All of the waiting and anticipating is over. The countdown just hit zero. It’s time for results.
Since general manager Dayton Moore took over, the number that everyone discussed was 2013: the year where all of the Royals fans’ woes would dissipate, and the baseball heavens would part and the gods themselves would reach down and pluck the Royals from disparity to the peak of baseball lore that is the World Series.
Well fans, everyone check your calendars, watches or smart phones: it’s time. The waves of prospects, which were promised to Kansas City fans by Moore and his team of talent evaluators, are beginning to arrive, if they haven’t already. Some fans are still bitter about the loss of the former No. 1 overall prospect Wil Myers. However, there is no need to hit the panic button, yet, since we still have some tremendous athletes in the system and some big time arms waiting in the shadows. However, those guys have little impact on the “now.”
No, the “now” rests solely on the shoulders of three young stars-in-the-waiting and a group of veterans desperate for postseason relevancy. Those young stars are without a doubt first baseman Eric Hosmer, third baseman Mike Moustakas and catcher Salvador Perez. If the Royals even hope to be in the hunt come October, the team can ill afford to field a lineup while missing anyone of these stars for any duration of time. If at any point we find two of the three stars out of the lineup for a prolonged stretch, that window of opportunity Moore has worked for, could close faster than Michael Jordan’s baseball dream.
September 05, 2012; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Royals catcher Salvador Perez (13) connects for a double in the sixth inning of the game against the Texas Rangers at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
Unfortunately, two of the three players, Moustakas and Perez, are no strangers to injuries over the past few seasons. Perez obviously put together a stellar second-half of the season in 2012 after bouncing back from a successful knee surgery (.301 BA/.471 SLG/.798 OPS). But not only did Perez inflict some serious damage, with what looks to be a freshly chopped log in those massive hands of his, the young catcher flashed some serious leather: Ivan Rodriguez-type leather. Perez threw out 42 percent of base-threats while picking off five runners, which happened to be a Royals record. The catch? He did this all in just 74 games. Take that for what it is, but that’s still ridiculous scary numbers. Perez is the real deal, as long as his body holds up under the stress of his 6-foot-3, 245-pound frame.
Moustakas, who battled minor lower-half injuries, was still able to play in 149 games, but his numbers reflected his youth (.242/.412/.708). The youthful third baseman did show some serious flashes of power, belting 20 home runs over the season, while tallying 79 RBIs. The fans got a healthy dosage of Moustakas’ highlight-reel style of defensive play. Moose has a cannon attached to his right shoulder, as well as, the instincts inside the baseline when charging down a tight roping bunt. Moustakas needs to desperately cut down his strikeouts (124) and really focus on putting the ball in play more frequently with consistent and hard contact.
Now, it’s time to address the elephant in the room. Every Royals fan is aware of one of the biggest offensive letdowns of the season. Hosmer (.232/.304/.663), who has been tabbed as a “can’t miss” prospect, had a proverbial swing and a miss type season in 2012. And by swing and a miss, I mean he swung and missed, a lot. The Florida native had a dismal season racking up 95 strikeouts at the plate and while also, only connecting on 14 home runs and 60 RBIs. At times, it was really hard to watch Hosmer struggle. With as sweet of a swing that the tall and wirery first baseman has, the numbers just weren’t there. When he has a chance to forget about the past season, and enjoy the moment of this season, I have a feeling the young stud will really ‘wow’ his critics from last year and his numbers are sure to surge come July.
Look, it’s been hard enough on Royals fans for the past few decades. Having as many young prospects and promising talent dangled in front our faces can be hard to process at times when it appears the team has fallen into a rut. But, I challenge all true fans in blue to be patient, but have great expectations of these three young men. The franchise has already confirmed its faith in the stars of the future, as should all. When all three shining stars play to their potential, this Royals’ lineup will be one wicked challenge for American League pitchers for years to come.