Kansas City Royals Top 10 Prospects

Moderator: Will Kimmey will begin taking your questions at 2 p.m. ET

 Q:  Dugout Sports Cards from Kansas City asks:
If you were collecting rookie cards of Royal prospects, who would you collect?
 A: 

Will Kimmey: Welcome everyone, and thanks for stopping by. I'll get to as many questions as I can until 3:30.

Will Kimmey: Great opening question. I'd have Zack Greinke for sure, and also James Shanks, another personal fave. Mitch Maier would be in the collection, as well as Kennard Springer, Carlos Rosa, Ambiorix Burgos, Don Murphy, Devon Lowry and Ruben Gotay. Assistant editor Alan Matthews adds he'd collect Ken Harvey and Jimmy Gobble.

 Q:  Kris from Burlington asks:
Hi Will, Alexis Gomez had a poor year last year but I believe he is now out of options and has to compete against Rich Thompson just to make the team. Do you see him moving to another organization and what happened to him last year? Thanks
 A: 

Will Kimmey: I haven't specifically checked Gomez' options, but the Royals said they planned on him starting at Triple-A Omaha, so that'd leave me to think he had at least one left. He's the anti-Moneyball guy, a former volleyball star with all the athletic ability in the world who is still working to translate that into baseball performance. I like his tools, and he might be as close as anyone in the system to be a five-tool guy, but Gomez still hasn't figured out how to make adjustments. Inside fastballs give him trouble. He fanned in 20 percent of his ABs last year. I'd see Thompson making the club ahead of Gomez, and as you said him possibly getting a better shot to reach the majors with another club.

 Q:  Mark Stephens from Wilmington asks:
As a Blue Rock season ticket holder for the past 11 years, I have seen my share of good players come thru the system. It seems that many who have success at the big league level play here for more than just one year, especially if they are young. Last year, we had a great middle infield combo of Gotay and Blanco, both of whom looked great at times, and both of whom looked entirely overmatched at times, never getting any sort of consistency over the season. Considering that they were both very young for that level, can we expect them both to be back this year?? I would guess that Gotay would be borderline AA, since he has a bot more success, but I would think Blanco would be a no-brainer to return since he was only 18 last year. Thanks!
 A: 

Will Kimmey: Both guys will move up to Double-A. Blanco is the system's best defender, even better than Angel Berroa, though he needs to be less flashy and more consistent. He also needs to add some semblence of strength while working on playing little ball--improving his hit and run and bunting skills. Gotay has a bat a lot of teams love, and he was among the Royals' most asked-about prospects when Allard Baird got trade offers this offseason. He's No. 11 on my list, so he just missed the top 10. He faded down the stretch, as he did in 2002. The Royals feel the biggest reason for his offensive struggles, aside from Wilmington being a tough hitter's park, was that Gotay was the team's 3-hole hitter and he barely saw any fastballs and got pitched around a lot. He also needs more strength, to avoid wearing down late in the year and to add extra carry to batted balls. They think he can bounce back in a big way with the bat at Wichita this year. Defensively, he's still a bit suspect because of his foot speed and footwork. Donald Murphy passed him in the 2B pecking order, and with Murphy beginning 2004 at Wlmington, could make a tough decision for the organization if he hits there and deserves a promotion to Double-A, where Gotay will be playing 2B.

 Q:  jon from sc asks:
Can you give me Roscoe Crosby update please and where he stands in the eyes of the royals? thanks
 A: 

Will Kimmey: Crosby went back and forth last year, quitting football at Clemson and devoting himself to baseball, then leaving baseball in spring training and heading back to Clemson, where he was granted an academic waiver to play football again. He's a very talented player who has struggled through some very hard times in his life, with tragedy striking his friends and other off the field problems that affected him despite his having no control of him. He'd be a nice athlete to have in the system, but Crosby hasn't logged a regular season at-bat since being drafted in 2001. And for all his athleticism, he played against low level HS competiton and would still need a long road through the minors to develop. I doubt he'll return to baseball. I'd say at this point, the Royals and Crosby would be best to part ways.

