Heading into 2009, things were looking up for the Royals most thought. They had just come off a 75-87 record, the best since 2003’s fluky season and following an impressive 2008 draft haul, they were already seeing returns by prospect outlets, being rated as having the #11 farm system by Baseball America. Things don’t look quite as rosy for the Reboot version of the process on the surface. The team is coming off one of the worst seasons in franchise history with a 58-104 record, and despite plenty of draft additions, the system isn’t likely to be ranked quite as well. How do things really look though?
Heading into 2019 the Royals have depth in their farm system despite a lack of Top 100 quality prospects. Unfortunately for them, the depth appears at a spot where, historically, the franchise has failed and where most major league teams in baseball fail, pitching. So how does this group of pitchers compare to that group ten years ago?
The Top 100 Prospect – Both groups likely have one Top 100 prospect in the Royals 2018 1st round pick Brady Singer compared to the 2009 right-hander Dan Cortes. The Royals had acquired Cortes for reliever Mike MacDougal and within a year he was inside Baseball America’s Top 100, appearing at 57 following a strong 2007 campaign in Wilmington. Within two years Cortes would prove to be a headache for the Royals, get dealt for Yuni Betancourt and go on to make 14 major league appearances before struggling to make it back. While Singer hasn’t pitched yet in a minor league game just yet, it’s hard to compare the two, but given Singer’s pedigree and feel for pitching, it would be hard to imagine him not at least equaling the Cortes career.
The Burgeoning Lefty – Heading into the 2009 season the Royals probably knew they had a talented lefty on their hands in Mike Montgomery yet the rest of the baseball world was still waiting. Within a year Montgomery would be ranked inside Baseball America and BP’s Top 40 prospects. This year’s group has a similar lefty, though he is a bit further along in his development as a college draftee, in Daniel Lynch. Currently, he’s sitting outside of the top 100 but I wouldn’t be shocked based on the stuff he was showing in Lexington if he found himself inside the Top 100 prior to the season. Don’t be shocked if he’s rated as the Royals best overall prospect to start the season or as their best pitching prospect though it’s not likely he will pitch himself inside the overall Top 40 the way Montgomery did.
The Top 10 – Other pitchers who were included in the Royals Top 10 included Danny Duffy who would go onto a major league career and an appearance into the Top 100 while the rest of the group largely struggled. That glut of pitching in that Top 10 was largely due to the farm system being weak outside the Top 6 prospects though Danny Gutierrez at the time was coming off a strong season in Burlington and was thought to be a good pitching prospect prior to off-field problems looming large over his career. The grouping the Royals currently have though is stronger with Kowar, another fringe Top 100 pitcher, likely heading to Wilmington after helping Lexington to a championship. Reliever Richard Lovelady is likely to contribute to the major league bullpen while Carlos Hernandez and Yefri Del Rosario are much bigger talents than both Rosa and Wood.
Best of the Rest – This group is quite a bit deeper than that 2009 group was though Kelvin Herrera would go onto make 1/3 of HDH. The Royals currently have a deep group of talented pitchers with their first-round picks Kris Bubic featured lower on my list than he will likely slot elsewhere. One scout gave me a Tanner Roark comp on Jon Heasley; Zach Haake was tossing 98 mph at instructs while Morel and Luciano present a pair of latin pitchers who could be near the top of this list next year should they harness their secondary stuff start to start in Lexington this season. It’s not even close though in terms of that grouping compared to this one in terms of talent as this group is much deeper.
The main difference between this group and the last is the data and open mind that the front office has towards pitching development compared to what they did ten years ago.Things change quickly in a year in terms of these lists and franchises though. Little did BA or the Royals know that the best pitcher they would develop was already in the organization and not on this BA list or even the next season’s group. The next Yordano Ventura could be the #2 player chosen this year’s draft or someone I left off. That’s the fun that comes with the process.
|2009 BA Prospects||Current Pitching Prospects|
|#3 Daniel Cortes (90 BA)||Brady Singer|
|#4 Mike Montgomery||Daniel Lynch|
|#5 Tim Melville||Jackson Kowar|
|#6 Danny Duffy||Richard Lovelady|
|#7 Danny Gutierrez||Carlos Hernandez|
|#8 Carlos Rosa||Yefri Del Rosario|
|#10 Blake Wood||Yohanse Morel|
|#12 Kelvin Herrera||Elvis Luciano|
|#13 Henry Barrera||Arnaldo Hernandez|
|#14 Tyler Sample||Kris Bubic|
|#18 Julio Pimentel||Josh Staumont|
|#20 Carlo Fortuna||Yunior Marte|
|#21 Matt Mitchell||Gerson Garabito|
|#25 Juan Abreu||Scott Blewett|
|#28 Sam Runion||Dan Tillo|
|#30 Keaton Hayenga||Jon Heasley|