It’s that time of the year again summer is about to wind down and the leaves are about to turn colors and football season is about to start. These are all good indicators that the baseball season is coming to an end. August is the last full month of the AAA season which makes its way into the first week of September. This is the time when the major league teams are allowed to expand their rosters so they can get a look at their younger players. You will often find next years stars getting some playing time in September.
For the Royals the last few years has been focused on making the postseason and they have not done a lot of September calls. The players that were lucky enough to get called up got very little playing time. This year though, I expect that to be lots different. on September 1st the major league rosters will expand, from 25 to 40, and allow the Royals to get a good look at some of the younger players. Here is how I think things will go.
Even though the rosters will expand to allow more players, there are some players that don’t have any business wearing a Royals jersey in September and may well get DFAd to make room for some of the younger guys. So lets start with them:
Duda was brought in for two things, 1) to be a stop gap at first base so O’Hearn and Schwindel could get more time in AAA and 2) to perform good enough to be traded at the non-waiver trade deadline. He managed to do neither. Duda showed us some good things, like hitting a home run on Opening Day, but has been mostly lackluster. He has also missed quite a bit of time with injuries and spent some time in AAA for a rehab. Unfortunately for the Royals Duda just did not do anything good enough to warrant another team to give up any thing for him. When Duda was injured the Royals promoted Hunter Dozier to play first base. Even since Duda returned to the Royals they have opted to play several different players at first base including Salvador Perez. To top that off on July 31 the Royals promoted Ryan O’Hearn to the major league roster. Unless you have been under a rock you have heard how O’Hearn’s debut went and he has done a good job at the plate since, albeit only a couple games so far. The Royals need to trade Duda this August or DFA him on September 1.
Kansas City fell in love with Paulo Triple-O in 2015 when he started his career with a Major League record setting string of triples. He showed his worth in the Postseason as a late innings defensive replacement in right field. He even showed us that he could hit at the Major League level by batting over .300 for the season in 2016. Since then he has been plagued with injuries and has been unable to regain that 2016 ability to hit the ball. Paulo has served the Royals well but the outfield is now so crowded with players that there is no room for him any more. I love his story of making it the MLB and his perseverance for hanging in through Minor League ball until he made it. Orlando helped to bring an all new fan base to baseball and to the Royals. Brazil should be proud of him and so should Royals fans but his time is done. In 25 games this season he is slashing .167/.194/.394 with no stolen bases. Even with his speed he has not been a weapon off the bench like Terrance Gore, or Jarrod Dyson were.
Oh, Esky what more can we say about you that has not already been said. Thank you for your service. You were a Postseason MVP, a Gold Glove Short Stop and an All-Star. Now its time to make way for the future.
Now that the business side of things is taken care of lets see the new guys who are worthy of getting some time:
I’m going to separate these guys into two separate groups. The guys already on the 40-man and guy guys that need to be added to the 40-man, thus the reason to DFA those above players.
These guys are already on the 40-man roster and will be easy no brainers to call up.
Eric made his MLB debut on April 25 and pitched 2.1 innings over three appearances. He gave up six earned runs for an ERA of 23.14 so needless to say his debut did not go as planned. However he has been a staple in the AAA Omaha Storm Chasers bullpen all season. He has pitched 47.2 innings over 33 games including two starts and three saves. In that time he has racked up a 4.72 ERA in a hitter friendly PCL league.
Cam is the heir apparent to Drew Butera’s back up catcher role. He made his MLB debut on August 6, 2017 and was a September call-up too. He began the year on the 25man roster due to the injury to Salvador Perez and saw playing time in eight games. He was just as quickly shuttled back to AAA once Salvy made it back. Butera’s contract is up after this season and the Royals will need another back up catcher and that should be Cam. In his MLB career he has played in 21 games and slashed .229/.288/.354 while in 2018 Butera has been in 42 games and slashed .189/.270/.287. Even though Cam will get inconsistent playing time in the MLB he will be much more serviceable than Butera has been and cheaper too. The Royals may also be willing to allow Perez to play a few more games at first base and DH next year so they will need Cam to get some more MLB experience.
