MiLM for 5/23/22: It’s Time

I probably don’t need to recap the big league season for you. The inexplicable mediocrity that this organization continues to produce was on full display in the 8th and 9th innings yesterday and Royals Twitter had clearly had enough. It’s time for some things to be shaken up at the big league level. I wanted to organize some thoughts on here for the record, but also just to vent a little bit to a group of readers that are probably mostly on the same page.

  1. This is the first time since…probably the offseason before 2017 that I’ve been really frustrated with the organization. Mike Moustakas went down with an ACL tear in 2016 and the Royals were coming off back-to-back pennant runs. I was pretty frustrated when they traded Wade Davis for Jorge Soler. It felt like a hedged bet and I just wasn’t on board. Then they pretty well botched the 2017 season which…whatever. Knowing that was the last time you’d be good for a few years, I would’ve like to have seen them handle that better. Anyway, I was 100% willing to give them a pass from 2018-2020. Gotta rebuild at some point and the team was at least fun to watch in that 2020 season. They closed out strong in 2021 and I felt really good about the team coming into 2022. This is a bunch of B.S. they’re trying to sell us right now. Carlos Santana and Ryan O’Hearn have no business on a big league roster. If you’re gonna suck, at least be fun and promising. Kyle Isbel, MJ Melendez, and Bobby Witt Jr. have been three of this team’s best players. Go get more young guys and see if they can give this team a much needed spark. I don’t know how much more of this current B.S. I can handle.
  2. Vinnie Pasquantino is beyond ready for a call to the big leagues. What kind of split do you want? He’s absolutely destroying RHP down in AAA. He’s holding his own against lefties. He has 23 BB, 23 XBH and just 25 K on the season. He’s got a 152 wRC+ which is right on par for every other level he’s been at in the minor leagues. His SwStr% is just 9.1%. He’s got the 9th best ISO in all of AAA and the 13th best BB/K. He’s top 10 in wRC+ and has one of the 40 lowest BABIPs for the level. I do not understand what he has left to prove. Want to prove to the fans that you won’t accept mediocrity? This is a good start. Otherwise you’re a part of the mediocrity yourself.
  3. Nick Pratto is probably as ready to roll as he’ll ever be. He swings and misses a little bit, sure, but it’s actually right at a median rate for AAA and it’s better than Emmanuel Rivera when he was in Omaha. Rivera has settled in pretty nicely into the big leagues and Pratto has one of the most advanced approaches you’ll ever see. With the way that the rest of the kids are performing, and given that Alec Zumwalt is now with the big league club, I’d DFA Santana AND O’Hearn and go get both Pratto and Pasquantino. Commit to the rebuild. Commit to the fans. Commit to the players. I’m tired of watching the Royals accept shitty baseball as the norm.
  4. There’s not a ton of help coming on the mound, I’m afraid. My “Dylan Coleman closing by June 1st” take looks pretty rough at the moment and boy could the Royals have used a good Dylan Coleman yesterday. Some internal options for the bullpen include Colten Brewer, Jose Cuas, and Arodys Vizcaino, all of which have been pretty good in the AAA bullpen but not particularly dominant enough to demand a call up. I’m not overly concerned about the Royals bullpen, but a lot of their success is dependent on Scott Barlow being a dominant force and he simply has not been this year. He currently has a -0.1 fWAR despite his 1.89 ERA due to a plummeted K/9. I’ve noted the fact that he’s using his fastball less and less, down to 22.2% this year, and the velocity on the pitch is down over two mph as well. I don’t know what’s up with him…but I’m officially a tad concerned.
  5. I still think there’s hope for this team long-term. Maybe they need a change in leadership, maybe it’s just a couple pieces away from contention, I don’t know. Daniel Lynch, Brad Keller, Brady Singer, and Zack Greinke has suddenly become a semi-formidable rotation. The bullpen has been pretty good this year despite a few hiccups. The lineup is actually starting to produce a little bit now that the kids are getting more playing time and they’re still without Salvador Perez who is on the IL. Over their last 14 games they’ve scored 66 runs which is an average of over 4.7 runs per game. Not elite or anything, but that’s better than it was earlier in the season. I’m not saying the offense will be cured by the arrivals of Vinnie Pasquantino and Nick Pratto, but it should be a nice infusion along with Salvador Perez. Put all of that together and I could see this team playing close to .500 baseball down the stretch, but they HAVE to start making some moves.

AAA Omaha (21-20): W 8-6

The Storm Chasers got back over .500 yesterday with a win over St. Paul. Mostly thanks to Vinnie Pasquantino finishing 3-4 and a triple short of the cycle.

AA Northwest Arkansas (18-20): W 10-5

The Naturals smoked the Arkansas Travelers on Sunday. Maikel Garica finished 1-2 with a triple and a pair of walks before being pinch-hit for toward the end of the game. I haven’t heard anything about him being injured yet…but I’ll certainly have my eyes on that because Garcia has been incredible for the first couple months of his AA career.

A+ Quad Cities (14-25): W 9-2, L 2-4

Noah Cameron struck out 12 batters in 4 innings during his High-A debut on Sunday. He came on the podcast last week so the two are clearly correlated. The 2021 draftee out of Central Arkansas is recovering from Tommy John Surgery well and his changeup is absolutely ridiculous. The Royals have been pretty good about finding advanced college lefties that soared through the lower levels of MiLB lately in AJ Block, Kris Bubic, Daniel Lynch, and now Noah Cameron. I’m excited to see how Noah handles this next challenge.

A- Columbia (11-18): L 3-4

Frank Mozzicato and Ben Kudrna both made their professional debuts this week and they looked freaking incredible. Shane Panzini also joined the team and should be making his debut soon as well. The 2021 draft class has had a pretty strong beginning to their professional careers so far…

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