MLB Preview 2011: Looking at Joakim Soria and the Kansas City Royals on Paper

Adrian FedkiwAnalyst IIIMarch 29, 2011

MLB Preview 2011: Looking at Joakim Soria and the Kansas City Royals on Paper

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    KANSAS CITY, MO - AUGUST 13:  Pitcher Joakim Soria #48 of the Kansas City Royals pitches during the game against the New York Yankees on August 13, 2010 at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    It's going to be extremely difficult for the Royals to compete this season. 

    They lost 95 games last year, and lost the likes of Zack Greinke, Yuniesky Betancourt, and Jose Guillen, to boot.

    2012 is the target date; several baseball experts have proclaimed that the Royals' farm system is baseball's best in a decade.

    It's been 25 years since Kansas City last made the postseason, and they've had just one winning season in the past 16 years. 

    The future is bright, and patience is a virtue.

    Throughout this article, you will see a number between seven and ten beside each player.  These numbers break the players up into essential categories; here's a rough layout. 

    10: Best player/pitcher in baseball

    9-plus: Superstar, MVP/Cy Young Candidates

    8-plus: Consistent All-Star

    7.5: Periodical All-Star

    7.25: Solid Starter

    7: Average Player


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    ATLANTA - JUNE 19:  Billy Butler #16 of the Kansas City Royals against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field on June 19, 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    C Jason Kendall: 7

    1B Billy Butler: 7.25 

    2B Chris Getz: 7

    SS Alcides Escobar: 7 

    3B Mike Aviles: 7

    Jason Kendall (36) 434 AB .256 BA 39 R 0 HR 37 RBI 12 SB 

    • Kendall underwent rotator cuff surgery in September.  He's anticipated to return by May or June.  The Royals just traded for Matt Treanor for more catching depth, but Kendall calls a good game and is perfect for a young pitching staff.

    Billy Butler (24) 595 AB .318 BA 77 R 15 HR 78 RBI 0 SB

    • Butler is smooth at the plate.  His strike-zone judgement is good.  He drives the ball into the gaps, and I expect his power to increase.  He did lead the league hitting in double-plays with 32.  He'll probably be a DH as his career progresses in Kansas City because he's stiff in the field.

    Chris Getz (27) 224 AB .237 BA 23 R 0 HR 18 RBI 15 SB

    • Getz has solid speed and defensive skills, but that's about it.  He has limited power, and just a career .315 OBP. 

    Alcides Escobar (24) 506 AB .235 BA 57 R 4 HR 41 RBI 10 SB

    • Escobar is known more for his defense than his bat at this point in his career.  He's athletic in the field with very good range either way.  He has soft hands and a strong arm. 

    Mike Aviles (30) 424 AB .304 BA 63 R 8 HR 32 RBI 14 SB

    • Aviles has hit over .300 during two of the past three years, but hit a head-scratching .183 in 2009.  Aviles hits line drives and makes consistent contact.  He's subpar in the field and is being converted into a third baseman.


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    KANSAS CITY, MO - APRIL 15:  Alex Gordon #4 of the Kansas City Royals, wearing a #42 jersey during the Jackie Robinson Day game flies out against the Cleveland Indians on April 15, 2009 at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by G. Newman Lo
    G. Newman Lowrance/Getty Images

    LF Alex Gordon: 7 

    CF Melky Cabrera: 7

    RF Jeff Francoeur: 7

    DH Kila Ka'aihue: 7

    Alex Gordon (27) 242 AB .215 BA 34 R 8 HR 20 RBI 1 SB

    • Gordon is showing great signs in Spring Training.  He's currently hitting .355, and that's after starting the spring 0-for-11.  He's gotten the George Brett tag, but has yet to live up to the hype he's been getting.  He's a converted third baseman, but he's made the transition to the outfield just fine.

    Melky Cabrera (26) 458 AB .255 BA 50 R 4 HR 42 RBI 7 SB

    • Cabrera is a switch-hitter who has a quicker stroke from the left side.  He's versatile in the outfield and can play all three positions.  He takes good routes and has a solid arm. 

    Jeff Francoeur (27) 454 AB .249 BA 52 R 13 HR 65 RBI 8 SB

    • Francoeur has just a .301 OBP since 2008.  He's very aggressive at the plate and swings hard.  He has power to all fields when he makes contact.  He's adequate in the field, but has a cannon for an arm. 

    Kila Ka'aihue (27) 180 AB .217 BA 22 R 8 HR 25 RBI 0 SB

    • Ka'aihue has good bat speed and pull power.  He's another Jack Cust.

