Royals 2011: Back to the Minors

With the non-waiver trade deadline past, many Royals fans have turned their focus to our minor leagues and who might merit a call-up.  In particular, Lorenzo Cain and Johnny Giavotella are garnering a lot of attention… and angst.  What’s the hubbub, bub?  Check it out.

Cain is a 25-year-old center fielder who has been raking at Omaha and playing outstanding defense by all accounts.  He’s hitting .318/.389/.522, and that’s after batting .306/.348/.415 in 147 major league at-bats last year with the Brewers.  That explains the attention, but why the angst, you ask?  Well, the first is that Omaha plays in the Pacific Coast League, which is a ridiculously batter-friendly league.  The PCL’s average batting numbers are .286/.360/.452 – so Cain’s numbers are good, but aside from his .522 slug, they’re not ludicrous.  Secondly, he strikes out a lot, though to be fair, he has been improving in that area lately.  The biggest problem, though, is that since we didn’t trade away Melky or Frenchy, there’s no room for Cain in KC.  So barring injury or us sneaking Melky/Frenchy through waivers, it’s not clear how we’d get Cain any substantial major league playing time this year.

As for Giavotella (or Gio, as you’ll often see him called), the dude is a 24-year-old hitting machine who plays second base for Omaha.  There are some question marks about his defense (what I’ve read calls has his defense ranging from adequate to awful), but the guy can hit.  He’s currently batting .339/.391/.482 at Omaha (remember the above comment on the PCL averages, though), which follows a .322/.395/.460 campaign at AA Northwest Arkansas last year.  He has been especially hot this summer with a .391 average and 7 HR’s in June/July.  The Replace-Getz-with-Gio bandwagon has been picking up steam this summer, and when Davies hurt his shoulder this past weekend, Gio fans got their hopes up only to see them dashed when Teaford got the call-up instead.  BUT… if you check out the KC Star today, you’ll find a quote from Dayton Moore saying he wants to get Gio 100-150 major league at-bats this year.  To do that, he’ll need to be an everyday starter for the KC club within the next couple weeks – which means it’s likely Getz will be moved to a back-up role or possibly traded (offhand, he seems like someone we could sneak through waivers, enabling a trade).

So staying on the topic of the minor leagues, here are a few more points of interest…

Good day to be a Royals minor league pitcher
July 31st was encouraging for some of our key pitching prospects.  At AAA, Mike Montgomery rebounded from a couple rough outings with a solid 7-inning, 3-run performance.  Most importantly, he only walked one.  Meanwhile, at AA, Chris Dwyer threw a 7-inning, 1-run outing, and like Monty, he only gave up one walk.  This was especially encouraging, given that this now gives him two good starts in a row, which I think are also his only two good starts this year (okay, slight exaggeration – but only slight).  Lastly, at High-A, Noel Arguelles continued his solid season with a 6-inning, 2-run performance.  Arguelles has shown great control this year, but unfortunately, his strikeout rate has been unimpressive.  If he can regain some of the velocity he lost after shoulder surgery last year, I could see him joining the “top Royals pitching prospects” discussion in a year or two.

More major league transactions forthcoming?
The aforementioned KC Star article also has an interesting point about our 40-man roster.  Right now, we have an opening on the 40-man roster due to the Betemit trade.  Cain is already on the 40-man, but Gio is not – so calling up Gio in a couple weeks will use up that open slot.  However, also keep in mind that any September call-up has to be on the 40-man roster.  Newly promoted AAA players Salvador Perez and Kelvin Herrera figure to be potential 2012 roster candidates for us, so it seems likely we’d call them up in September (plus, we have to add them over the offseason anyway, or we expose them to the Rule 5 draft).  If that’s the case, we’ll need to clear two more spots from the 40-man roster.

My guess, for what it’s worth, is that we’ll end up trading Francis or Chen to get at least one opening.  Yes, the non-wavier trade deadline is past, but neither Francis nor Chen strikes me as valuable enough that a team would claim him purely to block a rival from getting him.  So if someone does claim them, it seems we might be able to work out a trade.  And if no one claims them, then we’ll be free to trade them to anyone, same as before the non-waiver trade deadline.

Odds and Ends

  • Royals Review has a couple excellent pieces on our minor leaguers: Connor Moylan’s monthly report card on our top 65 prospects, and BHWick’s take on our top minor league pitchers.
  • Believe it or not, the Royals have been pretty decent since the All-Star break.  Against the Twins, ChiSox, Rays, BoSox, and Indians, we put together a not-awful 9-8 record.  Aside from the Twins, those are all teams in playoff contention (and the Twins front office would argue they are, too).  I know we’re not contending this year, but I would like to see us be respectable the rest of the way to give us some momentum (and hope) for next year.
  • This is old, but I just saw it today for the first time.  It’s Ichiro giving his take on Kansas City summers.  (The video’s fine, but the audio’s NSFW, so you may want to use headphones.)  No wonder he prefers Seattle.  =)

2 responses to this post.

  1. After I posted this, I realized that even though I referenced trade waivers a few times, I never said anything about how they work. Thankfully, Royals Authority has a great explanation:


  2. As much as I like Melky and Franceour, I was surprised we kept them both since we had Cain in the minors. He’s proven he can hit in the majors with the Brewers so I think he’ll be a legit center fielder for us. But then again, he’s not that much younger than Melky so we could always keep Melky and trade Cain.

    I can’t wait to see Gio up though. Getz is average at best. Let’s see Gio!!


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