David DeJesus put it succinctly when he talked about Rick Ankiel’s performance in Tuesday’s intrasquad game: “Everything he hits is a home run.”
That was true. He belted two solo homers – one off Luke Hochevar, one off Minor Leaguer Danny Duffy – as his team rolled, 6-0. He teed off on Hochevar’s changeup and Duffy’s breaking ball. In his other at-bat, Ankiel didn’t hit the ball – lefty Adam Bostick struck him out. Alberto Callaspo, batting right-handed, also homered off Duffy.
DeJesus had three at-bats and belted a triple, a double and a single.
“I just wanted to stay relaxed at the plate,” DeJesus said. “It’s way different doing (batting practice) with the pitchers behind the screen. When you get out there with no screens, you feel like you lock in a little better and it’s definitely always good when you get your first day with three hits.”
He could have had two triples but stopped at second base because he knew the inning was going to be halted at that point anyway. (Three innings were waved off because the pitchers had reached their pitch limit.)
Ankiel thought he got a little help on his second home run by the light Arizona air. “Definitely an Arizona home run,” he said.
Manager Trey Hillman liked what he saw from his offense – there were 13 hits in the five innings – despite skipping live batting practice early on in camp.
“I don’t think we were too far behind considering we didn’t take batting practice the first two days,” Hillman said. “If we hadn’t done well offensively today, by at least one side, I’m sure these guys would’ve grumbled that we missed those two days. But it looked like the mistakes from the pitchers got hit. They got some balls out over the plate.”
But he saw some good things from his pitchers as well.
“Hoch left a changeup up but other than that, he pitched very well, was very efficient. I thought (Aaron) Crow did a real good job. Even though he fell behind, he did a real good job of getting back in the count,” Hillman said.
And he was impressed by Rule 5 draft choice Edgar Osuna, a left-hander.
“You can see the pitchability,” Hillman said. “This is the second time in a row I’ve seen a good breaking ball – it’s got depth and sweep to it. He’s deceptive, especially with the changeup. He’s not afraid to throw to both sides of the plate. He threw Billy Butler a nice cutter inside and followed it up with a changeup and it resulted in two foul balls. But the only reason is because it was Billy Butler. He could’ve struck a lot of right-handed hitters out with that pitch coming in glove-side instead of using the changeup away.”
Most of all, though, Hillman liked his defense. The only error was a wide throw by Hochevar.
“Very clean. We had one error. I was very pleased with the defensive play,” Hillman said.
For Wednesday’s second intrasquad game, Hillman is switching the lineups around. Ankiel will be back but as a designated hitter; ditto for Jose Guillen. Mike Moustakas will get a shot at third base and several other non-roster players are in the two lineups as well. The pitchers will include Brian Bannister and Dusty Hughes.
Before Tuesday’s intrasquad game, Mike Aviles threw from shortstop for the first time in camp. He’s recuperating from Tommy John surgery in his right elbow so he was cautious but made about 15 of the long throws without a problem. He played second base in the game.
Outfielder Scott Podsednik was nicked in the hand by a pitch that glanced off the knob of his bat but he was OK.
Four of the Royals’ Top 10 prospects, as recently defined by Baseball America, will get a priority evaluation in the Major League Spring Training camp.
Pitcher Aaron Crow, rated No. 2, is on the 40-man roster and third baseman Mike Moustakas (No. 4), pitcher Danny Duffy (No. 8) and outfielder David Lough (No. 10) have also been invited.
The other six in the Top 10 are pitcher Mike Montgomery (1), catcher Wil Myers (3), first baseman Eric Hosmer (5), pitcher Tim Melville (6), pitcher John Lamb (7) and pitcher Chris Dwyer (9). They’ll be in the Minor League camp in the same complex at Surprise, Ariz.
Of the four Top 10ers in the big-league camp, Baseball America cites as Moustakas as the farm system’s best power hitter and best infield arm and Crow as having the best fastball and best slider. And, in the publication’s projected 2013 (yes, 2013!) lineup, Lough is seen as the center fielder and Moustakas as the right fielder (that Alex Gordon guy is still at third base) and Crow as the No. 4 starter. Duffy isn’t listed but neither is the projected bullpen so maybe he’s sitting out there in 2013.
Other up-and-comers from the Minors, already on the 40-man roster, that will get close scrutiny include catcher Manuel Pina, shortstop Jeff Bianchi, outfielders Jarrod Dyson and Jordan Parraz and pitchers Noel Arguelles, Henry Barrera, Edgar Osuna and Blake Wood. Arguelles is the Cuban lefty the Royals signed for $7 million. And guys like slugging first baseman Kila Ka’aihue and shortstop-third baseman Mario Lisson will be back for another try.
It should be an interesting camp for getting an eyeful of the Royals’ future hopes.