Christian Binford (left) and Jonathan Dziedzic have been lights-out for Class A Wilmington so far this season.
We’ve told you to keep an eye on the Royals’ Class A affiliate in Wilmington, Del., where the Royals are housing most of their top prospects.
And we’ve mentioned to keep an especially keen eye on that rotation, which includes potential rising star Miguel Almonte, a right-hander who has been compared to Yordano Ventura, and left-hander Sean Manaea, last year’s compensatory pick in the draft.
Well, Almonte (11 innings, eight hits, five runs) and Manaea (3 1/3 innings, three hits, three runs) are off to so-so starts.
But the real story at Wilmington so far is the two other pitching prospects in the rotation — right-hander Christian Binford and left-hander Jonathan Dziedzic, whom his teammates call "Eye Chart."
Binford has yet to give up an earned run in two starts (12 innings, eight hits, no walks, 16 strikeouts). And Dziedzic has been almost as good, giving up just two runs in 11 innings while striking out 15.
Binford, who is 6 feet 6, is the No. 10 prospect in the organization, according to Baseball America.
On Saturday, Binford, a 30th-round pick in 2011, blanked Winston-Salem through seven innings, facing just one over the minimum. He struck out 10 as he overcame a case of food poisoning two nights before he pitched.
"Fastball command was really the big thing," Binford told The News Journal in Wilmington. "I’m not a guy who lights up the radar gun. I just don’t. So keeping the ball down and setting them up for later in the at-bat for my strikeout pitches, that’s really what I want to do."
Dziedzic also shut out Winston-Salem the night before through six innings. He gave up four hits and struck out seven.
"Dziedzic did a great job," Wilmington manager Darryl Kennedy said after the game. "He located his fastball, changed speeds. He’s had two outings, and both have been very impressive. He commands the strike zone."
As good as the Wilmington rotation has been, the Blue Rocks’ offense is off to an extremely slow start.
Top prospects Bubba Starling (outfielder, .103), Hunter Dozier (third baseman, .184), Cameron Gallagher (catcher, .200) and Raul Mondesi (shortstop, .276) have yet to find their groove at the plate (much like, ahem, the big-league club).
And actually, the cold start offensively seems to be an organizational theme — top hitting prospect Jorge Bonifacio is hitting just .189 with one homer through 10 games at Class AA Northwest Arkansas.
You can follow Jeffrey Flanagan on Twitter at @jflanagankc or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.