Baseball Prospectus used to run their annual team-by-team prospect rankings under a banner that read, "Prospects Will Break Your Heart."
Royals fans know that better than most. There have been several first-round busts and potential-squandering MLB failures that have come up through the Royals' farm.
But that doesn't mean it's foolish to spend a little time daydreaming about what could be. The cold rationale of adulthood tells us to be skeptical of stuff like that, to look at the numbers and develop an educated decision, and that is a valuable way of looking at things sometimes. But, then again, this is baseball. Baseball unavoidably brings out the kid in us, and the wide-eyed, rookie card-hording kid in us doesn't even know what rationality means yet. That part of us wants to believe the hype. Hell, it's probably where the hype comes from.
This year's BP Top 101 features several young players that will eventually disappoint, but a few of them will live up to their potential. Or maybe none will. Who knows? Let's hope that at least five of them do.
No. 27 Raul Mondesi
Former Baseball Prospectus prospect writer Jason Parks liked Mondesi. A lot. It looks like his successors do too. They see him as having an All-Star ceiling thanks to his "fluid actions" and "soft hands" at shortstop. His ETA at the major league level is 2017. He'll be 21 then. There's a lot of time between now and then. Mondesi could vault his way up to the very top of the list in the near future a la Francisco Lindor. Or, if he continues to struggle with the bat as he did in 2014, he could fall off completely.
No. 56 Miguel Almonte
There's a decent chance Almonte ends up a reliever due to his sometimes shaky command, but even if he does he could still be an impactful player for the Royals -- as Greg Holland, Wade Davis, and Kevlin Herrera showed during last season's playoff run. Aliment pitched at High-A Wilmington last year, posting a 4.50 ERA in 22 starts over 110 innings. He struck out nearly a batter per inning and walked just 32, so it's easy to see why the BP crew likes him. They think he'll start 2015 in Double-A and have a chance at a cup of coffee sometime next season.
No. 85 Sean Manaea
BP sees Manaea as a back end starter with the chance to become sneak into the middle of the Royals rotation at some point. That might not sound like a glowing report, but Manaea has the stuff to be a difference-maker. BP thinks he'll be somewhat inconsistent during his career, so he needs to work on smoothing out his mechanics. But as a left hander with a mid-90s fastball, he could become extremely useful relatively quickly.
No. 87 Brandon Finnegan
Finnegan could still become a starting pitcher for the Royals, but the guys at Baseball Prosectus seem to be pretty convinced the 2014 first rounder will end up in the bullpen. The see him as having a ceiling as a "first-tier closer" who can help right away. However, if the Royals have plans for him as a starter, he'll need some time in the minors to develop.
No. 95 Hunter Dozier
Like the last three guys on this list, BP estimates Dozier's MLB ETA at 2016. They list his power potential as a six on the two-to-eight scouting scale, which is equally exciting and unsupported by his minor league numbers. They say he has a "nose for the game" and has "plus makeup."
The order is a little strange, as Josh Ward noted when the Royals' list came out in January. The order probably doesn't matter much, but it does seem strange that Nick Faleris and his crew of prospect writers favor Almonte over Finnegan and/or Manaea, and it seems very strange that Kyle Zimmer didn't even make the list. Last year, he landed at No. 34 overall, so the injury that kept him out for most of the 2014 season must've cast some considerable doubt in their minds. However, Zimmer is talented enough to rise through the ranks quickly if he can return to form in 2015.
Maybe none of this will matter a the Major League level in 2015. Moonrise definitely won't be a factor, and the other guys might still need some time to develop. But even if none of them ever make the majors, they're all Hall of Famers in the murky, childish corners of our minds.