• Royals Present a Note of Prospect Caution

    On Thurdsay, the Twins and Royals kicked off a four-game series at Target Field. The two teams are nearly even in the standings, although the ways they've reached their present records have been drastically different. Kansas City owns the American League's lowest team ERA by a sizable margin, thanks in large part to the additions of James Shields and Ervin Santana, who have both been fantastic. Meanwhile, Minnesota's staff has been among the league's worst.

    So, with all their success on the mound, what is preventing the Royals from more fervently challenging the Tigers in the Central? The culprit, to a large extent, is an offense that has proven shockingly incapable of hitting for power. With the season's halfway point approaching, KC has tallied only 43 home runs, pacing them to become the first AL team to fall short of triple-digits in a season since the strike-shortened 1994 campaign.

    This dearth of dingers can be traced to two young players in the line-up from whom the Royals expected heavy contributions. Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas simply aren't getting the job done, and the duo represents a cautionary tale that Twins fans ought not ignore.

    Prior to the 2011 season, Hosmer and Moustakas were ranked by Baseball America as the No. 8 and 9 prospects in baseball. Having combined for 56 home runs in the minors in 2010, the pair profiled as two of baseball's best up-and-coming power bats. Yet, while there have certainly been glimpses of greatness -- Hosmer launched 19 homers and finished third in the Rookie of the Year voting in 2011, while Moustakas went deep 20 times at age 23 last year -- the overall results have been mixed at best, and this year both have been key figures in the struggles of the Royals offense.

    Although each player has been healthy enough to appear in the majority of Kansas City's games, both have hit only four homers. Moustakas sits with a brutal hitting line of .210/.269/.308; Hosmer's .267/.321/.375 line looks far better in contrast, but is obviously well short of expectations.

    Neither player is yet 25 years old so it's far too soon to brandish the "bust" label, but their tribulations serve as a reminder that no prospect -- no matter how highly regarded -- is fail-safe, and sometimes the transition to a successful big-league career can take time, if it happens at all.

    Which brings us to the dynamic duo currently tearing up Minnesota's farm system. Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton were ranked by BA before this season as the ninth and 10th best prospects in the nation. Each has fed the hype by performing well enough to earn a midseason promotion, so Twins fans are understandably licking their chops imagining the impact these young hitters can have at Target Field in the not-so-distant future.

    Sano could appear in the big leagues before this season is over, and Buxton's not terribly far behind. But reaching the majors and succeeding there are two vastly different things. Even for the most talented of prospects, acclimating to the highest level can be a daunting challenge requiring plenty of patience.

    At this point, both the Twins' top two prospects appear capable of hitting the ground running and quickly adapting once they take that ultimate step, but to hold that expectation is simply unfair. As a reminder, fans at Target Field this weekend need only look across to the other dugout.
    This article was originally published in blog: Royals Present a Note of Prospect Caution started by Nick Nelson
    Comments 54 Comments
    1. kab21's Avatar
      kab21 -
      Quote Originally Posted by jokin View Post
      Or study even harder the other many teams that are and have been generally successful in their FA acquisitions and ask the questions why it has been demonstrated that building from every possible avenue, including FA, works for them.
      I will be the first to criticize this offseason for the Twins. They could have spent more money and done it better but FA isn't where you build a team. I wanted the Twins to acquire some better stopgaps that could actually have trade value. An example of this is Jason Frasor who could add some depth to the bullpen and either be traded himself or make it easier to trade Perkins if a really good deal is on the table.

      Ironically everyone's favorite whipping boy this offseason has performed better than almost every starter in the <70M price range. In fact the Twins have made several nice FA moves the last two seasons and haven't been burned in FA either.
    1. Oxtung's Avatar
      Oxtung -
      Quote Originally Posted by howieramone View Post
      The Cubbies are an excellent example on how not to do it. Those who barrage this board on the necessity of being the darlings of the FA market need only study the lovable losers.
      If the Twins are clearly smarter than the Pirates and the Royals then why aren't they smarter than the Cubs and the Mets? That seems pretty hypocritical to me.
    1. TheLeviathan's Avatar
      TheLeviathan -
      Quote Originally Posted by howieramone View Post
      The Cubbies are an excellent example on how not to do it. Those who barrage this board on the necessity of being the darlings of the FA market need only study the lovable losers.
      No one is advocating that. I've yet to see anyone who doesn't say "farm first"....that's simply a strawman. No one wants to be the Cubs....Nats, Cards, Braves...those are the examples used.
    1. diehardtwinsfan's Avatar
      diehardtwinsfan -
      Quote Originally Posted by Brock Beauchamp View Post
      Can't hit homers, eh?

      Apparently, the cure is to face Twins pitching... At least for Hosmer it was.
    1. John Bonnes's Avatar
      John Bonnes -
      Excellent story Nick. To me, it drives home something we're seeing with Hicks now and have seen in the past with Kubel & Cuddyer (and to a lesser extent Morneau): at the very least, sometimes greatness can take awhile.

