In this edition of Crown Gems: Alex Gordon, Derrick Robinson, Nick Van Stratten, and Lee Roberts. Also included are some “bonus” notes about Brandon Wood, Terry Evans, and Shelby Miller.
- The big news of the day is the roster move that the Royals made. 3B-Alex Gordon has been optioned to Triple-A Omaha and RHP-Kyle Farnsworth has been activated from the DL.
With Mahay, Bannister, and Meche each sporting an ERA+ below 100, the Royals have exactly 3 pitchers that rank ML average or better on their staff. If you are keeping score at home, those 3 pitchers are; Zack Greinke (188), Joakim Soria (198), and Mr. Farnsworth (103). Thank goodness Kyle is back, we wouldn’t want to have only 2 pitchers with an ERA+ north of average would we? Seriously though, and I am still shocked I feel this way, I really am glad that Farney is back with the team.
If we take a look at the teams in “contention” for the worst record in baseball along with the Royals, we find that the Pirates have 4 pitchers with an ERA+ better than 100 (prior to their fire sale they had 7), the Nationals have 7, and the Orioles have 7.
One of the Nationals 100+ guys is former Royals closer Mike MacDougal who is currently in possession of a shiny 191 ERA+. I don’t want Mac back in any way, just pointing it out since it made me pause and sort of chuckle. Based on the fact that MacDougal has a, not so stellar, SO/BB of 0.79, I don’t think he’ll be up that high for long.
Anyway I am getting off topic, the real story here is Gordon being sent to Omaha. In the long run, this is a smart move. Gordon clearly needs some time in Triple-A to get himself back together, and playing in Omaha amongst the throng of Husker fans will surely boost his confidence. If he is ever to become the player the scouts projected and the fans are yearning for this move had to happen. I don’t know if it will pay big dividends in the long run, but I still believe in Alex Gordon so I hope this sets him up for a breakout season in 2010.
- In the 4th Round of the 2006 draft, the Royals selected the athletic and ultra fast OF-Derrick Robinson. The main question surrounding Derrick was whether or not he would ever learn to hit.
In 2006 he hit 0.233/.335/.318 for the AZL Royals.
In 2007 he hit 0.248/.303/.305 for the Burlington Bees in Low-A and a handful of High-A at bats with Wilmington
In 2008 he hit 0.245/.316/.322 for the Wilmington Blue Rocks
Prior to tonight, he was hitting 0.241/.285/.314 Wilmington this year. On the surface it looked like just more of the same but his recent performance might suggest something different. In the month of August he has hit 0.344/.359/.541 over the course of 15 games. This could be considered your run of the mill hot stretch or he could be finally putting things together at the plate. If it is the latter, then I’ll be surprised. This season he has still struck out 72 times to go with 26 walks and in the month of August he has 11 SO to go with only 1 BB which suggests that he hasn’t improved his strike zone judgment during this stretch. Strike zone judgment, or more accurately the lack thereof, has hampered his progression and contributed to his lackluster offensive numbers. In his professional career he has 324 SO compared to only 134 walks. Until we start to see an increase in his walks or a decrease in his strikeout rate any hot stretch should be viewed as simply that. In fact For a SB threat and leadoff hitter like Derrick, he needs to both cut his SO and increase his BB total to take the next step. We know he can steal bases, considering he had 62 last season and already has 59 this year, but how much more dangerous could he be on the basepaths if he could improve upon his 0.306 career OBP? I don’t expect we will ever find out, but I hope one day we do.
- Like Robinson, OF-Nick Van Stratten has been hitting well in the month of August for Wilmington. In 14 games he has compiled a line of 0.348/.444/.522 and has upped his High-A line to 0.262/.340/.393. Unlike Robinson, however, Van Stratten possesses excellent strike zone judgement and has hit at every level. Prior to his July 18th promotion to Wilmington he was hitting 0.318/.393/.447 in 255 AB for the Low-A Burlington Bees. Since being drafted by the Royals in the 10th round of the 2006 draft, Van Stratten has hit 0.309/.389/.451 with 87 BB and only 90 SO. He doesn’t have a lot of power, and he doesn’t steal a lot of bases, but thus far in his career he has shown the ability to put the bat on the ball and get on base.
- KoK favorite, RHP-Lee Roberts, had his first bad outing as a member of the Burlington Royals on Sunday night. In 3.2 IP, he allowed 4 H, 3 ER and 1 BB. The silver lining is that he still struck out 3 hitters. An outing like this was bound to happen as it happens to every pitcher several times throughout their careers. The true test lies in how he responds to this outing. I am confident he will bounce back and the next time he takes the mound the results will be far more positive.
I came across an interesting note that the Angels burned up the last option on prospect SS/3B-Brandon Wood this season. Next season the Angels will not be able to send him down to Triple-A without putting him through waivers. I don’t follow their team closely enough to know their plans for Wood, but this is the type of player that Dayton Moore should try to acquire this offseason. The Angels might be willing to move him to avoid a potentially sticky situation and the Royals are in a position to give him a legitimate shot in the majors in 2010. I recognize acquiring Wood is not necessarily realistic, but this is the type of hypothetical move that could go a long way in altering this organization’s fortunes.
Another Angels farmhand that might be worth a look this offseason is OF-Terry Evans. Baseball America’s July 14th Prospect Hot Sheet made a mention of him at the end in their Blast From the Past section and had this to say about him:
"Back in 2006, Terry Evans became a regular part of the Prospect Hot Sheet discussions thanks to a 30-30 season that erased any memory of his awful .221/.285/.330 stats from the year before. The Angels traded Jeff Weaver for Evans that year, and like other prospects (like Brandon Wood), he’s found himself stuck largely in Triple-A purgatory at Salt Lake since then. He hit .316/.352/.512 at Salt Lake in 2007, but he’s been back there for most of the past two years. Evans is trying to hit his way back to Anaheim with a .400/.483/.800 week. As a 27-year-old, Evans doesn’t have much upside left, but he can play all three outfield positions, steal bases (25 steals in 28 attempts) and hit for power (57 extra-base hits)."
For the record, I highly recommend reading the Hot Sheet and while you are there check out the week Pirates 1st round pick, Tony Sanchez had at the plate.
Last but not least, yesterday, the St. Louis Cardinals signed their 2009 1st round pick, 19th overall selection, RHP-Shelby Miller to a $2.9 million deal. You may or may not recall, heading into the draft and on draft night, Miller was my pick for the Royals. It will be interesting to see how the career paths of Miller and Aaron Crow play out. Of course the Royals have to sign Crow first.