Even though the boys in Blue are heating up, I still am anxiously awaiting some more help from the minor league system. I don’t plan on Vin Mazzaro and Luis Mendoza winning a division. So, let’s look at the farm and see what we’ve got. I’ve listed my top 15 prospects. UPDATE: Myers and Odorizzi just promoted!! Get it on.
1.Wil Myers – OF, AA (Bats: R Throws: R)
6’3” 205 lbs; 22 in December
Current Line: .343/.414/.731
Just an absolutely stupid slash line. He has 13 HR’s in 35 games. Hitting for average, hitting for power, and he is walking at a decent rate. Just a pure hitter. Last year, his numbers flattened out a bit after the always challenging jump from High A to AA, but he was the best prospect in the Mexican Winter Leagues and his success there has carried over. He is a legit top 10 prospect in baseball right now. He projects as a big league RF, and because Dayton is gay for Franceour in RF – they are now trying him at different positions. He has played some CF and some 3B. People are freaking out that they are trying him at different positions to increase his trade value, but I don’t think our FO is that dumb. I could be wrong about that, but he should be absolutely untradeable. Unless you got King Felix or something ridiculous, but that ain’t happening – so don’t trade him Dayton. If you want to try him at other positions in the minors, that is fine with me. Myers is a great athlete and we’ll find a position for his bat. If you remember in the off-season, KC’s resident fat sports talk hack, Soren Petro, called on Dayton Moore to trade Wil Myers for Jair Jurrjens. Yes, Wil Myers the top 10 prospect in baseball for Jair Jurrjens, who was sent down to the minors this year after his brutal first 4 starts in Atlanta. More proof of how lazy Petro has gotten on his baseball knowledge. Just talk about the NBA, Soren. Anyway, Myers should be in Omaha in a week or two and hopefully gets a cup of coffee in September and can break camp in 2013. Unless we trade Frenchy I don’t see it happening, so probably starts 2013 in Omaha and then comes up as soon as there is an opening – unless he just forces Dayton’s hand. Can’t wait to see him move up.
2.Jake Odorizzi – RHP, AA
6’2” 185 lbs; 22 in March
Current Line: 4-2 3.32 ERA; 38 IP 10BB/47K
Odorizzi, my favorite Royals prospect, came over in the Greinke trade and the reason I like him so much is because he reminds of Greinke. Not because he is a horrible teammate, socially awkward, or just downright troubled in the head. No, it’s because he has great control, great stuff, and the fact that he is a natural pitcher. He has a four-seamer that sits around 92-94 with late life and a two-seamer as well. Has a plus curveball rating and also works in a changeup. He has excellent control and “pitchability”. He has had excellent K rates and very good BB rates all through his minor league career. He was a first round draft pick out of HS and the #1 player in the Brewers system when he came over in the trade. Many will have Mike Montgomery ranked higher due to his ceiling, but Odorizzi is my #2 behind Myers. I like the fact that we actually have a pitching prospect that throws freaking strikes! He should be in Omaha in a week or two with a chance to break camp in 2013. Jake being in our rotation is absolutely pivotal to our 3-5 year window coming up after this season.
3.Mike Montgomery – LHP, AAA
6’4” 200 lbs; 23 in July
Current Line: 2-0 4.37 ERA; 45.1 IP 21BB/32K
The most frustrating prospect the Royals have had in some time. Montgomery shot up prospect ranking and has been a top 5 LHP in the minors for the past 2-3 years. He has the build, he has the stuff, he just has no effing command. His talent is baffling sometimes, but his inability to harness it is even more inexplicable. He was excellent in the Pan Am games in late 2010. Then, he pitched in the futures game before the 2011 season and was the best pitcher in the game – he made Wil Myers look silly. Then he laid an egg last year: 5-11 5.32 ERA 69 BB in 150 IP. Brutal. His ERA is down a bit but walk rate still garbage – still 4BB/9IP. The kid doesn’t turn 23 until July, so it’s way too soon to freak out (don’t tell Petro that). At some point, the Royals might just consider promoting him and letting him learn at the big league level. He has the stuff to get MLB hitters out. A low to mid 90’s fastball that scouts love due to movement and deception. He also has a plus changeup and an ok curveball, but until he throws strikes consistently he’ll probably continue to ride greyhound buses to games instead of private planes. I hate promoting players when they don’t deserve it, but I’d like to see what we have with this guy. Maybe Eiland can help him, I don’t know. This guy wears me out and I’m tired about writing about him.
