Royals Instructional League Primer (RHP)


Not a lot has been written about the 56 players named to the Royals Instructional League roster, so here is a primer of sorts recapping each player’s 2009 season and prospect status as it stands today. This is part 5 of 5 which covers the right-handed pitchers on the roster.

In case you missed the posts earlier this week:
Part 1: Catchers
Part 2: Infielders
Part 3: Outfielders
Part 4: Left-Handed Pitchers

The roster I am working from is the one posted on back on September 5th. Finding information about Instructional League has been surprisingly challenging so if any of the following content is incorrect, please comment to this post or contact me via email with any necessary corrections.

Right Handed Pitchers:

Willian Avinazar (2/27/1989)  Signed out of Venezuela 1/15/08  (S=9 / R=5)
2009 AZL Royals:  56.0 IP, 6.43 ERA, 1.625 WHIP, 69 H, 22 BB, 59 SO
Avinazar took a step back after an excellent 2008 season in the Dominican Summer League.  The optimist in me says that his struggles were largely due to the transition of pitching in the US.  He improved his SO/9 but his H/9, BB/9, WHIP, and ERA all fell off.  Would probably benefit from another stint with the AZL Royals to start the 2010 season.

Eric Basurto (4/17/1986)  Marlins 2006 33rd Round Pick  (S=0 / R=15)
2009 Idaho Falls Chukars:  1.1 IP, 0.00 ERA, 0.000 WHIP, 0 H, 0 BB, 3 SO
2009 Burlington Bees:  11.2 IP, 0.77 ERA, 1.286 WHIP, 6 H, 9 BB, 19 SO
2009 Wilmington Blue Rocks:  10.2 IP, 0.84 ERA, 1.312 WHIP, 8 H, 6 BB, 16 SO
The Marlins traded Basurto to the Royals in May for future considerations.  He has been injured often, including a DL stint this year, but he has talent.  If healthy he should open the 2010 season in the NW Arkansas pen.

Louis Coleman (4/4/1986)  Royals 2009 5th Round Pick  (S=0 / R=14)
2009 Burlington Bees:  7.1 IP, 2.45 ERA, 0.409 WHIP, 2 H, 1 BB, SO 6
2009 Wilmington Blue Rocks:  14.1 IP, 1.26 ERA, 0.767 WHIP, 8 H, 3 BB, 16 SO
It’s hard to find any fault with how Coleman started off his professional career.  He’s already 23 years old, so a promotion to NW Arkansas to start the 2010 season seems in order.  Something tells me that Louis is up to the challenge.

Aaron Crow (11/11/1986)  Royals 2009 1st Round Pick
Crow should make his organizational debut in the Instructional League.  No matter what happens in the future, he was a good pick at the time it was made.  I would say Crow was the correct pick, like Alex Gordon in 2005, but I’m on record with HS RHP-Shelby Miller being my 1st round selection for the Royals.  Crow should reach the majors first, but I don’t know what exactly that gets the Royals.  Until Dayton addresses the lack of defense and OBP among the position players, the team is years away from contending.  Still I hope Aaron moves quick and blows everyone away.  I also hope that Miller implodes, since he was drafted by the Cardinals.  If that happens, I will be glad to admit I was wrong and happily eat crow.  (Couldn’t help myself, but I do apologize for that.)

Jairo Cuevas (1/24/1984)  Signed by the Atlanta Braves out of the Dominican Republic.
Cuevas did not pitch in 2009 after being injured during July of the 2008 season.  The Royals signed him in December of 2008 knowing that he would miss most of 2009.  In 377.0 career innings, he has a 4.01 ERA, 1.350 WHIP, 1.98 SO/BB, and 8.5 SO/9.  He has pitched only 12 innings above A ball in his career.  Cuevas will be 26 next year and needs to succeed at AA to have any value to the organization moving forward.

Carlos Fortuna (3/31/1990)  Signed out of the Dominican Republic 1/4/07 (S=8 / R=5)
2009 Burlington Royals:  50.2 IP, 4.09 ERA, 1.480 WHIP, 50 H, 25 BB, 43 SO
In terms of ERA, Fortuna fared better as a starter in 2009, but his SO/BB was significantly better as a reliever.  In 36.1 IP he had a 3.72 ERA with 20 BB, and 28 SO as a member of the rotation.  Coming out of the bullpen, he had a 5.02 ERA with 5 BB and 15 SO in 14.1 IP.  It looks like he could handle either role at this stage of his career, but is probably better off as a starter to he can log more innings and work on his consistency.  If starting doesn’t work out, he could still become a power reliever down the road.  Coming into this season, Fortuna was ranked by Baseball America as the Royals 20th best prospect.

Santiago Garrido (10/4/1989)  Signed out of the Dominican Republic 1/26/07  (S=14 / R=0)
2009 Idaho Falls Chukars:  64.2 IP, 5.01 ERA, 1.500 WHIP, 66 H, 31 BB, 44 SO
Garrido is only 19 and already in the Pioneer League, which is pretty aggressive placement for a player with his age and background.  The numbers don’t exactly impress, but they aren’t terrible either.  He has plenty of time to repeat the level next year, if the Royals deem it necessary.

