Kansas City Royals 2019 Midseason Top 50 Prospects

Bobby Witt Jr. - Photo credit Vince Schmidt @AZ108365 on Instagram, @AZ108365 on Twitter

Following a 2015 World Series win which cost quite a few prospects and a couple mediocre drafts, the Royals farm system was in a very sorry state last year. Fast forward to 2019 and there’s plenty of signs for hope. The 2018 draft class loaded the system with high floor pitching prospects, and two key additions in 2019 add star potential to a system with surprising depth. The Royals farm system is still ranked towards the bottom, but I personally believe it’s better than a lot of people think. Fangraphs has them at 27th on the most recent list, which I believe to be a bit harsh. I think there are easily 8 top 200 prospects on this list, with an argument for 10, and then there’s some intriguing names as you go to the list.

The previous Royals’ Top 50 list (preseason in January) was not made by me, so if there are large differences in rankings that seem a bit odd, it’s likely because of difference in opinion between myself and the other writer, rather than the player’s performance.


One point I’d like to remind everyone of is how important park factors and levels are when discussing minor league statistics. For example, Wilmington, the Royals A+ team, is one of the most pitcher friendly environments in all of baseball. For AAA guys at Omaha on the other hand, you’re playing in the PCL, which is basically like playing 90% of your games at Coors. In the PCL, the average OPS and ERA are .832 and 5.34 respectively, compared to .699 and 3.85 in the Carolina League. If you just go based off of stats, you’d think that the the Royals lower minor leagues are filled with future aces and no hitting, but context is important here.

I expect this system to look a bit different at the beginning of next season, as a few players could be on the move at the trade deadline, bringing in new prospects, but this is what they have to work with as of right now.

Prospects1500 Tiers:
Tier 1: Players with high expectations of both making the majors and playing at an All-Star level for a number of years
Tier 2: Players with an above average expectation of making the majors and being a solid contributor
Tier 3: Players with an average expectation of making the majors and being a solid contributor
Tier 4: Players who have the potential of making the majors, or have high likelihood of making the majors but providing minimal impact (e.g. middle reliever, low-ceiling UT guys)
Tier 5: Players who are worth keeping an eye on, but likely to never make a team’s 40-man roster.

All stats are as of 7/21/2019. If anything looks wrong or different it is likely because those numbers have changed since then.


Tier 1:
1. Bobby Witt Jr., SS (Preseason Rank: N/A)
Age: 19
2019 Highest Level: Rookie
2019 Stats: .279/.313/.328, 64 PA, 1 2B, 1 3B, 0 HR, 5 SB, 4.7 BB%, 18.8 K%
It’s hard to find much to say about Witt Jr. that hasn’t been said already. The son of Bobby Witt, the #3 overall pick of the 1985 draft, Witt grew up around the sport of baseball, and has been projected to be a top pick in the 2019 draft for a few years now, and the Royals fulfilled that prophecy by taking him at #2. Witt possesses the potential to be a stud 5 tool SS, and you could argue that he already has 4 above average tools. He’s extremely athletic, he hits for solid power, and he could very well be a gold glove level shortstop. 

My only slight concern with Witt is his hit tool. While playing with Team USA, there was times where Witt didn’t always make consistent contact, and his approach is a bit aggressive. Despite a bit of swing and miss, Witt has great barrel control, and uses the whole field very well, hitting a lot of line drives. The Royals haven’t been the best at developing talented prep hitters, with Bubba Starling and Nick Pratto being examples of bumps in the road, but I think Witt definitely has the talent and work ethic to fix his slight issues. Witt has a very strong case for having the highest ceiling of anyone in the 2019 draft.

If all goes well, Witt could profile a lot like a mixture of Trevor Story and Trea Turner, with even better defense than both. However, if the hit tool does lag behind, he could end up more like 2017 Trevor Story than 2018 Trevor Story. 

I had Bobby Witt Jr. at #25 in my personal Top 50 Prospects list, as the 6th highest SS, and remember, I’m a Reds fan so there’s no bias there. 

2. Erick Pena, OF (Preseason Rank: N/A)
Age: 16
2019 Highest Level: N/A
2019 Stats: N/A
Yes. I’m fully aware that Pena hasn’t played a professional baseball game, and that doesn’t matter to me because this kid’s potential is through the roof. Jasson Dominguez has gotten all the hype in this year’s J2 class, but I personally think Erick Pena is right there behind him, even ahead of Puason/Rodriguez/Lora/Cappe. Pena has elite raw power and the hit tool to go with it, as well as a beautiful swing that’s so easy on the eyes. He’s got the ideal baseball body at 6’3” 180 pounds, and is fairly athletic too. He should be fast enough to handle CF, but if he loses a step he can shift to RF where his solid arm will make him a great defender, and where his bat will still profile as elite. His tools all grade as at least average, with his hit tool and power both having the chance to be plus-plus tools. Pena also has a great approach, and scouts love his makeup and work ethic. The fact that he’s fluent in both English and Spanish should also help him move up the ladder quicker than most Dominican prospects do, because he should be able to adjust to life in America quicker. 

Remember that guy Carlos Beltran that the Royals traded away? Well, they’ve got a 2nd chance here in Erick Pena. 

I know this is pretty bold, and people won’t agree with me putting him this high, as most will wait for him to debut to rank him, but I don’t want to wait. I already know he’s going to be a star. The Royals gave him $3.8m for a reason. 

I had Pena at #48 on my personal top 50 list

Tier 2:
3. Brady Singer, RHP (Preseason Rank: 7)
Age: 22
2019 Highest Level: AA
2019 Stats: 99.1 IP, 3.17 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 20.3 K%, 6.8 BB%
Many people have been dropping Singer way down their lists, but I’m still really high on him. While he’s struggled a bit in adjusting to AA in 8 starts, he’s been pretty unlucky in those starts, with a high BABIP and HR/FB. He also dominated A+ in his professional debut, after not pitching last year. People also knock him for fairly low strikeout totals, but Singer isn’t a strikeout pitcher, he’s an elite groundball pitcher. Singer’s skillset and overall style is very similar to Mike Soroka. Singer’s 54 GB%, 23.3 K%, and 5.7 BB% in A+ are all in line with Soroka’s 57 GB%, 21 K% and 5.6 BB% in the majors this year, and we’ve all seen how successful Soroka has been. I don’t think Singer is quite as talented as Soroka, but he’s not too far behind. Singer’s two-seamer is nasty and he has a very good slider, but it’s been a bit inconsistent. The real issue is his changeup. To be a successful groundball pitcher, you need a changeup to compliment your two-seamer/sinker, and Singer just doesn’t have that right now, but he’s extremely competitive, and I think he’ll address it. His changeup has looked great at times, but it’s very rare. Right now he projects as a solid #3 who’ll eat a lot of innings, but if his changeup ever becomes a plus pitch, I think he has ace upside.

