The Kansas City Royals created a great deal of buzz this spring. Only it was the 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and so on Royals. A batch of hitting and left-handed pitching talent appears to be on the way, but the current group isn’t worried about that.
Even if the present doesn’t work out so well, optimism already abounded because of the job General Manager Dayton Moore is doing. Moore, a George Mason graduate who later served as an assistant baseball coach for the Patriots, has assembled a farm system ranked No. 1 in the game. This spring, Sports Illustrated published a feature on how “flush” the system is. The Royals became the first team with nine of Baseball America’s top 100 prospects, and none of them is even on the major league roster at this point.
“We’ve got to go out and prove it and earn the respect of our fans,” Moore told the Kansas City Star as this season began. “We’ve got to win at the major league level as we move forward. Until we do that, there’s nothing I can say . . . because I’m not convinced either. We haven’t done anything at the major league level. It’s all still part of the future at this time.”
As for the current core, doubles machine Billy Butler is receiving help in the lineup from the likes of outfielders Alex Gordon and Jeff Francoeur. Bruce Chen, the club’s top winner last year with 12, is off to a 2-0 start with a 2.37 ERA. Closer Joakim Soria has assistance in the bullpen with hard-throwing Jeremy Jeffress of South Boston, Va., (part of the Zack Greinke trade) and 2008 Washington Nationals draftee Aaron Crow.
Crow, who had command problems last year in high-Class A and Class AA, made the surprising jump to the majors. He’s 1-0 with a 0.00 ERA, 10 strikeouts and two walks in 8 2 / 3 innings. The Nationals were able to draft Drew Storen as compensation for not signing Crow after taking him ninth overall, and the Royals used a first-round pick (12th overall) on Crow in ’09. He pitched in independent ball for two seasons before signing for a $3 million major league contract. Washington offered $3.5 million in 2008.
As well as Crow has pitched, he’s not part of the “Blue Wave” of nine prospects who appeared on the cover of Baseball America’s minor league preview. This wave, though, is off to a nice start.