Kansas City Royals 2020 Top-25 Prospects
Remember when you were younger and you sat down to dinner not expecting to like what your parents cooked for you only to leave the table after finishing the meal thinking, “Man, that was actually pretty good!” That thought defines the current Kansas City Royals farm system. The more you dig into this system, the better it gets. Just like that casserole Mom used to make for you. I even bumped them up from a C to a C+ grade after finishing the below top-25. There’s plenty of talent in this system on both sides of the ball with a bunch of advanced collegiate arms near the top of these rankings. However, it’s a pair of teenage hitters that lead the way in this year’s installment of the top-25 Kansas City Royals prospects for dynasty leagues.
Overall System Grade: C+
Minor League Affiliates
Triple-A: Omaha – Pacific Coast League
Double-A: Northwest Arkansas – Texas League
Advanced Single-A: Wilmington – Carolina League
Low Single-A: Lexington – South Atlantic League
Short Single-A: None
Rookie: Burlington – Appalachian League, Idaho Falls – Pioneer League, Arizona League (1), Dominican Summer League (2).
All other team top-25 prospect rankings can be found here.
If you aren’t playing your dynasty leagues on Fantrax, you’re missing out on the deepest player pool and most customization around. Just starting out in a dynasty league? Then check out Eric Cross’ Top-250 prospects, Top-300 Dynasty League Rankings, & 2019 FYPD/J2 Rankings.
Top-25 Kansas City Royals Prospects – 2020
1. Bobby Witt Jr., SS
Entering the 2019 draft, the Kansas City Royals really needed an impact bat with their #2 overall pick. They cranked it out of the park with prep shortstop Bobby Witt Jr. Cranking baseballs out of the park is also something Witt does quite well with his double-plus raw power and quick swing that generates plenty of natural backspin and loft. What I love about Witt’s swing is his strong hips and lower half along with the exceptional forward weight shift when exploding through the zone. Not only does he possess plus bat speed with massive raw power, but Witt is also able to get plenty of forward momentum in his swing and really drive the ball with authority.
In addition to his power, Witt is also an exceptional athlete with plus speed on the bases and solid range at shortstop. Even if he adds bulk, there should still be enough speed here to push 30 stolen bases annually. Yeah, this is a 30/30 threat in the making folks. The only real question I have on Witt’s offensive game is how much batting average he hits for. While the contact skills are slightly below-average right now, Witt has the tools and swing mechanics to develop into a 50-hit shortstop by the time he makes it to the Major Leagues, putting him in the .270 range. When he makes contact, it’s usually hard and Witt has shown the ability to go the other way when needed.
Assuming he keeps the strikeouts in check, Witt should be able to hit for a respectable average to pair with that beautiful power/speed upside. He’s already inside my top-25 overall prospects and there’s a strong chance he cracks the top-10 by this time next season.
2. Erick Pena, OF
Outside of Jasson Dominguez, Erick Pena is my favorite international signing this year. Yes, even over Robert Puason. Here’s why. To put it simply, the offensive upside is enormous with the tools to hit for average, plenty of power, and also add double-digit stolen bases. At 6’3 and 180 pounds, you would never in a million years think that Pena is only 16 years old. He looks like he could be playing college football somewhere as an outside linebacker.
Pena already has displayed easy plus raw power and still has plenty of physical projection left. We could be looking at 70-grade raw power with Pena before it’s all said and done. And with his leveraged swing, Pena shouldn’t have any issues translating that elite raw power into substantial game power with 30-plus home runs very possible down the road. Pena has a smooth swing from the left side with natural loft and plenty of bat speed. From start to finish, Pena’s swing mechanics, weight shift, and movements flow well and he already shows an advanced feel for hitting for his age. Pena used a moderate leg kick in the videos I saw of him around signing time, but worked with more of a toe-tap during fall instructs.
.@Royals 2019 international signing OF Erick Pena with a rocket to center after battling for almost 3 min. Amazing catch in center.