 Q:  TC from LA asks:
There are two guys to whome Greinke is often compared: Saberhagen and Maddux? But, in terms of Saberhagen, Greinke doesn't K enough batters to earn that comparison, does he? In terms of Maddux, it just seems awfully premature to make those comparisons. Not saying he's not a fine prospect, but given his K rates and inexperience, isn't some of the hype over the top?
 A: 

Will Kimmey: It's never fair to compare prospects to major league all-stars. It's just not. I try not to, aside from saying a player's ability at a particular skill is similar to that of another players. But if you force me to compare, I have heard scouts say the way Greinke works is much like how Maddux, Sabes and even Orel Hershiser did. He has a great feel for knowing what to throw and the command to put the ball where he wants it. The K rate is low, but as his write-up says, it's because he values pitch economy and would rather get a guy to bounce into a ground out on the second pitch of the AB rather than throw four or five pitches and use a slider for the whiff. If he went to the slider more often with 2-strike counts, you'd see more K's. He also seems to be able to get a key strikeout when he needs one. Former U of Richmond pitcher Tim Stauffer, now of the Padres, and current Vanderbilt LHP Jeremy Sowers pitch in much the same way, in my opinion.

 Q:  Bill L from Bozeman, MT asks:
Mike Tonis and Scott Walter were both drafted from California schools a couple of years ago to help fill a void of catching prospects in the system. could you compare their standing as prospects?
 A: 

Will Kimmey: Walter has progressed with the bat, but the Royals aren't sure he has the glove to be a major league regular at C. He worked at 1b and 3b this offseason. Tonis has just been injured so much that it's hard for him to project as an everyday guy anymore. KC thought he'd be there by now when they drafted him and Walter in 2000. Tonis now might be a backup when he gets there because his bat hasn't progressed as they thought. Adam Donachie doesn't have great numbers the last 2 years, but he really matured last year and now ranks as the org's No. 1 catching prospect. The only problem is he's yet to play full-season ball yet and will be in low Class A to start 04.

 Q:  Kris from Burlington asks:
Zach Greinke seemed to be alot more hittable in double A (.286 batting average against), is this something to keep an eye on or was it simply Zach just experimenting and adjusting to the higher calibre of talent? Thanks
 A: 

Will Kimmey: A little of each column. Realize that in this system, Wilmington at high A is one of the minors' better pitcher's yards and Double-A Wichita is a nice hitter's park in a hitter's league. So all pitchers have to deal with that as well as the adjustment to better hitters as well. That said, Greinke had just nine starts in Double-A, and really one bad one (12 hits in 3.2 IP in his third start) obscured his numbers there. Remember sample size.

 Q:  Adam Connors from Kansas City asks:
Do you think David DeJesus has a chance to make the team out of spring training? With Guiel, Beltran, Stairs, Gonzalez, and Brown, oh and rule 5 Thompson, I would think it would be hard to get him at bats, and they wouldnt want him to sit on the bench, right?
 A: 

Will Kimmey: Yes, and I think he will. Count me in his camp. I think Stairs and Harvey will platoon for 1b and DH at-bats as the complement to Mike Sweeney. Gonzo in RF and Beltran in CF are givens, so DeJesus and Guiel probably each will see time in LF, with Thompson the 5th OF. DeJesus is the heir apparent in CF if Beltran leaves next year and had a .400 OBP last year between Triple-A and Double-A. I see DeJesus with an outside shot to be that team's leadoff guy and score a ton of runs in front of a potent offense in one of the AL's best hitter's parks. But KC says DeJesus will not be in the majors if he isn't going to play regularly. Still, I don't see how he doesn't.