Also, as a side note, it doesn’t affect the stats because I wanted those to all be from the same day, but as I’m writing this Singer just put in a very good start at AA.

4. Jackson Kowar, RHP (Preseason Rank: 6)
Age: 22
2019 Highest Level: AA
2019 Stats: 108.2 IP, 3.40 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 22.3 K%, 7.4 BB%
Kowar might have the best 2 pitch combo in this entire system. His fastball is electric and sits mid to high 90s, and he compliments it with one of the best changeups in all of the minor leagues. Combine that with a 6’5″, projectable frame, excellent mechanics, and solid command, and you almost have the perfect pitching prospect. The only thing separating Kowar from where he is now (potential #3) and a top pitching prospect in baseball is the lack of a breaking ball. I don’t like to bash organizations because they are filled with people who know way better than I do, but I feel as if the Royals have to be a bit to blame here. When Kowar was drafted, many scouts suggested that whoever drafts him should scrap his curveball in favor of a slider, as it fits his stuff way better. I completely agreed, but the Royals didn’t, and continued to let him roll with his changeup, which still isn’t good. It’s too slow and easy to read out of his hand, whereas a slider would likely sit between his FB and CU in terms of speed. Kowar has still been very good at every stop, but I think a good slider would give him ace potential, much like Singer if he ever develops the CU.

 

5. Khalil Lee, OF (Preseason Rank: 1)
Age: 21
2019 Highest Level: AA
2019 Stats: .266/.376/.383, 394 PA, 15 2B, 3 3B, 6 HR, 40 SB, 12.9 BB%, 25.6 K%
Lee really struggled in the Arizona Fall League last year. It may have been because of a back injury that he was also nursing at the end of last season, but either way he came into 2019 with a lot to prove. For the most part he hasn’t disappointed. He’s hit well, posting a 118 wRC+, he’s been running wild on the bases with 40 SB, he’s walking in an extremely solid 12.9% of his PA and he’s been playing solid defense at all 3 OF positions. The one thing that has been a bit disappointing for Lee is the power. After hitting 17 HR in 2017, he only had 6 last year, and 6 this year. I still think Lee has 20+ raw power, but he’s again hitting more GB and less FB, so it’s hard to get excited about his power this point. He’s also not quite as fast as his SB total shows, but he has great instincts, and I can see him stealing 35+ bases in the majors. If Lee puts it all together, he could be a 20/40 guy who plays solid defense anywhere in the OF and walks a ton. Moving forward I’m going to be closely monitoring his GB% and FB%, but I’m still very high on him. 

6. Daniel Lynch, LHP (Preseason Rank: 5)
Age: 22
2019 Highest Level: A+
2019 Stats: 57.1 IP, 3.14 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, 21.9 K%, 6.2 BB%
Between Singer, Lynch, and Kowar, they’re all at a very similar level that it’s mostly up to personal preference. All three are really good, and very little separates them from one another, although I think the gap between Kowar and Lynch is much bigger than the gap between Kowar and Singer. Lynch is a tall, lanky lefty who dominated in his debut in 2018, posting a K%-BB% over 26. He’s taken a tiny step back in 2019, as he’s become a bit more hittable, and isn’t quite missing as many bats. A lot of people have Lynch over both Singer and Kowar, but I’m not quite as high on him. Lynch has great stuff, with a plus slider, and a tailing mid 90s FB that looks like high 90s due to the deception and extension he gets. His changeup is a work in progress, but it’s flashed very high potential at times. Despite this great stuff, Lynch has been fairly hittable this year, and struggles to miss bats at times. He has multiple games this season where despite going late into games, he only records 20 or less CSW (Called+Swinging strikes), and . I’m sure CSW isn’t a stat everyone is familiar with, but 20 in a game where you throw 90+ pitches isn’t great for a college pitcher with great stuff in A+. His highest game is 33, and his 2nd highest is 28. For reference, Kowar has reached that number of 28 10 times this year, and Brady Singer, who isn’t a strikeout pitcher has 2 games over 36. Personally, I don’t think Lynch quite pitches as well as he could with his stuff, and I think he’s easily the 3rd best of this group, which is still a very good pitching prospect.

The arm issue doesn’t help either, but he’s back rehabbing right now, so hopefully that doesn’t come back.

7. MJ Melendez, C (Preseason Rank: 3)
Age: 20
2019 Highest Level: A+
2019 Stats: .175/.279/.335, 315 PA, 21 2B, 2 3B, 6 HR, 7 SB, 11.1 BB%, 38.7 K%
Melendez’s season so far has been considered a disappointment, given his .613 OPS and 38.7 K% in A+, but let me tell you why he hasn’t been as bad as it seems so far. First of all, while the K% is bad, he’s been getting better recently. After being over 40% for April and May, Melendez has improved his approach significantly. In his last 15 games, he’s sporting a 31% K% and a 17% BB%. That’s still a lot of strikeouts, but any improvement is good to see, and he makes up for it in other aspects of the game. 

I tweeted about this recently, but when Melendez is actually hitting the ball, he’s been very unlucky this year. He’s hitting way more FB (48% vs 37%) and way less GB (33% vs 42%), which should be a good thing for a power hitter, but it’s resulted in a BABIP that’s 50 points lower, and way less HR. Despite an average FB distance that’s 2 feet further than last year, his HR/FB is almost 10 percentage points lower than last year, all the way down at 8.3%. For reference, that’s around where Jose Iglesias and Jason Kipnis are this year in the majors. Someone with raw power that Melendez has should have a HR/FB around 20%. What this all points to is that Melendez has arguably been a better hitter this year, despite what the face value stats say. Throw this on top of the fact that Melendez is almost 3 years younger than the average player at A+, has plus raw power that will improve, and is a very good, athletic defender, and I see a top 100 prospect who’s as good as almost any catching prospect. 

While he’ll never hit for average, we could be looking at an elite defending catcher who can get on base at a decent rate and hit 25-30 HR. 

