The Royals announced today they have added minor league catcher MJ Melendez, infielders Maikel García and Nick Pratto, and pitchers Jonathan Bowlan, Collin Snider, and Nathan Webb to the 40-man roster to protect them from the Rule 5 draft. To make room on the roster they designated infielder Lucius Fox and pitcher Kyle Zimmer for assignment. Fox was claimed off waivers by the Baltimore Orioles.
Pratto and Melendez were no-brainers to add to the roster after their amazing turnaround this season that landed them on the top 100 prospect list by Baseball America. Pratto hit .265/.385/.602 with 36 home runs between Double-A and Triple-A this year, while Melendez led all minor leaguers with 41 home runs while hitting .288/.386/.625 as a catcher.
Maikel García was an unsurprising addition as well after hitting .291/.380/.405 with 35 steals in 104 games for A-ball Columbia and High-A Quad Ciites. The 21-year Venezuelan infielder is a switch-hitter with good speed and an ability to draw walks that would have been attractive to other clubs. Bowlan was not much of a surprise either, even though he will miss most of next season after Tommy John surgery. Although he turns 25 next month, he impressed with a 3.14 ERA and 150 strikeouts in 146 innings in High-A and Double-A in 2019, including a no-hitter for Wilmington.
Webb was an interesting addition as a local kid from Lee’s Summit who throws a high-90s fastball that has hit 100 on occasion. The 24-year old right-hander struck out 89 hitters in 59 1⁄3 innings for Columbia and Quad Cities this season. Snider was perhaps the most surprising addition. The 26-year old right-hander put up good numbers in Double-A this year with a 2.97 ERA and 41 strikeouts in 36 1⁄3 innings as a reliever, but struggled upon his promotion to Triple-A, posting a 6.03 ERA with just 6.9 strikeouts-per-nine innings.
Among the notable players the Royals left off the 40-man roster that will be eligible for the Rule 5 draft include outfielders Dairon Blanco, Eric Cole, Brewer Hicklen, Seuly Matis, and Juan Carlos Negret, left-handers Austin Cox and Josh Dye, right-handers Zack Haake, Yefri del Rosario, Grant Gavin, and Zach Willeman.
The Royals designated former first-round pick Kyle Zimmer for assignment, but could still re-sign him as a minor league free agent if he clears waivers. Zimmer was the fifth overall selection in the 2012 draft, but battled a myriad of injuries early in his career. He pitched in parts of three seasons with the Royals, posting a 5.19 ERA in 95 1⁄3 innings with 8.5 strikeouts per-nine-innings but a high walk rate. The 30-year old pitched in 52 games this year with a 4.83 ERA.
Lucius Fox was originally acquired from the Rays in 2020 for outfielder Brett Phillips. The 24-year old switch-hitter was a former top 100 prospect with good speed, but his bat did not develop enough and he hit just .242/.347/.363 with 19 steals in 57 games with Triple-A Omaha this season.
Today was the deadline to add minor leaguers to the 40-man roster in anticipation of the Rule 5 draft which is scheduled to be held on December 9 during the Winter Meetings, but could be in jeopardy with the expiration of the current labor deal before then.