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Wil Myers is part of the haul going to TB
         Late Sunday night, the Rays and Royals agreed on a blockbuster trade that would send RHP James Shields, RHP Wade Davis, and a PTBNL (Player To Be Named Later) to Kansas City in exchange for BTP's 3rd overall prospect, OF Wil Myers, along with RHP Jake Odorizzi, LHP Mike Montgomery, and 3B Patrick Leonard. Every player going to the Royals has a minimum of six years of team control (at or around major league minimum) while Shields is expected to make $21 million for the next two years and Davis is expected to make 32.6 over the next five. For those that saw my continuous discussions with NJIT's own Robbie McClellan , you already know my feelings on this trade. For those that did not observe the aforementioned debate, needless to say I think that the Rays came out as the clear victors.

            In 2012, the Kansas City Royals finished 16 games behind the division leading Tigers with an overall record of 72-90. Collectively, the pitching staff managed to be near the bottom of many statistical categories including walks, hits, and runs allowed. The lowest ERA for a full time member of the rotation belonged to right-hander Luis Mendoza with an unsightly 4.23 ERA. There is no doubt at all that the Royals were in desperate need of pitching. They somewhat alleviated this problem by acquiring Ervin Santana from the Angels and resigning Jeremy Guthrie. I say somewhat because Guthrie and Santana own career ERA+ of 103 and 97, respectively. They basically are league average pitchers and only serve as modest improvements to last year's staff. Now, the Royals are acquiring a very solid pitcher in James Shields. Despite not being a true ace, as some proclaim, Shields still offers a ton of innings (over 200 innings every year since rookie season), strikes batters out (8.4 K/9 last three seasons), and limits free passes (career 2.1 BB/9).
         
           In addition, one would think he is as close to a sure bet to take the mound every fifth day, with his only injury history being a couple of leg contusions from a batted ball. But like prospects, pitchers are no sure thing either. Shields entered 2012 as one of 26 pitchers to have thrown 600 or more innings from 2009-2011. Some pitchers in that group include Roy Halladay, Tim Lincecum, Jon Lester, Dan Haren, Chris Carpenter, and Ricky Romero. One year later, these "innings eaters" have certainly lost some of their luster. Halladay, Haren, and Carpenter all spent time on the DL while Lincecum, Lester, and Romero all suffered the worst seasons of their careers. While Shields is a very good pitcher and should immediately fill the void of a frontline starter, he cannot make up for the ineptitude for the rest of the starting rotation and team. Another quip on Shields is his disconcerting home/road splits. While pitching in pitcher-friendly Tropicana Field, Shields has pitched to the tune of a 4.54 ERA, .91 HR/9, and 1.29 WHIP. Away from the Trop, Shields becomes a much different pitcher. Owning 4.54 ERA, 1.40 HR/9, and 1.29 WHIP on the road, we would be remiss to say that Shields is as a good as his numbers suggest. This is not to discredit Shields as an excellent major league pitcher, but this just further stresses the fact that the Royals overpaid for a guy who really is more good than great.

            The other pitcher heading to America's heartland is Wade Davis. Davis spent all of 2012 as a reliever after spending his whole career as a starter.  As usually expected with starter to reliever transitions, Davis enjoyed his best season to date, with a 157 ERA+, 11.1 K/9 and 2.43 ERA. During his years as a starter, Davis had a 4.22 ERA, 92 ERA+, 5.9 K/9. As a reliever, Davis was more than solid and further cemented in my mind what role he should be fulfilling. Davis going to the rotation for the Royals is just going to stick them with another league average starter to complement their other league average starters.

