Organizational Rankings: Future Talent – Kansas City

It would make a nice story to cite the offseason between 2001 and 2002 as the birthplace of a new Royals regime, an overhaul in organizational drafting philosophy. In 2001, the team was captured by a sideshow act, Colt Griffin, that held few skills beyond the ability to throw a baseball as hard as an 18-year-old ever could. The next year, of course, the team looked for pitchability from their prep pitcher first rounder — and found their city’s great hope, Zack Greinke. But what could have been a symbolic upheaval wreaks now merely of coincidence, as the farm system — and the process for acquiring talent — has barely improved. Coupled with the occasional resistance to give successful prospects an opportunity, headlined by Internet favorites Kila Ka’ahiue and Disco Hayes, and the Royals’ problems seemingly extend to every department of their organization.

This is not to say they don’t have young talent, and with a particular shade of rose-colored glasses, couldn’t be projected for a successful future. Top ten picks yield prospects, and while neither Alex Gordon or Mike Moustakas or Eric Hosmer have yet had the success for which they were projected, each still harbors reasons for optimism. Behind Greinke, the best draft pick from this decade has been Billy Butler, who I still believe will flourish into a dominant hitter during his forthcoming arbitration seasons. And while I can’t claim much faith in Luke Hochevar‘s future, I’m a bigger believer than most in regards to Aaron Crow, who has three pretty good starting bullet points on a scouting resume: fastball velocity, fastball movement and fastball command. It shouldn’t take a lot of pitching instruction or time to smoothly develop their second option behind Greinke.

If there’s further reason for optimism, it’s a subtle loosening of the purse strings the scouting department has been afforded in the middle rounds. The team isn’t wasting their time on polished college players that will help a Major League roster soon, but instead buying out college commitments from extremely talented and extremely raw young players. The poster boy of this approach will be Wil Myers, whose $2 million bonus as a third-round pick is one of the ten biggest the Royals have ever handed out. Myers then followed it up with a .426/.488/.735 debut in 18 Pioneer League games, quickly validating the Royals new middle-round strategy. That is, if Chris Dwyer or Tim Melville or Tyler Sample all didn’t already do it, all pitchers given above-slot bonuses in the fairly early rounds. And that’s to say nothing of consensus top prospect Mike Montgomery, who was a more agreed-upon talent entering the 2008 draft, but still is providing great value for a 36th overall selection.

So, on the positive side, I do see a wealth of pitching that, even when accounting for attrition, should provide the pieces of a good pitching staff. But what of these problems developing position players, and perhaps more concerning, struggling to properly develop Moustakas and Hosmer? Given the mid-market organization’s relative inability to lure free agents, developing offensive pieces will be the key to their success. This is also a team that simply must begin to plunge into foreign waters, as — brace yourself — their last homegrown international player to have any semblance of Major League success is probably Runelvys Hernandez. Dayton Moore, who was second in-command of an organization with a top-notch international scouting department, should know better. But that isn’t the first time we’ve said that.

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21 Responses to “Organizational Rankings: Future Talent – Kansas City”

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  1. says:

    “This is also a team that simply must begin to plunge into foreign waters..” Cuba still foreign waters :) Noel Argüelles looks like another potential piece to their growing stable of future arms.

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    • Bryan Smith says:

      True, but it is a completely different process when acquiring Cuban players (as I think you were implying). I actually am really intrigued by their international ineptitude.

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      • kcscoliny says:

        They got out of that market with Allard Baird and its tough to develop international talent in 2-3 yrs that GMDM has been there. They’ve made some lesser known international signings. My favorite Royal pitching prospect is Kelvin Herrera a Dominican Republic ’06 signee. Lots of polish with a very good arm who hasn’t had any troubles at the Dom, Rookie or Class A levels(limited appearances) yet but he had arm probs last season. The positional prospects have been slow to move and the only possible international signee to possibly make it is Carlos Rosa who was signed back in ’01.

        The guy below explains the international signings much better

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  2. kldub4life says:

    I am surprise neither Mike Montgomery or Will Myers were mentioned in this piece.

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    • Gopherballs says:

      Try reading it again.

