Alex Llanos is off to a great start in Low-A
Now that we’re two weeks into the minor league season, which players have stood out thus far? Today Royals Corner breaks down the hottest players in the Royals’ minor league organization. Check out the list inside.
What can be said about Rey Navarro's start? The 21-year-old infielder has hit safely in eight of nine contests (including six multi-hit games), and he leads the Carolina League in batting average, hits, and triples. Blue Rocks broadcaster John Sadak tells RC that Navarro looks like a completely different hitter this year, after shortening his stroke while playing winter ball in Puerto Rico.
Meanwhile, Eric Hosmer has been laying waste to the Pacific Coast League. The 21-year-old first baseman currently boasts a seven-game hitting streak, and he has hit safely in all but one of his 12 games this season. His teammate, Clint Robinson, has been similarly hot. The 2010 Texas League Triple Crown winner leads all Royals farmhands with four home runs, and his 1.284 OPS is easily tops on his club.
Alex Llanos’ emergence this season has been a blessing for a Kane County team that will often struggle to score runs. The speedy 20-year-old outfielder has had some issues in the past with his swing consistency and a thin frame, but he’s been flashing good power so far with seven extra base hits through his first 11 games.
Finally, the Royals have to be very encouraged by the quick start of NW Arkansas infielder Jeff Bianchi. The former second rounder has been the Naturals’ most consistent hitter through the season’s first two weeks, despite missing the entire 2010 campaign following Tommy John surgery. Bianchi enters Monday’s action carrying an eight-game hitting streak.
When piggyback partners Noel Arguelles and Michael Mariot have teamed up so far this season, their Carolina League opponents haven’t stood a chance. Indeed, the pair has limited opposing offenses to just one run on six hits over 16.0 innings pitched. Both pitchers are making their High-A debuts this season, and continued performances like this could elevate both dramatically among the ranks of the best young pitching prospects in the organization.
Last season, Louis Coleman fanned 103 batters in 92.0 innings pitched between Double-A and Triple-A, a fine ratio of over one strikeout per inning. So far in 2011, the 25-year-old reliever is striking out over two batters per inning. Indeed, in Coleman’s 7.0 innings thus far, he has struck out the side in four of them. It might not be long before the sidewinding Louisiana State alum is striking out big league hitters.
Another reliever, Kelvin Herrera, has also been making tremendous strides in the bullpen so far. Moved to relief duty this season, the oft-injured Herrera has held opponents to just two hits in 5.2 innings pitched while seeing a jump in his already-impressive fastball velocity. Standing at just 5-foot-10, the 21-year-old right-hander has been clocked as high as 98 mph with the pitch this spring.