Chase Hentges (5/15/1990)  Royals 2008 14th Round Pick  (S=6 / R=6)
2009 Burlington Royals:  42.1 IP, 5.31 ERA, 1.630 WHIP, 49 H, 20 BB, 20 SO
That’s not exactly how you draw it up, but he gets a pass from me because he’s only 19.  Well, that and he’s from Shakopee, Minnesota.  I love KC, but I was born and bred in the frozen North, so I can’t help but root for him.  He’s hoping his career goes the route of St. Paul native Josh Johnson, but I’ll also take the career path of Glen Perkins.

Patrick Keating (6/9/1987)  Royals 2009 20th Round Pick  (S=0 / R=24)
2009 Idaho Falls Chukars:  30.1 IP, 1.78 ERA, 0.989 WHIP, 20 H, 10 BB, 46 SO
2009 Wilmington Blue Rocks:  2.2 IP, 0.00 ERA, 0.375 WHIP, 1 H, 0 BB, 1 SO
That is how you start off a professional career.

Scott Kelley (10/2/1986)  Royals 2009 23rd Round Pick  (S=0 / R=17)
2009 Burlington Royals:  26.0 IP, 1.38 ERA, 0.885 WHIP, 16 H, 7 BB, 27 SO
2009 Idaho Falls Chukars:  15.0 IP, 0.00 ERA, 0.867 WHIP, 8 H, 5 BB, 19 SO
2009 Wilmington Blue Rocks:  0.2 IP, 67.50 ERA, 6.00 WHIP, 3 H, 1 BB, 0 SO
Again, that is how you start off a professional career.  Following the bouncing ball, it seems a 2010 start in Low-A would be appropriate with a planned promotion to the Wilmington bullpen if he holds his own with the Bees.

Sugar Ray Marimon (9/30/1988)  Signed out of Colombia 11/20/06  (S=13 / R=2)
2009 Idaho Falls Chukars:  62.1 IP, 5.78 ERA, 1.717 WHIP, 77 H, 30 BB, 47 SO
His 2009 pitching line is Runion-esque and that’s not a good thing.  Some guys take longer to figure it out and he’s about to turn 21, so he’s got that going for him.  You have to be rooting for a guy named Sugar Ray who hails from Colombia don’t you?

Tim Melville (10/9/1989)  Royals 2008 4th Round Pick  (S=21 / R=0)
2009 Burlington Bees:  97.1 IP, 3.79 ERA, 1.356 WHIP, 89 H, 43 BB, 96 SO
Melville signed late and did not pitch in 2008, but the 1st-round talent quickly proved the Royals were wise to give him $1.25 million as a 4th-round pick right out of high school.  He was consistent over the entire season and solidified his top-10 prospect status with his 2009 performance.  Best part is, he’s only 19, already throws in the mid-90s, has a plus curveball, a developing changeup, he’s a Missouri kid, and he’s going to get better.

Matt Mitchell (3/31/1989)  Royals 2007 14th Round Pick
2009:  Missed entire season recovering from Tommy John surgery.
Mitchell was looking like a draft steal before going under the knife in August of 2008.  His inclusion on the International League roster suggests that his recovery and rehab are going well.  If he is healthy, he will rejoin the 2010 Bees’ rotation or perhaps be bumped up to Wilmington, where he certainly would have spent the 2009 season were it not for the elbow injury.

Matt Morizio (12/14/1983)  Royals 2006 17th Round Pick  (C=35 / DH=2)
2009 Wilmington Blue Rocks:  0.132/.258/.160 with 0 HR, 1 SB, 16 BB, and 19 SO in 127 PA.
For the second straight year, Morizio failed to hit above 0.200 with the Blue Rocks and because of that he is moving to the mound.  He will turn 26 in December so he really has nothing to lose.  If Tony Pena Jr. can salvage some value out of his career by morphing into a pitcher, why not Morizio?

Dusty Odenbach (9/3/1987)  Royals 2009 8th Round Pick  (S=0 / R=17)
2009 Burlington Royals:  16.1 IP, 0.55 ERA, 1.041 WHIP, 12 H, 5 BB, 12 SO
2009 Burlington Bees:  22.2 IP, 3.97 ERA, 1.456 WHIP, 23 H, 10 BB, 22 SO
Dusty hit the ground running, carved up rookie ball, and earned a promotion to low-A within a month of making his professional debut.  He handled himself just fine against tougher competition.  His 2010 placement likely hinges on his Instructional League performance.  Wilmington is a realistic possibility, but having him open the season back in the Bees’ bullpen would also make sense.

Leondy Perez (6/19/1990)  Signed out of the Dominican Republic 1/15/07  (S=12 / R=1)
2009 Burlington Royals:  63.1 IP, 3.84 ERA, 1.216 WHIP, 56 H, 21 BB, 62 SO
Perez pitched primarily as a reliever in his two previous seasons in the Dominican Summer League and Arizona League, and did so very effectively.  This season he was used almost exclusively as a starter and the 19 year old responded.  His 2009 stat line speaks for itself, but even more encouraging is that he has dropped his BB/9 while maintaining his SO/9 each year in the organization.

