Kansas City Royals Top 20 2012 PRE-SEASON Prospects in Review

July 8, 2012; Kansas City, MO, USA; USA pitcher Jake Odorizzi delivers a pitch during the first inning of the 2012 All Star Futures Game at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-US PRESSWIRE

Kansas City Royals Top 20 2012 PRE-SEASON Prospects in Review

Continuing with our reviews of the Top 20 pre-season prospect lists, we move to the American League and the Kansas City Royals. Remember, this is a pre-season list. It is not a new list.

This list was originally published January 10th, 2012.

The next team on the list is the Houston Astros, to be followed by the Cleveland Indians and Milwaukee Brewers.

1) Wil Myers, OF, Grade A-: This is what I wrote: I still believe in him, and I expect a big step forward in 2012. Moving up to the PCL, he could explode in the same way that Brett Lawrie did. The results: .313/.392/.649 with 33 homers, 50 walks, 115 strikeouts in 393 at-bats between Double-A and Triple-A. The Ks are notable but otherwise he has been even better than anticipated.

2) Bubba Starling, OF, Grade B+: Tools hound hitting .288/.393/.519 with 15 walks, 34 strikeouts, five steals in 104 at-bats for Burlington in the Appalachian League. Pretty much as expected: power/speed combo, draws some walks, rather raw.

3) Cheslor Cuthbert, 3B, Grade B+. Dismal season: .223/.285/.313 with 31 walks, 60 strikeouts in 364 at-bats for High-A Wilmington. Scouting reports are slumping along with the numbers and he hasn't hit well in about a year now. Still just 19, but stock is legitimately down.

4) Jake Odorizzi, RHP, Grade B+: 12-3, 3.17 with 108/36 K/BB in 108 innings between Double-A and Triple-A, 107 hits. Gives up some hits but throws strikes and hasn't been as gopher-vulnerable this year. I still like him a lot.

5) Michael Montgomery, LHP, Grade B: The Cuthbert of Pitchers: 5.72 ERA with 81/52 K/BB, 15 homers, 136 hits in 116 innings, hasn't improved since demotion to Double-A. Stuff going backwards along with the numbers, and at this point we can't keep looking back at the past for the real Montgomery. This is the real one, right now anyway.

6) Kelvin Herrera, RHP, Grade B-: Very successful major league campaign, 2.92 ERA with 47/11 K/BB in 52 innings, 48 hits. No complaints here.

7) Yordano Ventura, RHP, Grade B-: 3.30 ERA with 98/28 K/BB in 76 innings for Wilmington, 5.68 ERA with 17/10 K/BB in 19 innings for Double-A Northwest Arkansas. Plenty of stuff, still working on command.

8) Chris Dwyer, LHP, Grade B-: 5.58 ERA with 88/54 K/BB in 110 innings between Double-A and Triple-A, 109 hits. Still more thrower than pitcher, like Montgomery he has lost ground with the scouting reports as well as the stats.

9) Christian Colon, SS, Grade B-: .304/.383/.419 with 33 walks, 26 strikeouts, 13 steals in 270 at-bats between Double-A and brief rookie ball rehab assignment. Still has markers of a guy who could break out at some point, low strikeout rate. Defense has regressed, may end up at second.

10) Elier Hernandez, OF, Grade B-: Old comment: Ranking Latin American signees this young who have no professional experience is very difficult, no matter how glowing the scouting report. His ceiling is enormous but we have no idea if tools will translate into skills. Results so far: .226/.270/.316 with seven walks, 35 strikeouts in 133 at-bats in the Pioneer League. Just 17 years old.

11) Brett Eibner, OF, Grade B-: I was cutting him some slack since he was hurt last year, but his contact problems could kill his career: .196/.302/.388 with 11 homers, 48 walks, 132 strikeouts in 327 at-bats in High-A. Might end up back on the mound.

12) Bryan Brickhouse, RHP, Grade B-/Borderline C+: Hit hard in the Low-A Midwest League so far, 5.66 ERA with 33/17 K/BB in 35 innings. However, 2.48 GO/AO is interesting and he has a live arm.

13) Kyle Smith, RHP, Grade B-/Borderline C+: 3.74 ERA with 42/12 K/BB in 34 innings in Midwest League, 33 hits. Efficient so far, interesting pairing with fellow '11 high school draftee Brickhouse for the future.

14) Jason Adam, RHP, Grade C+: Home park is helping him a lot, cuts a run and a half off his ERA. Overall, 3-11, 3.80 with 98/29 K/BB in 123 innings for Wilmington, 120 hits. Not bad, not great. Still has a chance to breakthrough.

15) John Lamb, LHP, Grade C+: Tommy John rehab.

16) Jorge Bonifacio, OF, Grade C+: Very solid season at age 18/19 in the Midwest League: .287/.342/.446 with 10 homers, 28 walks, 79 strikeouts in 383 at-bats. Has lost the strike zone recently, been in a slump since early July.

17) Cam Gallagher, C, Grade C+: .281/.330/.427 with seven walks, 12 strikeouts in 89 at-bats in the Appy League. Small sample, but not bad.

18) Clint Robinson, 1B, Grade C+: .292/.393/.462 with 12 homers, 59 walks, 52 strikeouts in 370 at-bats in Omaha. Went 0-for-4 in the majors. Clearly will not get a chance to play in Kansas City.

19) Jeremy Jeffress, RHP, Grade C+: 4.97 ERA with 61/25 K/BB in 58 innings for Omaha, 52 hits. No change in profile: great arm, still has command issues.

20) Tim Melville, RHP, Grade C+: 7.71 ERA with 19/15 K/BB in 23 innings for Northwest Arkansas. On the DL since early May.

21) Brian Fletcher, OF, Grade C+: Very aggressive, hitting .281/.337/.427 with 12 homers, 25 walks, 102 strikeouts in 391 at-bats between High-A and Double-A. Hacktastic approach is problematic. Capable of a big hot streak at some point.

22) Greg Billo, RHP, Grade C+: 4.35 ERA with 56/20 K/BB in 60 innings in High-A. On the DL since early June.

Major league graduations, inexplicable performance collapses, and injuries have reduced system depth from where it was a year or two ago. Remember that big collection of pitching prospects? They got hurt or fell apart, which the big exception of Jake Odorizzi, who wasn't originally drafted by the Royals. Avoid looking at Noel Arguelles and his Lovecraftian pitching line at Northwest Arkansas.

Rule of thumb: for every five good pitching prospects, be happy if you get one actual major league pitcher. Picking up J.C. Sulbaran and Donnie Joseph from the Cincinnati Reds was a nice move. Drafting Kyle Zimmer helps and he'll zoom to the top of the list, ranking near Odorizzi.

Among the hitters, Wil Myers is outstanding and Bubba Starling has been solid in the early going in rookie ball. Cuthbert seems to have been replaced by a Mi-Go.

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