C - Paul Phillips
Season Statistics (KC): .200/.273/.300, 2-for-10, 2 RBI
Season Statistics (OMA): .237/.295/.298, 2 HR, 13 RBI, 57 G, 198 AB
Strengths: He's a catcher, and offense is clearly not a priority as a backstop. He's a cheap solution as an "instructor" somewhere in the organization.
Weaknesses: At this point, Phillips is strictly an organizational backup backstop, and has or will not earn a spot as a Major League backup.
'08 Status: Judging by his numbers at AAA Omaha, and the fact that he was 30 years old entering the season, it's safe to say Phillips clearly is not the future of this organization as backstop. OPS-ing barely over .600 in AAA won't secure even a starting job there, but he could be brought back next season as an instructional backup in either Northwest Arkansas or Omaha. However, even at age 30, he is well on the downhill side of his career, as his AAA OPS has sunk from .789 to .718 to .672 to .645 to .593 in the last five years. I see a trend, I do.
1B - Craig Brazell
Season Statistics (KC): To Be Determined
Season Statistics (AAA): .308/.339/.612, 32 HR, 76 RBI, 425 AB, 103 G
Season Statistics (AA): .349/.408/.587, 7 HR, 15 RBI, 109 AB, 30 G
Strengths: He fits well at a position where offensive ability is emphasized. The dude can absolutely mash. He's a raw talent with the bat.
Weaknesses: Unfortunately, he couldn't prove himself in two other (albeit organizationally deep) organizations: the New York Mets and L.A. Dodgers. He's 27, and needless to say, is not considered a prospect. He is not particularly patient at the plate, as only 30 percentage points separated his BA and OBP in AAA.
'08 Outlook: Brazell is stuck among a cluster**** of candidates for the '08 season at first base. He's a Calvin Pickering-type, with raw power, but not much else on his side. My instinct tells me he will not return next season, unless he lights the Royals on fire this September. All indications point to lack of playing time hurting the chances of that. Thank you, Buddy Bell.
"1B" - Billy Butler
Season Statistics (KC): .300/.354/.464, 6 HR, 43 RBI, 250 AB, 70 G
Season Statistics (AAA): .291/.412/.542, 13 HR, 46 RBI, 203 AB, 57 G
Strengths: Ability to spray the ball to all fields, which are triggered by an extraordinary professionalism at the plate. His good power (33 doubles in Wichita in 2006, 19 doubles in limited duty in K.C.) will make him a mainstay in the show for many, many years to come. And the power will continue to improve, as he turns 22 next April. Oh, and he's also patient at the plate (.390, .388, .412 OBP's in each Minor League season since '05).
Weaknesses: I put the position "1B" in quotes because he's yet to prove himself as a satisfactory defender at the big league level. Dayton Moore and Buddy Bell continuously say he will be tried at first base in Kansas City, but the on-paper evidence indicates otherwise. Bell was every bit determined *not* to give him AB's there in '07. Also, he's not particularly good with the legs. How he managed to steal five bases in Idaho Falls back in 2004 was unbelievable. However, he's never been caught stealing in his professional career. Therefore, his lack of a permanent MLB position and his legs do hurt him as an everyday MLB ballplayer.
'08 Status: He will be in the middle of the lineup for Kansas City. Where he plays, at this point, is anyone's guess. The organization will give him Winter Ball time to develop as a first baseman, and is - at least, verbally - to determined to let him work himself out of that status. We know that he has proven himself in the Minors - and will be an offensive asset in K.C. for, hopefully, many years to come.