RC Organizational Report - June 3

With May in the rearview mirror, RC's James Pinick today takes a look at the Royals' minor league affiliates. Both Omaha and NW Arkansas remain at or near the top of the standings, while Wilmington is still in contention. The first half race in the Midwest League, however, is all but over, as the Bees remain mired in last place, 18 games behind the Clinton Lumberkings.

BURLINGTON BEES (A)

Record
23-34 (.404), 18 games behind Clinton (39-14)

Club Leaders
BA: Adrian Ortiz (.301)
OBP: Jason Taylor (.358)
SLG: Clint Robinson (.485)
HR: Mike Moustakas, Jason Taylor (7)
RBI: Moustakas (24)
SB: Ortiz (20)


W: Chris Chavez (5)
K: Alexander Caldera (60)
WHIP: Chavez (0.89)
ERA: Anthony Bradley (1.48)

Notes

The Bees' winning percentage, (.404, 23-34), dropped off in May, and the team now finds itself 18 games behind division-leading Clinton (39-14). Burlington did win three straight games in mid May, which was the longest winning streak by the Bees this year, but losing streaks of four and five games pushed the squad further back in the division race.

The Bees still are struggling offensively. The team average, (.225), is slowly creeping higher but still ranks near the bottom of the Midwest League. However, the Bees did have some positive developments on the offensive side of the ball last month.

The brightest spot for the Bees' offense in May was the emergence of the Royals' 2007 first overall pick, Mike Moustakas. Moustakas raised his line to .237/.293/.396 (.689 OPS), and he now leads the team in home runs (7) and RBIs (24). In fact, Moustakas had his batting average over .250 for the first time until a recent skid. Still, his current batting average ranks fourth on the team, and third among regular starters.

Adrian Ortiz, last year's fifth rounder pick from Pepperdine, hit his first homerun of the season on May 21. Ortiz continues to lead the club in batting average and stolen bases, (.301 and 20, respectively). Ortiz's stolen base total ranks second in the Midwest League, and his batting average is in the league's top 10.

Jason Taylor, the 2006 second-round pick, has a current line of .223/.358/.391 (.749 OPS). Those numbers fell off a bit in May, but Taylor is second on the team with 23 RBIs. Clint Robinson, the 2007 25th round pick out of Troy University, still leads the club in slugging percentage, .485, and is second on the team with six homeruns, despite missing several weeks due to injury.

The Bees' pitching staff continues to be in the middle of the Midwest League with a 3.61 ERA, but the staff 1.31 WHIP has dropped the team to the middle of the pack. The team, however, is third in the league in strikeouts (459).

Matt Mitchell, 2007 14th round pick, lowered his ERA to 3.75, and his 36-to-9 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 48 innings pitched is very encouraging. Mitchell also pitched a brilliant six-inning, one-hit game on May 21 to get his first win of the season, and he held Clinton, the league's best team, to just one run on two hits over seven innings on June 1. Edward Cegarra, who had been the staff ace, was promoted to Wilmington in late May. Cegarra finished his tour with the Bees after racking up 53 strikeouts (against just five walks) and a 2.67 ERA.

Because of promotions, both Sam Runion and Daniel Duffy, the Royals' 2007 second- and third-round picks, made the jump to Burlington in May. Runion made his Burlington debut on May 18, going six innings while giving up two runs (1 ER), and Duffy made his debut the following day. Duffy's debut wasn't quite as good, as he lasted 3.2 innings while giving up three earned runs. Runion currently has a 4.60 ERA in 15.2 innings, while Duffy has a 8.49 ERA in 11.2 innings pitched. Daniel Gutierrez missed May after being shut down for dead arm/elbow tightness. He is throwing in Arizona now though, so he should, hopefully, be back soon.




