Heading into last season it would have been a pretty simple proposition to line up an organizational depth chart at each position considering the Royals had the #1 farm system based primarily on the strength at the top. A year later with the graduation of 9 different prospects the organization looks much different but despite that large number of graduations the farm system was still rated the #3 overall talent organization in all of baseball according to Baseball America. This ranking was built largely on the overall depth something Iâ€™ll show you over the next few days.
Right Handed Relievers
The Royals have enjoyed the work of a few good closers in their time with the likes of Dan Quisenberry, Jeff Montgomery and Joakim Soria running from the caged fence. Â It’s not always about the closer role as we all know the bullpen has become a cost-effective way for a team with fewer funds to compete, if you can continually run controlled arms at reasonable contracts in the 7th, 8th and even 9th then a team like Kansas City can afford to spend elsewhere. Â With that knowledge Kansas City will have to continue to develop similar right-handed arms to what they ran through last year in Greg Holland, Blake Wood and Louis Coleman if they want to compete with bigger markets Detroit and Chicago.
#1 Kelvin Herrera – Herrera has been my personal cheeseball of the Royals franchise since his first years in Burlington back in 2008. Â I’ve always loved his combination of three pitches and low to mid 90s velocity while having the ability to throw strikes at such a young age with all three pitches. Â If it wasn’t for injuries we would be talking about Herrera and his arsenal pushing for a spot in the rotation but with the arm problems we now find him pushing for a spot in the this years bullpen. Â Last year brought a spike in velocity to triple digits to go with his good curve and change-up giving Kelvin a chance to be this years version of Greg Holland as a shut down arm in the 6th, 7th and 8th.
#2 Patrick Keating – Keating encountered arm problems last season but his fellow Florida buddy and roommate Kevin Chapman says that Keating’s arm is fresh and ready to go for this year. Â Keating when healthy features a good 91-95 mph fastball and solid breaking ball while also toting a show me change-up. Â He doesn’t have huge closer upside but could be a nice fill in 7th inning arm down the line to fill in if GMDM would choose to trade someone.
#3 Elisaul Pimentel – Probably a surprise name to see here at #3 but I really like Pimentel’s upside out of the pen. Â In a rotation role Pimentel two pitches aren’t quite enough since he has trouble repeating mechanics and doesn’t have a usable change. Â Out of the pen though I think his fastball could play up into the mid 90s range than the lower range currently and his slider is good enough pitch to combine with it in short stints. Â He’s pitched better against lefties than righties because of his ability to put his slider in on lefties but a raiseÂ in velocity with his fastball could make the slider a plus pitch versus righties as well. Â Pimentel is my pick for a bullpen arm to push his way to Omaha soon and perhaps get an inning or two in Kansas City in September.
#4 Kendal Volz – Acquired in the Mike Aviles trade Volz a former starter from Baylor features a low 90s fastball, a couple of breaking balls with his big 6’5 frame. Â His arsenal and results are much better for a long reliever than a 7th and 8th inning option but he could also be used in RH vs RH matchups if his results from last year remain constant (sub .500 OPS).
Edwin Carl – I have lots of doubts but Carl’s numbers at Idaho Falls were remarkable at 19+ K/9.
Michael Mariot – Long reliever potential will get a test in AA this season.
Ali Williams – Big fastball already touching 96 with a slider could zip through the lower levels this season.