Moustakas, Hosmer top gifted Royals

Kansas City farm system loaded with talent, leadership ability

Mike Moustakas hit .322 with 36 homers and 124 RBIs at two levels. (Shawn E. Davis/

By Robert Emrich / Special to | November 8, 2010 5:00 AM

This offseason, will be honoring the players -- regardless of age or prospect status -- who had the best seasons in their organization. We're taking a look at each team to determine the outstanding seasons in Minor League baseball. Select a team from the dropdown below.

Kansas City saw two of its Minor League affiliates reach the playoffs in 2010. While Burlington was swept in the first round of the Appalachian League semifinals, the Northwest Arkansas Naturals took home their first Texas League title on the strength of players such as Eric Hosmer, Clint Robinson and Johnny Giavotella. Former first-rounder Mike Moustakas played a key role in the team's first-half success before his promotion Triple-A Omaha, which finished a game out of the playoffs at 81-63.

Catcher -- William Myers, Burlington (68 games)/Wilmington (58 games): Myers earned All-Star honors after batting a combined .318 with 83 RBIs between Class A Burlington and Class A Advanced Wilmington. Even more impressive, the 19-year-old had almost as many walks (85) as he did strikeouts (94). Myers also had 54 extra-base hits and threw out 32 percent of would-be base stealers.

First base -- Eric Hosmer, Wilmington (87 games)/Northwest Arkansas (50 games): Hosmer, the third overall pick in the 2008 Draft, rebounded from a subpar 2009 campaign, batting .354 with seven homers for the Blue Rocks. Promoted to the Double-A Naturals, the 21-year-old almost doubled his home run total, slugging 13 homers while batting .313. As an added bonus, Hosmer was also 14-for-16 in stolen base attempts and finished with an organizational-best .338 average.

"You really don't know how he's going to respond making the jump from the Carolina League to the Texas League, and he stepped right in and hit a homer in his first at-bat," Naturals manager Brian Poldberg said. "He didn't really miss a beat."

Second base -- Johnny Giavotella, Northwest Arkansas (134 games): The 5-foot-8 Giavotella was a sparkplug for the Texas League's best offense, batting .322 with a .395 on-base percentage while scoring a league-leading 92 times. He also provided solid defense, posting a .978 fielding percentage, best among the league's second baseman.

"He was at the top of the order, he was a table setter for us. He hit the ball hard all year and put people on base for the big guys behind him," Poldberg said.

Shortstop -- Irving Falu, Omaha (119 games): The 27-year-old Falu batted .272 while putting the ball into play often, striking out only 39 times in 503 at-bats. Falu also hit six triples, and led Omaha with 15 stolen bases while driving in 46 runs.

Third Base -- Mike Moustakas, Northwest Arkansas (66 games)/Omaha (52 games): The No. 2 overall pick in the 2007 Draft enjoyed a breakout season, tying for the Minor League lead with 36 homers and was second with 124 RBIs. Moustakas also batted .322 and was named the Texas League Player of the Year despite not playing a game in the league after July 13.

"Mike can hit the ball out of the park. He's got leadership skills, he's just a good guy to have on the team," Poldberg said. "He creates energy for his teammates and picks them up when they're down. He had a a great season and I hope to see many more out of him."

Left field -- Carlo Testa, Burlington (128 games): Testa, an 18th-rounder in 2008, made a strong full-season debut in 2010, batting .275 with 12 homers and 28 stolen bases. He was also second in the Midwest League with 14 triples and led the Bees with 215 total bases.

Center field -- Derrick Robinson, Northwest Arkansas (127 games): The speedy Robinson led the Texas League and the organization with 50 stolen bases, and he was tied for second in the league with eight triples. The 23-year-old Florida native set career highs in a multitude of categories, including batting average (.286), runs scored (74), RBIs (48) and doubles (26).

"When Derrick got on, he was a guy that made the offense go," Poldberg said. "He got on base and could steal second and steal third. When he didn't get on base, our offense did slow down a little bit."

Right field -- Paulo Orlando, Northwest Arkansas (121 games): The 25-year-old Orlando finally made the jump to Double-A and thrived in the Texas League, finishing fifth with a .305 average. Orlando also slugged a career-high 13 homers and set a new personal best with 64 RBIs for the Naturals. He also picked up eight outfield assists while playing all three spots.

"Hitting coach Terry Bradshaw got to Paolo in Spring Training, he got off to a good start and was able to carry it through the whole season," Poldberg said. "At the beginning, he was playing three or four times a week. As the year went on, he continued to make strides and was playing every day. He's still learning how to play the game. He grew up in Brazil and really hasn't played that much."

Designated hitter -- Clint Robinson, Northwest Naturals (129 games): Robinson became the first player in the Texas League since Adam Piatt in 1999 to win the Triple Crown. Robinson batted .335 with 29 homers and 98 RBIs and, for good measure, led the league with 41 doubles.

"It was a quiet season because of all the excitement about Hosmer and Moustakas," Poldberg said. "Moustakas had a great first half and Clint got overshadowed, but you look up and he's got 70-80 RBIs. Going into the last day, he knew he needed two RBIs and he got RBIs in each of his first three at-bats. It was just a great season with all the other things that have gone on."

Left-handed starter -- John Lamb, Burlington (eight starts)/Wilmington (13 starts)/Northwest Arkansas (seven starts): Lamb, a fifth-rounder in 2008, led the Royals organization with a combined 2.38 ERA and 159 strikeouts. He also notched 10 wins and limited opposing batters to a .226 average while surrendering just five homers in 147 2/3 innings.

"As the year went on, we brought guys up from Wilmington," Poldberg said. "Lamb came in and he can locate with his fastball, has a plus changeup and his curveball is coming along. For a a kid that is 19-20, he's got great composure and doesn't panic. He just went out there and did his job."

Right-handed starter -- Anthony Lerew, Omaha (22 games): The 28-year-old Lerew posted a 9-4 record, while tossing a complete-game shutout. His 2.55 ERA was second in the organization to Lamb, but it was good enough to lead the Pacific Coast League.

Relief pitcher -- Patrick Keating, Wilmington (13 games)/Northwest Arkansas (27 games): While Keating didn't put up gaudy save totals, closing out 15 games for the Blue Rocks and Naturals, he did prove to be a dominant force out of the bullpen. The 23-year-old right-hander held opposing batters to a .201 average and struck out 101 batters in 71 innings.

"Keating's a bulldog, he wanted the ball every day," Poldberg said. "He's got a power curve and a plus fastball. He doesn't panic, he's got a bulldog attitude and it's going to be a big help to him. He throws it up to 94-95. He's got a great future and he kind of came out of nowhere."

Robert Emrich is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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