LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. —In some ways, manager Ned Yost is no different than any long-suffering Royals fan. He, too, can't wait for the club's collection of prized prospects to start infiltrating the big-league roster.
Yost is already anticipating the vanguard — a group of strong-armed relievers — making a strong push for roster spots when spring training opens Feb. 14 in Surprise, Ariz. From there, Yost insists, it's only going to get better.
"Next year is the (true) beginning of the process," he said. "We're another year closer to getting those kids ready to being in the big leagues. It's going to be a pivotal year for us in terms of our development.
"I'm telling you, I went through this (from 2003-08) in Milwaukee, where we had a lot of talented kids coming through the system. But I can also tell you this: I never thought we had enough in Milwaukee to win a World Series.
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"Enough to make the playoffs, yes. But not the World Series. Here, we have a group coming through that can win a World Series. In Milwaukee, we had a bunch of big power hitters. Here, we've got that and everything else.
"We've got the power hitters, guys like (Mike) Moustakas and (Eric) Hosmer. But we've also got speed for the top of the lineup. And we've got guys who can hit for average. We have more catching than any organization I can remember.
"And we have pitching coming. Lots of pitching. It's all here. It's going to take time, yes. But it's coming. The one thing we can't do is get impatient."
The words rush from Yost in a staccato burst as he sits on a couch in the shadow of an enormous Christmas tree centered in the crowded lobby of the Walt Disney World Dolphin Resort.
Yost admits he cares little for the bustle that accompanies baseball's annual Winter Meetings. This is a guy, after all, who spends much of his offseason tracking deer on his spread in Georgia.
Here a far different hunt circles the lobby in a mix of club officials, media and a small horde of player agents. Much of their chatter centers on the Royals, specifically whether they can extract the enormous price they've set in trade talks for Zack Greinke.
Yost sees that situation as a win-win.
Either the Royals keep Greinke, a former Cy Young winner whom they have under contract for two more years — and whom Yost touts as "one of three or four guys in the game who can get you out with three pitches."
Or the Royals get an eye-popping haul in return.
"I know our roster could look a lot different by the time we get to spring training," Yost said. "We'll have to wait and see. But whatever happens (with Greinke), there are some things to be excited about.
"These kids of ours, they're going to start to arrive."
The impact should occur first in the bullpen, where lefties Tim Collins and Blaine Hardy should join right-hander Louis Coleman in making a strong roster push.
General manager Dayton Moore previously identified lefty starters Everett Teaford and Danny Duffy as being in line for long spring looks. Depending on what happens in the rotation, either one or both could wind up, at least temporarily, as part of the relief corps.
Former first-round pick Aaron Crow will be back in big-league camp after making a strong push last year for a bullpen job as part of his anticipated eventual transition to the rotation.
"You know what's going to make it so much easier for those young guys?" Yost asked. "Having Jack (Joakim Soria) at the back of the bullpen. That makes everyone's job easier when you know he's out there."
Tellingly, perhaps, Yost points to Greinke, if he stays, as having a similar impact on the rotation: That Greinke and what the Royals hope will be an improved Luke Hochevar will ease the transition of the club's deep corps of strong-armed starting prospects.
"When you've got a solid No. 1 (starter) and decent No. 2," Yost said, "the rest of the staff settles in and does its thing. But it's real difficult when you don't have that No. 1 guy. We learned that in Milwaukee, too."
Something else Yost learned in helping the Brewers shake the malaise of 14 straight non-winning seasons: The process can't be rushed — even when (especially, really) short-term results prove discouraging.
"The worst thing you can have is impatience," he warned. "I went through that in Milwaukee. You got great kids coming up, but what impatience does is make you press those kids before they're ready.
"It also makes you make deals that aren't good for you in the long run. You can't do that. You've got to sit back and let it develop if you're going to do it right. It takes time, but when you get it, you've got it. You've got something special."
But Yost is impatient; impatient to get started.
"When I look at next year," he said, "I guess it could be a rough year, but I don't look at it like that. I want to find a group of guys who we can compete with as our core group. We've got some guys like that.
"That core group is the first step. After that, you add more talent as time goes on until we get over the hump. And we're going to get over the hump, believe me."