The Kansas City Royals on Friday afternoon added four players to the club's 40-man roster in advance of December's Rule 5 draft. Pitcher Everett Teaford, first baseman/DH Clint Robinson, and outfielders David Lough and Derrick Robinson were placed on the Royals' 40-man roster. Pitchers Victor Marte, Bryan Bullington, Gaby Hernandez, and outfielder Jordan Parraz were all designated for assignment.
Among all the players considered, left-handed pitcher Everett Teaford figured to be the clearest lock for a 40-man roster spot. The 26-year-old Georgia Southern product was a marginal prospect for the first four years of his professional career. This summer, however, a mechanical adjustment allowed Teaford to find extra velocity on his fastball, which now occasionally reaches the mid-90s while sitting a couple of ticks lower. The extra oomph on his fastball allows his curveball and changeup to play up, and the southpaw ended the 2010 campaign on a roll. On the season, Teaford led all Royals' farmhands with a 14-3 record for the Texas League Champion NW Arkansas Naturals, compiling a stellar 3.36 ERA with 113 strikeouts in 99.0 innings pitched.
Teaford was originally selected by the Royals in the 12th round of the 2006 draft. He will enter spring training in 2011 with a legitimate chance to break camp with the big league club.
Outfielder David Lough has been compared to David DeJesus since the moment he first stepped on a professional diamond in 2007. Ironically, Lough figures to be the biggest beneficiary of the trade that sent DeJesus to the Oakland A's earlier this month. The 24-year-old had an up-and-down campaign for the O-Royals in 2010, but he finished strong, hitting .380/.453/.522 in 92 August at bats. On the season, Lough finished with a solid line of .280/.346/.437 with 11 home runs and 58 RBIs in 460 at bats.
Originally selected in the 11th round of the 2007 draft out of Mercyhurst College (PA), Lough will have an opportunity to win a job with the Royals in spring training, although it seems likely he will return to Omaha to begin the season. Nevertheless, the athletic outfielder should get a long look in Kansas City at some point in 2011.
Clint Robinson was added to the 40-man roster after a season in which he obliterated Texas League pitching to the tune of a .335 average with 29 home runs and 98 RBIs in 477 at bats. He won the circuit's triple crown while posting a league-best 1.035 OPS. Of course, Robinson has always hit (he won the Pioneer League MVP in 2007, his first professional season), and he carries a career line of .307/.373/.537 into the 2011 season.
Because the Royals are so loaded at 1B/DH, most observers were unsure about whether or not the 25-year-old slugger would be added to the 40-man roster. However, if left exposed, Robinson likely would have been the most advanced hitter available in the Rule 5 draft, making him a likely target for a club looking to take a flyer on a big bat. Originally selected by the Royals out of Troy University in the 25th round of the 2007 draft, the Alabama native will begin the 2011 season with Triple-A Omaha.
Outfielder Derrick Robinson entered the Royals' system as a raw athlete with a tremendous ceiling, but he struggled to hit professional pitching through his first four seasons with the organization. Despite repeating High-A Wilmington in 2009, the 23-year-old entered the 2010 season having never posted a batting average higher than .248. After tinkering with his stance from the left side of the plate, however, Robinson experienced an offensive breakout for the NW Arkansas Naturals this season, hitting .286/.345/.380 with 50 stolen bases in 67 attempts.
The Royals have invested a lot of time and money in their 2006 fourth round selection, and the club was clearly unwilling to leave Robinson exposed to the Rule 5 draft. Indeed, his plus-plus speed and range in center field could have made him an attractive target to a number of clubs, but he will continue his career with Triple-A Omaha in 2011 with a chance for a call-up to the big league club late in the season.
With the moves, the Royals remain at the 40-player maximum, and additional space must be cleared if the club intends to select a player in December's Rule 5 draft. The Royals have also expressed an interest in bringing back all four players designated for assignment on minor league contracts.