 Q:  chris smith from houston tx asks:
What is the timetable on Colt Griffin the royals 2001 # 1 pick. They have talked about patience but this will be his third year. What do you think.
 A: 

Will Kimmey: I was ready to give up on Griffin if he didn't have a good year in 2003. But he did after a slow start. He still had a great deal of walks and wild pitches, but he was missing by only inches rather than the feet he used to miss by. Power pitchers and guys with his height and length often struggle mightily with control, and then something clicks. The Royals shortened his arm stroke last year and he showed considerable progress. I'm not saying Griffin is Randy Johnson, but the Unit was way wild for a time before things clicked for him. Maybe the best current comparison, to a raw guy with great stuff is Angels prospect Bobby Jenks, who seems like he'll be breaking out this year. I think Colt will get it this year, and the pitcher's park in Wilmington will help his overall numbers. His K's might not impress as much as someone with a plus fastball and plus slider should, but it's because the org has told him to pitch to weak contact rather than for K's because they think it will help keep him around the plate more. He could really take off in the next year or two.

 Q:  Kevin from Springfield, MA asks:
Who is the better prospect, and who has a better chance at being a regular OF'er for KC, Gettis or DeJesus?
 A: 

Will Kimmey: I've already written about how I like DeJesus, who's a gamer who plays above his tools and is a very good defender. Gettis has also improved. He spent two years at each level until he really came along at the plate last year in his first Double-A shot. He has a great arm in RF and moves well for a man his size. He and Mitch Maier roomed together in Ariz this offseason, spending time working out. (Gettis also took classes as Glendale CC.) He's got some juice in that bat, but Juan Gonzalez sort of takes RF for 2004. If Gettis has another nice year in Triple-A, he could be given a shot in 05. He might have a little better chance at sticking as a regular just because he's a potential 30 HR guy while DeJesus is probably a 10-15 HR tops guy. I'd say Maier and Lubanaski would both win jobs over this duo in the long run though.

 Q:  Kris from Burlington asks:
Will the Royals look to move Maier back to 3rd base again since they really have no heir apparent to Joe Randa?
 A: 

Will Kimmey: They moved him in instructs, but at 6-4, he had trouble getting good fielding position on grounders. They know his bat is special and want him to concentrate in that area for now, and he could move quickly to high A if he gets off to a hot start at the plate in Burlington this spring. I think 3B is going to be a problem for the system because no one really plays there aside from Miguel Vega, a 4th rounder last year who is so raw he'll be back in rookie ball in 04. Signing Travis Chapman last week could provide a temporary place holder for 05 or 06 until KC is able to draft, trade or sign another 3b.

 Q:  Kris from Burlington asks:
Would a good comparison for Lubanski be Carl Crawford? How quickly can he rise thru the system?
 A: 

Will Kimmey: That's probably not a bad one. Both are really quick and have below-average arms. Crawford hit .319-350-405 (avg, obp, slg) in Rookie-level Princeton in 99 and Lubanski hit 326-382-452 in the AZL last year. Both had K-BB ratios near 50-20. I could see Lubanski getting to high A by the midway point this year, maybe and possibly advancing to Double-A by the second half of 05. So 2006, probably late in that year would be the earliest ETA I'd see for him.

 Q:  Dave from Kansas City asks:
Last year, college players (such as Mitch Maier and Shane Costa) drafted by the Royals were placed in the Arizona League, where their primary competition was players drafted out of high school. DidWill this have a negative impact on their development, and how can we properly gauge their performance last year as a result?
 A: 

Will Kimmey: I think they were hurt mostly in not being challenged and by not giving the Royals a fair gauge of their talent. Maier said pitchers in the AZL could hardly throw many offspeed pitches for strikes, so he mostly just waited for and got fastballs to hit. You'll get a true test for both of these guys this year, with Maier in low A and Costa starting in high A. It was a tough situation for the Royals developmentally last year, not having an advanced Rookie squad, but they felt they made the best of it by having two training staffs in Arizona to offer more personal attention to players on both AZL clubs. Still, they would have preferred having an advanced club.

