A RIVAL SCOUT SIZES UP THE ROYALS
They'll contend again.... Yordano Ventura and Danny Duffy have quality stuff—not just velocity but the secondary stuff to go with it. The key for both is to be more efficient so they can get through seven innings on 100 pitches—easier said than done for them.... Edinson Volquez should build on his bounce-back year in Pittsburgh. He's in a pitcher's park on a team that plays very good defense.... Eric Hosmer needs to stay more consistent with the quality of his at bats. He has bat speed, he has strength, he just needs focus day in, day out.... Lorenzo Cain is an impact player both offensively and defensively. He's got a chance to be an All-Star if he plays 150 games and avoids hamstring problems.... Alex Gordon needs to not worry about power and just hit. At times he tries to do more than he's capable of; he's not going to be a 30-homer guy.... Kendrys Morales and Alex Rios will help that lineup a lot. Late last year Morales had better pitch recognition and quality of at bats. With a full spring training, he'll be fine.... Rios has lost a little bat speed. The key for him is to stay in the middle of the field and not worry about homers.... When Sal Perez is rested, he's one of the best catchers in baseball, but he gets too tired. They need to trust Eric Kratz or another backup.... It will be very hard for Greg Holland, Wade Davis and Kelvin Herrera to repeat what they did last year, but this is the best bullpen in baseball. A weakness: They don't have a true left-on-left guy with Tim Collins hurt.
The Royals signed Chris Young to a one-year, incentive-laden deal, and while he doesn't have a place in the rotation right now, he deserves one soon. Young is a low-velocity pitcher—he averaged 85 mph with his fastball last season, third lowest among qualifying starters—and he is as extreme a fly ball pitcher as there is in the game. He led qualifying starters last year in fly ball rate (58.7%) and in lowest ground ball--fly ball ratio (0.38), and was second to Washington's Jordan Zimmermann at inducing pop-ups. Young's skill set is akin to recent Royals imports Jeremy Guthrie and Jason Vargas, both of whom have succeeded in Kansas City. This team likes to get fly ball pitchers, put them in spacious Kauffman Stadium with jackrabbits in the outfield and let them work. Young could actually be a better fit for the Royals' rotation than the more expensive Edinson Volquez, and Ned Yost should be aggressive about switching the two if Volquez returns to his poor 2013 form.
LEAGUE RANK 10
MANAGER NED YOST 6TH SEASON WITH ROYALS
2015 PROJECTED STATISTICS BY ROTOWIRE.COM
JOHN W. MCDONOUGH/SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (HOSMER)