MLB Team Previews: 2011 Royals Preview

MLB Team Previews: 2011 Royals Preview

This article is part of our MLB Team Previews series.

Royals fans got another sobering reminder that there's still a lot of work to be done in the rebuilding process when the face of the franchise, Zach Greinke, was traded away for a high-upside, but young shortstop and a collection of prospects. Kansas City will be the near-universal pick to finish at the bottom of the AL Central for the sixth time in eight years. The Royals have finished better than third in their division just once since 1990 and aren't likely to compete for at least a couple more seasons when their impressive minor league crop is ready for the big leagues.

Offseason Moves:

Traded David DeJesus to Oakland for Justin Marks and Vin Mazzaro.

The trade of DeJesus clears up a somewhat muddled outfield situation for the Royals, though the return on the trade won't likely do much for KC in 2011. Mazzaro will provide a middling starting in the Royals' rotation while Marks is expected to start the year at High-A.

Signed Jeff Francoeur.

Another former Brave joins general manager Dayton Moore in Kansas City, where Francoeur is expected to start he right field. The 27-year-old isn't the defensive whiz he once was, and he doesn't give the Royals a much-needed OBP boost, but he could give them some pop that has been missing in the lineup.

Signed Melky Cabrera.

Cabrera will compete for the starting center field job after signing with Kansas City, but may be better suited for a reserve role since he

Royals fans got another sobering reminder that there's still a lot of work to be done in the rebuilding process when the face of the franchise, Zach Greinke, was traded away for a high-upside, but young shortstop and a collection of prospects. Kansas City will be the near-universal pick to finish at the bottom of the AL Central for the sixth time in eight years. The Royals have finished better than third in their division just once since 1990 and aren't likely to compete for at least a couple more seasons when their impressive minor league crop is ready for the big leagues.

Offseason Moves:

Traded David DeJesus to Oakland for Justin Marks and Vin Mazzaro.

The trade of DeJesus clears up a somewhat muddled outfield situation for the Royals, though the return on the trade won't likely do much for KC in 2011. Mazzaro will provide a middling starting in the Royals' rotation while Marks is expected to start the year at High-A.

Signed Jeff Francoeur.

Another former Brave joins general manager Dayton Moore in Kansas City, where Francoeur is expected to start he right field. The 27-year-old isn't the defensive whiz he once was, and he doesn't give the Royals a much-needed OBP boost, but he could give them some pop that has been missing in the lineup.

Signed Melky Cabrera.

Cabrera will compete for the starting center field job after signing with Kansas City, but may be better suited for a reserve role since he can play all three outfield positions. With Gregor Blanco, Lorenzo Cain, and Jarrod Dyson all available to play center, Cabrera will have to hit better than he did last year if he hopes to see any sort of regular playing time.

Traded Zach Greinke and Yuniesky Betancourt to Milwaukee for Alicides Escobar, Jeremy Jeffress, Jake Odorizzi and Lorenzo Cain.

A rebuilding campaign seemingly 25 years in the making only got harder when the Royals traded franchise cornerstone, and former Cy Young Award winner Greinke to the Brewers. The hope now is that Escobar, one of MLB's top prospects just a couple years ago, can be an impact player immediately. Cain played well last season with the Brewers, so it would not be surprising to see him take over the starting center field job at some point - if not right away. Odorizzi is talented but is still several years away, and Jeffress could wind up as a power arm in the bullpen as early as this season.

Signed Pedro Feliz.

The minor league deal is a low-risk one for the Royals, who are expected to give Feliz a chance to compete for the third base job. If he does not pan out, it won't be a huge loss since they have little invested in the veteran.

Signed staring pitchers Bruce Chen and Jeff Francis.

Both pitchers will slide into a KC rotation that is more patchwork than finished product. Chen pitched well for the Royals last seaso, but generated little interest in the free agent market before accepting a one-year, $2 million deal to come back to the Royals. Francis was a mixed bag last year , but a career-high K/BB ratio of 2.91 and the return of some velocity that had been lost to shoulder surgery means there is some upside.

