A year ago at this time, the consensus around baseball was that the Royals had one of the worst farm systems in baseball. They had zero top 100 prospects on the Baseball America list for the second year in a row, and ESPN’s Keith Law shut them out of his list as well.
Well one year later, things are slowly improving. Law has two Royals on his list this year, with outfielder Khalil Lee at #55 and pitcher Daniel Lynch at #53. Law resides in Delaware and likely got a good look at Lee in Wilmington last year, noting that the 21-year old showed “tremendous growth on all sides of the ball”, cutting down his strikeout rate last year. In a chat session, Law writes that Lee is “not a hacker”, but rather just a hitter that runs deep counts. Lee hit .263/.382/.390 with six home runs in 100 games split between High-A and AA and cut his strikeout rate from 32% in 2017 to 24.5% in 2018.
Law seems to believe Lee can stick in centerfield with adequate speed and and improvement in reading flyballs.
There’s some fourth-outfielder potential here, depending on how his body develops and whether his game power returns, but he also could be an above-average regular or more who goes 15/15 in steals and homers, with an OBP in the high .300s and value on defense in center.
Left-handed pitcher Daniel Lynch was the 34th player selected in last year’s draft and after a short stint in rookie ball was aggressively promoted to low-A Lexington where he dominated with a 2.03 ERA and 10.6 strikeouts-per-nine innings with a very low walk rate in nine starts. Law sees Lynch with a mid-90s fastball and “an above-average slider and changeup and good deception from his delivery.” Law thinks many teams will regret passing on Lynch, commenting in his chat session that “if they redid the draft today, he’d go in the top 10.”
Law left first-round pick Brady Singer off his list, writing in the chat session that he has always had big concerns about Singer’s delivery for injuries and in the ability to get left-handed hitters out without a viable change-up.
Last week, the Royals finally got a prospect on the Baseball America Top 100 list this year - pitcher Brady Singer at #71. They also landed three prospects on the Baseball Prospectus list - outfielder Seuly Matias at #52, outfielder Khalil Lee at #61, and catcher M.J. Melendez at #67.