Wednesday, April 10, 2024

One Missed Cole


I don't think enough people will admit this, but the Royals have figured out how properly to combine a homegrown farm rollout and supplemental additions. The development division has given this team Bobby Witt Jr., Kyle Isbel, Maikel Garcia, M.J. Melendez, Brady Singer, Freddy Fermin and Angel Zerpa, and they're making up the majority of the team's best performers right now. This team knew Witt was gonna become a mainstay, but seeing Garcia and Fermin go from backups to perennial standouts had to have been reassuring. 

But what they're getting good at, the Royals, is the art of finding players that other teams may be giving up on that can help them both in short term and long term ways. There's a few other teams that do this, the Rays famously can snag somebody from anywhere and make them a star, the Dodgers' pitching coaches can straighten out careers once thought dead, and the Reds seem to be the go-to place for pitchers that destroy their free agency perks after tenure in the Bronx. But the Royals seem to be picking it up, and this year, so far, they've taken some chances on people that have been immediately helping out.

Cole Ragans is probably the poster child for this mentality, because the Rangers traded him to KC in exchange for a postseason closer that is now pitching for Pittsburgh, and that's looking like a deal the Royals have won. Ragans has been stellar since coming over here, with a combined 2.46 ERA through 14 starts for the Royals. So far this season he's continued his hot streak, and is being relied upon as a staff ace [which Brady Singer seems to be alright with]. Ragans can strike people out and eat innings, and he's very quickly become one of the most reliable Royals aside from Witt. It's very much a case of 'it'd be nice if this held up', but Ragans seems to be a great pitcher who just needed a place with opportunity, and it's doubtful he would have found that in Arlington.

The bullpen is also a case of a lot of guys who got yanked over to KC when no one expected them. Chris Stratton, James McArthur, Matt Sauer: all guys who did not originate in this organization that came over either as a prospect in a deal, a sneaky free agency grab or a low-key trade in the night. All three of them are being used in major roles in the bullpen, and all three have been reliable so far. Add John Schreiber to that; Schreiber was a favorite bullpen piece in Boston, then right as Spring Training was getting underway the Royals dealt for him, in exchange for a prospect. You should have heard the outcry from Sox fans. They did NOT like that, because they knew that the Sox were trying to save space and didn't care whether or not the fans liked him. Schreiber's been excellent so far in Kansas City, scoreless in five appearances.

This new tactic is already paying dividends, as the Royals are currently in second place, knotted up with Detroit, another team who's experienced some nice organizational growth. It remains to be seen whether the Royals will stay afloat this year, especially considering that the Twins are expected to rebound from their slow start, but this new method of building the team up and intermixing homegrown prospects with sneaky dealt guys seems to be working, and I hope it continues to.

Coming Tonight: There's a handful of players who define 'must-see TV' just by stepping onto the field, and this is the latest and greatest.

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