RC Scouting Reports: Prospects 6-10

As we move into the top 10 on this year's top 60 prospect list, the Royals' emphasis on acquiring pitching depth in the minors becomes readily apparent. Indeed, prospects 6 through 10 on this year's list are all pitchers, including the organization's top two southpaws, Daniel Duffy and Mike Montgomery. To read about these and the other players on our list, click inside.

Editor's notes: All player ages are listed as of December 31, 2008. Players who spent significant time in the Major Leagues and/or surpassed 50 innings pitched or 100 at bats were excluded from this year's list.

6. Blake Wood, SP
Age: 23   B-T: R-R  HT: 6-4  WT: 225

Despite a rough initiation at Double-A, Blake Wood continued to solidify himself as one of the Royals' premier pitching prospects. His year began back at Wilmington, where he finished the 2007 season after a late promotion from Burlington. In 10 starts for the Blue Rocks in 2008, Wood pitched exceptionally well, holding Carolina League hitters to a ridiculous .168 average. Wood pitched 57.1 innings for Wilmington, going 3-2 with a 2.67 ERA while striking out 63 batters and surrendering just 32 hits and 15 walks (0.82 WHIP). He was promoted to Northwest Arkansas in late May, and it didn't take him long to make an impression. On June 4, Wood tossed the first complete game in Naturals history against the Arkansas Travelers, a three-hit shutout in which he struck out 10 batters and didn't allow a runner past first base. Unfortunately, that success was short-lived, and he was hit-or-miss for the remainder of the season. In all, Wood started 18 games for the Naturals, and he finished with a 5.30 ERA and 76 strikeouts in 86.2 innings pitched. Despite his struggles in the Texas League, it's easy to see why the big right-hander is so highly thought of. He has a great pitcher's frame that produces a fastball that sits in the low- to mid-90s, touching 96-97 mph on occasion. He also has a hard curveball that is pretty nasty when he's commanding it, along with an above average changeup. Wood's overall command is a little spotty, however, and he frequently goes into a game without control of one of his offspeed pitches. Nevertheless, he can be utterly dominant in the games in which everything is clicking for him, and it is that potential that produces visions of a future big league workhorse. Wood should return to Northwest Arkansas to begin the 2009 season, but improved consistency could prompt a relatively quick promotion to Omaha.

7. Carlos Rosa, P
Age: 24   B-T: R-R  HT: 6-1  WT: 208

Despite battling injuries through much of his career, Carlos Rosa remains one of the Royals' most intriguing young arms. The Dominican right-hander missed the entire 2005 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery, and an oblique strain ended his season prematurely in 2007. Last year, it was a forearm strain that sidelined him in August, but in between his last two injuries, Rosa put together a season that took him all the way to the big leagues, where he made two appearances for the Royals in June. During the offseason, the Royals initially tried to trade Rosa to Florida for Mike Jacobs, but his forearm injury convinced the Marlins to accept Leo Nunez instead. Rosa's 2008 season began back in Double-A, and he quickly showed that the string of excellent outings he had in 2007 just prior to being shut down was no fluke. In eight starts for the Naturals, Rosa dominated Texas League hitters, holding the league to a .189 average while compiling a 1.20 ERA with 42 strikeouts in 45.0 innings pitched. He was promoted to Omaha in May, and after just five outings there, he was called up to Kansas City to fill a hole in the bullpen. He was returned to Omaha after a couple of weeks, and after six more outings with the O-Royals, he was shut down when his forearm started bugging him. Rosa finished his stint at Omaha with a 4.09 ERA and 44 strikeouts (against 12 walks) in 50.2 innings pitched. He throws a fastball that sits in the low-90s and frequently reaches 95-96 mph, along with a nasty hard slider that is among the best in the organization. Rosa also has a changeup that can occasionally be very good, although opinions vary on the effectiveness and consistency of the pitch. Although he has worked almost exclusively as a starter throughout his career, many scouts believe Rosa's future is in the bullpen, due to his lethal fastball/slider combination. Indeed, the Royals this spring have indicated that they also like his stuff better as a reliever, and he will begin the 2009 season in the Omaha bullpen. If all goes well, he could be among the first relievers called up to Kansas City when the need arises.

