The Kansas City Royals have pushed all-in after the flop as a slight underdog and are hoping to river a flush. It is a fantastic time to be a Royals fan as the Class of 2017 gives it one more go, but the minor league crops are… thin. Royals pitching prospects especially have been decimated by trades and ineffectiveness.
To be short, the future on the farm is bleak. Let us all bask in the glory of Cain running down a ball in the gap, Moose eyeing Balboni’s team season HR record, and Hoz headed for 200 hits and perhaps one more shot at October glory.
Cain, Hosmer, and Moustakas seem locks to turn down qualifying offers, meaning the Royals would add three supplemental first round picks next year, who would then immediately make the team’s top 10 list. There will be work to be done, and I look forward to writing about it AFTER this team’s last shot at glory over the next couple of months.
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
1. Seuly Matias, OF
Age: 18 (DOB 9/4/98)
Here he comes. Matias is improving on his debut rookie ball numbers at Appy League Burlington, including cutting his K rate from 37 to 23%. Strong buy.
‘HIT THE MASCOT’
2. Josh Staumont, LHP
Age: 23 (12/21/93)
I made a Nuke LaLoosh joke in my pre-season rankings which totally still applies.
NEED THE PROSPECT GOGGLES
3. Khalil Lee, OF
Age: 19 (6/26/98)
4. Chase Vallot, pull hitter
Age: 20 (8/21/96)
I’m lumping these two together as they share a major problem: the whiffs. So far in his career Vallot has over 1000 PA and a K rate of 36.4%. That is higher than everyone in MLB this year except Joey Gallo at 38%. Lee is at over 600 PA and 31.7%. Further, neither is getting better. I’m excited about Matias in part because he cut his K rate from 37 to 23% while moving up a level. He’s getting better. Vallot has essentially stayed the same, year-to-year, and Lee is doing much worse.
I rank Lee ahead of Vallot though, for two reasons: first, Lee has the makings of a solid RF, and some think he can stay in CF for a while. Vallot is a catcher in name only, and really is a 1B/DH at the MLB level. Secondly, Lee is 22 months younger than Vallot and has more time to figure it out.
MISS YA MOOSE AND HOZ
5. Ryan O’Hearn, 1B
Age: 24 (DOB 7/26/93)
6. Hunter Dozier, 3B
Age: 25 (DOB 8/22/91)
7. Samir Duenez, 1B
Age: 21 (DOB 6/11/96)
8. Frank Schwindel, 1B
Age: 25 (6/29/92)
There are probably 1000 1B/3B/DH AB to be had in KC next year. A couple of these guys should grab most of them. Dozier has essentially missed the entire season, hopefully he’ll mend soon enough for the AFL and/or winter ball to be ready for Spring Training. O’Hearn and Duenez have earned solid Cs for their work this year, both putting up pedestrian numbers. First basemen have to hit. Enter Mr. Schwindel, who has knocked the cover off the ball so far. An unheralded 18th rounder from St Johns in 2013, Schwindel will have to keep swinging it. Also, Alcides Escobar thinks he could use some plate discipline (5 BB in 259 AAA PA).
THE NEXT WAVE
9. Nicky Lopez, SS
Age: 22 (3/13/95)
This fifth rounder and Creighton alum was one of the top college SS available in his draft, the only question was his bat. So far so good, Lopez has made it to AA in his second year and has walked more than he has struck out as a pro.
10. Elier Hernandez, OF
Age: 22 (11/21/94)
Hernandez was putting it all together this year, earning a promotion to AA in the process until he was in an OF collision with Dewees and hurt his leg.
11. Foster Griffin, LHP
Age: 22 (7/27/95)
Something may have clicked for Griffin, as he also earned a mid-season promotion to NW Arkansas. Also, the Royals minor league pitching is really thin.
12. Scott Blewett, RHP
Age: 21 (4/10/96)
Blewett has enjoyed pitching in friendly Wilmington, yielding 10 HR in 57 road IP.
13. Nick Dini, C
Age: 24 (7/27/93)
Well on his way to become Wagner’s second MLB alum – look out Andrew Bailey. This 14th rounder has hit at every stop, and that now includes AA
THE NEW HOPE
14. Nick Pratto, 1B
Age: 18 (10/6/98)
Seemed like an uncontroversial pick at 1.14, worrisome 32% K/rate in his first 100 or so rookie league PA.
15. MJ Melendez, C
Age: 18 (11/29/98)
Above slot second round prep catcher is a pretty rare profile – only Austin Hedges and JR Murphy over the past ten years. Both made the majors, but it is going to take some time. So far so good.
16. Michael Gigliotti, OF
Age: 20 (12/14/96)
Fourth rounder from Lipscomb, off to a great start in Burlington.
17. Brewer Hicklen, OF
Age: 21 (2/9/96)
WR/CF from UAB, and you know the Royals love their athletes. Laying waste to the AZL rookie league as a 21 year old college bat, as he should. Hopefully the Royals bump him up a level for a few weeks. Intriguing.
HERE’S A LIST OF GUYS THAT WILL PLAY AT THE ‘K’ BUT WON’T HELP YOUR FANTASY TEAM
(alphabetical order, call them 18-26)
Miguel Almonte, RHP
Donnie Dewees, OF (could be sneaky SB play as 4th OF eventually)
Pedro Fernandez, RHP
Cam Gallagher, C
Jake Junis, RHP
Richard Lovelady, LHP
Kevin McCarthy, RHP
Eric Skoglund, LHP
Ramon Torres, SS
FUN LEXINGTON INFIELDERS
27. Gabriel Cancel, 2B
Age: 20 (12/8/96)
Cancel caught our attention by putting up a 129 wRC+ in Burlington last year. This year he was bumped up to age appropriate Lexington and has a… 128 wRC+. It is working so far.
28. Emmanuel Rivera, 3B
Age: 21 (6/29/96)
Rivera has followed up a terrific winter ball campaign with a solid 134 wRC+ showing in Lexington. Intriguing.
LOW LEVEL CATCHER TEASES
29. Sebastian Rivero, C
Age: 18 (11/16/98)
The Royals love this guy behind the plate. He is not really hitting yet at Burlington, but catcher offense lags behind the tools of ignorance. Monitoring.
30. Meibrys Viloria, C
Age: 20 (2/15/97)
2016 Pioneer League MVP has found Lexington more difficult. Young enough to have a chance, but I wouldn’t wager much on the chance.
Link to my Preseason 2017 Kansas City Royals Top 50 Prospects
KC Shankland lives in Maple Valley, Washington. His Royals fandom runs from the Royals/Yankees blood feud of the ‘70s to Hosmer’s mad dash home.
‘People ask me what I do in winter when there’s no baseball. I’ll tell you what I do. Obsess over prospects.’