Saturday, February 2, 2008

Royals Insider: Shane Costa

Tonight on Royals Insider, Omaha/Kansas City Royals outfielder and journeyman-in-the-making Shane Jeremy Costa takes center stage on our spotlight.

The talented Cal-State Fullerton outfielder was selected by the Royals in the second round in the 2003 amateur entry draft. Throughout college, he was an exceptional hitter who had doubles power and good baserunning ability. The Royals hoped he could become that solid contact-hitting outfielder by the mid part of the decade. In his first half season in the organization, he hit .386/.44/.580 in 88 at-bats for the Rookie-ball Arizona League Royals. The following year, he emerged as that contact hitter, hitting .308 with 20 doubles and 7 home runs in 451 at-bats, as well as providing above average outfield range, in Wilmington. After hitting .282/.349/.448 in Wilmington, Costa received 16 at-bats in Omaha before making a late-season appearance with the parent ballclub. At age 23, Costa likely needed to wait at least one more season before being truly ready to hit Major League pitching.
The following season, Costa emerged as an offensive force in Omaha, and provided modest results in Kansas City, hitting a respectable but not overwhelming .274/.304/.405 in 237 at-bats spelling new acquisition Reggie Sanders and Joey Gathright for late season duties. In 2007, he found his niche in Omaha, once again (.326/.402/.502 in 233 at-bats) but struggled mightily in Kansas City, hitting to the tune of .223 and collecting only 7 extra base hits in 55 games.
Attached is a dated - but relevant - scouting report from The Sandlot Kid, author of his self-titled blog.
Muscular. ... Strong. ... Stiff. ... Top-heavy. ... Rigid movements. ...
Athletic legs. ... Nothing fluid. ... Mature build.

Imposing presence with the ability to really drive balls to center field
and right field. ... Below-average right fielder. ... Professional pitchers will
expose his lack of ability to handle and adjust to anything on the outer half of
the plate. ... Makeup is suspect after seeing him basically avoid and be avoided
all weekend.
- Possesses average speed, but makes the most of it with above average baserunning and stolen base ability.
- Has drilled AAA pitching to the tune of a .991 and .904 on-base plus slugging percentage in 434 at-bats combined the last two seasons.
- Excellent bat speed makes for good contact ability
- Weak outfield arm and bulk makes for below average range in the outfield
- Struggles with pitches on the outside half of the plate
- Lack of plate discipline
- Has demonstrated well below average power in Major Leagues
Here is my crystal ball for 2008:
GS/G: 23/45
AB: 104
H: 26
AVG: .259
OBP: .314
SLG: .335
2B: 6
3B: 1
HR: 0
RBI: 11
BB: 8
K: 19
SB: 2
CS: 0
OPS+: 71
On-field performance:
Improves from 2007: 50%
Remains the same: 40%
Declines from '07: 10%
Injury contingency:
Injured for 15 days or more: 15%
Chances traded/dropped before Opening Day: 10%
Chances traded/dropped before end of 2008: 35%
Job allocation:
Everyday or mostly everyday outfielder in K.C.: 5%
Alternates between AAA Omaha and KC Bench: 45%
Vast majority of 2008 in Omaha: 35%
Remains on K.C. bench entire year: 15%
At this point, many scouts consider Costa an above average Triple-A talent but a below average Major League talent. He possesses the makings of a classic AAAA ("Quadruple-A") player, an outfielder who will likely always rake those vulnerable Triple-A pitchers, but will provide no better than results typical from a fourth outfielder at the Major League level. From my perspective, it's somewhat frustrating that the Royals seem deliberately intent on not providing the emerging outfielder with an everyday opportunity, so that they can evaluate talent (while conforming with their current organizational mode - "rebuilding") and possibly receiving average results from an outfielder for the league minimum. Costa is an above-average baserunner but provides below average instincts, range, and arm in a corner outfield slot that has seen many a rotating Royal over the past thirteen seasons. He possesses precious little plate discipline to be projected as a legitimate everyday threat. At this point, it is questionable whether his .450-slugging potential will compensate for such a lack of plate poise. Since emerging as a Major Leaguer in 2005, life has not been kind to Costa. Like Justin Huber, he just does not seem to have a defined position within the organization - and will likely spend much of 2008 alternating between AAA Omaha and the Kansas City Royals first-base dugout.

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