Lost Gil Meche to retirement.

The plan was to have the veteran pitch out of the bullpen, but Meche will forfeit $12 million because he believed his shoulder injury would preclude him from being effective.

Projected lineup/Rotation:

Lineup (vs. RH and LH)

1. Melky Cabrera/Lorenzo Cain, CF
2. Mike Aviles, 3B
3. Billy Butler, DH
4. Kila Ka'aihue, 1B
5. Jeff Francoeur, RF
6. Alex Gordon, LF
7. Chris Getz, 2B
8. Alicides Escobar, SS
9. Bryan Pena, C

With so much turnover, the Royals' lineup card is expected to variate much on a day-to-day basis. Assuming Cabrera wins the center field job, he will likely get most of his at-bats against righties. Cain hit lefties better than any of the other center field candidates a year ago, so he has a good chance to see time against left-handed starters. Catcher Jason Kendall (strangely and unexplainably) occupied the No. 2 spot on 70 occasions for the Royals last year, but will be out at least the first month with an injury. A strong 2010 season from Butler means he'll likely hold down the three-hole, but he could be moved to cleanup if the situation dictates. There's as much uncertainty at the bottom of the lineup is there is at the top, but Escobar is the most likely candidate to move up a bit should manager Ned Yost feel the need to shake things up or get speed atop the lineup. The bottom line is the Royals aren't going to be playing for much in the way of postseason prospects, so they won't be shy in tinkering and giving a number of guys opportunities up and down the lineup.


1. Jeff Francis
2. Luke Hochevar
3. Kyle Davies
4. Vincent Mazzaro
5. Bruce Chen/Sean O'Sullivan

Not exactly imposing, is it? The trade of Greinke leaves the Royals without that sense of security every fifth day and without a reliable starter. Hochevar and Francis are the most established of the group, though neither is a major fantasy asset. There's not a ton of competition for this group in the high minors with KC's top pitching prospects, Mike Montgomery and Aaron Crow, still years away from contributing. This is a rotation that's going to need plenty of run support from the offense if the Royals are going to avoid the AL Central basement.

CL:Joakim Soria

The All-Star closer is the only elite player the Royals have left after Grienke's departure. Don't let the Royals' panache for losing games scare you away from one of the more efficient closers in the game. His K/BB ratio remains impeccable and he sported an elite 236 ERA+ last year. Though Soria is the team's top player, and is under team control through 2014, there's still a chance he could get dealt for the right package since he'd likely take over the closer's role for any team acquiring him besides the Yankees.

Notes of Import, Fantasy and Otherwise:

Thin at the top

The Royals have finished above .500 just three times in the last 20 years and don't appear close to bettering that mark in 2011. Another offseason of roster turnover — headlined by the Greinke trade — means Royals fans will be spending plenty of time with their programs getting to know the new squad.

It's not a full-on youth movement for KC — they are still planning on giving Jason Kendall a ton of at-bats for goodness sakes — but they will sprinkle in youngsters Alicdes Escobar, Lorenzo Cain, Kila Ka'aihue, and perhaps even Jarrod Dyson. However, it is unclear how patient Yost will be with the greenhorns, who will undoubtedly go through growing pains.

Dearth of pitching

It's amazing how losing a former Cy Young Award winner will take a little shine off a rotation. KC's rotation could be one of the worst in the majors, especially if Jeff Francis can't find shades of his 2007 form or if Luke Hochevar, who was drafted ahead of Tim Lincecum, doesn't continue to progress.

Things were bad last year - KC ranked last in the AL, and above only Pittsburgh league-wide, in team ERA (4.97) and batting average against (.276) - but this year does not figure to be much better. Out of this season's six starting candidates, none had an ERA below 4.00 and three posted an ERA at 5.00 or above. Additionally, Chen was the only starter with a winning record (12-7) and Hochevar, at 6-6, was the only other one to break even.

