Royals make it a baker's dozen...RC reports on Bobby Keppel

RC was wrong...It CAN get worse, and it has. The Royals today jumped out to a 6-0 lead in the first inning against the Tigers, which included back-to-back-to-back home runs by Tony Graffanino, Angel Berroa, and Doug Mientkiewicz, but they still managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. The Royals actually led pretty comfortably through the first seven innings, and they entered the eighth with an 8-5 lead, but the bullpen imploded again, allowing eight unanswered runs over the final two frames to lose 13-8.

German hit his first Major League HR today!

Today was a day of firsts for the Royals. This was the first time in history that the Royals have been swept by the Tigers in a four game series. In addition, Mientkiewicz, who has spent much of his time occupying the third spot in the Royals' batting order, finally hit his first home run of the season. So did Esteban German, whose fourth inning dinger was his first career home run. To RC's disappointment, he didn't perform the "Esteban Flip" after his blast, but we did notice it in an earlier at bat after a line drive single. On the day, German went 3-for-5 with two runs scored and an RBI while raising his team-leading BA to .394. In fact, German remains as one of the true bright spots on the team, and his line of .394/.476/.465 through 71 at bats is truly remarkable. Hopefully he'll start to get regular playing time.

  • Of course, there was another "first" today. Bobby Keppel was promoted from Omaha prior to the game, and Denny Bautista's short, lackluster outing prompted Buddy Bell to summon Keppel to make his Major League debut in his first game in Kansas City. Keppel was excellent today in his debut performance, going 3.1 IP while striking out four and allowing two hits and a walk. He surrendered one run, which was charged to him after Ambiorix Burgos surrendered three hits and two runs in two-thirds of an inning after entering the game with one on and nobody out in the eighth.

    Bobby Keppel made his Major League debut today.

    Many people are asking, "Who is Bobby Keppel, and where did we find this guy?" RC has some information about him, thanks to some well-placed sources, so we're here to give you the scoop.

    Keppel was drafted as the 36th overall pick in the supplemental first round by the Mets in 2000. The Royals wanted him at #44, and were negotiating with him, but the Mets got him first. He's a sinker-slider pitcher with solid control, and low-90s fastball, and good movement, and he's still only 23-years-old (he'll turn 24 next month).

    Keppel was a star in the minors for the first few years of his professional career, rising all the way to #7 on the Mets' Baseball America prospect list in 2004. He tossed a no-hitter for Binghamton (AA) in 2003, and the word is that he is very successful at "outthinking" hitters, relying on an advanced knowledge the game. He's also an incredible athlete, as he fields his position very well, and he actually had an opportunity to play Division I basketball at Notre Dame after graduating from DeSmet High School in St. Louis.

    However, Keppel's nemesis throughout his minor league career has been injury, which has plagued him nearly every season. Last year, Keppel decided to stop pitching through his shoulder tendinitis, and he consulted Dr. Jobe in Los Angeles, who found fraying but no tear. Jobe cleaned up the shoulder and issued a good prognosis, but the Mets released him from their 40-man roster with the assumption that nobody would claim him.

    Keppel cleared waivers, but he eventually became a free agent, and he reportedly received much interest. However, the Royals -- in particular Royals' Director of Baseball Operations, Jin Wong -- were the most aggressive in pursuing him, and Allard Baird sealed the deal by calling him directly, which is quite a compliment for a minor league free agent. Keppel signed a contract that stipulated that he would be placed on the ML roster by June 2006 or become a free agent.

    Not only did Jin Wong find Keppel, it also looks like he has a little "Captain" in him!

    Keppel's numbers at Omaha this season before his promotion weren't great, as he logged a 3-4 record with a 5.00 ERA in 54 IP. He allowed 59 hits while walking 11 and striking out 27. However, his spring training outings were pretty much limited to one-inning stints, so his stamina wasn't quite up to speed at the beginning of the season, and much of the damage he allowed came in the later innings of his starts. He could be a quality middle reliever for the Royals, and it will be interesting to see how he adjusts in the coming weeks. He's certainly off to a good start, and RC hopes he continues to pitch well.

  • Unfortunately, RC hasn't exactly been very diligent with our Draft Prospect Updates of late, but we assure you that we'll be back up to speed very soon. Our next prospect update will narrow our list of candidates to five, since it's pretty clear that the Royals have focused their attention on a few players.

    Andrew Miller is still our projection for the #1 pick.

    There's really no point in continuing to track the progress of players like Matt Antonelli, Wes Hodges, and Joba Chamberlain, so we'll focus only on the players who have a legitimate chance to be selected. North Carolina's Andrew Miller still leads the pack, but you might be surprised about what we have to say. Stay tuned!
  • Wednesday

    11 and counting...

    When will this end? The Royals tonight jumped out to a 4-0 lead over Kenny Rogers and the Tigers with the help of home runs by Mark Grudzielanek and Reggie Sanders, but the bullpen again faltered as the Royals dropped their 11th straight game, 8-5. Runelvys Hernandez looked pretty sharp through the first five innings, but he was unable to escape the sixth. On the night, he surrendered two earned runs and eight hits in 5.1 IP, both runs scoring on a two-run blast by Carlos Guillen.

    Mark Grudzielanek belted his first two home runs of the season on Tuesday night.

