Looking back at Royals top 20 prospects: #8 Orlando Calixte

MLB.com’s number eight midseason prospect for the KC Royals moved up considerably from the preseason list (up from number 14). Shortstop Orlando Calixte had a solid first season in Double-A, hitting .250 in 122 games. He had 25 doubles, four triples, and eight home runs.

Orlando Calixte during spring training in Surprise in 2013 (Jen Nevius).

Orlando Calixte during spring training in Surprise in 2013 (Jen Nevius).

After spending most of the second half of the 2012 season in High-A Wilmington (and hitting way better than expected), I thought he would make a return trip, at least to start the season. Instead, the 21 year old was pushed up a level to NW Arkansas and he more than held his own.

Calixte struggled out of the gate, hitting just .198 in 20 April games. He also struck out 24 times. However, almost half of his 16 hits went for extra bases (six doubles and a triple). He heated up in May, going 28-for-92 (.304) with ten runs scored and six RBIs. He also hit six doubles, a triple, and his first Double-A home run.

The strikeouts climbed during the summer months (27 in June, 33 in July, and 27 in August), but average-wise he stayed afloat (until August). He hit .283 in 26 June games, while also hitting three homers and driving in ten. Calixte‘s average in July was .256 and he showed more power (eight doubles, three homers, and 13 RBIs).

August was a tough month for Calixte, as he hit just .191 with four extra base hits. On the positive side, it was the month he showed the most patience: he walked 14 times (the most of any month).

As a right-handed hitter, his splits against right and left-handed pitching were drastic. Calixte had more ABs against righties (379), but he hit just .230 with 101 strikeouts. He did however show more power (16 doubles, two triples, five home runs, and 24 RBIs). Against lefties, Calixte hit .324 in 105 at-bats.

Calixte struggled mightily with two outs and runners in scoring position (just .175 in 80 at-bats).

Defensively is where Calixte made the biggest improvement over last season. After a combined 46 errors between Low-A and High-A in 2012, he committed 16 errors at shortstop (396 chances) and two errors at third base (30 chances). That is a HUGE improvement.

After the Naturals season came to an end, Calixte headed to the Arizona Fall League, where the offensive struggles continued. He hit just .182 in 16 games with 15 strikeouts. He did drive in six and scored six runs.

I expect Calixte to return to NW Arkansas to start the 2014 season, but I have been wrong before. For him to start the season in Triple-A, it will all depend on what the Royals do with the infielders in front of him (like Danny Valencia, Johnny Giavotella, Christian Colon, and Brian Bocock). Current shortstop Alcides Escobar is under contract until 2017 (his option year). Calixte should be pushing him by then.

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