This is the first installment of the updated Royals Farm Report prospect rankings, covering #30 to #26.
30. OF Bubba Starling
Current Level: AAA
Guys… It might finally be happening. This could be the year Bubba Starling finally reaches the major leagues. But it hasn’t always looked like this. Starling had a very lackluster April, which caused many people to give up on the local kid. Batting .129/.217/.194, it was time for a change.
A lot of Starling’s early struggles contributed mainly to two things. He was hitting too many grounders and he was striking out too much. Take this for example, in April, Starling had a GB% of 58.5 and a strikeout rate of 30.4%. The only hitters in the majors that put up those type of numbers are pitchers. Not good.
So anyway, like I said above, Starling needed a change. And it sure looks like there’s been one. Since his sluggish April, he is batting .305/.331/.405.
A lot of this improvement has to do with him being able to get the ball in the air more, use the opposite field, and strikeout less. These heat maps explain it all.
Starling doesn’t need to hit a whole lot anyway. With his elite defense and base running, he could still definety provide positive contributions to the big league club.
He’s not going to be anything special. His hot stretch is the only reason he made this list. But I still see a nice reserve outfielder.
29. RHP Gerson Garabito
Current Level: A
Now in his second go-around in Low-A, I have noticed some improvements out of Gerson Garabito. Before being placed on the DL, Garabito looked in line for a promotion to High-A. In 41 innings, he pitched to the tune of a 2.20 ERA and 3.68 FIP. He also noticeably increased his strikeout rate and lowered his walk rate from the year before.
The arsenal is intriguing for Garabito. His curveball has looked terrific, showing some nice horizontal movement. His fastball shows average velocity, but I believe he could add a couple MPH along the way. The changeup is average, but has flashed some potential.
If Garabito can add to his 160 pound frame, increase his velocity, and get that changeup to work more consistently, you might see him fly up the prospect ranks.
28. OF Rudy Martin
Current Level: A
A prospect I’m pretty bullish on, as this was one of my biggest over-ranks. Taken by the Royals in the 25th round of the 2014 MLB Draft, Rudy Martin has shown one amazing tool so far in his minor league career. Speed.
One of the fastet players in all of the Royals organization, Rudy Martin has been able use his speed in a lot of ways. He turns a lot of singles into doubles, doubles into triples. His career .399 BABIP has correlated with how fast he is. He’s also stole 51 bags in 59 attempts.
A great line drive approach, Martin has a pretty swing that can spray the ball all over the field.
It’d be nice to see him get back to some of that great plate discipline we saw in his first year of pro ball, when he showed the best K/BB ratio in the Arizona League.
27. SS Ramon Torres
Current Level: AAA
Ramon Torres, now up with the big league club, has looked impressive in his few games at the major league level. He is what you would describe as a hacker. Puts the ball in play a lot, doesn’t walk often.
Torres has added some power this year. He already tied his career high in homers for one year, with five.
A lot of Torres’ value pertains to his versatility. Being able to play 2B, SS, and 3B adequately is nice. Not to mention, switch hitting. The ceiling for him is a serviceable bench player.
26. C Sebastian Rivero
Current Level: Rookie
Signed with the big international class of 2015, Sebastian Rivero has been described as having great defensive skills behind the dish. The bat has questions, as it is tough to project right now.
Rivero is still only 18, so you’d expect him to add on to his 180 pounds, especially playing catcher.
We should learn more about him soon, as he should make his pro ball debut in Burlington sometime this year.