Home > Uncategorized > Odorizzi Keeps Racking Up The K’s

Odorizzi Keeps Racking Up The K’s

It’s tough to believe that Bruce Chen going on the disabled list would cause as much concern in my mind as it has, but I can’t sit here and pretend like the Royals are going to get better without the guy who has been their best starter so far. In a way that statement is pretty sad, but Chen has been very effective this season. He’ll be replaced on the roster by Vin Mazzaro who thought he would be in the big leagues about four weeks ago, but then walked seven in just over two innings and was replaced in the rotation before he even got there. In a way it’ll be nice to see part of the haul for David DeJesus because when you trade a guy like that, you always want to reap the benefits as quickly as possible. Hopefully Mazzaro runs with this opportunity and makes Kyle Davies expendable when Chen returns.

I don’t want to talk too much about last night’s game because it was just sort of ugly. Freddy Garcia carved up the Royals hitters, and when they did have opportunities they let them slip away. Part of why the Royals have been among the leaders in runs scored this season is that they’ve taken advantage of opportunities. Don’t get me wrong, their situational hitting hasn’t been much to write home about at times, but they seem to have had a large number of two out hits that got home a run. Last night, they just couldn’t get that big hit, and it culminated in an at bat by Chris Getz in the seventh with the bases loaded and two outs. The umpire called him out on a check swing that may or may not have been a check swing and that was that.

Now that we’ve gotten the Major League talk out of the way, I want to talk about the career path of Jake Odorizzi. The Royals, of course, received Odorizzi from the Brewers organization as part of the trade for Zack Greinke. Odorizzi was drafted out of high school and the Brewers were pretty careful with him for the first two years. He pitched in only 23 games and made 14 starts while throwing 67.2 innings. As far as I can tell there was no injury that caused that, so I have to say thank you to the Brewers for being careful with such a promising young arm. Last season in low-A ball, the Brewers pretty much let him loose and he pitched in 23 games and made 20 starts. He threw 120.2 innings and had very impressive peripherals to go along with impressive numbers. He walked just 40 batters and struck out 135 while giving up just 99 hits. Those are the numbers of a top prospect, yet for some reason he wasn’t talked about a ton prior to the trade that made him somewhat of a story.

Well this year, the Royals put him in high-A ball, and he has not disappointed in any way, shape or form. He’s made six starts and thrown 32 innings. Here’s where the numbers get silly. He’s allowed just 22 hits, eight walks and he’s struck out 51 batters. He’s averaging over 14 strikeouts per nine innings in the minors this season. Now, he did have a 13 strikeout game last night which padded those numbers, but even if you remove last night, he had an average of 13 strikeouts per nine innings. When the trade was made, I loved the fact that the Royals got Odorizzi in return because I thought he could stock the lower levels of the minor league system and be the leader of the next movement of prospects. Well now I’m not so sure that he can’t be part of this current movement.

At some point in the next few weeks, one of Danny Duffy and Mike Montgomery will find their way into the Royals rotation. It’ll probably be Duffy considering the way he’s pitching at AAA. Like I said last week, I think Jeff Francis will need to make a trip to the disabled list for some reason that may or may not be real. When he does, Duffy will probably get the call to take his rotation spot. As is the case with Royals players on the DL, there’s a chance we just don’t see Francis again. When Duffy gets called up, that’s going to cause a big movement in the Royals system, and Odorizzi just has to be a part of that. I remember a couple of years back or maybe even last year that Dayton Moore indicated a starter needs to have something like seven dominant outings in a row. Well, Odorizzi is at six right now as each of his starts has been amazing this year.

I don’t think you can keep a guy pitching this well down at the level he is. Odorizzi needs to be challenged by both the organization and the hitters he faces, and he just can’t do that at Wilmington. Northwest Arkansas is a great place to do that as it is a hitter’s paradise, so we’ll get an opportunity to see what he can do when conditions aren’t quite as favorable for pitchers. The only snag in this plan is that him getting moved up to AA means that someone from AA needs to either be sent down or moved up to AAA. If Duffy is getting promoted, there’s a hole on the AAA staff, so unless Duffy replaces Kyle Davies in the rotation and Davies is in AAA, someone needs to go there. Based on the numbers, you might see someone like Mario Santiago get the call or even an organizational guy like Heath Rollins. Either way, Odorizzi is coming and the Royals need to make room for him.

When Odorizzi was drafted he was compared to Zack Greinke, and now he’s putting up similar minor league numbers to what Greinke did. It’d be pretty out there to predict a Cy Young season from Odorizzi, but I do think he’s going to be very good. I liked him when it was first announced that he was part of the trade, but after getting a chance to see what he’s done since then, I think he’s going to be a huge part of the Royals future rotations. Originally, I thought we might see him mid-season 2013 or so, but if he moves to AA within the next month, he could be in AAA to start 2012 and be in the Majors by July either in the rotation helping with a playoff push or in the bullpen providing a great arm out there like many teams have done with their top starting prospects in an effort to get to the postseason. So yeah, the big league team lost last night in a really unsatisfying way, but just think about a rotation of Montgomery, Odorizzi, Duffy, Lamb and Hochevar in 2013. Sounds pretty good to me.

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  1. geo
    May 11, 2011 at 1:14 pm

    The Brewers handled Odorizzi with kid gloves his first two years because they felt that he had pitched overmuch in high school.

  2. bob
    May 22, 2011 at 9:24 pm

    Jake was not over worked in high scool.wered did you get that idea. His pitched were charted and never allowed to get high. He did trow the last inning of the state final te day after going 7 to win the semi’s that was it.

    • May 27, 2011 at 9:17 am

      I’m pretty sure I never said that he was overworked in high school. All I said was that the Brewers protected his arm after drafting him.

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