For all the doom and gloom we’ve witnessed so far from the Kansas City bullpen, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. We’re getting to the end of a week featuring some spectacular starting pitching lines from important members of the Royals’ farm system. Maybe it’s just one week, but there just might be something to this Process after all…
- 4/12: Brian Bullington (Omaha), 2002 #1 overall draft pick, gets a no decision despite 7 innings pitched, 7 strikeouts, 5 hits surrendered and no walks. He gave up 2 runs but only 1 was earned.
- 4/13: John Lamb (Burlington) threw 4.2 scoreless innings, striking out 6 while only allowing 3 baserunners (1 hit, 2 walks).
- 4/13: Mike Montgomery (Wilmington) made headlines, taking a perfect game into the 7th inning before giving up his first hit. Through 7 IP Montgomery struck out 13, walked none, and only gave up one more hit (which did score a run). After two starts, Monty has a 0.75 ERA and seems to be locating his curveball. He’s in a groove.
- 4/13: Aaron Crow (Northwest Arkansas) wasn’t quite as sharp as some of the other prospects, but a solid 6 innings with only 1 walk is just fine for his second AA start. Crow surrendered 6 hits and 2 runs while striking out 5, and after two starts, carries a 1.69 ERA.
- 4/13: Gaby Hernandez (Omaha) tossed 6 no-hit innings (though did give up 3 walks) while striking out 4 against Nashville. Not bad for a guy the Royals claimed off waivers in the winter. He has a 2.45 ERA right now and may be a candidate at some point to fill in for injuries or ineffective bullpen arms.
- 4/14: Kelvin Herrera (Burlington) had the worst start of this bunch this week, but still, 5 IP and 2 runs against isn’t too bad. He gave up 6 hits and 2 walks, but also struck out 6. For the year, Herrera has a 3.00 ERA so far. He’s a sleeper prospect with great upside, considering Baseball America’s Prospect Handbook tabbed 2009 as a “breakout year” for Herrera. He missed almost all of ’09 due to injury and rehab, so 2010 will have to be the breakout. So far so good.
- 4/14: Tim Melville (Wilmington) rebounded from an April 9 start where he gave up 5 runs and only got 2 outs. Yesterday, however, he went 5 scoreless innings, allowing 2 baserunners and striking out 8. I think that’s a good sign.
Going back over that list, all but Hernandez and Bullington came into 2010 labeled as prospects within the system, and Bullington is a reclamation project as a form #1 overall. The plan is for most, if not all, of these to be in Kauffman Stadium, dominating the AL Central within the next three to five years. Montgomery, listed by many as the organization’s top prospect, is showing exceptional promise, and if he continues at this pace, he could be the best left-handed starter of his class.
So buck up. Sure Roman Colon and Luis Mendoza still collect a salary. Yeah, Kansas City is 4-5 despite the 3rd-highest team batting average in the Majors at the start of the day and a respectable 4.21 ERA from starters (and 6 quality starts in 9 games). But just beyond the horizon, there’s a land where Mike Montgomery pitches behind Zack Greinke, where Aaron Crow takes the hill every fifth day. And hopefully, Roman Colon’s finally off the roster.