Kansas City Royals Top 25 Prospect List

After a week in Arizona I have updated my Kansas City Royals prospect list after talking to scouts, front office personnel and watching the players myself. Slight change from things I’ve done in the past include working more from the BP and BA models with innings and plate appearance limitations that put Yordano Ventura and Chris Dwyer back in the list. I did this mainly to show that Ventura is far and away the Royals best prospect after I previously had him ranked behind Kyle Zimmer.

Name (Previous Rank)

1. Yordano Ventura (2)- As close to a non-effort 96-98 mph as you’ll find in the majors. If we are going to use the rules established by other prospect sites then this one is easy and the separation between Ventura and the rest of the crowd is large. It is not just the fastball from Ventura either as he’s shown a dynamic curveball and improved control with a unique ability to manipulate the baseball. With the fastball playing up to 101 mph hitters have to be prepared to speed up and attack, when they do that his 88-90 mph change up with fade and sink can make them look silly. The change up can become more and the command can better with age and experience also with a chance he adds a sinker. The ceiling for this guy is limitless. Likely Destination: Kansas City

2. Raul Mondesi (3)- For as good as Ventura is on the pitching side Mondesi is that good positionally considering age, current tools and possible ceiling. Until the Friday major league game I didn’t see a pitcher get the best of Mondesi, he was retired a few times but none overpowered him or over thought him like you typically see for an 18 year old. Currently he has plus speed, an impressive arm, range and a quick bat from both sides. That arm needs to be harnessed at times as he can rely on it a bit too much taking things easy in the field then unleashing a wild throw but that can be fixed easily with maturity. Likely Destination: Wilmington

3. Kyle Zimmer (1)- Big physical and looks the part of a stud starting pitcher with stuff to match it up. A change in hand placement from the stretch seemed to fix Zimmer’s problems last season allowing his arm to get in better sync with his body. From there all Zimmer did was strikeout 50 hitters in his last six starts over 29.2 innings before getting shutdown. His fastball, slider, curveball combo are good enough to dominate a minor league lineup but he needs to continue to work on his change up to reach his ceiling of a #2 or fringe #1 starter. The bulldog mentality, his size and pitch repertoire reminds me quite a bit of Gil Meche and while Meche probably never lived up to his ultimate ceiling Zimmer’s louder stuff has him well on his way IF he stays healthy. Likely Destination: NW Arkansas in May

Sean Manaea

4. Sean Manaea (7) – Much like Zimmer, Manaea is big and physical with long arms providing the appearance of a workhorse. While Zimmer and Ventura work in the upper 90′s the new Royals lefty works in the low 90′s with a fastball that attacks hitters in the 91-94 range. His below 3/4 arm angle works to his advantage making it extremely difficult for hitters to pick up and allowing his sweeping slider to fit very well from that slot. On top of the slider Manaea has a solid change up which with his arm angle is likely to be his most important pitch since righties get a good look at his low angled delivery. His command in college was outstanding despite his crossfire delivery but until we see him in pro ball it is unclear exactly how good it really is. Likely Destination: Wilmington

Miguel Almonte

5. Miguel Almonte (4) – Likely possessing the best change up in the organization Almonte despite his young age isn’t afraid to throw it to lefties or righties and often can get through a lineup with just spotty control of his low to mid 90′s fastball and that top notch change. The four seam version of his fastball works in the 94-96 mph range with decent location on the arm side but people in the org would like him to learn to command it in the lower quadrant on both sides of the plate. On top of the four seam fastball Almonte also has a low 90′s two seamer that he can use to get ground ball outs with and that the pitcher actually prefers to throw over the four seamer. The pitch that needs the most work for the righty is his slider which has the appearance of more of a slurve but can generate weak contact. The organization believes Almonte could be a back half of the rotation starter with his two seam fastball, change and breaking ball but he could become an upper level starter if he gets more comfortable with the four seamer. Likely Destination: Wilmington

6. Hunter Dozier (5)- The Royals 1st round pick from last season has the appearance of a “baseball player” generated straight out of DSCF5498Pleasantville with his perfectly combed blonde locks on his muscular frame. At 22 years of age one can tell he’s athletic and has spent plenty of time in the weight room. He showed current strength, solid bat speed and good movement in the field during the drills that I saw while he presented a solid approach in the pair of games. From what I saw he has average tools across the board with a plate approach that should help his hit tool play up and an arm that could do the same for him in the field. He had some difficulty with the above average velo White Sox Myles Jaye attacked him with during one of the games. Likely Destination: Wilmington

