KANSAS CITY -- Catcher Humberto Quintero, obtained from the Astros in the wake of Salvador Perez's injury, has made an impression so far with his arm and his bat.
Quintero threw out two runners attempting to steal in Friday night's 6-4 loss to the Diamondbacks, making him 8-for-25 or 32 percent effective against would-be base thieves. Manager Ned Yost considers anything over 30 percent as good.
"He's got something that most catchers don't have. He's got a very short, quick release with a strong arm. He's very accurate and his release, his transfer is very quick," Yost said. "And he has the knack of being able to throw the ball accurately to all bases, very quickly. With the knack of looking away and, boom, just throwing it."
Quintero is also noted for quick pickoff throws which makes runners wary. He picked off the Angels' Bobby Wilson on April 7, his 12th pickoff since 2010.
Of Quintero's 19 hits entering Saturday, eight were doubles with one home run.
"He's been our hottest hitter this homestand. He's driven in two runs in every game he's played," Yost said.
Quintero has started 22 games behind the plate and Brayan Pena was to start his 17th game on Saturday night. A switch-hitter, Pena was batting .234 to the right-handed Quintero's .250.
Pena has improved his throwing this season, Yost said, and was 5-for-16, 31 percent against base-stealers.
Last season Perez, despite his cannon arm and quick release, was just 5-for-31 or 16.1 percent for the Royals after having a 42 percent success rate in his Minor League career. Reason?
"Pitchers not giving him a chance," Yost said.
Royals pitchers, as a whole, this year have improved a bit in their ability to hold runners on base, Yost said, and mentioned Luke Hochevar, Bruce Chen, Greg Holland and Jonathan Broxton among those who do it effectively.
What makes a pitcher good at it?
"Their awareness and ability to slide-step the ball to the plate in under 1.4 [seconds]," Yost said.