Kansas City Royals: Projecting the 2014 Starting Rotation

Bill Robbins@bill_kc28Correspondent IMay 24, 2012

Kansas City Royals: Projecting the 2014 Starting Rotation

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    Even though the '12 MLB regular season isn't even two months old yet, it's always fun to look ahead a couple years into the future.

    For the Kansas City Royals, this is an exciting thought considering all the young starting pitching talent that they still have in their farm system.

    We've already seen flashes of brilliance from right-hander Danny Duffy, but there will likely be a few more names joining him in the rotation in the next couple years.

    Here are my projections for KC's starting rotation in 2014.

Danny Duffy

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    Twenty-three-year-old Danny Duffy is one of the most talented pitching prospects to come through the Royals system in a long time.

    The hard-throwing lefty dominated during his time in the minors, posting a 2.65 ERA, but he has been hampered by control problems and a forthcoming Tommy John surgery on his elbow in his brief time in the majors.

    I expect him to make a full recovery from this surgery and pick up where he left off in the early part of this season.

    As of right now, I project Duffy to be the ace of this pitching staff in 2014.

Jake Odorizzi

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    Jake Odorizzi has star potential as a future starting pitcher in the big leagues.

    The former first-round pick of the Brewers has already jumped from Single-A ball to Triple-A in less than 18 months, and he has been gaining steam along the way.

    At this rate, he will be in Kansas City before the end of this season and can start getting his feet wet at the major league level.

    With a deceptive fastball and a good array of other pitches that he can offer, I see Odorizzi as the No. 2 starter in this rotation when the sun rises on the 2014 MLB regular season.

Shaun Marcum

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    The one pitcher that I have making the Royals rotation in 2014 that is not currently a part of the Royals organization is Milwaukee's Shaun Marcum.

    The Excelsior Springs, Missouri, product has had his ups and downs during his six-plus seasons in the big leagues.

    After missing all of the '09 season because of injury, Marcum was able to bounce back and win 13 games while recording a career-high 165 strikeouts as well.

    He is a free agent after this season, and I see Kansas City making a hard push for him and eventually getting the former Toronto Blue Jay.

    Since he has never really shown the ability to become a legitimate ace in his time in the majors, I don't expect him to be anything more than a No. 3 starter for this team.

Mike Montgomery

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    No Royals pitching prospect has received more criticism than Mike Montgomery over the past one-plus seasons.

    The once highly regarded prospect is already being labeled as a bust by some around Kansas City.

    During that time, Montgomery has managed to compile an ERA just under five, while going 7-12 for Triple-Omaha, as he has struggled with both his command and control during that time.

    However, he has shown some signs of turning things around in his last few starts this season, and I expect to see Montgomery as a back of the rotation starter by the time the 2014 season begins.

Felipe Paulino

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    Rounding out the Royals' starting rotation in 2014 is right-hander Felipe Paulino.

    Over the past one-plus seasons, Paulino has shown some signs that he is starting to figure things out at the big league level

    In his first four starts this season, the ex-Rockie is 2-1 with a 1.42 ERA to go with 29 strikeouts and seven walks in 25.1 innings pitched.

    The 6'2", 270-pound Paulino is one of the more underrated starters in this KC rotation right now, and he has a chance to stick around beyond the '14 season if he keeps it up.