WILMINGTON BLUE ROCKS (HIGH-A)

Record
29-27 (.518), 5.0 games behind Potomac (34-22)

Club Leaders
BA: Josh Johnson (.325)
OBP: Johnson (.500)
SLG: Joe Dickerson (.486)
HR: Anthony Seratelli (6)
RBI: Dickerson (30)
SB: Derrick Robinson (28)


W: Aaron Hartsock (4)
K: Greg Holland (49)
WHIP: Everett Teaford (1.12)
ERA: Tyler Chambliss (1.33)

Notes

The Blue Rocks kept pace with the division-leading Potomac Nationals, going 16-13 in May while improving their overall record to 29-27. The Rocks are now five games behind Potomac in the Carolina League's Northern division. The club got off to a rocky start in May, including a four-game losing streak early in the month, but they finished the month off strong while hovering around .500.

Outfielder Joe Dickerson continues to lead the Blue Rocks in almost every offensive category, although Dickerson's current line of .301/.394/.486 (.881 OPS) is down slightly from the beginning of the month. Kurt Mertins has cooled off a bit as well after being named Carolina League Player of the week on April 21, and his current line stands at .277/.374/.428 (.802 OPS). Mertins does rank third on the team with 21 RBIs, behind only Dickerson and Anthony Seratelli.

Speedy Derrick Robinson continues to lead the team with 28 stolen bases in 33 attempts. Robinson's line of .281/.333/.352 (.686 OPS) is down a bit from the beginning of the month, but it still represents a big leap forward for the young outfielder. Shortstop Chris McConnell now has 17 extra-base hits on the year, and his current line is .253/.344/.349 (.698 OPS).

The Blue Rocks' pitching staff has continued to be solid. Blake Wood, 2006 3rd round pick out of Georgia Tech, was dominant in his ten starts for the Rocks before earning a promotion to NW Arkansas in late May. Wood finished his High-A stint with a 2.67 ERA, and he led the pitching staff with 63 strikeouts in 57.1 innings. Wood made his debut on May 29 for the Naturals.

Greg Holland, 2007 10th round pick, continues to pitch well as a starter for the Blue Rocks. Holland's ERA has risen slightly to 3.98 with a 3-3 record, but he has an impressive 49-to-17 strikeout-to-walk ratio through 40.2 innings.

In the bullpen, Tyler Chambliss continued his excellent 2008 campaign, and he leads the team with a 1.33 ERA in 17 appearances. Aaron Hartsock continues to perform well with a 4-2 record and a 2.70 ERA. Hartsock was the Royals' 2006 23rd round pick out of California Baptist University. Chris Nicoll continues to perform well after last year's battle with the yips as well. Nicoll has struck out 37 batters in 31.1 innings and 15 appearances.




NORTHWEST ARKANSAS NATURALS (AA)

Record
30-26 (.536), First Place, 2 games ahead of Arkansas (28-28)

Club Leaders
BA: Juan Richardson (.301)
OBP: Kila Kaaihue (.429)
SLG: Kaaihue (.563)
HR: Kaaihue (11)
RBI: Kaaihue (37)
SB: Ovandy Suero (24)

W: Blake Johnson, Dusty Hughes (5)
K: Julio Pimentel (43)
WHIP: Jarod Plummer (1.10)
ERA: Hughes (2.80)

Notes

The Naturals used May to take sole possession for first place in the Texas League North division. The squad is 30-26 (.536) with a two-game lead over Arkansas.

Designated hitter Juan Richardson leads the Naturals with a .301 batting average, but first baseman Kila Kaaihue is coming on strong in that category, and Kaaihue continues to lead the Naturals in home runs, OBP and SLG. Kaaihue is in the top five in OPS and top 10 in home runs in the Texas League, and his line of .296/.429/.563 (.992 OPS) with 11 home runs and 37 RBI's represents a big step forward for the young slugger.

The Naturals' pitching staff continues to be solid as well. It is second in the Texas League with a 4.01 team ERA and first with a 1.29 WHIP. The staff has lost three pitchers to promotions to Triple-A Omaha since the beginning of May, but Daniel Cortes has since been activated from the DL. Carlos Rosa, Roman Colon and Devon Lowery have all been promoted to Omaha, but Blake Wood has also joined the Naturals' rotation from Wilmington.

