Friday, April 5 – 7:05 p.m.
Lexington Legends (0-0)
RHP Bryan Brickhouse
Augusta GreenJackets (0-0)
RHP Martin Agosta
Agosta is making his full-season debut on opening night against a strong Lexington lineup. The right-hander was the second-round pick by the Giants in 2012, throwing a low-90s fastball that can touch 96, labeled as a plus-potential pitch with good movement. Agosta said he wants to work more on his changeup this season, meaning we could see it more than his above average slider. Watch for how he implements the cutter: He has mostly ditched it since signing, but he said he still uses a version of it early in counts.
Brickhouse has a hard fastball in the mid-90s, but his strikeout totals suggest he pitches more to contact with good movement on the pitch. His curveball and changeup are plus-potential offerings, according to Baseball America, but the publication says his biggest problem is repeating his delivery, leading to inconsistent command. He has the ceiling of a No. 2/3 starter, but his prospect risk is extreme, especially compared to Almonte. Brickhouse is a product of The Woodlands High School in Texas, known to have one of the stronger baseball programs in the country. He was a third-round pick by the Royals in 2011, recording a 5.61 ERA in 51.1 innings at Kane County last season.
GreenJackets notes: GreenJackets manager Mike Goff revealed his rotation plans to start the season. Agosta will start the opener, followed by Chris Stratton, Joan Gregorio, Kendry Flores, Joseph Biagini and Jose Reyes. Stratton and Gregorio will start Games 1 and 2 in Saturday's doubleheader.
Legends notes: As I noted Monday, Lexington’s roster is loaded with top 30 players in the Royals system. As a brief note, the following is a list of those on the Legends roster within the top 30 Royals prospects, according to Baseball America, with the ranking in parentheses.
OF Bubba Starling (2)
SS Adalberto Mondesi (5)
RHP Miguel Almonte (10)
C Cameron Gallagher (15)
RHP Bryan Brickhouse (17)
SS Humberto Arteaga (20)
OF Fred Ford (23)
LHP Colin Rodgers (25)
RHP Christian Binford (26)
The looming name on Lexington’s roster is Starling, an elite athlete who turned down a football scholarship to Nebraska for a $7.5 million bonus from the Royals when he was drafted fifth overall in 2011. Starling is a center fielder who displays all five tools, almost all being in the plus range. His run and arm are both plus, and his raw power and glove are above average.
The one question surrounding Starling is his hit tool, as he shows some swing and miss in his mechanics. He drops his hands during load, leading to a long swing with little loft. Improving upon his hit tool is the overwhelming question for Starling as he begins his first full season. Either way, the 6-4 Kansas native is one of the biggest prospects to come through Augusta this season.
Right behind Starling is Mondesi, a 17-year-old Dominican-born shortstop who flashes some of the best leather in the minors. Mondesi has baseball bloodlines as the son of Raul Mondesi, receiving a $2 million bonus when he signed as a 16-year-old in 2011. He features plus defensive tools across the board, showing an advanced feel for the position at a very young age. His hit tool projects as plus, according to Baseball Prospectus, although he needs to continue to develop in the box.
More than one report says Almonte is a potential breakout prospect this season. The right-hander turned 21 yesterday. He throws a strong 91-93 fastball that touches mid-90s with easy motion and repeatable mechanics. His changeup ranges from average to above average, while his curveball is developing. His ceiling is a No. 2/3 starter.
Gallagher is a big catcher drafted in the second round in 2011 out of a Pennsylvania high school. He reportedly has a strong arm and advanced feel for receiving and calling a game. He has above-average power for a catcher and makes consistent contact. He is ranked as the top catcher in the system, meaning the Royals have their eyes on him.
Arteaga will work with Mondesi up the middle this season. He doesn’t have the flashy tools like Mondesi, but he gets the most out of what he has, which is a solid first step and hands. His arm and range are average to above average. Offensively, he’s limited to being a contact hitter.
Ford has plus raw power as a corner outfielder, giving Lexington perhaps its biggest power threat from a 6-5, 200-pound frame. He also strikes out a lot thanks to a long swing with holes. The GreenJackets would do well to offer spin and off-speed low and away to Ford.
Rodgers and Binford are polished arms with decent upside, each showing good control and command in their pro debuts last season.