This has been a very good day for the Royals. It's amazing how much better a minor league system looks when you add the top collegiate player in the nation to its ranks. RC was the first major publication to break the news of Alex Gordon's signing this morning, and ever since, we've been salivating at the thought that there's a good chance that at some point in the coming spring training, we'll see a Royals lineup that includes David DeJesus, Mike Sweeney, Billy Butler, Justin Huber, and Gordon.
And just think about the infield we might see at High Desert to start next season: Gordon at third base, Jeff Bianchi at shortstop, and Gary Perez at second base. The future is quickly approaching, and we like what we see on the horizon.
- Gordon will start as a third baseman, but has the athletic ability to play any position. Baird believes that Gordon would already be an above average defensive first baseman.
- The Royals will again draft the best player available in the 2006 draft.
- Baird feels that DeJesus is about a half season ahead of where they thought he'd be in his player development. Many teams were looking to acquire DeJesus at the trade deadline, but Baird just laughed. There is a very good chance that DeJesus will be offered a long term contract in the offseason.
- Phase one of the youth movement is over. Phase two will include adding free agents. Baird is looking to add $20 million of payroll in the offseason. His targets will be a starting pitcher, a veteran relief pitcher, a veteran catcher and an offensive second baseman, in that order. The Royals will be very aggressive in the free agent market.
- Baird is more confident now than ever that he can acquire a power-hitting corner outfielder through free agency or a trade, due to payroll flexibility.
- Baird would like Butler to spend another full year in the outfield in the minor leagues before coming to the Major Leagues.
- Chris Lubanski looks to play in AA in 2006, AAA in 2007 and reach Kansas City by 2008. Baird said he's the type of guy who must prove himself at every level to move up.
- If Luis Cota improves his control, he could move quickly through the minor leagues.
- Mitch Maier needs to establish his bat at Wichita before he can move up. Baird feels 2006 is VERY important for Maier, but he is surprised how well he has progressed defensively, to the point that Maier is already an above average CF.
- Baird is pleased by the way John Buck and Mark Teahen are finishing the season.
- Andres Blanco is already a gold glove caliber second baseman.
- Baird said that he is willing to trade anyone on the roster.
- Baird is disappointed with Angel Berroa's plate discipline, but believes Andre David can help him.
- If Huber makes some strides defensively in the Arizona Fall League, then he could start 2006 in KC.
- Baird believes Gobble's value will most likely be in the bullpen.
- The only locks for the 2006 rotation are Zack Greinke and Runelvys Hernandez.
- Contrary to media reports, the Royals were never close to trading Sweeney over the summer.
- With the addition of a solid changeup, Jeremy Affeldt could be moved back to a starter in 2006.
Other than below-average speed, which plays no role in his style of play, Butler has no offensive weaknesses. He controls the strike zone well, can hit for average and shows plus power to all fields
“He’s Mike Sweeney Jr.,” a National League scout said. “He could be even better than Sweeney.”
At first look, Lubanski appears to have been shafted by his ranking, but BA brings up several good points:
Lubanski’s game has changed dramatically since he went fifth overall in the 2003 draft. He’s no longer the burner he was in high school, yet he's still a plus runner and his power has grown. He’s still overaggressive at the plate and needs to improve on working counts and closing the holes in his swing. His work ethic was universally praised.
While his offense took a major step forward, Lubanski's play in center field has declined. A below-average arm, bad routes and his drop in speed has most projecting an eventual move to left, where some wonder if his bat will be enough to carry him.
Kevin Goldstein of BA will conduct a live chat to discuss the list and the California League on Friday afternoon at 2 p.m. CST. If you have any questions for him, be sure to chime in by clicking on this link. Perhaps you'll want to ask him how in the hell Ian Stewart is rated higher than Butler...Perhaps...
Sweeney paced the offense with five RBIs, and the bullpen contributed five scoreless innings from D.J. Carrasco, Gobble, Affeldt, and Mike MacDougal to nail down the win and secure the series split.
Up next for the Royals is a three game set vs. the Toronto Blue Jays to finish off the season. The Royals must win all three games to avoid the worst record in franchise history, and Zack Greinke gets the first crack at it tomorrow vs. Josh Towers.