Top 20 PRE-SEASON Royals Prospects in Review
This is the PRE-SEASON list. That means it was generated BEFORE THE SEASON STARTED and that the grades were PRE-SEASON. Anyone complaining about the grades based on 2006 performance will be smacked up the side of the head with a Dee Brown autographed bat.
1) Alex Gordon, 3B, Grade A
Hitting .300/.403/.506 for Double-A Wichita, 20 doubles, 10 homers, 38 walks, 16 steals in 17 attempts. Basically everything expected, hitting for average and power, getting on base, playing good defense, even good speed contributions.
2) Billy Butler, OF, Grade B+
Hitting .326/.389/.500 with 22 doubles, 10 homers for Wichita, strong numbers especially given his age at 20. I think he's going to be a fine hitter.
3) Justin Huber, 1B, B+
Got off to a hot start, promoted to Kansas City and sat on the bench for three weeks, got rusty, sent back to Omaha and (not surprisingly) went into a slump. Now hitting .259/.339/.468. He can do better than that if they let him.
4) Jeff Bianchi, SS, B
Season got off to a late start due to injury rehab. Currently 10-for-21 in rookie ball (.476) with two homers. Should move to a higher level soon.
5) Luis Cota, RHP, B-
3-7, 7.52 in 15 starts for High Desert. Still showing good stuff, above average velocity, but control problems are deadly in High Desert.
6) Chris Lubanski, OF, B-
Hitting .258/.336/.416 with 21 doubles for Wichita. Cold start, got hot in May, then went cold again. This fits his usual pattern. I expect he will go on a hot streak in July and August and finish with good numbers.
7) Denny Bautista, RHP, C+
Look great early in the season, then tweaked a muscle and went on the DL. His mechanics have been a mess since he came back, ruining his control, and he is currently struggling in Omaha (6.88 ERA in four starts).
8) Shane Costa, OF, C+
15-for-44 (.341) for Omaha, hit .248/.280/.384 in 39 games for the Royals. I think he is a .270-.280 hitter at the major league level in a full season, but lack of home run power may make him a "tweener."
9) Chris McConnell, SS, C+
Hitting just .171/.259/.204 in 60 games for Class A Burlington. Quite disappointing, as he was expected to hit following his strong performance last year in short-season ball.
10) Mitch Maier, OF, C+
Hitting .278/.337/.440 with 15 doubles, eight homers for Wichita. Doing OK, looking more and more like a possible fourth outfielder. His defense has developed into a major asset.
11) Donnie Murphy, 2B, C+
Hitting .234/.301/.394 for Wichita, struggling with injuries. Status is slipping.
12) Andres Blanco, SS, C+
Hitting .253/.310/.359 for Omaha. Good glove but his hitting leaves a lot to be desired. Makes contact but does not drive the ball.
13) Billy Buckner, RHP, C+
7-1, 3.90 in 16 starts for High Desert, 85/47 K/BB in 90 innings. Pitching very well actually; remember what a 3.90 ERA in High Desert means. Although his control still needs some work I'd be willing to promote him to Double-A at this point.
14) Chris Nicoll, RHP, C+
3-5, 2.84 in 13 starts for Burlington, 74/20 K/BB in 76 innings. Pitching quite well, showing strong command of decent stuff.
15) Kila Kaaihue, 1B, C+
Hitting .178/.270/.223 in 61 games for Wichita, with ZERO homers. He hit for power in the low minors but seems totally overmatched in Double-A.
16) Mike Aviles, SS, C
Hitting .252/.281/.376 for Omaha. Seems to have topped out as a hitter, with utility work his eventual destination.
17) Joseph Dickerson, OF, C
Just activated from extended spring training, is 12-for-34 (.353) so far for Idaho Falls.
18) Brent Fisher, LHP, C
Just activated from extended spring training, has a 12/1 K/BB in his first 10 innings (allowing one run) for the AZL Royals. He has excellent control and should move up to Idaho Falls or Burlington later this summer.
19) Angel Sanchez, SS, C
Similar to Blanco, has a good glove but a questionable bat. Currently at .285/.350/.353 for Wichita.
20) Danny Tamayo, RHP, C
Has thrown 26 innings for Omaha, going 3-2, 4.21 with a 26/4 K/BB. On the DL with shoulder trouble.
Comment: A mixed bag. Gordon and Butler look great, and Huber was doing well before rotting on the bench in the majors for no apparent reason. I think he will rebound. Lack of pitching depth is a major issue. Nicoll and Buckner look good, but control problems hamper Cota and Bautista. Between Blanco, Sanchez, Avila, and Murphy the Royals should be able to find a useful utility man, but none of them look like potential regulars at this stage.