After the defeat of the Omaha Storm Chasers in the Pacific Coast League championship, the Kansas City Royals called up five of their players to the major league roster. Three of the five, pitchers Nate Adcock and Tommy Hottovy and infielder Irving Falu, have been in Kansas City already this year. But for catcher Adam Moore and pitcher Jake Odorizzi, this is their first time at the highest level.
It is that last name that is garnering the most attention. Acquired by the Royals in the trade that sent Zack Greinke to the Milwaukee Brewers, there have been suggestions that he is big-league ready for some time. This year at AAA he posted an 11-3 record with a 2.93 ERA during the regular season. Numbers even resembling that would not go amiss at the big league club, where a dearth of reliable starting pitching has been one of the main factors in keeping Kansas City under .500 this season.
It would also bring some measure of closure to the Greinke deal. As beneficial as players like Lorenzo Cain and especially Alcides Escobar (who ought to win a gold glove and ought to have been on the AL All-Star team this year) have been, there has been a massive hole in the starting rotation. Even if Odorizzi does not put up Greinke-esque numbers (and there is little chance that he will, at least at first), just a solid year will make the trade look like it was indeed a good one.
Odorizzi will actually start in the bullpen whilst the Royals get a look at him in this last fortnight of the season, however. Manager Ned Yost made it clear that he does not want Odorizzi starting against a contending team and most of the Royals opponents from now to the end of the year are indeed contending. Yost did suggest that Odorizzi might start at the weekend when the Royals play the struggling Cleveland Indians, however. But either way this will provide a valuable metric by which to judge his chances of getting a rotation spot next year and on what he will need to work before then.
Although Odorizzi will dominate the headlines, there were others called up who are also interesting. Adcock is another who has pitched mostly out of the bullpen at the big league level, but is expected to be a starter in the future. Yost did not say if he will also get a run out against Cleveland, but it will be something for which to look as the Royals have six games left this year against the Indians. Hottovy, a Kansas City native, will be a welcome addition to a bullpen which has had some trouble in the last few games.
Falu had a great period in Kansas City earlier in the year and now has the chance to compete head to head with Tony Abreu, who has also done well, for the reserve infielder spot. Whoever does not get the position will make excellent trade material as well. And Moore will get a look behind the plate as the Royals saw Manny Piña last season.
As with every September there are a lot of unfamiliar faces around Kansas City this year. But this time there is a very good chance that those faces will start to become quite familiar to fans and the media over the coming years.