Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Alex and Billy: A tale of two Royals separate paths to the majors

On the Kansas City Royals roster there are two young players. Their names is Alex Gordon and Billy Butler. Both were highly touted prospects going through the system, but have taken different paths to get to the majors. For Billy, he was drafted 14th overall in 2004 draft out of high school and gone through every Royals minor league clubs. Alex was drafted 2nd overall in 2005 draft out of college and immediately played for Royal AA team. Both were teammates in Arizona league in 2005 as well the Royals AA club in 2006. In 2007 their paths changed. Alex jumped straight to the majors from AA immediately hailed as the face of the Royals franchise. Billy stayed in the minor league system playing for the AAA club and didn't reach to the majors til halfway of 2007 season. Alex was put under pressure to produce immediately for the Royals. Billy took his time to develop as a player before getting the called to the Royals. In their debut season together in the majors they did respectably well.

Alex Gordon: 151 games/134 hits/36 doubles/4 triple/15 homeruns/60 RBIs/41 BB/137 strikeouts/.247 batting average

Billy Butler: 92 games/96 hits/23 doubles/2 triples/8 homeruns/52 RBIs/27 BB/55 strikeouts/.292 batting average

In 2008 both dealt with "sophomore" pains. Billy started the season in a slump and was sent down to AAA for more seasoning. After 26 games he was called back and return to major league form. Alex Gordon making small improvements til he suffered a hip flexor in August forcing him to miss a month. Despite suffering setbacks both produced respectable season numbers again.

Alex Gordon: 134 games/128 hits/35 doubles/1 triple/16 homeruns/59 RBIs/66 BB/120 strikeouts/.260 batting average

Billy Butler: 124 games/122 hits/22 doubles/11 homeruns/55 RBIs/33 BB/57 strikeouts/.275 batting average

In 2009 their paths split into different areas once again with one moving upward while the other going downward. Alex path headed downward battling injuries from first game of the season resulting of him struggling at the plate. For first time in his career he was sent down to AAA to refine his batting for a month before getting called back up with few weeks left in the season. He played 49 games just hitting 6 homeruns with 22 RBIs, 6 doubles and .232 batting average. Heading upward is Billy. He had a breakout season playing with his timely hitting and ability to drive in runs. In 159 games with 183 hits, 51 doubles (second in the league to Orioles' Brian Roberts), 21 homeruns, 93 RBIs, and .302 batting average.

Enter this season it was evident who's rising and who's sliding. A month into a season and its the same thing from last year. Billy continues to make strides with his hitting. Alex broke his thumb during spring training and barely getting on the field. With Albert Callapso doing well in his spot at 3B, he gets sent down to AAA to learn to play left field. Royals has not given up hope on Alex and still hoping he will produce sooner.

Two high prospects, one quickly breezed to the majors becoming face of the franchise, but bitten with bad luck and timing. The other quietly worked his way through and should have become the face of the franchise. Turns out it was Billy Butler that developed as a better player, not Alex Gordon as of this moment. While Alex still has time can he able to match his counterpart Billy and become 1-2 hitting combo for the Royals?

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