting get comfortable in Low-A ball. He has yet to show much power, but at 6’2″ and 170 lbs he definitely has room to add some muscle to his frame. He’s not as exciting as Holland or Lough yet, but the potential is there and unlike those 2 guys he was drafted out of HS instead of college. McCauley already seems to have a good grasp of the strike zone with 37 BB and only 63 SO thus far in his minor league career, and that bodes very well for his future development as he continues his climb through the organization.
RHP-Alex Caldera (13/396) Chaffey College (California)
High-A – Wilmington Blue Rocks
Caldera opened his Royals career in 2007 with the rookie ball Burlington Royals where he split time between the bullpen and the rotation. In 42.1 innings pitched he had a 3.40 ERA, 39 H, 13 BB and 39 SO over 12 games. 7 of his 12 appearances were as a starter. In 2008 Caldera was moved up to the Low-A Burlington Bees and made a starter full time. In 149.0 innings pitched he had a 2.90 ERA with 141 H, 36 BB, and 120 SO over 25 games. With high-A Wilmington this season he has pitched 63.0 innings with a 6.43 ERA, 69 H, 28 BB, and 64 SO in his first 13 starts of the year.
Caldera has been hit hard this season but his 2.29 SO/BB is still solid. Hopefully his 2009 performance is just a case of having trouble adjusting to more advanced hitters. As his SO numbers suggest, his stuff is good enough to succeed at the level, so I am confident he will figure it out.
RHP-Matt Mitchell (14/426) Barstow HS (California)
Low-A – Burlington Bees (Royals #21 Prospect)
Mitchell pitched with the rookie ball AZL Royals in 2007. He pitched 55.0 innings with a 1.80 ERA, 34 H, 25 BB, and 72 SO in 14 games. Of his 14 appearances, 7 of them were as a starter. In 2008 Mitchell was moved up to the Low-A Burlington Bees where he started in 21 of his 25 appearances. In 116.2 IP he had a 3.47 ERA, 116 H, 25 BB, and 77 SO.
Mitchell had Tommy John surgery in August of 2008 and will not pitch at all this season. He is expected to return to the Bees rotation for the open of the 2010 season. If he can bounce back from his surgery and improve his velocity Mitchell has a chance to make it to the majors. Even if the velocity doesn’t improve his ML dream isn’t dead since he possesses excellent control and a palmball changeup that can be an out pitch. His fastball when he was drafted topped out at 92-93 MPH, but with an injured elbow he was still throwing it at 90 MPH. If he rehabs and gets stronger, it is feasible he can come back throwing in the mid-90s as he continues to fill out.
C-Ryan Eigsti (15/456) Bradley University (Peoria, Illinois)
High-A – Wilmington Blue Rocks
In 2007 Eigsti started out in Idaho Falls and hit .206/.345/.289 with 14 BB and 35 SO in 97 AB. He was moved up to the low-A Burlington Bees for the 2008 season and hit .218/.294/.360 with 20 BB and 104 SO in 331 AB. From 2007 to 2008 Eigsti improved his BA and SLG, but his OBP fell and his SO went through the roof. 104 SO in only 331 AB is never good even if you are in little league. Despite his horrid SO totals, the Royals moved him up to Wilmington to start the 2009 season. So far it seems they were justified in doing so. In 147 AB with the Blue Rocks he has hit .231/.337/.313 with 21 BB and 37 SO. He has continued to improve his BA, his OBP has recovered, and he has cut down on his SO while establishing a career high in walks already.
It is doubtful Eigsti will get much further up the ladder in the minors, and McCauley is hot on his heels just a level below him. That said, if he kept improving his batting average every level he moved up, he’d be a .270 hitter in the major leagues.
The Royals picks from rounds 6-9 look pretty questionable from this draft class so far. Fortunately the picks of Greg Holland in round 10 and David Lough in round 11 look like big hits and both players figure to reach the majors in some capacity. The question with Lough is whether he will fall into the role fringe ML 4th outfielder mold or emerge as a legitimate ML starter. The picks of Sean McCauley in round 12 and Alex Caldera in round 13 look to be solid selections with both players finding a decent amount of success at multiple levels in the minors already. Whether or not they ever see the ML level is still very much up in the air. 14th round pick Matt Mitchell has also had a decent level of success in the minors, but the Tommy John surgery definitely clouds his future. 15th round pick Ryan Eigsti falls back into the mold of their picks in rounds 6-9, but the run they had from the 10th-14th rounds is pretty remarkable. With Moustakas and Duffy joining the organization via rounds 1-5, the 2007 draft is shaping up nicely for the Royals and we still have another 35 rounds to go.