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The Kansas City Royals seem to have less trouble resisting the temptation to elevate their hottest pair of prospects to the majors than their fans, as well as some of their critics, do clamoring for those moves.
The Kansas City Star's Bob Dutton reported today that Dayton Moore and his crew are not considering a call-up for either hurler Jake Odorizzi or outfielder Wil Myers any time soon. The organization's general manager told the beat writer that the Royals will stick with the conservative way they've handled most of their developing players.
Their approach is understandable, even if it were overly conservative. Last year, KC summoned Eric Hosmer to the bigs after he'd played just 26 games at Triple-A Omaha. He soared for most of the remainder of the campaign, but he struggled mightily in the 2012 season's first quarter. Moore had been on the job for less than a year when the team made Alex Gordon an opening day starter in 2007, although he'd not yet played above Double-A ball.
Odorizzi, 22, opened this season by proving that the Double-A Texas League was no longer a challenge for him. He was 4-2 with a 3.32 ERA, an 11.13 K/9 and a 2.37 BB/9 in seven starts. In his first five games with the Omaha Storm Chasers, the right-hander is 3-0 with a 2.22 ERA, an 8.58 K/9 and a 2.86 BB/9.
Odorizzi has seemingly made a relatively seamless transition to the Pacific Coast League, but the organization would probably like to see his indicators fall in line with those he put up at lower levels. In his last appearance, the 6-foot-2, 185-pound pitcher may have taken his first step toward such performance with a 10-strikeout effort in 6 2/3 frames.
The 2008 first-round pick from an Illinois high school is facing the toughest competition of his playing career. That Odorizzi pitched so well - so far - in the PCL is encouraging, but it'd benefit him to face adversity before he makes the jump. The Royals run some risk of stunting his development if they suddenly ramp up his timetable.
KC also selected Myers after his senior year of high school, in the third round in 2009. In 35 games for Double-A Northwest Arkansas this season, he batted .343 with 13 home runs. He's continued his assault of opposing pitchers since he moved to the PCL, hitting .341 with eight home runs in 24 games.
His performance in the hitter-friendly league is the expectation, however. Myers didn't have a superb 2011 campaign for the Northwest Arkansas Naturals (.254 average and eight home runs in 99 games). This season with them, he struck out in more than a quarter of his plate appearances. Upon his step up to the PCL, his strikeout rate dropped to career-norm territory, but its equivalency remains as off-putting as his rate at Class AA, and his walk rate has plummeted.
KC likely attributes at least some of that to Myers' increasing aggressiveness at the dish, which has allowed him to get more from his gifts. His most recent statistical output is somewhat reminiscent of Anthony Rizzo's last season, though. Myers is a better prospect and so isn't as likely to suffer the same fate when he makes his MLB debut, but it would benefit him to be forced to make adjustments.
Fantasy owners should be awfully excited about Odorizzi and Myers, but they shouldn't expect either of them to make a huge impact this season. They're highly unlikely to be in the major leagues before the All-Star break, and sometime closer to September is more realistic.
Either could move up his timeframe if Class AAA consistently fails to test his limits. For that reason, Odorizzi and Myers have been worth stashing in AL-only leagues. In mixed leagues, it's probably not necessary to think about that step until sometime after the Midsummer Classic.
About Nicholas Minnix
Minnix is baseball editor and a fantasy football analyst at KFFL. He plays in LABR and Tout Wars and won the FSWA Baseball Industry Insiders League in 2010.
The University of Delaware alum is a regular guest on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio and Baltimore's WNST AM 1570.
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