4.Bubba Starling – OF, Rookie Ball (Bats: R Throws: R)
6’4” 180 lbs; 20 in August
Current Line: N/A
Bubba has yet to take a professional swing yet, but he should be shipping out to a short season league in June. He is currently in AZ at extended spring training. Everyone knows about the 5th overall pick from 2011 draft out of Gardner, KS. He turned down scholarship to play QB at Nebraska to play for that pederast, Bo Pelini. Good choice son. This kid is about as raw as they come. A tremendous freaking athlete with gaping holes in his swing. Very much a work in progress who has the ceiling of a Josh Hamilton type and the floor of a Chris Lubanski type (former #5 overall pick of Royals who never got a ML at bat). Pure boom or bust here. He will have to listen, learn, and work his ass off. If he does those things, look out – because he is about as gifted as they come. He projects as a 5 tool CF, with plus speed & arm right now, with the ability to have plus glove, hit for average, and hit for power.
5.Cheslor Cuthbert – 3B, High A (Bats: R Throws: R)
6’1” 190 lbs; 20 in November
Current Line: .226/.307/.290
Cheslor was an international signing for the Royals when they nabbed him as a 16 year old out of Nicaragua. He had a terrific start last year in Low A before cooling off a bit for a final line of .267/.345/.397. The Midwest League (where the Royals Low A team is located) is not a hitters league so those numbers are better than they look. Even better when you consider that he was 18 last year. He is very raw physically, he gets some Adrian Beltre comps. He has a pretty high walk rate for such a young batter. His tremendous bat speed has scouts drooling and is part of the reason the Royals shelled out $1.35M for him (a record for Nicaragua at the time). Off to a very slow start in High A this year, but he is still a legit prospect who could be a long term piece or a potential trade chip for Dayton as he looks for a starter. Need to see the power come along this year to keep him higher up in the rankings.
6.Jason Adam – RHP, High A
6’4” 219 lbs; 21 in July
Current Line: 1-5 2.80 ERA; 45 IP 14BB/32K
Another of Dayton’s overslot draft picks from the past 4-5 years – he was drafted in the 5th round of 2010 draft. Jason went to BVNW in Kansas City and was committed to the University of Missouri, before signing with the Royals in what appeared to be a pre-agreed upon deal. Loved the pick at the time and the big righty didn’t disappoint in his first pro-season. He had a 4.23 ERA in low A with a low walk rate and pretty decent K rate. He is a good control guy with decent stuff. I like Adam’s potential because of his command, something definitely lacking across our system. He has the standard fastball, curveball, changeup repertoire. Can run the FB up to mid 90’s and controls all three pitches. I might have him rated higher than some other folks – but I think he is a very intriguing piece in our system. Could be a potential guy to package in a deal for ML starter as well.
7.John Lamb – LHP, DL (AA)
6’4” 200 lbs; 22 in July
Current Line: N/A
Lamb was a highly touted prospect before undergoing Tommy John surgery last June. Baseball America had him as the #18 prospect in 2011. He is still young and already has 70 innings of AA ball under his belt, so all is not lost. He is supposed to return to action this summer and it will be interesting to see how his stuff plays after the surgery. He was once viewed as a very safe bet to make our rotation. Good control guy with a plus changeup. He didn’t project as a #1, but seemed to be a real safe bet as a #3/#4 guy who was dependable. That now has become an unknown and we will know much more after this season. I’m excited to see him return, but still disappointed with the thought about where he would be today if he hadn’t been hurt – it would probably be in our MLB rotation.
8.Jorge Bonifacio – OF, Low A (Bats: R Throws: R)
6’1” 192 lbs; 19 in June
Current Line: .326/.406/.445
This guy has really elevated this year and I’m very excited about him. He is only 18 years old but having a great slash line to start out 2012. Last year in the Appalachian League he was .284/.333/.492. He shows nice pop for a young raw player and also can take a walk. He was signed at 16 years old out of the Dominican and seems to really be turning heads this year. Long road ahead of him, but he is moving up my list and fast. Projects as a corner OF with good speed.
