I love that movie.
Alright, so…there are some serious crimes against pitchers going on in the minor leagues. Someone has to be held accountable for this. Here’s my short list of names for the accused and why they could take the blame, or why we may need them to lay low for a little bit.
Bobby Witt Jr., SS
This man is wanted for aggravated assault in several different states. From May 21st through July 13th, Jr. hit .337/.408/.669/1.077 with 13 HR, 9 doubles, 4 triples, a 0.40 BB/K, and 180 wRC+ in 196 PA. Then last night he went 1-4 with HR #15 and a walk without striking out. I actually think he’d be in Omaha already if the schedules had lined up better with the Future’s Game. I’d bet a good sum of money that he’s in Omaha starting next week, when the Storm Chasers are at home for the week against St. Paul. There really isn’t anything blocking him in Omaha and someone later on this list can help fill in his spot in NWA. On his current track, I actually think there’s a good chance we see Bobby Baseball in Kansas City before the end of the year.
Nick Pratto, 1B
An accomplice to murder committed by Witt Jr. in Arkansas, Nick Pratto has been on a freaking tear all year. He’s been a little more human of late, and his K% has actually taken a steep incline over the last month or so, but I still think it behooves everyone involved to get Ryan McBroom one more shot in the big leagues and let Nick Pratto start getting acclimated to more advanced pitching. There shouldn’t be a reason first base is blocked in front of him and another player later on this list is gonna back fill at NWA.
Michael Massey, 2B
Massey is wanted for the attempted murder of the entire Beloit Snappers pitching staff. Last seen: Beloit, Wisconsin. Seriously, from May 23rd through July 13th, Massey hit .325/.388/.603/.991 with 21 XBH and 25 K with a 163 wRC+. Then last night he goes 3-5 with no K. This is getting ridiculous. Abusive, even. He slides to Northwest Arkansas next week when Witt goes to Omaha, Dungan slides from 2B to SS, and NWA doesn’t miss a beat. The only thing might be filling his spot in Quad Cities…but with Maikel Garcia up, and Nick Loftin still there to play 2B, I don’t think it’s as big of a deal as it could be. You could always pull Gage Hughes or Rubendy Jaquez up from Columbia, too.
Vinnie Pasquantino, 1B
After slaughtering pitching staffs across High-A Central for two months, Pasquantino tried to lay low for a couple weeks. He hasn’t homered since June 26th. Instead, from June 27th through July 13th, Pasquantino struck out in just 11.1% of his PA while walking in 16.7%. He still hit 5 doubles in 54 PA and has posted a wRC+ of 118 in that time. Last night he went 2-4 with a BB and no K. Early on he wasn’t doing much when he wasn’t hitting the ball over the fence, but he’s found his offensive groove and has been incredibly productive at the plate even without prodigious power. Should be easy to fill in for him at Quad Cities considering he only plays first base. Will be good to get a good look at him at AA for the rest of the year against some better velocity. All 4 of the guys I have mentioned so far should probably be in their last week of their respective levels.
MJ Melendez, C
I’m pretty sure Melendez is ready for the jump to AAA Omaha, but I would understand if he finishes out the year in NWA as well. Melendez’ turn around this summer has been incredible to watch. He’s striking out in just 21.4% of his PA which is by far the lowest number of his career. Hell, it’s the first time he’s been below 30%, and this is his fourth professional season. From June 13th through July 13th, Melendez hit .283/.374/.585/.959 with a 0.65 BB/K ratio and 152 wRC+. His K% across 123 PA was just 18.7%. He went 2-4 with 0 K last night. His hit tool has been remarkably better than year’s past. He’s still been a very good defender behind home plate. He’s got a little bit of a logjam ahead of him, as I imagine Sebastian Rivero will be back with the team on Friday (and Meibrys Viloria and Nick Dini are already there), so I don’t know how the Royals would feel about moving all of these guys around all at once, but MJ is definitely as deserving of a promotion as Nick Pratto. He just has a tougher road ahead of him as well.
Clay Dungan, 2B
I actually don’t think Dungan is knocking down the door of a promotion like the five guys listed ahead of him here. I just think he’s kind of reached the pinnacle of who he is as a player (he’s hitting .298 with a 124 wRC+) and he’s 25 years old at AA. At this point, you may as well get him to Omaha and see how he handles more polished pitchers. Dungan isn’t Rule 5 eligible yet, and all of these other parts moving around make it very unlikely he’d be promoted as well, but I really don’t think it would hurt. I’d certainly be willing to move other guys out of his way to get him some time in Omaha before the end of the season. I just don’t think he’ll be as high on the Royals priority list.
Dairon Blanco, CF
Like…same story as Dungan here. .824 OPS and he’s 28 at AA. The Royals need help in CF and I’d be willing to move Blanco to Omaha to see if he can provide any. Due to a current logjam of sorts at the levels in front of him, I could see him sticking it out at AA for a while with Dungan, but I really don’t know what you’d lose by promoting him for a little bit either.
Tyler Zuber, RHP
Zuber has allowed just 2 runs since June 10th with AAA Omaha. He’s got 18 K and just 6 BB in 14.1 IP in that time and has been dominant at the back end of Omaha’s bullpen. Again…I think we’re talking August 1 for a promotion here, but Zuber has definitely earned another shot at the big leagues. I imagine the Royals will roll with Swarzak until July 31st because…..never mind. I don’t think anything is imminent for Zuber but he’s definitely pitching above the level.
Emilio Marquez, LHP
If a line of pitchers began moving around, Marquez should be one of the first with his name called. The 23-year old lefty has made a joke of Low-A this year. Nothing to be too excited about but I wouldn’t mind seeing him get an opportunity to keep pushing hitters at the next level.
Edward Olivares, OF
Presented without further comment.
There are certainly other guys I’d listen to arguments for. The tricky part is actually finding all of these guys playing time at the next level and backfilling their spots at their current level. I don’t know how often you can look at your organization and find four guys (BWJ, Pratto, Massey, Pasquantino) that all play the same (or similar) positions that all need a promotion. It’s sort of a nice problem to have if you’re Kansas City. I really do believe that all four of those guys will be with a new team starting next Tuesday. I don’t have anything to go off of in that regard, but I just think it makes too much sense for everyone involved. When you’re performing as well as these guys have been, somebody’s got to get promoted, Ben.
Photo of Michael Massey: Josh Franzen (@BanditsPhotog)