— The Welsh (@IsItTheWelsh) October 12, 2019
As long as he can maintain his mechanics as he matures and likely adds some bulk, Pena should be able to hit for a fairly high average to go along with that beautiful power upside. Even as he matures physically, I’m still projecting at least average foot speed due to Pena’s athleticism. The overall package here is an offensively-gifted outfielder with .280/30+/10+ upside. In the prospect mock draft I and 15 other industry prospect analysts are conducting, Pena went 64th overall. I’d recommend getting all the Pena stock you can in dynasty leagues.
3. Daniel Lynch, LHP
Out of all the players I saw out in the Arizona Fall League, Daniel Lynch was one of the most impressive, especially on the mound. Lynch is a big lefty at 6’6 with some physical projection left on his 190-pound frame. He’ll generally sit in the 93-96 range and can hold his velocity deeper into starts. In shorter stints, as seen below in his AFL Fall Stars outing, Lynch can get into the upper-90’s with his heater. Lynch gets great extension from his delivery, and combined with his 3/4 arm slot, produces solid arm-side run on his fastball.
— Eric Cross (@EricCross04) October 13, 2019
Lynch will mix in three secondaries, with his mid-80’s slider being the best of the bunch. The pitch features tight two-plane break and is his top out pitch. Also in the repertoire are a curveball and changeup, both of which project as Major League average pitches with the changeup flashing above-average at times with fade. Both the command and control are fine here and Lynch has never been burned by giving up too many free passes. With a smooth, repeatable delivery and fairly clean mechanics, I don’t expect that to change moving forward either. Although, Lynch is a little more control over command right now.
Lynch checks off all the boxes for a future #2 starter with high strikeout upside. He’s a great target in dynasty leagues now before his price tag continues to soar.
4. Khalil Lee, OF
The journey to right now has been an interesting one for Khalil Lee. After flashing his power/speed upside and nearly going 20/20 in the Sally in 2017, Lee’s power and speed have gone in two completely different directions since. Let’s start with the positives. It’s always good to remain positive right? Or so the masses say. While Lee did steal 20 bases in 2017 as I mentioned above, that was in 37 attempts for a 54.1% success rate. Since then, Lee has vastly improved as a baserunner, both in quantity and quality, especially in 2019. Lee swiped 16 bases while only getting caught five times in 100 combined games between the Carolina League (A+) and Texas League (AA), a much-improved rate from 2017.
And then 2019 happened. Lee must’ve realized, “Hey, I have plus speed. Might as well put it to good use!” In 129 Double-A games, Lee absolutely ran wild with 53 stolen bases in 65 attempts for a 81.5% success rate. While he doesn’t project as a 50-steal threat moving forward, Lee should be able to annually exceed 30 steals now that he’s improved his base running acumen.
Unfortunately, while the speed has improved, Lee’s power stroke has not. After the 17 dingers in 2017, Lee has combined for just 14 in the two seasons since then. There’s at least average raw power here, but Lee’s swing is quite linear without much loft. It’s also hard to hit home runs with a fly ball rate barely above 20% as it was in 2019. The swing and miss tendencies could use some work as well, although, Lee has always had the propensity to draw walks at a high clip. Lee drops his hands during load and generates plus bat speed with the ability to keep his hands inside the ball and whip the head of the bat through the zone. With some added loft, I think Lee can get back to the 15 homer range to go along with a .260ish batting average and 30 stolen bases.
5. Brady Singer, RHP
Out of all the pitchers in this system, Brady Singer might be the most intriguing. By that, I mean that he can carve out significant dynasty value via the starting rotation or as a lock-down closer. Singer’s arsenal runs three pitches deep with his low to mid-90’s fastball and low-80’s slider being plus offerings. The fastball out of a 3/4 arm slot has plenty of run to it and can really tie up right-handers. When Singer is running the fastball on the inner half and mixing in the slider away, it’s difficult for opposing batters to sit on either pitch due to the different trajectories of each pitch and what side of the plate they’re thrown to. Singer’s changeup is behind, but is a serviceable third offering that flashes above-average potential at times.
