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
In what seems like record time – a mere three days – Kyle Zimmer has gone from being the unsigned #5 overall pick to a member, and no doubt one of the top prospects, of the Royals organization.
The Royals held a press conference yesterday afternoon to announce that they had reached a deal with Zimmer. While the terms of the contract were not made public at the time, the figures eventually made their way out.
The Royals and Zimmer agreed upon a $3 million signing bonus, $500K lower than the slot the Royals were given at the number five. The extra $500K the team saved could help them potentially sign high school players who are on the fence between college and the pros.
Alongside Royals assistant general manager of player development J.J. Picollo and scouting director Lonnie Goldberg, his parents in tow, Kyle adorned a Royals jersey and cap and answered questions from the KC media. Questions arose about the hamstring and subsequent groin injury he suffered toward the end of the season. Zimmer assured that he is nearly 100% and ready to take the mound again.
“The hamstring is feeling great and the groin is feeling pretty good, too. It’s just a little bit of tightness. But my arm’s never felt better … I’m really looking forward to just getting back on the field and being able to just feel the dirt under my feet again.” – Kyle Zimmer
So where does he go from here?
The plan is for Kyle to attend extended spring traning in Arizona, where the Royals can keep a close eye on his hamstring, before likely being assigned to Low A Kane County. The hope is for him to get in 45-60 innings on the mound this summer in order to keep him on track to start next season in High A Wilmington.
The Royals hope to see Zimmer take the bump in Kansas City within the next two to three years.
Side note: The Royals also signed another draft pick – third round selection LHP Colin Rodgers. The Louisiana high schooler signed for $700K ($223,500 over the suggested bonus).
You couldn’t have scripted it any better. There was drama, mystery, suspense, and joy all within the first hour of 2012’s First Year Player Draft.
The Houston Astros shocked everyone by taking Pureto Rican high school SS Carlos Correa with the #1 pick. The pick of Correa wasn’t what shocked people. It was the fact that they passed on the two names who were thought to be the concensus #1 and #2 picks in Stanford RHP Mark Appel and 5-tool high school OF Byron Buxton.
The Twins, to nobody’s surprise, took Buxton with the second pick. Catcher Mike Zunino of Florida went third overall to Seattle, while LSU RHP Kevin Gausman was taken fourth by the O’s.
Insert possible Royals drama here.
Both Mark Appel and Kyle Zimmer were still on the table. Jim Callis of Baseball America, who was working with MLB Network during the live broadcast, thought there was no way Appel would fall further than Kansas City at #5. Afterall, Appel was going to Houston with the first pick on thousands of draft boards (including every single one of Jonathan Mayo’s mock drafs). If someone who was supposed to go #1 overall falls to #5 somehow, the general M.O. is that you take him. Period.
But the Royals knew exactly who they wanted. The clock ticked it’s way down to zero when commissioner Bud Selig made his way to the podium.
The pick was in: RHP Kyle Zimmer.
Royals scouting director Lonnie Goldberg had this to say about Zimmer:
“He was the No. 1 pitcher on our board. I think it’s important that everybody know that. He was our guy. He was the guy we wanted, the guy we targeted.”
Kyle Zimmer, 20, fits the bill of what the Royals have been wanting all along: an advanced college pitcher who has a legitimate chance to make his way through the system quickly. Zimmer has the perfect frame for a starting pitcher (6’4″, 225 lbs.) and has the stuff to possibly contribute at the bug league level sooner rather than later.
Zimmer has great command of all of his pitches (evidenced by his unreal 104 Ks to just 17 BB). His fastball consistently sits in the mid-to-upper 90’s (capable of hitting 98-99 mph), while his curveball is considered his out pitch. His changeup needs some polishing, but isn’t far behind the rest of his pitches.
Baseball America noted:
“(Zimmer) has a businesslike approach on the mound and pitches with a bit of a mean streak, which scouts love. (His) athleticism also helps him on the mound. He repeats his delivery well and fields his position like an extra infielder.”
Another reason to favor Zimmer over the other college arms is that he has been a full-time pitcher for only two seasons, meaning his arm is still relatively fresh and has nowhere near the amount wear and tear a pitcher of his age and caliber should have. He was converted from a third baseman/outfielder to a pitcher at the University of San Francisco. According to Zimmer: “I was always a hitter growing up. But I guess the move paid off.”
The MLB draft will continue today at 11 pm CT with rounds 2-15. Each club is allowed one minute to make their selection in rounds 2-10. Every pick after that is to be made without any delay. The Royals first pick today will be pick number 66.
