We have been subjected to an entire off-season of prospect lists, with our own extensive Royals Review prospect list ready for publication next week. The consensus seems to be the same - the farm system is pretty thin. Of course, Royals fans are fine with this, what with the team being fitted for championship rings this week. Flags fly forever. Baseball America organizational rankings get relegated to the recycle bin.
Still, as a small market club, the Royals will be depending on the pipeline of young, cheap talent to get them back to the promised land. Everyone has their own opinion on who will be part of the future for the Kansas City Royals, so I decided to combine all of the prospect lists into one master composite list of prospects for the Royals. The lists I used include:
J.J. Cooper at Baseball America
Christopher Crawford at Baseball Prospectus
John Sickels at Minor League Ball
David Hill at Kings of Kauffman
Joseph Werner at Prospect Digest
Here are each of their top five prospects:
|Baseball America||SS Raul Mondesi||P Kyle Zimmer||OF Bubba Starling||P Miguel Almonte||P Nolan Watson|
|Baseball Prospectus||SS Raul Mondesi||P Kyle Zimmer||P Ashe Russell||P Nolan Watson||OF Bubba Starling|
|Fangraphs||P Kyle Zimmer||P Miguel Almonte||P Foster Griffin||SS Raul Mondesi||1b Ryan O'Hearn|
|John Sickels||SS Raul Mondesi||P Kyle Zimmer||P Miguel Almonte||OF Bubba Starling||P Ashe Russell|
|Keith Law||SS Raul Mondesi||P Kyle Zimmer||P Miguel Almonte||P Scott Blewett||P Ashe Russell|
|Kings of Kauffman||P Kyle Zimmer||SS Raul Mondesi||OF Bubba Starling||P Ashe Russell||P Miguel Almonte|
|MLB.com||SS Raul Mondesi||P Kyle Zimmer||P Ashe Russell||P Miguel Almonte||P Nolan Watson|
|Prospect Digest||P Miguel Almonte||P Kyle Zimmer||SS Raul Mondesi||P Ashe Russell||P Pedro Fernandez|
|Royal Curve||SS Raul Mondesi||P Ashe Russell||P Kyle Zimmer||P Miguel Almonte||OF Bubba Starling|
Some ranked a top ten, others went all the way to 30. I used a weighted point system, awarding 30 points to anyone ranked #1, 29 points to anyone ranked #2, and so on. Here are the composite Top 30 Royals prospects rankings.
1. SS Raul Mondesi (264 points)
This is not much of a surprise, as Mondesi topped six of the nine lists. Everyone seems to praise his defense and baserunning, and he has flashed surprising power. The biggest knock on Mondesi has been his approach at the plate. Baseball America writes that it remains to be seen whether Mondesi's plate discipline issues are due to his youth at each level, or if they represent a larger problem. Baseball Prospectus quotes a rival executive saying that Mondesi "needs to learn to calm the hell down." In any case, its clear Mondesi has the tools to excel, but at some point he will have to start producing consistent results.
2. RHP Kyle Zimmer (262 points)
Everyone agrees that Zimmer has terrific stuff, but injuries are the only reason he does not rank higher on prospect lists. The scouts love Zimmer's fastball in the low 90s, and Baseball America calls his curveball a "double-plus" pitch. Baseball Prospectus praises his complete four-pitch arsenal, while J.J. Cooper at Baseball America feels his changeup and slider took a step back in 2015 due to his bullpen usage. Dan Farnsworth at Fangraphs writes the Royals may be tempted to move Zimmer into the bullpen to save his arm and John Sickels predicts that Zimmer ends up as a closer eventually.
3. RHP Miguel Almonte (247 points)
Almonte actually topped the list at Prospect Digest with Joseph Werner praising his "power arsenal" and strikeout-to-walk ratio. Baseball America grades his changeup as "double-plus" complimenting his upper 90s fastball. Dan Farnsworth at Fangraphs likes the movement on Almonte's fastball, although he thinks the bullpen may be his destiny. Baseball Prospectus ranked him the lowest, at sixth, citing his inconsistency and lack of command, saying his changeup "plays down at times, as he'll go to the well too often, and will get cute with it instead of challenging hitters."
4. RHP Ashe Russell (239 points)
The Royals first-round pick from 2015 did not overwhelm anyone with his inaugural season, but at age 18 he has plenty of time to impress. Baseball Prospectus praises his command, but suspects he may move to the bullpen because he throws against his body. Fangraphs thinks this delivery could cause elbow problems down the road, and give him the lowest ranking of any list - eighth. Baseball America also notes his "flawed delivery" and inconsistency of results. The Royals are tinkering with his repertoire so Russell still has a long way to go and could rise up lists with a strong 2016.
5. OF Bubba Starling (208 points)
The local kid finally took a step forward in 2015, but many seem to doubt he will ever live up to his first-round potential. Baseball Prospectus praised his progress in 2015, saying the difference in his performance in the Arizona Fall League between 2014 and 2015 wad "night and day." Baseball America gives him the highest ranking, saying he can still be a ".240 hitter with at least average power." Keith Law thinks he can still be a below-average regular who hits 20 home runs with a .300 on-base percentage. John Sickels predicts he will be a "role player unless hitting skills take a huge step forward, which is not impossible but is realistically less than 50/50."
6. RHP Scott Blewett (200 points)
Keith Law ranked Blewett the highest, calling him a "sleeper". Baseball Prospectus likes his fastball that can touch 96 mph, but called his curveball "woefully inconsistent" and wrote his changeup is "light years away." Everyone seems to agree that his 12-6 curveball could become a plus pitch with more consistency, and Baseball Prospectus says he has more upside than any pitcher other than Ashe Russell.
