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Things To Watch For

Finally, tonight is the night that we actually get to watch the Royals live on television. I know that there’s some other game in some other sport, but I’m a baseball fan first, and the box score for that other sport’s game will be available at some point. I’m not too worried about missing it. I’m going to be on the lookout for a few things when I watch tonight and pretend to be a scout who actually understands something about deliveries and swings and all that stuff.

  • I want to see Alex Gordon’s new swing in action. I’ve seen videos, but I haven’t actually seen it live. The results have been impressive this spring, and I’m hopeful that he’s playing tonight so that I can see it. While I’m not even close to ready to give up on Gordon, it’s the sort of thing where seeing is believing. If he keeps both hands on the bat and has the level swing that I’ve seen in videos during batting practice, then I’m going to feel pretty good about predicting a big year.
  • Vin Mazzaro is pitching, and he should be going about six innings just like the rest of the starters have over the last few days. I wasn’t a huge fan of him when he was with the A’s because I just didn’t feel like his style was terribly conducive to long-term success, but now that he’s a Royal I’m obviously giving him a second (and third and fourth and fifth…) chance to prove me wrong.
  • In the same vein, I’m really excited to see Alcides Escobar at shortstop again. I watched the tape delay games that were shown by MLB Network earlier in the spring and he impressed me. I’m not sure if that’s the fact that I’ve grown accustomed to seeing guys like Yuni manning shortstop or if he’s really that good. From reports, he’s really that good. Plus, he’s been hitting like crazy over the last few days. I maintain that he has the body type of someone who could actually have some power as he develops. I don’t think we’d be looking at anything prodigious, but I could see 10-15 homers per year.
  • This is sort of like the car crash idea, but I badly want to see Jeff Francouer flail away at some pitches tonight. He’s had a rough spring, but has come around as of late. I think Francouer has a chance to have a decent season by his standards, but that still isn’t good. I want him to be good, I really do, but I just don’t think he will be. I just want to see it for myself.
  • I really, really, really hope Tim Collins pitches tonight because I love to watch that guy pitch whether it’s in videos or live. I’m mostly confident that we’ll get to see him at the big league level to start the season, but you never know with the Royals if they’ll make a last second trade for a minor league reliever with bad numbers and then stick him on the roster in Collins’ place. Yeah, I’m looking at you from last year, Luis Mendoza.

As the spring winds down and we’re sick of exhibition baseball, I have to say that this has actually been one of the most enjoyable spring trainings that I have ever experienced in my time as a Royals fan. Well, that is including springs I can recall. I’m too young to remember spring trainings when the Royals actually were expected to contend. It’s not the fact that they’ve won a lot of games this spring or anything. It’s that we’ve seen the future of the Royals and it’s incredibly bright. This is somewhat of a hollow victory, but when it was Royals prospects against other teams’ prospects, the Royals were head and shoulders better than the other teams. It’s no coincidence that their spring record went south as soon as a lot of the prospects were sent to minor league camp.

We’ve learned that Mike Montgomery is way closer to the Majors than we thought coming into camp. We’ve learned that Eric Hosmer is also perhaps a little closer than we originally thought, and maybe even better than we thought, which is a tough task. We’ve learned that Tim Collins and Louis Coleman have a chance to be fixtures in what I hope is one of the American League’s best bullpens for the next few seasons. We’ve learned that Kila Ka’aihue might have a future in this league as a masher, slider speed bat speed or not.

It won’t happen in April and probably not in May, but somewhere between June and September, this big league team is going to be incredibly fun and exciting to watch. They’re going to have speed, power, plate discipline, defense, arms. Things are starting to fall in place, and I can’t wait to head to Surprise next year to see it even more. I’ll be there cheering for the 2011 Royals on Opening Day this year, but my heart lies with the Omaha Storm Chasers, the Northwest Arkansas Naturals, the Wilmington Blue Rocks, the Kane County Cougars and all the minor leagues because those are the teams who have the players who are going to lead the Royals to the promised land. I have a feeling that this is the last spring where the Royals leave Surprise knowing they don’t have a shot to win. Things change soon and I, for one, cannot wait.

  1. tbr
    March 25, 2011 at 2:15 pm

    Collins has pitched in each of the last two games and is not scheduled for today.

    • March 25, 2011 at 2:48 pm

      Collins definitely didn’t pitch yesterday… He pitched the two days previously, though.

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