The strength of the staff remains the bullpen, where Joakim Soria continues to be one of the league's best closers. He has been amazingly consistent and has not suffered as a result of the Royals' poor offense and questionable setup men in front of him.

Help on the way

The rallying cry of any team at the bottom of the standings looking up is the future. In the Royals' case, the future is extremely bright.

Kansas City's farm system is widely considered the league's deepest and most talented. The Royals have nine prospects ranked in the RotoWire Top 100 and have spent the last few years investing heavily in the draft. They haven't been skimping on bonuses or drafting players just to avoid paying prices out of slot at the top of the draft.

While there's plenty reason to believe that enough players from a promising group that includes Eric Hosmer (1B), Wil Myers (OF), Mike Moustakas (3B), Mike Montgomery (LHP) and Aaron Crow (RHP), among others, will be able to become major-league contributors, don't expect these players to start making an impact until at least the 2012 season.

Strengths: A farm system that is drawing strong reviews gives a long-suffering fanbase some hope.

Weaknesses: There's no big-draw, big-production hitters in the batting order and the rotation is starved for even average production.


Rising:Kila Ka'aihue's usage in 2010 was strange to say the least. An accomplished minor league hitter, Ka'aihue wasn't utilized much by the Royals and spent plenty of time both on the bench and with their Triple-A affiliate. He figures to see more time this year at first with Billy Butler slotting in more frequently as the designated hitter. Ka'aihue sports a career OPB near .400 in more than 4,000 minor league at-bats, so he certainly has earned the chance to show what he's made of at the next level. If he finally gets an opportunity, Ka'aihue could be a cheap source of power in deeper formats.

Falling:Mitchell Maier, who will turn 29 this season, figures to play a reserve role in a crowded outfield a year after batting .263/.333/.375. He has averaged 122 games over the last two seasons, but with the additions of Jeff Francoeur and Melky Cabrera, it is pretty that the Royals don't have any grand plans for their 2003 first-round draft pick.

Sleeper:Brayan Pena took over regular catching duties late in the year after a Jason Kendall shoulder injury and responded with a solid .320 batting average and .362 OBP in 28 games. Kendall isn't slated to return until sometime after May, and Pena will be given the first crack at the starting spot, with Lucas May also in the mix. As a temporary filler in deep two-catcher leagues, Pena could be a useful early-season plug-in.

Supersleeper:Robinson Tejeda's numbers don't stand out, but his role as Joakim Soria's setup man does. He's not a lock to take over Soria's job should the All-Star closer suffer an injury or get traded, but he'd be first in line for manager Ned Yost, who seemed to take a liking to Tejeda as last season wore on.


Here's a rundown of players not mentioned above:

Joaquin Arias - Arias, at one time a solid Rangers prospect, was designated for assignment by Texas, then traded to the Mets for Jeff Francoeur. Arias saw minimal action in September, then was claimed off outright waivers in October by Kansas City. Arias will be used as a utility infielder but offers little to fantasy owners.

Noel Arguelles - Arguelles was seen as a first-round talent after defecting from Cuba and signed a $7 million contract in January 2010. However, he didn't pitch last season due to a shoulder injury that later required laburm surgery and leaves his top prospect status in doubt.

Mike Aviles - After riding the bench for the season's first week, Aviles was sent down to Triple-A for almost a month before being recalled to the Royals in 2010. He responded by playing in a career-high 110 games while sporting a .304/.335/.413 line, which is comparable, though a tick below, to his 2008 campaign. Aviles is 30, but he's played in just two full major-league seasons, which makes him somewhat of a wild card. The Royals will move him around the infield, as he played at least five games at three positions last year and figures to see more time at third base this year, giving his owners plenty of versatility along with some speed on the basepaths.

