The Process: NW Arkansas Front Three Leads a Talented Pitching Staff
After taking a look at the lower two levels in the system it is time to take a swing at the AA squad.
1. Yem Prades RF
2. Whit Merrifield 2b
3. Brian Fletcher LF – He needs to find a position to move up.
4. Brett Eibner CF – Can he make more contact?
5. Ian Gac DH
6. Matt Fields 1b
7. Matt Sweeney 3b
8. Julio Rodriguez C
9. Alex McClure SS
Bench – Juan Graterol C, Angel Franco INF, Carlo Testa OF
This group is least talented group I’ve predicted so far and shows the lack of talent the Royals have at the upper levels of their system. ¬†The Royals haven’t decided against bumping up Orlando Calixte at this point and could always promote Cheslor Cuthbert from the difficult hitting environment in Wilmington which would give this team a better look prospect wise. ¬†This is a squad full of players in need of bounceback seasons to improve their standing within the organization. ¬†Outfielders Brett Eibner and Brian Fletcher, a couple former SEC foes are the biggest name players in the lineup while both in need a big seasons to improve their stock. ¬†The former Razorback, Eibner could enjoy playing close to his old stomping grounds while also enjoying a more friendly hitting park than Frawley. ¬†He’ll have to prove that the offseason adjustments he made with hitting coach ¬† will improve his ability to make contact. ¬†As for Fletcher he’ll need to prove he can play left field as it isn’t likely that the bat is strong enough to carry him to the bigs at first.
Sleeper – Switch hitting slugger Matt Fields put on a home run show when he joined the Wilmington squad last season, hitting 17 home runs in just 69 games. ¬†A display similar to that in a friendly hitting league like the Texas league could lead to a possible minor league home run title.Pitchers
Yordano Ventura SP – Can he build on his explosive stuff?
John Lamb SP – Is he back?
Jason Adam SP
Sugar Ray Marimon SP
Tim Melville SP – Does he move to the bullpen in ’13?
Noel Arguelles SP
Robinson Yambati RP
Michael Mariot RP
Matt Ridings RP
Brooks Pounders RP
Jon Keck RP
Edwin Carl RP
Sam Runion RP
What the Royals lack in position depth at the AA level they make up for in talented arms. ¬†Plenty of potential lies in a the arms in this potential crew at the AA level with Ventura, Lamb and Adam being the cream of the crop in a potentially deep rotation. ¬†Both Ventura and Lamb could push their ways to KC if they could either harness potential and prove healthy. ¬†While those two are pushing for KC, local boy Jason Adam will look to build on an improved ’12 campaign. ¬†The numbers didn’t always show it but Adam improved his curveball and change up while proving to be the workhorse you would expect out of someone who stands with a big 6’4 frame. ¬†After the big three the Naturals have a few other arms who have excelled at different times in Sugar Ray, Ridings and Mariot. ¬†On top of those they also have guys that can show power stuff in Melville, Keck and Yambati.
Sleeper – Sam Runion – The former 2007 2nd round pick finished off the season extremely strong allowing just four runs in his 10 games after getting promoted to AA. ¬†It was a strong season overall for Runion, putting up a 2.34 ERA with a 50% groundball rate and a 3/1 K/BB ratio. ¬†He’ll need to add to his K rate to get a jump to AAA which would be quite a feat for a pitcher that has encountered arm problems a couple different times.
While the offense isn’t flashy on paper the league and park should help them out while the talented pitching staff should help them make it back to the playoffs in ’13.
Follow me on Twitter @ClintScoles¬†
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