7. LHP Foster Griffin (187 points)
Griffin has not been particularly impressive statistically, but Dan Farnsworth at Fangraphs says he "checks all the important boxes with room for physical growth, demonstrated command with even better potential and three pitches that all flash above-average." Many write that while his low 90s fastball may not seem impressive, it has good life to it. John Sickels says his secondary pitches are unimpressive, but that there is still time to improve.
8. RHP Nolan Watson (185 points)
Baseball Prospectus ranked Watson as high as fifth, while Kings of Kauffman ranked him 14th. Many write that the 2015 supplementary round pick has a lower ceiling than fellow Indiana prep star Ashe Russell, but a more polished delivery. Fangraphs concludes that "with four projectable pitches and strength gains hopefully improving his command, Watson starts to look like a pretty good candidate for a mid-rotation job."
9. 3B Cheslor Cuthbert (123 points)
Cuthbert's athleticism has been called into question, although John Sickels notes that Cuthbert was in better shape last season. Baseball America notes his young age at each level and projects him to be a "270 hitter with solid on-base skills." MLB.com thinks he can hit 15 home runs per year, but "is at his best when he focuses on hitting gap to gap and not worrying about power."
10. OF Jorge Bonifacio (112 points)
Royal Curve, Kings of Kauffman, Keith Law, and John Sickels all ranked Bonifacio in their top ten, but no one else other than MLB.com ranked him at all. Sickels likes the way his power is developing, but notes his poor on-base skills. Keith Law sees his upside as "25-plus homers with low but acceptable OBPs", but adds it is hard to see how he gets there from here.
11. LHP Matthew Strahm (111 points)
Joseph Werner at Prospect Digest raves about Strahm, calling him a "Breakout Prospect of the Year in 2016" due to his ability to miss bats. Dan Farnsworth at Fangraphs likes his command low in the zone but says Strahm has some mechanical issues due to an elbow injury that led to Tommy John surgery. Baseball America says his delivery is easy and deceptive, but that his slider can be inconsistent. They write his upside is as a "No. 4 starter" or perhaps a reliever tough against lefties.
12. C Chase Vallot (110 points)
John Sickels and Keith Law both left Vallot off their top 20 lists, but the young slugger ranked as high as #8 for Kings of Kauffman and Baseball Prospectus. Christopher Crawford at Baseball Prospectus writes "he generates plus pop to all fields thanks to the loft, leverage, and extension, granted by his wrist strength and long arms" but notes his long swing and defensive flaws may project a future as a backup catcher with pop.
13. 3B Hunter Dozier (98 points)
Despite a disaster season in 2015, Dozier still has "real talent, an objectively nice swing and plenty of physical ability at third base," according to Dan Farnworth at Fangraphs. He still thinks Dozier can be an above-average third baseman if he can recover from changes to his swing last season, but Baseball Prospectus quotes a rival scout saying he is a "lost cause."
14. SS Marten Gasparini (97 points)
Baseball America is the only list to rank the Italian-born shortstop in their top ten. They note his plus speed and plus arm, but are unsure he can stick at shortstop. Gasparini showed surprising plate discipline, and Keith Law likes his latent power, while MLB.com notes he has bulked up.
15. OF Reymond Fuentes (92 points)
Keith Law writes that Fuentes is ready to be a fourth outfielder in the big leagues, but lacks the range to play centerfield, and the power to play the corners. Fangraphs praises his speed, but also notes he is likely a fourth outfielder with little power.
16. 1B Ryan O'Hearn (90 points)
Fangraphs ranks him fifth, while no one else has him in their top ten. Dan Farnsworth loves O'Hearn's power, but also notes it can lead to a flawed approach, writing "his eyes light up when he gets that pitch down the middle, and he tries to do too much with it, muscling up and pulling off the ball."
17. RHP Josh Staumont (86 points)
John Sickels ranked Staumont the highest at #6, noting his "exceptional stuff" with a fastball that hits 100 mph in relief. Keith Law writes the wild right-hander has "No. 1 starter stuff" but "maybe 35 command", saying he could be Stephen Strasburg if he learned any kind of command.
18 (tied). RHP Pedro Fernandez (81 points)
Prospect Digest ranks Fernandez fifth, although no one else has him in the top ten. Joseph Werner writes Fernandez is a "ticking time bomb of potential" citing his strikeout ability. He sees his upside as a "mid-rotation-caliber ceiling with the floor of a dominant relief arm."
18 (tied). LHP Alec Mills (81 points)
Mills put up fantastic numbers for Wilmington last year, although Fangraphs notes he has average stuff. MLB.com likes his changeup, and even calls his curveball and slider "average." John Sickels calls his secondary stuff "inconsistent" but likes his ability to throw strikes.
20. LHP Erik Skoglund (55 points)
Dan Farnsworth at Fangraphs likes Skoglund's "easy-going delivery", but notes some scouts say he throws "too many strikes" and can get hit around. John Sickels likes his ability to throw all of his pitches for strikes and sees him as a potential number four starter.
Others with votes: OF Alfredo Escalera-Maldonaldo (41 points), OF Elier Hernandez (39), P Garrett Davila (38), P Glenn Sparkman (35), OF Brandon Downes (28), 1B Balbino Fuenmayor (25), OF Amalani Fukofuka (24), OF Anderson Miller (24), P Christian Binford (22), 2B D.J. Burt (14), OF Seuly Matias (14), OF Brett Eibner (8), P Sam Selman (5), SS Ricky Aracena (5), SS Jeison Guzman (4), OF Lane Adams* (3), P Brooks Pounders (2), SS Ramon Torres (1), P Yunior Marte (1)
*-no longer in organization