Kansas City Royals 2021 Midseason Top 50 Prospects

Royals Top 50 design by @designsbypack on Twitter

As we sped past the mid-summer talent showcase being played in beautiful Denver, Colorado, the Royals yet again find themselves in the bottom 5 of baseball in the standings. The Royals were fast out of the gate, owning baseball’s best record at one point. This season, we’ve seen Khalil Lee traded to the Mets, Nick Heath to the Diamondbacks, along with Grant Gambrell and Luis De La Rosa being shipped off to Boston in the Andrew Benintendi trade.

While it’s clear there is a great amount of talent-building ahead of them to become viable, the Royals are still in great position at the minor league levels. Let’s check in on the system Dayton Moore has built.


As we get into the rankings, here’s a quick breakdown of how the “Tier” system works here at Prospects1500:

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
Tier 5: Players who are worth keeping an eye on, but likely to never make a team’s 40-man roster.

*Clicking on the player’s name allows you to view their Baseball-Reference page*

Tier 1

1. Bobby Witt Jr., SS (January rank #1)
Age: 21
Current Level: AA

Easily a top 5 prospect, early struggles at AA have given way to Witt displaying all of the exciting tools he possesses.

2. Asa Lacy, LHP (January rank #2)
Age: 22
Current Level: High-A

Strikeouts (14.3 K/9) and walks (6.8 K/9) have both been plentiful in his debut season, however the ace-level potential still remains.

Tier 2

3. Daniel Lynch, LHP (January rank #4)
Age: 24
Current Level: AAA

His 3-game MLB debut notwithstanding, Lynch still projects as a solid #2/3 type starter to slot in behind Lacy in the rotation.

4. Erick Pena, OF (January rank #3)
Age: 18
Current Level: Rookie

Pena doesn’t have any bankable results yet, and is still a few years away, but the talent is palpable.

5. Jackson Kowar, RHP (January rank #5)
Age: 24
Current Level: AAA

Kowar also had a 3-game cameo for the Royals that didn’t yield desirable results, however that’s no reflection on his 2021 minor league campaign.

6. MJ Melendez, C (January rank #15)
Age: 22
Current Level: AA

As the heir apparent to Salvador Perez, Melendez’s 2021 redemption tour is in full swing.

7. Nick Pratto, 1B (January rank #43)
Age: 22
Current Level: AA

Speaking of redemption, Pratto has mashed the baseball throughout 2021, earning a nod in this year’s Futures Game.

8. Frank Mozzicato, LHP (January rank – N/A)
Age: 18
Current Level: 2021 1st Rd Draft Selection #7 Overall

Certainly a surprise to many with Rocker on the board, don’t look past the lefty prepster from Connecticut; his statistical output is off the chart at nearly 22 K/9!

Tier 3

9. Kyle Isbel, OF (January rank #9)
Age: 24
Current Level: MLB

Still in need of more seasoning, Isbel still profiles as a high-floor solid contributor for a 5 year stretch in the majors.

10. Edward Olivares, OF (January rank #22)
Age: 25
Current Level: MLB

Olivares has raked in AAA, but that hasn’t yet translated into sustained success in Kansas City.

11. Carlos Hernandez, RHP (January rank #12)
Age: 24
Current Level: MLB

Bullpens require flamethrowers and Hernandez certainly fits that bill with his premium velocity fastball and high strikeout rate.

12. Nick Loftin, 2B/SS (January rank #8)
Age: 22
Current Level: High-A

Early comparisons to Whit Merrifield haven’t manifested quite yet, but I still believe that Loftin has the skillset to become at least a solid everyday player at multiple positions for a major league team.

13. Jonathan Bowlan, RHP (January rank #20)
Age: 24
Current Level: AA

Bowlan was off to a dominating start at AA Northwest Arkansas prior to undergoing Tommy John surgery.

14. Yefri Del Rosario, RHP (January rank #13)
Age: 21
Current Level: AA

At nearly 4 years younger than the average AA age, Yefri is more than holding his own for the Naturals.

