From a UTR standpoint, the Royals have been all over the board. Their top draft pick in 2013, Sean Manaea ranked as the #1 UTR-OAS in 2014, but is no longer with Kansas City. He’s now part of the rotation with the Oakland Athletics. The last two years hasn’t shown any consistency within the system of having repeat UTR-OAS pitchers. One pitcher that had my favor was Glenn Sparkman. A 20th round pick in 2013, the righthander made his debut with Rookie League Idaho Falls and was assigned to HiA Wilmington in 2014. He caught the eye of many with his performance in the Carolina League by posting a 1.56 ERA and 4.68 K/BB ratio. The Royals sent him to start the 2015 season at Double-A NW Arkansas and headed to the DL after 4 starts and missed the remainder of the season. He returned to the mound last June and I believe the organization tried to recapture the magic of 2014 by pushing him from the AZL Royals back to NW Arkansas. Most of his 16 starts were in the AZL (7 starts), so its tough to gain a determination of his performance. Alec Mills was the top UTR-OAS in 2015 and was tagged as “Take a Flyer” on the 22nd round pick in 2012. Mills made his way to Kauffman Stadium in 2016 working from the bullpen, getting a call in May and September in making 3 appearances. One of the deepest UTR’s in 2015 was Jake Junis (29th Rd-2011) and wasn’t tracked this past season, as he was assigned to Double-A and promoted to AAA Omaha. He was solid in posting a 10-10 record with a 4.05 ERA and 143 strikeouts and only 34 walks in 149 innings. This year’s list below resembles those previous, in that new faces appear, but all true UTR pitchers.
My 2016 International Watch pick was Jorge Rodriguez, who was a 2015 UTR-OAS after coming state-side from the DSL. He repeated with the AZL Royals and had success in limited work. 2014 top TPS OAS was Gerson Garabito and was with the AZL Royals the following year, and aggressively assigned to LoA Lexington in 2016. He was bumped from the list in 2015 by Cristian Castillo, who makes the list below.
Top 5 Starting Pitchers – Factor Score / TPS
1. LHP Emilio Ogando – 16 / .092
22 years old – (LoA Lexington)
12th round – 2014
Oganda repeated LoA but this time from the Lexington starting rotation. He was named as the Royals affiliate Pitcher of Year, setting career highs in starts (20), wins (7), innings (132.2) and strikeouts (130).
Lovvorn is the only UTR pitcher to repeat on the list. He improved his Factor Score and lowered his TPS by 34 points. He also named as POY for Wilmington which is hard to believe if your looking at his 2-10 record. Despite the hard-luck, the right-hander put-up decent peripherals.
Castillo was my top rated DSL pitcher after the 2015 season and the easy choice for the 2016 “One to Watch” list. He was the DSL Pitcher of the Year in 2015 and added more hardware in getting the same award in the Appy League in 2016. 2017 could be huge year for the lefty.
Sotillet was the anchor of a very good DSL Royals team that went 48-21. The right-hander went 7-2 with a 1.52 ERA over 13 starts and posted a 0.86 WHIP. He was named the Royals DSL Pitcher of the Year.