 Q:  Darren from Eugene, OR asks:
What is your opinion of Kila Kilaahue? He was young for his league last year, got off to a slow start but seemed to finish strong.
 A: 

Moderator: Kaaihue was overmatched in Burlington at the beginning of the year, hitting .194 with three home runs and 31 strikeouts in 154 at-bats through May. He caught up during the second half, hitting .266 with eight homers and 46 strikeouts in 241 at-bats. The Royals like his power potential for sure, and he'll be back in Burlington to build on the confidence he gained late in 2003. He along with Chad Santos (started last season in a .154 slump, but hit .299 the rest of the way at Double-A) and Brian McFall (who was in the AZL) give KC three big 1B with plus power. Any could hit 30 homers one day.

 Q:  Jon from Peru asks:
Hi Will! What does the Royals organization think of Damaso Espino and Jonah Bayliss, both who played last year at Burlington?
 A: 

Will Kimmey: Espino showed a good eye with a .377 OBP, but really lacks the strength to provide the power you want at the hot corner. He actually produced a lower slugging percentage (.369) than OBP. That's hard to do. Bayliss, on the other hand, made a fleeting run at my top 10. He's really needs to hone his command, but has some of the best stuff of anyone in the system at high A or above. Bayliss uses an above-average 91-94 mph fastball with good life that tops out at 96 as well as an above-average slider that reaches the low 80s. His curveball is a 12-to-6 hammer but is still very inconsistent.

 Q:  Bill L from Bozeman, MT asks:
What is Jorge Vasquez's pitch repertoire?
 A: 

Will Kimmey: Vasquez has a great slider and great command of it. He also shows a low-90s fastball, that he needs to use a little more because some outings he'll rely only on the slider. He reminds some in the organization of 2002 Rule 5 pick D.J. Carrasco and will have a shot to make the Kansas City bullpen in spring training, just as Carrasco did last year.

 Q:  The Kansas Law Dog from Tombstone asks:
Who has the higher ceiling and who will reach the BIG SHOW first? Our boy Zack, Greg Miller, Gavon Floyd, Scott Kazmir or Adam Wainwright?
 A: 

Will Kimmey: I'll put rank them this way: Miller, Kazmir, Greinke, Floyd, Wainwright. But I'd rate the first four very close to each other. Wainwright might get the first shot this year, because he's the only guy listed with extensive Double-A experience and his org needs pitching at the major league level for the pennant race a little more than the others. Miller, Greinke both reached Double-A last year, and Greinke could see KC by late this summer. The Dodgers have enough major league depth not to need to call on Miller this year, though he might get a sneak peek in September is he rules Double-A. The Phils have a really deep staff and Floyd won't even consider Philly until 2005 at the earlier. Kazmir should reach Double-A for the first time this year.

 Q:  Steve from Houston asks:
How does Chris Goodman, the former Georgia Tech infielder turned pitcher, stack up?
 A: 

Will Kimmey: He didn't make the top 30, but the Royals like his command of his fastball and breaking ball. He doesn't really wow you with his stuff. But he was predominantly a SS at Ga. Tech early in his career, so could still blossom a bit with more mound time. Plus it's hard to get a good read on this ACC-bred guy pitching in straight rookie ball last year. An advanced short-season league would have given us all a better read of his talent.

 Q:  Kris from Burlington asks:
Does Ryan Bukvich still fit into the Royals plan? Has he made any progress on a secondary pitch to compliment his fastball?
 A: 

Will Kimmey: Just like last year control is still an issue. He can't locate his 92-96 mph fastball for first pitch strikes very often, which means he can't get ahead in the count to comeback with his splitter or slider. He has to finish pitches and get the ball down more often. That'll be the difference in him washing out or being effective in the seventh or eighth inning.