15. Ben Hernandez, RHP (January rank #14)
Age: 19
Current Level: Low-A

Control is often the last skill that young hurlers develop, with Hernandez being no different. Arrow still points up, though.

16. Alec Marsh, RHP (January rank #30)
Age: 23
Current Level: AA

Marsh still displays excellent control, and now the strikeout rates are escalating for the former Arizona State hurler.

17. Darryl Collins, OF (January rank #23)
Age: 19
Current Level: Low-A

A prospect to bump up higher in OBP leagues, Collins has displayed great athleticism and his ability to get on base is unquestioned.

18. Daniel Tillo, LHP (January rank #19)
Age: 24
Current Level: Rookie

Recovery from Tommy John surgery is always an exercise in patience; Tillo has just resumed his rehab assignment.

19. Austin Cox, LHP (January rank #11)
Age: 24
Current Level: AA

K rate is down (-1.5%) and BB rate (+1.3%) is up for the college lefty out of Mercer.

20. Brady McConnell, SS (January rank #17)
Age: 23
Current Level: Low-A

McConnell is playing at a level that is a year below his current age, so the underwhelming results at Low-A are a cause for concern.

21. Angel Zerpa, LHP (January – unranked)
Age: 21
Current Level: AA

Recently promoted to AA, Zerpa dominated in Quad Cities, displaying excellent control and tantalizing strikeout rates.

22. Michael Massey, 2B (January rank #47)
Age: 23
Current Level: High-A

Massey is a bats-left, throws-right 2nd baseman with the propensity to hit for a solid average with some surprising pop. He was ranked too low in January and is rocketing up organizational rankings thus far in 2021.

Tier 4

23. Tyler Gentry, OF (January rank #26)
Age: 22
Current Level: High-A

The first professional season has been a good one for the outfielder from the University of Alabama. So far, so good.

24. Christian Chamberlain, LHP (January rank #31)
Age: 21
Current Level: High-A

With a very small sample size at High-A (3.2 IP), it appears the Royals are trying to find a role in the bullpen for the Oregon State Beaver lefty.

25. Maikel Garcia, SS (January rank #28)
Age: 21
Current Level: Low-A

A speedster from Venezuela, he has wasted no time showcasing his wheels, with 24 stolen bases out of 26 attempts on the year.

26. Yohanse Morel, RHP (January rank #21)
Age: 20
Current Level: High-A

With the advancement of a level up to High-A, Morel has fought some control problems with a 6.4 BB/9 rate.

27. Wilmin Candelario, SS (January rank #24)
Age: 19
Current Level: Rookie

The Arizona Complex League just got underway, so we’ll give Candelario a pass on his lackluster results through his first dozen games.

28. Tyler Zuber, RHP (January rank #32)
Age: 26
Current Level: MLB

Zuber has been called up and will likely exhaust prospect eligibility this year, where he will try to carve out a role in the Royals bullpen.

29. Gabriel Cancel, 2B/3B (January rank #35)
Age: 24
Current Level: AAA

With a move off of 1B, the Royals appear to be trying Cancel out at 2B. The power/speed combo is still present with now a little better likelihood that he uses his versatility in a utility role at the highest level.

30. Jeison Guzman, SS (January rank #36)
Age: 22
Current Level: High-A

A promotion to AA shouldn’t be too far off, as Guzman has been doing a little bit of everything for Quad Cities.

31. Zach Haake, RHP (January rank #37)
Age: 24
Current Level: High-A

Solid season so far for Haake in High-A, next stop will be a big test in AA to determine whether he will break through or become a minimal impact player.

32. Ben Kudrna, RHP (January rank – N/A)
Age: 18
Current Level: 2021 2nd Rd Draft Selection (#43 Overall)

Kudrna is from local Blue Valley Southwest HS in Overland Park and brings with him tons of athleticism, projectability, and jaw-dropping results.

33. Carter Jensen, C (January rank – N/A)
Age: 18
Current Level: 2021 3rd Rd Draft Selection (#78 Overall)

Another local product out of Park Hill HS, he has the ability to stick behind the plate and possesses premium exit velocity with his bat.

