Kansas City Royals’ top 10 prospects
Kansas City Royals' ten best prospects
The farm system of the Kansas City Royals has been a topic of discussion for many years and hardly more so than now. Two years ago they had more prospects in Baseball America's top one hundred than any other club and shortly thereafter those prospects started appearing at the major league level. Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas and Salvador Perez all had good to excellent starts to their careers after having been top prospects before that.
But the Royals pitching lagged and their young pitchers tended to fall victim to injury or unreadiness. So the farm system was brought into the news again with a blockbuster trade that sent Wil Myers, Jake Odorizzi and Mike Montgomery, three of the Royals top prospects, to the Tampa Bay Rays away in an effort to get good pitching.
The success or failure of that trade is still to be determined, but it and the ascension to the major league level of several prospects does leave the Royals' prospect list looking rather different than it did two years ago. But it is by no means empty. The Royals still have some excellent players coming up through the ranks courtesy of years of high draft picks. The major league roster is better than it has been in years, but it is worth looking at who might be coming behind them in a few years time to possibly contend for a roster spot. It is a much more speculative effort than it was even a fortnight ago, but one of the beauties of baseball as opposed to American football is development of talent through a minor league system and it is fascinating to see how players are coming on.
10 - Christian Colon
Shortstop Christian Colon was the Royals' first round draft pick in 2010 and has spent most of his time at AA Northwest Arkansas, though he finished 2012 at AAA Omaha. He put up solid numbers this year, hitting .289 at AA before having a 7-17 run at AAA. In the long term he is blocked at shortstop by Alcides Escobar, but has played some games at second base and might have a better shot trying to unseat Johnny Giavotella.
9 - Jason Adam
The Royals drafted pitcher Jason Adam directly out of high school in the fifth round of the 2010 draft and he has had two good minor league seasons. This year he played in advanced A-ball and although he was under .500 he had a 3.53 ERA and struck out 123 batters in 158 innings whilst walking only 36. His biggest problem is that he does give up a lot of hits; in 2012 that number stood at 148.
8 - John Lamb
The inclusion of pitcher John Lamb on this list is certainly speculative. But a reasonable speculation, I think. Lamb was one of the best pitchers in the Royals organisation after he was drafted in 2008. But Tommy John surgery ended his 2011 season and he is just starting to come back from that. He did pitch in 2012 though and should get back on the right track in 2013.
7 - Sam Selman
The Royals took Sam Selman in the second round of this year's amateur draft after the Los Angeles Angels had drafted and failed to sign him back in 2009. But there is a good reason the Angels tried to get him out of high school and a good reason the Royals took him so early this year. In his short minor league career he has continued to show that, putting up a 2.09 ERA and 89 strikeouts in sixty innings.
6 - Adalberto Mondesi
Infielder Alberto Mondesi has a .290 batting average in fifty games for Idaho Falls (rookie ball) as his primary professional attribute. Which really does not seem like it ought to be enough to make a list of prospects at all, until one realises that Mondesi is only 17 years of age. He's not much of a power hitter, (though he's not fully grown that may change), but he is excellent defensively and looks like one to watch.
5 - Jorge Bonifacio
Another very young player, Jorge Bonifacio has put up three very solid minor league seasons and is still six months away from his 20th birthday. He managed 61 RBIs in just 105 games (that would work out to a quite respectable 94 RBIs in a full big league season) and had an OPS of .768, quite high for his league. He would do well to bring down his strikeout numbers though; he had 84 last year.
4 - Justin Marks
Pitcher Justin Marks minor league numbers were good enough that he went to the Arizona Fall League as one of the Royals' representatives and there he dazzled, going 5-1 with a 2.59 ERA. It won't be next year, but he might have a shot at getting to the majors in two or three years.
3 - Yordano Ventura
Unusually for most of the players in the Royals' farm system, Yordano Ventura has already pitched at Kauffman Stadium. He started the 2012 Futures Game for the Rest of the World and not only pitched a perfect inning, he hit 100 miles per hour according to the stadium radar gun. That might deserve an asterisk, the radar at Kauffman tends to be a bit hot, but it does not change the fact that Ventura has one of the best arms in the minor leagues. The fact that he has other pitches with which to work means that he should find himself continuing to rise quickly through the system.
2 - Derek Starling
The Royals drafted Derek Starling (more commonly known as 'Bubba') out of high school in the first round of the 2011 draft and he put up good numbers in his only minor league season. But any first round pick will be a high prospect and Starling's talent makes him no exception. He has good speed and good power and if he matures in the way the Royals are hoping he will be an excellent outfielder.
1 - Kyle Zimmer
It's almost a rule that a list of prospects be topped by a first round draft pick and this one is no exception. Kyle Zimmer was drafted by the Royals this year in the first round. It was not only his blazing fastball, but a variety of other pitches all of above average quality that made him such a coveted commodity. He got off to almost as good a start to his minor league career as one could ask; striking out 42 in 39.2 innings and walking only eight. If he stays healthy we will be hearing a lot more about him.