Optimism reigns at Royals Forecast Luncheon...

RC correspondent Chris Ray was on hand this afternoon at the annual Royals Forecast Luncheon, and he's been kind enough to provide us with some details and photos. Much of what he reported has already been touched upon over at Royals Authority, so we highly recommend you check it out. Anyway, on to our report.

Perhaps the most encouraging news of the afternoon was John Buck's report on the Royals minicamp, which was held a little over a week ago. Buck said that Zack Greinke and Andy Sisco were throwing great. He said Sisco seemed to be throwing even harder than last year, and Greinke had "body and mind" in sync far better than last year. Both pitchers have been working extensively with new pitching coach Bob McClure, and Buck said Greinke has really been taking to his new coach.

Allard Baird had a few comments on players as well. He said Andres Blanco and Justin Huber will head back to the minors to start the season. Blanco's defense clearly needs no improvement, but the Royals want to see better offensive production out of him before bringing him back up. The opposite is true of Huber. Baird said his offense is close to Major League ready, but he's returning to Omaha to work on his defense. On Billy Butler, Baird said he wants him to get a full year under his belt playing left field, and he'll most likely return to Wichita to begin the season.

Baird also mentioned that they've had Elmer Dessens throwing a lot of innings in winter ball so he can build up his stamina for the World Baseball Challenge. Since he's going to be a starting pitcher for Mexico, the Royals wanted to minimize his injury risk, so they want to make sure his arm is ready to handle the increased pitch count. He's now back in Arizona.

In fact, Baird was also grilled a little bit about organizational pitching injuries. Indeed, the perception is that the Royals have a lousy track record in keeping their young pitchers healthy. However, Baird pointed out that the Royals have analyzed the problem, and they've concluded that perception, in this case, is not reality. In fact, the Royals have suffered an average number of pitching injuries when compared to the other Major League clubs. Of course, Baird said that still isn't good enough, and they're constantly searching for ways to keep their pitchers healthy. He mentioned that to this end, the Royals send many of their pitcher to biomechanical centers, where they fine tune their mechanics to avoid injury. It's definitely a step in the right direction.

When talking about the proposed stadium renovations, Dan Glass said that if they pass, the Royals should be in "heavy consideration" for an All-Star game in the future. He said both he and his father were swayed to support renovations -- rather than a new downtown stadium -- largely because of the amount of fan feedback and sentimentality for Kauffman Stadium. When David Glass spoke, he announced that after today, he'll never again discuss the disastrous 2005 season, and that he'll do whatever he can to win in Kansas City.

And of course, the Royals finally unveiled their new uniforms. If you've been reading RC, this is somewhat anticlimactic, but it's still pretty cool to see the actual thing. Ray snapped several photos of the new uniforms, presented below. There has been some question about the color of the blue script on the road uniforms -- some of the photos make it look like a lighter shade of blue. However, this is merely a reflection caused by the camera, as the actual color of the script is the same Royal blue as always.

A special thanks goes out to Chris Ray for the great work he did today at the luncheon, and for his work on exposing the new uniforms. Since he first heard the Royals were changing their uniforms back on May 19, 2005, Ray has been relentless in his quest for information, and today confirmed, once and for all, that everything he dug up for RC was 100 percent accurate.

  • While we're dishing out optimism, RC has a special treat for you. The offseason can be a pretty depressing time for us, so to keep our spirits up, RC frequently looks through the vast catalogue of photos we took last season. Anyhow, we recently uncovered two previously unpublished photos to share.

    The first is a photo from the California/Carolina League All-Star game we attended in June. As you know, RC was on hand for the home run derby prior to the game, where we saw Billy Butler put on one of the most impressive power displays we've ever seen. Butler sprayed HRs all over the field, and he hit several balls completely out of the stadium. However, the most impressive homer was one that didn't quite make it all the way out. The target on the photo below represents the approximate spot where the ball hit.

    The outfield wall in Frederick is actually two walls. The tall wall sits back several feet from the lower wall, which is 400 feet away from home plate. Anything over the lower fence is a HR. Butler's blast nearly cleared both walls in DEAD CENTER FIELD, and it bounced off of the "Big Screen Store" ad. In addition to that monster shot, Butler also hit one completely out of the stadium just to the left of that yellow sign. RC only wishes we'd had video capability back then. Butler's power is unbelievable, and it's only going to get better as he gets older.

    The other photo we have for you is the latest installment in our "Alex Gordon has arms like Popeye" series. We initially didn't publish this photo, because at first glance, it doesn't look very interesting. But upon closer review, we noticed Gordon's left arm:

    That photo makes it look like Gordon's forearm muscles came around and swallowed his elbow. And guess what? He's only going to get stronger...

