Blue Rocks centerfielder Bubba Starling at the plate on April 13, 2014 (Jen Nevius).
Even though the outfield seems pretty crowded with reserves Jarrod Dyson, Paulo Orlando, and Terrance Gore, along with starters Alex Gordon, Lorenzo Cain, Alex Rios, and Ben Zobrist, a number of outfielders are making so much noise in the minors they could find their way onto the Kansas City Royals roster in September.
All we really need to know about Jose Martinez is that the guy is hitting .384/.452/.570 in 284 AAA at bats this season. Martinez deserves a look as a potential bench bat in October, and a look see at the major-league level to discover if he’s broken through at age 27.
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Jose Martinez signed with Kansas City Royals this winter after the Toronto Blue Jays gave up on him. He finished the 2014 season in the Independent Pioneer League. The biggest thing standing in his way is that he’s not on the 40-man roster. Yet, the KC Royals could dump Reymond Fuentes or Lane Adams in favor of the more-productive Martinez.
If Martinez comes up in September, and shows he can hit major-league pitching, would you rather give playoff bats to him, or a still-wallowing Alex Rios?
At some point, the Kansas City Royals are going to have to accept Rios as a sunk cost and stop giving meaningful at bats to an unproductive player. Jose Martinez could be the beneficiary.
Eibner is yet another athletic guy in the KC Royals system with a slow-developing bat. A second round draft choice for the Kansas City Royals in 2010, Eibner has struggled to develop his hit tool as a career .238 hitter. However, he shows a nice combination of athleticism, plate patience, and power.
Brett Eibner has enjoyed a career-year in AAA Omaha this season, slashing .304/.363/.534 with 18 home runs and 32 walks in 374 AAA plate appearances. He plays centerfield for the Stormchasers, so you expect he could fill in at all three outfield positions in Kansas City.
Eibner is yet another guy not on the 40-man roster, but the 26-year-old has earned a chance in Kansas City. I expect Dayton Moore will give a former 2nd round pick a look-see with the KC Royals after putting up a strong year in AAA before risk losing him as a minor-league free agent this winter.
The franchise’s 22-year-old golden child has finally hit in the minors, after facing a low level of competition as a high-schooler at Gardner, Kansas.
Turning down a football scholarship to Nebraska after the Kansas City Royals made him the 5th overall pick in the 2011 Draft, Starling’s hit tool has been slow to develop.
Yet, this spring he smashed High A Wilmington (a very tough home park for hitters) by slashing .386/.471/.614. He has continued to hit a solid .269/.332/.440 after the KC Royals promoted him to AA NW Arkansas.
Dayton Moore could decide to promote Starling to Kansas City, in the hopes that he might hold down a starting job in 2016 (with RF Alex Rios’ contract expiring). I don’t see Starling as a candidate for a playoff roster spot. Heck, I think the idea of Starling playing right field for the Kansas City Royals next season could be a bit of a stretch.
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