            As for the Rays haul, I suppose your view on the trade depends on your view of crown jewel prospect, Wil Myers. My opinion of him is pretty favorable, as I had him as the third best prospect in baseball and think his bat has a chance to be pretty special. For those that do not know, Myers was Baseball America's Minor League Player of the Year, which has had an extreme amount of success in predicting future big league stardom among position players:

1992: Tim Salmon
1993: Manny Ramirez
1994: Derek Jeter
1995: Andruw Jones
1996: Andruw Jones
1997: Paul Konerko
1998: Eric Chavez
2002: Rocco Baldelli
2003: Joe Mauer
2005: Delmon Young
2006: Alex Gordon
2007: Jay Bruce
2008: Matt Wieters
2009: Jason Heyward
2011: Mike Trout

            Pretty good company, eh? In addition to that, Myers is the first 21 yr old to hit 37 HRs in the high minors (AA and AAA) since 1963. He had a triple slash of .314/.387/.600 while playing against much older competition. Even the odds are on his side, as 61% of top twenty position player prospects succeed in the majors. For now, even just throw out the star potential for Myers and imagine if he was a replacement level player (0.0 WAR). Incumbent right fielder for the Royals is Jeff Francoeur, who had an all-time historically bad season with -2.7 WAR. Just by inserting the major league ready Myers into the Opening day lineup, it would be fairly reasonable to see a 3+ swing in the standings. Some even believe that marching Francoeur on the field instead of Myers could make acquiring Shields a complete wash. This trade really just represents a "rob Peter to pay Paul" scenario where the Royals are filling of position of need by stealing from another positional need. There's a reason the Royals have not made the playoffs in nearly 30 years and it has much more to do with this front office's ineptitude than failing prospects. The money now allotted to Shields ($21 million over 2 years) could have been used to sign a guy like Brandon McCarthy or Edwin Jackson while still being able to put Myers in RF. This could have solved both problems at hand rather than creating a problem to fix a problem. This is just not a smart baseball decision and frankly just is not common sense.

            In addition to Myers, the Rays acquired Jake Odorizzi, Mike Montgomery, and Patrick Leonard. Odorizzi spent time most of the minors in double A and triple A and projects as a solid middle of the rotation piece with good control despite his mediocre stuff. He was ranked as #31 in my prospect countdown. Montgomery represents a bit of a lottery ticket as he completely fell of the rails in 2012, posting a hideous 6.07 ERA and 5-12 record. His stuff is quite good for a lefty, with a plus fastball and an elite changeup but has been killed for his complete lack of control and command. In my opinion, the most realistic scenario for Montgomery is as a situational lefty to neutralize the left-handed opposition. Leonard posted solid numbers in rookie ball with a .251/.340/.494 triple slash and flashed polished defense at the hot corner. He remains a long ways away from reaching his potential, but has a ceiling of an above average third basemen.

First Impressions:

Winner: Rays. Rays dealt from a position of strength and while they certainly will feel the loss of Shields, their talented arms should minimize this shortfall. Additionally, the Rays can use the money saved from Shields and reinvest it into improving the club. Lastly, the Rays added four quality minor league talents with one having a legitimate shot a major league stardom. Even if Myers doesn't reach his potential, just becoming a solid major leaguer should push this trade in favor of the Rays

Loser: Royals. Royals traded a major haul of talent for a pitcher that will minimally improve the team as a whole. Shields is a very good pitcher and should help the Royals improve for 2013. However, for a team with a ton of other needs, Shields alone is not going to make up a 20 win swing in the standings and make the Royals a contender. If the Royals were one good starting pitcher away from contending, this trade could be justified. But the current circumstances of the team does not justify mortgaging away the future success for 2013 mediocrity.

