Thursday, March 31, 2005

Calvin Pickering /Ken Harvey Postmortem

As a Royals fan, and as a long time Calvin Pickering advocate, I was overjoyed to hear that he was given a spot on the Royals opening day roster. It's been well covered by friend of TYBITF Kevin Agee, but given my own history with the issue, I feel like I need to give it my own spin. So without further ado, here's a report. I know I'm traveling pretty far afield with the concept of a prospect report since neither player meets the true definition of the term prospect. But as with John Buck, Alexis Rios, and Tim Redding, bear with me.

Calvin Pickering, 1B/DH, Kansas City Royals
Drafted 976th Overall (35th Rd), 1995 Draft, HS, Tampa, FL
Bats L/Throws L
28 YO, 6'5", 295 lbs

Big Cal is huge, lefty slugger who reached the majors with a cup of coffee days before his 23rd birthday. Even while they were promoting him, the O's had serious concerns about his weight and defense, which prompted them to send him back to Rochester in 1999 and in 2000 before eventually getting frustrated with him and placing him on waivers and sending him to Cincinnati. He had injury problems in 2001 and 2002 before emerging in the Mexican League, where as usual he crushed fastballs and hanging curves. This caught the attention of Allard Baird, who signed him up to be Omaha's first baseman in 2004.

2004 Omaha: .314/.451/.712, 12 2B, 35 HR, 70 BB, 85 K, 299 AB
2004 Kansas City: .246/.338/.500, 8 2B, 7 HR, 18 BB, 42 K, 122 AB
mL Career: .303/.407/.558, 128 2B, 138 HR, 367 BB, 617 K, 2162 AB

All hail the master of the three true outcomes! In that Omaha sample, he has 190 HR+BB+K, almost 65% of his at bats. In KC, that figure went down to a mere 55%. He really only does 3 things, walk, strikeout, and hit home runs. Anything else is for those little guys. A lot of people have a big problem with this kind of player because of the strikeouts. I think that's pretty shortsighted. You don't want to try a hit and run with him at the plate, but why would you want to use smallball techniques with a power hitter anyways? If there's anybody who can drive a runner in from third, wouldn't it be this guy?

His defense is about what you'd expect from a guy with a long injury history and an extreme lack of speed. With the glove, his upside is Frank Thomas. On offense, you always hear things like "Poor man's David Ortiz" or the obligatory Ken Phelps reference. All of these have some merit. BP's PECOTA forecasts a flattering .272/.400/.543. The Royals would be overjoyed with that result, as would I.

ETA: N/A
4 Stars


Ken Harvey, 1B, Kansas City Royals
Drafted 151st Overall (5th Rd), 1999 Draft, Nebraska
Bats R/Throws R
27 YO, 6'2", 240 lbs

Harvey started hitting as soon as he signed his first pro contract and was in Kansas City 2 years after he was selected in the 1999 draft. He lit up the Arizona Fall League and forced his way into the 1B/DH picture alongside Mike Sweeney.

The problem is that for a guy this big, he doesn't hit for much power. He also doesn't draw as many walks as somebody like me is likely to demand. Lastly, he has a history of struggling against right handed pitching.

2004 Kansas City: .287/.338/.421, 20 2B, 13 HR, 28 BB, 89 K, 456 AB
mL Career: .328/.384/.510, 86 2B, 47 HR, 110 BB, 227 K, 1307 AB
ML Career: .276/.324/.413, 51 2B, 26 HR, 57 BB, 187 K, 953 AB

You can see the problem pretty easily. Much of his value is tied up in batting average. When that drops down a bit, he becomes a poor asset as a first baseman.

Harvey definitely has his uses. He's good defensively at first base. And he kills left handed pitching. Seems like a Harvey/Pickering platoon would be an almost ideal solution. However, if only given 1 roster spot, the Royals made the right choice.

ETA: N/A
3 Stars

So here's where we stand. Harvey is with Omaha while Pickering is penciled in as the Royals DH. Should Harvey paste PCL pitching while Pickering slumps, they may switch places. If Pickering hits the ground running, you may not hear much of Harvey from here on out.



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