It was actually very hard for me to write this post, as for the first time in quite a while, Royals fans have several areas of the franchise they can be excited about. With a legitimate ace in Zach Greinke and young big-league hitters in Billy Butler and David DeJesus, there’s some talent in Kansas City. Prospects Mike Montgomery and Aaron Crow give the Royals some serious arms down on the farm. Hitters like Mike Moustakas, Eric Hosmer, and 2010 draftee Christian Colon give the franchise hope that there are some bats in the pipeline. So instead of focusing on one aspect of this team, I think the best thing Kansas City fans can realize is that GM Dayton Moore finally has a process, and that process is (slowly but steadily) working.
I don’t think many people in baseball would classify Dayton Moore among the best GM’s in baseball. In fact, Moore can be found near or at the bottom of most pundits’ General Manager rankings. And to be sure, he’s made some bad acquisitions in the past. However, I’m going to play devil’s advocate a bit and give Moore a bit of credit for building a farm system that can help the team win in the near future.
Each of the Royals first draft picks overall since 2002 other than 2003 (Chris Lubanski, now in the Blue Jays organization) is still in the KC system. 2002 (Greinke) and 2004-‘06 (Butler, Alex Gordon, and Luke Hochevar) have all contributed to the big-league club. 2007-‘10 all appear in Kansas City’s top 10 prospects for 2010 (Moustakas, Hosmer, Crow, and Colon). This tells me that Kansas City is doing a fairly good job with player development, getting their top prospects through the system and to the big leagues while allowing them to remain effective by not rushing them through and being too aggressive with promotions. Expect Moustakas (21 years old, currently in AAA), Hosmer (20, AA), Crow (23, AA), and Colon (21, A+) to be big leaguers by 2012, with Moustakas and Crow possibly getting big league time as early as next season.
Moore has built a strong young core through shrewd drafting and development, and once these and other top prospects (Montgomery, catcher Wil Myers, and a stable of young hurlers) can reach the big leagues and assist Greinke and Butler, this team has the potential to contend a few short years down the road. Of course, this all depends on Moore’s ability to help himself by hold off on acquiring big leaguers who are simply not effective MLB players.
So wait ‘til next year, Kansas City, but keep in mind that a good process will produce success over the long run. Check back tomorrow, when I’ll be discussing the fruits of the Houston Astros’ decision to finally realize that rebuilding doesn’t happen without giving up big-league talent for prospects.