After having seen and discussed (at some length) the bats on this year’s Legends, our first as a KC affiliate, it’s pretty clear that there’s a lot of potential here. But it’s not just the hitters who stand out; Lexington has quite a lot of talent on the mound, as well.
From the ace down to the last man in the ‘pen, there’s a lot to like. Since this post got a little bit long (I can sometimes get a little too excited when I start writing about our kids), I figured I better split it down the middle. Here’s a tiny bit about our moundsmen, with 2013 stats thus far (as of April 30th) and a few observations I’ve made.
Bryan Brickhouse, RHP
0-3, 3.00 ERA, 5 starts, 27 IP, 25 hits allowed, 9 ER, 1 HR, 3 HBP, 5 BB, 21 K, 1.11 WHIP
Brick has been a stalwart in the rotation, this year, though his run support
has been paltry at best. He’s averaged just over 5 innings/start, walking just 5 batters and striking out 21. He’s been awfully consistent and unflappable on the mound, handling adversity with a smile on his face (at times). I’d say that’s pretty steady, wouldn’t you? He shows a solid fastball sitting in the low-90’s, but works from 88-92 and adjusts on the fly. He keeps the ball low and gets good tail and sink on his changeup.
Daniel Stumpf, LHP
Stumpf has been nearly unhittable at times; on April 14th he went 5 innings vs. Greenville, allowing only 2 hits and striking out 6. He repeated the performance on the 20th (again vs. Greenville), going 5 1/3, again allowing 2 hits and no runs, striking out 5 but walking four. His worst start of the four he’s made thus far was vs. Augusta on April 27th, when he pitched 5 innings and allowed 4 runs (three earned) on five hits, giving up one homer and striking out three. A 9th round pick in 2012, Stumpf was Most Outstanding Pitcher in the Junior College World Series after leading San Jacinto College North to a second-place finish. While he’s put up very good numbers as a starter so far this year, he was sixth in the Appy League in saves just last year (five saves).
Colin Rodgers, LHP
1-1, 3.66 ERA, 4 starts, 19 2/3 IP, 19 hits allowed, 8 ER, 1 HRA, 6 BB, 16 K, .247 BAA
KC’s 3rd round pick in 2012 out of Parkview Baptist School in Baton Rouge, LA, Rodgers gave up a scholarship to Auburn to play for the Royals organization. So far, two of his starts were quality starts, while the other two were rocky, at best. On April 19th he went 7 innings vs. Greenville, shutting them out on only two hits and striking out six. His next start, on the 26th, he made it through only 4 innings, allowing 6 runs (5 earned) on 8 hits, giving up one homer while striking out 4 and walking two. He shows an excellent curve with sharp break and good velocity, but his makeup could be his strongest asset as he has a reputation for being imminently coachable and for working hard to improve his game. This is a guy who will have a positive influence on players around him, and could certainly turn out to be a very good coach when his playing days are over.
Miguel Almonte, RHP
Projectable and whip-like, Almonte shows above-average velocity (91-93, touches 94 on occasion) and could end up a tick or two above that. He’s already shown a plus change-up and his curve has a chance to be at least average, giving him three solid pitches. His numbers are really not quite as important at this point as his overall development, but the numbers will come along as he grows into his frame (and his game). Pitchers like Almonte could be a large part of the Kansas City renaissance in the near-future; if he grows along the lines on which he is currently projected, he could become a solid #3 or a strong #4. If he ends up in the ‘pen, I’d project him to be comparable to James McDonald with better velocity. That’s certainly not a bad thing.
Aroni Nina, RHP
At 6’4”, 178, Nina is very projectable and should add around 20 pounds over the next few years. He forces hitters to drive the ball into the ground with a low-90’s fastball with slight tailing action and a low to mid-70’s breaking ball. He’s an intriguing prospect in that there’s a lot of room left for him to grow, as well as the fact that he has had little difficulty adjusting to his first year in full-season ball. His strikeout/9 innings ratio should hover around 9+ for most of the year, with the same occasional hiccup you’d expect from a player who has been in pro ball for 5+ years.
Christian Binford, RHP
1-2, 3.74 ERA, 4 starts, 21 2/3 IP, 19 hits allowed, 9 ER, 6 BB, 22 K, 2.55 GO/AO ratio, .241 BAA
“The Toolman” brings a low-90’s fastball and 6’7” of baseball projectability (there’s that word, again) to the table. Picked up in the 30th round of the 2011 Draft, Binford ripped off a no-hitter in his very first start as a HS freshman in 2008. While it should be noted that he had Tommy John surgery in 2009, he shows no signs of ill effects from this. Pinpoint control, downward movement on his fastball and an aggressive approach to opposing batters puts Binford near the forefront of any discussion involving low-minors pitching prospects in Kansas City’s farm system. On April 25th @ Asheville he pitched 7 innings and allowed two runs on 6 hits, walking none and striking out eight in a standout performance. In three of his four starts thus far he has averaged more than a strikeout per inning. As he fills out his rangy frame, he should add significantly to his velocity and could end up with a consistently mid-90’s fastball.
Ali Williams, RHP
This is a situation in which the numbers don’t tell even half the story: two of the three homers he’s allowed came in the same game, and were the only two runs he allowed in a two inning appearance on April 9th. He also struck out three and walked none in that game. Also, if you remove his last appearance (April 27th vs. Augusta-1 2/3 IP, 7 H, 8 ER, 1 HR, 3 BB, 2 K), then he’s allowed only five earned runs in 14 IP. For relievers, especially early in the year, one bad game can destroy your overall stats. In Ali’s case, the discerning fan is best advised to ignore all of his stats except for one: 19 K in 15 2/3 IP. More to the point, on April 21st vs. Greenville he struck out seven batters in 3 perfect innings. It is that appearance which I believe tells more about his potential than any other, this year. I saw that game; he was absolutely flawless, that day. That’s the sort of potential you get with Williams. I can see him becoming a top-tier short reliever in the higher levels. That would not be a stretch, in my opinion, and thus he is certainly one to watch.