Royals' Picollo chats with fans
Assistant GM answers questions about KC's farm system
J.J. Picollo: Thanks for joining me today. Let's get started.
bairdstupid: When is the soonest we could see Jeff Bianchi at the MLB level? September callup?
Picollo: Jeff is having a great year, and he is off to a good start in Double-A Northwest Arkansas, and his arrival time to the Major Leagues will be determined by the success he has between Northwest Arkansas and Omaha, and then we'll see if he is ready for the Major Leagues.
royalfan25: What advice would you give someone interested in working on the baseball side of an organization?
Picollo: There are a lot of different ways to get in involved in the baseball side of an organization. We have former players who get involved on the baseball side, a lot of college coaches that get involved as scouts, there are a high number of employees that get involved in baseball through internship programs. MLB has internships, as well as the 30 clubs, and the Arizona Fall League has internships as well. The Arizona Fall League is where a lot of people get started.
massfan1: The Royals signed Ben Tschepikow and assigned him to Idaho Falls. I don't see him on the roster anymore -- what is his status?
Picollo: He broke his finger in the College World Series, so he is rehabbing in Arizona at our Spring Training complex at the moment.
greinkeday: Will Kila Ka'aihue get a callup this year? A real shot at a job next year?
Picollo: We are always evaluating where our players are and what they are doing in the Minor Leagues. Our evaluations of where they are as a player, combined with the opporunity of what is needed at the Major League level, that is when players get their opportunity, and that is what Kila is waiting for.
ajaha25: What can you tell us about Scott Thorman?
Picollo: Scott is having a great year in Omaha. He has prior Major League experience. He is naturally a first baseman who can go play left field on occasion. With the type of year he is having, he is certainly someone we have spent a lot of time talking about as far as how he can help the Major League team.
ryan_brown: Are there any updates on the signing status of Aaron Crow, Wil Myers, Chris Dwyer or Louis Coleman?
Picollo: All four of those players are currently in discussions with the club and their advisers. We are optimistic that we will come to an agreement with all of them.
jprob14: Could you tell us a little bit about Chelsor Cuthbert and what we can expect as far as the timetable of his development? What positions does he project at? Is there a player that you can compare him to?
Picollo: A timetable on a young Latin American player is always difficult to predict. Chelsor is a very good hitter with power who we project to be a third baseman. He is along the lines of Adrian Beltre with the Mariners.
dannyb327: What pitching prospect are you most excited about in the Royals organization?
Picollo: Dan Duffy, a left-handed pitcher with the Wilmington Blue Rocks, is having a very good year. He was named to the Carolina League All-Star Game, and also the Futures Game in St. Louis next week.
vbsuds: Thank you for the opportunity to chat and ask questions, it is greatly appreciated! What can you tell us about Mike Moustakas and his progress?
Picollo: Mike is having a very solid year. He has been more consistent from the start of the season until this point this year than last year, as far as his quality at-bats. Wilmington is a very difficult park to hit in, and we don't expect that his home run totals will be as high as they were last year with how deep the park is in Wilmington.
parke57: I hear Mike Aviles is scheduled for Tommy John surgery. When does he go for that, and when do you see him coming back?
Picollo: It looks like he is going to have Tommy John surgery, so his return date would be about nine to 10 months from now.
greinkeday: I love what we're doing with Derrick Robinson. How does he compare to, say, Coco Crisp's speed in the outfield and on the bases? Have the Royals ever had someone as fast as Robinson?
Picollo: He is the same type of player as Coco as far as his speed and defense are concerned. He is still one of the youngest players in the Carolina League, and we believe he'll become the offensive player that Coco has become in the Major Leagues.
joshbuhl: Where is Jordan Parraz likely to be next year?
Picollo: Jordan is having a great year. He has been slowed the last couple of weeks by a strained hamstring. He has become one of our best right-handed hitters at the upper levels. The next step for him will be Triple-A.
hyperion99: Can you give us a name of a Minor League player that might be flying under the radar? A sleeper, diamond in the rough, etc. -- someone we haven't heard much about.
Picollo: Jared Dyson is an outfielder that was just promoted to Double-A in Northwest Arkansas. He was a 50th-round pick in 2006. He has great speed, really improved with his bat and projects to be a center fielder.
labsorhors: I see that Chris "Disco" Hayes has made the jump from Double-A to Triple-A. What role will do you expect him to be in while in Omaha?
Picollo: He is a reliever that can be used as a short reliever or a long reliever. He is a sidearm pitcher that is not overpowering with his fastball, but understands his strengths and weakness and knows how to pitch.
ajaha25: Can you give us an injury update for the Omaha roster? I'm thinking specifically of Costa, Lubanski, and Shealy.
Picollo: There is a chance that we could see Costa and Lubanski sometime in August depending on how their rehab continues. Less likely to see Shealy back this year.
dannyb327: Who's decision is it calling up someone to the Majors or sending someone down to the Minors?
Picollo: As far as sending someone down to the Minors, it is Dayton and Trey. As far as calling someone up, the Triple-A staff, myself, Scott Sharp (director of Miinor League operations) and Dayton.
labsorhors: Didn't the Royals sign a catcher from Korea? What is his status?
Picollo: Jin-Ho Shin is a young catcher, very strong and he is finishing school in Korea right now. He will more than likely spend some time in Arizona this fall in the Instructional League.
hyperion99: Besides Hosmer, Moose and Kila, what other legit power bats do we have in the minors?
Picollo: Scott Thorman is one in Triple-A. Jordan Parraz will eventually be hitting more home runs than he is now. At the very youngest levels, there is a catcher in Burlington, N.C., named Travis Jones who has good hitting power. That was an area we tried to address in the Draft by selecting Wil Myers.
win4kc: Can you give us an update on the recovery of Alex Gordon?
