The Royals once had a farm system the envy of baseball, and while not all of those prospects panned out, many became the nucleus of a club that would win two pennants and a championship, validating the hard work of the scouting department. However the Royals have failed to re-stock that farm system effectively, at least, according to experts like ESPN’s Keith Law. Law began his rankings of organizational talent this week and ranked the Royals 26th in baseball, ahead of only the Diamondbacks, Marlins, Mariners, and Angels.
The Royals have had their farm system depleted due to graduations (Raul Mondesi), trades (Sean Manaea), and injuries (Kyle Zimmer), but it is also clear they have had some poor drafts of late. Despite this, there are a few rays of light to hold out hope for, and Law admits that the Royals could move up quickly with some high upside prospects.
Of all of the systems down here on the bottom rung, none has the untapped upside of the Royals’ organization, with more guys whose scouting reports start with “if…” than any other.
Law mentions the high upside of Zimmer, who has been ravaged by injuries in his career, but continues to show “ace”-quality stuff when healthy. Zimmer underwent thoracic outlet syndrome surgery last fall after missing the entire season. Law also mentions the high upside of pitcher Josh Staumont, who some are calling the best prospect in the Royals system. Staumont flashes a 100 mph fastball, but has shown very little command in his career and could end up in the bullpen.
Pitcher Garrett Davila and shortstop Marten Gasparini also get singled out as players who have high upside if they can figure things out. Davila posted a 2.77 ERA in 65 innings in low Rookie ball for Burlington at age 19 last year. The Italian-born Gasparini struggled mightily in Low A Lexington, hitting .191/.256/.293, but was very young for the level, and he held his own the year before that in Advanced Rookie ball at Idaho Falls.
Law notes that the Royals have employed a “swing for the fences” strategy in amateur scouting that proved fruitful for years, but has come up empty more recently. The Royals have steadily dropped in his organizational rankings, ranking 11th in 2013, 7th in 2014, 15th in 2015, and 23rd in 2016.
Keith Law, who once worked in the Toronto Blue Jays front office, will unveil his full organizational rankings over the next few days. Next week he will unveil his Top 100 prospects, of which the Royals are not expected to land many (if any) prospects.