 Q:  Joshua Bern from Wichita asks:
Every organization seems to have a sleeper to become a big part of a big league club- not a prospect, but someone who seems to come out of nowhere- like the cardinals have had with Bo Hart last year, or stubby clap or joe mcewing. Would you think guys like Norris Hopper, Corey Hart, Eric Thompson, Darren Fenster, or Justin Gemoll have a chance to be that type of player?
 A: 

Will Kimmey: Not really. I'd say SS Mike Aviles, a the D-II Player of the year in 03 as a senior at Concordia (NY) College, is your guy. He held his own in Puerto Rico this offseason after a stellar debut in the AZL last summer. He'll be the SS at Wilmington this year, but his bat is better than his glove and he could end up at 2b.

 Q:  Jim S. from Milwaukee asks:
How does Lubanski rank with other team's #2 prospects. Is he rated this high because KC has a weak farm or does it look like he has a chance to be a real impact player - perhaps all star? - offensively?
 A: 

Will Kimmey: He's not a weak No. 2 guy by any means. He was the No. 5 overall pick last year on merit, the Royals say. They wanted him or Ryan Harvey, and backed away from Harvey because he had been injured. Front office staff have used comarisons from Kirk Gibson to Johnny Damon and Carlos Beltran for Lubanski. He could either be a 30-steal guy with a .300 average a 15 homers, or might add a bit more bulk and be a 20-25 HR guy with less SB potential.

 Q:  Bill L from Bozeman, MT asks:
I understand that he was old for the league, and that the Arizona rookie league is a hitter's paradise, but I don't understand why Brandon Powell, based on his offensive production and college career, isn't on anyone's radar as a 2B prospect. Am I just wishing?
 A: 

Will Kimmey: I liked Powell, but he just got squeezed out of my list at No. 31. Here's a big excerpt from my scouting report: Powell helped lead Coastal Carolina to three straight NCAA regional bids in from 2001-2003, and as a senior he topped the Big South Conference in hits and doubles and placed among the league's top 10 in average, RBIs, steals, slugging percentage. The Royals drafted his college double-play partner, Adam Keim, in 2002. Powell stayed all over the leader board in the Rookie-level Arizona League, with top five finishes in six offensive categories, including first in triples. Those three-baggers were more a product of hard hit balls that found gaps than Powell's footspeed. His offensive repertoire features a little of everything; he can steal a base, stroke liners up the middle and show occasional pop. Powell is not a polished infielder. He turns the double play well, but has poor footwork overall. He's an average defender at best, and might find a future as a super utility guy who plays second base, third base and the outfield in the majors. Because Powell was a fifth-year senior sign (for $1,000), it's hard to read a lot into his success in a Rookie league, and the Royals will push him aggressively to get a better feel for his skills. He could start 2004 in low Class A.

 Q:  James from Guthrie asks:
Will. Right now it looks like Shane Costa may be a prospect than Mitch Maier why do you think Costa was not more highly rated coming into the draft last year? Thanks James
 A: 

Will Kimmey: We have two or three Costa questions in the queue, so count this as the answer to many of them. Costa has had trouble deciding what type of hitter he wants to be. He tended to hit inside pitches the other way in college, and then look to pull outside pitches, both are counter to what most hitters normally do. He's been torn between being a more powerful hitter and a contact-average hitter. He has the quick hands to make adjustments, and is a solid polished hitter much like Maier. He just needs to settle on his indentity, something Maier has already done. He's got OK speed and plays hard, so Costa can do fine in CF, but is better in LF. Costa was a second-round pick, so I'd still say that was pretty highly rated. That puts him among the nation's top 70 picks.

