Sunday, February 02, 2014

2014 Lexington Legends Preview: Part Two

An ongoing look at players likely to make up the 2014 roster

FEB 2nd, 2014-Continuing my look at prospective Legends hitters for the 2014 season, I'd like to state the obvious (yet again): there are quite a few promising hitters in the Royals system who are due to come up from the rookie leagues. Yes, I know that rookie-level ball is not the best measure of future potential; it certainly doesn't hurt, however, when you compare numbers with scouting reports, along with other factors (age, player's size/frame, background, etc).

And with that in mind, we soldier on:

Hitters

Bats: L Throws: L
Ht:6'2” Wt: 225
Born: June 17th, 1994 in Ponce, Puerto Rico
School: Montverde Academy (Kissimmee, Florida)
Drafted: by the Kansas City Royals in the 10th round of the 2012 MLB Draft

Another rather large teenager from the rookie leagues, Rivera has the makings of a power-hitting corner outfielder. His numbers last year at Idaho Falls weren't all that inspiring (8 doubles, 4 HR, 26 RBI in 57 games, .269 BA), but not all rookie-level leagues are created equal. He's powerfully-built, has great bat speed and a sound eye at the plate, skills which should give you a ready-made #3 or 4 hitter at the higher levels. While he draws a fair amount of walks, he has only gone down on strikes 66 times in 388 total pro at-bats; that's what is the most telling stat, to me. He's also managed 18 steals in those 105 games, but he's not going to be swiping a lot of bags as he advances. He simply isn't built for it. Another stat of interest: .333 BA in 45 AB with 2 outs and runners in scoring position. Not a big sample size, but something to note nevertheless.

Bats: R Throws: R
Ht: 6'2” Wt: 200
Born: November 9th, 1990 in Sugar Land, Texas
School: University of Texas at San Antonio
Drafted: by the Kansas City Royals in the 9th round of the 2013 MLB Draft

Plus side: .310, 11 HR, 53 RBI in 58 games. Minus side: put up those #s as a 22 year-old in rookie ball. Grain of salt, and all that. Still, Rockett is someone to watch. He's athletic and pretty much gets all he can out of his ability, although I don't see him sticking in CF as he advances up the chain. He covers a fair amount of ground in center, but his ability would play up in left. He's 23 now, and he'll need to move quickly in order to keep from being passed by younger, more highly-regarded (or highly-drafted) players, but I fully expect strong numbers from him in his first year in full-season ball. Considering his age and ability (quick bat, solid glove and range), he could be heading to Wilmington in the Carolina League, leapfrogging Lexington altogether.

Bats: L Throws: R
Ht: 6'4” Wt: 215
Born: January 14th, 1991 in Waynesville, North Carolina
School: Tuscola HS (Waynesville, NC); University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (Chapel Hill, NC); Walters State Community College (Morristown, TN)
Drafted: by the Boston Red Sox in the 29th round of the 2009 MLB June Amateur Draft from Tuscola HS (Waynesville, NC), the Washington Nationals in the 14th round of the 2011 MLB June Amateur Draft from Walters State Community College (Morristown, TN) and the Kansas City Royals in the 8th round of the 2013 MLB June Amateur Draft from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (Chapel Hill, NC).

Drafted three different times from 2009 to 2013, Stubbs certainly had his share of suitors. Each time he was drafted, it was earlier on than before (29th round, 14th round, 8th round, respectively), and after his first year in the pros one can understand why. With good size a slight bit of projectability left, as well as developing lefty power and a strong arm for the position, Stubbs might soon find himself bypassing more experienced players already in the Royals system.
In 64 games at Idaho Falls last year, Stubbs batted .284 with 6 homers, 43 RBI, 13 doubles and even 7 triples. Those triples were more a product of power than speed, though he runs the bases well. He did strike out 61 times in 264 AB, so that's something which could work against him as he advances, and at 6'4” it will probably take a little time and work to cut down on those Ks. At 23, he's another player who'll have to move quickly if he's going to keep from being passed on the organizational ladder. Stubbs has the tools to do just that.

Bats: R Throws: R
Ht: 6'1” Wt: 205
Born: June 29th, 1992 in Livingston, NJ
School: St John's University (Queens, NY)
Drafted: by the Kansas City Royals in the 18th round of the 2013 MLB Draft

Schwindel is solid at both catcher and first base, but his future (at the moment) appears to be at catcher. His arm rates plus as a first baseman, if he ends up there, and I could definitely see him as a plus defender at the first sack. He had 8 passed balls in 2013 with three errors, which are certainly indications that he needs work behind the dish. However, he threw out 39% of basestealers as well, so that's also a promising sign. Schwindel popped 6 homers and 14 doubles in 64 games at Idaho Falls, batting an even .300. While he only struck out 24 times (260 AB), he drew a pathetic 9 walks. One would think that most batters could draw nine free passes accidentally. Drawing walks is something that I watch closely, so nine doesn't cut it. Schwindel should head to Lexington for 2014, and his work behind the plate will interest me more than his work in the batter's box.

Bats: R Throws: R
Ht: 6'1” Wt: 190
Born: August 11th, 1992 in Frankfort, Germany
School: Salt Lake Community College (Salt Lake City, UT); University of California-Irvine (Irvine, CA)
Drafted: by the Houston Astros in the 33rd round of the 2011 MLB Draft from Salt Lake CC; by the Kansas City Royals in the 15th round of the 2013 MLB Draft from UC-Irvine

Taylor might just be one of the late-round steals of last year's draft. At age 20, Taylor batted .322 with 8 homers, 37 RBI, 14 doubles, 50 runs scored and 13 steals in 62 games, impressive numbers even taking into account the offensively-inclined Pioneer League. Add to that only 29 strikeouts in 233 AB, and you can see that he had very little trouble adjusting at the plate to pro ball. I see him as an 'under-the-radar' type of player, though he likely won't go unnoticed by the pro and/or advance scouts for very long. Assuming they make a stop in the Sally League, I see Taylor and Zane Evans being Ethan Chapman-type guys for Lexington: great energy, good clubhouse presence, spark plugs in the batting order, always 100% in the field, fan favorites.


More to come, including more hitters on their way up, as well as pitching prospects who could take the mound at The Bank. 
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