Don't look now, but the Royals' system is blossoming right before our very eyes. With three inclusions on the Upgrades side, a Mike Montgomery reference and a nod to Eric Hosmer, Kansas City could make a case as a top-tier minor league breeding ground by the time 2011 rolls around. Without further ado, this week's Minor League Barometer.
1. Chris Davis, 1B, TEX - Maybe the third time will be the charm for Davis, who has twice been the Rangers' starting first baseman before subsequently being sent back to the minors. This time, he'll likely have a longer leash, though, as Texas traded prized prospect Justin Smoak to the Mariners as the centerpiece in the Cliff Lee deal. Davis was hitting .354/.403/.555 with 10 home runs and 56 RBI for Triple-A Oklahoma City before the call-up. He's only hit .214 in his time with Texas, though, so it's possible it's now-or-never for the former "can't-miss" prospect.
2. Wil Myers, C, KC - At 19, Myers got the quick call to High-A Wilmington and hasn't stopped hitting. In 10 games with the Blue Rocks, the 2009 third-round pick is batting .425/.452/.525 with eight RBI. With 10 home runs during his 68 games in Low-A, Myers clearly has the power to go along with a stellar eye at the dish. Although he might end up at a different position, Myers has emerged as a must-own prospect for the suddenly deep KC farm system.
3. Dellin Betances, P, NYY - Betances has been virtually unhittable since his return from ligament replacement surgery. In 34 innings for High-A Tampa, the 6-foot-8, 245, righty has a minuscule 0.53 ERA and stellar 39:6 K:BB ratio. Opposing batters are hitting an anemic .114 against the 22-year-old. Although he'll need to string together injury-plagued season to really skyrocket, there's no denying Betances possesses the size and arsenal to become a devastating strikeout pitcher at the big-league level.
4. Paul Goldschmidt, 1B, AZ - All Goldschmidt has done in his limited professional career is hit. The 22-year-old first baseman is hitting .462/.533/1.026 over his last 10 games for High-A Visalia. An eighth-round pick in 2009, Goldschmidt has bashed 24 home runs and driven in 68 runs in 87 games for the Rawhide. With a line of .313/.366/.609 on the year, and a fading Diamondbacks squad, Goldschmidt could move up rapidly in the Arizona system.
5. Kirk Nieuwenhuis, OF, NYM - Move over, Fernando Martinez. The Mets just might have a new top outfield prospect. Over his last 10 games, Captain Kirk is hitting .511/.510/.957 with three home runs and nine RBI for Double-A Binghamton. This season, Nieuwenhuis is batting .306/.348/.541 with 14 home runs, 52 RBI and 12 stolen bases. Although he strikes out a bit too much, his combination of power, speed and plate discipline makes him a prospect to watch.
6. John Lamb, P, KC - Lamb's been terrific for High-A Wilmington; actually, he's been even better in High-A than he was in Low-A earlier this season. In 57.1 innings for the Blue Rocks, the 20-year-old lefty has a 1.41 ERA and 69:14 K:BB ratio. The 6-3 Lamb is making a case as the best prospect in the Royals' farm system along with Mike Montgomery.
1. Zack Wheeler, P, SF
2. Shelby Miller, P, STL
3. Mike Moustakas, 3B, KC
4. J.P. Arencibia, C, TOR
5. Brandon Belt, 1B, SF
1. Wilkin Ramirez, OF, DET - Ramirez hit for decent power in Double-A, with 15 home runs and 42 RBI in 56 games for Erie. However, he struck out 84 times in that span and has struggled mightily with plate discipline since being called up to Triple-A Toledo. The 24-year-old outfielder is batting .211/.264/.368 with three home runs and 11 RBI in 30 games for the Mud Hens. With 44 strikeouts to boot, Ramirez has a lot of work to do on his swing before getting the call to man the Detroit outfield.
2. Tim Alderson, P, PIT - Alderson had a stretch of decent starts to his credit in May and early June; however, he's allowed at least four earned runs in three of his last five starts. His last start was perhaps his worst, as the 6-6 righty allowed eight runs on nine hits in just three innings. Alderson also walked three in that game. Alderson has been extremely hittable; opposing hitters have a .307 BAA, and the 21-year-old has allowed 10 home runs in 86.2 innings for Double-A Altoona. Alderson hasn't looked right since he came over to the Pirates, and his mechanical overhaul in the offseason looks to have been merely a temporary solution.
3. Josh Vitters, 3B, CHI - Vitters can't seem to buy a hit of late, batting .139/.225/.250 with one home run, two RBI and nine Ks over his last 10 games for Double-A Tennessee. The 20-year-old has become a frequent member of the Downgrade department, hitting just .208/.271/.335 with five home runs and 19 RBI through 53 games for the Smokies. Perhaps most disturbing, Vitters has walked just nine times during his Double-A stint. With terrible numbers against righties to boot, Vitters' swing will certainly need some fine tuning to live up to his No. 3 overall pick potential.
4. Jeanmar Gomez, P, CLE - Gomez is looking more and more like a flash in the pan with every start for Triple-A Columbus this season. His ERA stands at a bloated 5.70 ERA, and he's allowed 15 home runs in 101 innings for the Clippers. His 67:41 K:BB ratio is anything but stellar, and Triple-A opponents are batting .290 against him. The combination of walks and failing to keep the ball in the ballpark may spell doom for Gomez's chances at succeeding in the bigs.
5. Carlos Peguero, OF, SEA - Peguero figured to cool down after a torrid start; still, for a while he was still hitting for average despite a lack of home runs. However, he's batting a horrendous .083/.214/.083 with 17 strikeouts over his past 10 games. He's certainly got pop, but with 106 Ks in 83 games, some question whether he can cut it at the higher levels.
6. Jay Austin, OF, HOU - Austin is a speedster first and foremost, swiping 36 bags already in 2010 for High-A Lancaster. However, he's hitting just .163 over his past 10 contests, with just one RBI over that span. Despite seven home runs in 2010, Austin had one home run in his two prior campaigns, so counting on any added power as he progresses could be trouble. His OBP stands at .309 for the JetHawks, a number that won't get it done for a projected leadoff hitter. Austin is just 19, but he reminds me of a less-disciplined Ben Revere.