MacDougal's injury, and other notes....

RC had a busy weekend, putting over 500 miles on the odometer of RC's Official Jetta while traversing Virginia to see three collegiate baseball games. When we returned from today's tilt between George Mason University and UNC-Wilmington, we logged on to and received the terrible news that closer Mike MacDougal will likely miss six weeks with a "strained teres major muscle" under his right shoulder. The news put a major damper on what has otherwise been a fine weekend, complete with good offensive ouput and fine performances from Denny Bautista and Andrew Sisco en route to a four-game winning streak.

Not again!

Ambiorix Burgos will take over closing duties in the interim, and while RC is convinced he's actually a better pitcher than Doogie, MacDougal's loss is a bitter pill to swallow. Every time he looks poised to become one of the AL's truly dominant relievers, something like this comes along and derails him. Hopefully MacDougal's recovery goes smoothly, and he can return to form quickly...With MacDougal's past, that may be wishful thinking. But for now, Burgos is the man, and RC is perfectly comfortable seeing him emerge from the bullpen with the game on the line. Who knows, maybe Burgos will do so well with this opportunity that he'll make it tough for the Royals to give MacDougal his job back when he returns. He's certainly talented enough.

Of course, this all means that the roster picture becomes even clearer, as it seems almost certain now that both Joel Peralta and Jimmy Gobble will break camp with the big club. Buddy Bell over the weekend guaranteed that Bautista "will be on the team," and since the Royals aren't likely to put him in the bullpen, Bell's statement is the strongest indication yet that he will occupy the fourth spot in the rotation when the Royals head to Kansas City.

Jimmy Gobble might be the biggest beneficiary of today's MacDougal news.

The Royals have also expressed doubts about whether Mark Redman will be able to return to the rotation by April 14, so there could be another rotation spot open in the short term. Whoever nabs that spot will probably pitch out of the bullpen a couple times during the first two weeks of the season, before a fifth starter is needed in the rotation. Mike Wood's versatility lends itself well to such a role, so RC believes he's probably the frontrunner for the assignment if it's needed. We still think Jeremy Affeldt is bound for relief duty, which means the bullpen on April 2 is likely to include Burgos, Sisco, Elmer Dessens, Affeldt, Peralta, Gobble, and Wood. We'll have to wait and see how everything shakes out, but that's our best guess at the moment.

  • As we mentioned above, RC this weekend took in some heavy collegiate action. The weekend began with a trip to Blacksburg to see the second-ranked Florida State Seminoles take on the Virginia Tech Hokies. Mainly, we were there to see outfielder Shane Robinson and pitcher Bryan Henry, along with a few heavily touted underclassmen.

    Robinson is one of the top outfielders in the 2006 draft class, but his size (a generously reported 5'-9", 165 lbs) separates him from the elite talent projected to go early in the first round. Robinson might go in the late first round, but he could potentially slide to the second, in which case the Royals may consider him. We like what we saw from him, but his size could limit his potential upside.

    Either that catcher is really big, or Robinson is really small. We know the answer.

    Henry hasn't gotten any love from scouts or the national baseball media, despite a perfect 6-0 record, 1.41 ERA, and very solid peripherals. He threw six shutout innings in the game we saw, allowing four hits and a walk while striking out seven Hokies. His repertoire is simple -- fastball, curveball, change -- and he doesn't seem to have any trouble locating any of them. However, it's also not hard to see why there wasn't a single scout with a radar gun in the stands on Friday. He's got a very odd overhand arm action, and it looks very unnatural and inefficient. We've got some video of his delivery, and we'll post a clip when we write up our full scouting report on him in the coming days.

    Bryan Henry is funny-looking, in several different ways. But his results are difficult to overlook.

    The game itself turned into an 11-2 Florida State blowout, thanks to an eight-run seventh inning explosion. The victory was FSU's 17th in a row, a streak that was snapped on Saturday afternoon by a 9-7 comeback win for the Hokies. Of course, RC didn't see it, because we were 150 miles away watching another top ranked team get dismantled.

  • That team, of course, was the fifth-ranked Clemson Tigers, who were in the process of being swept by a young and tenacious Virginia Cavalier squad. Clemson boasts several highly-touted juniors, led by pitcher Jason Berken and first baseman Alex D'Alessio, while Virginia heavily counts on underclassmen (including a couple of the best freshman in the country) such as Sean Doolittle, who's easily the most impressive sophomore we've seen this year.

    Berken missed the 2005 season after Tommy John surgery, but he's back this year throwing harder than ever. He was throwing his fastball in the low 90s on Saturday, mixing in his changeup, curveball, and slider with varying degress of success on a chilly afternoon. He left the game in the sixth inning with the bases loaded and two outs, trailing 1-0. Nine runs and two pitchers later, the sixth inning ended, and the Cavs had a commanding 10-0 lead en route to a 10-2 final score. In his 5.2 innings pitched, Berken surrendered eight hits and three walks while striking out three and hitting a batter. His mechanics looked pretty clean, but we'll have more to say about him when we write up our player reports.

    It's hard to get good photos at Virginia's Davenport Field, but RC is pretty pleased with this one.

    Doolittle can't be drafted this season, but RC is certain he's a player to keep close watch on next season. While RC was in Blacksburg on Friday, Doolittle was busy carving up Clemson Tigers, hurling eight innings of four-hit baseball. But pitching isn't his only talent. Doolittle is a two-way player, possessing a great bat and slick fielding skills at first base when he's not on the mound. He was a second-team preseason All-American this year, one of only two sophomores on the first two teams.

