The Royals promoted pitching prospect Christian Binford to Class AAA Omaha on Sunday, as part of an organization-wide endeavor to maximize value from their farm system in September.
Binford will work in relief. So is 2014 first-rounder Brandon Finnegan in Class AA. And Kyle Zimmer made his debut on Sunday evening with Class A Idaho Falls. All three could contribute to the big-league club when the rosters expand in September. So could Terrance Gore, a base-stealing maven recently promoted to Omaha.
None of these players are on the 40-man roster. To join the Royals, there must be some trimming of that group. All 40 spots are taken. So who could be removed?
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Let’s forget about the trio of Casey Coleman, Louis Coleman and Tim Collins. All will likely join the club in September. Collins figures to be non-tendered, after a series of unproductive stints in the majors this season. But there are less valuable pieces on the roster to manage.
Here are five candidates:
1. Aaron Brooks (9-3, 4.38 ERA for Omaha): Few will forget his disastrous outing as a spot starter in Toronto. But he also weathered a pounding in his lone relief appearance, too. Brooks could clear waivers, too. If not, the Royals lose a middling starting pitcher (4.44 ERA in four seasons, 6.8 strikeouts per nine), a theoretical strike thrower who failed to throw strikes in his two big-league chances.
2. Scott Downs: He has some practical value on the roster, as manager Ned Yost still considers him useful against left-handed hitters. He also can soak up garbage innings. But the team could transfer him to the 60-day disabled list, if his neck injury does not improve.
3. Michael Mariot (4.95 ERA for Omaha): Mariot appeared in 17 games for the big-league club this season, which is a lot. His strikeout rate in Omaha (11.2 per nine) is impressive, even if his ERA is not. His fastball is useful, too, and the club will need to keep relievers around for 2015. He might get claimed on waivers, which is a reason to keep him on the 40-man.
4. Blake Wood (6.35 ERA for Omaha): He is still recovering, one supposes, from Tommy John surgery in 2012. This helps his case. His 11.1 strikeout-to-walk ratio in Class AAA doesn’t hurt, either. As a former Royal, a decent contributor in 2010 and 2011, he could be kept around for the 2015 stockpile, too. Of course, he would also clear waivers, most likely.
5. Johnny Giavotella (.756 OPS in Omaha): His OPS as a 23-year-old was .871. That number has fallen more than 100 points in the subsequent three seasons. The team appears to have moved on from him, with Christian Colon installed as the backup infielder.
FROM THE STAR
Jeremy Guthrie logged seven innings in the rain as the Royals crushed the Twins.
The Royals promoted Christian Binford to Omaha — and converted him into relief.
THE ROYALS’ PLAYOFF PERCENTAGE (ACCORDING TO BASEBALL PROSPECTUS)
HERE IS SOME ROCK MUSIC
“Pull Myself Together (Don’t Hate Me)” by The Rocket Summer.