 By: Aidan Flynn


 
 
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Jurickson Profar, Dylan Bundy, and Wil Myers top Aidan's Top Prospect List.
At last, here are the top 3 prospects in baseball, with statistics and advanced scouting reports on each player. Hope you enjoyed the rankings as much as I did, and I will certainly try to include some prospect pieces in the near future. Later today, I will put up my top 100 prospects (without scouting reports) and my top farm systems in the game. Enjoy


3.     
Wil Myers , OF, Kansas City Royals, ETA: 2013:

2012 Levels: AA Northwest Arkansas (35 games), AAA Omaha (99 games)

2012 Numbers: Batted combined .314/.387/.600, with 26 2Bs, 37 HRs, 109 RBI

            Baseball America's Player of the Year, Wil Myers broke out in a big way in 2012. After batting .254/.353/..393 in an injury plagued 2011, Myers showcased his power bat across the top two levels in the Royals minor league system. Myers has a strong body that generates easy plus power and also shows an advanced hitting ability that produces frequent loud contact. After being drafted as a catcher, Myers has transitioned well to the outfield, seeing time in both center field and right field. His strong arm, along with average range and jumps, should push him to right field within the next year or two. Currently, Jeff Francoeur is blocking Myers, but he should not stop the Royals from having Myers as their opening day right fielder.  

 

2.      Dylan Bundy , SP, Baltimore Orioles, ETA: 2013:

2012 Levels: A Delmarva (30 innings), High-A Frederick (57 innings), AA Bowie (16.2 innings), MLB Baltimore (1.2 innings)

2012 Numbers (Minors): 103.2 innings pitched, 2.08 ERA, 28 BB (2.4 BB/9), 119 K (10.3 K/9)

            Bundy is a scout's dream for a pitcher. One of the most polished prep pitchers in recent memory and one of the best work ethics in the minors, Bundy more than lived up to the lofty expectations placed on him by dominating in his first professional season. Just during his stint with low-A Delmarva (30 innings), he struck out 40, walked two, allowed only 5!!! hits, and did not concede a single earned run.  Bundy's repertoire includes a big time fastball that sits in the mid 90's while occasionally touching triple digits and also features good movement and sink. Additionally, he features a plus-plus curve (just ask Orlando Calixte), and potential plus changeup that is extremely advanced for his age. As if he could not be any better, he has very good control while his command inside the strike zone is still improving. Also, he has put up these numbers despite the Orioles refusing to let him throw his best pitch, the cutter. He will probably start the year in the minors, but should certainly see time in the big leagues at some point during the season. Bundy is the real deal and believe the hype.

 

1.   Jurickson Profar , SS/2B, Texas Rangers, ETA: 2013:

2012 Levels: AA Frisco (126 games), MLB Texas (9 games)

2012 Numbers: Batted combined .278/.366/.455, 28 2Bs, 15 HRs, and 16 SBs

             And the number one prospect in baseball is… Rangers shortstop, Jurickson Profar. A Little League World Series hero for his native Curacao, Profar was initially desired as a pitcher but the Rangers conceded and let him play his preferred position of shortstop. Just as Bundy is the ideal pitcher, Profar is about as good as it gets for a shortstop. Profar, a switch hitter, combines a plus hitting ability from both sides of the plate (although he is stronger with his more natural right side) and has a mature approach at the plate. He uses the entire field and has a line drive stroke that should allow him to hit for a high average and could be an eventual 70 or elite tool. Although he currently has only modest power, he could eventually grow into 20-25+ HR power with at least plenty of 2Bs. 
         Defensively, he  makes the most of his strong arm (clocked as high as 95 mph off the mound) with tremendous accuracy to boot. In addition, he has very good range despite his average speed and his baseball instincts rank among the best in the minors. His makeup is off-the-charts as he is extremely mature, confident, and maximizes his talents. Just surviving against much older competition in double-A would have been considered a success, but ended up being the league's best shortstop and prospect. Considering Profar's near readiness for the majors, the Rangers have an interesting problem on their hands. All Star shortstop and Profar's idol, Elvis Andrus, is currently blocking him, and second basemen Ian Kinsler just signed an extension earlier this year. One possible solution is to let free agent Josh Hamilton walk, and move the brittle Ian Kinsler to the outfield and implant Profar as the starting second baseman. Whatever the decision, Profar should be in the majors at some point in 2013, and could be the game's best shortstop by 2015. 