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    • TJ says:

      They didn’t mention Greinke either.

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      • Basil Ganglia says:

        Others players that weren’t mentioned:

        – Kila Ka’ahiue
        – Disco Hayes
        – Alex Gordon
        – Mike Moustakas
        – Eric Hosmer
        – Billy Butler
        – Luke Hochevar
        – Aaron Crow
        – Chris Dwyer
        – Tim Melville
        – Tyler Sample

        Oh, wait. I just realized I should read the post before I commented. Nevermind.

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      • Bryan Smith says:

        Basil: Thank you.

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  3. BrettFan1 says:

    Wow, I hate to say this, because I love the site, but this article is an almost complete swing and miss. Especially the lack of research/insight into the Royals international player signings since Moore came on board. Of course the highlight of these is Noel Arguelles, who wasn’t mentioned at all, but it goes much deeper than just him. Cheslor Cuthbert is another big signing with immense potential and then there is the soon to be announced signing of Paul Carlixte, Yowill Espinal, etc. I know it has become fashionable to kick the Royals, and especially Moore, based on their poor decisions and results at the major league level in the last two years, but I don’t think that is license to write an article based on assumptions and not bother to look up any facts. The Royals minor league system has depth and quality now that it has lacked for most of the last 3 decades. I’m not a fan of the Moustakas pick, but Hosmer has barely played and apparently dealt with a broken finger and vision problems. I will reserve my judgement on Moore until we see how the wave of talent at High A and AA pans out. I don’t expect you to reserve your judgement, that’s what your here to do, but it would be nice if that judgement were based on better, or at least more complete, research.

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    • Norm says:

      “but I don’t think that is license to write an article based on assumptions and not bother to look up any facts.”

      isn’t this an assumption:
      “then there is the soon to be announced signing of Paul Carlixte, Yowill Espinal, etc.”

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      • Rich says:

        That’s just bad grammar: while the signing of Carlixte may be “expected,” Yowill Espinal has been in the system since 2007, signed along with Guelin Beltre, who also has some upside with the bat. Korean catcher Shin Jin-ho, signed last year but had to stay to finish up school, is also supposed to be a good international prospect. They are all young and will take time to develop (if they will-once the Royals actually start developing the position player talent they acquire, I’ll be more encouraged by their future), but the organization is starting to make up for years of neglect in the international market.

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    • Bryan Smith says:

      Brettfan: I’m sorry the article was a disappointment to you. My goal with these pieces are not to name every commodity possessed by these teams, but to talk about the top-end talent that the system has in place. While I see you feel the system is in the best place in 30 years, I simply don’t. Nor do the other members of the FanGraphs community that came up with these rankings. Yes, they do have some depth that I couldn’t get into because of space reasons. And I specifically complimented Dayton’s reinvestment in the farm system with Myers, Melville and more.

      Every team is in the international market. I didn’t imply the Royals weren’t. I implied they weren’t good at it. Hopefully the people Dayton have entrusted do a better job than the previous regime, because I do think Kansas City is too good a baseball town to have this kind of incompetence.

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      • Hmmm. says:

        “This is also a team that simply must begin to plunge into foreign waters.”

        Yeah, I don’t see how anyone could read that and take away from it any implication that the Royals weren’t in the international market. I mean, how could anyone read a statement like that and not think you were saying that the Royals were in the international market? What kind of dunderhead would read it that way? Maybe it was the word “begin” that confused them. I don’t know.

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  4. Oops says:

    “True, but it is a completely different process when acquiring Cuban players (as I think you were implying). I actually am really intrigued by their international ineptitude.”

    What the hell does this mean? Sorry Bryan, that doesn’t make any sense. You wrote the following in your article:

    “This is also a team that simply must begin to plunge into foreign waters…Dayton Moore, who was second in-command of an organization with a top-notch international scouting department, should know better.”

    When Dayton Moore took over the reins of the organization, the Royals’ international signing bonus record was about $100 K, given to Rene Oriental. The Royals’ academy in Salcedo, in fact, had only recently been reopened, and it was pretty dilapidated. So what has Dayton done since?