9.Yordana Ventura – RHP, High A
5’11” 140 lbs – 21 in June
Current Line: 1-3 3.24 ERA; 33.1 IP 12BB/42K
International signing out of Dominican Republic and signed as a 16 year old. Tiny frame and absolutely live arm. Leo Nunez comp applies here. This kid can bring it and has great K rates all through his career. His body will cause injury/durability concerns and he may project to the bullpen down the road, but he has dynamite stuff and actually shows decent control. He runs his fastball in the mid 90’s and can dial up to 99, so you may be looking at a future closer here. I like arms like this in our system – look at our current bullpen and how important power arms are at the ML level.
10.Chris Dwyer – LHP, AA
6’4” 210 lbs; 24 in April
Current Line: 3-4 5.30 ERA; 37.1 IP 21BB/33K
Here is a prospect with pretty good stuff but struggles with command, sound familiar??? Dwyer was an overslot guy from 2009 Draft. Had a terrific 2010 in High A, and a subpar 2011 in AA. He is repeating AA this year and really needs to get going. He is older for a prospect in AA, but still has potential. Still way too inconsistent and another subpar year away from being off all top 10 lists for Royals prospects. He has a tremendous curveball, some rate it the best in our system. The problem is he has Sanchez like control. I keep him around for his stuff, but have very little hope in him being a rotation piece for us. Probably a bullpen guy.
11.Brett Eibner – OF, High A (Bats: R Throws: R)
6’3” 205 lbs; 24 in December
Current Line: .210/.308/.457
Very intriguing prospect here taken in the 2nd round of the 2010 draft. He was first round talent in 2010 draft, but he actually was first round talent as a pitcher and as a hitter. Different teams had him ranked at different spots. He was a pitcher and hitter and Arkansas University, so he is most likely a slimy piece of trash. Having said that, he has some serious power. Very raw hitting prospect, but plus power. 42 HR’s in 158 college games. In his first full season he had an excellent walk rate, a horrible K rate, and pretty good power. He has battled injuries a bit as well. He is like a right handed Adam Dunn – a three outcome hitter – BB, K, HR. Thanks to his pitching background he also has a cannon in the OF. He is not very young for High A, but has some potential. Probably a long shot, but pure power from the right side is tough to find – he’ll get every chance to make it.
12.Christian Colon – SS/2B, AA (Bats: R Throws: R)
6’1” 180 lbs; 23 in May
Current Line: .317/.364/.453
Well this guy came into the season with a lot to prove. Taken #4 overall in the talent-poor 2010 draft, he was viewed as an advanced bat and clubhouse leader who could move through the system fast. He was a low ceiling, low floor guy who normally wouldn’t go #4, but he was a top 15 guy at least. At the time of the draft, there was no Alcedes Escobar – so SS was a definite need. However, most scouts believed he would not be a big league SS (I agree) and that his home was 2B and his ceiling was a Placido Polanco type. Which is why some did not like this pick. Not a sexy ceiling, but Polanco has been a nice piece to some very good teams and I’d take that production out of Colon. He OPS’d .705 and .668 in his first two seasons in High A and AA. Not good for an “advanced bat”. He got off to a horrible start this year and I was ready to write him off, but he has heated up as of late and has a respectable line in AA at this point. It needs to continue as he should be doing very well in his 2nd season in AA. I’d like his OBP to be north of .380 in AA as you can expect regression at each level. He may be a 2B of the future for us, but I’m not expecting it. I’m still in Gio’s corner.
13.Daniel Mateo – SS, Low A (Bats: S Throws: R)
6’1” 180 lbs; 21 in August
Current Line: .301/.378/.432
Yet another international signing that is making our Latin American scouts look good. With Sal Perez, Cuthbert, Bonifacio, Ventura and Mateo – we have had some serious firepower coming from international signings. Last year in the Pioneer League he slashed .348/.389/.478. He is off to strong start in the pitcher friendly Midwest League. Might shift to 2B down the road, but a nice middle infield prospect to keep an eye on.
14. Elier Hernandez Extended Spring Training
6’4” 200 lbs; Turns 18 in November
Current Line: N/A
Signed for a Royals record $3.05M last year in International draft. Tremendously athletic OF prospect. 17 years old and raw, but a name to remember (I hope)
15. Brian Fletcher – OF, High A (Bats: R Throws: R)
6’1” 190 lbs; 24 in October
Current Line: .311/.377/.430
An 18th round pick out of Auburn in 2010 draft, he is not a young buck at 23 in High A. However, the numbers are encouraging. Had a great slash last year in Low A .328/.386/.560 and showed excellent power. Not highly touted at all coming into this year, but a name to keep on your radar.
Exit Question: Who is too high, too low?