Fresh off his five-week stay in Arizona, Jason transcribes some notes on prospects he saw in the Royals system.
“Baseball is my stereo, and out past the cornfields where the woods got heavy, and out in the back seat of my ’60 Chevy, and workin’ on mysteries without any clues, and workin’ on our night moves.” –A friend of a friend of Bob Seger
The only thing better than watching prospects is watching prospects with high ceilings, and the only thing better than watching prospects with high ceilings is watching prospects with high ceilings who actually start playing like prospects with high ceilings. During my five-week stay in Arizona, I was fortunate enough to spend a lot of time watching the talent in the Kansas City Royals system, and with each subsequent viewing, I walked away from the fields with the another high-end prospect tattooed on my sunburned brain. It’s a pleasing pain. It’s a good hurt.
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While lot of what Jason sees in Arizona doesn't matter, and some of it's just shadows, there's still a lot to report from Surprise.
Day 8: 10:40 PM
It’s late, Patricia, and I’m sorry for not putting fingers to these keys earlier. The sun was magnificent today, like a big, glowing ball of headaches, disorientation, and fire. My eyes starting stinging early, and by noon I realized I was nearing collapse. After the morning workouts and the 1PM game at the big boy stadium–which I will tell you about in a minute–I bypassed a late lunch in order to cool my thoughts in a long shower. I rushed through step three of the showering process because the symptoms of heat stroke were still present and I didn’t feel confident standing in a slippery basin with my eyes closed while negotiating bouts of dizziness. It’s important to avoid cracking your head open.
Day 8: 11:00 PM
I had to drink a glass of flat water with a slice of cucumber gently floating on top. I would have preferred sparkling, but I’ve become particular about my sparkling water and I’m not about to rush into a sloppy water consumption decision just because the selection is limited and my body needs to fight off dehydration. It’s important to stay hydrated, with style when possible. I watched the Royals earlier today, as I tend to do out here in Surprise, and one player in particular caught my eye, as he has every spring since he was drafted. I sat in the scout section behind home plate, allowing the waves of Americana blasting from the stadium P.A. system to crash into my eardrums, waiting to have my eyes opened by a spectacular play or a spectacular player, when from the sky a heroic figure emerged and slowly lowered his human form onto the playing field and picked up a baseball bat. It was Eric Hosmer, and his face was bronze, and his body draped with the cloth of kings, and his skin was wet with the tears of innumerable virgins. His swing was delicious, with a robust finish that was assertive and aggressive, yet tender and passionate.
Will Myers hit? Can Bubba Starling star? Could Cheslor Cuthbert chisel his way to The Show? Why they might, and why they might not, is just a click away.
Prospect #1: OF Wil Myers Background with Player: My eyes; industry sources. Who: Myers was considered a top-ten prospect before the 2011 season by many national publications. He failed to live up to those lofty expectations in 2011, causing many to forget about the developmental aspects of the process and jump off the bandwagon when his prospect perfume wasn’t as sweet. Ah, people can be so quick to misinterpret failure. Myers has all the tools necessary to become a first-division right fielder, and the statistical setbacks that occurred in the Texas League weren’t the result of one tyrannical culprit; rather, Myers faced a series of developmental hurdles and failed to clear them on his first jump. At the plate, he has the kind of bat speed you can’t teach but can’t wait to preach, starting with fast hands, excellent hip rotation, and a clean path to the ball. He projects to hit for both average and power down the line, with the type of advanced approach that will allow for on-base ability.
What Could Go Wrong in 2012: I can’t speak to the specific developmental plan the Royals have scripted for Myers, but you have to figure the 21-year-old outfielder will reach the Triple-A level at some point in 2012. It’s then that I’d like to see Myers up his intensity at the plate, taking advantage of pitches he can drive before the pitchers take advantage of him. Being patient has it’s advantages, especially against quality pitching: it can put you in favorable hitting situations, it can lead to walks, and it can force a pitcher to throw a lot of pitches while also disrupting the deception of sequence. But it can also make a hitter second-guess opportunities, especially if they come early in the count. Hitters like Myers are the opposite of complex league hitters, those that are taught to read and react, looking to drive fastballs early and often in counts. Myers has good pitch-recognition skills and can track a ball from release to glove better than a lot of major leaguers, but the best hitters also know when to attack; Myers can be a bit passive in that regard. At the higher levels, you either drive or you get driven, and without a little more intensity when the situation calls for it, Myers will remain a backseat hitter, waiting on the perfect opportunity to take the wheel. That type of approach, while applauded in certain situations, can get a young hitter run over.
The Royals are loaded with young talent, but they're still experiencing growing pains
Kiss 'Em Goodbye is a series focusing on MLB teams as their postseason dreams fade—whether in September (or before), the League Division Series, League Championship Series or World Series. It combines a broad overview from Baseball Prospectus, a front-office take from former MLB GM Jim Bowden, a best- and worst-case scenario ZiPS projection for 2012 from Dan Szymborski, and Kevin Goldstein's farm system overview.
With Eric Hosmer in the bigs, who will be the next of the Royals' stash of young prospects to make a fantasy impact?
Eric Hosmer is in the major leagues, and earlier than expected. He is just the first of many prospects who may become Royals in 2011; what kind of fantasy impact is the rest of the bunch likely to have this year?
As talented as the Royals system's top prospects are, nobody's perfect, are they?
Falling in love with prospects is like dating someone because of their physical beauty. At first, you are blinded by the fact that you are involved with someone who is attractive, because, let’s face it, ours is a superficial society, and waking up next to David Beckham or Megan Fox is more appealing than waking up next to Clint Howard or Roseanne Barr. It's a little like having a system headlined by Eric Hosmer and Mike Montgomery being obviously more appealing than a system headlined by Mark Rogers and Cody Scarpetta.
But as the relationship advances, you might get to witness the weaknesses of your new dream partner consume their strengths. In the end you could still be left with a good-looking uniform, but it's draped on a prospect who ultimately failed to live up to the ceiling their initial attractiveness suggested was possible. Once you see the light, you promise yourself that you will no longer fall for a face... except that then you once again start looking for pretty faces, and the cycle repeats itself. Eventually, the aesthetic beauty that tickles your fancy actualizes into the complete package, and the world rejoices at your good fortune.
A look into the future for the Royals, where it could be a very bright one indeed.
Working on the Minor League Update reminds me on a daily basis just how good the Royals farm system has become. Seemingly every night we get a pair of hits from Wil Myers, a home run from Eric Hosmer or Mike Moustakas (or both), 2010 first-round pick Christian Colon finding his swing, or some power lefty (pick from a plethora of them) shutting his opponent down. An e-mail from a scout last night led to a deeper thought, however, as he sketched a quick outline of a Royals roster of the future, leading me to put some real detailed thought into the process. What I came up with surprised even me. "This team could be really good," said the scout. "I realize that's weird, and like saying the Los Angeles Clippers are going to be good, where it just doesn't sound right, but that's a lot of talent."