“Reporter Jottings”: Royals add another reliever; International Signings Announcement; Hall of Fame Thoughts

I plan on getting to the Tier Seven prospect rankings either Thursday or Friday, as I am a bit beat after a long week (even though it’s Wednesday) to really dive into a really interesting group of prospects in the “Royals Top 50” Prospect Rankings list (Tier Seven mostly consists of international prospects).

Instead, I am going to offer some thoughts on two bits of Royals news, and some general Hall of Fame thoughts, as the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) announced this year’s player induction class to Cooperstown (which only consisted of one player):

So, let’s take a look at those bits of news in this edition of the “Reporter Jottings.”

Royals add another reliever to the mix for 2022

On Monday, the Royals announced the signing of former Red Sox reliever Colten Brewer to a Minor League contract, the second Minor League deal the Royals have made during the lockout (the other being Arodys Vizcaino):

Brewer just recently turned 29, and I am not sure if this signing is something Royals fans should be too excited about. Much like previous Spring Training Minor League reliever invitations such as Brad Brach and Braden Shipley, Brewer does have some Major League experience, but it’s a long shot that he will have an impact on the Royals bullpen in 2022, let alone make the Royals active roster by the conclusion of Cactus League play this Spring.

Over four seasons and 81 total games at the Major League level (three with the Red Sox and one with the Padres), the 2011 fourth-round pick of the Pittsburgh Pirates has a career ERA of 5.04 and fWAR of -0.2, according to Fangraphs. That being said, he has been able to generate some solid spin on his fastball and curveball in the past, as his fastball spin ranked in the 77th percentile and curveball rated in 81st percentile, according to Baseball Savant, back in 2020.

His curve can be nasty at times, showing signs that he could be of some use to the Royals bullpen next season if the chips fall right. This is evidenced in the clip below from the 2020 season with Boston, as he gets’ the Blue Jays’ Reese McGuire to swing and miss badly:

Unfortunately, results like that just didn’t happen enough over the course of Brewer’s career, as evidenced by his career 1.52 K/BB ratio and 17.1 percent HR/FB rate.

The odds will be low when it comes to Brewer making the Royals Opening Day roster, especially with a bullpen that should be much better with younger options on the 40-man roster such as Dylan Coleman, Collin Snider, and Nathan Webb available.

However, if Brewer can channel his cutter-curveball combo this Spring (which was decently successful in 2020), it would not be surprising to see him emerge as a “sleeper reliever” in the Royals 2022 bullpen, perhaps like Domingo Tapia a season ago.

Royals set record for International Signings

On Tuesday, the Royals announced their international signing class for 2022, and let’s just say it was an impressive number of signees:

A lot of Royals fans have been complaining about a “tame” offseason when it comes to free-agent signings (well, they were prior to the lockout anyways). However, as a realistic Royals fan, I am more encouraged by moves like this rather than signing some free agent that they probably overpaid for due to their “small market” and “rebuilding” statuses (which was the case last offseason with signings such as Mike Minor and Carlos Santana).

This emphasis on domestic and international scouting, combined with player development in the Minor League system, bodes well for the Royals organization in the long-term, which is what this franchise needs, especially after a lackluster decade record-wise at the Major League level.

On the other hand, the Royals do need to see some return on investment in regard to their international signings sooner rather than later.

Clint Scoles talked about this in-depth on his Royals Academy newsletter, as the Royals haven’t had a whole lot of success from their international signings when they have come stateside, despite the Royals increasing their spending on the international market over the past decade (remember, they were pretty much non-existent when it came to scouting in Latin America prior to Dayton Moore’s arrival).

Here’s what Scoles said in his post that really summarizes the Royals’ struggles to see much fruit from their international signings over the past decade:

The Royals need to see some returns on their international investments. Carlos Hernandez’s arrival was a good sign that their strategy to take some older pitchers and add them to the system for cheap initial signings can pay off. The organization’s athletic and defensive strategy initially put in when GMDM arrived yielded very little results. Sal and Adalberto Mondesi provided some value positionally, but that has been it. Considering they have invested multiple millions into Mondesi, Elier Hernandez, and Seuly Matias with just Mondesi’s meager 4.6 rWAR return, the Royals staff needs to lockdown better results, especially with big-ticket players.