Wilson Betemit - Betemit saw a career-high in at-bats (276) in 2010 and responded with arguably his best season as a pro. His .378 OBP was a career high as were the 13 homers and 20 doubles. He doesn't provide any boost in stolen bases - he hasn't recorded a theft since 2006 - or in runs scored. He's penciled in as the starter at third for KC, but there is competition at the position, and he could see his fair share of days watching from the bench while the Royals continue to build with an eye on the future.

Gregor Blanco – Blanco's 2010 campaign was boosted by two months of strong production. In 24 May games, Blanco hit .333/.436/.333, and in 25 August contests he swiped nine bases. Outside of August, Blanco nabbed just one base, and he didn't hit .300 in any month besides May. He doesn't provide much in the way of counting stats, though he could be in line for a career high in at-bats should he win a starting job in the Royals' outfield out of spring training. He started 43 games in the outfield in the season's final two months.

Billy Butler – In many ways, 2010 was a career year for Butler, but he left fantasy owners wanting. He posted career highs in batting average, on-base percentage, plate appearances and walks, but his .151 ISO ranked 18th among major-league first baseman. He had just 11 home runs and 45 doubles with 78 RBI. Butler increased his walks and saw his strikeouts drop, and his new approach at the plate likely accounts for the power outage. Whether the complaints about the missing power this offseason are enough to sway Butler back to his old free-swinging ways remains to be seen.

Melky Cabrera – Cabrera's bounce-back 2009 season made him appear to be a potential fantasy impact player as he registered double digits home runs and stolen bases. However, he struggled last season and never maintained a starting role after he was traded to the Braves. He doesn't have great plate discipline and his power declined sharply as he hit just four home runs. He'll compete for the starting center-field job after signing with Kansas City, but may be better suited for a reserve role since he can play all three outfield positions.

Lorenzo Cain – Cain rebounded from a lost 2009 season to make his way to the majors and put himself in a position to be Milwaukee's starting center fielder in 2011. Cain hit .306/.348/.415 in 43 games with seven stolen bases for the Brewers after a late season callup and played above average defense. His .373 BABIP average should give fantasy owners a reason to pause before selecting him. Traded to the Royals as part of the Zack Greinke deal in December, Cain should have every opportunity to secure the starting job this spring as the rebuilding efforts in Kansas City continue.

Jesse Chavez – Chavez wasn't faring very well in Atlanta before coming to Kansas City in a trade last season, and the trend continued once he donned Royals colors. The main reason behind the dip in production was a decreased strand rate. In 2009, he left 77 percent of inherited runners on base en route to a career-low 4.10 ERA. Last season, Chavez kept only 63 percent of inherited runners from crossing home. His walk rate also increased as did his BABIP. He's a decent bounceback candidate, but there's plenty of risk and little reward here as Chavez isn't high on the pecking order to receive saves should Joakim Soria go down or be moved.

Bruce Chen – The veteran Chen pitched well for the Royals in 2010, but remains an unsigned free agent with Kansas City continuing its rebuilding process. The 33-year-old posted an ERA+ of more than 100 for the first time since 2005 after three consecutive sub-80 seasons. His 2010 BABIP of .272 is line with his career average, so a regression isn't necessarily a done deal.

Kyle Davies – After a breakout year as a 24-year-old in 2008, Davies has taken steps backward in both the last two seasons. His ERA, WHIP and ERA+ have gone in the wrong direction. He'll open the 2011 campaign in the Royals rotation as one of its more seasoned veterans, with a fairly long leash.

Jarrod Dyson – Dyson batted .272 and stole 13 bases in 46 games at the Triple-A level last season before struggling in 18 September games with the Royals. Obviously, that's a miniscule sample size, but Dyson has never shown himself to be an extraordinary hitter. He doesn't have any power as indicated by his career .343 slugging percentage in the minors, but he did steal nine bases in 10 attempts in his short stint with KC. He'll be given a shot to win the center-field job out of spring training, but he's one of at least three candidates.

