Royals Corner will be back on Wednesday, June 29.


Coors Field effect in the California League?

By Craig Weddle

Everyone knows that the California League is known as a hitter's league. With that in mind, folks often tend to discount some of the numbers being put up by Royals' prospects at High Desert. However, when you look at how they compare with the rest of the players in the California League, you see that the Royals' prospects are near the top of many offensive categories. In other words, when you look at how the Mavericks compare relative to the rest of the league, the inflated statistics they're putting up are still quite impressive:

PlayerCategoryStatCA League Rank
Billy Butler BA.3582
Kila Kaaihue AVG.32610
Adam Keim SLG.5897
Chris Lubanski SLG.50918
Brandon Powell AVG.31612

Mitch Maier (prior to promotion)

*-Current rank. Maier has been in AA Wichita since his promotion on June 3.

My point is that yes, numbers are inflated a bit in this league, but that shouldn't take away from what these guys are doing. In other minor league news...

  • Justin Huber was the only Royals' farmhand named to the Futures All-Star game. However, if he sticks in KC through the All-Star break, he will be unable to participate.

    Perpetual minor league all-star and Major League disappointment, Cal Pickering, homered again for Omaha. He's been on a tear lately, raising his average from below .100 to .211. After his recent power surge, Big Pick now has 8 HR.

    In Omaha's game, Denny Bautista looked shaky in his one inning of work. The most notable pitching perfomance actually came from Chris George, who picked up the win after taking over for Bautista to start the 2nd inning. His line wasn't particulary outstanding (6IP, 8H, 1R, 1W, 5K). What's intriguing about George is that his strikeout numbers have improved his last couple of starts. His strikeout/walk ratio (56/23) is better than Jimmy Gobble's (45/21). If he continues to improve in this department he might actually be able to find himself on a major league roster next season. Of course, it likely would be with another team.

    Billy Buckner had another decent outing for High Desert. Billy took a shutout into the 7th inning before he ran out of gas. He has pitched well since his promotion from Burlington.

  • It appears that signability was a major factor in the draft for a lot of teams and not just the Royals. Two weeks after the draft, 20 of the 30 first round picks have already signed, including 16 of the fist 22 picks. -CW

  • Editor's Note: Funny Craig wrote about this today. As RC was publishing this post, we were listening to the Mavs game on the Internet. Billy Butler went nuts tonight, smashing a solo HR in the first inning, then topping it off moments ago with a one-out grand slam (a no-doubter to right field) in the bottom of the eight inning of a tie game. The Mavs now lead 11-7, and Butler is 3-for-5 with 2 HR and 5 RBI. Sweet!

    At least no Royals were attacked by drunken white trash

    Well, that was certainly embarrassing. The Royals over the past week have returned to Earth after Buddy Bell's amazing 11-4 start, and have now dropped five of their last six games. Granted, four of those losses came against four of the best pitchers in baseball -- Roger Clemens, Roy Oswalt, Jon Garland, and Mark Buehrle -- but the Royals only managed to tally a total of four runs combined in those games. Bell after the game admitted that the Royals today simply didn't have a good approach against the American League's hottest pitcher.

    "We were not good today and we just didn't have a good game plan for Buehrle," said Bell.

    As for KC's pitching, RC hasn't watched today's performance by J.P. Howell, but we are convinced that yesterday's start by Zack Greinke was his finest outing of the year. His pitches were sharp and located well, and he struck out eight Sox while walking only one. Greinke was simply the victim of bad luck and poor defense. If he can throw like that consistently, he'll win far more games than he loses. For a more comprehensive report on Zack's start, we recommend you check out Clark Fosler's comments on yesterday's game.

    The Royals now stand at 0-9 vs. the White Sox, who undoubtably have made some kind of sordid deal with Satan. Thankfully, it will be over a month before we see them again, and hopefully by that time something very bad will have happened to them.

  • STATS, Inc. recently confirmed the obvious. They calculated the average age of every Major League team, and surprise-surprise, the Royals are now the youngest team in baseball:

    Devil Rays 2893

    A couple weeks ago, RC put together a table that displayed how the Royals youth movement will result in unprecedented financial flexibilty next year. We don't think the national baseball media or the majority of basball fans has caught on yet. It will be very amusing (and also frustrating, to an extent) next year when the Royals are bashed for having the lowest payroll in baseball, only to see the praise heaped upon the Royals organization in the following years as they lock up their young core with long-term contracts and begin winning ballgames.

