If you’re a reader of BPKC and my stuff in particular then you know that I haven’t put out an “official” ranking of Royals minor league prospects this year. Prior to the minor league season starting, I wanted my rankings to be known in comparison to other outlets that are available as I feel my knowledge of this system is as deep as what you will find anywhere else on the internet. The rankings are derived from live looks, talks with scouts and coaches in the business, Royals front office members and analysis of video on my own.
1. Matt Strahm MLBP1, BP3, BA2
2. Josh Staumont BA1, BP2, MLBP3,
3. Hunter Dozier BP1, MLBP2, BA3
These are the consensus top three in the prospect community and in my opinion, you’re only being a contrarian if you don’t rank one of these three at the top of your Royals list. There are strikes against all three of course, but no more than what the others in the system have. Ultimately, I went with Matt Strahm because he has a good two-pitch combo with his fastball and curveball already and I like what he did with his change up during the season to add a third pitch to the mix. His velocity could dip into the 91-93 mark as a starter, but I believe he has a good enough offspeed pairing to find himself into a #3 starter spot, even at that mark with less volatility of Staumont’s floor grade. As for Dozier, this is a big bump by me as far as his ranking is concerned after not ranking him going into the season last year as I wanted to see changes to place a more accurate grade. One year in Omaha and discussing the changes he made with his hips according to front office staff, has helped convert me. His position is that of an outfielder or first baseman for the Royals to me still as I still feel the hands are a bit firm to handle third base defensively.
4. Khalil Lee BP6, BA12, MLBP14
The biggest difference between my rankings and others that you will find in the prospect community and Royals blogosphere is here at 4 and 5. While it’s true that more teams were in on Lee as a pitcher than a hitter, I believe those teams will be disappointed as he’s already hinting at in the minor leagues with just a few months in the system. If Lee was 6’1 or 6’2 at the time of the draft he would’ve been a 1st round pick with his ability to hit against upper-level competition on the summer circuit as a member of the Evoshield Canes. This is an intelligent kid with good pop, an advanced approach, and good tools throughout. Some think he moves to a corner outfield spot in the future, but I think that is premature to talk about as he has similar to speed to what JBJ had at the time of his draft. Should he move to the corner you’re still talking about a plus defender with the arm to play right field. If you think I’m just on the hype train that has started to surround Lee this is what I wrote about him at the time of the draft.
5. Samir Duenez BA19, MLBP19, BPUR
6. Ryan O’Hearn MLBP8, BA8, BPUR
I wrote about my reasons for liking Duenez over O’Hearn here and I’m definitely on an island by myself with him this high. That doesn’t matter to me as I like Samir’s bat speed, ability to make contact and believe his adjustments have started to unlock his power. The power is almost always the last thing to come for prospects, so to bang him for that when he started to flash it last season while still not 21 years of age surprises me. His stolen base numbers speak to a knowledge of how to play the game when you consider his lack of speed. This gives me hope that his plate approach will improve even further and help him unlock his full capabilities at the plate.
7. Jorge Bonifacio BP5, BA9, MLBP12
8. Seuly Matias BP9, MLBP10, BA11
9. Scott Blewett MLB5, BA6, BP7
10. Chase Vallot BA7, MLBP7, BP15
As you can see Baseball Prospectus and myself are a touch lower than others on Vallot. That’s based purely on the chance that he may not be a fit at catcher, and for myself, the hit tool isn’t as strong as it is going to need to be as he climbs the ladder. Just based on power only I would put Matias as likely to have the most power in the organization come two or three years from now even with Vallot in the system. If I was to look at the entire system as it currently stands and had to make a bet on which player will hit 40 home runs in the future, then Matias would be my bet.
11. Donnie Dewees MLBP13 wasn’t in the system at the time of other rankings
12. Meibrys Viloria BP8, MLBP15, BA18
13. Kyle Zimmer MLBP9, BA10, BP11
The placement of Dewees here could be low as I’ve heard nothing but good things about him since he joined the system. If he’s a centerfielder then he should probably be closer to the Top 5 than at 11, but the lack of power, a limited arm and just an average approach at the dish with that lack of pop gives enough checks against to place him here. As always, the placement of Zimmer doesn’t really matter if he can show he’s healthy and can stay healthy. A healthy Zimmer that works in the 95 mph range throughout his outing is the Royals #1 prospect. Placing him here doesn’t really matter other than I can say I gave him the Lucky #13 spot.
14. A.J. Puckett Bp4, BA5, MLBP11
15. Corey Toups MLBP25
16. Cam Gallagher BA17, MLBP30
17. Jake Junis MLBP6, BA15
18. Eric Skoglund BA4, MLBP4, BP12
19. Andrew Edwards BA20, MLBP23
20. Corey Ray MLBP26
This is where the scramble starts to begin in my opinion as Puckett is ranked higher in other publications based on draft status more than stuff. Perhaps I’m wrong but his stuff reads much like Skoglund’s as a fringe back of the rotation starter. Ultimately, when I saw Junis and Skoglund back to back at Double-A I preferred Jake’s stuff with a pair of usable breaking balls that generates more swings and miss, along with a touch more on the fastball. The wildcards here include Toups, who I think will pass Whit Merrifield and Christian Colon in the second base rankings in the organization this year. The longtime teammate of O’Hearn has pop in his small frame, athleticism and good speed with some quick twitch athleticism. While some have compared him to Johnny Giavotella that makes no sense other than the similar height of the players. With more reps at the defensive spot I think Toups will become an average if not plus defender. From there it will be dependent on the hit tool grading at average to become a major league regular as he has the pop in the wrist and speed to make another impact. As for Corey Ray he has more stuff in his mid to upper 90’s fastball than the three pitchers above him but a breaking ball that has lagged. With some changes late in the year in Wilmington, he started to generate some swing and miss with it the same-siders that he had struggled with previously. If this change was for real and not just a sudden five start bump then Ray could be a Top 10 prospect.
21. Anderson Miller Unranked – has some pop, good arm, good defender, dealt w/ injury in ’16
22. Pedro Fernandez Unranked – oft-injured, move to the pen could create a monster
23. Sebastian Rivero BA26 – haven’t heard Royals praise about a catcher like this since Salvy
24. Alfredo Escalera Unranked – there are plenty of average tools there but needs to improve approach
25. Miguel Almonte BP10, MLBP17, BA25 – improved his breaking ball last year but control is still a mess.
26. Cristian Castillo Unranked – pitch ability lefty with advanced secondary pitches and intelligence.
27. Esteury Ruiz Unranked – best DSL season since Jorge Bonifacio
28. Garrett Davila MLBP18, BA31 – needs a bit more on the fastball, but change up is a solid average pitch.
29. Kevin McCarthy BA28 – 6th/7th inning profile reliever
30. Nicky Lopez BP13, MLBP24 – very good defense, showed solid approach in rookie ball.
After this spot, I feel like I’m just listing a tool I like or a blip that someone told me about a player as opposed to real analysis and comparison of player to another player. If you want my Royals Top 100 list then hit me up via Twitter @ClintScoles and I can email it to you in list form.