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2012 Fish Watch: Kansas City Royals – June Edition


The first thing you need to know about The Fish Watch is that it’s not a list of sleepers. It is instead a list of players at various points in their respective minor league journeys that for one reason or another have piqued my interest enough that I am watching their development more closely than the bulk of prospects out there. To read more about this project, check out the introduction and master list.

This is the second round of updates in this series so I will not rehash why each player made my list but you can always go back and read previous installments of the series. While doing the installments by division worked the first time around, I’m going to go team-by-team for the June recaps (yes I realize it is mid-July already).

Kansas City Royals (S2S 2012 Royals Team Prospect List)

OF – Bubba Starling (19) – Royals 2011 1st Round Pick

2011 – High School (KS)
2012 – Burlington (Rk): 0.273/.429/.500, 2 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 1 SB, 9 BB and 15 SO in 56 PA

Notes – Due to a tweaked hamstring, Starling stayed in extended spring training even after the Appalachian League season was underway. He made his professional debut June 28th leaving us with just 3 games worth of data for the month and he went 2-11 with 3 BB and 3 SO in that time. It’s hardly anything to get overly excited about but it was great to see Bubba finally kick off his career nonetheless. If Starling had gone 0-11 with 11 SO in those three games at the end of the month I probably would have managed to find something to say but as it is I have been pleasantly surprised with his overall performance thus far. I look forward to revisiting his progress next month.

2B/3B – Daniel Mateo (20) – Signed out of the Dominican Republic as a NDFA on February 25th, 2008

2011 – Idaho Falls (Rk): 0.348/.389/.478, 17 XBH, 17 BB and 43 SO in 244 PA
2012 – Kane County (A): 0.283/.338/.413, 16 2B, 7 3B, 5 HR, 2 SB, 25 BB and 70 SO in 377 PA

Notes – His overall stat line is a bit depressed since he’s had a rough month of July so far, but of course that’s a matter for next month’s article. Right now we are of course concerned about how he performed during June and that makes this a much more positive write-up. Mateo came out of the gates on fire at the plate with 30 hits in 91 at bats and an 0.897 OPS as of May 1st. He predictably cooled during the month of May but was still solid before apparently picking things up in June. In 24 G and 100 PA last month Mateo hit 0.316/.350/.421, but the slash stats – thanks in part to a 0.414 BABIP – mask a potential issue. That issue is the erosion of his SO-to-BB rate. Through his first 50 games of the season, he had a 14.9 K% and 9.2 BB% in 228 PA, but during June both numbers went sharply in the wrong direction. His K% shot up to 24.0 and his BB% plummeted to a paltry 3.0 (24 SO and 3 BB if you prefer). Mateo’s ISO (Isolated Power) also continued it’s tumble from 0.165 in March/April to 0.115 in May down to 0.105 during the month of June.

Obviously it’s just one month and it may just be a case of “not seeing the ball well” or he may have developed a hitch or flaw in his swing that’s easily correctable in time, but these trends certainly need to be followed to see if they persist.

RHP – Kyle Smith (19) – Royals 2011 4th Round Pick

2011 – High School (FL)
2012 – Idaho Falls/Kane County: 3.86 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 27 H, 9 BB, 41 SO in 28.0 IP

Notes – The Royals have a cadre of intriguing players in the lower levels and have made some incredibly shrewd amateur acquisitions every year since Dayton Moore took over as the team’s general manager in the summer of 2006. When it comes to the Royals 2011 draft class Starling grabbed all the headlines and he’s the one everyone was eagerly waiting on to debut this season. I was no exception of course, but in some ways my anticipation was on a different level when it comes to Smith and he didn’t disappoint.

The young righty made his professional debut with Idaho Falls on June 19th and went 5.0 innings while allowing 3 hits, 1 earned run and 1 walk. He also struck out 11. After that start the Royals bumped him up to Kane County where he made two more starts before the calendar turned to July. Between his June 24th and June 29th outings he allowed 4 H, 0 ER and 2 BB with 11 SO in 10.0 innings of work. All together he finished the month with a 0.64 ERA, 0.71 WHIP, 1.9 BB/9 and 14.1 K/9. The small sample size qualifier naturally applies but those are staggering numbers to start a professional career.


For more on the Kansas City Royals, check out Kings of Kauffman