Royals Top 10 Prospects
By Will Kimmey
"You have to be realistic," said Allard Baird, the general manager since June 2000. "Were in a rebuilding mode. But Ive said many times, rebuilding should not be used as an excuse to lose or an acceptance of losing. We have two guys who are impact players in Carlos Beltran and Mike Sweeney. The key will be pitching."
Its a sentiment that recalls 1997. The Royals started that season with impact outfielders Johnny Damon and Jermaine Dye in place and Beltran and Sweeney on the way. Adding to the young nucleus of position players, Kansas City spent its top pick on righthander Dan Reichert and added three more pitchers with first-round choices in 1998. Not one has established himself as a serviceable major league starter.
The Royals spent four more first-round picks on arms in 1999, but Jay Gehrke has been a bust and injuries have slowed Kyle Snyder, Mike MacDougal and Jimmy Gobble. The trio is on track to reach the majors soon, however. Kansas City hopes they can join homegrown products Jeremy Affeldt and Runelvys Hernandez in the rotation, with the clubs most recent first-rounders, Colt Griffin and Zack Greinke, arriving sometime thereafter.
If all that happens, it would signal a much-needed mound turnaround. The Royals ranked 29th in the majors with a 5.21 ERA in 2002 and havent finished better than 25th since 1999.
Kansas City also could use an infusion of offense after finishing 11th in the American League with 4.55 runs per game. But the organization has little position-player talent in the upper minors beyond shortstop Angel Berroa, first baseman Ken Harvey and outfielder Alexis Gomez.
While Kansas Citys system is one of the thinnest in the game, Baird has beefed up the scouting department, especially in the pro staff and Latin American operations. Baird said he believes the club has more prospects in place than it did two years ago.
"Pateince isnt accepting mediocrity," Baird said. "It just means there will be bumps and grinds. When we lose 100 games, you could put some stopgap veterans out there and we probably win some more games, but we want to get the young guys experience and start that learning curve."
Age: 19. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 190. Drafted: HSApopka, Fla., 2002 (1st round). Signed by: Cliff Pastornicky.
Background: Greinke entered his high school senior season as a projected second- or third-round pickas both a pitcher and third baseman. He never hit less than .444 in high school, producing 31 homers and 144 RBIs in four seasons. When scouts saw that his strong infield arm provided 96 mph heat from the mound last spring, though, his future was set. Greinke became more committed to pitching and went 9-2, 0.55 with 118 strikeouts and eight walks in 63 innings. He turned down a Clemson scholarship to sign with the Royals for a $2.475 million bonus as the sixth overall pick.
Strengths: Despite his inexperience on the mound, Greinke commands four above-average pitches. His fastball sits between 91 and 93 mph, and he likes to move it in and out on hitters. He also has a slider with good tilt, along with a curveball and changeup. Because he has plenty of athleticism, a compact delivery and easy arm action, Greinke may increase his velocity as he progresses. If that happens, he would profile as a No. 1 starter. Greinkes infield experience makes him a good fielding pitcher who holds runners well.
Weaknesses: Though he has four pitches, Greinke rarely uses all of them in a given outing. He usually has two working at a time and tends to stick with them. Because he barely pitched after signing, the biggest key for Greinke is to get experience in game situations and continue to build his arm strength. He needs to work on pitching down in the strike zone more. He also needs to improve the command of his secondary pitches.
The Future: The Royals considered Greinke the most polished high school arm in the 2002 draft. Because the Royals had no instructional league, they sent him to pitch in the Puerto Rican League over the winter. Depending on his performance thereand he had pitched well early ontheyll decide whether to start him in low Class A or high Class A in 2003. While Greinkes stuff isnt as overwhelming as 2001 first-rounder Colt Griffins, hes a workaholic who studies hitters and figures to succeed with his intellect and command.
Click here for prospects 2-10.
Copyright 2002 Baseball America. All rights reserved.|
This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.