Coming into the 2010 season, most Royals fans were wondering how much longer they'll have to wait until some of the organization's highly touted prospects will make their way to Kansas City.
The team has started the season with a 9-14 record, and is in a last-place tie with Chicago in the AL Central. And while the team's record may be discouraging to most Royals fans, this team could easily be five wins better if not for horrendous bullpen pitching through the first four weeks of the season.
So let's take a look at a few players, none of them named Aaron Crow or Mike Montgomery, who could very well turn the Royals' fortunes around sooner rather than later in 2010.
The Royals starting pitching has been fantastic thus far this season with one exception, former ace Gil Meche, 0-2 in four starts, with a 10.13 ERA.
Since injuring his shoulder last summer, Meche has been horrible. Meche refused treatment from the club this past offseason for his ailing shoulder, which was obviously a mistake.
The Royals need to cut bait with Meche and insert a young promising starter who has started out well in the minors, enter Edgar Osuna.
Since coming to the Royals from Atlanta, GM Dayton Moore has continued to utilize his knowledge of the Braves organization to acquire talent from his old team.
While it would've been nice if Moore could've swung an offseason deal for a guy named Heyward, he did acquire the 22-year-old Osuna in the Rule 5 draft.
Osuna, a left-handed starter from Mexico, has impressed thus far in the minors with a 3-1 record in four starts and 20 strikeouts to just two walks in 21 innings. His ERA is just 0.78.
The Royals could use a lefty in the rotation, a luxury that the Royals haven't had anytime in recent losing history.
Why not insert Osuna?
While it's highly unlikely that he will duplicate his fantastic minor league numbers in Kansas City, he can't be anywhere near as bad as Meche has been.
Not to mention that the major league experience would go a long way in preparing Osuna to be an integral cog in this rotation in 2011.
The Royals have struggled this season to find a right-handed pitcher out of the bullpen who can throw a solid seventh or eighth inning and get the game into the hands of closer Joakim Soria.
After failing miserably in this regard during the first few weeks, Luis Mendoza, Roman Colon, and veteran Juan Cruz were sent packing. Those three pitchers had a combined WHIP of 2.912 and an ERA of 12.71, meaning they were simply awful at keeping guys off base.
And while dumping those three in favor of Josh Rupe, Brad Thompson, and Bruce Chen has improved the bullpen, youngster Robinson Tejeda continues to struggle.
Tejeda has an ERA of 12.00 and WHIP of 2.889, after enjoying success as a starter late last season for the Royals.
The Royals need to send Tejeda back down to the minors to continue developing him as a starter, and work on his control (12 BB in nine IP this season).
In Tejeda's place, the Royals need to promote former first-round pick Bryan Bullington.
Bullington, the first overall pick of the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 2002 amateur draft, has thrown well this season. He is currently 1-0 with a 2.08 ERA and a low 0.83 WHIP.
When the Royals signed Kyle Farnsworth, they hoped he could be a dominant setup man for closer Joakim Soria.
Unfortunately for the Royals, Farnsworth has been very inconsistent the past two years in a setup role.
Enter the 26-year-old native of Torreon, Mexico: Federico Castaneda.
After striking out 11 in 9.2 innings for class AA Northwest Arkansas, Castaneda has done nothing but move on to AAA Omaha and throw four more dominant innings.
Castaneda has been a dominant reliever in the minors. The Royals could insert him as Joakim Soria's eighth-inning setup man, and groom him to be a future closer for this team, much like the Anaheim Angels once did with Francisco Rodriguez.