    The Royals are operating the way a small market team ought to be operating. This revelation by STATS, Inc. only confirms what we already knew -- the Royals are in a massive youth movement. And this time, they're doing it the right way with RC Official Hero Allard Baird at the helm. Again, take a look at the RC projected 2007 opening day lineup, and tell us you're not excited:

  • The Royals have tomorrow off, and they open a weekend series on Friday in Colorado. RC will be sitting in the best seats in Coors Field for the Saturday and Sunday games, and we promise a comprehensive report, complete with original RC photographs, upon our return on Tuesday evening.
  • Tuesday

    Draft signings update -- Signability is once again key

    By Craig Weddle

    With amazing speed, Kansas City has already signed 24 of the players they drafted less than two weeks ago. The Royals have inked picks #2, 4-15, 18, 21, 23-25, 27-31, and 34. That accounts for nearly all the players the team intends to sign this year. The only still ongoing negotiations involve Alex Gordon (1), Chris Nicoll (3) and Justin Bristow (22), and Nicoll should be an easy sign. I don't expect the negotiations with Gordon to be drawn out now that Nebraska has been eliminated from the College World Series, as two other 3rd basemen taken in the top 5 (Ryan Zimmerman and Ryan Braun) have already signed. Gordon's people and the Royals discussed the parameters of a deal before the draft, so each side knows what the other expects. Negotiations with Bristow will go for a while, but I'm still hopeful.

    Other players drafted that the team intends to be 'Draft and Follow' guys include picks #16, 17, 19, 20, 32, 33, and 36-50.

    All the players signed thus far have reported or will report to rookie ball soon. The Advanced rookie Idaho Falls Chukars started their season tonight, and the Arizona Royals start tomorrow. (Editor's Note: The Chukars routed the Casper Rockies 18-4 in the opener tonight)

    Jeffrey Bianchi (2) will start in Arizona along with Joseph Dickerson (4), Brent Fisher (7), Nicholas Doscher (8), Paul Raglione (18), Pedro Lopez (31), and Oscar Marrero (34).

    The guys who will start in Idaho Falls are Shawn Hayes (5), Ryan DiPietro (6), Kiel Thibault (9), Jeffrey Howell (10), Michael Penn (11), Antonio Sabatini (14), Brady Everett (15), David Henninger (21), Kevin Bulger (25), Jase Turner (27), Brandon Brantley (29), and Jeremy Jirschele (30). Another notable Chukar will be Henry Barrera, the Royals 5th round pick from the 2004 draft. Signed later in the summer, Barrera didn't get a chance to pitch in a game last year. He has an electric arm, but is a bit unpolished. Keep an eye on him as he could be special.

    No word yet on where Erik Cordier, another youngster with fantastic stuff, will start out the season, but Arizona is likely. -CW

    We are pleased to have Craig join the RC team. Be sure to check back here often to read Craig's insights on the Royals and the minor league system.

    Lima Time! returns. Huber sits. Royals lose

    This really wasn't a bad game. RC missed the first five innings, but we did see the Royals claw back to tie the game at 8-8 in the middle innings. RC Official Scapegoat Jose Lima posted a familiar line:

    4.0 IP, 10 H, 7 R, 7 ER, 2 HR

    It will be interesting to see if this was the last straw for Lima. Coming off his best start of the year, Lima was completely ineffective. The Royals will bring up another pitcher prior to tomorrow's game, and if they decide to promote a starter, it could signal the end of Lima Time! in Kansas City. However, RC has no solid predictions on this matter. It's equally possible that a reliever gets the callup to KC, in which case Lima probably stays in the rotation for the time being.

  • As we noted so excitedly this afternoon, the Royals promoted Justin Huber to replace Mike Sweeney, who was placed on the 15-day DL. We fully expected Huber to start tonight, but Tony Graffanino got the start at 1B instead and went 2-for-3, raising his very trade-enticing batting average to .325. The Royals draw a tough righty tomorrow, Jon Garland, so the smart money would probably be on Huber sitting for another day. Then again, Huber hasn't played in a game in three days now, so it's also possible that manager Buddy Bell will give him the nod tomorrow.

    We did, however, receive some potentially distressing news when we read on the Royals website that Allard Baird anticipates Huber will probably be sent back down to Wichita upon Sweeney's return. RC's Official BS detector went off immediately, as there are far too many factors at play to be able to predict that with any certainty. Here's our list of things that could happen to keep Huber in KC for the rest of the year:

    1) Huber hits too well to send down (RC places the odds at 50-50)
    2) Sweeney's wrist is really screwed up (60-40)
    3) Matt Stairs and/or Graffanino are traded before Sweeney returns (70-30)

    In other words, we don't buy Baird's statement for a second. We'll be shocked if Huber spends another minute in Kansas ever again, unless he decides to buy a house in Leawood, undoubtably near the Outback Steakhouse.

  • RC #2 Royals prospect Billy Butler returned to action tonight with a bang. Butler went 3-for-5, smashing a two-run double to center in his first at bat back after missing 19 games with a hairline fracture in his wrist. Chris Lubanski also celebrated Butler's return, collecting three hits of his own, including a shot off the wall in the eighth inning that was hit so hard that it only went for a single.

  • As RC is probably the fastest-growing blog in the history of the blogosphere, we are pleased to announce that we are expanding our operation. Devoted Royals fan and minor league guru Craig Weddle has agreed to write for RC, so our legions of fans will now be treated to even more excellent commentary. Stay tuned, as we here at RC look forward to Craig's contributions in the near future.
  • Monday

    Official scoring change: error erased, RC 2-for-2 last night. Huber to debut tonight!