Starting Pitching

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    BALTIMORE - JULY 30:  Starting pitcher Luke Hochevar #44 of the Kansas City Royals delivers against the Baltimore Orioles during MLB action at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on July 30, 2009 in Baltimore, Maryland. Hochevar collected the loss as the Orioles
    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    Luke Hochevar: 7

    Jeff Francis: 7

    Kyle Davies; 7

    Bruce Chen: 7

    Vin Mazzaro: 7

    Luke Hochevar (27) 103 IP 6-6 4.81 ERA 1.43 WHIP 76 K

    • Hochevar was the first overall pick of the 2006 draft, but he hasn't been the ace that everyone expected him to be yet.  He's a mid-90's power sinkerballer.  His secondary pitches need improvement, but he has a hard slider and a knuckle curveball.  

    Jeff Francis (30) 104 IP 4-6 5.00 ERA 1.36 WHIP 67 K

    • Francis has never been a hard thrower, and major shoulder surgery took even more off of his velocity.  He won 44 games for the Rockies from 2005-2007.

    Kyle Davies (27) 183 IP 8-12 5.34 ERA 1.56 WHIP 126 K

    • Davies likes to work up in the zone with his fastball.  He has some command issues.  He has a downer curveball and a fading changeup.

    Bruce Chen (33) 140 IP 12-7 4.17 ERA 1.38 WHIP 98 K

    • Chen hasn't been in the MLB spotlight for the past few years, but had a rather succesful season a year ago.  He has to hit his spots in order to be succesful.  His curveball is solid, but not a strikeout pitch.

    Vin Mazzaro (24) 122 IP 6-8 4.27 ERA 1.45 WHIP 79 K

    • Mazzaro is a groundball sinker ball pitcher.  He complements his fastball with a sweeping slider and changeup.


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    KANSAS CITY, MO - APRIL 05:  Robinson Tejeda #51 of the Kansas City Royals delivers a pitch during the season opener game against the Detroit Tigers on April 5, 2010 at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by G. Newman Lowrance/Getty Images)
    G. Newman Lowrance/Getty Images

    RP Jeremy Jeffress: 7

    RP Kanekoa Texeira: 7

    RP Sean O'Sullivan: 7

    SU Robinson Tejeda: 7

    CP Joakim Soria: 8.25 

    Jeremy Jeffress, Kanekoa Texeira, Sean O'Sullivan

    • I expect the middle relief to be ever-changing as prospects earn their promotions to the big leagues.

    Robinson Tejeda (29) 61 IP 3-5 0 SV 3.54 ERA 1.33 WHIP 56 K

    • Tejeda is a power reliever who throws in the mid to upper 90's, but he doesn't have the best command.

     Joakim Soria (26) 66 IP 1-2 43 SV 1.78 ERA 1.05 WHIP 71 K

    • Soria is the best closer that no one knows about.  Since becoming the closer in 2008, only Brian Wilson, Mariano Rivera, Jonathan Papelbon, and Francisco Rodriguez have more saves, but they don't pitch in Kansas City.  "The Mexicutioner" has a smooth and balanced delivery.  He likes to work up in the zone with his fastball, and changes eye levels with his breaking pitches and outstanding changeup.

Sizing Up the Royals on Paper

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    MESA, AZ - MARCH 09:  Jeff Francoeur #21 of the Kansas City Royals at bat against the Chicago Cubs during the spring training baseball game at HoHoKam Stadium on March 9, 2011 in Mesa, Arizona.  (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
    Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

    Projected Lineup

    1. Mike Aviles: 7

    2. Melky Cabrera: 7

    3. Alex Gordon: 7

    4. Billy Butler: 7.25

    5. Kila Ka'aihue: 7

    6. Jeff Francoeur: 7

    7. Alcides Escobar: 7

    8. Jason Kendall: 7

    9. Chris Getz: 7

    Projected Starting Rotation 

    Luke Hochevar: 7

    Jeff Francis: 7

    Kyle Davies; 7

    Bruce Chen: 7

    Vin Mazzaro: 7


    RP Jeremy Jeffress: 7

    RP Kanekoa Texeira: 7

    RP Sean O'Sullivan: 7

    SU Robinson Tejeda: 7

    CP Joakim Soria: 8.25 


    Kila Ka'aihue, Wilson Betemit, Matt Treanor, Mitch Maier : 7


    Ned Yost: 7

    INF: 35.25

    OF: 21

    SP: 35

    RP: 7

    CP: 15.25

    MISC: 14

    Hitting: 56.5

    Pitching: 57.5

    TOTAL: 127.5


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    SURPISE, AZ - FEBRUARY 27: Mike Moustakas #8 of the Kansas City Royals bats during a spring training game against the Texas Rangers at Surprise Stadium on February 27, 2011 in Surprise, Arizona. (Photo by Rob Tringali/Getty Images)
    Rob Tringali/Getty Images

    This team could be really good in two to three years; they could end up like the Tampa Bay Rays of 2008 and make a surprise playoff appearance.

    I'm interested to see how they bring prospects like Mike Moustakas, Eric Hosmer, and the plethora of other talent into the organization over the course of the season.

    Prediction: 59-103 Fifth AL Central