Even with the down year he is having, Torres has been a favorite of Dayton Moore and Ned Yost so it should not come as a surprise to see him get the September call up. He is currently 25 and probably at best would be a back up infielder on the MLB club especially with Mondesi and Merrifield up the middle and Cuthbert coming back at some point. Over his 42 MLB games he has slashed .225/.269/.265 and in 74 AAA during 2018 he has slashed .229/.278/.345 both of which are far below his 2017 AAA slash line of .292/.325/.393.
Oaks has 13.2 innings over four MLB games this season including two starts. He stands at a 7.24 ERA during those games. He has had a stellar AAA season for the Omaha Strom Chasers going 7-5 over 17 games and 101.2 innings pitched with a 2.39 ERA. In 2019 Trevor Oaks has a good shot to be one of the guys in the starting rotation for the Royals. I do not think it would be that far fetched to see the Royals move him into the current rotation and move Burch Smith back to the bullpen in September.
Jorge came to the Royals along with Brett Phillips in the trade that sent Mike Moustakas to the Brewers. Jorge does have some MLB experience having pitched for the Brewers in 2015, 2017 and 2018. Over 13 MLB games (10 in 2018) he is 0-1 with a 3.29 ERA with 25 strike outs and 19 walks. This year between the AAA systems Milwaukee and KC he has pitched 37.2 innings through 26 games including two starts. In those games he has a 5.26 ERA with 34 strike outs and 11 walks
Scott has spent some time on the DL this season and is once again currently on the DL Barlow has pitched 41.0 innings in 11 games including 10 starts and a 1-3 record. In that time he as struck out 42 batters while issuing just 18 walks. He has also spent six game with the Royals so far this season posting a 1-1 record. He has pitched 15.0 innings with 15 strike outs and three walks. If he is anywhere near healthy you can bet that he will be in KC this September.
These players will need to have a space cleared off the 40 man roster to have a chance to be called up in September. There are no surprises here as all these players have done a fantastic job in AAA.
The 6’3″ 200 pound right handed fireballer is KC bound. The biggest question with Josh has always been his control. He could throw over 100mph quite a bit but finding the plate at that speed was the problem. Josh has learned how to control the baseball better this year. He has pitched in 35 AAA games in 2018 with a 1-4 record and has recently gotten the chance to start five games. The thing that really stands out about Josh is his strike out rate. Over just 68.0 innings pitched he has struck out 92 batters. That equates to 1.35 strike outs per inning pitched. During that time he has limited the walks he has give up to 47 walks. In 2017 through 76 innings in AAA he struck out 93 while walking 63. Pitching eight innings less in 2018 he has one less strike out and almost 20 fewer walks.
Richard has been absolutely lights out this season with just a couple bumps here and there. 2018 was his first season in AAA and at this rate it could be his last season in AAA. He has pitched 61.1 innings over 39 games with a 3-1 record, a 2.64 ERA with 56 strike outs and 19 walks. He has been so good that during one 16 inning streak over nine games he gave up no earned runs and only seven hits.
Many people were upset when Ryan O’Hearn got called up to KC instead of Frank “The Tank” Schwindel but have no fear I believe that we will see him in KC in September. Prospect wise at 26 he is no spring chicken but he has been absolutely killing the ball for two seasons now. He was the Royals player of the year in 2017 and outside of this past April he has punished every baseball he has seen. In 2017 he slashed .321/.340/.528 with 17 homeruns and 30 doubles. He continued to rake in the winter leagues but as soon as April rolled around he slumped. His biggest problem has been that he swings at everything and nearly refuses to take a walk even when offered on a golden platter. In 2018 he has been willing to take those walks while being a little more selective when swinging. In 2017 He took only 10 walks in 99 games while in 2018 he has taken 28 walks in 113 games. His strike outs have gone down from 68 in 99 games in 2017 to 61 in 113 games. His overall offence has gone down as he is slashing .286/.335/.511 but has hit 21 homeruns, 31 doubles and one triple. He currently leads the PCL in doubles with 31 and has a 20 game hit streak going.