When Dayton Moore took over the job of general manager of the Royals one thing that likely stuck out to him was the lack of talent within the organization at shortstop. Â It has been a trouble spot for Kansas City since the teams inception with just three All Star selections coming from the position in its history. Â With the lack of current and past talent Dayton decided to turn to Latin America to add athleticism up the middle, the move on the prospect surface seems to be paying major dividends as Kansas City currently has as much talent up the middle as anytime in my lifetime.
#1 Adalberto Mondesi SS – Signed for $2M – At the time of his signing Adalberto seemed to be a slight overpay based on his fathers legacy but the slightly built switch hitter continues to build on the tools he possesses getting better and better with each day in the organization. Â The Royals chose to challenge Mondesi with an assignment in the Pioneer league making him one of just two players under 17 to get an assignment outside the Dominican, Venezuelan or Arizona leagues. Â Mondesi was up to the challenge holding his own against pitchers that were 5 to 7 years older than he using his speed, arm and hitting ability to its maximum level even flashing potential plus power with his first home run to dead center field.
A skinny built shortstop he uses his plus speed and inherited cannon for an arm to make plays that few others can while also showing that he should be a plus baserunner in the future. Â At the plate Adalberto showed a decent approach for someone of his age hitting solidly from the right-side but with a tad more power on the left. Â Knowing his age, possible projection and current physical tools it would not shock me if he lead the Royals organizational prospect chart next season following the graduation of Wil Myers. Â After he stood up to the 2012 challenge will the Royals shove other talented players to the side to see if he’s ready for a full season challenge in the Sally?
Assets – Speed, Arm, Approach
Liabilities – Longer swing from the leftside, Consistency
#2 Orlando Calixte 2b -Â Signed $1M – Orlando has forced the Royals to wait a couple times already in his young career, first with his identification problems and then in 2011 with an inconsistent plate approach but the progress in 2012 showed the wait may be worth the return. Â The 20 year old shortstop finished second to Wil Myers organizationally in extra base hits at the minor league level connecting on 30 doubles, 8 triples and 14 home runs. Â It is those numbers that will have to carry Calixte to the majors as he lacks consistency in the field and at the plate in terms of his approach but like Myers his rare power from the right-side shines brighter than his weaknesses . Â His game and body mirror that of Alfonso Soriano which is positive in terms of power but leads to plenty of weaknesses in terms of plate approach and defensive consistency from play to play.
Without a player currently taking charge of the second base position the Royals may be wise to give Calixte a shot there this season at AA where his average speed would play better. Â His pitch recognition versus right-handed pitchers needs to improve for him to take the step forward needed to unleash that potential 20-30 home run major league power. Â While a move to second could work in his favor Orlando could also play third or corner outfield if the Royals don’t want to waste his plus arm. Â A stay at shortstop isn’t likely with his lack of consistency.
Assets – Power, Arm
Liabilities – Plate Approach, Defensive consistency
#3 Christian Colon – 2b -Â For all the tools the top two players on our list have the former #4 overall pick is astonishly devoid of most and while Colon continues to underwhelm the pack of second baseman in front of him (Getz and Gio) continue to do the same leaving a possible opening to grab hold of the position in 2013. Â The Royals continue to play him at shortstop at the minor league level but it appears the move to second is coming if he proves worthy of a major league roster spot. Â His swing remains short like it appeared in college but it lacks the pop that many of us had hoped when he came out moving his projection from a 40+ doubles guy to his uber ceiling of Placido Polanco. Â A player like Polanco is valuable don’t get me wrong but the line from Polanco to 2011 Chris Getz is a thin one.
Colon brings a consistent approach, game intelligence and lack of swing and miss that the current Royals organization would find extremely valuable in the 2 hole, someone who could trigger a hit and run with a speedy leadoff man hitting in front of him. Â His 2012 numbers improved slightly across the board at AA and should see another possible increase in the friendly right-hand hitting environment of Werner Park. Â His consistent fielding position allow some to believe he can play second at an above average level but his lack of foot speed and athleticism gives me plenty of doubts.
Assets – Intelligence, Approach, Contact ability
Liabilities – Lack of speed/athleticism. lacks power
#4 Jack Lopez – What the Royals thought they were getting Christian Colon could be what they will receive from Lopez in the future. Â A coaches son Lopez has the game intelligence one needs to possess to play shortstop without the long athleticism of Mondesi. Â While the players in front of him offer a tad more to dream on physically Lopez can bring consistency combined with solid speed and the Royals hope he’ll gain strength giving them the power they were hoping Colon would have.
Assets – Game intelligence, average tools across the board
Liabilities – Ceiling
#5 Justin Trapp – An athletic second baseman Trapp is starting to unlock his tools at the plate connecting for 40 extra base hits in his 115 games and excelling in the second half of the season (.313/.381/.507). Â Trapp probably has the athleticism to play shortstop but his lack of defensive consistency leads him to second base where he made 22 errors in just 94 single A games. Â More reps could smooth out his defense leaving him as a plus defender with a solid bat. Â Overall Trapp had plenty of tools to work with but lacks the game experience and reps which isn’t surprising considering he was a multi-sport athlete in high school. Â If the baseball intelligence catches up the way it appeared to in the 2nd half then the Royals could have a solid player on their hands who could push the others out of his way.
Assets – Athleticism, approach, pop
Liabilities – Inconsistency
#6 Humberto Arteaga – SSÂ – I’m probably am a tad too high on Arteaga but what I’ve seen of the shortstop in spring and at instructs last year was easily the best pure shortstop in the org outside of Alcides Escobar. Â One can’t teach his body control or hands which gives him the ability to be a possible All Star level fielder at shortstop. Â His offensive season at Burlington was better than I anticipated but he lacks much projection there which will force his defense to carry the load as he moves up the chart.
Times from home to first base (mid 4’s) show he maybe slowing down, his defense can’t afford that going forward.
Assets – Hands, Arm, Body Control
Liabilities – Plate approach, hitting ability
Kenny Diekroeger, 2bÂ - The Royals hope they can unlock Diekroeger’s potential out of high school as an athletic infielder with some pop but if the Appy league was any indication much work is still needed. Â The positives are Kansas City got him to abandon the approach that saw his power stifled at Stanford the past two seasons, leading to 8 home runs in 52 Appy league games.
Daniel Mateo, 2b – Mateo and his bat could be higher up the chart if it wasn’t for his lack of athleticism and overall defensive ability. Â Extremely comfortable looking from the leftside of the plate Mateo should probably move away from switch hitting to offer some power against left-handed pitchers. Â A move to third could be coming but he lacks the power to be a positive asset there.
Carlos Garcia, 2b/SS – Carlos would be the top shortstop in the Royals org just four or five years ago but with this current crop he’s a tweener who doesn’t have the pop to provide the difference needed at second. Â He’s a good org guy and should provide consistency as he moves up the chain with an extreme longshot of serving as a utility option down the line.
Alex McClure, SS – McClure defensively has all the tools needed to be a major league shortstop unfortunately he brings an extremely poor stick to the plate. Â He’ll need to take major strides at the plate just to earn a chance as a major league reserve.
Whit Merrifield, 2b/UT – I’ve long thought Merrifield could serve as a utility option for teams playing a Bloomquist like outfield/infield role but it doesn’t appear he has the athleticism needed to fill that role. Â As a second baseman Whit doesn’t have the pop needed to play a role at a position that is suddenly quite offensive.
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