Alcides Escobar – Escobar entered 2010 as a possible Rookie of the Year candidate, but failed to live up to expectations. He finished with a line of .235/.288/.326 with four home runs and 10 stolen bases. The 10 steals were the most disturbing for fantasy owners because he stole 42 the previous season in the minors. Escobar is a high contact type of hitter and he was weighed down by a .266 BABIP. There is a chance that will increase since he was almost always above a .333 BABIP during his minor league career. Don't expect much power from him, but a bump in batting average and stolen bases could happen if the Royals give him a better spot in the lineup and let him run - making him a bit of a sleeper in 2011.

Pedro Feliz - Back when Feliz was hitting 20 home runs a season, the Giants were able to live with his low batting average. Now that his power stroke is gone, he's going to have a hard time finding a team that will want to employ him. He hit .218 in 409 at-bats with Houston and St. Louis last year and managed just five home runs. It's getting close to the end of the line.

Jeff Francis – Francis spent much of 2010 trying to regain the form he showed in 2007, before ineffectiveness and shoulder surgery derailed his career. He made 19 starts, of which only a handful were useful to fantasy owners. His poor record (4-6) and below average stats (5.00 ERA and 1.361 WHIP) don't tell the whole story as he was able to post career highs in K/BB ratio (2.91) and groundball rate (47.0 percent), while regaining much of the velocity he lost in the last two seasons. If he can remain healthy, which is a big "if," he may yet be able to salvage part of what was once a promising career. Fantasy owners would be wise to wait until Francis strings together some productive starts before investing in him in 2011.

Jeff Francoeur – Francoeur gave Texas a right-handed option off the bench down the stretch after being acquired from the Mets. He remains an effective hitter in that limited role despite a continued decline from his early years in Atlanta, and he signed with the Royals as a free agent in the offseason. He'll be over-exposed in a full-time role if the Royals go down that path, and to make matters worse, he's no longer the plus-defender he was during his early years with the Braves either.

Chris Getz – Getz is the odds-on favorite to start at second base when the Royals open the 2011 season. His 2010 campaign was cut short thanks to a concussion, but he was fully cleared to return to action in December. He's a favorite of manager Ned Yost and likely will be given plenty of at-bats early on in the year. It'll be up to him to build on his successful 2008 and 2009 seasons and leave last year behind him to keep the job.

Alex Gordon – No longer the Royals' third baseman of the future, Gordon will try his hand in the outfield for a second year. He grew into the role last season after receiving a demotion in May and returned to find his struggles still waiting for him at the plate after a strong minor league cameo. At 27 this season, Gordon still has time to develop into a contributor for Kansas City, but few still believe the hype that surrounded him in 2005 when the Royals took him with the second overall pick in the draft.

Luke Hochevar – Hochevar certainly didn't set the world on fire with his 2010 campaign, but he enters 2011 with his spot in the rotation solidified. He managed to cut down both his home runs and hits allowed last season while his K/9IP rate remained static at 6.6. His FIP indicates he was a tad unlucky in 2010, but not enough to expect a major improvement from luck alone in 2011.

Greg Holland – The obvious contribution Holland makes is in the strikeout department. He has posted a career 9.6 K/9IP mark in more than 200 career minor league innings and whiffed 11 batters per nine during his brief major league debut last season. Those strikeouts are nice, but a high walk rate does a lot to negate its influence. Look for Holland to see action in low-leverage situations, at least initially, if he makes the Opening Day roster.

Jeremy Jeffress – Jeffress climbed three levels after moving to the bullpen in 2010 and ended in Milwaukee where he pitched well enough that he appeared to secure a regular role for 2011. He's a typical hard thrower with a lack of command, hitting 99 mph on the radar gun at times, but he also walked six batters in 10 innings with the Brewers. The command issues have dogged him for his entire minor league career, but no one doubts his overall stuff. Jeffress was included in the package the Brewers sent to Kansas City for Zack Greinke, and their plans for him are unclear. He has the ability to be a closer in the future if the Royals don't give him a look in their decimated rotation.

