Kansas City Royals Top 20 Prospects for 2013
The list and grades are a blending of present performance and long-term potential. Comments are welcome, but in the end all analysis and responsibility is mine. Full reports on all of players can be found in the 2013 Baseball Prospect Book. We are now taking pre-orders. Order early and order often!
QUICK PRIMER ON GRADE MEANINGS:
Grade A prospects are the elite. They have a reasonable chance of becoming stars or superstars. Almost all Grade A prospects develop into major league regulars, if injuries or other problems don't intervene. Note that is a major "if" in some cases.
Grade B prospects have a good chance to enjoy successful careers. Some will develop into stars, some will not. Most end up spending several years in the majors, at the very least in a marginal role.
Grade C prospects are the most common type. These are guys who have something positive going for them, but who may have a question mark or three, or who are just too far away from the majors to get an accurate feel for. A few Grade C guys, especially at the lower levels, do develop into stars. Some end up as role players or bench guys. Many don't make it at all.
Also note that there is diversity within each category. I'm a tough grader; Grade C+ is actually good praise, and some C+ prospects (especially at lower levels) turn out very well indeed.
Finally, keep in mind that all grades are shorthand. You have to read the full comment in the book for my full opinion about a player, the letter grade only tells you so much. A Grade C prospect in rookie ball could end up being very impressive, while a Grade C prospect in Triple-A is likely just a future role player.
This list was updated January 15, 2013
1) Kyle Zimmer, RHP, Grade B+: Borderline B due to the bone chip surgery. If healthy, a definite B+ due to combination of command, stuff, and early performance.
2) Bubba Starling, OF, Grade B: Outstanding package of tools and showed power/speed combo in Appy League, but scouting reports pointing to suboptimal swing mechanics are bothersome. High risk/high reward guy.
3) Yordano Ventura, RHP, Grade B: Borderline B+: Love the stuff and I'm not concerned about his size. Command wobbles in Double-A make me hesitate to give him the +, but I may very well do so. Grade under further consideration.
4) Kyle Smith, RHP, Grade B: Athleticism, stuff, and command trump his small size for me. Another guy who can be a mid-rotation starter.
5) Adalberto Mondesi, SS, Grade B: I buy into this one. This may seem like an aggressive grade, but the tools are terrific and he was extremely young for the Pioneer League. This is one tools guy I'll take a chance with.
6) Sam Selman, LHP, Grade B-: Borderline B. I want to see him outside the Pioneer League before going higher, but he racked up strikeouts and ground balls while generating better-than-expected scouting reports, given his inconsistent college record.
7) John Lamb, LHP, Grade B-: I'm always careful with Tommy John grades, since the recovery is not as automatic as people think. Retains mid-rotation upside if health allows.
8) Orlando Calixte, SS, Grade B-: Another high risk/reward guy. I rank him ahead of Bonifacio and Cuthbert due to positional scarcity.
9) Cheslor Cuthbert, 3B, Grade B-: Stock is unavoidably down due to a slump that lasted almost a year. Defensive reports are good and he was the youngest regular in the Carolina League, so it is way too soon to give up.
10) Jorge Bonifacio, OF, Grade B-: Starting to tap into his power but isn't all the way there yet. You could rank him as high as eight due to youth, or at least ahead of Calixte and Cuthbert due to performance, but positional scarcity comes into play.
11) Jason Adam, RHP, Grade B-: I like him more than some people do, being impressed with his command. Could be a nice inning-eating workhorse.
12) Cameron Gallagher, C, Grade C+: Still rather inexperienced, but has power potential and the tools to stick behind the plate. Transition to full-season ball will be very illuminating.
13) Bryan Brickhouse, RHP Grade C+: B- was his original grade but I decided it was too high. Another ground ball generator who might be a workhorse, if his mechanics come into line.
14) Elier Hernandez, OF, Grade C+: Big bonus guy from the Dominican was terrible in the Pioneer League, but was just 17 years old. Hit zero homers despite bat speed/raw power. Way too soon to give up.
15) Robinson Yambati, RHP, Grade C+: Good strikeout/grounder combination in A-ball, erasing bad taste from awful 2011. Could help in the bullpen by 2014.
16) Miguel Almonte, RHP, Grade C+: Rookie ball sensation shows strong command of fastball and changeup. Need to see how it transitions to higher levels, but could rank much higher next year.
17) Donnie Joseph, LHP, Grade C+: Ground ball and strikeout tendencies are pronounced, should make a good LOOGY at least.
18) Alexis Rivera, OF, Grade C+: Outfielder from Puerto Rico put a charge in the ball in the Arizona Rookie League, hitting .341/.413/.477 at age 18. Good plate discipline and bat speed, drafted in the 10th round.
19) Colin Rodgers, LHP, Grade C+: Polished strike-throwing high school pitcher from Louisiana posted 2.05 ERA with 25/16 K/BB in 48 innings in the Appalachian League. Third round pick, best pitch is power curveball.
20) Christian Colon, 2B, Grade C: Borderline C+. Contact hitter with decent glove, won't live up to draft status but should be a workable utility player.
OTHERS: Humberto Arteaga, SS; Christian Binford, RHP; Edwin Carl, RHP; Christian Colon, 2B; Kenny Diekroeger, INF; Chris Dwyer, LHP; Alfredo Escalera, OF; Brett Eibner, OF; Andy Ferguson, RHP; Brian Fletcher, OF; Fred Ford, OF; Chad Johnson, C; David Lough, OF; Justin Marks, LHP; Daniel Stumpf, LHP; J.C. Sulbaran, RHP; Andrew Triggs, RHP
The comment below was written in October; I will leave it intact so you can see how thing stood before the big trade James Shields trade with the Rays that cost the Royals Wil Myers, Jake Odorizzi, Mike Montgomery, and Patrick Leonard. Obviously that trade lopped the top off of this farm system which looks considerably weaker now. If the Royals don't win this year,
Although not as rich as it was a couple of years ago, the Royals organization has considerable high-end Grade B talent, plus a bunch of guys at lower levels with great tools who could also rank highly over the next few years. Investments in Latin America are starting to bear fruit. The $3,050,000 spent on Elier Hernandez looks like a risky bet at this point, but several of the pitching arms look good. Mondesi, Bonifacio, Calixte, and Cuthbert all push the age-relative-to-league margins. I think Mondesi is the best of the lot, and holding his own in the Pioneer League at age 16/17 is no easy task.
Myers is ready for a trial now and a clear Grade A in my book. The B+/B guys after him all have a question-mark or two that prevents them from ranking higher. Starling's upside his huge but we'll have to see about his swing. I might be too tough on Ventura with a straight Grade B.
Overall, the minor league system is in a transitional phase due to injury attrition and major league graduations, but there's still some depth here, even if most of it isn't ready for the majors yet. Dayton Moore and company get a lot of criticism for the problems with the big league team, much of it justified, but the farm system still has a lot to offer down the line.