Tuesday, March 12, 2013

What To Expect When You're Expecting...Part Deux


MARCH 12th, 2013-There's one thing for Legends fans to keep in mind as Opening Day creeps ever closer. In terms of judging the sort of talent we can expect to see here in Class A, it's the most important detail to consider.

Over the past 7 years, few teams have had a deeper or more talented minor league system than the KC Royals. The latest pool of players is certainly no exception; they only serve to reinforce this growing reputation.

As I mentioned in the last post, the Legends faithful can safely anticipate seeing a talented lineup from top to bottom hitting the field at Whitaker Bank Ballpark, this year and the next. In addition to the aforementioned players, there are still more who will either join them immediately or follow close behind. In this post, I take a quick look at more position players we can expect to see at The Bank:


Hitters

Humberto Arteaga, SS, Burlington Royals (Rookie, Appalachian League)
Born: 1/23/1994 in Caracas, Venezuela
Bats: Right Throws: Right
Ht: 6'1” Wt: 160
Drafted: Signed as Free Agent

2012:
58 games, 262 PA, 40 runs, 64 hits, 13 doubles, 2 HR, 29 RBI, 7 SB, .274 BA, .694 OPS

Arteaga more than held his own in the Appy League last year as an 18 year old, batting .274 against talent slightly older than he. He's rail-thin but highly projectable, and his wiry strentgh and above-average speed allowed him to score 40 runs and even steal a few bags. He couldn't buy a walk, but that's likely due more to youthful impatience than poor pitch selection. He plays within himself and doesn't try to do more with the ball than he's able, and he will probably steal a few more bases as he learns to be a better baserunner. The glove was greatly improved from 2011; where he had made 15 errors at short in 47 games, he cut that number by 6 in 11 more games in a slightly more advanced rookie-level league.


Kenny Diekroger, 2B-SS, Burlington Royals (Rookie, Appalachian League)
Born: 11/5/1990 in Woodside, California
Bats: Right Throws: Right
Ht: 6'2” Wt: 190
Drafted: 4th round, 2012 MLB Draft, from Stanford University

2012:
52 games, 222 PA, 21 runs, 42 hits, 6 doubles, 8 HR, 33 RBI, 5 SB, 18 BB, 60 SO, .208 BA, .641 OPS

Previously drafted in the 2nd round by Tampa Bay out of Menlo HS in Atherton, CA, Diekroger struggled mightily in his first year of pro ball. His BA actually climbed from .222 in 36 June AB, as he hit .253 in July. The wheels fell off in August, however, as he hit an anemic .152 for the month. He did bat .258 with RISP, and strangely his average was far higher in road games (.266 on the road vs. .171 at home). He led Stanford in BA as a freshman with a .356 mark and tied for the team lead in RBI with 41, becoming the first freshman to do so. In that season he was named PAC 10 Freshman of the Year and made First Team All-PAC 10, as well. The promise is there, certainly. He appears to have little projectability remaining, physically. He plays a steady second base, and can switch over to the other side of the bag at short, if needed. Will likely stay at second but could move to third in the future. At this early stage, he could prove to be a valuable role-player for Lexington. If he can cut down significantly on the strikeouts he will probably pay bigger dividends in the power department, but this may take some time. David Coleman over at The Crawfish Boxes did a good article on Diekroger which will tell you a lot more about him.


Fred Ford, RF, Burlington Royals (Rookie, Appalachian League)
Born: 4/10/1992 in St. Peters, Missouri
Bats: Right Throws: Right
Ht: 6'5” Wt: 200
Drafted: KC Royals, 7th Round, 2012 MLB Draft from Jefferson College (Hillsboro, MO)

2012:
62 games, 254 PA, 38 runs, 53 hits, 11 doubles, 13 HR, 35 RBI, 5 SB, 36 BB, 83 SO, .248 BA, .362 OBP, .853 OPS

This is one big dude. The thought with hitters who are as big as Ford is that there's too big a strike zone for them to cover without always racking up a lot of strikeouts, and that may ultimately be the case with Ford. The reason I would argue against that is that, along with the strikeouts (in August he went down on Ks in nearly HALF his ABs), he has shown a great deal of patience and drawn more than enough walks to make you think he can force the pitchers to throw him strikes. With 13 homers and 35 RBI in 62 games, you can see what often happens when they do pitch to him. He is noticeably more athletic, fast and agile than one might first think for a player his size. I'm not so worried about the BA, but Class A pitchers are a bit tougher than Rookie League hurlers, so he may need to adjust on the fly. He may even end up starting the year back in Burlington to work out the kinks, hanging back in extended spring training until the Appy League starts, but I think he'd be better off coming to Lexington to start the year. He's plenty young enough to step back to the Appy, if necessary, and not lose any time development-wise. Either way, Ford draws high marks for his athleticism, strong work ethic and coachability, and by most accounts Kansas City is fortunate to have grabbed him up before he went to another team. Watch this kid.


