The Wilmington Blue Rocks, like the Royals, were rained out of their final game in the series against Lynchburg on Sunday. 10 games into the season, the Blue Rocks find themselves with a record of 4-6 and a certain top prospect that is lighting the world on fire.
- OF Khalil Lee (Royals #2 prospect): hitting .379 in 9 games
- OF Rudy Martin: 10 stolen bases leads the Minor Leagues
- RHP Gerson Garabito: 12 K’s in 12 IP
- C Xavier Fernandez: hitting .389 in 5 games
Frontrunner for team MVP:
Frontrunner for team CY Young:
Team Home Run Leaders:
- Khalil Lee (2)
- Emmanuel Rivera (1)
- Gabriel Cancel (1)
- Xavier Fernandez (1)
- Meibrys Viloria (1)
- Chase Vallot (1)
- Rudy Martin (1)
- Angelo Castellano (1)
Through the first 10 games of the season, Khalil Lee, who is the 4th youngest player in the Carolina League, owns a slash line of .387/.513/.742/1.255 with 2 HR, 3 doubles, a triple, 6 RBI, 8 BB’s, and 3 stolen bases (has not been caught yet) in 9 games played. The Royals top prospect according to MLB Pipeline is hammering the baseball early on, and has caught plenty of attention while doing so. Lee is currently not on any top 100 lists, but don’t expect that to be true for long.
Another Blue Rocks outfielder that has made some noise early on is a guy that I am excited to watch this season, Rudy Martin. Still just 22 years of age, the young speedster from Mississippi has already stolen 10 bases in just 9 games in 2018. Martin his hitting just .172, but his OBP comes in at .415 and it’s his eye that as carried him so far this season. Martin has had a bit of a rough time staying healthy in past years, but looks to be just fine in 2018. If he can play in 100+ games this summer, expect Martin to fly up prospect rankings heading into 2019. The kid can play, and he’s finally getting to show off a little bit.
Khalil Lee is off to a hot start hitting .387, but what if I told you he wasn’t leading his team in batting average? What if I told you that a catcher was leading the Blue Rocks in batting average, and that it isn’t Meibrys Viloria or Chase Vallot? That’s right, Xavier Fernandez, a bit of an afterthought in the catching group in Wilmington, is slashing .389/.421/.667/1.088 with a HR and 2 doubles so far in 5 games. Fernandez saw some time behind the dish with the big league club in Spring Training, so it’s obvious that the Royals have a liking towards him. He may not be the prospect that Viloria, Vallot, or Melendez are, but I can absolutely see him playing his way onto a big league roster one day. Just watching Fernandez play, he reminds me of Angels Gold Glove winning catcher Martin Maldonado. He’s obviously not quite that good, but there’s a lot to like about Fernandez moving forward.
Leading the way on the mound so far for the Blue Rocks has been RHP Gerson Garabito. In 2 starts (12 IP), Garabito has an ERA of 1.50 and 12 K’s to only 4 BB’s. The Royals 27th ranked prospect has been dealing so far in 2018, and will look to have continued success in the pitcher friendly Carolina League.
Bryan Brickhouse has also made a return to the Royals organization, and has 2 saves through 3 IP so far in 2018. In those 3 innings, Brickhouse has featured an upper-90’s fastball, struck out 5 hitters and allowed 0 hits. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him on his way to AA after 10-12 appearances.
The Blue Rocks haven’t gotten a ton going in the way of offense, but I don’t expect that to be a problem for long. Top prospects Chase Vallot, Gabriel Cancel, and Emmanuel Rivera are off to starts as cold as the weather, and I expect the offense to rebound immensely when they find their strokes. The Blue Rocks team has a chance to rival the Lexington Legends as the most fun Royals affiliate to watch once the weather heats up a bit.