      I'm also intrigued by how this thread and several others are turning into the same debate over & over - and a poorly defined debate at that. I think it is "should the Twins sign upper tier free agent pitchers this offseason?" I say poorly defined because everyone had a different idea of how upper tier is defined, and sadly some seem to purposely try to misrepresent others definitions.

      With the season only being half way over, its hard to define it too much, since we ont have final results on the pitchers or great guesses on thi likely salaries. So how about this: someone post a new thread eith that topic which includes a list of likely FA pitchers from Cots, and if our feeling especially generous with our time, some stats like ERA, FIP, K/BB. We can debate values and which seem like good fits as the year goes on. And we can include a link to that post in any herd where it looks like members are starting to play with that loose tooth.

      Any volunteers?
    1. Rick Blaine's Avatar
      Rick Blaine -
      Quote Originally Posted by seth stohs View Post
      kyle gibson once told me when i asked him what it was like to be the twins top prospect, "it's a nice honor, but all it really means is that i haven't done anything yet." .
      great attitude!
    1. gil4's Avatar
      gil4 -
      Quote Originally Posted by old nurse View Post
      Baseball Prospectus | Future Shock: Organizational Rankings, Part 2 2010 Baseball prospectus had KC rated at 10, the Twins at 8 in rating the team's prospects overall
      From that article: " and there are still plenty of scouts who think disappointing elite-level picks Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer have plenty of upside."

      That was written in the 2010 preseason, so it sounds like they were ranked fairly high because of draft position/perceived talent rather than performance. Then they put together big seasons in 2010 and became elite prospects. Since then the struggles have returned.

      Is it possible that 2010 was just an aberration for those two?
    1. gil4's Avatar
      gil4 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Thegrin View Post
      Ask yourself this... Would you trade Plouffe straight up for Moustakas ? Would you trade Morneau for Hosmer ? or would we take Hosmer for Parmalee and Colabello ? Maybe the Twins aren't so bad after all?
      As the Twins GM I would make all three of those trades. As the KC GM, I would tell my secretary "If TR calls, tell him I'm out doing something that isn't a waste of my time."
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      Quote Originally Posted by gil4 View Post
      As the Twins GM I would make all three of those trades. As the KC GM, I would tell my secretary "If TR calls, tell him I'm out doing something that isn't a waste of my time."
      Yeah, I'd say yes and hang up before the opposing GM could reconsider his stupidity.
    1. kab21's Avatar
      kab21 -
      Quote Originally Posted by TheLeviathan View Post
      No one is advocating that. I've yet to see anyone who doesn't say "farm first"....that's simply a strawman. No one wants to be the Cubs....Nats, Cards, Braves...those are the examples used.
      When did the Braves and Cards rebuild?

      The Nats rebuilt through the farm, 2 elite #1 picks, stole Gio for spare prospects and signed one significant FA. That FA has been a bust. All three of these are poor examples of using FA as part of rebuilding. They are using FA to add to pretty good teams.

      The Pirates/Royals are poor examples but not because the Royals' recent prospects busted. The reason is that for over a decade they completely neglected their farm systems. They weren't active in int'l FA. They repeatedly took lesser talented and cheaper draft picks. They stunk at the MLB level and they stunk at the MiLB level. About 5 years ago both teams got serious about their farm system and started spending big money on overslot picks and int'l FA's. The Royals prospects have disappointed (it happens) but the Pirates have the best record in baseball (they are a bit lucky) due to homegrown players and MLB castoffs.
    1. TheLeviathan's Avatar
      TheLeviathan -
      Quote Originally Posted by kab21 View Post
      When did the Braves and Cards rebuild?
      I was speaking in reference to utilizing their farm centrally, but not being afraid to trade and sign FA to augment their talent.

      Your entire post here misses the point of the blog. The point is that sometimes, even when a prospect gives you every reason to be excited, they still flop when they get to the big leagues. It's important to remember that prospects aren't a certainty. That's all, the bulk of your post is arguing against something that hasn't been put forward by anyone.
    1. righty8383's Avatar
      righty8383 -
      If the Royals present a note of prospect caution, do the Rays present a note of prospect hope?
    1. TheLeviathan's Avatar
      TheLeviathan -
      Quote Originally Posted by righty8383 View Post
      If the Royals present a note of prospect caution, do the Rays present a note of prospect hope?
      Well, how are Wade Davis, Scott Kazmir, Delmon Young, and Tim Beckham doing these days? (Those are just four that sprung to mind, I'm sure there are others)

      I would say hope is more in Oakland A's pitching, the Cardinals, and the Braves. By and large, though, even teams that are very good at developing talent have guys fail when they hit the majors or the high minors. It's just part of the game, but the Royals offer a clear, current example for illustration.
    1. diehardtwinsfan's Avatar
      diehardtwinsfan -
      I find it amusing that people here love to talk about the Cards when it comes to successful franchises, yet at the same time, the Cards take a bit of an unorthodox draft approach... They draft heavy on college guys with lower ceilings and higher floors from strong conferences. I think most of us would be pretty disappointed with their drafts, but it works.
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