8. Kris Bubic, LHP (Preseason Rank: 15)
Age: 21
2019 Highest Level: A+ 
2019 Stats: 97.2 IP, 2.58 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 35.2 K%, 7.6 BB%
Based on stats, Bubic has likely been the best player in the entire Royals system, and one of the best pitchers in the entire minor leagues. Of all MiLB pitchers with at least 70 IP (attempting to filter out relievers), Bubic ranks 12th in K%-BB%, right between Yankees top prospect Deivi Garcia and Bubic’s teammate Bowlan. When you watch Bubic pitch, his delivery is pretty much a 50/50 mixture of Clayton Kershaw and Alex Wood. In terms of an MLB comp, Alex Wood is actually perfect for Bubic. Like Wood, Bubic doesn’t have overpowering stuff, with a fastball that sits low 90s, but he his deceptive motion plays up his stuff, and his changeup is elite; possibly one of the best in the minor leagues. His curveball isn’t quite as good, and he’ll need to improve that in order to continue to start as he moves up the ladder. If you’re wondering why he’s only at #8, despite his stats being this good, it’s mostly because this is what he was expected to do. College pitchers with deceptive stuff and good pitchability are expected to dominate the lower minors (see Orioles’ Zac Lowther as an example). Despite what the numbers say, Bubic doesn’t quite have the stuff that the guys ahead of him have, or even a few below him, but he has a very high floor, and I think he’ll be a solid #3/#4, again, much like Alex Wood.

Kris Bubic, Lexington Legends, April 28, 2019. Photo credit – Regina Rickert. @acrphoto on Twitter

9. Kyle Isbel, OF (Preseason Rank: 9)
Age: 22
2019 Highest Level: A+
2019 Stats: .309/.359/.574, 103 PA, 8 2B, 1 3B, 5 HR, 8 SB, 5.8 BB%, 17.5 K%
All Isbel has done since getting drafted last year is hit. His lowest wRC+ at any level was 123 last year at Lexington, which is well above average. His OPS in the minors to date is .896, and despite having less than 400 career PA, he’s already at A+, where he currently has a 137 wRC+. If he hadn’t gotten injured, I wouldn’t have been surprised to see Isbel reach Omaha this year, but since he missed time, that will almost certainly have to wait until next year. It’s very hard to find anything to complain about with Isbel. He has a great hit tool, he’s an above average runner, plays good defense in CF, and has very underrated power. Isbel was an advanced college bat, so he’s expected to handle the lower minors with ease, and AA will be his first true test, but I see him as a potential 20/20 OF with a decent average.

10. Brady McConnell, SS (Preseason Rank: N/A)
Age: 21
2019 Highest Level: Rookie
2019 Stats: .250/.348/.475, 92 PA, 10 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 3 SB, 10.9 BB%, 33.7 K%
After losing his freshman year to injury, McConnell came back with a vengeance as a draft eligible sophomore, raising his stock just as much as anyone in the country. McConnell posted a .961 OPS, hitting 15 HR in 59 games, showing his above average power potential. Despite only putting up 6 SB, McConnell is also an above average athlete, and runs very well. Many question his ability to stay at SS, believing that he eventually moves to 2B, but others believe that his hands and infield actions might force him to CF, where his athleticism and speed may actually play best. 

The one major concern I have with McConnell is with regards to the Royals’ development. It’s no secret that Pratto, Melendez, and Matias are really struggling with strikeouts this year, and while he’s not on the same level as them, McConnell definitely has some issues with his approach. With 57 K to only 17 BB, McConnell definitely needs to refine his approach in order to move up the ladder, and the Royals current struggles with high K prospects makes me slightly concerned about him. In an ideal world, McConnell becomes a 20/20 threat while playing solid SS or CF, but there’s definitely some risk here.


Tier 3:
11. Yefri Del Rosario, RHP (Preseason Rank: 34)
Age: 19
2019 Highest Level: N/A
2019 Stats: N/A
Acquired as a result of the Braves cheating scandal, Del Rosario is an extremely raw pitcher from the Dominican Republic, whose potential is as high as almost anyone in the system. He showcased this potential last year in Low-A, borderline dominating hitters. After his first 3 starts where he struggled a bit, he never failed to reach 5 innings in a single start, posting a 2.10 ERA in those final 12 starts. He topped it off with a performance that really opened eyes, striking out 9 over 7 shutout innings, with only one walk, while inducing a whopping 19 swinging strikes. His fastball is absolutely electric, sitting at mid to high 90s with life, and he has a really good curveball to compliment it. His changeup could use a lot of work, but it’s flashed potential. If he can develop that changeup, and return from injury the same pitcher he was last year, I genuinely think he has borderline ace upside.

12. Jonathan Bowlan, RHP (Preseason Rank: 31)
Age: 22
2019 Highest Level: A+
2019 Stats: 108.2 IP, 2.98 ERA, 0.89 WHIP, 28.4 K%, 3.1 BB%
Bowlan’s 2018 debut gave very little to be excited about, posting an abysmal 6.94 ERA and 13.9 K% in 35 Rookie ball innings. 2019 has been a completely different story. In terms of stats, Bowlan has an argument for being the best player in the Royals system this year, with Bubic probably being the only one better. Bowlan has probably raised his stock more than anyone in the Royals’ system, as he’s dominated Low-A and A+. The command for Bowlan, which is borderline elite, has been as advertised, as he has a 3.1 BB%, but the strikeouts are the key to Bowlan’s newfound success. I still think Bowlan’s upside is a backend starter, but I think he could be the type that shows flashes of brilliance. His ability to strikeout guys while limiting walks, but proneness to getting hit hard, along with his massive frame, all remind me a lot of Michael Pineda.

13. Michael Gigliotti, OF (Preseason Rank: 13)
Age: 23
2019 Highest Level: A+
2019 Stats: .285/.369/.374, 357 PA, 20 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 34 SB, 9.0 BB%, 17.9 K%
Gigliotti isn’t the most exciting prospect out there, but he has the tools to be a very valuable CF in the majors. His hit tool has the potential to be plus, as he makes a lot of solid contact, and has a solid approach at the plate. He runs very well, which allows him to have a high BABIP, and also helps him play an elite CF. He’s not quite as fast as other guys in this system like Nick Heath, but if he gets on base at a solid rate, I could see him stealing 30+ bases. I also think there’s a bit more raw power in his bat than he’s shown, and I could see him reaching double digit HR in his prime.

