It’s that time of year again.
It’s the time where Royals fans can forget about whose on the team right now and look ahead to the future. Because, y’know, we don’t do enough of that around here.
Baseball America, as part of it’s annual rankings, has released it’s list of the Royals’ top 10 prospects for the 2013 season. There’s no doubt in my mind that you will be very familiar with most of the names they included, while others may require a little clarification.
1. Wil Myers OF age 21
Wil Myers just may be the top prospect in the game. If not, then he’s certainly in the discussion. We’ve done plenty of Wil Myers coverage here at Royal Blues, and I’m sure you have all heard about his unreal 2012 season that ended with him not getting a call up to Kansas City. Dayton Moore may have kept Myers down in Omaha to delay his service time. If that is the case, barring something major happening in the coming months, Wil could remain in Omaha come Opening Day 2013 for the first 30 or so games. After that, right field should be his if it isn’t already. All this being said, I expect Dayton’s man-crush on Jeff Francoeur to start in right to begin next season. But expect to see Wil in Royals’ blue sometime next season.
2. Kyle Zimmer RHP age 21
Before having surgery after the season to remove “loose bodies” in his right elbow, the Royals’ no. 1 draft pick was fairly impressive. In 9 starts (3 in Rookie Ball, 6 in Low-A), Zimmer was 3-3 with a 2.03 ERA and 42 K to 8 BB in 40 innings pitched. His fastball clocks in anywhere routinely between 92-98 mph, while his hard-biting curveball is rated as the organization’s best by Baseball America. He also throws a decent slider and is developing a solid change-up to add to his repertoire. Kyle has the makings of a pitcher who could advance through the Royals’ system quickly and could be in AA NW Arkansas (or possibly AAA Omaha) by next season’s end. He should develop into a top-of-the-rotation pitcher.
3. Bubba Starling OF age 20
It’s too bad Bubba isn’t knocking on the door to Kansas City yet like Mike Trout and Bryce Harper did in 2012. But Mr. Starling is still in need of work in the minors thanks to his limited baseball past. Regardless, he had a good showing in his first season in the Rookie league. In 200 AB, he worked a slash of .275/.371/.485, hit 20 XBH (8 doubles, 2 triples, 10 HR), 33 RBI and had 10 SB in 11 attempts. However, he struck out 70 times in his 200 AB, which will need to be addressed this offseason. Starling is still a fairly raw player, but his combination of power, speed, and major league-ready defense will allow the Royals to overlook some of his short-comings. It’ll still be a while before Bubba makes his way to The K, as it looks like he’ll begin the 2013 season in Low-A ball.
4. Yordano Ventura RHP age 21
“Lil’ Pedro” came on in a big way last season, earning him a spot on the World Team in the Future’s Game, as well as a promotion to AA NW Arkansas. At 5’11” and 140 lbs, Ventura is able to dial-up his fastball (rated by BA as the organization’s best) to triple digits at times, but normally lobs it in the 94-97 mph range. He also throws a hard-breaking curveball that he routinely uses to get hitters to chase when he’s ahead in the count. His change-up is still developing, but he just needs to use it more often for it to be effective. It’s still a question as to whether his height will translate well to being a successful starting pitcher in the major leagues. Ventura likely will start 2013 in NW Arkansas before being promoted to Omaha and possibly Kansas City before season’s end.
5. Jake Odorizzi RHPage 22
Thank goodness Jake Odorizzi’s strong season allowed us to slightly overlook Mike Montgomery and Chris Dwyer’s stinkers. Seen as they key to the Zack Greinke trade, Izzy saw his 2012 season end in Kansas City. While not overpowering, he’s able to deliver all four of his pitches well, while none of them standout more than the others. His low-to-mid 90s fastball has some sink to it, making it probably his best pitch. He has a smooth, repeatable delivery, but needs to improve on his command to make it all come together. He’ll get a chance in spring training to earn a spot in the rotation. Even if he doesn’t do so, don’t expect him to stay in Omaha for long.
6. Jorge Bonifacio OF age 19
At 19, Jorge Bonifacio is already showing signs of becoming a high-average hitter with exceptional power potential and plate awareness. In 2012, while playing in Low A ball, Bonifacio owned a slash of .282/.336/.482 while knocking 36 XBH (20 doubles, 6 triples, 10 HR). To go with his projectable bat is a terrific arm that suits him perfectly to become a future corner outfielder, particulary in RF given his average to below-average speed. If he continues to develop along the same line, he projects as a hitter likened to Billy Butler: hitting for average, both pull and opposite field power, while driving balls deep to both gaps. Class A Wilmington is where he’ll start 2013.
