Top 27 Prospects: Kansas City Royals

Below is an analysis of the prospects in the farm system of the Kansas City Royals. Scouting reports are compiled with information provided by industry sources as well as from our own (both Eric Longenhagen’s and Kiley McDaniel’s) observations. For more information on the 20-80 scouting scale by which all of our prospect content is governed you can click here. For further explanation of the merits and drawbacks of Future Value, read this.

All of the numbered prospects here also appear on The Board, a new feature at the site that offers sortable scouting information for every organization. That can be found here.

Royals Top Prospects
Rk Name Age Highest Level Position ETA FV
1 Seuly Matias 20.6 A+ RF 2022 45+
2 Brady Singer 22.7 A+ RHP 2020 45+
3 Daniel Lynch 22.4 A+ LHP 2021 45+
4 MJ Melendez 20.4 A+ C 2022 45
5 Nick Pratto 20.5 A+ 1B 2022 45
6 Khalil Lee 20.8 AA RF 2020 45
7 Nicky Lopez 24.1 AAA SS 2019 45
8 Jackson Kowar 22.5 A+ RHP 2021 45
9 Kris Bubic 21.7 A LHP 2021 40+
10 Kyle Isbel 22.1 A+ RF 2021 40+
11 Richard Lovelady 23.8 MLB LHP 2019 40+
12 Meibrys Viloria 22.2 MLB C 2019 40
13 Daniel Tillo 22.8 A+ LHP 2021 40
14 Scott Blewett 23.0 AAA RHP 2020 40
15 Yefri Del Rosario 19.6 A RHP 2021 40
16 Kelvin Gutierrez 24.6 AAA 3B 2019 40
17 Emmanuel Rivera 22.8 AA 3B 2021 40
18 Foster Griffin 23.7 AAA LHP 2019 40
19 Gerson Garabito 23.7 AA RHP 2020 40
20 Carlos Hernandez 22.1 A RHP 2022 40
21 Yohanse Morel 18.6 R RHP 2024 35+
22 Austin Cox 22.0 A LHP 2020 35+
23 Brewer Hicklen 23.2 A+ CF 2021 35+
24 Omar Florentino 17.5 R SS 2024 35+
25 D.J. Burt 23.5 AA 2B 2020 35+
26 Josh Staumont 25.3 AAA RHP 2019 35+
27 Janser Lara 22.7 A RHP 2021 35+
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45+ FV Prospects

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2015 from Dominican Republic (KCR)
Age 20.6 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/40 70/70 40/60 50/40 40/45 70/70

With few exceptions (Joey Gallo is one) even the most whiff-prone big leaguers struck out less than Matias (34% career K%) when they were in the minors. But Matias’ physicality and bat speed are so supreme, the gap between his talent and that of most players so obvious, that there’s a chance he can be one of those exceptions, even if it’s in a streaky, inconsistent manner like Domingo Santana or Carlos Gomez. As a teen, Seuly was already posting exit velocities on par with burly, Quad-A type hitters. We hope he learns to take a walk, but “Randal Grichuk with more raw power” is a good player, so we’re cautiously optimistic that the Royals at least have a contributing big leaguer here, and a potential superstar if there’s contact/approach refinement, which is admittedly easier said than done.

Drafted: 1st Round, 2018 from Florida (KCR)
Age 22.7 Height 6′ 5″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
50/55 45/50 45/50 50/60 91-94 / 95

Well-regarded in high school in part because of his very loose, athletic, albeit somewhat unusual delivery, the Blue Jays drafted Singer in the 2015 second round. Negotiations broke down and Singer went to Florida. After an uneven but promising freshman year in the bullpen, Singer’s command improved and he carved up SEC lineups for the next two years. There’s plenty to pick apart here if you want to: Singer’s stuff still isn’t loud, he doesn’t get many whiffs from pro level hitters, his delivery turns off some scouts, and his breaking ball often lacks bite.

Even scouts who like Singer think he has limited upside, but the results he got in the SEC and his long track record of durability are compelling. He has great feel for pitching and, we think, future plus command. Singer sneers and goes right at hitters, he’s really competitive, and is likely to move up the pro ladder quickly. On talent, he’s a No. 4 or No. 4/5 type of starter, but the potential to eat tons of innings, and therefore be more valuable than that, seems higher than usual here, too.

