KFFL answers some important fantasy baseball questions for each Major League Baseball team as spring training approaches. What must fantasy baseball players know about the Kansas City Royals?
What are the Royals going to do without Zack Greinke?
They'll turn to Luke Hochevar, he of the almost-at-the-hump-so-that-he-can-then-get-over-it ilk. KC's de facto ace made strides, but a strain near his elbow interrupted them. Vin Mazzaro, who arrived in the David DeJesus deal, flashed signs that he could be a serviceable starter ... maybe ... someday. There is zero mixed league interest in this rotation, with good reason.
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Hochevar is enthusiastic about what he believes he can do and what he has learned. He took a big step forward in terms of the way he attacks the opposition, getting a taste of his ability to dominate. He's the lone "bright" spot and perhaps worthy of a deep mixed flier.
Am I just overlooking some fantasy baseball hopefuls in this lineup?
Beyond Billy Butler, nothing excites. That is, except for Kila Ka'aihue, 27 in March. The Royals have been reluctant to grant Hawaiian Punch the PT needed to test him in the majors. Not long after his second 2010 call-up, from Aug. 14 on, he batted .241 with eight homers and 24 RBIs in 145 at-bats. The power is entirely for real, and historically he has a fantastic walk rate. He'll never win a batting title, but he has an excellent chance at enough ABs to hit 25 homers. In OBP leagues, he's a huge sleeper.
Mike Aviles, Alex Gordon, Alcides Escobar, Lorenzo Cain, Jeff Francoeur and a bevy of (more) Quad-A types will be contributors at some point in deep mixed leagues. If you draft them, you're guessing that it'll be in April. Aviles can be a plus in the BA department. Escobar must prove that he can get on base to take advantage of speed he has used little in the bigs. Cain presents the most counting-category upside (steals) now that he has a chance to play regularly all season.
Sooo ... what do the Royals have to look forward to?
Glad you asked. Mike Moustakas probably won't leave ST with the Royals, but he should get a call-up a couple of months into the season. It's a stretch to say that he's worthy of stashing in all except the deepest mixed leagues; however, he'll fetch a decent price in AL leagues. After a slow start to his pro career, he changed his approach and has destroyed minor league pitching, with BA and power. He may need an adjustment period, but he should hit.
And so would begin the domino drop, with stud prospect Eric Hosmer, a first baseman, having a chance to debut by the end of the year. The organization is fielding one of the nastiest Double-A rotations you'll ever see. John Lamb, Mike Montgomery, Daniel Duffy, Chris Dwyer and Aaron Crow all have shots at major league appearances by the end of 2010.
It would behoove you to get to know KC's farm system. You'll get an opportunity to meet some of its gems when we begin releasing our Top Fantasy Baseball Prospects series in mid-February.
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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