Monday, October 12, 2009

JD's Prospect Quips

Below are quips for prospects 20-27 on Greg Schaum's Top 30 Prospects of 2010 list, which can be found at Left of the Foul Pole. 28-30 and 1-19 coming soon.

20. Keaton Hayenga

Hayenga has an injury history, unfortunately, as he suffered a shoulder injury while in high school. He did not begin pitching for a club affiliate until 2009. The Royals, at the time, thought they had landed a steal in the 31st round. His strikeout rate was rather low, though. He only fanned 34 batters in 66 1/3 innings this year, but he only allowed 16 walks, so at least the strikeout-to-walk ratio is respectable. At 6'4" and 190 pounds, he is lanky and might need to fill out a bit more as he advances up the organizational ladder. As for miscellaneous fun notes, he and #25 prospect for 2010 Hilton Richardson host a free baseball clinic in Seattle for local area youth.

21. Crawford Simmons

Simmons represented Team Georgia in 2008 as a junior at Statesboro High School. He earned several awards and accomplishments while in high school, and he helped lead his squad to the second round of the state tournament in '08, as well. Simmons posted a 0.70 ERA with 108 strikeouts in 69 1/3 innings in his junior season in high school. He did not pitch for a Minor League affiliate this year. His father works as an assistant coach for Georgia Southern University so that could provide him with a little extra motivation as he works his way up the Minor League ladder.

22. Jose Bonilla

Bonilla was named the Surprise Royals Player of the Year in 2008 after hitting .357 with five homers and three triples in 34 games for the Arizona League affiliate. Bonilla has a fairly good throwing arm and shows the ability to hit the baseball to all parts of the diamond. He turned 21 in August and he is probably a few years away from being able to contribute substantially at the big-legaue level. He needs to work at cutting down his strikeouts, as he fanned in nearly 1/4 of his at-bats in 2009.

23. Yowill Espinal

Espinal was the #29 Royals prospect of 2009, according to Baseball America. The middle infielder signed in 2007 for $250,000 and he is part of the Royals' renewed efforts to find talent, albeit perhaps expensively, in the Caribbean and in Latin America. Espinal is athletic and is physically superior to fellow middle-man Geulin Beltre, who was another major Latin nondrafted free agent acquisition at roughly the same time. Espinal possesses average range but has a plus arm at shortstop. He batted .246/.327/.407 with seven home runs, 23 RBI, and 20 stolen bases (but 14 caught steals) in 236 at-bats this year for the Rookie ball Burlington Royals.

24. Blake Wood

Wood's career injuries include, but are not limited to, a herniated disc which required him to have back surgery. Wood also suffered from shin splints a couple years ago and had injuries this year which caused him to miss roughly 1 1/2 months over the summer. His strikeout totals declined pretty substantially this year. He lost 25 pounds in the offseason but still has a fastball that routinely sits between 92 and 94. He also throws a power curveball and a plus changeup. Wood had been known as a bit of a "Jekyll-and-Hyde" starter throughout 2007 and 2008, posting many great starts and many bad starts. However, he had begun to pitch much better in June before he was shelved with the injury. Wood endured a disappointing season, overall, though, in 2009, as he went 2-8 with a 5.83 ERA in 78 2/3 innings pitched and 17 games with AA Northwest Arkansas.

25. Hilton Richardson

Richardson is another former multisport player, which the Royals organization loves. He played basketball in high school and had signed to play baseball at the University of Utah before getting drafted by the Royals in the seventh round of the 2007 amateur draft. He recently teamed with his good friend Kayenga to offer a free baseball clinic for Seattle area youth. Richardson raked in 166 at-bats in Rookie-league Idaho Falls, hitting .313/.392/.428, but he struggled in his extremely brief tenure with Low-A Burlington. He profiles as a doubles and triples hitter right now, but as he fills out with age (he will turn 21 in January) the home run power should hopefully arrive. That said, he is a center fielder, so it's not exactly as if hitting for home run power is an absolute must.

26. Patrick Keating

Keating is a number of recent pitching draft picks who have already worked their way into full season leagues as relief pitchers. Cole White and Louis Coleman are two others who come to mind instantly. Given that many of these pitchers have dominated in these levels and many have played in advanced college programs, they might not be years away. Perhaps if these pitchers pan out Royals fans won't have to witness the Kyle Farnsworths and Juan Cruzes manning critical roles in the 'pen too much longer.

27. Cheslor Cuthbert

Cuthbert's $1.2 million bonus broke a record for the signing of a Nicaraguan player. The Pittsburgh Pirates were rumored to be in on him for several weeks as he practiced in an academy before several scouts. Cuthbert displays above-average bat speed and power. According to La Prensa, a Nicaraguan publication, he hits the ball "with the strength of a man." It will be interesting tracking how Cuthbert matures as he moves up in the low minors.