14. Seuly Matias, OF (Preseason Rank: 2)
Age: 20
2019 Highest Level: A+
2019 Stats: .148/.259/.307, 221 PA, 10 2B, 4 3B, 4 HR, 2 SB, 11.3 BB%, 44.3 K%
It’s hard to find any sort of positives for Matias this year. He’s striking out in 44.3% of his PA, he’s sporting a horrible 65 wRC+, and his power has completely plummeted. After hitting 31 HR in less than 400 PA last year with an average FB distance 314 ft, he’s only hit 4 this year in 221 PA, and his average FB distance has fallen all the way to 282 ft. Without his power, Seuly Matias isn’t much of a prospect. His risk was already extremely high to begin with, but the massive spike in strikeouts and drop in power are definitely enough to drop his stock a lot. He still has a ton of potential due to his raw power, and could end up being a 40+ HR guy, but I think there’s a very good chance he’s never a major leaguer.

I’ve seen people saying that Matias played through an injury for a while before being shut down, which could explain a bit of the struggles, but they’re still extremely concerning, and enough to drop him this far. 

15. Brewer Hicklen, OF (Preseason Rank: 11)
Age: 23
2019 Highest Level: A+
2019 Stats: .270/.387/.396, 355 PA, 10 2B, 6 3B, 5 HR, 33 SB, 13 BB%, 28.7 K%
Why Hicklen is still in A+ is a complete mystery to me. For some reason he was skipped over for Blake Perkins, who has been nowhere near as good this year. Hicklen’s slash line doesn’t blow you out of the water, but you have to remember that this is Wilmington that we’re talking about. His 131 wRC+ really tells the story a lot better, as he’s easily been Wilmington’s best field player this year. Hicklen is an extremely gifted athlete, and was a two-sport star in his younger years. While he’s a bit old at 23, that’s partially because he’s been focusing solely on baseball for such a short time. He’s been flexing the speed this year, with 33 SB already, and I think he has a lot more raw power than he’s shown. His FB distance is up over 300 feet recently, which is where power hitting prospects usually are. While he strikes out a decent amount, he also walks a lot, and plays solid defense in the outfield. If he puts everything together, I could see him hitting 15-20 HR and stealing 30+ bases.

16. Evan Steele, LHP (Preseason Rank: N/A)
Age: 22
2019 Highest Level: Low-A
2019 Stats: 49 IP, 2.39 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 28.4 K%, 7.6 BB%
The Royals 2nd round draft pick in 2017, Steele pitched just 8 innings in his debut, before missing all of 2018 with a shoulder issue. Since making his return he’s been absolutely dominant. Steele has some of the best pure stuff in the Royals’ system. At 6’5″ he uses his height to create deception from the left side, a bit like Chris Sale, although not as extreme. His fastball sits mid 90s, and he compliments it with a nasty slider. He also has a changeup which is a bit behind his other 2 pitches. The development of his changeup will likely determine whether he can stay as a starter, but if he doesn’t, I could see him being a dominant reliever. His shoulder issue slowed his development a bit, but he was young at the time of the draft, so being 22 at Low-A isn’t too bad. How he fares at Wilmington will be extremely telling, and he could move up even higher on this list.

17. Gabriel Cancel, 2B (Preseason Rank: 13)
Age: 22
2019 Highest Level: AA
2019 Stats: .258/.328/.472, 22 2B, 0 3B, 16 HR, 8 SB, 7.7 BB%, 27.0 K%
I’m not sure any Royals prospect has enjoyed more of a breakout this season than Cancel. He’s currently tied for the Texas League lead in HR, and 3rd in XBH behind Padres’ Edward Olivares and Cardinals’ top prospect Dylan Carlson. His 116 wRC+ is tied with Khalil Lee for best on the Naturals, and his .211 ISO is 3rd of anyone in the Texas League who hasn’t been promoted yet, behind Astros Seth Beer and Carlson again. His K% has increased quite a bit, to a point that is a bit worrying, but he’s hitting way more line drives and flyballs so I can live with it. He’s nothing special on defense, but he can play a passable 2B, and if he keeps this power up, he should be an everyday 2B in the majors.

18. Meibrys Viloria, C (Preseason Rank: 17)
Age: 22
2019 Highest Level: MLB
2019 Stats: .265/.348./.332, 256 PA, 12 2B, 0 3B, 1 HR, 2 SB, 10.2 BB%, 25 K%
Despite being only 22, Viloria is already starting in the MLB after the Martin Maldonado trade. Whether or not he’s ready for that is debatable, but it’s still impressive nonetheless. His stats at AA don’t tell the complete story. He was horrible to start the season, sporting an OPS under .600 up until June. Since then he’s completely turned it on, showing the potential that people have seen in him for a while. In his last 40 games, his OPS has been over .850. He’s done this by hitting way more line drives. In his last 30 games, his LD% is an astronomical 32.5%. Viloria is a big dude, and I think he has way more raw power than his 1 HR would say. While he’s not hitting many fly balls recently, his average FB distance is above 300 feet in his last 20 games, which is home run hitter type distance. He doesn’t have Melendez’s raw power, but I think 10-15 HR is realistic. He’s not an amazing catcher defensively, but he has a very good arm, and hopefully some work with Salvador Perez will improve his receiving.

19. Carlos Hernandez, RHP (Preseason Rank: 14)
Age: 22
2019 Highest Level: Rookie
2019 Stats: 19.2 IP, 7.78 ERA, 1.63 WHIP, 24.5 K%, 6.1 BB%
When Hernandez is healthy, his stuff is about as good as anyone in this system. His fastball is electric, sitting mid to high 90s, and he compliments it with a curveball and changeup that both have a chance to be plus pitches. There’s a couple of issues with Hernandez that cause him to be ranked this low. For one, as previously mentioned he has health concerns, as he has a history of shoulder issues. The other is his age, as he was already 19 when he signed, and didn’t debut until he was 20. Due to this, he’s extremely raw for a 22 year old, but he has the stuff to be a stud somewhere down the line.

20. Austin Cox, LHP (Preseason Rank: 40)
Age: 22
2019 Highest Level: A+
2019 Stats: 102.2 IP, 2.72 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 24.2 K%, 7.3 BB%
Cox was the Royals 5th round pick in their 2018 draft class loaded with college pitching talent, and so far he’s looked like a steal there. Cox is a big lefty at 6’4” 185, and possesses 2 plus pitches in his slider and curveball. He’s more control than command, meaning that he limits walks well, but doesn’t always hit his spots. He gets a lot of swings and misses, but I’m not sure if he’ll be able to as much when he moves up the ladder. His fastball sits mid 90s with good sink, but it tends to lose quality and velocity later in games, making me think his future may be in the bullpen, where he would still be very good. Either way, he’s been very good this year, and should be getting a promotion to AA soon.