What will determine if Singer develops into a #2/#3 starter or a late-inning option is his ability to maintain his mechanics multiple times through the order. There are no glaring concerns with his mechanics on the surface, but Singer uses a quicker delivery which has added deception so far. I’m still leaning towards him remaining a starter, but it will be interesting to see how this type of delivery stands against more advanced hitters moving forward.
6. Kris Bubic, LHP
When you watch Kris Bubic pitch, there’s a lot to like. With that being said, he’s more of a high floor lefty than a high ceiling one. Taken 40th overall in 2018 out of Stanford, Bubic has one of the best lefty changeups in the minors. Heck, it’s one of the best changeups period, regardless of what hand it’s coming out of. Thrown in the low to mid-80’s with a ton of fade and drop, the pitch is an absolute weapon against right-handers. When he’s throwing it well, which is often, the pitch will start over the heart of the plate and then take off like it has better places to be. I seriously could watch Bubic throw changeups all damn day. Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce Bubic’s “Takes the bleep off changeup.”
Kris Bubic at 99 pitches after 8 innings. If he’s done, it was a brilliant night.
8 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 10 K.
Dude was absolutely surgical. That changeup looks like a dang near 60-grade offering. pic.twitter.com/ougDWebjYJ
— Royals Farm Report (@RoyalsFarm) August 9, 2019
While not as good as the changeup, Bubic’s low-90’s fastball and curveball both project as Major League average to above-average offerings. Bubic has an interesting delivery which reminds me of Clayton Kershaw’s a little with a longer arm motion, but he hides the ball well which adds deception Bubic gets good extension and repeats his delivery consistently. All signs point to a mid-rotation arm with solid ratios and low walks thanks to his above-average command and control. After dominating the South Atlantic League and Carolina League to the tune of a 2.23 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, 2.5 BB/9, and 11.1 K/9 in 2019, expect Bubis to start 2020 in the Double-A Texas League and should continue to move quickly. A late-2020 MLB debut is not out of the question.
7. Jackson Kowar, RHP
Speaking of dynamic changeups. Jackson Kowar has one of his own from the right side, thrown with deceptive arm speed and around 10-12 mph slower than his mid-90’s fastball. Kowar operates out of a 3/4 arm slot with a delivery that oddly enough looks a lot like Brady Singer’s, his former collegiate teammate at the University of Florida. The difference longterm between Bubic and Kowar is negligible. Kowar throws a little harder, but Bubic has the slightly better command and control in my mind.
In the battle of the changeups, Bubic also gets a slight nod from me, but both are two of the best changeups in the minors right now. Like Bubic, an average but improving curveball is Kowar’s third pitch, one with good depth that flashes above-average at times, although inconsistently. If Kowar can continue developing his curve and refine his command some, there’s high-end #3 starter upside here.
8. Kyle Isbel, OF
The Royals seem to have two types of players they favor. We already went over one of those types in the big collegiate arms, and now we get back to the other one, the speedy outfielder. While he doesn’t have quite the same speed and athleticism that Khalil Lee does, Kyle Isbel is a plus runner in his own right with a better hit tool than Lee. Ignore the lower batting average that you see above for Lee in 2019. He’s a much better hitter than that and should settle in as a .280 type annually to pair with 25-plus stolen bases.
Although he’s not a big power hitter, Isbel is able to drive the ball thanks to plus bat speed, strong hips, and good use of his entire lower half in his swing. The power is more of the line drive into the gap variety, but with some added loft, Isbel could be a 15-homer hitter at peak. His down 2019 might open a nice buy-low window in your dynasty league. If so, pounce. Even in a “down” season, Isbel still racked up seven home runs and 11 steals in 59 games. The tools are here for Isbel to develop into an above-average offensive outfielder.
