Baseball America released their mid-season prospect list this week, updating the list to reflect graduations to the big leagues and this month’s draft. The Royals placed six prospects in the top 100 list, up from four before the season.
Bobby Witt, Jr. headlines the Royals prospects landing at #5, up from a ranking of #16 before the season. The only prospects ahead of Witt are Tampa Bay infielder Wander Franco, Baltimore catcher Adley Rustchman, and Seattle outfielders Julio Rodriguez and Jarred Kelenic. Franco and Kelenic are already in the big leagues and should graduate off the list in a few weeks. Witt was named to the Futures Game in Denver this month, and recently earned a promotion to Triple-A after hitting .295/.369/.570 with 16 home runs in 61 games in Double-A. The Royals infielder has already gotten off to a hot start with Omaha with two home runs in his first six games and a .367 average.
Daniel Lynch, who turned in eight innings of shutout ball against the Tigers on Sunday, comes in at #30, down slightly from his ranking of #25 before the season. Lynch struggled in his first three MLB starts, and has had mixed results in Triple-A with a 5.84 ERA, although with 62 strikeouts and 18 walks in 57 innings.
Left-handed pitcher Asa Lacy is one of the biggest drops in the rankings, going from #37 to #73 in the mid-season update. The 2020 first-round pick has had a mystifying season, with huge control issues, something he never seemed to experience at Texas A&M. When he has thrown strikes, he has been unhittable, striking out 79 hitters in 52 innings, but allowing 41 walks with a 5.19 ERA. He also left his last start with an injury, and could be out for an extended period of time.
Right-hander Jackson Kowar moves up from #95 before the season to #77 in the midseason update. Kowar was disappointing in three outings with the Royals, but has dominated Triple-A with a 2.13 ERA and 77 strikeouts to just 17 walks in 55 innings.
First baseman Nick Pratto joins the list for the first time at #74. The 2017 first-round pick has had a tremendous comeback season after a hugely disappointing 2019. He was named to the Futures Game after hitting .271/.404/.570 with 15 home runs in 61 games for Double-A Northwest Arkansas before earning a promotion to Triple-A. Baseball America writes:
The swing changes Pratto made in the time away from the game seem to have taken hold in a big way. The 2017 first-rounder has shown the ability to hit for average and power, as well as excellent plate discipline, throughout his time at the alternate training site, spring training and into the regular season in his first test at Double-A.
Also joining the list is catcher MJ Melendez at #100. The 22-year old catcher has also enjoyed a remarkable comeback season, hitting .290/.371/.620 with 23 home runs in 67 games for Double-A Northwest Arkansas. Baseball America praises his reworked swing, writing he has “toned down his leg kick, improved his pitch selection and has responded by being one of the best hitters in Double-A in 2019”
The list does not include 2021 first-round pick Frank Mozzicato, although it does include several other first-round picks from this month’s draft, including Mets pitcher Kumar Rocker, who the Royals passed on, ranked #66.
The Royals placed three prospects on Keith Law’s top 50 prospect list with Witt at #6, Lynch at #27, and Pratto at #46. Baseball Prospectus ranked Witt #2 on their mid-season top 50 update. MLB Pipeline currently ranks Witt #7, Lynch #21, Lacy #22, Kowar #91, and Pratto #99.