Tier 4:
21. Nick Heath, OF (Preseason Rank: 26)
Age: 25
2019 Highest Level: AA
2019 Stats: .258/.334/.387, 361 PA, 9 2B, 7 3B, 6 HR, 48 SB, 10.2 BB%, 30.7 K%
I’m one of the biggest Heath fans you’ll find. I love his personality, and the way he plays the game, but I still need to highlight the negatives. His K% for the year is still above 30%, which is bad. He’s yet again slugging under .400, and while he’s showed a bit more power, he still doesn’t offer much, and will never be a great hitter. He’s also 25 and only in AA, and will be 26 by the start of this year. Now that all of that is out of the way, let’s talk about the good things. First of all, he can absolutely fly. He might be the fastest player in the minors, as his 48 SB are 8 higher than the next guy (Khalil Lee). This speed helps him play an elite CF, which alone should make him an MLB player. What really excites me is that fact that he’s really figured it out at the plate recently after a really bad start. 

The OPS is way up and the strikeouts are way down. He’s being way more aggressive at the plate, and it’s paying off big time. His OPS since the end of June has been well over .800, getting up over 1.000 at points, and he’s gotten the K% closer to 20% in that time. If he can post an OPS anywhere over .700 in the MLB he’ll be very valuable. I’m hoping he makes it to Omaha by the end of the year, and Debuts in the MLB at some point next year. 

22. Nick Pratto, 1B (Preseason Rank: 8)
Age: 20
2019 Highest Level: A+
2019 Stats: .187/.283/.587, 353 PA, 13 2B, 1 3B, 7 HR, 15 SB, 11.3 BB%, 33.1 K%
Much like Matias, there’s very little to get excited about this season for Pratto. Pratto’s start to his career overall has been pretty underwhelming, but he finished last year extremely hot last year, giving newfound reason for hope. He followed that hot finish off with an abysmal start to this season. His OPS from April to July was flirting with dropping below .500, and he was striking out in close to 40% of his PA. Since the start of July, he’s had a mini resurgence, posting an OPS over .800 for his last 25 games. He still has the tools to be a very good MLB hitter, but other that short stretches, he really hasn’t shown his potential yet. I’m dropping him way further than Matias for a few reasons; he’s a 1B only prospect whereas Matias can play a solid RF, he doesn’t have the raw power that Matias has, he hasn’t had the same past success as Matias, and he doesn’t have an injury to blame like Matias does. I’m very worried about Pratto at this point.

23. Yohanse Morel, RHP (Preseason Rank: 33)
Age: 18
2019 Highest Level: Low-A
2019 Stats: 33.2 IP, 6.68 ERA, 1.69 WHIP, 19.1 K%, 9.3 BB%
Morel is an enigma, but he’s an extremely talented enigma. And he started showing that talent last year as a 17 year old in rookie ball, striking out over a batter per inning, while keeping his walks in control. His changeup is absolutely nasty. It’s easily one of the best pitches anyone in this system has, and it compliments his sinking fastball very well. His slider is a work in progress right now, and could be the deciding factor in how good he actually becomes. He’s gotten off to a bit of a rough start this year in Lexington, but that’s expected considering he’s only faced two hitters younger than him (one being Mariners’ phenom Julio Rodriguez). He’s definitely a project, but he has the tools to be a very good pitcher down the line.   

24. Zach Haake, RHP (Preseason Rank: 41)
Age: 22
2019 Highest Level: Low-A
2019 Stats: 50.1 IP, 3.04 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 27.4 K%, 12.0 BB%
Haake is a big, power right hander who the Royals drafted in the 6th round last year. He started the year off great, with a 1.73 ERA, 36 K, and 9 BB in 25 IP over 5 starts before getting injured. Since returning from injury, he’s made 6 starts, only totalling 20 innings, where he’s had a 5.40 ERA, and walked 13, while only striking out 17. When he’s on, his stuff is completely nasty. His mid to high 90s fastball is easily a plus pitch, and his slider very well could be too. His changeup also flashes plus potential at times, but is inconsistent. When he’s not on, however, he struggles to find the strike zone, and his delivery is inconsistent. His stuff alone could make him a high leverage reliever, but for now the Royals will continue his development as a starter, and hope that he puts it all together.  

25. Jon Heasley, RHP (Preseason Rank: 42)
Age: 22
2019 Highest Level: Low-A
2019 Stats: 95 IP, 2.94 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 26.8 K%, 6.9 BB%
After struggling as a junior at Oklahoma St, and again in his professional debut, Heasley has come out in 2019 as a new and improved pitcher. He got off to an amazing start, sporting a 2.04 ERA in his first 9 starts, with 41 K to 5 BB in 35.1 IP over that stretch. Since then he hasn’t been as good, but he’s kept up the strikeouts, while keeping the walks at a modest 3.3 per 9. Heasley is a big guy at 6’3” 215, gets good velocity on his fastball, as well as his power slider which is an above average pitch. His curveball, which wasn’t a good pitch last year, has also improved a lot, contributing to his newfound success. His changeup still needs work, but with 3 solid pitches, Heasley is primed for a future as a starter. He’s very old for his level, so a promotion to Wilmington will be very telling of his potential. 

26. Tyler Zuber, RHP (Preseason Rank: N/A)
Age: 24
2019 Highest Level: AA
2019 Stats: 39.2 IP, 1.59 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, 32.9 K%, 7.7 BB%
Despite being undersized at 5’11”, Zuber is really starting to build his case as a future closer. Once a guy who sat low 90s in college, Zuber now sits mid to high 90s, and has added life to his fastball. He also possesses a changeup which has always received high praise, and his slider has improved greatly this year. Zuber has maintained his great control (7.3 BB%) and strikeout stuff (33.8 K%) while cutting down on his main issue, as he’s giving up 3 less hits per 9 innings compared to last year. He reminds me a bit of Greg Holland or Jason Motte, before they blew their arms out. 

27. Kelvin Gutierrez, 3B (Preseason Rank: 38)
Age: 24
2019 Highest Level: MLB
2019 Stats: .260/.332/.361, 304 PA, 5 2B, 2 3B, 6 HR, 11 SB, 9.5 BB%, 25.0 K%
Most other lists you’ve seen probably has Gutierrez a bit higher than this, but I’m not a huge fan. He’s a solid defender at 3B, and can hit for an okay average, but he still hasn’t tapped into the raw power that he’s been advertised to have. In his career, he’s yet to have a season under 50 GB%, and doesn’t pull the ball at a high rate, so there’s not much room for home runs. This season his GB% is all the way up to 61.9%, so it’s going the wrong way. The one improvement he has made is in average FB distance, but that can be mostly chalked up to sample size and juiced balls, and I’m not getting too excited until the GB% goes down.