Jason Kendall – The Royals love Kendall for his leadership and ability to play through nearly any injury, but his weak skill set at the plate suggests he's better suited for a backup role. Despite his iron-man reputation, Kendall likely will miss Opening Day with a torn rotator cuff. Expect him to regain his starting spot when he returns, which figures to be some time after May, even though the Royals have younger catchers on the roster whose prospect clocks continue to tick.

Lucas May – May didn't make the most of his September audition last year with a .189/.205/.216 line over just 39 plate appearances, but his minor league record suggests he can be at least a major-league average backstop. He'll split time with Brayan Pena behind the plate to start the year with the better player earning backup duty once Jason Kendall returns from injury.

Vincent Mazzaro – Mazzaro projects as a rotation filler after another decent-but-nothing-special season with the A's. Of particular concern is the 31 homers he's allowed in 213.2 major-league innings, not to mention the poor 138:89 K:BB rate as well. Shipped to Kansas City as part of the David DeJesus trade, Mazzaro's numbers don't figure to improve now that he's out of Oakland full time, but his hold on a rotation spot has become more firm.

Zach Miner – Miner missed the entire 2010 season after suffering an elbow injury early in spring training. He originally planned to return to action last season, but after numerous setbacks, Miner was forced to undergo Tommy John surgery in May. The right-handed reliever is aiming for a return to the mound in January. If all goes well in his recovery, he could surface as a starter with the Royals after signing a minor league deal in December. Otherwise, he'll be ticketed to pitch in middle relief.

Sean O'Sullivan – After a 2010 season that was a mixed bag following a midseason trade to the Royals, O'Sullivan is slated to open the year in the Kansas City rotation in 2011. His spot as one of the Royals' five starters isn't rock-solid, but he'll have to falter over the season's first few months to lose his opportunity. His minor league track record, including mediocre numbers at Triple-A, would suggest he's better than the 6.11 ERA he posted with the Royals last year, but not enough to say with certainty he'll be with the Royals come July considering that he still has options remaining.

Joakim Soria – Already one of the game's best closers, Soria posted arguably his best season as a pro in 2010. He induced a groundball nearly 50 percent of the time a batter put the ball in play while averaging better than a strikeout per inning en route to a 1.78 ERA. He may not be able to duplicate those numbers, but it's clear the 26-year-old will be one of the top closers in the game for awhile as long as he stays healthy. Even playing for the Royals, who haven't shown any inclination to trade the All-Star, hasn't been able to slow his ascent.

Kanekoa Texeira – Texeira was unspectacular for the Royals during his rookie season, which featured a minor elbow injury. He'll begin 2011 as a middle reliever in a Kansas City bullpen lacking depth, but even there he's far down the list of potential replacements for closer Joakim Soria in the event of an injury.

Blake Wood – The Royals are high on the 25-year-old even if his 2010 rookie campaign didn't set the world on fire. He was superb at Triple-A last year, but his minor league record isn't nearly as impressive as a whole. He'll likely be used primarily in the sixth and seventh inning this season, with a chance at earning a few saves a long shot.

Lance Zawadzki – Zawadzki spent most of 2010 between Double-A San Antonio and Triple-A Portland. He didn't hit much, had trouble getting on base and struck out nearly a quarter of the time. He has modest speed and power for a utility infielder. Between May and June he got 35 at-bats with the Padres and produced nothing of value to fantasy owners. Since he'll turn 26 in May, there's not much left for him to prove in the minors as he's likely a finished product, so expect to see him serve a utility/bench role for the Royals. It's doubtful that your fantasy team is looking for someone of that ilk.

