I just wanted to point out some hot/not-so-hot starts to the 2009 season from some notable Royals farmhands. Obviously, I didn't name everyone on this list. There are other's worth mentioning, but I thought these few stood out the most. Feel free to chime in on this one.
1.) Clint Robinson (Hi-A Wilmington) -- The 2007 25th-round pick out of Troy University is off to a fantastic start for the BlueRocks this season - batting .380/.424/.658 with 4 homers and 10 doubles in 79 at-bats.
Robinson, a 6-foot-4, 225 pound first baseman who I chronicled often last season, has mad power and really can become an intriguing player for the Royals in the near future. Since turning pro all the kid has done is hit. Last season, in the pitcher friendly Midwest League, Robinson hit .264 and crushed 17 homers with 22 doubles, 3 triples and 64 RBI. Those are impressive numbers considering virtually no one hits well in the Midwest League. In 2007 he was named the Pioneer League's Most Valuable Player after hitting .336 with 18 doubles, a triple, 15 homers and 66 RBI.
Keep your eye on this kid. He could be fun to watch.
2.) Jeff Bianchi (Hi-A Wilmington) -- Bianchi finally seems to have gotten rid of the injury bug that plagued the start of his pro career and the numbers are starting to warrant his 2nd-round selection in the 2005 Draft. The second baseman/short stop is hitting about as well as the Royals could imagine through 22 games this season with a .346 average, 8 doubles, a triple, 2 homers and 11 RBI. Bianchi has also committed four errors in the field in 22 games.
It's also encouraging to see some discipline at the plate from the youngster, as he has struck out 18 times and walked 11 in 78 AB's. If he wants to have a shot with the Royals he's going to have to continue to hit, because another Royals 2nd-rounder - Johnny Giavotella - is going to push him at the position.
3.) Mike Moustakas (Hi-A Wilmington) -- Can you sense a pattern here? Yep, I'm sticking with the Wilmington kids here as they have really had some good offensive numbers to start the year. Moose has jumped out of the box with a .275 average in 21 games. In that stretch he has 8 doubles, 4 home runs and 18 RBI with only two errors in the field. His start at Wilmington has been a very pleasant one considering how horrible his 2008 start went at Burlington (granted, it was his first pro season). We'll keep a close eye on him.
Blaine Hardy RHP (Low-A Burlington) -- The right handed relief pitcher has gone 1-2 with a 2.38 ERA through six games with 28 strikeouts versus no walks in 22 innings of work. He was a 22nd-round selection in 2008 from Lewis-Clark State.
Nick Francis RF (Low-A Burlington) -- He's the only Bees hitter not to fall victim of the Midwest League plague thus far in 2009. He's off to a great start with a .297 average, 5 doubles, a triple, 4 home runs and 14 RBI. He's a 15th-round pick from 2006.
Omaha Royals lineup -- They're all hitting. That's nice to see.
1.) Eric Hosmer (Low-A Burlington) -- In 70 at-bats Hosmer is hitting .214 with five doubles, no homers and a lowly 7 RBI. Of course, it's still early in the season and it's a no-doubter Hosmer will eventually catch on and start to hit. First things first, Hosmer needs to get his first career homer out of the way so he can focus. Through 24 games as a professional the 3rd overall pick in last year's draft has yet to go deep. Don't worry; the sky isn't falling.
2.) Any hitter at Burlington not named Nick Francis -- Other than Francis, the next closest batting average (minimum 10 games played) has a .231 average. Yeah, not too pretty.
3.) Dan Cortes (Double-A Northwest Arkansas) -- A notoriously slow starter, Cortes went 10-4 with a 3.78 ERA in the Texas League last season despite a slow start. Here's hoping 2009 will yield the same results. But if that's going to happen Cortes better shape up in a hurry.
He's already lost four games this year as he stands at 0-4 with a 5.96 ERA, 17 strikeouts and 11 walks in 22 innings on the bump. He's also given up 27 hits and opponents have turned in a .293 clip against him.
Those are hardly efficient enough numbers to put a pitcher on the fast track to the bigs. Hopefully he can turn things around soon. He has the stuff, but is severely lacking in the maturity department. He still has a ways to go. Look for him to repeat Double-A again in 2009.