9. Brewer Hicklen, OF
Let me start by saying that if we were ranking off of raw tools alone, Brewer Hicklen would easily be a top-5 player here. Hicklen is another speedy outfielder with plus or better speed and good instincts on the bases. That speed has led to 90 steals in his 268 minor league games, including 39 in 53 attempts in 2019. When you add in his above-average raw power, there’s an intriguing power/speed mix here for fantasy. His quick, slight uppercut swing should allow that power to continue showing up in games consistently with 15-20 homers likely being his range. Hicklen’s hit tool isn’t as advanced, but there are enough contact skills here to hit at least .250-.260 or so in the Majors and not hinder either his power or speed.
— Kansas City Royals Player Development (@RoyalsPD) August 23, 2019
The old saying goes, “You can only play who is put in front of you,” but I’d like to see how Hicklen fairs against more advanced pitching in the upper minors before raking him near the top-5 of this list. We’ll get to see that in 2020 as Hicklen will likely start the season in Double-A. If he continues to perform at this level, he’ll shoot even further up my overall rankings.
10. Brady McConnell, SS
After going very pitching-heavy to start the 2018 draft, Kansas City focused on positional prospects early in 2019, taking Brady McConnell in the 2nd round after Bobby Witt Jr in the first. Though his all-around tools are impressive, McConnell isn’t quite as refined as you’d expect from a collegiate SEC bat. There are some swing and miss tendencies to iron out, especially with offspeed pitches, but McConnell’s sound swing mechanics and above-average bat to ball skills give me confidence the approach can improve in the minors.
There’s also a nice little power/speed blend here with McConnell. He’s displayed at least average raw power with a bit of loft in his swing and has above-average to plus speed. That speed has been much more apparent on the bases than in the field though as his lack of range could force a move to second base or the hot corner where his strong arm would fit well. Obviously, we’d love to see him stick at shortstop, but McConnell has the offensive tools to make an offensive impact regardless of where his defensive home ends up being. The ceiling here could push 20/20.
11. Nick Pratto, 1B
You’ll quickly see a trend in this top-25, and not a good one. That trend being that several of the top hitters in this system endured very rough 2019 seasons. In addition to Seuly Matias and M.J. Melendez, who’ll we’ll talk about later, Nick Pratto struggled mightily in 2019, ending with a .191 average and 34.7% strikeout rate in 124 Carolina League (A+) games. The reason Pratto remains fairly high in these rankings and not much lower is that he’s shown better contact skills in the past. The strikeout rate has always been an issue, but the skills are still here for Pratto to hit around .260 or so longterm, even if the strikeout rate remains north of 25% as it has throughout his minor league career.
In addition, Pratto also has other areas of his game that can be of value to the Royals and us here in the fantasy world. Pratto is a plus defender capable of winning gold glove awards. That type of defense at first base is always an asset to major League clubs. Offensively, Pratto has displayed above-average to plus raw power, although, that’s yet to translate consistently into game power. There’s also a touch of speed and baserunning acumen here that could keep Pratto around 10-12 steals annually. This is far from a sexy profile, but it’s one that will get regular at-bats at the Major League level.
12. Jonathan Bowlan, RHP
Jonathan Bowlan is the type of pitcher than you don’t want to see in a dark alley. The guy is a beast on the mound at 6’6/260 and has innings-eating workhorse mid-rotation starter tattoed on his forehead. Bowlan sits in the low to mid-90’s with run and sink on his fastball that generates plenty of groundballs and weaker contact when located low in the zone. Out of his two secondaries, Bowlan’s slider is an above-average offering in the low-80’s and well ahead of his changeup. Both secondaries and his command lack consistency, which could move him to the bullpen if not cleaned up in the near future. Bowlan did make strides with his command and has solid control overall, so a future as a #4 starter s definitely still in play. If he does move to the pen, his fastball/slider combination could make him a late-inning weapon.
13. Michael Gigliotti, OF
See what I said about the Royals liking speedy outfielders? Here’s another one. Michael Gigliotti is a tough one to gauge for me. He’s displayed above-average contact skills, a sound plate approach, and easy plus speed, but is now 23 and yet to make it to Double-A. Granted, he was limited to just six games in 2018 due to a season-ending knee injury, but you get the point. Luckily, that knee injury didn’t hamper his speed at all. Gigliotti has a career-year on the bases in 2019, swiping 36 bags in 87 games while getting caught 10 times.
