The Royals have two of their top power hitting prospects at 3B, and just graduated perhaps it’s top power prospect last season. The organization is fairly deep at the hot corner, and it should be a good position to keep an eye on in 2012 and beyond.
5. Mario Lisson (Northwest Arkansas) age 27
Photo Credit: John Owens/Naturals
At 27 years old, Mario Lisson is already a career minor leaguer. The Royals signed him out of Venezuela in 2002 as an athletic, raw infielder. He’s toolsy enough to play virtually any position. In his 9 minor league seasons, he’s logged 501 games at 3B, 207 at SS, 33 at 1B, and even 2 at C. His glove is average at best, but his ability to play all over the field disguises it. His bat isn’t anything to brag about either, but he has shown the ability to work walks at a decent pace (2:1 K:BB ratio), and he did hit 15 HRs and 21 2Bs in 89 games for the Naturals last season. He stole bases at a good clip in his first few minor league seasons (133 from 2004-2008), but has slowed down a little recently (26 from 2009-2011).
He’s never had a true “breakout” season to date, which is probably why he has yet to make it to the bigs.
Grade: C-. Lisson is a true baseball player. He can do anything you need him to, but likely not much better than most others. He’ll most likely never make it to KC, but could be a fit anywhere.
4. Patrick Leonard (Instructional) age 19
Photo Credit: kcscoliny16
Leonard is a 6’3″ 3B/OF prospect who played primarily SS/3B/P in high school who the Royals picked in the 5th round of the 2011 draft. He had a strong commitment to the University of Georgia, but was lured away to the tune of a $600K signing bonus.
Due to his large size and raw power at the plate, Leonard was switched from SS (much like the Royals did with Moustakas) to 3B by the Royals. While some see him staying in the infield, others think he’ll eventually be moved to a corner OF position. His glove and arm are and will be good enough to do either.
Grade: B-. Patrick’s power swing will be good enough to help him advance rather quickly through the Royals’ farm system. So it all really depends on which position he sticks at.
3. Kevin Kouzmanoff (Colorado Rockies) age 30
Photo Credit: Bob Levey/Getty Images North America
Kouz was signed by the Royals last month as an insurance policy to Mike Moustakas. He possesses decent power and a great glove and would serve as a great bench player for Kansas City this season. For more on Kouzmanoff, check out this post: Royal Sign Kevin Kouzmanoff .
Grade: C. If he can make the team out of Spring Training, Kouz will be good for a start a week, pinch hit for Moose against tough lefties, as well as against tough lefties in tight games.
2. Cheslor Cuthbert (Kane County) age 19
Photo Credit: scout.com
Cheslor Cuthbert is ranked as the number 5 prospect in the Royals system for 2012 by Baseball America, as well having the best infield arm within the system. At only 19 years old, he looks the part of a big leaguer. In 2011, Cuthbert played the entire season at A-ball as an 18 year old, which is fairly young for that league. He had a line of .267/.345/.397, flashing some of the raw power that scouts claim he possesses (8 HR in 81 games), and displayed slick hands and a powerful arm.
Grade: B+. With his size, soft hands, and plus power potential, Cuthbert has drawn some comparisons to Adrian Beltre. And if he becomes anything like Beltre, he’ll have one hell of a career. No prospect in the system excites me right now more than Cuthbert. At just 19, he’s still got plenty of time to grow within the ranks and could possibly supplant Moustakas within the next 4-5 years.
1. Mike Moustakas (Royals) age 23
Photo Credit: Zimbio
Ever since the Royals selected Mike as the 2nd overall pick in 2007, the Kansas City fanbase has been in love with the power potential Moose would one day bring to the lineup. That day came last June in Los Angeles.. or Anaheim.. wherever it is the Los Angeles Angles of Anaheim play. After the series against the Angels, Moose just seemed to lose his way at the plate, slumping all the way through June, July, and most of August, seeing his AVG fall all the way to .182, with only 1 HR to show for it all (which came in his second career game). But something started clicking, and his AVG began to creep its way back to respectability. He hit .283/.324/.343 in August and a terrific .352/.380/.580 with 4 HR in September and October.
Moose had a little trouble on defense, making an errant throw every now and then, but did pretty well for the most part (ranked 5th in the AL with a 2.57 range factor). But Mike’s true value comes from his bat, specifically his HR potential.
Grade: B+. I expect Mike to be a typical power hitter, with a line of around .260/25 HR/80 RBI. He’ll benefit by being placed behind Alex Gordon, Billy Butler, Eric Hosmer, and Jeff Francoeur in the lineup for the next few seasons, allowing him to see better pitches. His bat is what brought him to KC, and with guys like Leonard and Cuthbert behind him on the organizational depth chart, it will have to be what keeps him here.
Other names to watch: Mark Threlkeld, Ryan Stovall