Welcome back for our second and final edition of notes on the Royals minor leaguers live from Arizona. I am headed back to Kansas City in a little bit because I have a job, unfortunately. However, since I was able to attend the Royals game against the A’s in Mesa this afternoon, I’ll share my thoughts with you on how some of our top prospects looked in live action.
1.) Adalberto Mondesi will not be long for the minor leagues this year. He was dialed in again at the plate today, and looked great in the field as well. He smacked two sharp singles to LF (batting left handed) in his two at-bats and made a couple of really nice plays at 2B. The Royals have mentioned trying Whit Merrifield in CF to make room for Mondesi at 2B in the big leagues, and we may not be far away from that becoming reality. I’d personally rather have Whit in LF and Gordon in CF, but Whit is certainly fast enough for CF. That will be an interesting development in Mondesi keeps playing like this.
2.) Foster Griffin looked really good in his first inning of work. His mechanics were sound, his rhythm was fluid, the ball was down, he was throwing strikes, and his fastball looked crisp. I won’t get too ahead of myself after one inning, but what I saw from him today was certainly encouraging.
3.) Donnie Dewees Jr. looks ready for Omaha. Dewees started off really slow last summer in AA, hitting .211 in April and .222 in May, but took off and hit .354 in June. He finished strong and, at the age of 24, appears to be ready for the next step at AAA. The Royals currently have a predicament in CF, but if Dewees has a good first half of the season in AAA Omaha, he could very well be the Royals every day center fielder by the end of September.
4.) I have finally formed my official opinion on Josh Staumont. I’ve been torn between whether he should continue to start or move to the bullpen full-time, but I think I’m ready to make my meaningless decision on my opinion. So, here goes:
Josh Staumont is currently in the same position as Danny Duffy was a couple of years ago (Duffy was in the big leagues and Staumont is still in the minors but hear me out). Staumont has tremendous stuff. He was effortlessly throwing the ball very hard today. His curveball is nasty. Despite the stuff, he wasn’t missing any bats and his control still wasn’t where it needs to be. Staumont never threw a pitch from the windup on Sunday, which may mean he’s determined to minimalize his delivery to throw strikes. In my opinion, Staumont needs to move to the bullpen for a while, learn to attack hitters, and realize just how good his stuff is. This is exactly what Duffy did back in 2016. He started the season in the bullpen, had tremendous success, and then finished the season as arguably the Royals best starting pitcher. The stuff is there for Staumont, I just don’t know if he realizes it. Let him dominate hitters one inning at at time, allowing him to throw as hard as he wants and even walking a batter every other inning or so, and realize how good he is. Then transition him back into the rotation. Staumont is really talented, but he’s kind of stuck in no man’s land right now until he learns to attack hitters more aggressively.
5.) Jorge Soler continued his rough weekend. I am not worried about Soler, yet, but I’ll feel a lot better when he starts hitting. He still looks sort of uncomfortable at the plate.
6.) I’m beginning to think that Frank Schwindel may actually be the answer at first base, but not for the reasons you may think. I’m not the biggest Cheslor Cuthbert fan. I don’t really care to see him get 500 plate appearances as the every day third baseman. I’d much rather Dozier play 3B every day for KC and not mess him up at first. If I had my way, and Dozier were to play third, I think Schwindel is the answer at first. It’s not because he’s some kind of prospect that I think is a long-term solution. I think he’s the answer because he fields the ball enough, makes enough contact, that he just might be able to hold down the fort until Ryan O’Hearn or Samir Duenez or somebody is ready to take over. If Schwindel hits .150 in the big leagues, oh well. You aren’t ruining a prospect by rushing him. The Royals are better off letting Schwindel try to hit major league pitching than they are messing up one of their actual prospects by forcing them to learn a new position (Dozier) or rushing them to the big leagues (O’Hearn). If nothing else, let Cuthbert have a go at first.
7.) I like Trevor Oaks quite a bit. He wasn’t flashy in his Royals debut today, but he induced a ton of weak contact despite having any type of really good stuff. His sinker was often up and he never threw a breaking ball that caught my eye. Yet, he threw two scoreless innings and will continue to battle for a spot in the big league rotation. I don’t expect him to be in Omaha for the whole season, he’ll be a Royal before long.
8.) The Royals continue to play Humberto Arteaga at SS over Nicky Lopez. Maybe I’m reading this wrong, but it appears to me that the Royals are going to go with Nicky Lopez at 2B long-term in hopes of having a middle infield that consists of Mondesi at SS and Lopez at 2B. This is the way it should be. Mondesi has better range and the better arm and I think he profiles better at SS than Lopez. HOWEVER….
If the Royals plan for Lopez going forward isn’t to be a second baseman, then they must really believe in Arteaga’s bat. I get it, Arteaga is the best SS in the entire system. Yes, better than even Escobar (probably). But if the Royals see Lopez as a SS in the future and keep moving him to 2B in favor of Arteaga, I’ll be more than confused. Lopez is a top 10 prospect, Arteaga is not. Either the Royals think Arteaga is going to start hitting all of a sudden (doubtful), or they are doing the right thing and prepping Lopez for his future at 2B in the big leagues. For the record, Mondesi and Lopez up the middle is going to be a ton of fun to watch.