Drafted: 1st Round, 2018 from Virginia (KCR)
Age 22.4 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr L / L FV 45+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Cutter Command Sits/Tops
55/55 50/55 50/50 45/50 45/50 45/55 91-95 / 97

On the Cape and in the first half of his junior spring, Lynch looked like a solid third round prospect, a pitchability lefty sitting 88-92 mph with mostly average stuff, and above-average feel and command. In the month or so leading up to the draft, Lynch’s velo ticked up, and down the stretch he sat 92-94, touching 95 mph deep into starts, with an assortment of offspeed pitches that all flashed above-average. The track record of Virginia arms is concerning, but Lynch seemed less beholden to the issues traditionally associated with their prospects, with some scouts considering him endearingly rebellious.

He throws a cutter, slider, curveball, and changeup that all flash above-average, with the slider occasionally flashing plus. He was 93-95 this spring, so the velo uptick has held for nearly a year now. He’s a potential No. 4 if this continues, maybe more if it’s just the start of something.

45 FV Prospects

Drafted: 2nd Round, 2017 from Westminster Christian HS (FL) (KCR)
Age 20.4 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr L / L FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/40 55/60 30/45 45/40 45/55 60/60

Opinions regarding Melendez’s defense have been surprisingly mixed considering he was an adolescent catching prodigy. Team framing metrics have him graded as an average receiver, and he’s added mass since high school, when he was lean and lithe, so he is no longer quite as twitchy, but he’s not really a risk to move off the position. Instead, where it once seemed like Melendez might turn into an elite defender, it now appears he’ll merely be good.

That mass has added power, though, the kind of power that would certainly profile everyday were Melendez able to get to it in games. He strikes out a lot, enough that teams are concerned about it. He was on early drafts of our Top 100 but was one of the prospects we were most often told to move down when we sourced teams for feedback. He could be an everyday catcher with power, but there’s bust risk because of the contact issues, to say nothing of the grisly recent history of teenage catching prospects going bust.

Drafted: 1st Round, 2017 from Huntington Beach HS (CA) (KCR)
Age 20.5 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr L / L FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/55 55/55 30/50 40/40 50/60 60/60

Pratto went from two-way duty as a high school senior, to Low-A teenager in his first full pro season, and he performed admirably. Pratto hit .280/.343/.443 with 14 homers at Lexington, largely thanks to a hot August. He also stole a surprising 22 bases, but based on how thick and muscular he looked during 2019 spring training, that seems unlikely to continue.

Some of the pre-draft notions that Pratto had elite plate discipline (part of why he generated some irresponsible Joey Votto comps at the time) seem false now that we have a larger sample of data to look at. It makes it more important that Pratto get to all his power so he can profile at first, something made even more imperative by his mediocre, early-career contact rates. We like his chances of doing that and becoming a fine everyday first baseman who adds value on defense.

6. Khalil Lee, RF
Drafted: 3rd Round, 2016 from Flint Hill HS (VA) (KCR)
Age 20.8 Height 5′ 10″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr L / L FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/45 55/60 35/50 55/50 45/50 60/60

Lee’s 2018 Fall League showing was so poor that it forced us to consider a serious re-evaluation, even though we often toss out bad AFL looks because of how fatigued some of the players are. The quality of his at-bats and the senselessly aggressive hacks Lee would take were not traits of physical exhaustion. Ultimately, we left Lee where we had him since he suddenly grew into power during his senior year of high school.

Once a little two-way LHP/CF prospect, he’s now a right fielder with power, who walks and is currently stealing bases. A 40 runner from home to first, Lee runs better than that under way but was too brazen a thief early in his career and made too many outs on the bases. He got better at picking his spots last year. His contact rates are concerning, but they’re offset by the walks and thump enough that we think he projects as a solid-average regular in right field.

Drafted: 5th Round, 2016 from Creighton (KCR)
Age 24.1 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr L / L FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
45/50 40/40 20/30 55/55 50/55 55/55

Lopez is a slick defensive shortstop who walked more than he struck out at Double- and Triple-A last year. Those traits make him very interesting and perhaps someone we aren’t properly enthused about. He’s small and has very little raw power, but Lopez’s feel for contact is so good that he ends up with sneaky, in-game doubles pop. His three-year ZiPS projections have him at nearly two annual WAR, which means he arguably belongs on our Top 100 list. His realistic ceiling is that of an average regular, something that may be harder to accomplish if Adalberto Mondesi‘s presence forces him to second base, where the offensive bar is higher.