Cameron Gallagher, C, Burlington Royals (Rookie, Appalachian League)
Born: 12/6/1992 in Lancaster, PA
Bats: Right Throws: Right
Ht: 6'3” Wt: 210
Drafted: KC Royals, 2nd Round, 2011 MLB Draft from Manheim Township HS (Lancaster, PA)

2012:
36 games, 139 PA, 13 runs, 35 hits, 10 doubles, 3 HR, 15 RBI, 10 BB, 16 SO, .276 BA, .331 OBP, .756 OPS
Defense:
212 total chances, 191 PO, 19 assists, 2 errors, 26% caught stealing rate

Here's another intriguing player to add to the mix. The son of former pro pitcher Glenn Gallagher and brother to current Dodgers prospect Austin Gallagher, Cameron has spent time at all three of KC's rookie-level teams and there seems to be little reason to send him back to Burlington this year. The one exception could be his trouble throwing out baserunners. This will improve with time, and he should also develop at least average power for his position. He actually has a good arm; it's more a matter of getting accustomed to the pro game. I wouldn't expect that he'll struggle too mightily with that.


Terrance Gore, OF, Burlington Royals (Rookie, Appalachian League)
Born: 6/8/1991 in Macon, GA
Bats: Right Throws: Right
Ht: 5'7” Wt: 165
Drafted: KC Royals, 20th Round, 2011 MLB Draft from Gulf Coast Comm. College (Panama City, FL)

2012:
61 games, 276 PA, 50 runs, 58 hits, 4 doubles, 2 triples, 13 RBI, 36 SB, 36 BB, 52 SO, .256 BA, .379 OBP

Speed is Gore's game, most definitely. Problem is, it doesn't yet seem that there's a whole lot more to his offense than that. Four doubles and 0 homers as a 21 year-old hitter in the Appy League is cause for concern, especially as he advances to face stronger pitching. At his size, his role is as a slap-hitting leadoff type, but if he struggles against better pitching he could likely find himself batting at the bottom of the order, limiting his chances to steal. He already draws a lot of walks and makes the very most of his run-scoring opportunities, and should continue to do so as he climbs the ladder. I'm thinking that, at worst, Gore could be a great bench hitter and late-inning pinch-runner. If he can manage to add a little weight to his 5'7” frame, he could end up being a doubles machine with 25-30 SB annually. That's a good player to have on any team.


Alex Hudak, OF, Burlington Royals (Rookie, Appalachian League)
Born: 4/7/1990 in Mansfield, OH
Bats: Left Throws: Right
Ht: 5'11” Wt: 210
Drafted:

2012:
33 games, 123 PA, 13 runs, 30 hits, 13 doubles, 1 HR, 11 RBI, 1 SB, 11 BB, 39 SO, .275 BA, .350 OBP, .722 OPS

I barely know anything about this kid, and I already like him. An excellent student (summa cum laude at Mount Dora HS, 3.3 GPA at FAU as a public communications major), a locker room jokester (quote machine for such movies as Step Brothers and a huge Family Guy fan), and an accomplished amateur player (2nd Team All-Conference), Hudak is a solid physical specimen with a lightning-quick bat and a hustler's approach on the field. Last season was a fair indication of his potential, as he racked up 13 doubles and reached base at a .350 clip. If he doesn't start the year at Lexington, I can't imagine any reason why he'd be away for long. He strikes me as the kind of player who will do whatever is asked him to put his team in the win column, though his burgeoning power and bat speed will likely put him in a lot of RISP situations. I don't see him being asked to bunt an awful lot, is what I'm saying here.


Mark Threlkeld, 1B, Burlington Royals (Rookie, Appalachian League)
Born: 5/2/1990 in Riverside, CA
Bats: Right Throws: Right
Ht: 6'3” Wt: 205
Drafted: KC Royals, 25th Round, 2011 MLB Draft from Louisiana Tech University (Ruston, LA)

2012:
62 games, 240 PA, 37 runs, 62 hits, 18 doubles, 10 HR, 40 RBI, 15 BB, 40 SO, .283 BA, .333 OBP, .863 OPS

Threlkeld hit .335 with 14 homers and 62 RBI (team-best) as a sophomore in 2010 and made First-Team All-Western Athletic Conference as a result. He made 2nd-team the next year, leading La. Tech with 71 hits and 45 runs. He graduated from HS as class valedictorian and 1st-Team All-State, as yet another excellent student-athlete targeted by KC's astute scouting department. Threlkeld projects to have avg-plus power at the higher levels, and while he has already demonstrated solid power numbers he has also managed to keep the strikeouts to a reasonable level. His defense at first base is already strong, and should continue to remain so. The Royals may have found a diamond in the rough in Threlkeld, considering he was a 25th round pick. 


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