7. Adalberto Mondesi SS age 17
Mondesi is already displaying skills that are well beyond his age. The Royals signed the son of former big leaguer Raul Mondesi in 2011 at the ripe age of 16. In 2012, the switch-hitting SS hit .290/.346/.386 in 207 AB for Rookie level Idaho Falls. He also drove in 30 runs and swiped 11 bases in 13 attempts. He’s already developing as a quality hitter, showing that he can drive pitches to deep into gaps and hit for some pop (3 HR in 47 games). His greatest assest though may be his smooth skillset in the field. He has a great glove, soft hands, and shows the ability to get to plenty of balls in the hole that most other shortstops at his age simply can’t reach. He did have 23 errors last season, but those numbers should go down with time. Given his youth, his ceiling remains very high. He could be in Low A ball to start 2013, making him the youngest player in the league.
8. Sam Selman LHP age 22
Selman was the Royals’ 2nd round pick in this summer’s draft, and like Zimmer, had a stellar debut in 2012. Sam went 5-4 in 13 games (12 starts) with a 2.09 ERA, 89 K, and a .199 AVG against in 60 innings pitched. He has developed into a real “power lefty”, as he’s able to get his fastball up to 98 on occasion. He also throws an above-average slider, giving him two plus-pitches. He’ll start his first full season of pro ball in one of the Royals’ A-level affiliates. Given his background as a college pitcher, Selman likely could progress through the system quickly.
9. Orlando Calixte SS age 20
Orlando Calixte had a great second half in 2012 after being promoted to High-A Wilmington, where he hit .281/.326/.426. He possesses an above-average bat for his position, both average and power-wise, and is a terrific defender with a strong arm. Of the organization’s handful of talented shortstop prospects, Calixte is the closest to being big league ready. AA NW Arkansas is where he’ll start 2013, but could push for a promotion to Omaha quickly.
10. Jason Adam RHP age 21
Despite his 7-12 record in 27 starts at High-A Wilmington this season, Adam still managed to post a 3.53 ERA. He also recorded 123 K to just 36 BB in 158 IP and held opponents to a .238 AVG while averaging around 6 innings per start. Jason has average big league fastball velocity (90-92). Scouts believe he’s lost some velocity due to his new and much simpler delivery. But on the other hand, his new approach on the mound has allowed him to command his pitches better by limiting the hip turn and high leg kick of his old delivery. He still needs to develop solid second and third pitches (curveball and changeup), though he controls them well. Right now, Adam looks like anywhere from a no. 3-5 starter to most. He’ll pitch in NW Arkansas to begin 2013.
- Mike Montgomery LHP
- John Lamb LHP
- Chris Dwyer LHP
- Noel Arguelles LHP
- Christian Colon SS/2B
- Cheslor Cuthbert 3B
- Brett Eibner OF
Royal Blues Prospect Watch List:
- Kyle Smith RHP
- Justin Marks LHP
- Elier Hernandez OF
- Bryan Brickhouse RHP
- Sugar Ray Marimon RHP
- Cameron Gallagher C
- Lane Adams OF
- Humbero Arteaga SS
- Alexis Rivera OF
- Jack Lopez SS
- Patrick Leonard 3B/OF
- Colin Rodgers LHP
Baseball America released its long-awaited list of their version of 2012’s Top 100 Prospects. Here is where the Royals stand on their list, their position, age, and projected ETA:
23. Mike Montgomery LHP 22 2012
24. Bubba Starling OF 19 2015
28. Wil Myers OF 21 2013
68. Jake Odorizzi RHP 22 2013
84. Cheslor Cuthbert 3B 19 2014
The Royals joined the Mariners and D-Backs as the only two teams to place three prospects in Baseball America’s top 30.
Last season, the Royals placed a record 9 prospects on this list. But with Hosmer, Moose, and Duffy all making their way to the K last summer, the number was sure to be smaller this year. Placing five prospects on the list is nothing to scoff at though. Only the Padres, Cardinals, Rangers, and A’s had more than the Royals this year at six.
In similar lists, the Royals prospects ranked as follows:
Baseball Prospectus (Kevin Goldstein):
19. Wil Myers
27. Bubba Starling
47. Jake Odorizzi
82. John Lamb
83. Cheslor Cuthbert
You’ll notice on his list, Goldstein left Mike Montgomery off, most likely due to his command issues last season in Omaha. He also has John Lamb on his list, who missed all of last season because of Tommy John surgery and subsequently fell off many of the Top 100’s.