    Ambiorix Burgos relieved Hernandez in the sixth and coaxed an inning-ending double play, and he pitched fairly well for 2.1 innings. He allowed a run in the seventh on a Curtis Granderson double, and he struck out the first two batters in the eighth inning before issuing a two-out walk to Craig Monroe. Buddy Bell then summoned Elmer Dessens from the bullpen, and disaster ensued. Dessens surrendered four consecutive base hits as the Tigers hung four runs on the scoreboard in the inning, jumping out to a decisive 7-5 lead. The Royals were unable to mount a comeback, and their record fell to an unimaginable 10-33.

  • After Tuesday's game, the Royals announced that Mark Redman will be unable to make his scheduled start on Wednesday vs. Jeremy Bonderman, due to soreness in his left forearm. There was no word on who will make the start in his place tomorrow, but the Royals' website is predicting that it might be Jimmy Gobble. Gobble last pitched on Sunday, when he threw an inning against the Cardinals, so he should be good for a few innings if they need him.

    However, we also noticed that Omaha's scheduled starter on Tuesday night, Adam Bernero, did not make his start as planned. RC wouldn't be surprised if he's actually the one who gets the call tomorrow. Of course, that would require the Royals to make a roster move, assuming they don't put Redman on the DL. We'll just have to wait and see what unfolds. Bernero is 1-1 with a 3.32 ERA in nine games, including five starts.

  • Since there will be no Daily Prospect Update tonight, there were a couple of events around the minors on Tuesday that are worthy of discussion here. First, Alex Gordon left Wichita's game in the third inning after being hit by a pitch in the back during his first at bat. Word is that he might not play in Wednesday afternoon's game either, but that it's strictly a precautionary measure. He should be back quickly, so there's probably nothing to worry about.

    Mark Teahen isn't going down without a fight.

    Also, it would be silly not to mention what Mark Teahen has been doing over the last week. On Tuesday night, Teahen went 4-for-4 with 3 RBIs and his second triple of the season. His batting average in Omaha is now up to .392, and nobody in the Pacific Coast League has been hotter for the past week. Over the last eight games, Teahen is 18-for-28 (.643) with five doubles, two triples, and nine RBIs. RC hopes he keeps it up, because it's far too soon to give up on him.

  • Tuesday

    Major changes RC

    In lieu of a report on tonight's game, in which the Royals were shut out by Justin Verlander and the Tigers for their 10th straight loss, RC has something of a pre-announcement. A little over a week ago, the ball started rolling on some major changes for RC, and although we cannot yet reveal the details, we can say that those changes promise to radically improve the quality of content that we make available to our readers.

    We wish we could tell you more at this time, but there's still work to be done, so the actual announcement will have to wait. Nevertheless, we're looking forward to telling you everything, and even more so, we're looking forward to getting started on a truly exciting endeavor. Stay tuned!


    It doesn't get much worse than this...

    For only the second time in his life, RC Correspondent Chris Ray -- the biggest Royals fanatic of all -- willingly left a game early out of disgust on Sunday afternoon. RC Correspondent Kevin Agee also relayed a sad story from the aftermath of today's game, which concluded with the Royals' ninth straight loss and a sweep at the hands of the hated Cardinals:

    "When I went after some BBQ at this great place called Bandana's, the lady at the pick-up counter saw my KC hat, looked at me with pitiful eyes, and said, 'Oh ... So I guess you saw the game today...'

    "Usually, fans of crappy teams get mocked. We get apologized to."

    Bandana's BBQ: Refusing to mock Royals fans since 2006.

    Yes, it was an ugly, frustrating, and embarrassing weekend for Royals Nation. In fact, RC had a similar incident of our own today, even though we were separated from the Missouri Massacre by over 1000 miles of flyover land. We were at a minor league game on Sunday afternoon, and the Trenton Thunder's (Yankees AA affiliate) announcer started giving us some grief about the slaughter.

    "Yeah, well the Cardinals are just catching us at the right time," RC retorted.

    "What's that? 2006?" he asked.

    Yeah...2006. We set ourselves up for that, but he's absolutely right. This is just a bad team mired in what very well might be the worst season in Royals' history. Hell, at the rate they're presently going, this just could ultimately be the worst season in Major League history.

    After today's game, Scott Elarton blew his top and called out his teammates, although he refused to name names.

    "We're just terrible. There's no two ways about it," Elarton told the AP. "We're pretty much bad every facet of the game...

    "I'm talking about the guys in this room. If it doesn't burn you when you lose, then you're not going to get any better."

    Scott Elarton is fed up.

    Have some of the players in the clubhouse given up? We sure hope not. Will Elarton's comments help motivate the team into playing better baseball? We seriously doubt it. The Royals are playing as though they're just waiting to lose. They know they stink right now, and Elarton going off on his teammates probably isn't going to help anything. It reminded Kevin of a similarly pointless exchange from the Naked Gun trilogy:

    Frank Drebin: Cigarette?

    Tanya Peters: Yes, I know.

    Maybe Buddy Bell should throw a Hal McRae-style tirade (along with a couple of phones and ashtrays), but fun as it would be to see, even that probably wouldn't help. All we know is that something definitely needs to change, and we all have opinions about what that change should entail. There's certainly no immediate cure-all, but it sure would help if there was. Right now, all phases of the Royals game are pretty terrible.

    "If that continues," said Elarton, "it's going to be a long season. And if nobody in here cares about it, it's going to get worse."