KANSAS CITY -- Tuesday's trade that sent Jonathan Broxton to Cincinnati brought the Royals a pair of pitching prospects in return. Though their names are not familiar to most, they were familiar to general manager Dayton Moore. And he liked the way they sounded.
The two pitchers -- right-handed starter J.C. Sulbaran and left-handed reliever Donnie Joseph -- were ranked the No. 5 and No. 7 prospects, respectfully, in the Reds organization before the season by MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo.
"Sulbaran is a guy that we'd seen out of high school, actually at [first baseman Eric] Hosmer's high school. We have a history with him," Moore said. "He's got 111 strikeouts in 104 innings at Double-A, started the year 22 years old pitching in Double-A. He's had a lot of success, very good curveball. I think he was in the Futures Game a couple years ago. So he's been somebody that has been regarded as one of a group of quality young pitchers in Minor League baseball.
"Donnie Joseph is a left-hander who [scouts] had seen play consistently," Moore said. "A dominant left-handed pitcher, big kid with good angle, power to his stuff. Statistics speak for themselves. He doesn't walk a lot of guys and strikes a lot of guys out. As a bullpen pitcher, the thing you want them to be able to do more than anything is come in and get the first guy out and execute pitches. And he's demonstrated he can do that at Double-A and Triple-A."
Holland to assume closer's role with Broxton out
KANSAS CITY -- With Jonathan Broxton departing the Royals' bullpen, the team needs a new closer, and according to manager Ned Yost, it was an obvious choice.
Greg Holland will be the new ninth-inning man, with Tuesday's trade shipping Broxton to Cincinnati in exchange for a pair of pitching prospects.
"We'll go with Greg Holland right now," Yost said. "I think that he's been very solid down there, and we'll give him an opportunity to close games out.
"He was pretty obvious for me right now. He's been pretty consistent, and we feel that his stuff is all the way back to where it was last year when he was really successful."
On the season, Holland is 4-3 with a 3.63 ERA. He's allowed 16 runs on 39 hits and 23 walks over 39 2/3 innings. But the right-hander has been particularly good since returning from the disabled list on May 11. In 34 appearances since then, he's 4-1 with a 2.16 ERA and nine holds.
Before the game, Holland still didn't know whether he'd be the team's new closer, but he said he was going to keep doing the same things that have been successful for him.
"Just the same thing I've been doing: attack the strike zone and make guys beat you with the bat, take the ninth inning the same way you take the seventh and the eighth, just go try to get quick outs," Holland said.
The departure of Broxton means the team loses its bullpen leader. Despite being 28 years old, Broxton was the veteran of the relief corps. Holland said he learned a lot about composure from Broxton's example.
"Just the way he carried himself, mainly. You didn't know if he had bases loaded or no one out. He saved more than he blew, but when he blew one he was ready the next day just being able to be even-keeled and just having that same mindset day in and day out," Holland said.
"They've got a bunch of talent here. They're not far away from winning here either. I came here and just tried to be a leader to some of these young guys, and I hate that I've got to go. But I've got to go," Broxton said.
Prospect Sulbaran a former teammate of Hosmer's
KANSAS CITY -- The Royals have had great success with one player from the 2008 American Heritage High School team that won a Florida state championship, so they figured they'd pick up another.
The Royals added Double-A pitcher J.C. Sulbaran in a trade that sent closer Jonathan Broxton to Cincinnati on Tuesday, also acquiring Minor League pitcher Donnie Joseph. Sulbaran was a teammate at American Heritage with current Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer.
"He's very good. He gave me a state championship my senior year," Hosmer said. "He's a guy with a real clean arm motion. I think, especially after facing Felix [Hernandez] the other day, he's got a lot of tendencies like him. I think he's a great young pitcher that's going to help this team in the future.
"Obviously, I haven't seen him play in a while because he signed the same time as me and we never played against each other in any leagues. But I just remember him in high school, and I'm hoping he gets up here soon. He had the stuff in high school and now -- we gave up Broxton for a guy like that -- he's progressed and done pretty good. It'll be fun to see him in Spring Training."
Sulbaran went 11-1 that season and pitched a winning outing in the state semifinal game. Hosmer said he has kept in touch with Sulbaran and the two trained together during their first offseason. He's never faced Sulbaran as a professional, and that won't be changing any time soon.
He evaluated his former teammate as the type of player the Royals often look for.
"He's the type of guy that Dayton [Moore] drafts in the organization," Hosmer said. "He's got a lot of leadership qualities, and he works real hard off the field. We've given up a guy like Broxton for him, you know he's got to be progressing well."
Sulbaran was born in Curacao, and he was a member of the Dutch national team that scored a pair of upsets over the Dominican Republic in the 2009 World Baseball Classic. Sulbaran's Classic wasn't that great personally, though, as he had a 10.12 ERA in 2 2/3 innings of work.
Moustakas returns to lineup after knee injury
KANSAS CITY -- After spraining his knee on a diving defensive play in the first inning on Saturday, third baseman Mike Moustakas was back in the lineup for Tuesday's series opener with the Indians.
Moustakas was held out of Sunday's game and initial thoughts were that he could have done something serious to his knee. His status was originally in question for Tuesday's game, but he made the start at third base and batted fifth.
"I was pretty optimistic he'd be back Tuesday because he's such a tough kid," manager Ned Yost said. "I was really nervous when he did it. I thought there could be some tearing of his meniscus in there. That made me nervous.
"Our training staff does a great job of around-the-clock work on players. They worked on him yesterday and the day before, all day and into the night that he did it. I figured the chances of him being back on Tuesday were very good."
Vinnie Duber is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.