At the plate, Gigliotti is a hit over power type with a quick and smooth left-handed swing. His mechanics are sound and he’s able to use the whole field with a line-drive approach. There’s minimal over the fence power due to his below-average raw power and mostly linear swing path, but Gigliotti knows his game and has the tools to be a solid average type with 25-plus steals annually. He might even be able to hit near the top of the order as well due to his sound plate approach and high walk rate. The 2020 season will be very telling for Gigliotti as a prospect as he reaches Double-A.
14. Yefri Del Rosario, RHP
While various arm issues wiped out Yefri Del Rosario’s 2019 season, there’s plenty of excitement surrounding the 20-year-old Dominican right-hander. Del Rosario’s arsenal runs four pitches deep with the potential for three of them to finish as above-average to plus Major League offerings. Two of those are fastballs as Del Rosario will throw both a mid-90’s 4-seamer with life and a low-90’s 2-seamer with sink. His curveball is by far the better secondary that he’ll throw, flashing plus with hard break and good depth.
What will determine if Del Rosario can reach his ceiling as a mid-rotation arm is the development of his changeup and command, both of which are below-average at present. If those don’t develop, his 4S/2S/CB mix would play well in shorter stints out of the pen. He’s still young though and has plenty of time to figure it all out.
15. M.J. Melendez, C
This ranking might cause the MJ Melendez fan club to show up at my front door with pitch forks. But when the swing and miss tendencies are so profound, it’s hard for me to rank a player highly. Coming into 2019, Melendez was a below-average hit, plus-raw power catcher with a strikeout problem. That problem got worse in 2019 and is now hurting other areas of his game as well.
In the past, Melendez was still able to make enough contact to hit .262 and .251 in his two minor league seasons. However, with his strikeout rate soaring to 39.4% in 2019, the batting average, in turn, took a major nose dive down to .163. The power was also effected as Melendez’s aggressive approach didn’t allow him to wait for a pitch to drive and pitchers were just throwing him junk outside the zone knowing that he’d likely chase it.
*I regret to inform you this is not a tweet about Fernando Tatis Jr.*
MJ Melendez takes a fastball from Carson Fulmer DEEEEPPPP to right-center. First home run of the spring for the hyper-athletic, power-hitting catcher. #SpringTraining #Roylas pic.twitter.com/DjT9xCQFTH
— Lance Brozdowski (@LanceBroz) February 26, 2019
Without question, Melendez’s defense will get him to the Majors as long as he shows any sort of offensive adequacy. Which I think he has the ability to do. I’m just not sure Melendez is more than a defensive-minded power-hitting backup catcher in the Majors. If he can show improvements as a hitter, maybe he’s a .240/20 type, but that’s likely his ceiling.
16. Wilmin Candelario, SS
The Royals didn’t go big in the 2018 international crop, but they did land some nice under the radar prospects. Headling their international haul was shortstop Wilmin Candelario out of the Dominican Republic. Candelario might be under the radar now, but he has the tools to make a name for himself in the prospect world very soon. The reason for that is Candelario has the chance for above-average tools across the board, both offensively and defensively. As a switch hitter, Candelario has shown a feel for hitting from both sides of the plate but is more advanced from the left side. The swing is quick-twitch with plenty of bat speed. Candelario uses a moderate leg kick to time pitches and incorporates his lower half well.
He might not be the biggest guy around, but Candelario sure does pack a punch and possesses above-average raw power with some physical projection left. It’s still very early on of course, but Candelario has the tools to hit for a respectable average and 15-plus homers annually. There’s also above-average speed here making for an intriguing offensive profile worth monitoring in dynasty leagues.
