In the unassuming town of Wilmington, DE lies a pitching prospect who is quietly (or not so quietly depending on who you ask) having one of the best seasons around for a young pitcher. Acquired from the Brewers via the Zack Greinke trade, the Kansas City Royals have a very good young pitching talent on their hands with Jake Odorizzi. Pitching for the Wilmington Blue Rocks Odorizzi has already established himself as one of the Royals top pitching prospects.
Odorizzi was seen as the lynchpin to the Zack Greinke trade. He is who the Royals wanted and is very much who the Brewers did not want to give up and the deal wasn’t finalized until they finally conceded and put Odorizzi into the deal. The #1 prospect in the Brewers organization Odorizzi was bumped down to the #6 overall prospect for the Royals, which was more an indicator of how good the Royals system is than anything on Odorizzi’s skills.
The talented right hander has been baffling the competition in High A ball so far this year. To this point Odorizzi has a 5-0 record with a ridiculous 79:14 K:BB ratio. This was helped by a string of 4 starts in which Odorizzi threw strikeout totals of 10, 10, 8, and 13 strikeouts in consecutive starts. While it may only be High A competition, these are impressive numbers nonetheless.
The Brewers were moving him along slowly in their organization and it seems the Royals intend on keeping that trend going in theirs. Despite the hot start Odorizzi has gotten off to, he still remains in High A even though it appears he is ready for his next challenge. A recent interview with JJ Piccolo (Royals Scouting Director) on local KC radio has revealed that they are looking for him to utilize his secondary pitches a bit more. Odorizzi has a legit fastball and big league curve that both project as plus pitches at the Major League level, but his feel for his changeup is not where the Royals would like it to be. He has apparently been asked to concentrate more on using that pitch before he can move along to the Royals AA affiliate in Northwest Arkansas.
Odorizzi is an important cog in the Royals future at this point. With pitchers like Danny Duffy still trying to find his way in the majors (Baseball America’s #70 prospect), Mike Montgomery struggling in AAA (Baseball America’s #19 prospect), and John Lamb having to undergo Tommy John surgery (Baseball America’s #18 prospect), Odorizzi is the best pitching prospect to actually be pitching well this year for the Royals. With a hopeful ETA in the majors of 2013, Odorizzi could project to be a front end pitcher and a big part of the Royals future.