Over the last two days we’ve look at Kansas City’s big league roster to see if anyone still on it is worth drafting in a fantasy league (pitchers and position players). Today we’ll wrap up this series by looking at some players in the team’s minor league system, universally considered the best in the game. I’m going to limit this to guys expected to start the 2011 season at or above the Double-A level, though jumps from Single-A to the big leagues do happen on occasion. I’m not going to bother with the “Verdict: Yes/No” stuff because I’m generally opposed to drafting prospects in anything less than a keeper league, instead I’ll just look at each to see if they could be useful in 2011.
The 24-year-old Coleman is a right-handed reliever that struck out 10.1 batters per nine innings while walking just 2.25 unintentionally in 92 innings split between Double-A and Triple-A last year, just his first full season as a pro after being a fifth round pick in 2009. He isn’t on the 40-man roster but the Royals will have no issues adding him when the time comes. Coleman is pretty much a lock to make his big league debut this season, but unless something happens to Soria and a few other guys, he’s got no chance for save opportunities. His fantasy value is limited.
Listed at just 5-foot-7 and 155 lbs., Collins has torn through the minor leagues for the last three-plus seasons. He owns a 13.3 K/9 for his career (13.6 in 2010), though his command is a bit sketchy (3.79 uIBB/9). He was part of both the Yunel Escobar and Kyle Farnsworth/Rick Ankiel trades last summer. Unfortunately Collins is just a lefty reliever, so his fantasy value is limited unless he magically falls into some save chances some how. That is very unlikely to happen in 2011.
The team’s first round pick in 2009 was so bad last year that he had to be demoted from Double-A back down to High-A. He struck out just 6.79 batters per nine with 4.37 uIBB/9 in 119.1 IP before the demotion, and at the lower level he rebounded to 10.84 K/9 and 1.23 uIBB/9. There have been rumblings of a full-time move to the bullpen, but regardless, Crow has a long way to go before having any kind of fantasy impact.
Duffy made some news last year when he decided to take a leave from baseball in March, but he returned in June and was spectacular across three levels: 10.0 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9 in 62.1 IP, numbers right in line with the rest of his career. He’s not on the 40-man and has fewer than 40 Double-A innings to his credit, so the lefty starter is probably a year away from having any real impact in the big leagues. Duffy didn’t turn 22 until right before the holidays, so he’s still got some development ahead of him.
A rare draft-eligible freshman back in 2009, the lefty throwing Dwyer showed some serious swing-and-miss potential (10.0 K/9) in his pro debut last summer (102 IP), but he’s still got some work to do on the command side of things (3.8 uIBB/9). He’s got even less time at Double-A than Duffy, so he’s about a year away from having an impact in the big leagues as well.
I’m a sucker for guys that walk more than they strike out, and that’s something Johnny G. has been very close to doing in his two-plus year career (152 BB, 155 K). A second baseman, he hit .322/.395/.460 with nine homers and seven steals in just shy of 600 Double-A plate appearances in 2010, easily his best pro season. Giavotella is a line drive hitter with patience though his defense at second is suspect, yet a move to Triple-A in 2011 has him right on the cusp of the big leagues. If either Alcides Escobar or Mike Aviles falters this upcoming season, don’t be surprised if the Royals turn to Giavotella. He’ll offer a decent average and some steals but not much power, especially right out of the chute.
Baseball America dubbed Hosmer the best prospect in the system back in November and why wouldn’t they? The kid hit .338/.406/.571 with 43 doubles and 20 homers as a 20-year-old spending time in High-A and Double-A. The BA write-up drops a Joey Votto comp with regards to his approach at the plate, and they note his opposite field power and sweet swing. Hosmer is going to hit, there’s very little double about it, but the absolute earliest we should expect to see him in the bigs is the second half of 2011, though a September call-up with a coming out party set for 2012 is the more likely scenario. His fantasy value suffers somewhat from being a first baseman, because that’s not exactly a position lacking impact bats. Hosmer will be a special player, but his time is not now.
Lamb might have been the farm system’s best pitcher in 2010, throwing 147.2 IP (mostly at the Single-A level) with 9.7 K/9 and 2.7 uIBB/9. He’s another lefty starter like Duffy and Dwyer, and like those guys he’s probably a year off from having any kind of fantasy impact. At just 20 years old and with 33 IP at Double-A to his credit, he simply needs some more time.
A forearm strain cost the long (6-foot-5) and lanky (180 lbs.) lefty two months of the 2010 season, but when he did pitch he struck out 8.5 batters per nine while walking just 3.0 during the same time frame. Although he has more Double-A time than any of the other lefty starters on this list, he’s still only thrown 59.2 IP at the level and again, is just 21 years old. He’s probably closer to his big league debut than Lamb, Duffy, or Dwyer, but it’s not imminent.
Moose Tacos was the second overall pick behind David Price in the 2007 draft, and he finally had the monster year everyone was waiting for in 2010. He hit a whopping .322/.369/.630 with 41 doubles and 36 homers in 534 plate appearances split almost evenly between Double and Triple-A. He’s not a sure bet to remain at third, but he will remain there for a foreseeable future. With Alex Gordon now in the outfield, Wilson Betemit‘s career resurgence is the only thing standing in Moustakas’ way. He’ll be the first of of these high-end guys to see the big leagues, and it could happen as soon as May. He’ll give you power at the hot corner, a position lacking it beyond the top shelf guys, but as with most young hitters, the AVG might not be there right away. Like I said before, I’m generally opposed to drafting prospects in regular old leagues, but if you’re going to do it for one of KC’s prospects, Moose is the one to target in a few weeks.
Myer’s 2010 batting performance (.315/.429/.506 with 37 doubles, 14 homers, and 12 steals) rivals that of Hosmer and Moustakas, but with one major difference: he’s a catcher. Or at least he is right now. While he has the arm strength to handle the position, it’s unclear if his 6-foot-3, 190 lb. frame will allow him to block balls and do other catcher-related stuff long-term. If he moved out from behind the plate, it would a) be to the outfield, and b) lower his value, especially in fantasy. The 20-year-old has zero Double-A experience to his credit but will start the 2011 season there. He’s probably the furthest away of anyone in this post, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t forget about him.
Robinson’s value is tied to his legs. He stole 50 bases in 2010 after swiping 69 in 2009 and 62 in 2008. His success rate (76.1%) over those last three years is above the break-even point but isn’t good enough for an elite basestealer, particularly if you’re in a league that discounts caught stealings. A centerfielder by trade, Robinson doesn’t walk enough to maximize his basestealing prowess and he doesn’t hit for much average (just .253 career, but .286 in 2010) or power (career .080 ISO, .094 in 2010). He’s got Lorenzo Cain, Melky Cabrera, and Gregor Blanco ahead of him at the big league level, but Robinson is a guy to keep an eye on when your scrounging the waiver wire for steals in the second half.
Yet another lefty starter, Smith is the closest to the big leagues but also the lowest ceilinged of the bunch. He’s a finesse lefty that struck out just 7.1 batter per nine in 2010, though he did climb all the way from Single-A to Triple-A and was part of the Alberto Callaspo trade. Smith is a back-end arm, and even though he’ll probably see some big league action in 2011, his fantasy value is minimal.