Thursday, December 21, 2006

Brian Bannister Asks: How About Dem Tomatoes?

SP Brian Bannister has caught the attention of the Royals front office with his performance for the Culoraton Tomato Pickers in the Mexican League, where he has demonstrated a full recovery from last season's injuries with a variety of off-speed and breaking pitches and a fastball sometimes topping out at 92 mph.

The 25-year-old hurler -- recently acquired by Kansas City from the Mets -- is racking up almost a strikeout per inning, enabling him to pitch reasonably deep into games, most notably two recent seven inning victories, one a five-hitter and the other a three-hitter, with an overall ERA of 3.68.

With newly acquired SP Gil Meche potentially coming into his own at 28, and a big upside for youngster Zach Greinke, 23, and veteran Odalis Perez, 29, the Royals have yet to be certified as true playoff contenders but have cobbled together potentially the team's best rotation in years.