Over the past several years the Kansas City Chiefs have been going younger and younger, which meant to many people that they were only a couple of years away from being among the elite teams in the NFL.
Because, after all, younger means better, right?
While that's the case some of the time, going younger does not mean becoming more talented. As many teams have shown, you can go younger but keep your talent level up.
Like the Chiefs, the Royals have been in a youth movement the past few years. Unlike the Chiefs, the Royals' youth movement dates back to the 90s. It seems that every year the Royals keep our hopes up, and keep us buying tickets, by selling us on the fact that they've had all these top draft picks in recent years that will eventually pan out.
As you know by now, the years went by, top draft picks were accumulated and the wins never came.
That may be changing soon. ESPN's Buster Olney has a piece titled "Better Days Ahead For The Royals" and passes along some of the praise the Royals minor leagues have been getting from various scouts combing the prospects as the trade deadline nears.
But if rival evaluators are right, there are really good days coming for the Royals. Other teams have been combing through the minor league systems of other clubs, including the Royals, as they prepare for possible midseason deals, and time and again, scouts and GMs and assistant GMs have come away raving about the Kansas City prospects. "I wish we had what they have coming down the road," said one scout.
It's not just those evaluators. Take a look at the Futures Game rosters and you'll see a host of Royals on it. In fact, Baseball America tabbed two Royals players as their best at the break.
GM Dayton Moore points to 2012 and 2013 as the target years for these top draft picks to start panning out. Like the Chiefs, he's hoping to build from the draft, or as he calls it, "homegrown" players.
"We have to get to the point where we have homegrown guys [in the big leagues], and then have another wave behind it," Moore said. "Our goal is by 2012 and 2013 to have as many homegrown guys playing as we can."
I don't remember hearing so much praise for the Royals minor league system. Sure, they always had guys in rookie or single-A ball that guys loved but, for one reason or another, never developed past that point.
Moore was hired because of the work he did in Atlanta. Specifically, the Braves ability to be competitive for so many years. That's the plan with the Royals and, if Moore is right, 2012 will be the first target date with more and more players not far behind.