Baseball America has released their pre-season top 100 prospect list and for the first time since 2015, the Royals have as many as three prospects on the list. Infielder Bobby Witt, Jr. comes in at #24 after being selected second overall in last June’s draft. Left-handed pitcher Daniel Lynch comes in at #39, and right-handed pitcher Jackson Kowar comes in at #78.
On Witt, Baseball America notes that the stats from his professional debut didn’t wow anyone, but “his 93 mph average exit velocity and immense athleticism gave glimpses of his star potential.” Witt hit .262/.317/.354 with one home run in 37 games in the Arizona Summer League. Witt is the third-highest ranked prospect on the list from the 2019 draft, behind Orioles catcher Adley Rutschman at #5 and Padres shortstop C.J. Abrams at #22.
Lynch jumps onto the list for the first time after dominating A-ball hitters with a 2.99 ERA and 96 strikeouts in 96 1⁄3 innings. He missed some time with arm soreness last year, but Baseball America likes his velocity at 92-97 mph with a high spin rate, and his “biting slider.”
Kowar, like Lynch, was part of the 2018 draft class and quickly rose through the system in his first full season with a 3.52 ERA and 144 strikeouts in 148 1/3 innings in High-A and Double-A. Baseball America notes he needs to “improve his slider somewhat to complement a package that already includes an above-average fastball and a filthy, double-plus changeup.”
Notably missing from the list is Brady Singer, who made the list at #71 last year. Singer had a solid season with a 2.85 ERA with 138 strikeouts in 148 1⁄3 innings , and while he struggled initially upon his promotion to Double-A, he finished strong to end the season. Singer, as well as outfielders Kyle Isbel and Erick Pena, were considered for the list.
The Royals last had this many prospects on Baseball America’s top 100 prospect list just before the 2015 season when Adalberto Mondesi, Brandon Finnegan, Kyle Zimmer, and Sean Manaea all made the list. Tampa Bay infielder Wander Franco topped the list with White Sox outfielder Luis Robert at #2, Angels outfielder Jo Adell at #3, and Dodgers shortstop Gavin Lux at #4. The Rays topped all teams with eight prospects on the list, followed by the Dodgers with 7, and Twins and Padres with 6 apiece. The Brewers were the only team without a prospect on the list.