 Q:  Anthony Peruchietti from Dearborn Heights, MI asks:
Where would you rank the Royals system? Is it a bit down thanks to last years MLB arrivals like Gobble MacDougal etc?
 A: 

Will Kimmey: KC graduated Berroa, Gobble, MacDougal, Harvey, Kyle Snyder out of their top 10 last year, and traded Jeremy Hill. They traded four other top 30 guys for major leaguers down the stretch, and DJ Carrasco also made an impact. That ain't bad. So there might be a little less talent in the system this year, and the Royals rank near the bottom of the middle third of orgs in terms of talent. So in the 15 to 20 range. Having Greinke, Maier, Lubanski and the potential of Griffin still isn't awful.

 Q:  Big Daddy Kane from Ponce asks:
Can mitch Maier be a legitimate major league catcher? What kind of hitter does he project to be? Is .29030100 out of reach?
 A: 

Will Kimmey: He;s got a weird hitch in his throwing release that basically kills him having a good chance to throw out runners, so his catching days are behind him. .290 with 20 homers and maybe 85 RBIs annually would be a nice high end projection, sort of like the early days of Mike Sweeney. 30 HRs could be a reach, but the guy can really stroke it.

 Q:  Guy from asks:
Who are the power hitting prospects in the organization?
 A: 

Will Kimmey: I mentioned the Kaaihue, McFall and Santos trio earlier, and 3B Miguel Vega has tons of power but really gets fooled by breaking balls now. Gettis has plenty of juice, but a guy we haven't talked about is OF Kennard Springer, who's built like Dmitri Young, one of my favorites. Springer's a former HS football star at RB and has really quick wrists and brute strength. He's still learning how to make adjustments, but had a 27-game hit streak in the AZL last season. There might not be a Royals farmhand who's stronger.

 Q:  Anthony Peruchietti from Dearborn Heights, MI asks:
Will, do you think the Royals will regret drafting Ryan Harvey instead of Lubanski. It seems the Royals really lack impact power hitters.
 A: 

Will Kimmey: One scout said Harvey had Mark McGwire-like power. If Harvey reaches the majors and comes close to that, obviously you could regret it, even if Lubanski turns into Johnny Damon. However, after getting stung by taking risky Roscoe Crosby, and still having to hope Colt Griffin works out from that same 2001 draft, I think you see the Royals, a small-market club with less room for error than the Cubs, who ended up taking Harvey, playing it a bit safer and taking a guy they feel a bit more confidence in health-wise and ability wise as far as getting a return on that first-round bonus investment.

 Q:  Bill L from Bozeman, MT asks:
What is Adam Donachie's offensive ceiling? Is there a good comp out there? What about his defensive potential?
 A: 

Will Kimmey: The Royals think he can be as good as Tonis defensively. Donachie is very quiet behind the plate with sure hands, great arm strength and game-calling and blocking abilities. The Royals expect Donachie to eventually hit about .260 while driving the ball from each side of the plate for 15 total homers. He reminds them of Giants catcher A.J. Pierzynski with the bat.

 Q:  Anthony Peruchietti from Dearborn Heights, MI asks:
Do you see the Royals taking an advanced college pitcher in the draft this year. Someone who can move fast?
 A: 

Will Kimmey: They pick at 14 and 29, and have had one of baseball's lower bonus budgets the last two years, so I might look for them to go after a college pitcher first, maybe Chris Lambert of BC or Justin Orenduff of VCU and then maybe another college guy later on. How's GT 2b Eric Patterson sound there? Or maybe Tampa's Eric Beattie? A lot can change, but look for the Royals to try to minimize risk with these two picks, the way they have the last two years in Greinke and Lubanski.

 Q:  Bill L from Bozeman, MT asks:
Will Idaho Falls be the site that most of KC's college draftees begin their careers?
 A: 

Will Kimmey: Yes.

 Q:  James from Guthrie OK asks:
Will. Is Colt Griffin ever going to justifly his high draft selection or is he ust another Ankiel who can blow up the gun but may never be able to harness his stuff? Thanks James
 A: 

Will Kimmey: Lightening round began with the last answer. He's not Ankiel, because his control has started to improve each year, not go backwards. I think Colt will end up a closer when all is said and done.

