by John Viril—
With the Royals enduring yet another rainout on Friday, I decided to look at AAA Omaha. And, lo and behold, I noticed a familiar name pop out in the pitching stats: Chris Dwyer. Two years ago, back when Kansas City’s farm system was praised as one of the best in decades, analysts marveled at their amazing depth. One of the strongest features of the system was their left-handed starting pitching, headlined by four strong prospects: Mike Montgomery, John Lamb, Danny Duffy and Chris Dwyer.
Mike Montgomery mysteriously lost the ability to find home plate. This winter, Montgomery was traded to Tampa Bay in the deal that brought James Shields and Wade Davis to Kansas CIty. John Lamb blew out his elbow in 2011, while Danny Duffy also tore his UCL the following spring. Meanwhile, Chris Dwyer languished in AA Northwest Arkansas.
After a strong first two years in the organization, Dwyer stalled at AA. In 2011, he posted an ugly 5.60 ERA in 141.1 IP with 78 walks. The following season, he was little better with a 5.25 ERA in 85.1 IP with 44 walks. Despite showing only meager progress, the team promoted Dwyer to AAA Omaha at the end of last season where hitters pummeled him for a 6.97 ERA. The Royals shut him down in August due to a drop in velocity.
Oddly enough, this winter Kansas City GM Dayton Moore protected Dwyer from the rule 5 draft by placing him the 40 man roster. Apparently, Moore still considered him a possible major league starter despite his age (he turned 25 April 10) and poor track record. Dwyer has always had major-league stuff. Baseball Prospectus rated Dwyer’s curveball the best in the system for 3 consecutive years. The problem has been his erratic mechanics, which causes him to leave even his fastball all over the strike zone.
This spring in Omaha, Dwyer seems to have finally harnessed his stuff. While his strikeouts are down to a very pedestrian 5.6 K/9, he’s reduced his BB/9 to an acceptable 2.84. His improved control has yielded a hopeful 2.56 ERA in 5 starts and 31.2 IP.
Chris Dwyer’s major league chances have seemingly returned to life after most observers had left him for dead this winter. On Friday, Dwyer enjoyed what was probably his best game this season with 7.0 IP, 2 earned runs while striking out 5 and, most importantly, surrendering only 1 walk against the Iowa Cubs.
While Chris Dwyer’s got a long way to go before we see him in the Kansas City rotation, his early returns in AAA make for good news on yet another rainy day.