Normally, the signing of a player who last played in organized ball in 2013 would not register on the radar. However, the KC Royals signing of Jon Denney could be a gamble that pays off.
It happens often enough where it has become a clichéd sports movie plot – a highly touted youg player comes along, gets in trouble with the law, and, after being released by his original team, finds redemption and success someplace else. The KC Royals are hoping that tired plot comes true with their signing of Jon Denney.
Denney, a former third round pick of the Boston Red Sox, was actually a player that the Royals had interest in drafting. A catcher who was considered to have excellent defensive skills and a strong arm, as well as a bit of power in his bat, Denney played for one season in the Red Sox organization before being placed on the restricted list due to numerous issues with the law before being made available for anyone to sign.
At first glance, Denney did not exactly set the Gulf Coast League on fire during his time in the Red Sox system, with three extra base hits (all doubles) and 29 strikeouts in 74 at bats. However, while his .203/.379/.243 batting line may not seem impressive, Denney did an excellent job of getting on base, as he drew 18 walks and was hit by a pitch three times.
Denney also showed an ability to put a charge into the ball when he made contact. His .333 batting average on balls in play was buoyed by a strong 19.6% line drive rate, almost five points above league average. If he still has that burgeoning power, it may simply be a matter of Denney making more consistent contact to become a viable prospect once again.
The KC Royals plan on bringing Denney along slowly, keeping him in Arizona for extended Spring Training before sending him out to the minors in June. It certainly makes sense to take their time, given the layoff Denney had away from the game, to take such a long term approach on the former prospect.
The KC Royals have had tremendous success in resurrecting the careers of career minor leaguers like Balbino Fuenmayor and Jose Martinez. Now, the Royals will see if they can work their magic on Jon Denney