28. Daniel Tillo, LHP (Preseason Rank: N/A)
Age: 23
2019 Highest Level: A+
2019 Stats: 100.1 IP, 4.04 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 13.6 K%, 9.7 BB%
Few pitchers in all of baseball have more extreme GB% than Daniel Tillo. He uses his long 6’5” body to throw his sinker downhill, which helps him generate groundballs on 63.6% on his batted balls. That number is elite. What isn’t elite is his strikeout stuff, and his command. His K-BB% since reaching A+ last year is around 4, and has actually dropped this year to 3.9. His walks are down, but so are his strikeouts. His profile is similar to that of a lefty Dakota Hudson, but his stuff isn’t quite as good. He also could benefit from an improved 3rd pitch. His slider is pretty good, but his changeup is very unreliable, which isn’t a good sign for a guy who throws a sinker. He’s pitching well recently, and his athleticism and size are exciting, but he’s going to need to sharpen his command and develop his changeup to rise up the ladder.

29. Alec Marsh, RHP (Preseason Rank: N/A)
Age: 21
2019 Highest Level: Rookie
2019 Stats: 15 IP, 3.00 ERA, 0.87 WHIP, 36.2 K%, 1.2 BB%
Marsh came back to Arizona St. his junior year a stronger, more put together pitcher. He always had solid stuff, but with added velocity and better control in 2019, he was able to raise his stock to a 2nd round draft pick. Marsh’s stuff doesn’t stick out anywhere, but his overall makeup is very solid. His fastballs, two-seamer and four-seamer, are both solid pitches. His slider and curveball both have showed plus upside, and he has a decent feel for his changeup. He’s showed great command to start his professional career, but given the small sample size I’m not prepared to call his command any better than average. Average to above-average grades across the board, combined with his size, make me think he has a future as a back-end starter. 

30. Grant Gambrell, RHP (Preseason Rank: N/A)
Age: 21
2019 Highest Level: Rookie
2019 Stats: 10 IP, 1.80 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, 29.6 K%, 9.1 BB%
Like Marsh, Gambrell didn’t do anything particularly well in college, but showed great improvements his junior year, making him an interesting draft prospect. His big frame points to room to add strength, but as of right now, his low 90s fastball is just an average pitch, as is his changeup. His curveball is inconsistent, but it has excellent spin rate, leading me to believe it could be a plus pitch down the line. His command isn’t great, but his solid 3 pitch mix, combined with his large frame, point to a future as a starter. 

31. Wilmin Candelario, SS (Preseason Rank: 44)
Age: 17
2019 Highest Level: DSL
2019 Stats: .284/.364/.474, 133 PA, 3 2B, 5 3B, 3 HR, 7 SB, 10.5 BB%, 27.8 K%
Candelario was the Royals top international signing last year at $847.5k, and it’s pretty easy to see why. He’s a smooth fielding, switch-hitting SS with solid pop from both sides. On defense, Candelario has everything you could ask for. He has light feet, quick hands, and a plus arm. At the plate he’s very raw, but he has the tools to be a very good hitter. He’s got a lot of raw power, and has the potential to hit 20+ HR in his prime. His speed is average to above average, but nothing special. He could be able to chip in double digit steals. There’s some swing and miss stuff there, but the potential he has are enough to put him at #31, and he could definitely move way up this list. 

32. Sebastian Rivero, C (Preseason Rank: 37)
Age: 20
2019 Highest Level: AAA (only 3 games at AAA, mostly A+)
2019 Stats: .227/.291/.300, 249 PA, 11 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 1 SB, 6.8 BB%, 22.9 K%
Rivero reminds me a lot of Ali Sanchez of the Mets organization. He’s absolutely amazing behind the plate, and has the potential to be a top defensive catcher in the MLB, but he provides very little with the bat. He had a horrible stretch in June and July, where he struck out in over 30% of his PA, and had an OPS barely over .400, but outside of that stretch he’s been decent, hovering slightly above .650. Rivero hits a decent amount of fly balls, but most of them are to the opposite field, so he doesn’t find much success (.182 AVG on FB). If he can start pulling more fly balls, and get a bit stronger, I could see him having double digit pop, but as of right now he profiles as a glove only catcher. 

33. Emmanuel Rivera, 3B (Preseason Rank: 22)
Age: 23
2019 Highest Level: AA
2019 Stats: .257/.299/.364, 373 PA, 12 2B, 2 3B, 7 HR, 1 SB, 5.1 BB%, 12.6 K%
Rivera is a solid defensive 3B, but I question whether his bat will ever be good enough to be an MLB player. He just turned 23 and is at AA, so he has time to figure it out and become a valuable player, but he currently has an 82 wRC+, an OBP under .300, and all of his stats have been trending in the wrong direction recently, so it’s hard to find reason for excitement outside the defense.

34. Omar Florentino, SS (Preseason Rank: 43)
Age: 17
2019 Highest Level: DSL
2019 Stats: .173/.323/.240, 128 PA, 3 2B, 2 3B, 0 HR, 11 SB, 17.2 BB%, 21.9 K%
Florentino was the Royals’ 2nd biggest signing in 2018, after Candelario, as he signed for $722.5k. Like Candelario, Florentino is a solid defensive, switch-hitting SS from the Dominican Republic. While Florentino was thought to be much more advanced than the raw Candelario, he’s struggled to start his pro career. He’s pretty fast, has a good feel for the zone, and has great barrel control and bat speed so I’m still pretty high on him. His size could force a move to 2B, but his bat and speed should still make him valuable there. 

35. Erick Mejia, UTIL (Preseason Rank: N/A)
Age: 24
2019 Highest Level: AAA
2019 Stats: .276/.349/.393, 399 PA, 17 2B, 6 3B, 4 HR, 13 SB, 9.5 BB%, 17.3 K%
Much like guys above him on this list, Mejia is a guy who plays very good defense at multiple positions. This year he’s played 15+ games at SS, 2B, 3B, and CF at AAA, and provides value at all 4 positions. Unfortunately, like a lot of other defensive-minded prospects in this system, he offers very little with the bat. After getting off to a decent start in AAA, he’s been extremely subpar since about mid June. While his BB% is up this year, it’s also mostly due to his good start, and has been below average since. His speed and defense should allow him to provide value to an MLB team, but likely not more than a bench utility player. 

