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Royals farm system ranked in the middle by talent evaluators

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Plus the Royals land some prospects high up on lists.

From left to right: Royals top prospects Brady Singer, Daniel Lynch, and Jackson Kowar before a Wilmington Blue Rocks game. Ryan Griffith

The Royals’ farm system continues to improve, but is still ranked in the middle, according to organizational rankings by top talent evaluators. ESPN’s Kiley McDaniel ranks the Royals 17th in baseball, Keith Law of The Athletic ranks them 15th, and Baseball America ranks them 14th in lists that came out this month. The rankings are based mostly on evaluations done last year since there was no minor league season, with additions and graduations factored in.

McDaniel used a dollar value to correspond to prospect rankings, adding up each system’s value to come up with his rankings. He has the Royals right behind the Yankees and Dodgers farm systems and ahead of the Cardinals. He notes it is a top-heavy system that is “ordinary” after the top seven, but that “there’s a real shot Kansas City leaps into the top 10 of next year’s list after adding the No. 7 overall pick in the draft to its system.”

McDaniel ranks infielder Bobby Witt, Jr. as the top prospect in the system and the #17 prospect in baseball. McDaniel notes there are concerns about his ability to make contact, but he has posted “big exit velos” and he “could hit for enough contact and draw enough walks to get to his 25-30-homer power in games while also providing premium value on the basepaths and on defense.”

Royals prospect rankings

Publication Royals prospects ranked
Publication Royals prospects ranked
Baseball America Bobby Witt, Jr. (16), Daniel Lynch (25), Asa Lacy (37), Jackson Kowar (95)
Baseball Prospectus Bobby Witt, Jr. (9), Asa Lacy (21), Daniel Lynch (70), Jackson Kowar (95), Erick Peña (97)
Keith Law Daniel Lynch (17), Bobby Witt, Jr. (27), Asa Lacy (30)
Kiley McDaniel Bobby Witt, Jr. (17), Asa Lacy (49), Daniel Lynch (65)
MLB Pipeline Bobby Witt, Jr. (7), Daniel Lynch (29), Asa Lacy (30)

Keith Law likes the investment the Royals have made in college pitching, and he is very high on lefty Daniel Lynch, who he ranks as the top prospect in the system, and the #17 prospect in baseball. Law writes that Lynch has “elite stuff from the left side” with an improving arsenal with a high-90s fastball, plus slider, and now a plus change up. Law writes that the “real test of the system will be how some of their players who struggled in 2019”, such as MJ Melendez and Nick Pratt, “bounce back after a year focused just on development at the team’s alternate site.”

Baseball America notes the Royals’ farm system is still very pitching-heavy, but Witt “provides an anchor for a team that still needs to find some more big bats for the future.” They have four Royals on their top 100 prospect list, the most Royals prospects that have made the list since 2015. Jackson Kowar comes in at #95 with a “plus fastball and double-plus changeup”, although they note that his success may depend on getting his curveball to be average. The #14 farm system ranking for the Royals is the highest the farm system has been ranked by Baseball America since 2015.

Baseball America ranking for the Royals

Year BA Ranking
Year BA Ranking
2011 1st
2012 2nd
2013 18th
2014 8th
2015 13th
2016 21st
2017 26th
2018 29th
2019 27th
2020 18th
2021 14th

The Royals will have the seventh pick in this June’s draft, plus a competitive balance pick after the second round, which could help their rankings. Pitching prospect like Asa Lacy, Daniel Lynch, and Jackson Kowar have a chance to graduate off prospect lists this year, but there are some intriguing arms like Jonathan Bowlan, Austin Cox, Jon Heasley, and Alec Marsh that could jump onto radar screens. Outfielder Kyle Isbel could bounce back from injury, and Melendez, Pratto, and slugger Seuly Matias could get on track after a rough 2019 season. The Royals could also get a chance to see what 2020 draft pick Nick Loftin can do, and outfielder Erick Peña could show off his five-tool talent.