17. Carlos Hernandez, RHP
Although he was older than most international signings you’ll see in these top-25s, there’s plenty of reason to get excited about Carlos Hernandez. The now 22-year-old Venezuelan right-hander has had an up and down minor league career to date and spent most of the last two seasons in the Single-A South Atlantic League. After a strong 2018 there, Hernandez struggled a bit in 2019, mostly due to his below-average control and command. The arsenal itself features three pitches in his mid-90’s fastball, slider, and changeup that all flash above-average to plus. However, that inconsistent command limits the effectiveness of each pitch, especially when Hernandez isn’t able to locate them. If that continues, a move to the bullpen could be in store.
18. Austin Cox, LHP
Oh look, another collegiate arm taken by the Royals in the early rounds of the 2018 draft. While Austin Cox doesn’t possess the upside of the guys we talked about earlier, the floor here is fairly high with a strong chance he develops into an inning-eating back-end rotation piece. A big 6’4 southpaw our of Mercer, Cox didn’t have a standout collegiate career, but has steadily improved as a professional. The main reason for his overall improvement has been better command of his arsenal and cutting down on the free passes.
Cox doesn’t have the most dominating arsenal around, but is able to mix his fastball, curveball, slider, and changeup well and can keep hitters off balance. None project as plus but all should be at least Major League average pitches for Cox. After finishing in the High-A Carolina League, expect Cox to open at Double-A with a late-2020 debut not out of the question.
19. Seuly Matias, OF
Google “Prototypical right fielder” for me, would ya? Does a picture of Seuly Matias pop up in your search results? No? Well, it should! If Google can’t realize Matias fits the power-hitting, strong-armed right fielder profile to a freaking tee, that’s their loss. But the problem with Matias is that he also has the major swing and miss problems that this type of player usually has. The word major barely begins to describe Matias’ strikeout woes, actually.
In 2018, Matias struck out in 34.8% of his plate appearances in the Single-A South Atlantic League. But hey, he hit 31 home runs in 94 games! That type of power often can make many turn a blind eye to major plate approach issues. At least it couldn’t get much worse right? Wrong. Very wrong. Matias’ strikeout rate shot up nearly 10% to 44.3% in 2019. Sorry, I should’ve passed out barf bags before saying that. My apologies, here’s a roll of paper towels to clean yourself up. What’s even worse was that Matias only slugged four home runs in 57 games. A far, far cry from 2018’s power output.
It’s gotten to the point where I can no longer rank Matias highly due to his pathetic plate discipline. Sure, he was able to walk 11.3% of the time in 2019, but that’s not going to do you any good when you can’t even hit your weight due to well below-average contact skills and swing and miss tendencies. Maybe if he shortens up his swing and takes a more direct path to the ball, he could clean some of this up. But even then, the ceiling for his AVG is likely .230 and I expect his power to continue to be hindered by all this. I’m honestly not even sure Matias reaches the Majors at this point.
20. Yohanse Morel, RHP
A lot of what I said about Carlos Hernandez above applies here with Yohanse Morel. The Royals acquired Morel in the Kelvin Herrera trade back in 2018, and in my opinion, he has the highest upside of that trip. I mean, he’s the only one on this list, isn’t he? Morel features three average to plus offerings that can dominate an opposing lineup when they’re all working. But like with Hernandez, below-average command and control have often done him in. Without much further physical projection, Morel will really need to hone in that command and smooth out his delivery if he wants to remain in the starting rotation. As of now, I’m projecting him as a reliever.
21. Zach Haake, RHP
Apparently, the Royals drafted 928 collegiate arms in the 2018 draft. My word. Like with Cox above, Haake if more of a solid floor type with the upside to develop into a back-end starter. Haake pitched at three different colleges, including JuCo, and showed enough in his final collegiate season at Kentucky for the Royals to draft him in the 5th round, despite having less than stellar stats.
