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Prospects Taking Center Stage in Spring Training

We’re only on our fifth day of spring training and already the reports are glowing about some of the big guns in the Royals farm system. Manager Ned Yost stated the other day that both Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer would be in the majors in 2011. He didn’t say he thinks they would. He simply said they would. Now it seems as if Eric Hosmer will begin the season in AAA with Mike Moustakas. I think the common belief is that Hosmer is a more advanced hitter than Moustakas, partially because he’s a little bit more complete of a hitter and partly because he’s just a little more polished, so I wonder if the opportunity is there for him to come up around the same time as Moustakas.

On one hand I really like the idea of them coming up together. First of all, it would be a huge boost to the fan base to see two of the teams’ best prospects coming up around June, especially in the midst of what might be a pretty rough season. Fan approval is never a good reason to do anything involving players on the field, but if they’re both ready, then it serves a dual purpose. On the other hand, though, thinking about the big picture, these two coming up at the same time is not a very good idea. Moustakas will be in the big leagues this year. There’s very little question about that barring injury. If he comes up in June or so as expected, he’d be under Royals control through the 2017 season. If they can just wait to bring Hosmer up until mid-April of 2012, they’d have him through the 2018 season. To put it frankly it sucks that the Royals have to think like this, but they really do. If Hosmer and Moustakas are as good as expected, the Royals DO NOT want the two of them hitting free agency in the same year.

Regardless, all the optimism surrounding the young players in spring training is really giving me a spring in my step these days. The player who I’m hearing the most buzz about lately is Salvador Perez, the young catcher who finished last season in Wilmington. Yost has said that he believes he could fare decently in the Major Leagues this year, but just needs a little more professional baseball experience before they can bring him up. I believe I heard that they think he could be a candidate to start in the majors as soon as 2012. If that’s the case, and that’s also the organization’s belief, it makes even more sense why they shifted Wil Myers to the outfield now rather than give him another year behind the plate.

I’m pretty excited to see Perez in action as I have not yet. I assume he’ll be in AA Northwest Arkansas at some point this year, and I’m planning to take a trip down there, so I’ll hopefully get to see him then. It sounds like he has a pretty good approach at the plate, some pop and calls a fantastic game. The Royals don’t need a stud at catcher with what they’re building around the diamond, but it certainly wouldn’t hurt. I’d like to see Perez get some experience catching the big time prospects in AA this season as well so he can develop a rapport with them before they all make their assault on the big leagues.

I’ve mentioned that Bob Fescoe has been down in Surprise all week and has been tweeting pictures and reporting on the radio just some fantastic things about almost all the young guys. He mentioned two players in particular yesterday in Everett Teaford and Jeremy Jeffress. The reports he gave could not have excited me more. He said that everything Teaford threw moved and Jeffress was throwing 100 MPH gas and dropping a devastating curveball. There’s a lot of really fantastic arms in this camp, and I’m excited to see all of them pitch in the majors at some point hopefully.

Someone I’ve got on my radar for this season is Aaron Crow. I, like many other fans I’m sure, am extremely curious to see what exactly happened last year and what he can do this year to make it back to the top of the prospect heap. At this time last year, there was talk that Crow might make the team in some capacity. When he didn’t, he went to AA and was downright bad. He then was demoted to A ball where his peripheral statistics were fantastic, but the results still weren’t there. On a minor league stat sheet, I’m much more inclined to believe the peripherals, but I’m also very curious to see what happens this season. If he gets back on track, he’s a candidate to be the first of the starting pitching prospects to make it to the Majors as I don’t think the Royals will mess around with him in the minors for too long if he shows the promise they were hoping for.

I’m getting the feeling from all these reports that a lot of these big time prospects will be making their debuts this season, which slightly differs from my thought originally that it’d be a few of the bullpen guys, maybe one of the starters and Moustakas. A lot can happen over the next six weeks before the season starts, but everything we’re hearing right now is that these guys like fantastic and have an opportunity to make a quicker impact than originally planned. I maintain that the final record won’t be nearly as bad as some people think, but the season could be rough in patches. The thing to look forward to will be seeing the prospects getting their chance to show us why they’re a part of the number one system in all of baseball.

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  1. ElChup
    February 18, 2011 at 5:20 pm

    I disagree a little bit with the belief that the Royals do no (or at least should not) want Hosmer and Moustakas on the same free agency schedule. If they were to delay Hosmer another year, he would then likely be on the same schedule as Myers. It’s almost unavoidable to have two of the three on the same schedule. And there is no guarantee that all 3 are going to reach their potential anyway. And even if all 3 did reach their potential, the Royals will likely only be able to keep two (hopefully, maybe only one) when that time comes.

    Perez will turn into a top 50 prospect this year, with his defense, hitting in friendly NWA working with Bradshaw… no question.

    • February 18, 2011 at 10:42 pm

      That’s a really good point about Hosmer and Myers and I honestly hadn’t thought of that. I guess with so many great prospects, you could be looking at a mass exodus of talent in any given year no matter when you start their clocks.

  2. Patrick McKenney
    February 18, 2011 at 9:00 pm

    ElChup has discovered your blog!

    • ElChup
      February 18, 2011 at 11:48 pm

      I love the blog, it has become required daily reading for me.

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