Kansas City Royals 2019 Top 50 Prospects

Lexington Legends MJ Melendez – photo credit Clinton Riddle (@TheGrandOldGame)

Kansas City Royals Top 50 Prospects for 2019

Better. Things are looking better. None of the top prospects took a step back in 2018, and all are still showing breakthrough potential. The Royals loaded up on much needed pitching in the 2018 draft, and have the 2019 #2 overall pick in their pocket moving forward.

Don’t be surprised if Matias, Melendez, and Pratto slow down a bit as Wilmington is an unforgiving home park. Keep an eye on their home/road splits for 2019.

This is a dynasty league list, usually with an emphasis on performance over potential. We don’t have to care about who is going to pitch the 6th or 14th innings, backup SS, or be the third catcher on the 40-man.

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.


Tier 1:
Getting closer, but no.


Tier 2:
1. Khalil Lee, OF
Age: 20 (6/26/98)
2018 Highest Level: AA
Mastered Wilmington and moved on to his next challenge at AA, where he mostly held his own until missing the final month with a sore back. Cut his K rate while increasing his BB rate. Will be even better in OBP leagues. Came back for the AFL and was terrible. Hopefully a few months rest will bring back the magic at NW Arkansas in 2019.

2. Seuly Matias, OF
Age: 20 (9/4/98)
2018 Highest Level: A
Boom. Watch his K rate moving forward, any improvement will vault him ahead of Lee and into the Top 20, overall.

3. MJ Melendez, C
Age: 20 (11/29/98)
2018 Highest Level: A
I hemmed and hawed over 2 & 3 – and may well change my mind again. Seuly’s power is just too amazing to ignore, when he connects. Melendez has the exact same K rate caveat – any improvement will lead to Top 100 lists. With no improvement from either, Melendez is still a likely big leaguer because of his defense. Matias is not.

4. Nicky Lopez, SS
Age: 23 (3/13/95)
2018 Highest Level: AAA
He isn’t going to play SS in KC but that isn’t his fault. Drew 60 BB vs only 52 K across AA/AAA. In his age 22 season Craig Counsell hit .280/.366/.403 in AA with a 37:32 BB/K ratio. Lopez just hit .308/.382/.417 across AA/AA with that 60:52 ratio in his. Will be especially valuable in OBP leagues, racking up 100 R seasons as KC’s #2 hitter perhaps as early as later this year.

5. Daniel Lynch, LHP
Age: 22 (11/17/96)
2018 Highest Level: A

6. Jackson Kowar, RHP
Age: 22 (10/4/96)
2018 Highest Level: A

7. Brady Singer, RHP
Age: 22 (8/4/96)
2018 Highest Level: Did not pitch

Here come the 2018 draftees. I’m holding that ‘did not pitch’ against Singer until he proves otherwise. Lynch had a terrific 50+ inning debut. Outcomes range from mid-rotation stalwarts to ‘remember when the Royals took all those college arms that didn’t work out?’


Tier 3:
8. Nick Pratto, 1B
Age: 20 (10/6/98)
2018 Highest Level: A
Did fine as a teenager in the Sally League. He is going to have to do much better than fine to make it as a 1B-only.

9. Kyle Isbel, OF
Age: 21 (3/3/97)
2018 Highest Level: A
College guys are supposed to come in and do well in A ball. Isbel came in and did well in A ball. You aren’t allowed to write about him without mentioning ‘gritty’ or ‘grinder’. So there it is.

10. Scott Blewett, RHP
Age: 22 (4/10/96)
2018 Highest Level: AA
Looking more like a SP every day. Had a nice AFL. Back-end guy, will be worth more for the Royals than for your dynasty team.

11. Brewer Hicklen, OF
Age: 22 (2/9/96)
2018 Highest Level: A+

12. Travis Jones, OF
Age: 23 (9/29/95)
2018 Highest Level: A+

13. Michael Gigliotti, OF
Age: 22 (2/14/96)
2018 Highest Level: A

Three college guys from the same draft (2017). Gigliotti had a nice first week of the season and then went down with an ACL. Ouch. The lost year hurts at least as much. Hicklen was a WR at UAB who found the Carolina League too challenging but will have another go at it. Jones logged time at all four corners – 1B/3B/LF/RF and has blasted through 5 minor league stops after being drafted in the 29th round out of Texas.

