KSAL Staff - June 27, 2016 8:00 am
MAC STEVENSON LIVES IN SALINA, AND WRITES A WEEKLY COLUMN FOR OVER TEN NEWSPAPERS IN KANSAS
Whenever a pop fly goes up between the infield and outfield, the Kansas City Royals defensive players act like they’re participating in a Chinese fire drill. And it isn’t because of the young players. It started when third baseman Mike Moustakas and left fielder Alex Gordon collided in an early game. Moustakas was lost for the season and Gordon for several weeks.
It all starts at the top. Manager Ned Yost had better instruct his coaches—who are responsible for which players make the call on these plays—to restore fundamentals. This shortcoming exemplifies the lack of alertness on the 2016 ball club. They had better get it fixed fast.
KC’s starting pitching is sliding toward the muddy pit of mediocrity; it’s getting worse instead of better. And the front end of the bullpen is substandard. Many MLB teams have this problem and there’s no quick fix because all of these ball clubs are looking for pitching help.
There’s something amiss with MLB rules when two Kansas City players like Whit Merrifield and Brett Eibner have had to wait until they’re 27- years-old before being promoted to the major leagues.
Eibner is a power-hitting outfielder and Merrifield is a second baseman who can also play in the outfield and shortstop or third. Through the games of June 24, Merrifield was hitting .326 and he has played superb defense at second base. In that same period, Eibner was hitting .297 and he’s an excellent outfielder.
When Alex Gordon returns from his injury, he’s going to take over in left field where Eibner’s been playing. That’s unfair. Eibner has paid his dues and is well on his way to proving that he belongs in the major leagues. Something needs to be done to assure that a player like Eibner doesn’t get stuck in the minor leagues; he’s way too talented to be playing at Omaha.
Merrifield appears safe at the present time. He’s been doing everything right and owns the second base job. But he would have been stuck at Omaha if Omar Infante hadn’t played so poorly that KC had to let him go.
With 30 teams in MLB, players with the talent of Eibner and Merrifield shouldn’t be in the minors until they’re 27; from about 24 to 28 are the physically prime years for a professional athlete and Eibner and Merrifield have played in the minors for three or four years longer than they should have.
Big 12 football teams, with the exception of Oklahoma, are not off to great starts with their 2017 recruiting classes. It’s early to be ranking 2017 recruits, but the die is cast for most programs.
Through June 25, Rivals.com ranked OU as having the third-best class in the nation. This is just commitments, not letter-of-intent signings. Nevertheless, the overall quality of each class isn’t likely to change significantly before signing day.
After OU, Oklahoma State is ranked second in the Big 12 and number 27 in the nation. That’s an unacceptable drop from OU at three. Texas is sixth in the Big 12 and 39th nationally. And Baylor, with all their off-field problems, has dropped to dead last in the league and 83rdin the country.
Kansas and Kansas State have fared better than normal: KU is seventh in the Big 12 and 45th nationally and K-State is eighth and 63rd.
Coach Bill Snyder and his staff have seven commitments: OL Aidan Mills (6-5, 265) from Newton (NR); Josh Rivas (6-6, 330), from Hutchinson with a three-star Rivals’ rating; Ben Adler (6-4, 310), from Wichita with three stars; Harrison Creed (6-5, 310) from Ulysses with two stars; DT’s Eli Huggins (6-4, 285), from Cumming, GA with two stars; Wyatt Hubert (6-3, 240) from Tecumseh with three stars; RB Bernard Goodwater (5-9, 175) from Dallas with two stars; and QB Dewayne Betts (6-3, 205) from Memphis with three stars.
KU is off to their best recruiting start in some time. Coach David Beaty and his staff have 10 commitments: DB’s Robert Topps (6-2, 182) from Chicago with three stars; Akayleb Evans (6-2, 180) from McKinney, TX with three stars; Michael Lee (5-10, 162) from New Orleans with four stars; OL Joey Gilbertson (6-4, 290) from Wichita with two stars; LB’s Kyron Jackson (6-1, 195) from Arlington, TX with two stars; Jay Dineen (6-2, 225) from Lawrence with two stars; WR’s Takulve Williams (5-11, 180) from New Orleans with two stars; Reggie Roberson (6-0, 175) from Mesquite, TX with three stars; RB Dominic Williams (5-9, 186) from Dallas with three stars; and athlete Travis Jordan (6-1, 185) from Marrero, LA with three stars.
KU and K-State are off to decent starts in the current recruiting battles and they could improve by signing day.