KC Royals left fielder Alex Gordon returned to the roster Tuesday after an injury rehab stint in Omaha. Along with Gordon, the Kansas City Royals brought up Cheslor Cuthbert, Christian Colon, Terrance Gore, Francisco Pena, Miguel Almonte and Scott Alexander from the minor leagues as September call-ups.
At this point, I wanted to say, “The Beard is Back.” But, as you can see in the above image, Alex Gordon shaved his beard during his injury hiatus. I guess Jonny Gomes and Ben Zobrist will have to provide the outfield whisker power for the stretch run.
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In line with manager Ned Yost‘s Monday comment that he did not expect too many call-ups, the KC Royals focused on guys who could help out tired veterans. For me, the biggest surprises were reliever Scott Alexander, as well as snubbing major-league veterans Wandy Rodriguez and Joba Chamberlain.
I confess I largely overlooked the 26-year-old Scott Alexander due to his humble pedigree. He was a 5th round draft pick of the Kansas City Royals in 2010, and has advanced through the system to AAA Omaha where he served this season as the closer with 14 saves and a 2.56 ERA.
Obviously, the KC Royals organization likes Scott Alexander’s composure—or else he wouldn’t have been the closer at Omaha. However, his strikeout and walk rates aren’t particularly exceptional at 7.1 K/9 and 2.4 BB/9. He has significantly improved his command this season compared to his career 3.4 BB/9. The other factor working in Alexander’s favor is that he’s a lefty. Since the Kansas City Royals bullpen had only Franklin Morales working from the left side, Alexander fills a need.
If I am Louis Coleman, I’d be very frustrated that I didn’t get the call after putting up a 1.77 ERA and 8.9 K/9 at Omaha this season along with my career 3.25 ERA in the bigs. I’ll bet Coleman will do everything in his power to get out of the KC Royals organization this winter.
Further, I expected Kyle Zimmer over Miguel Almonte. The Kansas City Royals had other ideas, despite Almonte’s rather pedestrian results at AAA (5.40 ERA, though he did post a 10.1 K/9) and AA (4.03 ERA and 7.4 K/9).
This is the pitfall of someone outside the organization looking at numbers. The problem is, teams often instruct top prospects to shelve their best stuff to work on secondary pitches. Consequently, results may not reflect actual development. Such seems to be the case with the 22-year-old Almonte, whom the KC Royals view as a top rotation prospect. They apparently believe he can fill a “Brandon Finnegan” type role as a reliever down the stretch.
I thought that Dayton Moore might prefer to leave Terrance Gore in the minors through the AA playoffs, but—in retrospect—I was ignoring the “all-in” aspect of this season. Gore can help steal victories with his speed as a pinch runner no matter what the state of his hit tool might be. Apparently, the Kansas City Royals don’t want to allow any late games to slip away and watch hard-changing Toronto nip them at the wire for the American League’s best record (and home field advantage throughout the playoffs).
As for Christian Colon, Cheslor Cuthbert, and Francisco Pena, they are clear positional backups that will allow Ned Yost to rest starters in September.