Baseball Prospectus came out with their top 101 prospect list today. No surprise that Blue Jays uberprospect Vladimir Guerrero, Jr. topped the list, followed by Angels outfielder Jo Adell. The Royals fared well, putting three players on the list, the most prospects they have placed on Baseball Prospectus’ list since after the 2014 season (they placed Adalberto Mondesi, Miguel Almonte, Sean Manaea, Brandon Finnegan, and Hunter Dozier that year).
This year it was outfielder Seuly Matias at #52, up from the #75 ranking he had last year. Matias clobbered 31 home runs in low-A Lexington last year as a 19-year old, hitting .231/.303/.550 with a 35% strikeout rate. Baseball Prospectus had tabbed Matias the best prospect in the organization last fall, writing he ”may not be an elite prospect yet, but it sounds likes an M-80 when he squares one up.” He has decent plate discipline, according to the scouting report, but does swing hard and misses a lot.
Outfielder Khalil Lee moves up to #61, after breaking into the Top 101 mid-season last year. Lee struggled after his promotion to AA last season, but BP notes “there’s little question about his athleticism or ability to make adjustments.” The 20-year old hit .263/.382/.390 overall with one of the best walk rates in the organization. He struggled a bit in the Arizona Fall League, but had some flashes of brilliance.
Breaking into the list for the first time was catcher M.J. Melendez at #67. The former second-round pick hit .251/.322/.492 with 19 home runs as a 19-year old in Lexington. The Baseball Prospectus staff admits a bias against prep catchers, but note that Melendez is an “above-average defender” with plus power, although there are questions about his hit tool overall.
The BP Top 100 has become the prospect list most focused on potential, so it’s sort of a leading indicator for other top prospect lists. So that said, it’s a good sign that three Royals made the list (Matias, Lee, & Melendez) - and none of them were among their 2018 draft picks. https://t.co/WJnVXotgvg— Rany Jazayerli (@jazayerli) January 23, 2019
Royals’ first-round pick Brady Singer was in the “just missed” category, mostly because he has yet to make his pro debut.
We think Singer has a reasonable probability of being a starter. But it’s far from a lock, with a lower arm slot, some effort in the delivery, and a lagging changeup. Singer pairs that with a reasonable mid-rotation upside.
Singer did make the Top 100 prospect list for Baseball America, also released today. In fact, he was the only Royals prospect that did make the list. Baseball America writes that Singer was “a bit rusty during instructional league”, but had a fastball in the 91-94 mph range “with good movement down in the zone” and “really good feel for his sharp slider, which comes in around 83 mph.”
The Royals have not placed any prospects on this list since after the 2015 season (when Mondesi and Kyle Zimmer made the list), becoming the second team ever to be shutout from the list in back-to-back off-seasons.