 Q:  Anthony Peruchietti from Dearborn Heights, MI asks:
Other than Greinke, do the Royals have any possible top of the rotation starters. Who might be some sleepers?
 A: 

Will Kimmey: Carlos Rosa and Ambi Burgos both have power arms they used in the AZL last year. Rosa's 90-94 and has a nicely developed breaking ball and change already. Burgos is much more projection. He's tall and lanky and dominates at times with a heater that can reach 95. He'll need more time to develop still because of growing up in a rough area of the Dominican you could say was similar to an inner city in the US.

 Q:  Tom McCullough from York PA asks:
Will: Glad to see that Devon Lowery is among your rookie cards. What more can you tell us about him? KC moved him from the bullpen to the rotation during the 2003 season at low-A Burlington. Does this mean, for example, that he finally got command of that elusive third pitch that we fans hear any starting pitcher needs to be a prospect? Thanks.
 A: 

Will Kimmey: He was a football star in HS as a QB and is very athletic. He's a smart pitcher with decent command a of 90-94 fb with good life that generates plenty of grounders and a nice little slideball as well. Long term, he's probably a RP type because of his ability to get ground ball DPs; his overall stuff might be a little short of what you want from a starter in the majors.

 Q:  Mike from Orrville, OH asks:
What current major leaguer does Donald Murphy most compare to? Is he the second baseman of the futuere, or do the Royals still like Ruben Gotay?
 A: 

Will Kimmey: Murphy could be Marcus Giles. He's a short guy who doesn;t have the best range but is very reliable with the glove. Murph has some pop in his bat and is quite scrappy at the plate, where he also has a discerning eye. He's a ballplayer. They still like Gotay, but Murphy passed him as far as ceiling.

 Q:  Anthony Peruchietti from Dearborn Heights, MI asks:
Will, just wanted to say thanks for the Chat. Love talking Royals prospects. Where does Alan Moye rank in terms of the top 30 and the Royals overall OF depth?
 A: 

Will Kimmey: Moye didn't play last year because of a shoulder injury. he's an interesting athlete, but didn't crack the top 30, so he's somewhere on the periphery, but did get a major league spring training invite.

 Q:  David from Savannah asks:
Brian McFall looks like another Drew Henson, only without the football skills...Will he be able to hit for a decent average in his first full season?
 A: 

Will Kimmey: McFall's a raw JC draft who also pitched at Chandler-Gilbert. The ball really jumps off his bat and shows as much raw power as anyone in the organization, but has a ways to go in understanding breaking balls and working himself into hitter's counts. He didn't see too many fastballs in the Arizona League, as he often batted cleanup and didn't see many fastballs as a result. He showed potential hitting .309-6-29 in July, but just .134-0-7 in the other half of his at-bats. He'll probably get another cut at the AZL or maybe in Idaho Falls. The guy hasn't passed 20 years old yet, so you and I won't give up on him too quick.

 Q:  Don from TN asks:
ETA for Brian Bass reaching the Majors? End of 2004?
 A: 

Will Kimmey: He had a coming out party at high A last year and a good year in Double-A could mean a Sept. callup. He might not fully establish himself in the KC rotation until late 2005. He's got 2 plus pitches in a fastball and the best curveball in the system to go along with excellent command, so Bass could fit nicely in the No. 4 or 5 spot in a rotation.

 Q:  Mike Marinaro from Tampa, FL asks:
I can see a lot of similarities between Chris Lubanksi and Rocco Baldelli. Too many actually; from the speed, to the defense, to the contact-htting ability, to the high K to BB rate... What are the odds you give Lubanski to soar through KC's system in 2004 the way Baldelli shot through the Ray's system en route to winning the Baseball America Minor League Player of the Year Award in 2002?
 A: 

Will Kimmey: That comp isn't bad either, nor was the earlier one to Crawford. But let's not write the guy off yet, because Baldelli nor Crawford are bad major leaguers and each have the potential to improve, as does Lubanski, who has even more room for growth. I don't think KC will blitz Lubanski thru the chute this year; Rocco didn't hit that stride until his second full season and this is Lubanski's first.