 
 
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      The Kansas City Royals have added some depth to their starting rotation by receiving right-handed pitcher Ervin Santana and $1 million from the Los Angeles Angels in exchange for minor league pitcher Brandon Sisk.  Sisk, at age 26, had back to back solid seasons with AAA Omaha with a 1.41 ERA in 32 innings in 2011 and a 2.54 ERA in 67.1 innings in 2012.  He is a decent piece to look to for LA in case of an injury or struggles in the bullpen for 2013. 

      The bigger part of this deal clearly is Santana.  The talented right hander will be heading into his age 30 season in 2013 and the question mark for him is consistency.  He has showed flashes of brilliance throughout his career including tossing a no-hitter in 2012 in Cleveland.  He has enjoyed four seasons (2006, 2006, 2010-11) of having an ERA+ of over 100.  His back-to-back solid seasons in 2010 (3.92 ERA) and 2011 (3.38 ERA) are great signs.  However, going back to consistency, he has had his share of struggles.  He has had three seasons of sporting an ERA of over 5.  Unfortunately for Santana, his 2012 ERA of 5.16 is fresh in everyone’s mind.  Another glaring problem in 2012 was home runs.  Santana served up a ridiculous 39 long balls in 2012 which lead the entire league and was 12 more than his previous career high of 27. This is due to his crazy home run per fly ball percentage of 14.8, which is almost double the league average of 7.6%. He also posted a career low ERA+ of just 73.  He has also shown the ability to throw over 200 innings over the course of a big league season.  However the innings have not been as high during his more unsuccessful seasons.  The Royals can only hope they are getting the 2011 Ervin Santana and his ridiculous HR/FB will regress to his career norms. 

First Reactions:

Winner:  Royals.  They only gave up a minor league reliever and this is a low risk move for them.  Kansas City is in great need of starting pitching and Santana is a guy that has the ability to eat some innings and be successful for the organization moving forward.

Loser:  Angels.  Received a 26-year old reliever and lost depth in their rotation.  Not a move that will tear down the team, but will especially hurt if team cannot resign RHP Zack Greinke. 


 
 
     No not the barbecue which has come to define Kansas City. Today, we are talking about the smoke coming out of the arms of relievers for the hometown Royals. The Kansas City Royals have had another rough and disappointing season. A season which has received horrific starting pitching, injuries, severe regression from the likes of Eric Hosmer, and farm system that lacks the same talent as a few years ago. However, there have been some bright spots including another solid offensive campaign for Billy Butler, the improvement of Mike Moustakas and Alcides Escobar, and of course 2012 Baseball America minor league player of the year in Wil Myers. However, as I alluded to earlier, one of the nicest surprises has been its bullpen. Equipped with some of the world's hardest throwers, the Royals have the second highest average fastball velocity in the entire league (93.9 mph compared to Seattle's 94.0). To start, Kelvin Herrera has the hardest average fastball in the majors, averaging 98.6 mph and dusts the average Aroldis Chapman by nearly a whole mph (Example: Watch what he does to potential MVP Miguel Cabrera). Closer Greg Holland averages 96.1 mph and reliever Aaron Crow throws an average of 94.6. Even diminutive 5'7" southpaw Tim Collins averages an above average fastball of 93.2 mph. Even recent call up Jeremy Jeffress regularly touches the high 90's. 
      So what does these numbers mean? Actually not much other than that this proves that the Royals have some pretty talented arms. These arms have combined for the fourth best ERA, fifth best FIP, third best left on base percentage, third lowest HR/9 rate. However, as is the case with most young pitchers that light up the radar guns, they have trouble finding the strike zone. Royals arms have combined for tenth worst BB% in the league and have a below average WHIP. So if they are this good with below average command, imagine how good they can be if this part of their game is refined. Maybe with the some coaching and further developmental growth, the Kansas City bullpen can go from among the best to the best in all of baseball
 

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