Bobby Witt, Jr. is the third-best prospect in all of baseball, according to the Baseball America off-season 2022 rankings. They named him 2021 Minor League Player of the Year, but ranked him behind Orioles catcher Adley Rustchman at #1 and Mariners outfielder Julio Rodriguez at #2. It is the second-highest ranking for a Royals prospect ever, behind Alex Gordon’s #2 ranking in 2007.
The Royals placed two other prospects in the top 50 with catcher MJ Melendez at #42 and first baseman Nick Pratto at #43. Pitcher Asa Lacy, who ranked ahead of those two in the top ten Royals prospects rankings by Baseball America, was not ranked in the top 100. Baseball America explained the discrepancy in an editorial note:
Editor’s Note: Royals LHP Asa Lacy ranked ahead of C M.J. Melendez and 1B Nick Pratto on our Royals Top 10 Prospects list. As we gathered feedback for our Top 100 Prospects list, we consistently heard suggestions that Melendez and Pratto should rank above Lacy on our Top 100. We have reflected that feedback in our Top 100 Prospects list.
Earlier this week, Kyle Glaser at Baseball America wrote about the case for Witt being #1 on their list.
“He grew up around the game. To me that’s really appealing,” one longtime AL scouting coordinator said. “He’s a fast mover, excelled in Double-A, excelled in Triple-A and the bloodlines and the makeup are outstanding. He knows what to expect. People don’t fully appreciate how important that is, and how much that’s going to help him be successful.”
But there are also some doubts about his hit tool, that perhaps kept him from being ranked #1.
“Witt has holes major league pitchers will exploit,” one NL pro scouting director said. “You can game plan against Witt. He has holes. Once the velo climbs and secondary location improves in the big leagues, the book will get on him pretty fast. He’s going to have to refine his approach and contact skills. He’s still super young, still super talented. Every team would line up for him. I just think you’re going to have to see over a 30% K rate and he’s going to have to adjust.”
I gotta be honest: I didn't expect Adley Rutschman to be #1. Not because of his talent, but simply because of his position. Given how close the top 3 are, playing time ought to be a tiebreaker; an OF like Julio Rodriguez or a SS like Bobby Witt Jr. is going to play more games. https://t.co/fzQl4jwWTL— Rany Jazayerli (@jazayerli) January 19, 2022
Asa Lacy no longer on the list, but Austin Martin, Nick Gonzales, Robert Hassell, Zac Veen, and Reid Detmers—all taken after Lacy—are. https://t.co/jxUFLR7VWg— Matt LaMar (@LaMar_Matt) January 19, 2022
Last year, the Royals placed four prospects in the top 100, but Daniel Lynch and Jackson Kowar have graduated off the list, with Melendez and Pratto replacing them, and Lacy dropped off this year.
Royals on Baseball America Top 100 Prospect Lists
|2022||3||Bobby Witt (#3), MJ Melendez (#42), Nick Pratto (#43)|
|2021||4||Bobby Witt (#16), Daniel Lynch (#25), Asa Lacy (#37), Jackson Kowar (#95)|
|2020||3||Bobby Witt (#24), Daniel Lynch (#39), Jackson Kowar (#78)|
|2019||1||Brady Singer (#71)|
|2016||2||Adalberto Mondesi (#29), Kyle Zimmer (#85)|
|2015||5||Adalberto Mondesi (#28), Brandon Finnegan (#55), Kyle Zimmer (#75), Sean Manaea (#81)|
The Pirates and Diamondbacks placed the most top 100 prospects with six apiece. The White Sox were the only team that did not have a single top 100 prospect.