14. Carlos Hernandez, RHP
Age: 21 (3/11/97)
2018 Highest Level: A

15. Kris Bubic, LHP
Age: 21 (8/19/97)
2018 Highest Level: Rookie

16. Gerson Garabito, RHP
Age: 23 (8/19/95)
2018 Highest Level: A+

Three guys still with a chance to start. Hernandez signed at 19 and made his stateside debut at 20 years old. Bubic was the 40th overall pick in 2018 from Stanford. Garabito had a nice year on the surface in Wilmington, but… 1) was hit lucky and 2) pitched in a very favorable home park.

17. Meibrys Viloria, C
Age: 21 (2/15/97)
2018 Highest Level: MLB!
Sometimes it all lines up, and you get your Brotherhood of the Backup Catcher Card punched early. Had a good season in Wilmington, posting a 103 wRC+ with a 260/342/360 line.

18. Cal Jones, OF
Age: 21 (9/6/97)
2018 Highest Level: A
6th rounder from an Alabama high school in 2016, this Jones held his own in the Sally League with a 102 wRC+

19. Richard Lovelady, LHP
Age: 23 (7/7/95)
2018 Highest Level: AAA

20. Josh Staumont, RHP
Age: 25 (12/21/93)
2018 Highest Level: AAA

On the cusp. Lovelady can be a multi-inning guy, starting this year. Staumont improved all around the edges and is likely as ready as he is going to be for the bullpen at the K.

21. Trevor Oaks, RHP
Age: 25 (3/26/93)
2018 Highest Level: MLB
Repeat engagement at AAA did not go well. Will spend some quality time on the I-29 shuttle this season.

22. Emmanuel Rivera, 3B
Age: 22 (6/22/96)
2018 Highest Level: A+

23. Gabriel Cancel, 2B
Age: 22 (12/8/96)
2018 Highest Level: A+

They keep plugging along, league-average or better.

24. Sam McWilliams, RHP
Age: 23 (9/4/95)
2018 Highest Level: AA

25. Chris Ellis, RHP
Age: 26 (9/22/92)
2018 Highest Level: AAA

This year’s Rule 5 crop. Either may be useful in the pen in 2019. Probably not going to help your team.

26. Nick Heath, OF
Age: 25 (11/27/93)
2018 Highest Level: AA

27. Blake Perkins, OF
Age: 22 (9/10/96)
2018 Highest Level: A+

28. Rudy Martin, OF
Age: 22 (1/31/96)
2018 Highest Level: A+

The Royals are going to keep seeking out the next Dyson until the end of time. Heath is closest and had a nice AFL.

29. Xavier Fernandez, C
Age: 23 (7/15/95)
2018 Highest Level: AA
Missed 2017, scuffled in Wilmington but upon promotion to NW Arkansas caught fire.


Tier 4:
30. Frank Schwindel, 1B
Age: 26 (6/29/92)
2018 Highest Level: AAA
Had another nice year but 116 wRC+ in AAA likely isn’t enough. That said, after O’Hearn went nuts with his promotion so who knows.

31. Jonathan Bowlan, RHP
Age: 22 (12/1/96)
2018 Highest Level: Rookie
A big ‘ol boy, the Royals 2nd rounder had a rough go of it at Idaho Falls. He’ll go get ’em next year.

32. Elvis Luciano, RHP
Age: 18 (2/15/00)
2018 Highest Level: Rookie
Blue Jays Rule 5 pick from Kansas City, listed in case he comes back. Came over in the Jon Jay trade, has shown flashes but likely bullpen arm.

33. Yohanse Morel, RHP
Age: 18 (8/23/00)
2018 Highest Level: Rookie

34. Yefri Del Rosario, RHP
Age: 19 (9/23/99)
2018 Highest Level: A

35. Charlie Neuweiler, RHP
Age: 19 (2/8/99)
2018 Highest Level: A

Several far-away arms that have a chance to start.