Drafted: 1st Round, 2018 from Florida (KCR)
Age 22.5 Height 6′ 5″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
55/55 40/50 55/60 40/50 93-96 / 98

Kowar had a seven-figure asking price coming out of high school, which was just out of reach of what clubs were willing to commit from their spending pools. He was set to head to Clemson until a late coaching change caused him to reconsider his commitment, and the Tigers ultimately lost him to Florida (and Cal Raleigh to Florida State). Kowar’s velocity ticked up before he even played in an official game for the Gators, sitting 93-95 and hitting 97 mph in preseason scrimmages before his freshman year. He kept that velocity throughout his college career and developed a plus changeup.

The two issues for Kowar are his very short stride, which causes his velocity to play down, and his breaking ball, which is not great. It’s still most often a below average pitch, with curveball velocity and three-quarters slider shape. Cogent pitch design may help the pitch, or indicate the Royals should just scrap it altogether and try something like a cutter or slider. These issues are almost identical to Luke Weaver’s coming out of Florida State; he’s appeared to have solved those at times, though not at others.

40+ FV Prospects

9. Kris Bubic, LHP
Drafted: 1st Round, 2018 from Stanford (KCR)
Age 21.7 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 220 Bat / Thr L / L FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
50/50 45/50 55/60 40/50 89-92 / 94

A dominant junior year would have had Bubic in the late first round mix, but his control backed up, especially late in the year. Though he only throws 87-91, his fastball plays well in the zone as his delivery (which is similar to Clayton Kershaw‘s) creates tough angle on the pitch. Bubic’s best pitch is his changeup and it’s most effective when he’s gotten ahead of hitters, which he often did not last year. When he’s throwing strikes, Bubic looks like a solid No. 4 or 5 big league starter. He began the year at Low-A Lexington, and seems a likely mid-year promotion candidate if he pitches well there.

10. Kyle Isbel, RF
Drafted: 2nd Round, 2018 from UNLV (KCR)
Age 22.1 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr L / R FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/50 50/50 30/50 50/50 45/55 50/50

Isbel hit .319 and .290 as a freshman and sophomore, respectively, and then grew into a new grade of power in his junior year while maintaining his contact skills and taking advantage of pitchers’ newfound hesitance to attack him in the zone. None of his tools are especially loud, but Isbel does several things fairly well and he has a slight chance to play a passable big league center field. If he moves to a corner, he might need a plus bat to profile, but that seems possible given how good his feel to hit was as an amateur. He could be a well-rounded everyday outfielder even without a plus tool.

Drafted: 10th Round, 2016 from Kennesaw State (KCR)
Age 23.8 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr L / L FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
60/60 55/60 40/40 50/55 91-95 / 96

Surface-level evaluations of Lovelady’s stuff show two above-average pitches in a mid-90s fastball and long-arcing slider, but those grow into true plus offerings once you factor in some of his mechanical traits. His lower arm slot, a release point approaching Josh Hader’s unique spot, creates very odd angle on his stuff. It’s especially tough on lefties, who have a .224 OBP against Lovelady each of the last two years. Lovelady also has better command, especially breaking ball command, than most relievers. He’ll be able to get swings and misses from righties by way of back foot sliders, and he can beat them in the zone with his heater.

We put 40 FVs on two-pitch, upper-level relievers like this, but the seemingly significant impact of Lovelady’s delivery, combined with what looks like will be multi-inning usage, gives him a chance to be one of the more valuable relievers in baseball.

40 FV Prospects

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2013 from Colombia (KCR)
Age 22.2 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr L / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/45 50/50 30/45 20/20 40/45 70/70

The Salvador Perez injury makes it much more likely that we get an extended look at Viloria with the big club this year after he was given a 10-game sip last September. There’s some power here, but Viloria has to sell out to get to it in games because his swing’s not naturally geared for lift. Instead, he leans into a contact-oriented approach, and generates his power through strength in his hands.

On defense, Viloria has one hell of an arm, but the rest of his catching traits are only okay. He falls a little short of what it would take to consider him a regular due to issues on both sides of the ball, but he’s still only 22 and we think he’s at least a high-probability backup.

