Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Spring Training Trip: Day Three (3/11)

Below are some brief notes from my third day on my Surprise, Arizona excursion - and my second day in Royals "camp" as unofficial guest blogger.

We'll begin with some notes from Minor League camp.

- Mike Moustakas has taken an active role in vocal leadership. He was instructing fellow (ex?) Bees Jeff Bianchi, David Lough, and Johnny Giavotella in bunting exercises. He sounds like a real active team leader. Something that, unfortunately, in my opinion, was sadly missing in Billy Butler and Alex Gordon throughout the minors and during their brief Major League tenures.
- Moose also looked quite awkward at times, when walking around. ESPN's Keith Law has noted that Moustakas is difficult to project, and seemed to imply in a recent article that the 20 year old would be best implemented as a starting catcher. It's difficult to disagree with him. Moose is bulky, but short, but contains many tools that would be prevalent for a cornerman: a 70-arm on the 20-80 scouting scale, and, you guessed it, POWER.

- I caught many pitchers doing cardiovascular exercises on massage tables immediately outside one of the practice fields. It was interesting how they set these tables up. There were approximately four tables, total, and the pitchers would rotate turns exercising on these tables.
- Suspended Royals Jason Taylor and Jarrod Dyson were not present in camp. One player tested positive for an amphetamine, and another was suspended for another drug. 50 games each.

- Jamar Walton towered over many Royals players. The Bees' roster lists him as 6'4", but he looked at least 6'7". I have read nothing about Walton's allegedly(?) expanded physical frame, but is it even possible for 23 year olds to grow vertically? If so, then I might become tall enough to safely project as a starting pitcher for many organizations. (In 1980 and before, I would have had no problem).

- Outfielder Jordan Parraz, who was acquired in a trade with the Astros for Tyler Lumsden, seemed like he knew quite a few Royals on the field. I think obtaining even Parraz - a once high-ceiling prospect who had fallen somewhat out of favor in the 'Stros organization - was a miracle for Lumsden, who came off an abysmal season where he was banished to mopup bullpen duty for an otherwise depleted Omaha rotation down the stretch in 2008. Parraz is a classic 'ability' player with no single outstanding skill, other than his propensity for getting on-base, which counts as a (sixth) skill in some scouts' books.
- Anthony Seratelli looks like he lunged at several baseballs low. Definitely a gap-to-gap hitter who needs to lay back on breaking pitches in order to succeed. Since he played mostly first base for the Rocks last season, he'll need to work on those weaknesses.

- The low minors guys scream 'I Got It!' insatiably loud before catching each pop fly. It's fairly evident they preach a loud signaling throughout the minors as far as catching fly balls.

- Sean McCauley has added significant weight. A major necessity, in my opinion. I'm glad.

- I was surprised to see Miguel Moctezuma practicing with the upper-Minors players. He is stocky, but hit the ball quite well in batting practice.
- Idaho Falls pitcher Colby Beach was throwing flames in the pitching sessions.

In the meantime, peruse the TRT top 20 prospects, below. I described these prospects quite thoroughly in one of my previous posts.
Here are some notes (and pictures) from the Major League contest.
- Gil Meche did not use pitches terribly efficiently, and (to his bad luck) induced plenty of foul balls and unlucky batted ball data (BABIP), which contributed to his high pitch count for the afternoon. He finished hitters quite well (3 strikeouts) but still walked two. He must have thrown at least 50 pitches, which is entirely too high for 2 1/3 innings.

- Joel Peralta and Heath Phillips were lights out. Phillips struck out 3 hitters in 2 innings and Peralta struck out the side (but also surrendered a blazing liner back up the middle).

- Jimmy Gobble was his normal self. He labored through his inning, surrendering two hits and falling behind several hitters, but ended the inning unscathed, thanks to some liners which were hit directly at fielders. Definitely the Gobble of '08. He's likely on the outside looking in, as far as nailing one of those two final bullpen slots. I would say Waechter and HoRam have the inside track for those roster spots.
-Billy Butler raked. He hit a three-run home run and generally worked the count well. He was in command of the strike zone.

- Alex Gordon needs to lay off the off-speed pitches low, and needs to stop taking perfectly good pitches inside the strike zone deep in the count. I'm not normally a proponent of an overtly aggressive style of offensive approach, but in Gordon's case, he needs to balance over-aggressiveness and over-passiveness. Because he often wavers too heavily in both directions.

- Brayan Pena is quite speedy for his heaviness. He hustled down the first base line, but was thrown out after getting a terrible jump off a Seattle pitcher in the seventh inning. As I have written several times, I hope he makes the team. For the record, BBTF's Zips Projections pegs Pena as posting a trio of .280/.326/.392 this year - which outperforms both Buck and Olivo (yet still doesn't approach House's .291/.346/.436 projected line). Why can't we see a Pena-House platoon for the Royals Catching Solution 2009?
- Dave DeJesus worked the count well, despite not drawing a walk.
- Welcome back, Mark Teahen, Miguel Olivo, and Jose Guillen! Olivo started, but Teahen did not play, and Guillen was absent due to the birth of his son. The Canadian and Dominican Republic WBC teams were eliminated yesterday. Anyone else thoroughly shocked at the early demise of the stacked D.R. squad?
Below are three pictures. All photos can be found via Facebook.

No comments: