by John Viril—
Royals Manager Ned Yost announced today that Chris Getz will open the season at second base ahead of competitor Johnny Giavotella. Given their performances in spring training, this decision was a foregone conclusion. Getz clearly outhit Giavotella during spring training (.940 OPS vs. .683)—a death knell for the roster hopes of hitting-first player like Giavotella.
The results of the Giavotella/Getz contest is unlikely to make or break the Royals post-season hopes. Getz is—at best—a 1.0 to 1.5 WAR player in a full season. Giavotella has yet to show he is better than that at the major league level, despite his career minor league triple slash of .308/.380/.443. Playoff aspirations for the 2013 season rest on the revamped pitching staff and breakout chances for former hot-prospects like Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas. As long as Getz can hold down the second base job with competent defense and be something less than a complete black hole on offense, then Getz will not hold back the team.
Projecting Getz over a full season, however, is a bit of speculation since he has never held a starting job in MLB for a full year. Whether due to marginal performance or injury, Getz has no more than 429 plate appearances in a MLB season. Last year, he managed to play in a mere 64 games due to multiple injuries and sharing his job with Dayton Moore favorite Yunieski Betancourt. Do not be surprised if we see Giavotella earn substantial playing time with the big club—especially if he gets hot in AAA or Getz struggles at the plate in 2013.
With Giavotella seeming to hit a wall in his development, both players are little more than placeholders for the horde of middle-infield prospects rising through the Kansas City system. Most of these players play shortstop in the minors, but are certainly capable of moving over to the less athletically demanding second base position.
In the high minors, the Royals have former no. 4 overall pick Christian Colon who will join Giavotella at AAA Omaha this season. Just behind Colon, is former seven-figure international signee SS Orlando Calixte. The 21-year-old Calixte hit well (.281/.326/.426) in the death valley for minor league hitters that is high A Wilmington in 2012 and is said to be a slick defensive player. He is likely to start the season in AA Northwest Arkansas. And, behind Calixte, the team has 17-year-old Adalberto Mondesi who hit a precocious .290/.346/.386 at single A Idaho Falls. Mondesi, who won’t turn 18 until July 27, has drawn comparisons to current Baseball America no. 1 overall prospect Jurikson Profar.
Given SS Alcides Escobar’s long-term contract, do not be surprised to see one of these prospects transition to second base to make the jump to the major leagues.