13. Daniel Tillo, LHP
Drafted: 3rd Round, 2017 from Iowa Western JC (KCR)
Age 22.8 Height 6′ 5″ Weight 215 Bat / Thr L / L FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
55/55 50/55 40/50 40/50 92-95 / 97

Tillo is a recent velo spike guy who has been up to 97 this spring, but he was often into the mid-90s last summer. Both of his secondaries are capable of missing bats, but he has to locate his slider for that pitch to be effective, and his general feel for the craft is lacking, so that may never happen consistently. Despite his long arm action, Tillo also has a diving changeup that hitters will swing over the top of, or make awkward contact with. It’s No. 4 starter stuff, but we think Tillo’s control means he’ll likely move to the bullpen eventually.

14. Scott Blewett, RHP
Drafted: 2nd Round, 2014 from Baker HS (NY) (KCR)
Age 23.0 Height 6′ 6″ Weight 210 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
55/60 50/55 40/45 45/55 91-94 / 96

Huge extension adds about 2 mph of perceived velocity to Blewett’s fastball, and he leans on it heavily. Blewett was a cold weather prep arm who needed a lot of grooming and though none of his pitches are plus, he’s developed enough to be considered a high-probability backend rotation piece. He’s going to throw a lot of strikes and locate his breaking ball in spots that hitters can’t do much with. His big, sturdy frame might eat a ton of innings while Kansas City rebuilds.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2016 from Dominican Republic (ATL)
Age 19.6 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
50/55 50/55 40/50 35/50 91-94 / 96

One of the more talented prospects cut loose by the Braves during their international scandal, Del Rosario’s fastball creeps into the mid-90s, and he has a good curveball and a sturdy build that is admittedly less projectable than is typical for a 19-year-old. His strike-throwing took a step forward in 2018, but his profile includes fairly significant relief risk. He spent all of 2018 at Low-A Lexington but has dealt with a biceps issue this spring, and isn’t currently at an affiliate. He’s in that No. 4 or 5 starter/potential late-inning reliever area as far as stuff goes, and is probably several years away from the majors.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2012 from Dominican Republic (WAS)
Age 24.6 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
45/55 50/50 35/40 40/40 50/55 60/60

The Royals lauded Gutierrez’s glove after acquiring him, going so far as to say that they think he could handle shortstop if they needed him to. At least in our longest stretch of in-person evaluation of Gutierrez, he has looked just okay at third base, and saw time at first.

The bat-to-ball skills are real. He’s a career .286 hitter in the minors and has reached base at a .346 clip. A lack of game power probably means Gutierrez fits better in a multi-positional reserve role than as a regular at third or first base. He appears athletic enough to handle the corner outfield spots, and it makes sense to give him time there in the near future.

Drafted: 19th Round, 2015 from Universidad Interamericana HS (PR) (KCR)
Age 22.8 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/50 50/50 30/45 45/45 45/50 55/55

We’re proponents of Rivera’s bat; his swing is compact, he has barrel control, and he is very difficult to beat on the inner half. He’s not a very good defensive infielder, however, and doesn’t have the power to profile at places further down the defensive spectrum. It’s natural to wonder if he can catch, and Rivera has a catcherly build, but we just don’t know if he can, and his arm strength isn’t a obvious fit for the position. He may end up playing a corner bench role, basically the one we have projected for Gutierrez one spot ahead of him in this system, but we’d have to see him play other positions before feeling confident in that projection. He only really does one thing, but it’s the thing we think is most important.

18. Foster Griffin, LHP
Drafted: 1st Round, 2014 from First Academy HS (FL) (KCR)
Age 23.7 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr R / L FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
40/40 55/55 50/55 50/55 87-91 / 93

There have been stretches during Griffin’s pro career when either his command or velocity have slipped a tad, and he’s been knocked around during those stretches. When both are fine, he’s a good pitchability lefty who feeds hitters a steady diet of secondary pitches. Often, this type of hurler becomes Tommy Milone, but Griffin’s curveball is a little better than that (though, Milone has a good cutter), so we like his chances of playing a No. 5 starter role soon.