34. Emmanuel Rivera, 3B (January – unranked)
Age: 25
Current Level: MLB

The recent call-up has performed well for AAA Omaha and has thrust himself into the conversation surrounding the backup 3B for the Royals.

35. Dylan Coleman, RHP (January – unranked)
Age: 24
Current Level: AAA

Just called up to Omaha, Coleman fared well out the bullpen for AA Northwest Arkansas, highlighted by a 37:5 K:BB ratio in 24 2/3 IP.

36. Sebastian Rivero, C (January rank #38)
Age: 22
Current Level: MLB

Rivero remains on the backup catcher path, as he’s not forcing Salvador Perez off of the position.

37. Brewer Hicklen, OF (January rank #34)
Age: 25
Highest Level: AA

The speed hasn’t faded, however, the clock is dwindling on Hicklen’s ability to make an impact for the Royals.

38. Seuly Matias, OF (January rank #25)
Age: 22
Highest Level: High-A

40% strikeout rates generally never make it in the major leagues, as a result, Matias has a long climb ahead of him.

39. Gabe Speier, LHP (January – unranked)
Age: 26
Current Level: AAA

Strictly a bullpen arm, the lefty is knocking on the door for another shot in the big league bullpen after previously unsuccessful auditions in 2019 and 2020.

40. Scott Blewett, RHP (January rank #39)
Age: 25
Current Level: AAA

Blewett finds himself surrounded by plenty of other capable relievers, so this season is pivotal for him to carve out a role.

Tier 5

41. Shane Panzini, RHP (January rank – N/A)
Age: 19
Current Level: 2021 4th Rd Draft Selection (#108 Overall)

Panzini is an older high school player without much more physical projection left; at nearly 17 K/9 with an ERA under 1, you simply can’t argue with the results.

42. Vinnie Pasquantino, 1B (January rank #40)
Age: 23
Current Level: High-A

Playing at an age-appropriate level in Quad Cities, Vinnie is looking more and more like a valuable bench bat at the highest level.

43. Will Klein, RHP (January rank #41)
Age: 21
Current Level: High-A

The strikeout are there, but so is an elevated walk rate in his first professional season.

44. Peyton Wilson, 2B/OF (January rank – N/A)
Age: 21
Current Level: 2021 Competitive Balance B Draft Selection (#66 Overall)

The versatile fielder isn’t a glove-only prospect; he has a good feel to hit with 10-15 homers at peak.

45. Grant Gavin, RHP (January rank #44)
Age: 26
Current Level: AAA

In an increasingly crowded minor league bullpen group, Gavin has improved his K/BB ratio, which could spring him above the pack as next in line for a shot in KC.

46. Rylan Kaufman, LHP (January rank #45)
Age: 22
Current Level: Low-A

With a mature frame with command, Kaufman should remain a starter, albeit in an organization flush with starting pitcher prospects.

47. Clay Dungan, IF/OF (January – unranked)
Age: 25
Current Level: AA

Another utility player for the Royals, he likely remains organizational depth with a long shot at getting a cup of coffee.

48. Drew Parrish, LHP (January – unranked)
Age: 23
Current Level: AA

A bit of an undersized starting pitcher, the results are not small, as Parrish sports 11.6 K/9 with a 55:11 K:BB ratio in 42 2/3 IP.

49. Emilio Marquez, LHP (January – unranked)
Age: 23
Current Level: Low-A

An ERA under 1.5 with a K:BB ratio of nearly 8.5 to 1 will get my attention.

50. Samuel Valerio, RHP (January rank #50)
Age: 19
Highest Level: Rookie

The physical traits are all there, with a long way to go before becoming completely viable.




About Michael Kelley 9 Articles
Born in Arizona. Raised in the Midwest, and with lots of baseball. When I’m not writing about baseball or purchasing my next baseball card, I can be seen coasting down the highway to yet another travel baseball tournament with my wife and son. I love the Braves, bat flips and outfield assists.

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