7. Jason Adam (10) – The new equalizer that Jason can bring to a lineup is a low 80′s late breaking slider that helps him generate weak contact and some swing and miss to go along with his low 90′s fastball. At 6’4 225 lbs Adam has shown a resilient arm that worked 199 innings last year between spring training, the AA season and a Arizona Fall league run. The big frame and ability to stay healthy should be in his favor as will his long arms and extension which allow his fastball to play up from 91-93 to closer to 95 mph according to Trackman. Along with his slider/fastball combo Jason also works with a slower 70′s curveball that features a larger break and a change up that still lags slightly behind. The fastball/slider combo gives Jason two above average pitches to start from needing the curve or change to come along to make him a possible mid rotation starter which is something I hadn’t previously thought he could be. Likely Destination: NW Arkansas

8. Jorge Bonifacio (6) – A big framed barrel chested right-fielder Bonifacio continues to show he can do damage to pitches out and away from him with his approach that plays well from center to right field. Tools wise he has a an above average arm, average speed and an average hit tool. His game seems very suited to Kauffman stadium if he makes it there as a gap to gap hitter that could hit in the .260-.280 range with plenty of doubles and good enough defense while he is younger. Likely Destination: NW Arkansas

9. Orlando Calixte (9) – Whippy bat speed, loose arm that can play shortstop, second or third. I would like to see him play in the corner outfield at some point as his plate approach makes it unlikely he could be a full time major league starter despite his above average power but as a inexpensive utility option he could prove to be valuable. For other teams he could profile as an average defending shortstop with a poor average and decent pop, for the Royals that probably doesn’t do the trick. Note he crushed lefties to the tune of .324/.383/.533 last season. Likely Destination: NW Arkansas

10. Elier Hernandez (12) – It is kind of easy to forget Elier when you’re constantly thinking about Raul Mondesi but Hernandez is just 19 years of age and shows a decent approach at the plate along with some current pop that should continue to develop. I liked what I saw quite a bit and I wouldn’t be shocked if he worked his way up this list despite playing in a run depressed Single A environment. Likely Destination: Lexington

Cameron Gallagher

11. Cam Gallagher (16) – I was disappointed when the Royals drafted Gallagher as I didn’t think he could stay behind the dish but he has dispelled that notion showing off a strong arm and quicker feet that one would think when behind the plate. He isn’t going to be Sal back there but he definitely has the tools with a strong arm to be a capable back up and even a second division starter defensively. At the plate Cam needs to start to unleash that size and power in games but he definitely showed big stuff during one of the BP sessions I watched driving quite a few balls deep into the Arizona air. A well below average runner his offensive value will have to derive itself between the gaps and over the fences. Likely Destination: Wilmington

12. Bubba Starling (8) – All the tools are there for Bubba except a hit tool which lags behind due to a hitch in his load and less than ideal pitch recognition. He still has speed, power and a good arm but that hit tool will keep pushing him back if he can’t fix it. Likely Destination: Wilmington

13. Cheslor Cuthbert (13) – Cuthbert has slimmed down and looks to unleash his average corner power this season. He’s still has less than average speed but brings with him a knack for quick movement at the corner and a good arm that allows him to play average third base defense. Still just 21 Cuthbert has shown an average hit tool in the past with a quick swing but needs to recognize pitches better and implement a plan at the plate. He started to do those things at High A Wilmington last season which earned him a promotion but then fell into some old traps at AA. His better shape gives one the indication he is taking the game more seriously which is something outsiders to the Royals organization have questioned in the past. Likely Destination: NW Arkansas

14. Chris Dwyer (10) – Lefty has a high 80′s to low 90′s fastball, average to above change up and a curveball that has flashed plus in the past. At this point with his age he isn’t likely to break into the Royals rotation unless he rediscovers some of his old velocity (94 mph) or finds better control and command. Still the three pitch mix could work well from the pen as a long man or emergency starter or even earn the Royals something in return from a team that isn’t in contention. Destination: Omaha

