For several years now, it seems as though baseball talking heads on TV always argue the Royals are a “young club loaded with prospects” that they’re still a “couple/few” years away from putting it together and making a serious run at the American League Central crown.
Although the Royals got off to a horrific start this season, in addition to weathering a twelve-game losing streak, there are still a few young stars that Royals fans have had fun keeping tabs on, despite their club’s crummy record.
For starters, third basemen Mike Moustakas had a a solid first half of the season in his first full year in the big leagues, hitting .269 with 16 HR and 48 RBI.
Unfortunately, first basemen Eric Hosmer, who had a fantastic rookie season last year, has seen his average plummet from .294 down to .224. Regardless, I’ll chalk up his low average to the dreaded sophomore slump.
Nevertheless, most baseball fans have heard the Moustakas and Hosmer talk for a while now, and I personally think both players have the skills to anchor KC’s lineup, and with some more dependable solid pitching, they club will be on the right track.
However, a pleasant surprise so far has been the play of young catcher, Salvador Perez, who is hitting .364 in 15 games, while knocking in eight and slugging four round-trippers.
The Venezuelan has battled a knee injury for a while now, and Royals skipper Ned Yost has undoubtedly had to use Bryan Pena and Humberto Quintero more than he’d like, however, Yost has the utmost confidence in the youngster, saying that Perez is among the best catching prospects he’s ever seen.
I personally saw Perez play in Detroit last Sunday in the last game of the first half before the All Star break. Although Detroit won the game handily, Perez took a Max Scherzer mid-90s fastball deep to the opposite field for a towering home run, with just a flick of the wrists.
While many argue Cleveland Indian’s catcher Carlos Santana is the among the best young catchers in the game, I think Perez can swing the bat just as well and Santana, and with a 6’3″, 245 pound frame, is a bit more athletic and agile than Santana, which I believe will translate to superb defensive skills.
It’s never a good thing for a young catcher to have recovered from a significant knee surgery before his 23rd birthday, but the Royals will be overly-cautious with Perez, and rightfully so.
Royals fans might not be able to stomach too many more Pena and Quintero sightings, but if Perez can stay healthy throughout the remainder of this season, and have a productive off-season workout regimen, he could waltz into Spring Training and be set to have a monster 2013 season.
I think it might be a bit silly to try and rate Perez’s Major League game, as he has barely even accumulated a half season’s worth of games. He had good Minor League offensive numbers, but nothing approaching the monster stats he’s put up in the bigs. And honestly, it’s unrealistic to expect that he’ll continue on this Carlton Fisk-like tear.
But, there is so much upside with Perez. Hopefully, his game management skills can quiet down the Royal’s starting staff and help them on to a more respectable second half of the year. It’s too bad there isn’t a veteran catcher on the Royals roster that could mentor him in some fashion, like a Sandy Alomar, Jr.
With Perez, Hosmer, and Moustakas cooking, don’t be surprised if you keep hearing about Perez and the Royals in AL Central chatter in the coming years. This trio could finally be THE players Kansas City needs to get Kauffman Stadium rockin’ like it’s 1985.