36. Bubba Starling OF (Preseason Rank: 50)
Age:
26
2019 Highest Level:
MLB
2019 Stats:
.310/.358/.449, 316 PA, 12 2B, 2 3B, 8 HR, 9 SB, 7.6 BB%, 20.9 K%
There’s really not much to say about Starling, he’s been around forever, and while he’ll never live up to the lucrative signing bonus he got in 2011, he’s still good enough to warrant an appearance on this list. He’s an elite athlete, can provide elite defense at any position in the OF, and is making contact at a pretty good rate at AAA. The face stats seem pretty good at AAA, but with the new ball, he’s actually been a below average hitter, with a 96 wRC+. I’m not gonna get my hopes up about Starling ever being a good hitter, but his defense and speed are enough to provide value on an MLB team. *Has 13 games in the majors with KC this year as of July 29.


Tier 5:

37. Gerson Garabito, RHP (Preseason Rank: 16)
Age: 23
2019 Highest Level: AA
2019 Stats: 97.1 IP, 3.88 ERA, 1.49 WHIP, 16.8 K%, 9.8 BB%
Garabito has been in the Royals system since 2013, and has been highly regarded for a while as well. He has elite spin rate numbers on both his fastball and his curveball, but has not found success turning either into swings and misses, and still struggles with control. Outside of a solid stretch at A ball in 2017, his K%-BB% has been around 7.5 at every level since 2016. Almost 24 at AA, his numbers aren’t impressive at all, and I think he could really benefit from a move to the bullpen. As I’m writing this, his last 2 starts were very good, so maybe there’s hope still as a starter.

38. Dante Biasi, LHP (Preseason Rank: N/A)
Age: 21
2019 Highest Level: Rookie
2019 Stats: 13 IP, 3.46 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 32.1 K%, 3.8 BB%
Biasi had a breakout year in 2019 at Penn State in his return from TJ surgery. In 14 starts, amassing 74 innings, he posted a 2.55 ERA, a .196 batting average against, and 102 K to 33 BB. Despite being slightly undersized at 6’0”, Biasi has solid stuff across the board, with a low to mid 90s fastball, an above average slider, and a changeup that has been inconsistent, but has flashed potential. Biasi’s delivery is a bit odd, as he varies his leg lift timings, and has a bit of a short arm action. This video of his changeup shows the arm action, as well as his ability to apparently throw righty? 

If Biasi can grow his changeup into a plus 3rd pitch, I think he has backend rotation potential, but even if he doesn’t, I think his fastball/slider combo could make him a solid reliever.

39. Luis Cepeda, LHP (Preseason Rank: N/A)
Age: 18
2019 Highest Level: DSL
2019 Stats: 31.1 IP, 1.72 ERA, 0.80 WHIP, 39.4 K%, 3.0 BB%
Signed for $300k in 2017, Cepeda is a lanky LHP at 6’2” 160. He’s known to be an extremely prolific strike thrower, and has dominated the DSL this year to the tune of 40 K and 2 BB in 31.1 IP. He also has the highest SwStr% in the entire DSL. His fastball was high 80s back in 2017 when he signed, but I’d imagine he’s added some velocity, and I would guess he’s at least in the low 90s now. He throws his fastball downhill, with good sink. I haven’t seen much of his other pitches, but he was reported to have good feel for a curveball and changeup when he signed back in 2017. He’s a bit old for the DSL, as he’s almost 19, but his dominance cannot go unnoticed, and I’m very excited for his overdue debut stateside. 

40. Holden Capps, LHP (Preseason Rank: N/A)
Age: 24
2019 Highest Level: AA
2019 Stats: 41 IP, 1.76 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 27.0 K%, 4.6 BB%
After dominating A+ all season, Capps finally got promoted to AA last week. Capps was a bit old for a guy in A+ at 24, but he finally got a promotion to AA, and he has decent stuff and a good chance to be a part of the Royals’ bullpen in the future. He gives up more hits than you would want, likely due to his average fastball and lack of velocity, but he barely walks anyone, and his plus slider allows him to get a lot of whiffs. He gets a lot of groundballs, but also gives up a lot of line drives, meaning he’ll always be a high BABIP guy. His HR/FB has also been really low, so there’s a bit of luck to his numbers, but I think he’ll be a decent middle reliever down the line. 

41. Michael Massey, UTIL (Preseason Rank: N/A)
Age: 21
2019 Highest Level: Rookie
2019 Stats: .211/.269/.268, 78 PA, 1 2B, 0 2B, 1 HR, 2 SB, 6.4 BB%, 19.2 K%
After 3 consistent years at Illinois, the Royals decided to take Massey. He doesn’t do anything at an extremely high level, and there isn’t much upside, but Massey has the tools to be a decent MLB player. In terms of offense, he possesses a compact swing and great barrel control, as well as a solid approach, which give him an overall plus hit tool. He hit above .300 all 3 years, and had a good showing with wood bats in the Cape Cod league. While he doesn’t offer much in terms of power, his 17 career HR in 645 career AB show that he has a little bit of pop. He could possibly chip in double digit HR at his peak. While Massey is a decent runner, he doesn’t steal much, only stealing 8 bases in 3 years. 

What I really like about Massey is his defensive potential. An extremely solid 2B in his 3 years at Illinois, Massey is a decent runner with good range, has solid hands, and has an arm that leads scouts to believe he can play the left side of the infield. I think these tools, as well as his solid work ethic, will allow him to be a super utility man in the majors, playing all 3 OF positions as well. I can see Massey being a similar player to Ben Zobrist and Tony Kemp, although likely closer to Kemp than Zobrist in terms of value. 

42. Woo-Young Jin, RHP (Preseason Rank: N/A)
Age: 18
2019 Highest Level: Rookie
2019 Stats: 25 IP, 2.16 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, 31.3 K%, 4.2 BB%
Jin is one of my favorite under the radar pitching prospects in the Royals system. He was signed as a high schooler out of Korea for $150,000. There’s very limited video on him, most of it coming from the Power Showcase he attended in 2017 as a 16 year old. He’s a very big kid, listed at 6’2” 210, and has an easy, repeatable delivery. The video from the showcase mentions that he hit 95 in high school, but he sat 87-90 at the event. He also has a curveball which sat at 72-74. That was 2 years ago, so I’m assuming he’s improved his velo since then, and hopefully has been working on a third pitch. He’s gotten off to a great start in rookie ball, so I’m really excited to get a look at him when he gets up to Burlington or Idaho, and eventually Lexington.

