With the KC Royals enjoying one of their three off days due to the LONG spring schedule this year, it is a great time to look at how some of the position battles are going so far. They have played about two weeks worth of games and are still undefeated.
5th starters spot
Luis Mendoza has left for the World Baseball Classic, but showed that he may be the front runner for the job. In two appearances (one start), he allowed one run on six hits and a walk over six innings. He struck out four.
Bruce Chen and Luke Hochevar have only made one appearance and are set to pitch again tomorrow. Hochevar started and allowed two runs on one hit and three walks over just 1.2 innings. He struck out two. Chen came on in relief in that same game and pitched two perfect innings with two strikeouts.
Johnny Giavotella and Chris Getz are hitting the same (.286) in the same amount of at-bats (14). Both have hit a double and Getz has hit a homerun and driven in two runs. Gio has driven in three. Getz has struck out three times and walked once, while Gio has struck out twice.
On defense, Gio has turned three double plays without an error, while Getz has committed an error and turned four double plays.
Miguel Tejada hasn’t played much second base so far because he has left for the WBC and will play third or shortstop with the Dominican Republic. He is 5-for-17 over eight games with three strikeouts. Irving Falu has also left for the WBC (with Puerto Rico), but was 3-for-14 in eight games. However, he struck out four times. Elliott Johnson is just 2-for-8 in five games. He does have two RBIs.
All three of these players are also competing for the back up infielder job. Only Tejada has made an error in the infield of those three.
Prospect Christian Colon is 3-for-9 in six games with three RBIs.
This is a little tougher to gauge considering Lorenzo Cain missed the start of games with a hand injury. However, he is 2-for-8 in five games played. He has walked four times and not struck out. Jarrod Dyson is 5-for-17 in eight games. He has walked three times, struck out twice, and stolen three bases. Dyson has committed an error though.
Non-roster invitee Willy Taveras is 6-for-15 over eight games. He has hit a double and a triple, but has struck out three times. He has not committed an error in the field.
Back up catcher
George Kottaras is 4-for-11 in six games. Brett Hayes is just 3-for-10 in seven games, but has walked three times and scored five runs. He has also driven in two. Adam Moore is just 3-for-11 in six games, but two of his hits are homeruns.
Manny Pina is 2-for-5 in three games. Max Ramirez (who is seen as more of a first baseman/DH) is 6-for-15 in seven games. He has seven RBIs, but has struck out five times.
Hayes has thrown out 1-of-4 would be base stealers. Kottaras and Moore have thrown out the only attempt they have seen. Pina has allowed one stolen base and has an error.
Final bullpen spot
This is a tough one to gauge considering all of the pitchers in camp. There are about fourteen who could say they think they have a shot at the final spot and are getting looks from the coaching staff. I think Will Smith, Ryan Verdugo, and Justin Marks will head to Omaha and be a part of their rotation. I think the Royals need to decide what they are going to do with Nate Adcock (is he a starter or reliever?) and Everett Teaford still has not pitched in a game. Michael Mariot is an interesting case and has pitched well so far, but I do not think he is ready just yet.
Louis Coleman is fighting for a spot, despite being the lone returnee in this group. So far this spring, he has made three appearances, totaling three innings. He has allowed two hits and a run and is scheduled to pitch again tomorrow.
There are two non-roster invitees in this group with tons of experience. Dan Wheeler is the veteran with World Series experience (both with Houston and Tampa Bay). He has pitched in three games (totaling three innings) and has allowed three hits. He has struck out five and not walked a batter. The downside is that he has pitched late in games against the opposing team’s minor league players. Brian Sanches returns to the Royals after a few successful seasons with Florida. In two games so far, he has allowed one run on two hits.
Juan Gutierrez seems completely recovered with his arm injury of a few years ago. He was lights out in winter ball and has carried that to spring training. He has pitched three perfect innings while striking out one. Guillermo Moscoso is intriguing, but may fall victim to the numbers game with Hochevar, Chen, and Mendoza just about guaranteed a roster spot and he is similar to all three. Over two outings (one start), he has allowed three hits and a walk while striking out three over four innings. Atahualpa Severino has left for the WBC, but only allowed one hit over three scoreless innings while striking out two.
Will the Royals carry a second lefty in the bullpen? There are two competing for the final spot and Donnie Joseph has been the most intriguing. The player received in the Jonathan Broxton deal with Cincinnati, he has struck out seven over three innings. In his first two outings, Joseph struck out all six batters he faced (who were all left-handed hitters). Francisley Bueno has allowed two runs on five hits over 4.1 innings. He has struck out three.
This may be the toughest battle, but I am sure we will see most of the above pitchers at some point during the season.
Who do you think has an early edge?