Top Prospects:

Christian Colon - The fourth overall pick in the 2010 draft, Colon held his own in 60 games at High-A Wilmington last season, batting .278/.326/.380. He won't likely begin the this year above Double-A. There has been talk of moving Colon from shortstop to second base as well, though the Royals seem lukewarm about the idea. The trade for shortstop Alcides Escobar will likely have KC at least entertaining the idea of shifting Colon.

Aaron Crow – Crow, the 12th overall pick in the 2009 draft, hasn't found much success in his two minor-league seasons but has done enough for the Royals to believe he can help them in a season or two. He's played in just 22 games above High-A, so the jury is certainly still out.

Danny Duffy – Duffy made a bizarre departure from the Royals in March to "reassess his life priorities" before returning to the team three months later. Upon his return, Duffy was effective, posting a 2.74 ERA over 62.1 minor-league innings. The Royals plan to give him a chance to pitch his way into the Opening Day rotation this spring, but he's yet to pitch an inning above the Double-A level.

Chris Dwyer – A fourth-round pick out of Clemson in 2009, Dwyer features a plus curveball supported by a good fastball with consistent control. He'll be 23 in April, when he's bound to open the season as part of the rotation at Double-A Northwest Arkansas. Dwyer had little difficulty retiring hitters at High-A Wilmington last season while striking out more than a batter per inning before a back injury ended his season in July. Like the cast of promising young arms set to join him at Double-A this season, Dwyer should factor into the Royals' plans within the next two seasons.

Eric Hosmer – Hosmer is the clear-cut first baseman of the future for the Royals, and it seems the future remains a year away. With Billy Butler holding things down at first and the team going nowhere in the immediate future, the Royals aren't in a hurry to get Hosmer to the majors and start his service clock. The 21-year-old has more than held his own at every level and looks to be a bright spot for an organization that is going through some dark times.

John Lamb – Lamb is moving quickly through the Royals' system, earning two promotions to Double-A last season, but still figures to be a year off from helping KC. He's a strikeout pitcher who has shown decent control and sports a 3.54 K:BB ratio.

Mike Montgomery – One of the Royals' biggest hopes for the future, Montgomery still has just 245 innings of minor league experience and is way off from being a major contributor for the parent club. He is, however, a bona fide ace prospect with stellar numbers as he's ascended through the minors at a rapid rate. A forearm injury knocked Montgomery out for two months of the 2010 season, but there are no long-term concerns about his health with respect to his mechanics. In his arsenal, Montgomery offers an excellent fastball, improving curveball and a good changeup. A late 2011 debut in Kansas City is possible, but we wouldn't be surprised to see him split the season between Double- and Triple-A before making the leap in 2012.

Mike Moustakas – Moustakas' star dimmed a bit after he struggled at High-A in 2009, but he responded with a great half season at Double-A last year and held his own once he advanced to Triple-A. He'll eventually be a candidate for Super Two status if the Royals push him aggressively up to the majors, so look for him to stay stashed away for at least the early months of the 2011 campaign. It would also behoove Kansas City to be sure that 2009 was just an off year and not more indicative of a deeper problem in Moustakas' development, but he'll get a long look at third base during spring training.

Wil Myers – Myers has had no problem adjusting to minor league pitching out of high school and looks to be an excellent hitting prospect. He just needs to progress in his defensive game behind the plate. If he's able to put that part of his game on par with his bat, he could be looking at a 2012 callup. With Myers, the bat is good enough that the Royals will move him out from behind the plate if needed. Invest now if he's still available in your keeper league.

Jake Odorizzi – Odorizzi was Milwaukee's top pitching prospect and solidified that in 2010 before he was traded to Kansas City as part of the Zack Greinke deal. He had a 3.43 ERA with a 10.11 K/9IP in 120.2 innings for Low-A Wisconsin. Control was an issue at times, but scouts love his size and stuff. He'll move up to High-A in 2011 with an eye toward contributing at the major league level in 2012 or 2013.

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Travis Hines
Travis Hines writes about fantasy sports for RotoWire
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