43. Luis De La Rosa, RHP (Preseason Rank: N/A)
Age: 17
2019 Highest Level: DSL
2019 Stats: 22.2 IP, 3.57 ERA, 1.01, 31.1 K%, 4.4 BB%
When pitchers are converted SS, there’s a few things you expect. For one, you expect that they’re extremely athletic, which Luis De La Rosa is. Another thing that you expect is that they struggle with control, and their secondary pitches are way behind their fastball, but De La Rosa doesn’t fit that description. Despite being new to pitching, De La Rosa was reported as having advanced feel for the changeup for his age, as well as a promising slider. De La Rosa has also showed great control in the DSL, as he has only 4 BB in 22.2 IP, as well as 28 K. Since his first start where he struggled a bit, he’s also only allowed 2 XBH (1 2B and 1 3B) in 21.1 IP. De La Rosa’s athleticism and easy delivery point to potential for more velocity, and I think he has a lot more upside than first imagined when he signed for $147.5k. 

44. Janser Lara, RHP (Preseason Rank: N/A)
Age: 22
2019 Highest Level: N/A
2019 Stats: N/A
Janser Lara is one of the more interesting pitchers in the Royals system. Despite being only 6’0”, he has a fastball which reaches 100 MPH, and he started to look very good last year when he moved to the bullpen. He also has a decent curveball, but both his curve and his changeup need work. I think Lara has a bright future as a reliever, but I can’t rank him any higher than this simply for the fact that he hasn’t pitched this year, and no one seems to know why. 

45. Nathan Eaton, UTIL (Preseason Rank: N/A)
Age: 22
2019 Highest Level: Low-A
2019 Stats: .251/.325/.358, 412 PA, 26 2B, 2 3B, 3 HR, 16 SB, 8.7 BB%, 20.1 K%
Eaton really impressed in his debut last year, showing an intriguing power/speed and dominating the Pioneer League to the tune of 153 wRC+, although it was supported by a .435 BABIP. He also showed versatility, playing 2B, 3B, CF, and RF. This year, he’s still showing the speed, going 16 for 17 on SB attempts, but the power has been toned back, and he’s been playing mostly 3B. Eaton could really benefit on pulling the ball more, as he’s only pulling 23% of his FB, and has posted only a .476 OPS on FB. His struggles haven’t gone unnoticed, but he’s definitely still an interesting prospect. 

46. Darryl Collins, OF (Preseason Rank: N/A)
Age: 17
2019 Highest Level: Rookie
2019 Stats: .393/.471/.551, 102 PA, 4 2B, 5 3B, 0 HR, 0 SB, 11.8 BB%, 12.2 K%
Few players have gotten off to as good of a start to their American professional baseball careers than Collins. I said “American” specifically because Collins was a professional in the Netherlands since he was 14, and was a star for the Netherlands U-18 team, before signing with the Royals last summer. He made his debut in Arizona this year, and has dominated, with a 171 wRC+, 11.8 BB% and 12.2 K%. He’s doing this at only 17 years old, 2.6 years younger than the average player at that level. These are the stats you’d expect from an early round draft pick in the draft, not a low level international signing. The only reason I have him this low is because he doesn’t have much to offer in terms of tools. He’s a great contact hitter with a great approach, but outside of that his upside seems limited. He only had 6 XBH in 28 games in the Netherlands last year, and while he has 5 3B and 4 2B in 20 games this year, he projects as a contact hitter with very limited power. He’s also only playing LF this year, even though he played CF and a bit of SS in the Netherlands. If he can add more power, or positional versatility on defense, he has a chance to climb way up this list. 

47. Kaito Yuki, RHP (Preseason Rank: N/A)
Age: 17
2019 Highest Level: N/A
2019 Stats: N/A
As a 16-year-old, Yuki made a decision to sign with the Royals for $322.5K instead of going to high school. He’s believed to be the first Japanese high schooler to ever sign with an MLB team. Just 17, he’s very long and lanky at 6’2” 170. His fastball sat high 80s when he signed, and he apparently has a very good slider. He’s been compared to Yu Darvish by Japanese reporters, but I have to feel this has more to do with the fact that they’re from the same town than actual baseball abilities, but either way he’s an exciting prospect. I have him here mostly for how intrigued I am. Hopefully he debuts soon so we have more to work with. 

48. Blake Perkins, OF (Preseason Rank: N/A)
Age: 22
2019 Highest Level: AA
2019 Stats: .211/.345/.341, 335 PA, 9 2B, 4 3B, 6 HR, 16 SB, 16.1 BB%, 20.9 K%
One of the players received in the Kelvin Herrera, Blake Perkins doesn’t provide much with the bat, but he’s very athletic, plays a great CF, and walks a ton. He’s hit for a bit more power this year, but his average has also dropped all the way down to .210. His BABIP is lower than usual, and his 16.1 BB% slightly makes up for a low average, but almost 23 and just recently promoted to AA (undeserved if you ask me, it should’ve been Hicklen), Perkins will need to improve his bat to be an MLB player. 

49. Tyler Tolbert, UTIL (Preseason Rank: N/A)
Age: 21
2019 Highest Level: Rookie
2019 Stats: .241/.368/.241, 68 PA, 0 2B, 0 3B, 0 HR, 13.2 BB%, 25.0 K%
Tolbert was a 13th round draft pick for the Royals, but I think he has a chance to provide value due to his speed and versatility. His speed could very well be 80 grade, as he stole 41 bases in 47 games his junior year, and has 8 in 13 games as a pro so far. He isn’t a great contact hitter, and provides almost no power, but he can take a walk (.392 OBP as a junior) and has played 2B, SS, and CF so far. He could end up being a very speedy super utility guy. 

50. Jaswel De Los Santos, OF (Preseason Rank: N/A)
Age: 17
2019 Highest Level: Rookie
2019 Stats: .297/.364/.432, 165 PA, 9 2B, 4 3B, 1 HR, 9 SB, 9.1 BB%, 21.8 K%
Signed out of the Dominican Republic last year for $347.5K. He has decent size at 6’1” 175, and is an explosive athlete who has all the tools to stay in CF. Has a decent swing from the left side, but it definitely needs a lot of work. He’s very raw but he’s gotten off to a good start in the DSL.




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