The Kansas City Royals have released their initial list of non-roster invitees and while there are some interesting veterans, such as Brad Penny, there are some prospects that got the call who will be good to watch this spring.
Kyle Zimmer is one of the top prospects in the Royals organization who is widely expected to make his big league debut in 2014 but has not yet been placed on the 40 man rotation. He does an incredible job of mixing pitch planes and speeds. His fastball can be effective at 92 but can also rev up and reach 99. He has a 12-6 curve and a slider but also adds depth to the curve to give it a slurvy look. His change still needs work but his pitch diversity is already one that can play in the majors, it is only a matter of time before the Royals give him the shot.
Another pitcher that will get to toe the mound at Surprise Stadium in the Cactus League this Spring is Jason Adam. Adam has a big frame and looks to be a guy that can regularly eat 200 innings in the future. He has a mid-90′s fastball, a potential plus curve and a show me change. He may never be a star but he will be an end-of-the-rotation guy who can gobble up innings in the hot and humid Kansas City summers.
Jorge Bonifacio will get an invite and will join his older brother Emilio Bonifacio. Despite being brothers, Jorge and Emilio couldn’t be more different in their styles of play. While Emilio is the quick and fast middle of the diamond defender, Jorge is a slow moving, power corner outfielder but with upside far beyond his big brother. His arm could easily play in right field and, while the home run power hasn’t shown up yet, his raw power tool makes a future as a 20-home-run big leaguer a real possibility.
There are also some lesser known prospects who got the invite. Juan Graterol is a catcher/1st base prospect out of Venezuela. At the plate he does not have much power but does have a knack for making contact. The real question is whether or not he can stick behind the plate. Due to his lack of power, if he is moved from behind the dish, his chances at a big league career likely go up in flames so it will be important to see how he handles big league pitchers this spring.
Aaron Brooks will be 24 early in the season and has never had an ERA below 3.80 in the minor leagues. Brooks has been able to rack up an impressive strikeout rate but he has not been consistent in getting the ground balls like he was known for in college. He probably doesn’t have a big league future but a decent spring could land him in AAA with a shot at getting a cup of coffee in the bullpen.
Sugar Ray Marimon might have a big league level name but unfortunately, he does not have the stuff to match. His ERA has been terrible throughout the minor leagues and he struggled again in 2013 despite repeating AA. Scott Alexander will also get a look in camp. Alexander is a decent bullpen arm; he shined at High A but struggled in AA. He doesn’t project as anything better than a seventh inning arm but he could earn himself time in AAA this year and maybe even a late season call up.