When Royals fans aren't wondering when hot-hitting Will Myers will be called up, they're likely wondering the same about right-handed prospect Jake Odorizzi.
Odorizzi, the key component to the Zack Greinke trade, continues to dominate at Class AAA Omaha, posting a 5-0 record with a 2.72 ERA.
Odorizzi had 10-days off between his most recent start, but Royals fans shouldn't be alarmed.
"He's not hurt or anything like that," said Royals assistant general manager and director of player development J.J. Picollo. "We have given a few pitchers in the organization a 10-day break just to give them a breather. He is one of those guys."
In fact, the Royals are having far more conversations these days about when Odorizzi will get his first taste of big-league ball.
"He is definitely in the final stages of minor-league development," Picollo said. "Now it's just a matter of timing. We'd want him to get two or three consecutive starts where he feels very confident. And then, of course, there has to be timing with the big-league roster.
"We don't want to rush him up here out of need. We want it to be a situation where he forces his way on to the team. We're confident he will do that."
Odorizzi continues to work on developing a consistent change-up, which Picollo said will be a key to his success in the major leagues.
"Right now, his out pitch is really his fastball," Picollo said. "He can locate that so well. He can bring it at 93 or 96 (mph) and he can elevate when he wants to or put it down in the zone. The hitters don't really know where it's going to go.
"What you like about Jake is his baseball maturity. He really knows how to get hitters out. He sets them up. Right now, he doesn't really have a plus-plus curve or a plus-plus change-up. But still, you see a lot of funny swings against him, which is good. But at the next level, we'd like to see him develop that change-up into an out pitch."
The Royals have used the example of Greinke and his change-up to impress upon Odorizzi the need to command that pitch.
"The year Zack won the Cy Young, he spent all spring training throwing change-ups," Picollo said. "That's how he got such great confidence in it. We'd like to have Jake do the same so when he gets here, he can use that pitch. He'll need it against big-league hitters."
FUTURES GAME PICKS
Odorizzi and Myers were two of three Royals prospects chosen for the All-Star Futures Game at Kauffman Stadium on July 8.
The other selection was 21-year-old Yordano Ventura, a right-hander who is 3-5 with a 3.10 ERA at Class A Wilmington.
Ventura has the Royals extremely excited.
"He's really developing fast," Picollo said. "He's making the transition the way Kelvin Herrera did last year. Yordano can hit 100 (mph) about a half-dozen times now during a game. Obviously there's more to pitching than that and that's what he's learning.
"But he's a guy we envision to be a top-of-the-rotation guy."
Outfielder Bubba Starling, the Royals' top pick in the 2011 draft, is at short-season Burlington (N.C.) but he has been slowed by a hamstring injury.
"He tweaked it after hitting a single in an exhibition game against a college team," Picollo said. "We're not taking any chances with him so he's going to sit. He's day to day."
PLAN FOR ZIMMER
This year's top pick, right-hander Kyle Zimmer, also is on the mend with a groin injury.
The plan for Zimmer is to pitch two or three games in the Arizona rookie league next month, then proceed to Class A Kane County (Ill.).
"We're taking it slow with him," Picollo said. "He's already thrown about 90 innings this year in college and we'd like to have him get to about 140 or 150 innings by the fall and that will be just fine. That would give him about six to eight starts (at Kane County)."