When Dayton Moore was hired he told us fans that the Royals would rebuild the team and the system through the minors, to do that meant Moore would have to load the system with the draft as his biggest tool. Â The Process as it would become known was never more evident than with what the Royals did during the 2008 draft when they transformed the system and the organization by taking big name prospects Eric Hosmer, Johnny Giavotella, Mike Montgomery and John Lamb. Â Those names on the upper end combined with Tim Melville, Greg Billo and Blaine Hardy to bracket what has become the best draft in a top rated system. Â In 2011 while a few of those names were having big seasons there was another who was just starting to rebuild his ’08 draft stock.
Allen Caldwell the Royals 12th round pick in ’08 struggled mightily with the bat his first three seasons in the minors combining to put up just a .626 OPS clip in 152 games with just 30 extra base hits in that time. Â With a career on the verge of extinction Caldwell and the Royals minor league staff decided to put the lefty on the hill to see if they could harness his JUCO pitching days and salvage something before it was all over.
At first the move went as one would expect for a converted positional player with Caldwell getting knocked around pretty heavily in the Pioneer league in his brief time there giving up 3 home runs and 24 total hits in just 10.2 innings. Â The Royals to their credit must have seen something they liked during that brief stint deciding to hold him in extended spring for a bit before sending him to Kane County where he dominated, striking out 39 in just 26.1 inningsÂ while surrendering just a 1.1 WHIP and earning a promotion to Wilmington after just 11 appearances. Â Caldwell carried on the success at the High A level putting up a paltry 0.79 WHIP while striking out 23 in 24 innings and giving up just 4 earned runs in that time.
Caldwell’s scouting report from Pine Tar Press:
Outstanding knuckle curve that he can throw for a strike in any count to any hitter.Â Decent fastball 86-89, solid change up.Â The curve is by far his best pitch.Â Commands all of his pitches fairly well and is very aggressive â€“ constantly throws strikes (22.0 IP, 22K, 3BB).Â Has said that he could not throw any pitch but his curve for a strike as an amateur.Â Grew up a fan of Barry Zito and his big bender.Â Due to his velocity, will likely have to prove himself at every level, but his ability/willingness to throw strikes, the fact that heâ€™s a lefty and his curve will combine to give him a shot.Â
Caldwell’s scouting report doesn’t read like your usual power throwing major league reliever but looking at his splits last year one can gleam a little hope into his future. Â While Allen dominated hitters on both sides of the plate he was especially tough on lefties giving up a minuscule 13% line drive rate and sending them back to the dugout without contact 33% of the time. Â If you ask a lot of prospect followers it was Edwin Carl’s name that continually popped up on charts last year due to his extreme strikeout numbers at Idaho Falls but to me Caldwell’s numbers are a bit more impressive considering he hadn’t pitched regularly in a while and was facing competition closer to his age and was at a level that was much higher than the rookie ball level Carl was at.
|v L as L||19||65||56||10||0||0||1||7||22||.179||.270||.232||.502|
|v R as L||20||130||123||25||5||0||3||6||40||.203||.240||.317||.557|
|v L as L||65||13.9%||47.2%||25.0%||8.3%||1.42||5.6%||0.0%|
|v R as L||130||16.7%||46.4%||22.6%||7.1%||1.56||1.2%||4.8%|
|v L as L||65||3.14||2.55||15||7||0||2.14||33.8%||10.8%||9.2%|
|v R as L||130||6.67||3.08||32||8||0||4.00||30.8%||4.6%||4.6%|
stats via minorleaguecentral.com
If Allen’s change up can become a plus pitch combined with what our scouting report says is a plus curve-ball then Allen not only has two plus pitches to neutralize hitters on both sides of the plate but a propensity to throw strikes which is a good combination for a short stint reliever but also at times is enough to be a average back end of the rotation type.
The Royals will have to decide if they have something in Caldwell this year, likely challenging him at the AA level or higher to see if the 2011 results are real or a product of poor hitting environments. Â For Allen, he’ll be competing not only against opposing hitters this season but also against his fellow 2008 draft class members for a chance to be protected on the Royals 40 man roster prior to the Rule 5 draft next winter. Â Both competitions could hold the key to Allen’s baseball future.