Left-handed pitching prospect Daniel Lynch is one of six Royals prospects headed to the Arizona Fall League as rosters were announced today. Joining him will be second baseman Gabriel Cancel, outfielders Kyle Isbel and Brewer Hicklen, left-handed pitcher Daniel Tillo, and right-handed pitcher Tad Ratliff. They will all be assigned to the Surprise Saguaros, managed by Royals minor league manager Scott Thorman, who heads up the Wilmington Blue Rocks. The league begins play September 18 and runs through October 27.
Lynch missed almost two months this year with arm soreness, but was quite effective for the Wilmington Blue Rocks this season with a 3.19 ERA in 14 starts with 71 strikeouts in 72 1⁄3 innings of work. He has recently returned to action and struck out nine in just five innings on Saturday for the Blue Rocks. The former first round pick is ranked as the #78 prospect in baseball by Baseball America and #73 by MLB.com.
Kyle Isbel also missed significant time this year after he was hit in the face with a ball in the outfield, then later suffered a hamstring injury. The 22-year old outfielder was hitting .223/.284/.375 with five home runs in 49 games for the Wilmington Blue Rocks, but was terrific in 2018, his first professional season, hitting .326/.389/.504 between Idaho Falls and Lexington. Baseball America ranks him as the #6 prospect in the organization.
Brewer Hicklen has been one of the best hitters for Wilmington this year, batting .269/.371/.437 with 14 home runs and 38 steals in 121 games. The 23-year old was a seventh-round pick in 2017 out of the University of Alabama-Birmingham and recently enjoyed a three-home run game last week. MLB.com ranks him as the #16 prospect in the system.
Daniel Tillo was a third-round pick out of Iowa Western Community College in 2017. The left-hander had a 3.77 ERA in 20 starts for Wilmington before earning a promotion to Double-A where he had a 3.74 ERA in 21 2⁄3 innings with 18 strikeouts.
Gabriel Cancel was a seventh-round pick in 2015 out of Puerto Rico. The infielder hit .239/.304/.424 with 18 home runs and 14 steals in 119 games this season for Double-A Northwest Arkansas. Tad Ratliff was an undrafted free agent out of tiny Lenoir-Rhyne College in North Carolina. The 23-year old posted a 1.68 ERA in 48 1⁄3 innings last year in Lexington, and served as Wilmington’s closer this year with 23 saves and a 2.92 ERA with 53 strikeouts in 49 1⁄3 innings.
Not joining the group are top Royals pitching prospects Brady Singer, Jackson Kowar, and Kris Bubic, who may be under innings limits after a long season. The Arizona Fall League will feature some of the best prospects in baseball such as Angels outfielder Jo Adell, Twins players Royce Lewis and Alex Kirilloff and Astros right-hander Forrest Whitley. You can see complete rosters here. The league is generally seen as a stepping stone to the big leagues. Last year the Royals sent catcher Meibrys Viloria, outfielders Khalil Lee and Nick Heath, and pitchers Scott Blewett, Grant Gavin, Arnaldo Hernandez, and Walker Sheller.