Intriguing Player at each Level

With the minor league season starting on Monday, thought I'd put together my top 5 "players to watch" or "intriguing players" at each level of our minor league system. You might not agree, i might think higher or lower of some players than others do. There are clearly more interesting prospects at some levels, but not going to list them all.


Omaha (AAA)

1. Luke Hochevar, rhp - He was the #1 pick, and presumably he won't be hindered as to which pitches he can throw. I expect him to pitch well and be up with the big club before too long.

2. Kyle Davies, rhp - Used to be one of the Braves best prospects, was #4 on their BA list in 2004 I believe. Good stuff, a small step forward in fastball command could transform him into a #4 type starter in the big leagues.

3. Ryan Shealy, 1b - Jeez, he's already 28, old for a "prospect". Still, I think he could be part of our short term future if he gets off to a strong start. Well, I think he should be up now but that's for a different thread.

4. Chris Lubanski, lf - I still like him more than a lot, has good power and is still pretty young. Typically starts slow at each level, and his showing in Omaha proved it last year. Really wouldn't be surprised to see him put up an .850 OPS like he did in Wichita.

5. Mike Stodolka, 1b - Really proved some of the doubters wrong in 2007. Good plate discipline and gap power. Who knows what's going to happen to the Royals first base situation, a good season could put him on track for a possible job in '09.

Sleepers: Chin-hui Tsao and Tyler Lumsden - Tsao has a chance to be an very good reliever, but is admitted a long shot after injuries. Lumsden has a great arm but his control is very mediocre. He gets one more shot to prove himself in my book.


Northwest Arkansas (AA)

1. Daniel Cortes, rhp - Clearly the most interesting prospect. Great stuff, two plus pitches with good control for age. If he improves his changeup, there's no telling how good this guy can be.

2. Carlos Rosa, rhp - This guy has great stuff too. Bob McClure said he has the best fastball in the system. Some see him as a reliever, but I don't see the need to move him now. Might be in Omaha quick.

3. Julio Pimentel, rhp - Another starter for the Naturals. I like him more as a Fernando Rodney type reliever with a great FB/CU combo, but as long as he has a shot as a starter, keep him there.


4. Mario Lisson, 3b - Clearly the team thinks pretty highly of him, adding him to the 40-man after a someone "meh" season in Wilmington. Has an impressive swing and plays a really good third base. He'll have to move to get his shot in KC, but it's real tough to move a guy that plays his position that well.

5. Rowdy Hardy, lhp - OK, so this guy isn't even close to the prospect three pitchers aforementioned are, but he is certainly intriguing. Sits in the high-70's and low 80's with his fastball, along with sweeping curve and change.

Sleepers: Kila Kaaihue and Brian McFall - Both of them are big frame guys with raw power. Kaaihue has excellent plate discipline, but even though he doesn't strike out much, he doesn't put great contact on the ball nearly enough. McFall had a breakout year in Wilmington, a tough hitters park, and could shoot up prospect lists with a good year. Not to jinx McFall or anything, but his minor league career has resembled Matt Holliday's. Not to jinx him again, but he also has that same kind of raw power and athleticism Holliday has as well. (*knock on wood*)


Wilmington (High-A)

1. Blake Wood, rhp - Big right-hander with really good stuff. Didn't like it when we selected him in the third round after a crappy JR season at Georgia Tech, but that's what scouting is for.

2. Derrick Robinson, cf - A speedster for now, but the Royals think he can be a Kenny Lofton type as he matures. I'm optimistic (like always), and Dayton's saying is that "athletes figure it out". Heh, Robinson is one hell of an athlete too.

3. Jeff Bianchi, ss - Is he for real? I don't know. Tools are there to be a Mike Young type middle infielder, but he needs to show something this year. Like Mark Teahen, he's now two years removed from shoulder surgery.

4. Joe Dickerson, of - Listed him just as "OF", because he can play center field. Has some power, has some speed. Little of everything for Dickerson, and could become a good prospect if he improves his power this year, even if just a little.

5. Greg Holland, rhp - Our 10th round pick last year skips Low-A. Has some serious heat from his smallish frame, and doesn't have great control either as of yet. Could move quickly as any college reliever should.

Sleepers: Henry Barrera and Chris McConnell - Barrera also throws really hard, and I read somewhere that he somewhat similar to Burgos, as good or bad as that may be. The Baseball America handbook said McConnell can play MLB defense right now and showed signs of regaining what was a promising bat. I'm skeptical there, but we'll see.


Burlington (Low-A)

1. Mike Moustakas, ss - The "duh" pick of the century. Moose was the #2 overall pick and has a premium bat at a premium position. Should be fun to watch in 2008.

2. Matt Mitchell, rhp - Royals 14th round pick out of high school last year. Payed off when the Royals gave him $100,000 to sign with a hell of a season in Arizona. Advanced changeup for young guy, throws it like a palmball.

3. Daniel Gutierrez, rhp - Was a 34th round selection back in 2005, signed as a draft-and-follow the next May. Has gotten into some trouble but has good stuff from a solid pitchers frame. Flashed dominance last year with a 10 strikeout game in his final start.

4. Edward Cegarra, rhp - Young Dominican got experience in Burlington last year as 18-year-old. Shows fastball in low-90's and a hard slider -- similar to Carlos Rosa at his age. Age makes him one to watch this year.

5. Jason Taylor, 3b - Surprising in my opinion that he even got assigned to full season ball this year, but I like it. Was 2nd round pick in 2006 but got in trouble last year and didn't play after being sent home. Could emerge as solid middle of the order bat for the Bees.

Sleepers: David Lough and Juan Abreu - Lough is an athletic guy from community college in 2007 draft (11th round). Hampered by hamstring injury in '07 but is fully healthy for this year. Abreu is just flat nasty with his pitches, he sits in the upper 90's but his control lacks and has had health problems. Could be a major sleeper in Low-A.


As a side note, I have no idea why certain players aren't assigned to full season ball right now, particularly Dan Duffy, Brent Fisher, and Nick Van Stratten whom I all like very much. Hopefully we will get answers to that soon.

This FanPost was written by a member of the Royals Review community. It does not necessarily reflect the views of the editors and writers of this site.