It’s June, which means the MLB draft season is upon us. Now, this isn’t like the NFL draft at all. Scouts work quietly all year in preparation, but rarely do you hear any chatter about the draft until about a week before it actually takes place. And the players that the teams select carry little to no impact on the team’s plans for that season or possibly the season after that.
Most years – with the exception of 2009 (Stephen Strasburg) and 2010 (Bryce Harper) – the first overall pick is usually surrounded by a cloud of mystery. Since most draft picks are at least 1-3 years away from being deemed “big league ready”, teams generally don’t draft for need (unless the organization is severely lacking depth at a certain position). Ergo, the concensus “best player available” is usually taken with each selection.
Since 2002, the Royals have had a fairly solid track record with the first round. They’ve picked a few duds (’03- OF Chris Lubanski; ’04- LHP Matt Campbell), but have for the most part done very well, selecting solid big league contributors (’02- RHP Zack Greinke; ’03- C Mitch Maier; ’04- 3B Billy Butler; ’04- LHP J.P. Howell; ’05- 3B Alex Gordon; ’06- RHP Luke Hochevar; ’07- SS Mike Moustakas; ’08- 1B Eric Hosmer; ’09- RHP Aaron Crow) and promising top prospects (’08- LHP Mike Montgomery; ’10 – SS Christian Colon; ’11- OF Bubba Starling).
The Royals are picking 5th overall on Monday night. The general frame of mind around baseball is that the Royals are seeking a college pitcher who is as close to big league ready as possible. Within this draft, there are three top-tier college pitchers who fit the bill:
RHP Mark Appel (Stanford), RHP Kevin Gausman (LSU), and RHP Kyle Zimmer (San Francisco).
Mark Appel (2012: 9-1, 2.37 ERA, 116 K/24 BB) is regarded as the cream of the crop and could likely be taken first overall by Houston, although nothing is certain. He has the frame (6’5″, 215) and the stuff (high-90s fastball and sharp slider) to make a rather quick transition from college to the bigs. Kevin Gausman (2012: 10-1, 2.84 ERA, 125 K/24 BB) possesses two plus-pitches (fastball and changeup), but needs to develop a third pitch. Kyle Zimmer (2012: 5-3, 2.85 ERA, 104 K/17 BB) has a powerful mid-90s fastball and a plus-curveball. He tends to leave his fastball up in the zone, which could lead to him getting knocked around a bit before he begins to remedy it.
The other two college names the Royals could consider – if the previously mentioned are gone by the time their selection rolls around – are RHP Michael Wacha of Texas A&M and RHP Marcus Stroman of Duke. Wacha and Stroman are seen in this draft as second-tier pitchers to the trio of Appel, Gausman, and Zimmer.
At 6’6″ and 200 lbs., Wacha’s frame is extremely projectible to the major leagues. He’s 8-1 with a 2.21 ERA and 107 K/17 BB in 2012 and has a plus-changeup, a low-90s fastball, and excellent command. Stroman, at least size-wise, is the anti-Wacha. He stands a stocky 5’9″ 190 lbs. But the former high school SS has what some scouts see is an MLB ready pitch repertoire. He is capable of dialing his fastball up to 98 mph, as well as a hard-biting slider/curve and a quality change-up. He’s a starter right now for Duke, but many teams may view him as a hard-throwing reliever in the majors due to his size.
Other intriguing names include a long list of highschoolers: power-hitting SS Carlos Correa (who scouts say is the best Puerto Rican prospect since Carlos Beltran), five-tool OF Byron Buxton (generally viewed as the top non-pitcher in the draft), 6’6″ RHP Lucas Giolito (who could’ve been the top pick if it weren’t for an elbow injury), LHP Max Fried (the top left-handed pitching prospect in the draft), and catcher Mike Zunino (solid both offensively and defensively – the draft’s top catcher).
If any one of Mark Appel, Kevin Gausman, or Kyle Zimmer are available at the no.5 spot, the Royals will undoubtedly take them. But if 2012’s draft is anything like 2011’s, where the Royals were selecting 5th and the first four picks were high-ceiling pitchers (3 college, 1 high school), they’ll be left to select who they deem the best player available (likely either OF Byron Buxton or SS Carlos Correa).
For what it’s worth, my selection for the Royals at no.5: RHP Kyle Zimmer (San Francisco)
The first round of the 2012 MLB Draft takes place Monday afternoon at 6 pm CT on MLB Network. Rounds 2-15 take place at 11 am CT on Tuesday, while rounds 16-40 will be on Wednesday at 11 am CT. Since only the first round will be televised, the remaining rounds will be simulcast live on MLB.com.