36. D.J. Burt, 2B
Age: 23 (10/13/95)
2018 Highest Level: A+
Repeated the level and it clicked, hit 113 wRC+ with a 32:10 SB:CS.

37. Sebastian Rivero, C
Age: 20 (11/16/98)
2018 Highest Level: A

Part of the teenager brigade at Lexington last year, held his own with a 97 wRC+.

37. Samir Duenez, 1B
Age: 22 (6/11/96)
2018 Highest Level: AA
Had his strongest statistical year yet and for the trouble lost his 40-man spot.  Cleared waivers and then re-signed with the team.


Tier 5:
38. Kelvin Gutierrez, 3B
Age: 24 (8/28/94)
2018 Highest Level: AA
The prize of the Kelvin Herrera trade. Don’t really get it, was average-ish in AA. Maybe he really likes Koch Industry’s commercials, pregnancy ‘crises’ centers, and hates porn.

39. Rylan Kaufman, LHP
Age: 19 (6/23/99)
2018 Highest Level: Rookie
That isn’t how you spell Kauffman. I’m not sure Rylan is spelled correctly, either. Impressively, the Royals did not sign a single high school pitcher from the 2018 draft. Kaufman, from JuCo powerhouse San Jacinto is the closest you’ll find. Drafted in the 12th round, Kaufman signed a for a $722K bonus – 2nd round money. In fact, he received the 5th highest bonus in the Royals draft class, ahead of second rounder Bowlan.

40. Austin Cox, LHP
Age: 21 (3/28/97)
2018 Highest Level: Rookie

41. Zach Haake, RHP
Age: 22 (10/8/96)
2018 Highest Level: Rookie

42. Jon Heasley, RHP
Age: 21 (1/27/97)
2018 Highest Level: Rookie

Here come three more college arms from the 2018 draft class. These are the types of guys that need to come through so you aren’t left trading for Cahill, Maurer, and Buchter at the deadline. Important for the Royals, your fantasy team nots o’much.

43. Omar Florentino, SS
Age: 17 (10/26/01)
2018 Highest Level: July 2nd signing

44. Wilmin Candelario, SS
Age: 17 (9/11/01)
2018 Highest Level: July 2nd signing

The Royals were in the international bonus spending ‘penalty box’ in 2016 and 2017 after breaking the bank for Seuly Matias and Jeison Guzman in 2015. They are back this year with Florentino ($750K) and Candelario ($850K), along with Negret and Del Rosario last off-season after the Braves signing mess.

Florentino was rated #18 overall in this year’s July 2nd class by Baseball America.

45. Juan Carlos Negret, OF
Age: 19 (6/19/99)
2018 Highest Level: Rookie
Nothing like double-dipping if you can pull it off. Negret received two million dollar bonuses, first from the Braves then KC. He struggled with an aggressive stateside assignment to Burlington, but has plenty of time.

46. Donnie Dewees, OF
Age: 25 (9/29/93)
2018 Highest Level: AAA

47. Elier Hernandez, OF
Age: 24 (11/21/94)
2018 Highest Level: AAA

Two prospects in the mid 20’s. Running out of time.

48. Kevon Jackson, OF
Age: 18 (6/14/00)
2018 Highest Level: Rookie
Drafted in the 9th round from an Arizona high school after moving from Montana for more baseball exposure, Jackson is the quintessential Royals ‘fastlete’.

49. Kyle Zimmer, RHP
Age: 27 (9/13/91)
2018 Highest Level: Did not pitch

50. Bubba Starling, OF
Age: 26 (8/3/92)
2018 Highest Level: AAA

Both Zimmer and Starling were removed from the 40-man and re-signed. Here’s hoping.

 

Featured image of MJ Melendez – photo by Clinton Riddle (@TheGrandOldGame)




About KC Shankland 23 Articles
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.’

4 Comments

  1. Ouch! Singer below two other draftees with the same basic profile. I don’t have an opinion on it but I have never seen that before.

    • Thank you for reading.

      Lynch threw 50+ dominant innings, Kowar threw 26 adequate innings, and Singer Did Not Pitch after sliding down the draft board. Given the Royals history of trouble with developing pitchers, give me the guys actually throwing the ball.

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