The KC Royals made two of baseball’s biggest mid-season trades last season by acquiring utility player Ben Zobrist and pitcher Johnny Cueto. This season, rehabbing pitcher Mike Minor could be the only help on the horizon.
Kansas City Star columnist Sam Mellinger wrote how the Kansas City Royals officials believe they don’t have the prospect inventory to land help for the 2016 squad at the trade deadline. At the top of the system, the KC Royals have hitters like outfielders Brett Eibner and Jorge Bonifacio, along with third basemen Hunter Dozier and Cheslor Cuthbert, but none of them are particularly highly regarded by scouts.
Bonifacio skinned onto the bottom of top 100 prospects lists prior to the 2014 season, but pretty much lost his prospect momentum with two poor seasons at AA NW Arkansas in 2014 and 2016. Though he’s raking at AAA Omaha with a .301/.357/.523 triple slash at age 23, he’s lost his phenom mojo.
Third baseman Hunter Dozier is also crushing the ball after two forgettable seasons, but at age 24 he’s still not in high demand despite his .313/.388/.639 triple slash across AA NW Arkansas and AAA Omaha.
More from KC Royals News
- KC Royals: Club appears ready to hire pitching assistant
- Grading the 2022 KC Royals: Infielder Nicky Lopez
- New pitching coach looks like a good fit for KC Royals
- Grading the 2022 KC Royals: Second baseman Michael Massey
- KC Royals Free Agent Hunt: Look to Texas for help?
In the end, the Kansas City Royals lack of prospect depth might mean that rehabbing 28-year-old pitcher Mike Minor could the the only big addition the KC Royals can expect this season. Minor joined the organization when he signed a two-year, $7.2 million contract after missing all of 2015 with shoulder surgery.
The good news is that Mike Minor is throwing harder in his rehab assignment at AAA Omaha than he did in his dominant 2013 season for the Atlanta Braves. Lefty Minor is hitting the mid 90’s on the radar gun, despite suffering soreness every time he throws. He told Kansas City Star beat writer Rustin Dodd last week:
"“It’s felt kind of the same the whole time,” Minor said. “There’s still new soreness each time, but it’s because I’m progressing each outing. But I’m recovering, so that’s good.”"
The bad news is that Minor gave up four runs in five innings against the Pacific Coast League Reno Aces on Friday night. Overall, Minor has a 4.97 ERA in 12.2 innings in three rehab starts in AA NW Arkansas and AAA Omaha. While that doesn’t sound very impressive, he’s missing bats with 17 strikeouts (12.1 K/9).
Ultimately, the hope is that Minor will join the Kansas City Royals rotation as the guy that put up a 13-9 record with a 3.21 ERA in the National League before undergoing shoulder surgery after the 2014 season. The increase velocity gives hope that he just might pull it off.
The KC Royals could use the help. Despite solid performances by Dillon Gee and Danny Duffy subbing for injured starters Chris Young and Kris Medlen, the Kansas City Royals starters rank eighth in the AL with a 4.59 ERA.
Now, if only utility player and recent call-up Whit Merrifield can channel his inner Ben Zobrist…