Picollo: He is in Northwest Arkansas playing now; he is swinging the bat well. He started to play in the field on occasion and the last part of his rehab, that we need to see, is how well he is running the bases and doing things that come naturally for a baseball player -- like sliding. Once our training staff feels like he has accomplished those things, he will be recalled.
labsorhors: What does your average day consist of and how many Major and Minor League games do you see in a year?
Picollo: I'm on the road probably about 85 percent of the season between the Draft and watching our Minor League teams. My day consists of listening to game reports from all seven of our Minor League teams, speaking on the phone to our scouting and player development staff and typically at a ballfield, watching one of our Minor League teams or events/college leagues that are preparing us for the 2010 Draft. That typically is six to seven hours of my day, being at a field.
revive__85: I know that the Royals recently signed Tim Raines, Jr., and that he has previously had some time in the Majors. Is he a guy that may be joining the big league team this season? Does his game remind you of his dad's?
Picollo: He has the same tools that his father had. His dad was a very successful Major League player and an All-Star. Tim is at a point in his career where there has to be opportunity at the Major League level in order for him to get back to the Major Leagues.
massfan1: David Lough was recently promoted to Northwest Arkansas. He is actually playing better than I thought he would -- what is his ceiling?
Picollo: Dave is a very good hitter who has good speed. He performed very well in the Carolina League, which is not a very easy league to go into, and he did very well his first couple of months there. He has a lot of promise and is a potential center fielder at the Major League level.
VaKcfan4life: How often do you and Dayton evaluate players, and is there some sort of benchmarks you guys are looking at over the next couple of years? What are they?
Picollo: We evaluate players on a daily basis; that is the primary function of our job. We have projected teams at the Major League level through 2014, really. Those projections change on a regular basis based on how guys are performing in the Minor Leagues.
win4kc: Will you be attending the All-Star Game next week? Futures Game?
Picollo: No, I won't be, but there will be two representatives scouting both of the games.
royalsnut2: Clint Robinson is a 1B/DH at Wilmington, who is from Jefferson City, Mo. He was a late-round Draft pick, too big to be a plus defensively. Do you think he'll hit enough to make it? He's already 24.
Picollo: Clint is having a good year in the Carolina League. He does have good power, and even though he was a late-round pick, it was the 2007 Draft and he has really moved a level each year. While age does factor in, when a guy shows he can handle it, we will push him along the best we can.
semonate: What role do you play in evaluating prospects of other teams that may be a part of trades?
Picollo: I don't have much to do with it because I'm watching our clubs, but we do have a full professional staff which has that function. We are probably seeing 12-15 Minor League games a day to prepare us for potential trades.
labsorhors: Coming out of Spring Training, it looked like Heath Phillips or Lenny DiNardo might see some time in the Majors this year. However, both of them have stumbled in Triple-A. What has been their primary problem(s)?
Picollo: Lenny DiNardo is having a very good year in Triple-A, we just haven't had the opportunity at the Major League level so far through the 2009 season. Heath Phillips isn't doing as well in Triple-A as we had hoped, but we have seen some signs out of him that we can see as potentially helping us in the future.
rusty266: How would you compare the state of the Royals' Minor League system, talent-wise, now to what it was three years ago?
Picollo: I think we have done a good job in our evaluations and our signings through the Draft. We are much deeper with our pitching prospects at this point, and have some bats in the Minor Leagues that we think will make an impact at the Major League level.
labsorhors: What is the extent of your scouting of Independent League players here in the U.S.?
Picollo: We have contacts with all the Independent Leagues, who report to us on a regular basis on who is playing well in their leagues. Although we haven't signed any Independent League players this year, we have in previous years, and believe they are a good resource to help us sign prospects who can help our organization.
bmc30: Mike Montgomery is a very intriguing left-handed pitcher. Where do you guys project him?
Picollo: Mike is very talented. So far, he has handled the Midwest League exceptionally well and he is a player that we believe has a huge upside and can be somebody that can be in the starting rotation in the Major Leagues.
revive__85: What are your thoughts about moving to a "world" Draft? Do you think it will happen anytime in the near future?
Picollo: A world Draft would be very interesting, but at the same time, would be logistically something that would have to be well orchestrated by Major League Baseball and I'm not sure how far away, if at all, we are headed towards an international Draft.
jprob14: J.J., one of the things mentioned with the Royals lack of a second-round pick was that they would use the money to be more aggressive in Latin America and abroad. Along with Cuthbert, how many more international players do the Royals anticipate to sign?
Picollo: We signed Shin as well, which is a player we spent money on. Although the public perception is that July 2 is when all the high dollar prospects are signed, it is really an ongoing process and we are still very active internationally.
skillset: Do you think that MLB will move the Draft signing deadline up to an earlier point in the summer, due to so many draftees waiting until the last minute to sign their deals? It seems like these kids waste their first summers of pro ball.
Picollo: It is something that has been talked about with the scouting directors but the reality is that is something that would have to be negotiated in the new collective bargaining agreement the next time around.
joshbuhl: Of the 2009 Draftees, who has been a pleasant surprise so far in Burlington or Idaho Falls?
Picollo: In Idaho Falls, we have a left-handed pitcher named Brendan Lafferty who has thrown the ball extremely well and who has caught the attention of our player development staff very quickly.
win4kc: How many of this past Draft's prospects have been signed, and what is the status of the top picks for the Royals?
Picollo: We have signed 24 Drafted players and five non-drafted players. It is a very high number, and we expect to sign anywhere from four to six more.
Picollo: Thank you for taking the time today to join this chat, I appreciate all the great questions and your support of the Royals.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.