Sam Runion (11/9/1988)  Royals 2007 2nd Round Pick (S=28 / R=0)
2009 Burlington Bees:  135.0 IP,  6.60 ERA, 1.763 WHIP, 193 H, 45 BB, 62 SO
If there is a highly drafted player testing the organization’s patience, it has to be Runion the “Onion”.  The Royals knew he was a project when they drafted him out of Reynolds HS in Asheville, NC.  Last season he started out with the Bees, allowing 54 H in 40.2 IP en route to a 5.75 ERA.  After being bumped down to the Burlington Royals, Runion seemed to rebound in rookie ball and put up a 3.35 ERA in 48.1 IP while surrendering only 47 hits.  Back with the Bees in 2009, he pitched even worse and gave up a putrid 12.9 H/9 to go with a 3.0 BB/9 and a paltry 4.1 SO/9.  The Royals can afford to give him some more time to develop, but they need to switch him to the bullpen immediately and hope he can generate better results in that role.  As a starter he gives up far too many hits and lacks the strikeout stuff to compensate for putting 15.9 baserunners on every 9 innings.

Tyler Sample (6/27/1989)  Royals 2008 3rd Round Pick (S=11 / R=3)
2009 AZL Royals:  4.0 IP, 6.75 ERA, 2.25o WHIP, 7 H, 2 BB, 5 SO
2009 Burlington Royals:  50.2 IP, 2.84 ERA, 1.066 WHIP, 34 H, 20 BB, 44 SO
The 6′ 7″ righty turned in a solid effort in his first full professional season after throwing just 27.0 IP for the AZL Royals last year.  Sample closed the season on a high note and was named the Appalachian League Pitcher of the Week on August 31st.  His line from his last 3 starts;  19 IP, 8 H, 1 ER, 6 BB, 11 SO.  Just 20 years old, his SO rate should improve or hold steady as he develops, continues to fill out, and advances through the minors.

Leonel Santiago (12/23/1989)  Signed out of the Dominican Republic 6/21/07  (S=10 / R=3)
2009 AZL Royals:  58.1 IP, 5.40 ERA, 1.663 WHIP, 81 H, 16 BB, 66 SO
This was Leonel’s first season in the US after pitching the last two seasons in the Dominican Summer League.  Despite giving up a ton of hits, he posted a strong 4.13 SO/BB and 10.2 SO/9 both of which were career highs.  Just 19 years old, he’s got plenty of time to continue developing.

James Thompson (8/15/1987)  Royals 2008 38th Round Pick  (S=0 / R=44)
2009 Burlington Bees:  66.1 IP, 2.71 ERA, 1.553 WHIP, 52 H, 51 BB, 79 SO
After pitching for Idaho Falls in 2008, Thompson was bumped up to low-A for the 2009 season.  He improved his ERA (3.99 to 2.71), H/9 (8.6 to 7.1), and kept his WHIP steady.  On the flip side his BB/9 spiked (5.5 to 6.9) and his SO/9 dipped (12.0 to 10.7).  Thompson clearly has the stuff and ability to miss bats, but walking almost 7 batters every 9 innings is not a recipe for long term success.  If he can develop his control, the Royals could have a late round steal.  Thompson should have a spot in the 2010 Wilmington bullpen, and it will be interesting to see if he can take another step forward.

Cole White (1/22/1988)  Royals 2009 6th Round Pick  (S=0 / R=20)
2009 Idaho Falls Chukars:  21.0 IP, 1.29 ERA, 1.333 WHIP, 15 H, 13 BB, 23 SO
2009 Burlington Bees:  16.2 IP, 2.16 ERA, 1.500, 16 H, 9 BB, 13 SO
It was a very nice start for White’s professional career.  His SO/BB numbers could be a concern as he advances, but that could be said for a majority of young pitchers in their first year.  He made eight appearances for the Bees and, after some early struggles, adapted to the higher level of competition.  In his last four outings, he pitched 7.1 innings and allowed 7 hits, 3 walks, and no earned runs.  He also struck out 9.


All in all the above list of 21 pitchers is quite impressive and serves as a reminder of just how much Dayton has improved the low minors since taking over in the summer of 2006.  The ML roster is still a train wreck, and the minors are largely devoid of talent when it comes to position players, but there is no doubt that the Royals have an impressive stockpile of arms in the low minors.  They may be several years away, but the pitching talent will be coming in waves within a few years.  Having waves of talent works far better than the slow trickle that the pre-Dayton minors were providing.  Now when several pitching prospects flame out along the way, there will be several others ready to take up the slack and move forward.  When was the last time we were legitimately able to say that about this organization?  Legitimate pitching depth … It is a beautiful thing.

With that thought completed, the Instructional League primers are finally done.  I hope you have enjoyed reading them as much as I have enjoyed writing them.