Its rankings week with ESPN's Keith Law and he followed up ranking the Royals as the 15th best farm system by placing two Royals prospects in his list of Top 100 prospects in baseball. Former first round pick pitcher Kyle Zimmer lands on the list at #25, despite missing almost all of last year with injuries. He is the eighth highest ranked right-handed pitcher on the list. Law writes:
When healthy, Zimmer shows ace-caliber stuff -- a fastball up to 97-98 mph, a plus-plus curveball, a plus changeup -- with a strong build and good control. Unfortunately for Zimmer and the Royals, he hasn't been healthy for most of the past 18 months, finally succumbing to a shoulder ailment that required minor surgery (a debridement, to clear out debris and loose bodies in the joint) in October...
His upside is near that of anyone on this list; right now it's about proving he can stay healthy for a full season.
Other than major injury concerns, that sounds promising!
Shortstop Raul Mondesi comes in on the list at #38, the seventh-ranked middle infielder on a list loaded with infielders. Mondesi had a pretty disappointing season for High A Wilmington, with the caveat that the Carolina League is a tough place to hit, Wilmington in particular is a pitcher's park, and Mondesi was very young for the league. Law adds:
To give you some sense of how young Mondesi was for high-A, there were only five players younger than him to get at least 200 plate appearances in 2014 in low-A, so while it's certainly disappointing that he didn't make more contact, there's a lot of time as well as reason to remain optimistic. He needs to develop a better two-strike approach, and he also has a slight leak when hitting right-handed that robs him of extra-base power. The defense at short and overall aptitude still project to make him a star once his strength arrives.
Law likes Mondesi's plate discipline, despite poor walk-strikeout numbers. This will come as a shocker, but he also writes the Royals love his ability to bunt for a hit.
Left-handed pitcher Sean Manaea was a notable omission in Law's top 100, seeing as Law gets to see a lot of Wilmington Blue Rocks games, and has praised Manaea in the past for his abilities. The appearance of just two Royals prospects is a bit light, considering each team should have an average of about three prospects, but it just illustrates what a down year the Royals prospects had in 2014. Still, strong seasons for Sean Manaea, Miguel Almonte, Hunter Dozier and two drafts picks in the top 40 picks this June could bolster the system again very quickly.