Though the Twins and Indians dominate the AL Central, there are players on the horizon that could mean a more exciting and interesting future for the Royals.
Mike Montgomery is the standout going 3-1 with a 2.84 ERA and 52 strikeouts for Northwest Arkansas, splitting his playing time this season between Class-A Wilmington (2-0, 1.09 ERA) and Double-A NW Arkansas. The lefty is the Royals top prospect with strong potential to make his Major League debut in 2011. With him in the rotation, the ambitious, but realistic Royals put themselves in a more competitive position.
Baseball America ranked RHP Aaron Crow 2nd to Montgomery in the Royals system. He was drafted by the Nationals in 2008, but didn't sign, and is getting his work in his first full season at the Double-A level. After playing for the Indy American Association, he was drafted again by the Royals in 2009. This season he's 2-4 with a 4.33 ERA, although he has allowed 26 walks.
They've also got some great hitting talent waiting in the wings. Mike Moustakas is on a Texas League tear right now and proving himself after struggling some in 2009. The 21-year-old has played through pain, to boot. He's been suffering from a mild oblique strain, but that's not stopped the Royals 2007 first round pick. He's hitting .374 with 41 runs knocked in and 17 walks. CF Derrick Robinson has tremendous speed, leading the team with 26 stolen bases. His plate discipline has been questioned, but his current .404 OBP suggests his ability to be patient could be improving.
Baseball Prospectus named the Royals farm system 10th overall, and with a payroll that puts them in the bottom third of Major League Baseball, those farm hands are crucial to the Royals future hopes.