Last night, Baseball Prospectus released their list of the top 10 prospects currently residing in the Kansas City Royals farm system (subscription required for player grades and breakdowns). It's an interesting list to be sure:
- SS Raul Mondesi
- RHP Miguel Almonte
- LHP Sean Manaea
- LHP Brandon Finnegan
- 3B Hunter Dozier
- RHP Kyle Zimmer
- RHP Christian Binford
- C Chase Vallot
- LHP Foster Griffin
- OF Jorge Bonifacio
Raul Mondesi as the top prospect in the system seems like a reach. I understand the tools, the pedigree, the age gap between he and his competition. And perhaps I weigh relative proximity to the major leagues a bit more than BP does, but given Mondesi's lack of development in hitting (.211/.256/.354 in High-A, though he is still just 19) and his distance from the majors, it seems a bit odd for him to be slotted above the likes of Miguel Almonte, Sean Manaea, and Brandon Finnegan, the latter of which appeared in the World's Series last year. Which doesn't mean anything, other than to say that the organization has a lot of faith in Finnegan's abilities, and he proved at least some level of readiness at the highest level last season. Sometimes you can't argue with tools, though.
Miguel Almonte at two also seems a bit iffy. A 21 year-old in High-A with a 4.49 ERA/3.92 FIP, despite really good strikeout and walk rates, getting the nod over Sean Manaea (if only ever so slightly), who had a better ERA/FIP (3.11 for each), better strikeout rates, and more innings despite his injury concerns, seems a little off.
Perhaps the biggest surprise, though, is Kyle Zimmer at number six behind Hunter Dozier. Though Zimmer has had his share of injury issues, when healthy he has been a top-flight talent. That being said, he has only thrown 13.1 professional innings since 2013.
The reason it is so surprising is that Hunter Dozier did not have the best season either, hitting just .209/.303/.312 in AA last year. He did dominate High-A before making the switch (.295/.397/.429) and split his plate appearances evenly between the two. Dozier also doesn't have the background or the scouting reports of a top-tier hitter, but his profile in the minors has been sterling, punctuated by his patience.
Overall, though, that is the snapshot of the future. Between Manaea, Almonte, Zimmer, and Finnegan, the Royals need to find a couple of high-level starters. Binford becoming an innings guy would be a boon. Chase Vallot and Foster Griffin have some hype and tools, but are pretty far off. Jorge Bonifacio might be the next-closest guy to making his major league debut, but with Alex Rios ensconced in right field for the year, it would appear that the Royals are going to give him a season to improve upon his disappointing 2014.
It also punctuates just how disappointing 2014 was for the Royals farm system. Struggles across the board, coupled with injuries, wiped out a lot of development time for some guys, and pushed the Royals prospect calendar back a year. 2015 will be an interesting indicator for how the organization responds.