The 2010 season ended for the Kansas City Royals much like the previous 15 seasons had. With nearly 100 losses, a last place finish in the division and the team looking to trade its franchise superstar for more affordable talent, there easily could have been cries of despair echoing from Royals fans across the country. But while the major league team suffered through another dismal summer performance, something unprecedented was happening throughout the Royals minor league affiliates. At every level of the minors players began to breakout with monster seasons, vaulting them up the prospect rankings and giving Royals fans a glimmer of hope that Dayton Moore’s “Process” may someday come to fruition.
In “30 Teams in 30 Days,” the Fantasy Baseball Cafe will preview each team in Major League Baseball on a daily basis. In addition to projecting starting lineups, rotations and closing situations, the Cafe will identify potential targets for 2011 fantasy baseball drafts.
|C Jason Kendall||.256||.318||.297||39||0||37||12||434|
|1B Billy Butler||.318||.388||.469||77||15||78||0||595|
|2B Chris Getz||.237||.302||.277||23||0||18||12||224|
|SS Alcides Escobar||.235||.288||.326||57||4||41||10||506||w/MIL|
|3B Mike Aviles||.304||.335||.413||63||8||32||14||424|
|LF Alex Gordon||.215||.315||.355||34||8||20||1||242|
|CF Melky Cabrera||.255||.317||.354||50||4||42||7||458||w/ATL|
|RF Jeff Francouer||.249||.300||.383||52||13||65||8||454||w/2T|
|DH Kila Ka’aihue||.217||.307||.394||22||8||25||0||180|
Unsettled: Outfield and third base. The merry-go-round of aging veterans that has been the trademark of the Royals outfield under Dayton Moore continued this off-season with the signings of Jeff Francouer and Melky Cabrera. The acquisition of center-fielder Lorenzo Cain in the Zack Greinke deal and the moving of elite prospect Wil Myers to right field points to a high ceiling future. But expect the center-field spot to be held for the immediate future by Cabrera, who is looking to regain his once promising status.
It is clear is that Mike Moustakas is the third-baseman of the future for the Royals. What isn’t clear is, well, everything else leading up to his arrival. The organization has been fairly adamant that the power hitting prospect will not break Spring Training with the team in what is deemed a cost saving maneuver. Playing time will likely be split for the first few months by the under-rated Mike Aviles and Wilson Betemit, who is coming off an impressive 2010 season at the plate. When Moustakas does get the call, Aviles should continue to find playing time with a shift to second base, but Betemit will see a decreased role as he becomes more of a utility infielder.
Target: Kila Ka’aihue. The “Free Kila” chants slowly died after a disastrous first month following his 2010 call-up. But as Kila settled in, his numbers began to climb and he finished off the final month of the season blistering the ball to the tune of .260/.357/.511 with six HRs over his final 110 plate appearances. With Billy Butler now signed long-term and uber-prospect Eric Hosmer dominating the high minors, Kila has all the motivation he needs to prove he is no longer a Quadruple-A bat. While his batting average will never be all-world, he should fill in nicely this season as a late round power hitter in the mold of a Carlos Pena. In leagues where OBP is used, his value is even greater.
|Luke Hochevar (R)||6-6||4,81||1.43||76||37||103|
|Bruce Chen (L)||12-7||4.17||1.38||98||57||140.1|
|Kyle Davies (R)||8-12||5.34||1.56||126||80||183.2|
|Jeff Francis (L)||4-6||5.00||1.36||67||23||104.1||w/COL|
|Vin Mazzaro (R)||6-8||4.27||1.45||79||50||122.1|
Unsettled and Target:The Prospects. With so many pitching prospects closing in on the majors and very little proven talent currently slotted into the Opening Day rotation, fantasy owners would be wise to keep a close eye on the waiver wire for potential studs like Dan Duffy, Mike Montgomery, and Chris Dwyer, who may all make the jump at some point in the 2011 season. Young rookie pitchers can be dangerous ground to tread on, but each of these prospects has the potential to be lightning in a bottle for fantasy owners willing to take a risk.
The 8th and 9th Innings
|Joakim Soria (R)||43||1.78||1.05||71||16||65.2|
|Robinson Tejeda (R)||0||3.54||1.33||56||26||61|
Chasing Saves: Tim Collins. The diminutive Collins, who was acquired from the Braves in the Rick Ankiel trade, overwhelmed minor league hitters last season with a K/9 of 13.6, a 4.00 K/BB rate, and a 0.939 WHIP over 71 innings. His spot in the KC bullpen should be secure heading into the season, and Collins should quickly move to the set-up role.
While the Royals offer very few options for fantasy managers on draft day, they are absolutely a team you should keep an eye on as the team evolves over the course of the season. With the stockpile of young and nearly ready talent, they will spend the season one injury away from calling up a potential stud that could carry your team to a title.
We’ll continue the 30 Teams in 30 Days series tomorrow with our look at the Minnesota Twins.
Jason Nelson is one of a growing number of fantasy experts who write for the Cafe. You can catch up with Jason in the Cafe's forums where he posts under the name of Tavish.
Want to write for the Cafe? Check out the Cafe's Pencil & Paper section!