 Q:  Hoffman from Salem, VA asks:
How's the Q Shack holding up this winter?
 A: 

Will Kimmey: BA holiday intern Hoffman Wolff checks in from his college campus. Quite well, Hoffman. And everyone else, come to Durham and try some Q Shack BBQ or turkey or brisket or sausage or ribs or chicken. Can't go wrong.

 Q:  Charlie from Portland Maine asks:
Where do you see Tim Frend (a Mainer who played college ball for Davidson) playing next year? How does the organization view him?
 A: 

Will Kimmey: He seems more of an organizational player at this point in his career, decent numbers but nothing notable as far as either power or plate discipline.

 Q:  Dave from Kentucky asks:
What is the future of former 1st rounder Mike Stodolka?
 A: 

Will Kimmey: Injuries and ineffectiveness have marred Stodolka's career and while there was some hope for a turnaround heading in 2003, that seems to have faded with another year of more of the same. He was picked in the first round in 2000 and has yet to get out of A ball.

 Q:  David Taylor from Springfield, Missouri asks:
What's your opinion on James Shanks? I'd like him to improve his OBP somewhat by cutting down on KOs and taking more walks.
 A: 

Will Kimmey: Shankity Shanks is an intriguing guy for his speed and defense, but he's a free swinger who is 25 and hasn't yet spent a day in Double-A. Not the prognosis for a future star or maybe not even one who gets to the majors. But his name is fun to say.

 Q:  Dave from Kentucky asks:
How will the Royals draft philosophy of picking college seniors and offering low signing bonuses affect the overall depth of the farm system? Are they sacrificing the future by being thrifty or are they being smart in their use of money?
 A: 

Will Kimmey: The team has been strapped as far as signing bonus money, as with two 1st round picks last year and two more to come this year, it's really the only way the team can make selections at that point with any hopes of signing all the guys. Things didn't work out poorly in 2003, as those players--Chris Goodman, Ryan Braun, Mike Aviles, Brandon Powell, John Gragg, Dustin Hughes, Robbie McClellan--all had nice years. Aviles and Hughes, who reminds many of Mike Stanton in build and skill, made the 30 and the others all were considered. It's a better alternative than not signing your 2nd 1st round pick in order to free up the $900,000 given to Maier to take guys later who'd command more money. It's frugal, but it's really the best option that was available. And the choice turned out some nice players. Give scouting director Deric Ladnier a star for that one.

 Q:  Trusty from Jackson, MS asks:
Is it just me or is the Royals farm system improving, much like the other parts of their franchise?
 A: 

Will Kimmey: Final question, and a nice summary one. It seems the answer is yes, even though the overall talent is actually lower on this list than last year's. But that's because of the players graduated to the majors. The Royals added some nice pieces through the draft last year, were able to trade some extra pieces who won;t be imapct major leaguers for veterans down the stretch and saw other players like Byron Gettis and Brian Bass really develop into better prospects than they had been considered previously. With five picks in the top 63 this June, I'd see more talent flowing in, and also give that talent a better chance to reach the majors given the more conservative but still steady job KC has done in the draft the last two seasons. Yes, the organization as a whole is on the way up. The two major questions the Royals will have to deal with are retaining Carlos Beltran, and how a young staff develops. Jeremy Affedlt can be a star if the blisters subside, and guys like Runelvys Hernandez, Jimmy Gobble can also contribute alongside the veterans who are there as KC awaits Greinke's arrival.

Will Kimmey: Thanks for all your questions. Sorry I couldn't answer them all, but I tried to get to a good cross section and still went about 20 minutes over the alotted time because you guys made this so much fun.