19. Gerson Garabito, RHP
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2012 from Dominican Republic (KCR)
Age 23.7 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
45/45 55/60 45/50 45/50 90-93 / 94

He doesn’t throw all that hard, but Garabito has an impact breaking ball and, other than in 2018, a history of throwing lots of strikes. Other than his plunging 12-6 curveball, Garabito’s stuff is very average and his fastball may be vulnerable once hitters have seen it a few times. It might make him more viable in a multi-inning relief role where he can throw the curveball a ton and use the fastball as a change of pace pitch.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2016 from Venezuela (KCR)
Age 22.1 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
60/60 45/45 50/55 40/45 93-95 / 97

Hernandez is a high-probability fifth starter/middle reliever depending on how his breaking ball develops. He throws hard, he has a good change up, and he’s an inelegant, but relatively efficient, strike thrower. We tend to think he’ll just end up blowing heat past people in relief, but Hernandez is still only 22 and it makes sense to let him work on his breaking stuff on a starter’s pitch count in the hope that something improves.

35+ FV Prospects

21. Yohanse Morel, RHP
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Dominican Republic (WAS)
Age 18.6 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 170 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+

Morel had just arrived in the U.S. last year when the Nationals sent him to Kansas City as part of the Kelvin Herrera trade. At age 17, Morel performed against older competition while being asked to adjust to a new country and parent organization at the same time. His stuff was still strong in the fall, where he was 90-94 with a mid-80s, split-action changeup that was often plus. He’s not physically projectable, but he’s athletic and has some traits typical of sinker/changeup-centric rotation pieces.

22. Austin Cox, LHP
Drafted: 5th Round, 2018 from Mercer (KCR)
Age 22.0 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr L / L FV 35+

Cox is a small school lefty with low-90s heat (he’ll touch 94 but sit 88-91 later in starts) and a breaking ball with bat-missing vertical action. His high slot might make it hard for Cox to command his stuff to all quadrants of the strike zone, and his lack of present changeup is concerning, but if he can back foot his breaking ball, he’ll have a way to deal with righties. He needs a third pitch, change or not, but should otherwise end up as a good lefty reliever.

Drafted: 7th Round, 2017 from UAB (KCR)
Age 23.2 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 208 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+

Hicklen went to UAB planning to play both football and baseball, but the school’s football program was shut down when he got to campus, and he was drafted and signed by Kansas City before it was reborn. He practiced with the team, but never suited up for the gridiron.

2018 was his first year of full-time baseball and he hit .307/.378/.552 with 17 homers and 29 steals, albeit as a 22-year-old at Low-A. His strength/raw power and straight-line speed are what you’d probably expect from a college wide receiver, but Hicklen’s compact, in-game swing prioritizes contact. He’s predictably raw and somewhat stiff rather than graceful and coordinated but he has physical ability, he plays really hard, and there’s a chance some of the skill-based parts of the game come to him in his mid-20s.

24. Omar Florentino, SS
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2018 from Dominican Republic (KCR)
Age 17.5 Height 5′ 9″ Weight 135 Bat / Thr S / R FV 35+

Signed for $750,000, Florentino is a little spark plug with elite short-area quickness and transfer. His defensive range will play on the middle infield, though his arm might fit better at second. While Florentino has viable swings from both sides of the plate, his raw power projection is limited by his size.

25. D.J. Burt, 2B
Drafted: 4th Round, 2014 from Fuquay-Varina HS (NC) (KCR)
Age 23.5 Height 5′ 9″ Weight 160 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+

Burt began playing all over the field in 2018 and is intriguing as a speedy utility guy who takes good at-bats. He has almost no playable power, so there’s a chance his offensive skills don’t hold water at the upper levels (pitchers may just attack him because of the lack of power, deadening the impact of his patience), and he’s just an org guy, but he’s a sleeper utility man who may get a shot sometime during this Royals rebuild.

26. Josh Staumont, RHP
Drafted: 2nd Round, 2015 from Azusa Pacific (KCR)
Age 25.3 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+

Staumont would sit 99-99 and touch 101 or 102 in college and also has a dastardly curveball, but he’s a 6 or 7 walks per nine guy, and hasn’t been able to make headway in the control/command realm as a pro. He’s 25 now, and will probably get some exposure to the big leagues just to see what happens, but he would seem to be on the 40-man fringe.

27. Janser Lara, RHP
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2015 from Dominican Republic (KCR)
Age 22.7 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 170 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+

Lara throws really hard and his breaking ball has plus raw spin, though visual evaluations of that pitch are not as strong as the spin rates suggest. He may benefit from a release or grip adjustment because his fastball movement is wildly inconsistent. So, too, is his control, and Lara will likely end up in a bullpen. It’ll take plenty of polish to make something of him, but there’s late-inning stuff here.