8. Daniel Duffy, SP
Age: 20   B-T: L-L  HT: 6-2  WT: 185

As an encore to his 2007 professional debut, in which he blew through the Arizona League with a 1.45 ERA and nearly 1.7 strikeouts per inning, Danny Duffy headed to Burlington in 2008 and dominated the Midwest League. The Royals wanted to limit Duffy's innings and exposure to the cold Iowa spring, so he didn't join the Bees until May. While in extended spring training, the 2007 3rd rounder worked on repeating his delivery, keeping his offspeed pitches down in the zone, and improving his fastball command. Once in Burlington, Duffy made 17 starts for the Bees, going 8-4 with a 2.20 ERA. In 81.2 innings pitched, the southpaw struck out 102 batters while surrendering just 25 walks and 56 hits, and he held opposing hitters to a miniscule .193 batting average. Even more encouraging, his splits suggest he was equally effective against both right-handed and left-handed batters (.194 and .192 BA, respectively). Duffy was shut down in August prior to the Bees' playoff run, however, due to some fatigue in his shoulder, which he also experienced during the 2007 season. Nevertheless, Duffy's numbers thus far in his career cannot be ignored. He throws a live fastball that sits between 87-91 mph and tops out a couple of ticks higher, along with a plus curveball and an above average changeup, the latter of which he has made much progress with over the past year. He has a live arm with a lot of life on his pitches, and coaches praised how he goes right after hitters. There is some concern that he tends to rely on his offspeed stuff a little too much, and his fastball command has been rather spotty at times. In the lower minors, his fastball command hasn't caused him much trouble, because he has been "effectively wild" with the pitch, as pitching coach Doug Henry put it. Still, as Duffy faces more advanced hitters, his fastball command could become more of an issue, so that is likely to be a primary focus for him as he moves forward. This spring, Duffy should begin the season with the Wilmington Blue Rocks, who figure to once again have a very strong rotation.

9. Mike Montgomery, SP
Age: 19   B-T: L-L  HT: 6-5  WT: 180

The Royals selected Montgomery in the supplemental first round of last year's draft, 36th overall. The tall southpaw from California's Hart High School gained size and strength over his senior year, causing his fastball velocity to rise a few ticks on the radar gun, and all of a sudden, he was a potential first rounder. After signing for $988,000, Montgomery headed to the rookie level Arizona League, where he dominated and became one of the best prospects in the circuit. In 42.2 innings for the Arizona Royals, the 19-year-old logged a 1.69 ERA with 34 strikeouts, holding opponents to a .211 batting average. When RC spoke with Montgomery immediately after the draft, he told us he thought of himself primarily as a fastball/changeup pitcher, although he came into the organization with four pitches: the fastball that sits at 91-92 mph and tops out at 95, a plus changeup with excellent movement, a palm curveball, and a more traditional curveball. His curveball clearly needs the most work, and its refinement should coincide with an increase in strikeouts. In high school, Montgomery was a standout athlete who also excelled on the basketball court, and he seems to have a solid grasp about what it will take to reach the big leagues. He has an advanced feel for pitching, changing speeds well and working off his fastball to set up his other pitches. The Royals also love Montgomery's projectability, because he should add weight to his 6-foot-5 frame as he continues to mature, which could add a few ticks to his already impressive fastball. Of all the high school starting pitchers in the Royals' 2008 draft class, Montgomery will probably be the first to reach full season ball, perhaps even out of spring training.

10. Tim Melville, SP
Age: 19   B-T: R-R  HT: 6-5  WT: 205

It was probably difficult for North Carolina Tar Heels head coach Mike Fox to contain his excitement last June when his prized recruit, Tim Melville, slid through the amateur draft's first three rounds. The big St. Louis area right-hander had signed with UNC after a junior season in which he went 10-1 on the mound with a 0.89 ERA, hit .443 at the plate, and was named the Jackie Robinson National High School Player of the Year. Melville's bonus demands, his commitment to UNC (a school that usually doesn't lose many recruits), and a moderately disappointing senior season caused big league teams to pass on the player who was considered one of the top high school pitchers available in the draft. But alas, his career at North Carolina wasn't to be. The Royals selected Melville in the fourth round of the draft, and then lured him away from Chapel Hill with first round money - $1.25 million. The Commissioner's office sat on the signing bonus agreement for several weeks, so Melville didn't officially sign until August 15, and as a result he will not make his professional debut until this year. He did pitch at instructs, however, and the reports were glowing. The Royals made some corrections to his delivery to speed it up, and he threw the ball very well. Armed with a plus fastball that sits at 92-93 mph and tops out a few ticks higher, Melville could add some velocity to the pitch as he continues to fill out. He also throws a plus curveball that he locates exceptionally well, along with a changeup that shows potential. The Royals believe he fits the organization's pitching philosophy well, as he is very coachable and possesses a strong work ethic. Melville's mechanics are reportedly very sound, and he has a tremendously projectable frame. He probably won't kick off his professional career in low-A Burlington, but if all goes well, it seems likely he'll get there at some point in 2009.

Photo Credits: Tim Melville photo courtesy of Greg Schaum. All other photos taken by Dave Sanford, Scout.com

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