When he’s at his best, Haake can carve up a lineup with his fastball and changeup, both of which flash plus potential. He has a great feel for both pitches and can land both for strikes or drop the changeup below the zone for the strikeout. His slider is way behind, both in effectiveness and consistency, but projects as an average third offering for Haake. While he’s not one to get excited about in fantasy, there’s a good chance Haake finds value as a #4 or #5 Major League starter that you might be adding off your waiver wire someday. For him to reach that ceiling, I’d love to see him clean up his control a bit.
22. Darryl Collins, OF
Signed out of some town in the Netherlands I can neither spell or pronounce, Darryl Collins is a little-known prospect with the upside to shed that label very soon. Now 17, Collins shows an advanced feel for hitting well beyond his years with solid strike zone awareness. He’s still learning to tap into his above-average raw power and the hope is that with more reps in the minor leagues, he’ll be able to do just that. While Collins has some nice offensive tools, there isn’t a ton of speed upside to go along with it. He projects to be nothing more than an average runner once he’s done developing with 5-8 stolen bases likely being his ceiling. That might be generous too. Collins is still years away from the Majors, but this is a name to keep in mind in deeper dynasty leagues.
— WBSC ⚾🥎 (@WBSC) September 1, 2019
23. Alec Marsh, RHP
We’re now 23 players into this top-25 and Alec Marsh marks the 8th collegiate pitcher to be drafted by Kansas City in the last two drafts. Marsh steadily improved during his three seasons at Arizona State and had a solid showing in the Cape Cod League back in 2018. He’ll usually sit in the low-90’s with his fastball but can ramp it up into the mid-90’s at time. With the run and sink he gets on his fastball, it’s a borderline plus offering. Marsh will mix in three secondaries with only his slider proving to be a Major League average or better pitch at present. There’s also a changeup and curveball in Marsh’s repertoire, with the curveball flashing above-average at times, although, very inconsistently.
I’d really like to see Marsh develop his changeup into a serviceable Major League offering. If he can, Marsh could make it to Kansas City as a back-end starting pitcher.
24. Evan Steele, LHP
I’m going to sneak Evan Steele onto this list because who doesn’t like a 6’5 southpaw with the potential for two above-average to plus pitches? The Royals drafted Steele 73rd overall in the 2017 draft, but it really took until this season for Steele to show us anything in the minors. Missing the entire 2018 season with a shoulder injury didn’t help matters either. Steele throws his heater in the low to mid-90s and features an above-average to plus slider from his lower 3/4 arm slot. His changeup is well behind but he’s shown some feel for it, maybe enough to become an average third pitch. If Steele can regain the pre-injury form that made him an attractive lefty in the 2017 draft, there’s #4 starter upside here. His fastball/slider combination would also look pretty damn good coming out of the pen.
25. Omar Florentino, SS
Another sneaky-good 2018 international signing, the Royals plucked shortstop Omar Florentino from the Dominican Republic for $750K and was considered by some to be a better prospect than Wilmin Candelario. Florentino is an athletic shortstop with above-average speed and contacts skills. He gets the most out of his 5’9 frame and has already added some bulk since signing. While still quite small, Florentino incorporates his lower half well at the plate and rotates his hips well in his swing. As a switch hitter, he’s more contact over power at this point, but there’s still some physical projection to be had which could make him a 40-45 grade raw power type. Another name to file away and check back on in a year or so.
Others to Watch
Kevin Merrill, 2B: Easy plus speed, but very minimal power upside and might not hit enough to be an everyday player in the Majors.
John Rave, OF: A 5th rounder in 2019, Rave has plus speed but will need to develop as a hitter to make an impact and crack the top-25.
Gabriel Cancel, 2B: Has shown double-digit pop and speed throughout his minor league career, but projects as more of a utility infielder than a starter at the moment.
Emmanuel Rivera/Kelvin Gutierrez, 3B: Both will likely make it to the Majors due to their above-average defense, but don’t really have the offensive skills to make an impact. Worth monitoring in deeper mixed leagues or AL-Only formats.
Media Credit: Robert Robinson, Royals Farm Report, Jason Pennini, Chris Welsh, Kansas City Royals Player Development, Lance Brozdowski, WBSC.
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