Other Prospects of Note

Grouped by type and listed in order of preference within each category.

Young Guys Who Might Pop
Rylan Kaufman, LHP
Wilmin Candelario, SS
Jeison Guzman, SS
Maikel Garcia, SS
Raymond Lopez, CF
Anderson Paulino, RHP
Rubendy Jaquez, 3B

Kaufman was a $722,000 JuCo 12th rounder who can really spin a curveball (2750 rpm average in pro ball). He’s still just 19, has a lanky frame, and already bumps 92, 93 on occasion. Candelario is a balletic defensive shortstop who adds little flourishes to just about everything he does. The entire offensive package is below-average right now, but we’ll see what happens with the frame. Speaking of waiting on the frame, Guzman is now 20 and has finally started to fill out in a positive way. He’s going to strike out a lot, but has a chance to rise into the main portion of the list this year. Garcia is a smooth, rangy defender and has a good frame but he’s very weak with the bat right now. Lopez looked intriguing (above average runner, gap pop, feel for center field) before he was seriously injured in 2017, and then he had a bad 2018. He’s a bounce back candidate. Paulino is a strong-bodied 20-year-old who sits 93-97. His upper-80s slider has vertical break, but it’s blunt and lacks that bat-missing bite. Realistically, he’s a developmental bullpen piece, but there are some late-inning components in place if that slider gets tighter. Jaquez is 20 and has above-average bat speed.

Potential Role-Playing Arms
Jonathan Bowlan, RHP
Zach Haake, RHP
Arnaldo Hernandez, RHP
Andres Machado, RHP

Bowlan’s stuff has been all over the place, sometimes even during the same start. He was 89-95 during his first outing and could be a sinker/slider reliever, but the Royals have done fairly well with sinkerballers lately. Haake will show plus stuff for an inning or two before his command starts to waivers. He could be a mid-90s, plus slider reliever. Hernandez is 23 and could be a changeup-centric reliever if his fastball ticks up in relief. Machado is a mid-90s/cutter reliever without a pitch that will obviously miss bats.

Bench Types
Michael Gigliotti, OF
Gabriel Cancel, 2B
Bubba Starling, CF
Blake Perkins, CF
Kort Peterson, 1B
Juan Carlos Negret, RF
Cristian Perez, SS

Gigliotti was a plus runner with feel for the zone who was a 40 runner this spring, his first back from an ACL tear. If the speed returns, he’s a likely bench outfielder. Cancel is a career .265 hitter, is at Double-A, and could be an infield utility bat. We still think Bubba Starling, who runs well and plays a fine center field but has never found a good swing foundation, plays in the big leagues. Perkins is now 23 and still lacks physicality, but he can really run and play center. Peterson is a corner guy with some contact skills. Negret has plus power but little feel for contact. Perez is an instinctive defender with some feel to hit.

System Overview

We spent a lot of effort trying to discern what the Royals were trying to do with their 2018 draft bonus pool, which was the biggest in baseball last year, because it was going to have such a profound impact on the rest of the draft. They ended up with all college value picks (and, eventually, Rylan Kaufman), which tasted disappointingly vanilla at the time, but now looks like a clear-headed approach as it yielded five of the org’s top 10 prospects and several other interesting ones, our Bowlan skepticism be damned.

This is a top-to-bottom reset, with maybe four or five players on the big league roster who are realistic parts of the next competitive Royals team, at the same that there aren’t any top 100 prospects currently in the system. The big wave of talent that represents the crest of the rebuilding wave is at Hi-A Wilmington right now, and whomever becomes the second pick in the upcoming draft (be it Adley Rutchsmann or Andrew Vaughn, the two players we think are the most likely to go first or second based on talent) should be advanced enough to join them pretty quickly, so long as the Royals don’t take a high schooler. Whoever the pick, barring a sizable leap from one of the 45 FV players on this list, the new 2019 draftee will immediately be the club’s No. 1 prospect. Perhaps, if enough of that wave actually pans out, they’ll be good again sooner than the overall quality of the farm indicates.