Rosa left the Natural's squad with a 1.20 ERA, a 0.82 WHIP and 42 strikeouts. Rosa's ERA was second on the team, and his WHIP and strikeout totals were tops on the squad. Rosa's ERA was just behind Devon Lowery, who amassed a 0.69 ERA through 13 innings with a 1.00 WHIP. Colon only pitched 17 innings in relief for the Naturals with a 5.29 ERA and a 1.29 WHIP.

Daniel Cortes, who was acquired in the Mike MacDougal trade, has seen his ERA jump slightly to 3.27 since returning from being shut down, but he has a 1.24 WHIP despite issuing 17 walks in 33 innings pitched. Blake Wood made his first start on May 29, giving up three runs and seven hits in 4.1 innings.

Two products of the Elmer Dessens trade are pitching in Northwest Arkansas as well. Julio Pimentel has struggled lately, and his ERA has risen to 5.76, but he still holds a solid 43-to-20 strikeout-to-walk ratio through 59.1 innings. Pimentel's 43 strikeouts also rank best on the staff. Blake Johnson continues to be effective through 56 innings. Johnson is 5-3 with a 3.69 ERA, a 1.28 WHIP and a 39-to-11 strikeout-to-walk ratio.




OMAHA ROYALS (AAA)

Record
28-28 (.500), 1.5 games behind Iowa (30-27)

Club Leaders
BA: Mitch Maier (.321)
OBP: Maier (.351)
SLG: Jason Smith (.560)
HR: Smith (12)
RBI: Smith (39)
SB: Shane Costa (6)

W: Brad Salmon (3)
K: Neal Musser (41)
WHIP: Musser (1.27)
ERA: Musser (3.06)

Notes

The Omaha Royals continued playing .500 ball in May, and the club now stands at 28-28, 1.5 games behind the division leading Iowa Cubs. The squad suffered a four-game losing streak in May, but also put together two separate four-game winning streaks as well.

Infielder Mike Aviles continued to rake for the O-Royals, and he finally was able to earn his first promotion to Kansas City. Aviles had 35 RBIs and a line of .332/.362/.602 (.964 OPS) prior to his promotion. While Aviles' departure figures to hurt the O-Royals' offense, the arrival of Billy Butler, who swapped places with Aviles, should offset that a bit. Butler is back in Omaha trying to regain his power stroke that was notoriously absent for the last month in KC.

Another player who's doing everything possible to earn a shot in KC is outfielder Mitch Maier. Maier has been hitting all year, and his line of .321/.351/.500 with six home runs seems likely to get some attention.

Shane Costa has also continued playing well. The outfielder has knocked in 32 runs and belted nine home runs though 195 at bats. Costa has a current line of .303/.347/.518 (.865 OPS).

The Omaha pitching staff ranks in the middle of the Pacific Coast League with a 4.35 team ERA, but the staff has been injected with some more talent from the Natural's staff. The staff has also recently lost some talent to the parent club.

Carlos Rosa, who dominated Double-A competition this season, was promoted to Omaha on May 13. Rosa had a rough introduction to Omaha in his first start, yielding five earned runs in just three innings pitched, but his three starts since his debut have all been solid. After a quality start on June 1, Rosa's Omaha ERA stands at 4.71, and he's struck out 20 batters (against just four walks) in 21 innings pitched. Devon Lowery has made 10 appearances spanning 18.1 innings with a 1.47 ERA since his promotion from NW Arkansas.

Kyle Davies, acquired last year from Atlanta for Octavio Dotel at the trade deadline, continued to perform well in the O-Royals rotation and made his 2008 Royals debut on May 31. Davies left Omaha with a 2.06 ERA through 56.2 innings and a 1.18 WHIP. Neal Musser, who has also pitched well this year, spent a day on the Royals' roster in late May before being sent back to Omaha. He'll likely be back in KC at some point this season.


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