Samir Duenez

15. Samir Duenez (NR) – The Royals may have scouted themselves a potential star in Duenez, a Venezuelan lefthand hitting potential stud. They signed him for $400K a couple years ago when he had the physical appearance of Prince Fielder and have watched him grow an extra inch or two while he has slimmed down. Currently he is mixing in time in left field and at first base as he has just an average arm and less than ideal speed. Offensively is where the 18 year old stands out with great bat speed and a good idea of what he is doing at the plate. As he puts on muscle the Royals could have a stud first baseman that is ready to take over for Eric Hosmer whenever he decides to leave for free agency. Likely Destination: Lexington

16. Brett Eibner (NR)- Nearly everyday that I was at camp I saw Eibner take extra hacks at the plate as he continues to work on a closed approach with less leg movement. The former Razorback has always possessed good bat speed and strength but has had trouble with pitch recognition and contact, these changes are addressing those weaknesses in hopes of maximizing his tools. If it works then Eibner could be an everyday right fielder considering he has the power capable of hitting 15-20 HR at the major league level and play an above average RF. He has struggled with breaking stuff in the past meaning AAA will prove to be a large test for Eibner and a good indicator if the changes made have worked. Likely Destination: Omaha

Jack Lopez17. Jack Lopez (NR) – A smaller frame at 5’9 Lopez shows he can play shortstop with decent range, a big arm and decent speed. He showed some pop in one of the AA games I saw exiting the park with a shot to left field. That pop is something that has carried over from his offseason in Puerto Rico where he connected on 10 extra base hits in just 30 games. He isn’t likely to be an above average offensive performer but he doesn’t need to be considering he can handle the duties of at shortstop. His footwork is solid on both sides of the bag and could play an above average defensive second base if Mondesi blocks his way off short. Just 21 look for Lopez to have a bounceback season at High A. Likely Destination: Wilmington

18. Lane Adams (19) – Big, physical with plenty of speed to work with. No one tool stands out for Adams but he has a good mix of all of them with the ability to put them into action. He has grown as a player and I wouldn’t be shocked if he had a standout year even after a season that earned him Royals minor league hitter of the year. Likely Destination: NW Arkansas

19. Mike Mariot (21) – Mariot showed above average velocity and a wipeout slider in Omaha last season which lead to an excellent season. Likely would have made the pre-GMDM era Royals and should see time in KC if an injury occurs. The former Husker starter isn’t afraid to throw as many as four pitches with a FB, slider, curve and change up. Destination: Omaha

20. Zane Evans (18) – A big framed catcher who can drive the ball to all fields. Has a big arm but just average receiving skills at this point, will need to continue to hit while refining his work behind the plate if he wants to challenge Cam Gallagher as the Royals top catching prospect. Likely Destination: Lexington

21. Spencer Patton (NR) – A college starter Patton has followed a similar path to that of Greg Holland starting a few games in the minors prior to making the switch to bullpen full time late last season. The switch has proven to work for him as his offense has ticked up to the mid 90′s and pairing an outstanding slider to make him a true weapon in his new role. A strong finish last season 11 G, 17 IP, 0.53 ERA with 26 K against just 8 hits and 4 walks has carried itself over to the Mexican league this offseason and spring training. Likely Destination: Omaha

Marten Gasparini

22. Marten Gasparini (NR) – I didn’t get a chance to see him play but I have quite a bit of confidence in the Royals foreign scouts and his appearance, age and intelligence all stand out without him playing. Just 16 he speaks English, Spanish and Italian. Likely Destination: Complex

23. Justin Trapp (NR) – Trapp has decent speed, average bat speed, strength and a decent approach. He still needs to do work in the field and around second base but I still like the player with his confidence and set of tools to step forward at some point and make a push for the big leagues. Likely Destination: NW Arkansas

Sam Selman24. Sam Selman (17) – I didn’t like what I saw in Arizona as his fastball was just 86-90 but it did appear he was just trying to stay within himself instead of letting it go. While the fastball wasn’t great the slider looked good at around 78 generating some swings and miss. This season will be a big one to decide if he’s a starter or bullpen pitcher. Likely Destination: NW Arkansas

25. Aaron Brooks (NR) – Big bodied starting pitcher currently works his fastball in the low 90′s preferring to lean on his two seam version of the pitch that is typically in the high 80′s. From the fastball Brooks leans on his low 80′s slider and a change up that needs some work. Longterm Brooks is probably a reliever with his four seam getting a tick up in velo in a short burst of innings. For now Brooks will see if he can build on his strong AA performance last year. Likely Destination: NW Arkansas…