Meet the New Royals: Ian Gac


Kansas, K-State and Missouri have all been in action over the last couple days on the hardwood and the gridiron. We’re still collectively reeling from Sporting KC’s playoff loss earlier in the week and I’m sure more than a few eyes were glued to televisions across the city to watch Texas A&M topple #1 Alabama yesterday. In a nutshell there is a ton of sports news flying around our town and I haven’t even mentioned that our Chiefs will take on the Steelers on Monday night.

Royals hats and gloves (Photo Credit: Jason O. Watson-US PRESSWIRE)

Against that backdrop, you may have missed it but the Royals signed Ian Gac and Luis Durango to minor league deals on Friday. Both players spent 2012 in the Atlanta Braves organization and while neither figure to play a significant role in the Royals major league fortunes in 2013 I’m going to take a look at what they bring to the table one at a time. I’ll start with Gac in this article and tackle Durango in a subsequent piece that should be published in the next 24 hours.

Drafted by the Rangers in the 26th round of the 2003 draft Gac, the now 27-year old 1B, has always had some pop in his bat but has been unable to get any real traction in his career.

It wasn’t until his 6th minor league season that he managed to hit better than 0.242 in a single year – and that includes a 55 game stint in the hitter friendly environment of the California League back in 2006. That stint he managed to generate just a 0.188/.242/.346 slash line with 97 SO with Bakersfield.

In 2008, Gac had the high water point of his minor league career when he hit 0.310/.403/.592 with 13 2B and 19 HR in 67 games. It wasn’t all roses and rainbows however as he slipped to hit 0.257/.311/.449 in his second go round with Bakersfield. All told he wound up with 32 HR and was rated the best power prospect in the Midwest League by Baseball America but his plate discipline issues persisted (170 SO and 50 BB in 130 G). A lackluster 2009 season with the Blaze was his last in the Rangers organization.

Gac was signed by the White Sox and spent the next two seasons as a part of their farm system. He played for Kannapolis (A) in 2010 and the Winston-Salem (A+) in 2011. Between the two he hit 65 2B and 53 HR, put together a 0.277/.348/.499 slash line and was named the 2011 MVP of the Carolina League. In 2012, after nine minor league seasons in the books he finally reached Double-A as a member of the Braves organization, but the HRs dropped off (7) and his slash stats slipped to 0.247/.339/.443 negating some of the success from previous years.

With 10 seasons of data on his resume Ian Gac is exactly the player that he has shown himself to be. He has legit power that, at times, manifests itself in games. He also struggles to make contact and after nearly 1,000 games of minor league experience – 942 games to be exact – still has sub-par plate discipline and strike zone judgment. On his career he’s struck out in 29.0% of his plate appearances and in 2012 that number was 29.1%. He’s made very marginal gains in his walk rate in recent years but not nearly enough to offset his propensity to swing and miss. 1,142 strike outs in 942 games is a huge number for someone that just reached Double-A and has a career average of 0.251.

For the Royals, he’s organizational filler and veteran leadership for whichever team he winds up with. An assignment to Triple-A Omaha may be too much, but having a 27-year old occupying 1B or DH for your Double-A club is less than ideal though he could fill a “coach on the field” type of mentor role. Regardless of where he plays, it’s a long shot that he will play in Kansas City, even if he has a monster season.