We also have them linked to outfielder Erick Pena, who is No. 4 among our 2019 July 2 prospects at the time of publication. So there’s some more exciting talent coming. But right now, the most important parts of the org are the amateur scouting and player dev staff who might help Kansas City create tradable big leaguers.

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Cave Dameron
4 years ago

Not even 1 player with a 50 FV. This is going to be a very long rebuild for the Royals. Very cool!

4 years ago
Reply to  Cave Dameron

Those grades are subjective. I have a feeling that if some of these players were in the Braves or Rays systems they would be at least 50s.

4 years ago
Reply to  RonnieDobbs

Why? You think the authors here have an actual bias against teams? Any proof of that?

Shirtless George Brett
4 years ago
Reply to  Shauncore

Dan Szymborski makes no secret of the fact he enjoys antagonizing Royals fans and taking shots at the org. Which is, whatever, but also seems kind of petty and dumb for someone who wants to be taken seriously as a writer/analyst.

I dont think there is specific biases but the larger analytics community, not just fangraphs, does seem to give certain teams the benefit of the doubt a lot more than others though. Even when its an objectively questionable/bad move. When the A’s do something strange its often framed as “maybe they know something we dont” and when say KC does something strange its “lol, the Royals are being dumb as always”

Dayton Moore built one of the best farm systems ever seen and went to back to back world series just a handful of years ago. Yet the general feeling around here is that it was all luck and the Royals have no idea what they are doing in this rebuild. And hey, that might turn out to be right and maybe this goes horribly. but you would think that recent history would have earned Moore and the Royals a bit more leeway/credibility.

(heads for higher ground to avoid the tsunami of downvotes coming. lol)

Dan Szymborskimember
4 years ago

I’ve just spent about five months ragging on the Indians for their OF situation and for doing what the Rockies do.

Shirtless George Brett
4 years ago
Reply to  Dan Szymborski

I’ve just spent about five months ragging on the Indians for their OF situation and for doing what the Rockies do.


That doesnt change the fact that you admittedly (proudly even) actively seek to annoy a specific team’s fanbase. Which might be acceptable for @randominternetblogger or a dedicated internet troll but I tend to hold Fangraphs to a higher standard. Largely because they have always been a higher standard. To me, it just undercuts everything you write and lowers the discourse.

But I can only speak for myself. Obviously it works for you.

4 years ago

The specific example of the Royals is weird, because I don’t think anyone really has biases against them–they deserve a good chunk (maybe all) of the criticism they get on these pages.

That said, there are definitely teams that get a pass. The Rays are probably the prime example of this. The Rays have been making strange personnel moves for about two or three years now, and a bunch of us are sitting there, trying to read through the lines and figure out what they are seeing. I think there is some value in trying to figure out why the Rays are doing what they’re doing, but it doesn’t change the fact that many of their moves are bad ones. (And yes, I know they’re 12-4, but that doesn’t owe much to their weird moves).

4 years ago
Reply to  sadtrombone

They also won 90 games last year and possess a farm system that is universally (not just here) regarded as one of the best. I think they are doing something right and the majority of their moves the last few years look good so far

4 years ago
Reply to  smb11488

The Rays have a great development system and have been insanely lucky with the Pham and Archer trades. They do lots of things right, too.

4 years ago
Reply to  Shauncore

I think it is pretty clear when you read the work. Everyone has favorites. Go ahead and dismiss it if you want. I feel confident in my statement that you are free to ignore. This isn’t science – there isn’t going to be any proof of anything. Choose what you believe. It’s what we all do.

Shirtless George Brett
4 years ago
Reply to  Cave Dameron

Its not like these grades are foolproof. the difference between a 45+ guy and a 50 is subjective at best and non existent if you want to be cynical.

The Royals have eight 45-45+ guys and presumably will be adding to the high end (50+ FV) with the second overall pick this year, and likely another high pick in 2020. Plus whatever they get if they decide to deal Merrifield (which they absolutely should do). So they really are not that far off, relatively speaking. They are kind of just going about it in a weird way.

this is by no means an endorsement that this strategy will actually work

4 years ago

They aren’t trading Merrifield. They are under the impression that he’ll be part of the next wave and Moore has stated that he wants the team to always be competitive. Trading your best player, even if it makes slam dunk sense, prevents the latter.

Internally they see their window starting to open in ~2021, which is flawed to me, but it’s what they’ve said.