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Royals prospect stock watch

Who's up? Who's down?

Photo by Ken Inness
Photo by Ken Inness
Ken Inness/

If you follow the stock market (which you probably should as you likely have skin in the game in some capacity) you have probably been less than happy with the ebbs and flows of what's happened since early April. It has been a mixed second quarter start, filled with ups and downs. The same flows have happened with the Royals minor league system. Some guys are doing well, some guys are doing poor, and others in between.

So a month in we can take stock (see what I did there...). However let us remember that major league or minor league, one month of results doesn't necessarily change the outlook of a player entirely (especially in the minors). Young guys may be slow to adjust to older competition at a higher level, older guys may beat up on talent at a lower level prior to demotion, and anything in between. So let's take a look at the top ten of my top 60 list (which you can find here) and then some other prospects to highlight later in the list.

1. Kyle Zimmer

Zimmer has yet to pitch so far this year. Truth be told before the season started I was writing an article making predictions on what I thought minor leaguers would do this year. Number one on my list was Kyle Zimmer was going to be healthy. Glad I never finished that.

Zimmer is supposed to start doing...something in the next few days. Could be throwing off the mound, facing live competition, or getting out of bed.

Regardless to say, his stock is down.

2. Raul Mondesi

.241/.298/.483 5 HR at AA Northwest Arkansas

It is hard to not like what Mondesi has done so far this year. He is still not hitting for average or getting on base (which is no surprise) but the power has been playing for him in the left-handed friendly Texas League, in one of the best hitter's parks in the minors. Mondesi hit six home runs all of last year and so far this year he is already at five. He's still one of the three youngest guys in AA.

Stock is up

3. Chase Vallot

.307/.407/.587 5 HR 176 wRC+ at Low A Lexington

Despite striking out 33% of the time, Vallot has hit as well as anyone else in the Royals system. Yes, the right-handed catcher is doing it on a .429 BABIP (which will happen when you strike out 33% of the time) but he's also slugging the ball hard and is second in the South Atlantic League in home runs (alongside fellow 19 year old Brendan Rodgers - the Rockies 3rd overall pick last June).

Stock is up

4. Nolan Watson

5.60 K/9 3.57 BB/9  11.21 ERA 7.00 FIP at Low A Lexington

And now you are about to start seeing a general theme here of where the lows are coming from. Hitters are hitting, but pitchers aren't pitching, at least not pitching well.

The good news is that Watson is striking out more batters than he did last year. The bad news is it's still a very low amount and when he's not walking them, they are hitting home runs off of him.

Stock is down

5. Matt Strahm

9.22 K/9 0.99 BB/9 2.63 ERA 2.80 FIP at AA Northwest Arkansas

What you are seeing is correct. Strahm has walked just under one batter per nine while striking out a little more than nine of them. He and teammate Alec Mills have the best K/BB ratio in the Texas League. Strahm's command has been excellent since he's returned from Tommy John Surgery and is a completely different pitcher now.

Stock is up

6.  Bubba Starling

.241/.348/.481 4 HR 134 wRC+ at AA Northwest Arkansas

Starling's strikeout has jumped back up to bad levels (31% as of this writing) but he is hitting for power and walking to make up for it. He has been getting on base for teammates to drive him home as he is second in runs scored among Texas Leaguers, but he is also among the top strikeout rates.

I am gonna say his stock is neutral at this point. Yes his wRC+ is nice but it's riding a power spike that probably won't be maintained and the 33% strikeout rate is a bright red flag.

Stock is neutral

7. Ryan O'Hearn

.352/.408/.670 8 HR 193 wRC+ at High A Wilmington

My man O'Hearn has continued to do what he's always done: hit, hit, hit, and hit for power. The first baseman was leading the Carolina League in home runs before being promoted to AA Northwest Arkansas a few days ago. Yesterday he played in his first AA game and of course he homered.

Stock is up

8. Ashe Russell

Like Zimmer, Russell has yet to pitch this year. However unlike Zimmer the 2015 first-round pick isn't out because of injury but is working out in extended spring training. I figured Russell would join his fellow Indy prep pitcher Watson in Lexington this year but he has yet to debut.

Stock is neutral

9. Scott Blewett

6.75 K/9 5.16 BB/9 5.96 ERA 5.81 FIP in Low A Lexington

Blewett is back in Lexington where he pitched 80 innings last year and some results have been similar. He has been giving up hits and striking out a similar rate of batters. However his walks have skyrocketed due to some loose command and attempts to nibble.

Stock is down

10. Foster Griffin

5.67 K/9 2.67 BB/9 4.33 ERA 4.67 FIP in Low A Lexington

Griffin was one of the rare advanced/polished prep pitchers (and he was from a warm weather state!) so you would have expected better results from the Orlando native. However ~150 innings into his professional career the results have been lacking. He's not striking guys out but is limiting walks. He's also back in Lexington like Blewett with meh results.

Stock is down

Other interesting prospects:

11. Josh Staumont

16.00 K/9 5.50 BB/9 2.00 ERA 2.11 FIP in High A Wilmington

Staumont has been starting all year and for the most part he has been excellent. The ERA, strikeout rate, and FIP are nice but those are all kind of a product of the strikeouts. In the one start of his this year have been able to watch (Carolina League games can be hard to come by) he started off strong but lost his mojo a bit later in the game. The whiffs are there absolutely and he has been impressive as he's not just relying on his fastball. He is pitching backwards, starting hitters out with a first pitch curveball. However the fastball command is still below average. I have though been a bit more impressed with the changeup generating whiffs.

Stock is up

13. Alec Mills

8.38 K/9 0.93 BB/9  2.79 ERA 1.79 FIP in AA Northwest Arkansas

As you saw in the Matt Strahm blurb, Mills has been very good this year. Command has always been a key of Mills and he uses it well with his less than stellar stuff. It's nice to see him succeeding in AA.

Stock is up

17. Hunter Dozier

.313/.412/.663 7 HR 197 wRC+ in AA Northwest Arkansas

Just when I was out...he pulls me back in!

Okay I was never "out" on Dozier. I have still maintained that he has the floor of a utility infielder with power, but Dozier has come off strong on the year. He was working his way back from mechanical changes and he looks a bit looser at the plate (and may have lost some weight - not that he was big). I don't think anybody saw this coming, and it won't last, but Dozier is arguably the best hitter in the system so far this year.

However you wouldn't change your opinion entirely on a player because of one bad month, you shouldn't do the same on one good month either. Dozier is still 24 years old in AA and has almost 900 plate appearances there. The walk rate is back and the strikeouts are down encouragingly.

Stock is up

19. Luke Farrell

7.29 K/9 4.29 BB/9 4.29 ERA 5.49 FIP in AAA Omaha

Farrell was one of my favorite guys in the system from a background wise, and his story is very heartfelt. He's in AAA now and his walks have jumped up a bit but I expect that to go down slightly.

Stock is neutral