Originally written January 18, 2012 on Fox Sports Kansas City:
If you enjoyed watching last year's Royals outfield, you might like this year's version even more. Not that there was anything wrong with the performance of Melky Cabrera, but Royals fans should notice something eye-popping when Lorenzo Cain begins patrolling center field at Kauffman Stadium big-time speed. Take it from someone who watched Cain play all last season Omaha manager Mike Jirschele. "Lorenzo is plenty fast, but he's also a guy who kind of glides to the ball," Jirschele said. "He's a natural center fielder and he gets to everything. "He's got very long strides and once he gets going, he just makes it look easy. He will take a lot of hits away. You won't see many balls drop in that outfield." Cain, who came to the Royals as part of the blockbuster Zack Greinke trade in 2010, will remind some Royals fans -- at least in physical appearance -- of a cross between Jermaine Dye and Carlos Beltran. "He's got that kind of look, like Jermaine, especially with those long strides," Jirschele said. "Of course, Lorenzo is much faster." Perhaps not as fast as Beltran, though. And in terms of arm strength, should we assume that Dye had the better arm? "I don't know," Jirschele said. "Lorenzo has a pretty big arm." With Gold Glovers Alex Gordon and Jeff Francoeur flanking him, Cain could give the Royals a dream-team outfield, maybe even the best defensively in baseball a distinction that was debated at times last season with Cabrera in center. Cain's speed could end the argument. "The other thing is," Jirschele said, "when was the last time the Royals had a true center fielder?" Hmm. That's an entirely subjective discussion, of course. But you'd likely have to go back as far as Beltran to answer that question. Jirschele assures us that the wait is over. "I don't have any doubts about his defensive ability," Jirschele said. "And offensively, I was very impressed with the adjustments he made as the season went along. "I wouldn't say he shocked me, but I was pleasantly surprised at how well he started hitting the ball the other way and up the middle. It's going to be all about adjustments for him at the next level." Cain can't wait to get the chance. "Just the opportunity to play alongside Jeff and Alex is going to be pretty exciting," Cain said. "I'm sure I'm going to learn a lot from them." Cain also expects to learn a thing or two about offense from his outfield mates. "I know I will work at it," he said. "I'm confident but I know I will have to make the right adjustments. I'm just anxious to get going," Actually, Cain isn't assuming anything -- such as having the job handed to him. "Oh, no," he said. "I have to go out and prove myself and earn it. It's all about how I do down there (Arizona). You don't take anything for granted." Though it appears there isn't anyone ready to push Cain for the starting job, it's impossible to ignore the presence of speedster Jarrod Dyson in the organization. Royals fans already know what a weapon Dyson can be -- in the outfield and on the bases. "He's just scary fast," Jirschele said. "His first two steps are incredible. Of course, the rest of his steps are pretty incredible, too. "It never seems to matter where he's shaded he gets to any ball anyway." It's likely Dyson will wind up back with Jirschele in Omaha, at least to start the season. "If you can get him on base consistently," Jirschele said, "he makes everyone in the lineup behind him so much better. Anyone can see that. "We were lucky to have him and Lorenzo at the same time in Omaha. They were so good we almost took them for granted. "Then we'd catch ourselves in the dugout just going, 'Wow. Those guys are really fast. Can you believe how fast they are?' "
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