Royals Q&A: A key week looms ahead

The Royals are entering what might be the decisive portion of their season tonight when they open a three-game home series against the Minnesota Twins at Kauffman Stadium.

The schedule, after a tough run in May, appears far more accommodating in June. If the Royals can’t pull out of their extended tailspin (6-21) this month, things could really get grim throughout the rest of the summer.

In particular, this is a key week for an attack on life support. The next six games are against the Twins and Houston Astros, who have two of the league’s worst pitching staffs (although both have been better lately).

Also this week: The first-year player draft runs Thursday through Saturday. The Royals have the eighth overall pick and three of the first 46 selections.

So there’s much to discuss on this week’s question-and-answer exchange.

@blamberty: Baseball America insists the Royals strongly prefer a pitcher at #8 on Thursday. Do you get the same sense?

I think it’s likely they choose a pitcher when projecting what figures to be available, but there are several non-pitchers who, if they fall to No. 8, are good candidates for selection.

Possibilities include San Diego’s Kris Bryant and two Georgia high school outfielders, Clint Frazier and Austin Meadows.

Two others who might get consideration are North Carolina third baseman Colin Moran, and Reese McGuire, a high school catcher from Washington.

@JeffMcG_CC: who has been the biggest surprise in a good way at Wilmington or Lexington?

I don’t know if he’s a total surprise, but Hi-A Wilmington right-hander Kyle Smith, who is scheduled to pitch tonight, is 4-1 with a 2.00 ERA through 10 starts.

Smith, 20, was a fourth-round pick in 2011, so he’s not coming out of nowhere, but he tends to get overlooked a lot when reviewing the system’s top prospects because he doesn’t have eye-popping stuff.

@Crooksie81: give him another look and run in our minors. What could it hurt? He was solid during his time here.

Assume you’re talking about Mark Teahen, who was released earlier this week by Texas from its Class AAA Round Rock roster less than two weeks after being signed as a free agent.

Teahen was a fan favorite for a long period in Kansas City, but his performance has declined steadily in the last few years. I’m not sure I see much value in bringing him back.

@Chrislee_29: do you believe we will see Ventura this season?

There’s a good chance that right-hander Yordano Ventura will get called up if he can dominate Class AAA like he did Class AA. (He was promoted Monday from to Class AAA Omaha from Class AA Northwest Arkansas.)

Ventura is the organization’s top pitching prospect, and while the Royals view him as a starter, I could see him getting a break-in period later this season in a bullpen role.

@Proud2bApstolic: if the Royals trade Santana what might they be looking for in return?

They’d be looking to fill a hole with a long-term solution. My guess is their preference would be to acquire a corner outfielder with a run-production bat. A second baseman is another possibility.

@bjmo09: have you heard on or what could be the next change coming for the royals this season. Maybe any trade rumors.

If I had any specifics, I wouldn’t be keeping that information under wraps. Nothing firm in the way of rumors but, if the Royals don’t pull out of this extended slide, lots of changes figure to occur.

@zackwheat: Do the #Royals have any response to the criticism that almost all players drafted during the Moore regime have disappointed.

What would you expect them to say? They’re more disappointed than any fan. I mean, this is their livelihood.

Publicly, they maintain a belief they have the right mix of players, and that it’s only a matter of time before things click.

@FireFrankYost: who cares anymore is a better question?

People who send me twitter questions, maybe?

@murphballer: why won't they give Gio a chance at the big league level? Can't be worse then Getz and EJ.

Johnny Giavotella is hitting .231 since May 1 in 31 games at Class AAA Omaha. That doesn’t scream promotion.

@Deeg_1990: Any chance David Glass will sell the team in the near future? Specifically to Cerner?

Absolutely no reason to think so.

@justinmarkbro: at what point do the scouts and player development people begin to get the blame for the lack production?

I think there’s plenty of blame being passed around right now, and it only figures to escalate if the Royals continue to play below expectations.

@Kevin_Flanagan: Is George a better fit as hitting coach or mgr? As mgr, who would be his bench and hitting coaches? Speculate

The jury is still out (it’s been four games) on how effective Brett will be as a hitting coach. As for the rest, your guess is as good as mine or anyone else’s.

@CoachKohlman: Is there any chance we will be seeing player movement, send downs, or call ups, in the next month?

Who do you want promoted? If the Royals saw anyone at Class AAA Omaha who could provide a real boost, that guy would already be here.

This team has lost 21 of its last 27 games. Club officials are looking for solutions but don’t see any easy internal solutions. For what it’s worth, neither do I.

But ... this can’t continue. Changes are coming if the Royals don’t start playing better — but it might be simply change for change’s sake. That rarely works.

@audra_marvin: Been seeing less of Frenchy more of Lough in lineup. Do you expect this to continue long term? Does JF have expiration date?

You’re right about the Royals cutting back on Jeff Francoeur’s playing time. I’d expect that to continue unless his bat perks up.

Jarrod Dyson was in line for a long look when he got hurt. And Ned Yost held off on his lineup Sunday to see whether David Lough, injured the day before, might be available to play.

Unlike some guys who are struggling, such as third baseman Mike Moustakas, Francoeur is not part of the long-term future. He’s a free agent after this season.

It will be interesting to see what happens when Dyson returns, which probably won’t be for two more weeks. Do the Royals send Lough back to Omaha...or release/trade Francoeur?

@JustisMichael: any record book say when the last time a Royals pitcher had double digit K's?

The last Royals pitcher with a 10-plus strikeout game was Luke Hochevar on April 21, 2012 at Tampa Bay.

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