Baseball America has released its Top Ten Royals prospect list and it is a far cry from the days when the Royals were anointed the “Best Farm System in the History of Whatever.” The Royals organization has suffered a lot lately in promotions, trades, injuries, and poor development. Many new names populate this list,
Right-handed pitcher Josh Staumont tops the list as the top prospect in the organization after a season that saw him post a 4.23 ERA in 123 1⁄3 innings across High A Wilmington and AA Northwest Arkansas. Staumont struck out 167 this year, and his numbers improved after his promotion to the Naturals, where he had a 3.04 ERA in 11 starts. Staumont flashes a fastball that can reach triple digits but is still developing off-speed stuff.
His 11-to-5 curveball isn’t consistent but is a plus pitch at some point in most every outing and will flash plus-plus at its best. His changeup is below-average and he uses it more at this point because he knows he needs to rather than because it’s a reliable weapon.
He has struggled with command, with an astounding 7.6 walks-per-nine innings last year but improved a bit with a mechanical tweak, according to Baseball America. He has impressed recently with his performance in the Arizona Fall League, being named “Pitcher of the Week” after a four-inning shutout performance.
Left-hander Matt Strahm is second on the list after a 3.43 ERA in 22 games for AA Northwest Arkansas that resulted in a promotion to the big leagues where he excelled as a reliever. Strahm had a 1.23 ERA in 22 innings for the Royals, but the club insists he will still get a shot as a starting pitcher.
Hunter Dozier, who had the top hitting performance in the Royals organization last year, comes in at #3. The third baseman bounced back from a disastrous 2015 season by hitting .296/.366/.533 with 23 home runs between AA and AAA, earning a cup of coffee with the Royals to end the year.
Coming in at #4 is 6’7’’ lefty Eric Skoglund, who had a fine season at Northwest Arkansas after altering his delivery. 2016 second-round pick A.J. Puckett, a pitcher out of Pepperdine, comes in at #5. Right-hander Scott Blewett, power-hitting catcher Chase Vallot, slugging first baseman Ryan O’Hearn, outfielder Jorge Bonifacio, and oft-injured right-handed pitcher Kyle Zimmer round out the list. Raul Mondesi was not eligible to be on the list, as he surpassed Rookie of they Year eligibility last season.
Other Royals prospects who are notable omissions include Khalil Lee, Meibrys Viloria, Seuly Matias, Corey Toups, Ashe Russell, Jake Junis, Alec Mills, Nolan Watsona, and Bubba Starling.
Overall this looks like a very thin system right now, which shouldn’t be too much of a surprise. Staumont has some serious upside, but unless he throws strikes he’s likely a reliever. A few guys could rebound next year, as Hunter Dozier did, to make the system look a lot better. But most likely they will need an infuson of talent, some good drafts, and good old fashioned player development to get the system back on track.
Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper will chat about Royals prospects tomorrow afternoon if you’d like to ask him a question.