ESPN (Keith Law – Insider Only):
13. Wil Myers
15. Bubba Starling
43. Cheslor Cuthbert
52. Mike Montgomery
71. Jake Odorizzi
Keith also ranked the Royals as the 5th best farm system in all of baseball.
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
Every year Baseball America releases it’s list of the top 10 prospects for each franchise, and today was the Royals’ turn to be revealed. For the first time in a few years though, the list won’t feature the names of Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Salvador Perez, or Aaron Crow, which is a terrific sign that the franchise is moving closer to where it wants to be. Another positive sign is that it includes the names of a few international players whom the Royals scouted and signed (afterall, this is a World game now). But enough banter.. Here you go:
1. Mike Montgomery LHP
2. Bubba Starling CF
3. Wil Myers RF
4. Jake Odorizzi RHP
5. Cheslor Cuthbert 3B
6. John Lamb LHP
7. Kelvin Herrera RHP
8. Jason Adam RHP
9. Chris Dwyer LHP
10. Yordano Ventura RHP
A solid list overall that I cannot argue against. The only question I have: Why Mike Montgomery at #1? I mean I get it.. His upside is high (most say #2 starter potential), he’s left-handed, and throws a fastball that sits in the mid-to-high 90’s and a changeup that’s rated (by Baseball America, no less) as the best in the Royals’ minor league system. Wil Myers had a down year at Double-A and Bubba Starling has yet to play in a professional inning yet, so I guess it makes sense logically. Just from the way Myers has been hyped up for his pure-hitting ability over the last few years, I would have thought he’d be at the top of the list. But if Wil Myers is your 3rd best prospect, then you must have a pocket full of gold.
Baseball America also shelled out what it believes could be the Royals starters at each position in 2015. Yeah, it’s a little far-sighted, prospects bust, free agency and trades happen and all that jazz.. But it’s fun to think about, right? Check this out:
C- Salvador Perez
1B- Eric Hosmer
2B- Johnny Giavotella
3B- Mike Moustakas
SS- Alcides Escobar
LF- Wil Myers
CF- Bubba Starling
Rf- Alex Gordon
DH- Billy Butler
1. Mike Montgomery LHP
2. Danny Duffy LHP
3. Jake Odorizzi RHP
4. John Lamb LHP
5. Luke Hochevar RHP
Joakim Soria RHP
From here folks, the future looks looks like a bowl of cherries. Enjoy.
Word around the web is that the Royals are possibly talking about a deal that would send closer Joakim Soria to the Blue Jays for either Travis d’Arnaud and/or a #1 starter, which has reportedly hit a snag. Let me explain to you one of the ways this could make any sense for KC:
Blue Jays get: Joakim Soria CL
Royals get: James Shields RHP
Rays get: Travis d’Arnaud C, Clint Robinson 1B, Christian Colon 2B/SS, Cheslor Cuthbert 3B
Blue Jays get: Joakim Soria CL
Royals get: Travis d’Arnaud C, Kyle Drabek RHP
A straight-up trade sending Soria to Toronto for d’Arnaud would be just ridiculous. While having young catching depth within the system would provide insurance incase this whole Salvador Perez experiment doesn’t work out (sarcasm), it just doesn’t make sense unless another piece is sent to KC in return.
We’ve been hearing rumors all off-season about how the Royals would be more than happy to take James Shields off the Rays hands, and this might be a fairly logical way of doing so.
In my first scenario, the Jays would get the proven, All-Star caliber closer they need in that division in Soria. The Royals would get the #1 starter in Shields they have desperately been seeking since the days of Saberhagen and Appier. The Rays would gain not one..not two.. but three young players who could step potentially quickly into their big league lineup and a young power hitter with a high, high ceiling. Robinson would finally get his shot since he would be blocked by absolutely nobody in Tampa, Colon would be a welcome addition at either position in an abysmal middle infield, Cuthbert would provide them with a young, top-tier prospect at either 3b, 1B, or corner OF position, and d’Arnaud would give the Rays another option incase Robinson Chirinos doesn’t pan out.
The second scenario seems likely as well. The Jays would be selling low on the former top prospect, yet still very young promising starter Kyle Drabek. He had a rough go-around last season, starting only 14 games and surrendering more BB’s than K’s (55-51). But there is a reason the Jays wanted to hold onto him last year when the Royals were shopping Greinke. The potential is there.
I’m not saying either one of these scenarios have a snowball’s chance of happening. But hey, it’s fun to talk about and a good way to kick-off the blog’s first post!