“Minor Thoughts 1/17/22” by Clint Scoles; Royals Academy

The Royals have seen a lot of growth in their Minor League players due to the organization’s strong investment in player development in the past couple of years. Hopefully, that player development success will trickle down to the lower levels of the Royals system and will have a bigger effect on the international players who begin in the Dominican Summer League and Arizona Rookie Complex League in 2022 and beyond. Success at those levels could have tremendous long-term benefits for the Royals not just in the Minor Leagues, but Majors as well.

International players will always be high-risk investments, due to their youth. The Royals aren’t the only club that has “whiffed” when it comes to their international talent living up to their “signing bonuses”. It can be really hard to project how a 16 or 17-year-old will develop in professional ball, especially with all the challenges they face outside of baseball in general (i.e. language, adapting to American culture, pressures from back home, etc). The movie “Sugar” demonstrated this in incredible fashion, even though it was a “fictitious” film.

That being said, if the Royals can see better success from their international classes in the near future, that could be a huge factor in helping the Royals turn things around at the Major League level not just in the short-term, but long-term as well.

Thoughts on the Hall of Fame Voting Results

David Ortiz made the Baseball Hall of Fame in his first appearance on the ballot. Unfortunately, he was the lone player on the ballot to do so, which was a bummer for baseball fans who were holding out hope that Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens could perhaps make the Hall of Fame in their last year of eligibility.

Safe to say, Baseball Twitter was not exactly “happy” about baseball writers’ decisions to leave out arguably the best hitter and pitcher in the history of the game:

In my opinion and ballot (as I vote in the IBWAA HOF voting process), I believe Bonds and Clemens should be in and it’s not even close, (though to be fair, the IBWAA have already had them in prior to this season).

I get that Bonds and Clemens had “connections” with steroid use. I get that they were not the friendliest people to the media during their tenures as players in the Major Leagues.

However, they were the best at their positions for quite some time, and no one was as feared on the mound or at the plate during their time than Clemens and Bonds, respectively.

The fact that they couldn’t be voted into the Hall of Fame in their last year of eligibility, but Harold Baines and Jim Rice could, is a sham and needs to be corrected soon.

Yes, Bonds and Clemens had their issues both on the field and off. That being said, you can’t talk about the game of baseball from the late ’80s to the early 2000s without mentioning Bonds and Clemens. That cannot be debated, and I’m hoping that the “Today’s Game Era Committee” gets the pair into Cooperstown sooner rather than later.

Some other names on the Hall of Fame list that struck a chord with me were Alex Rodriguez, Jeff Kent, and Tim Lincecum.

As someone who lived in Washington and followed the Seattle Mariners during my early years as a baseball fan, A-Rod has always been a polarizing figure. Yes, he was widely disliked for his antics, especially when he played with the Yankees. However, he was an incredibly talented player, and I was lucky to watch him play regularly in person in Seattle, which was my favorite period of his as a player. It’s a shame that the A-Rod, Griffey, and Ichiro trio never really played together in the Emerald City.

As for Kent and Lincecum, I followed them closely as well, especially growing up in a San Francisco Giants household (most of my family hails from Northern California, which is Giants territory with the exception of the East Bay). Though he was an abrasive personality, Kent was a phenomenal hitting second baseman, and while he did benefit from hitting behind Bonds, he combined with Bonds to form one of the most potent 3-4 combinations in the National League during the late 90s and early 2000s.

Was Kent a Hall of Famer? Probably not, but he was a lot of fun to watch on those Giants teams:

As for Lincecum, I get why he didn’t make the cut to stay on the ballot next year. His career saw some incredible highs (two Cy Young awards), but accompanied a quick and steep dropoff as well, as he was out of baseball after only 10 seasons. While Lincecum was never the same after the 2011 season, without a doubt, the Giants don’t win three World Series titles without him.

Prior to his arrival to the Giants rotation in 2007, the Giants were a mess of an organization, reeling from a near-miss in the 2002 World Series, where they lost in seven games to the Los Angeles Angels (the Anaheim Angels at the time). Lincecum brought hope to the organization when he debuted in 2007, and from 2008-2011, no Giants pitcher captured San Francisco baseball fans like “The Freak”. That may not make him a Hall of Fame player, but he certainly needs to be remembered for what he did, even if it may be specific to the Giants and Oracle Park.

Seeing clips like the ones below of Lincecum still gives me chills, even though I am staunchly a Royals fan nowadays:

Lincecum may not be “Cooperstown-bound”. But he will not be forgotten…

Especially to a baseball fan like myself.

Photo Credit: Cary Edmondson-US PRESSWIRE

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