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Under-the-radar Royals prospects

A few of the other guys that might standout in 2021.

Anderson Paulino

MLB Pipeline recently released their Top 30 prospect rankings, and this week, they placed the Royals tenth among major league teams, the highest organizational ranking of the known prospect sites. You can read about those prospects at MLB Pipeline, and I’ll release a list here as well, but I thought I’d drop a few names that aren’t on the Pipeline that are intriguing if not as highly ranked yet.

The minor league season will be different with the late start, longer series, and no playoffs but the Royals are flush with talent at each level.

Hitters

Outfielder Rothaikeg Seijas

Some players, like Miguel Sanó, drip power as a massive human who can hit the ball from Minneapolis to Lake Michigan. Then there other players who aren’t quite so big but still pack a punch, and you wonder why? That’s the case with the Royals 18-year-old Venezuelan outfielder. Standing at just 5’11, 170 lbs (maybe a tad more), it doesn’t make a ton of sense that he has big-time power, but he does. Just a couple of years ago, Seijas hit the longest home run in the Royals system, according to Minor League Graphs, a 456-foot home run blast. That first season wasn’t spectacular, but he finished strong, pacing the DSL offense in their playoff race with four doubles and a triple while scoring four runs and driving in six more during the Royals championship run.

Those numbers didn’t stand out and earn him a spot here as much as the performance he put on in Arizona this fall. After adjusting to facing some older prospects, Seijas impressed, showing the power he’s flashed previously and good hitting skill. The power comes from a quick short stroke thanks to his shorter limbs. It’s the strength, short stroke, and ability to hang with older prospects that’s exciting. One expects Erick Pena to get a Low-A assignment but don’t be shocked if Seijas gets a look at the level at some point in 2021.

Outfielder Juan Carlos Negret

The work that Jorge Soler and Salvador Pérez have done with hitting coach Mike Tosar paid off into a home run title in 2019 for Soler and a Silver Slugger award for Pérez last season. Another Royals player Tosar has worked with the last couple of offseasons is Juan Carlos Negret. When I saw Negret in the Fall of 2018, he physically looked like Jose Guillen - short, muscular with a quick pull approach. Unfortunately, he ran like the Royals version of Guillen, not the younger one, and didn’t have the same arm. He physically looks even stronger now at 21 years old, as one would expect. There is no doubt that Negret has 30+ home run potential with his bat speed and strength, but can he improve the approach enough to make him a prospect? Tosar took the power that Soler and Sal had and unlocked it. Doing the same for Negret could give the Royals 21-year-old a future.

Other hitters to watch:

Clay Dungan - mature hitter, outstanding glove could be assigned higher than some others with more prominent names.

Michael Massey - flashed some power in Arizona if healthy hit in college and in rookie ball.

Pitchers

There is a depth of arms that I’ve never seen in this system in the ten years I’ve been writing about them. One could pick off the top four or five arms and still have quite a bit of depth and upside within the system.

Marlin Willis

Willis is a left-hander the Royals signed in the 2017 draft, and one of the few high school pitchers they have inked recently. It was a long-term play for Willis to sign him away from Georgia State with a $250k bonus. When I saw the athletic lefty at instructs a couple of years ago, he didn’t pop off the page as more than a possible future LOOGY with his nearly low 3/4 release to almost a 50/50 delivery point. It was a sweepy delivery that allowed his slider to play up against same-sided hitters, but his fastball was still coming in the 88-90 mph range. The one thing that stood out was his elite extension at 6’8 to 6’11 inches, allowing the fastball to play up. Rumor is that he is now throwing 94-96 mph. If the release point is similar in the mid-90s to the release point I saw in ‘18, you’re talking a lefty that is giving hitters an upper 90s look regularly with a sweeping slider. That type of pitcher could move through the lower levels pretty quickly now.

Anderson Paulino

The right-hander is up to 100 mph with a fastball with a ton of late darting life on the fastball. It’s a fastball that gets downhill, and he does a decent job of controlling it compared to what you see out of a lot of guys throwing that type of velocity. The breaking ball and changeup are getting there, he had more feel for a changeup than the breaking ball in past years, but the slider sounds like it has caught up. The Royals in recent years have found some Latin arms in Andres Machado and Carlos Hernandez that made quick moves to the majors from the lower levels. Paulino might be another Latin arm that could speed through the lower minors if he finds one of those two secondary offerings.

There are plenty of Latin arms to like that give the Royals starting pitching depth at the lower levels. Right-hander Luilly Ovalle has quite a bit of projection at 6’3 with an ability to throw strikes and mix his stuff. Fellow DSL stud Luis De La Rosa is athletic as a former shortstop, combining a low 90s fastball with a pair of developing secondary options. His athleticism has drawn a comparison to a Julio Teheran with a better feel for pitching.

Other pitchers to watch:

Grant Gambrell - 3rd round pick that has gotten lost in the shuffle.

Noah Murdock. Plenty of talent with a mid-90s fastball and a pair of secondary offerings that flash plus.

A.J. Block - his ability to throw strikes with multiple pitches may get him a look over a few others/