    Doolittle impressed the hell out of RC on Saturday.

    RC's favorite non-Royal minor leaguer is the Orioles' Nick Markakis, and the similarities between him and Doolittle are astounding. Markakis was also a great two-way player in college, and scouts were divided about where he should play as a pro. Doolittle will likely inspire similar debates, but the similarities don't end there. His size, batting stance, swing, high socks, eye black, and even number are all EXACTLY the same as Markakis. It's actually sort of creepy:

    OK, maybe Doolittle's hands are a little higher, but still...

    Anyway, that's it for today. Stay tuned this week, as we plan to publish our latest draft prospect update on Monday evening, along with a few other surprises we have up our sleeves. We'll work on our scouting reports from this weekend's games, and we'll let you know when they've been posted to our dedicated page.

    At 3/20/2006 12:53 PM, Blogger ksuim4u said...

    Not that I think the Royals would take him anyway, (at least not in the first round) but what rule prevents Doolittle from being drafted this year?

    At 3/20/2006 1:34 PM, Blogger Max said...

    American college players cannot be drafted until after their junior year or when they are 21. MLB rule. JuCo players can be drafted anytime, and high school seniors can be drafted.

    At 3/20/2006 2:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    5'9 165? Looks like 5'5 140lbs..

    no way in hell is a first or 2nd rounder

    At 3/20/2006 5:18 PM, Blogger royalsbeliever said...

    I just hope we don't waste our time on any more damn high school pitchers. I'm hoping we get Max Scherzer or Andrew Miller. I like the Doolittle kid though.

    At 3/20/2006 6:37 PM, Blogger Max said...

    Cuts came today. JP Howell, Kyle Snyder, Kerry Robinson and others sent down.

    Complete list here

    At 3/20/2006 10:14 PM, Blogger Dave said...

    I think the chances are probably slim that Robinson goes in the first round, but it's still possible that a team looking to save money might take him. He does have some solid attributes that should play well in pro ball, such as good speed and defense, along with excellent strike zone judgement and a nice line drive swing that generates tons of doubles.

    Keep in mind, he was Collegiate Baseball's National Player of the Year last season as a sophomore after hitting .427/.532/.605 with 49 SB in 56 attempts. His OBP was in the top five nationally, and his walk total was in the Top 10.

    Frankly, if he's around when the Royals make their second selection, I'd probably be thrilled if they took him.

    At 3/21/2006 2:11 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    I'd be thrilled if we took PITCHING ( pitching) for 4 rounds. Or a 2B somewhere in there. We are stacked in the OF right now (especially if you figure Gordon will end up there and one of the Lubanksi/Butler/Maier/Costa group can hold their own)and don't need a 12 year old running around out there. Let someone else take him. If he's around in maybe the 5th round I might take him. Now if this kid can play 2B then I might take a look in the second round. I'm going to guess that you take that metal bat out of his hands he'll hit as much as Blanco though. Hopefully a team that's looking to save money in the first round could still find a Butler out there somewhere in HS.

    At 3/21/2006 2:37 AM, Blogger Dave said...

    I still think outfield is something of an organizational weakness, although I agree the first couple months of the minor league season (before the June draft) could do much to quell that concern. If Lubanski hits the way we all hope, and Maier takes his hot spring with him back to Wichita, then I might come around and agree with you.

    But right now, I'd hope the Royals are targeting an outfielder with at least one of their top few picks. Between Bianchi, McConnell, Sanchez, Murphy, and Gotay, I think the Royals' middle infield depth is much more solid than their outfield depth in the minors.

    As for Robinson, he's actually done fairly well with a wood bat. He put up respectable numbers in the Cape Cod league after his frosh year, and he did a nice job for the US College National Team last summer, batting .296 while tying for the team lead in doubles and RBIs. Both sample sizes are relatively small, but power isn't a part of Robinson's game, so I could see him adjusting to wood fairly easily with his line drive stroke.

    At 3/22/2006 12:30 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Our first round / early picks lately have been: Lubanski, Maier, Costa, Gordon (who may end up there if Baird's still enthralled with Teahen), and Butler now in LF.

    Other than Cota and Buckner -- and maybe Bass -- we are almost totally bereft of pitchers who have even the slightest chance of ever pitching in a MLB rotation for more than a cup of coffee. Howell already has, and it wasn't pretty.

    Seems to me that the first 4 or 5 picks for sure are straightforward: PITCHING.

    At 3/23/2006 11:58 PM, Blogger royalsbeliever said...

    Howell's stats from last season in his short time here may appear pretty bad, but I personally think he held his own when he was up. I think he can be a #3 starter in the future.

    At 3/25/2006 6:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    I really don't see how our infield depth is more solid than our outfield depth. The only infielder that has much promise of being an everyday player is Bianchi and he's probably at least 3 more years away. At least two of our outfielders have a chance to be stars (Butler and Gordon and maybe Lubanski if he cuts down on his K's). Costa and Maier could be 4th outfielders down the line. I'm not excited about any of those middle infielders that you suggested and none of them at this point have star potential.

    At 3/25/2006 7:08 PM, Blogger Jeremiah said...

    Now that the rotation is set who gets bounced to the pen or Omaha when Redman gets back?


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