    As reported on 810 WHB, the Royals have indeed placed Mike Sweeney on the 15-day DL and promoted Justin Huber. Jimmy Gobble has also been summoned from Omaha, presumably to replace Ambiorix Burgos on the roster, who left yesterday's game with shoulder pain.

    RC believes that Gobble will probably only get mop-up duty at first, but his promotion does make some sense. He was already on the 40-man roster, whereas some seemingly better candidates for the promotion were not.

    Update: Huber was in KC

    RC has learned that the rumors circulating in Kansas City over the weekend about Justin Huber being in town were indeed true. According to a source in KC, RC Official Legend George Brett on his radio show this morning confirmed that Huber was up with the big club over the weekend to participate in batting practice and fielding drills. Apparently the Royals were concerned that Huber was pressing, and they wanted to give him a short taste of the big leagues to help him relax.

    Brett also said that Huber boarded a plane back to Wichita yesterday. Therefore, while RC was the FIRST MAJOR PUBLICATION to openly speculate that Huber might be in KC, our speculation that he might start for the Royals tonight has turned out to be premature. Despite the error, 1-for-2 ain't that bad, and as always, RC promises to continue providing the best Royals coverage available anywhere on the Web.

    EDIT: Minutes after posting this, RC checked the Wichita Wranglers' website and found that Justin Huber has been replaced on the Texas League All-Star roster by Josh Pressley. Now that we know he's not hurt, RC figures one of two things is possible:

    1) Huber is taking a few days off; or
    2) RC was premature in speculating that our premature speculation was premature


    Where is Justin Huber?

    I'll get to today's game in a moment, but first, there's a rumor floating around KC that RC #3 Royals prospect Justin Huber is actually in Kansas City right now. Huber wasn't in Wichita's lineup yesterday or today, and there has been no mention of injury spoken anywhere. His absence coincides with a report today that Mike Sweeney may be headed to the Disabled List, so Huber's presence in KC would seem to make sense. So would the Royals' silence on the matter, as they did precisely the same thing with J.P. Howell, who was actually with the team in San Francisco two days before his first start in Arizona.

    The fact is that IF Huber was in Wichita, he would have played today -- not only because he didn't play Saturday, but because the Wranglers now have their midseason break and won't play again until Thursday. Barring injury, it would make no sense to give Huber that many consecutive days off.

    It's something to keep our eyes on, but I wouldn't be shocked if Huber makes his Major League debut as early as tomorrow. I'm sure we'll know more soon enough, and you can count on RC to relay any updates as soon as we get them. Moving along...

  • The Royals salvaged their series with the Astros today on the back of another outstanding pitching performance by Runelvys Hernandez. It seems as though Elvys is getting better with every start, as he held Houston to just one hit and one run in seven brilliant innings. Once again, his entire arsenal was working, and Alberto Castillo rarely had to move his glove to receive Hernandez's pitches.

    Offensively, the Royals did a nice job against Brandon Backe, drawing five walks while scoring five runs. Emil Brown had the big blow, a three-run golf shot in the sixth that landed halfway up the grassy hill in left field. Emil now sports an .847 OPS (.289/.360/.487), and he is tied with Mike Sweeney for the club RBI lead.

    On defense, it was Mark Teahen Day. Teahen made four fantastic plays, each showing off a different defensive asset. On the first great play, he snared a line drive hit to his left. Next, he charged in on a Willy Taveras bunt and made a spectacular barehanded play, nailing Tavares by a step. Then he robbed Craig Biggio of a sure double when he dove to his right to snag a shot down the line, hopped up, and gunned Biggio down at first. For his final act, he fielded a chopper behind the bag at third and from foul territory threw a missile to first base to nail the runner. Folks, Teahen is one hell of a defensive third baseman, and he really could win several Gold Gloves before his career is over. He's got the best arm RC has seen in a long time.

    In all, today's win was another solid, well-played victory: the Royals had a good offensive approach, excellent defense, and superb pitching. Hopefully they can carry that into Chicago this week, because RC really hates the White Sox.

    The only potential downer from today is that Ambiorix Burgos had to leave the game in the eighth inning because of shoulder pain. Let's all hope it was just a precautionary move, but regardless of what happens, he's probably on the shelf for a while.

  • Customarily, a business shouldn't tell its customers not to buy one of its products, but in the interest of good practice, RC is ready to admit that the black baseball cap in the Official RC Store is garbage -- especially if you have a fat head. The printing on the hat is lousy, and if RC can't find a way to rectify the situation, we may pull that product from our shelves. But please rest assured that the other items in the store are just dandy, and we're very pleased with the grey T-shirt in particular.

    We care about every single one of our customers, and we will work around the clock to bring nothing but the best products to the legions of loyal RC fans around the globe.