    Hopefully those thoughts will get you though the weekend, as time seems to slow down as baseball season approaches.
  • Monday

    RC releases new Top 30 list, among other notes...

    Back in October, RC released our first Top 25 list to much fanfare. In the months since that time, three of the prospects on that list have been traded, and RC has had the opportunity to further evaluate the state of the organization. We saw several Royals prospects for the first time in the Arizona Fall League in November, and we’ve spent months analyzing data and debating amongst ourselves. The result is an improved, expanded list, and we proudly present RC’s new Top 30.

    A quick word about list eligibility. We like the standard we set back in October, and we’ve decided to keep it, with one exception (discussed below). To be eligible for our list, position players must not have played in 50 games or had 300 plate appearances. Pitchers are broken down into two categories. The threshold for starting pitchers is 100 innings or 20 starts, while relief pitchers must not have reached 20 appearances or 50 innings pitched. In addition, anyone with over one year of Major League service time is ineligible, even if the majority of that time was spent on the DL.

    Of course, RC always reserves the right to use our own discretion on an individual basis, and we’ve decided to include Leo Nunez on this list, even though he exceeded our threshold for relief pitchers last season. Since Nunez is so young, and since he’s slated for significant time in the minors this season, we believe his prospect status remains intact.

    Anyhow, here's the list. RC will have our expanded prospect reports for you available shortly, but we wanted to get the list out right away. We encourage comments or questions about the list, and if you have one, feel free to post it in our comment section or in an e-mail.

    RC's Top 30 Prospects:

    RankPlayerPreviousPos.2006 club (projected)
    1.Alex Gordon13BWichita
    2.Billy Butler 2LFWichita
    3.Justin Huber 31BOmaha
    4.J.P. Howell 4SPOmaha
    5.Chris Lubanski 5OFWichita
    6.Luis Cota 6SPHigh Desert
    7.Jeff Bianchi 7SS/2BBurlington
    8.Chris McConnell 10SSBurlington
    9.Chris Nicoll 11SPBurlington
    10.Donald Murphy 92B/IFOmaha
    11.Andres Blanco 82B/SSWichita
    12.Brent Fisher 15SPBurlington
    13.Leo Nunez NRRPOmaha
    14.Mitch Maier 16OFWichita
    15.Shane Costa 12LFOmaha
    16.Mike Aviles 14SS/IFOmaha
    17.Angel Sanchez 24SSWichita
    18.Kila Kaaihue 131BWichita
    19.Joe Dickerson 17OFBurlington
    20.Billy Buckner 21SPWichita
    21.Gary Perez 182B/SSHigh Desert
    22.Juan Cedeno NRSPWichita
    23.Rayner Oliveros22SPBurlington
    24.Matt Tupman NRCWichita
    25.Adam Donachie NRCWichita
    26.Brian Bass NRSPWichita
    27.Kiel Thibault NRC/DHBurlington
    28.Alan Moye 25OFHigh Desert
    29.Danny Christensen NRSPHigh Desert
    30.Brian McFall NROF/1BHigh Desert

  • As part of our ongoing efforts to improve the quality of our site, RC is pleased to announce we've added yet another correspondent to our constantly growing team. Thanks to a tip from a loyal RC reader, we contacted Jared, the Idaho Falls Chukars equipment manager, and he has graciously accepted our request to provide photos and info from KC's Pioneer League affiliate. We welcome Jared to our team, and we'd like to point out that his addition means RC now has a correspondent for EVERY SINGLE Royals minor league affiliate. Of course, if anyone knows someone who lives in Salcedo, D.R., please contact us. We're only half-kidding about that.

    Also, we'd like to remind our readers that we are always looking for additional correspondents, so please, if you think you might have something to contribute, always feel free to contact us.

  • We'd also like to point you to our side navigation bar, which boasts a cool new feature. Over the weekend, we added a SportSpyder feed, which automatically searches the Web for Royals news. So now, instead of navigating like an animal every morning through sites like the KC Star,, or any other media outlet, you can simply come to RC to search the headlines. This promises to be a great addition to our site, and a big time-saver for all our loyal readers.

  • Finally, RC is pleased to report our Chief KC Correspondent Chris Ray has secured tickets to the Royals Forecast Luncheon on Friday. If you're also attending, you should say hello to him -- he'll be the little guy stalking Allard Baird and Mike Sweeney all afternoon. We've learned the Royals will unveil their new uniforms at the luncheon, and of course, we've also confirmed that our renderings of the new uniforms were spot-on. But we'll have more on that on Friday.