Back in November, MiLB.com named the KC Royals Organizational All-Stars (one player at each position). As of now, only eight players are still in the organization.
First, lefty Brandon Sisk was traded to the LA Angels for Ervin Santana. Sisk was named the Royals top reliever. He pitched in 50 games with Triple-A Omaha and recorded a 2.54 ERA in 67.1 innings. He also struck out 73 batters. Over his final ten regular season appearances, Sisk allowed just one run in 17.1 innings. JJ Picollo, the Royals‘ assistant GM, said that opponents do not get good swings against him. Maybe he has a chance in LA?
Next was first baseman Clint Robinson, who was designated for assignment and then traded to Pittsburgh for two low minor leaguers. His 37 doubles and 79 walks were tops in the organization, despite having lesser offensive numbers than in 2011 (.292, 13 homeruns, and 67 RBIs). Picollo talked about how Robinson makes everyone around him in the lineup better. Who’s going to be THAT guy in 2013?
Last week came the trade with Tampa Bay that sent Wil Myers, Jake Odorizzi, and Patrick Leonard to the Rays. Since Myers was the Royals Minor League Player of the Year, he was obviously named one of their top outfielders. He made mechanical adjustments to his swing, which increased his power (29 more homeruns than in 2011). And he did not sacrifice his average (he hit .314 in 2012). Myers is expected to be starting in the Rays outfield in 2013.
Odorizzi was the Royals top right-handed starter, as he won an organization-high of 15 games. In five Double-A starts, opponents hit just .191 against him. Overall, he had a 3.03 ERA and struck out 135 batters in 145.1 minor league innings. After the trade, Odorizzi stated that he plans on being ready to compete for one of the Rays rotation spots in 2013. He’ll just have to pitch down in the zone or he’ll continue to get beat by the long ball.
Leonard was the least touted of the Royals to be traded, but he was the best third baseman in the organization. In his first season of pro ball, he hit a homerun every 17 at-bats at rookie level Burlington (he led the Appalachian League with 14 homeruns). He is a big guy (6’4, 225) and the Royals were shocked with how good he is on defense. It’s too early to tell how Leonard will pan out, but maybe he will move Evan Longoria to first base sometime in the future.
So who is still left?
The Royals could have lost Ryan Verdugo, who was their top left-handed starter. He was designated for assignment but was out-righted to Omaha, where he will probably pitch again in 2013. He went 12-4 in his first season of Triple-A baseball with a mostly fastball-changeup combo. He made his big league debut in 2012, but may best be suited for the bullpen. With the current logjam of pitchers, that may be where Verdugo ends up.
Max Ramirez was the top catcher, though he hit better as a DH. The Royals system is extremely thin in the catching department and I doubt Ramirez will earn the big league backup job.
Justin Trapp had a breakout season in Low-A Kane County as the organization’s top second baseman (beating out Johnny Giavotella). He had career-highs in average (.272), extra-base hits (41), RBIs (50), runs scored (75), and stolen bases (24). The Royals said he was better defensively than in the past, but his 22 errors proves he is still a work in progress.
Tony Abreu was the top shortstop in the organization, narrowly beating out Christian Colon (who missed time due to injury). Abreu hit .322 in 103 games in Omaha with 50 extra-base hits (36 doubles) and drove in 73 runs before a big league callup.
The other two outfielders were both in rookie ball in 2012. Bubba Starling, who is now the Royals top prospect, finally made his professional debut with Burlington. He hit ten homeruns in 53 games, but struck out once every three at-bats. Starling‘s defense has impressed the Royals. Alexis Rivera hit .341 in 48 games in the Arizona League, which led all Royals minor leaguers with at least 200 at-bats. For an 18 year old, he showed great patience at the plate (23 walks to 28 strikeouts). He had the most impressive debut of any 2012 Royals draft pick.
MiLB.com could not choose just one utility man, so they picked two. Irving Falu led the entire organization in hitting of players with at least 400 plate appearances at .329. He also stole 21 bases. Anthony Seratelli hit 17 homeruns and stole 15 bases while playing just about everyone.
Who are now the top players at each position in the Royals organization?
I think Jason Adam becomes the Royals‘ top right-handed starter from 2012. He spent the entire season in High-A Wilmington and struggled with the long ball (along with picking up wins), but he made every start and was a workhorse.
In terms of first base, I would lean towards Matt Fields. He joined the Royals organization in the summer from independent ball, but fit in well from the beginning with Wilmington. He did not have much of a problem getting the ball out of the ballpark despite the tough league and pitcher’s ballpark he played in (17 bombs in 253 at-bats).
I think Adalberto Mondesi or Jorge Bonifacio would be the Royals top outfielder. Mondesi hit .290 with rookie level Idaho Falls. Right now, he is more of a singles hitter and he stole 11 bases. Bonifacio hit .282 at Kane County and showed off some power (20 doubles and ten homeruns) while showing off some speed (six triples).
Sam Runion would be my pick for the Royals top reliever from 2012. He did everything that was asked of him in Wilmington and was passed over a few times for promotions (39 strikeouts compared to just 12 walks in 49.2 innings). However, once he finally received the promotion to Double-A, he allowed just four runs in 15.2 innings. He struck out 11 while walking four. Overall, he allowed just one homerun.