    Well, first off, they opened a new academy. I think the plans for the new, modernized academy were in place prior to DM’s arrival, but the point is that they’ve now got one of the finest academies in the D.R.

    Moore brought along Rene Francisco, the same guy who built that “top-notch international scouting department” you mentioned in Atlanta, to the Royals.

    And Moore began spending serious money. Whereas a six-figure bonus to a 16-year old international free agent was a rare sight prior to Moore’s arrival, it’s commonplace now. You seem to be under the assumption that Arguelles and his $7 million bonus is the lone standout. He’s not. Cuthbert out of Nicaragua got seven figures. Jin-Ho Shin out of S. Korea got $600K. Carlixte is getting big money. That’s four high profile, high dollar guys right there in the span of just one year. Beyond that, there’s the Herreras, the Fortunas, the Perezs, the Bonillas, and a number of Moore’s other international signings who populate the Royals’ top prospect lists.

    The truth of the matter is that there aren’t many teams in baseball who currently spend more on the international free agent market, and the fact that you don’t seem to know that doesn’t say much for your credibility when writing about the organization.

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    • Bryan Smith says:

      You are missing the point of the series and focusing on one admittedly throw-away line in the piece.

      This series is about organizational health. It is about the chances of an organization winning in the near future. Yes, I’m concerned with the process, but so far as it concerns winning in a somewhat reasonable time frame.

      I should not have said Dayton should know better. I’ll retract that sentiment. I’ll go as far to re-highlight the notion that it’s encouraging he’s reinvesting in the farm system … both in the draft’s middle rounds and with the players you mention.

      But 16-year-old signings aren’t going to help the Royals win soon. I do believe the process has improved in Kansas City — as I said in the piece — but not nearly enough for this organization to be anywhere but 29.

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      • Oops says:

        I don’t particularly care where you’ve got the Royals’ organization ranked. My problem with the piece, as noted above, was on your complete dismissal of the Royals’ international efforts. Those efforts — along with the organization’s over-slot draft bonuses, which you did reference — are pretty much the best things about DM’s regime so far. Frankly, the Royals’ international operation and the speed at which it’s gotten to this point after years of neglect is a great story and will likely serve as a road map for other organizations that are behind in Latin America.

        That’s why I was so snippy about your article. You claim it was a “throw-away line” when in fact your contention that the Royals “simply must begin” spending internationally seems to be of your only two criticisms of this supposedly terrible organization. They were, as far as I can tell:

        1) The Royals don’t develop hitters
        2) The Royals don’t spend internationally

        That’s like half of your argument! You should do better than that.

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  5. Stuck up English professor says:

    Reek, not wreak.

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  6. Chris says:

    How about Danny Duffy and John Lamb.

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    • Chris says:

      Oh, and I don’t know if we’ve given up yet, but Johnny Giovatella. Also, if Derrick Robinson could learn to hit, I wouldn’t mind him bringing 60 or 70 SB to KC.

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    • Bryan Smith says:

      Chris: As I said above, I’m certainly not aiming to name every prospect in these pieces. Marc Hulet did some fantastic heavy lifting on this site in the winter ranking prospects, and I’ll refer everyone to his work there. Yes, I probably don’t like Duffy as much as others, but yes, him and Lamb are just too more players part of the solid pitching depth they possess.

      Robinson and Giovatella, not so much.

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  7. Brad O'Neill says:

    Good post on the Royals farm system. They are a tough system to gauge b/c they have tons of intriguing prospects, but they’ve gotten burned by a few prospects up to this point. I’m a fan of a few of their mid-level prospects. I think David Lough can fill in nicely if they need another outfielder this season, and Danny Duffy should help out in the rotation next year.

    What is the Royals’ long-term plan w/ their young players at the corner infield positions? It seems like they are going to eventually have to make a move with Alex Gordon, Billy Butler, Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, and Kia’hue.

    Could they get much in return for Kia’hue if they tried to trade him? He seems like a good fit for a rebuilding team with an unclear first base situation (maybe Pittsburgh). Or the White Sox could possibly use him off their bench this season.

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