Top 30 Kansas City Royals Prospects

1. 1B Nick Pratto

DOB: 10/06/1998

B/T: L/L

Current Level: Rookie

ETA: 2021

Nick Pratto wouldn’t of been my first choice at pick #14, but that doesn’t mean I’m not a fan of Pratto’s profile. Heading into the draft, I thought Pratto was the best high school hitter available. He has a wonderful hit tool that is based off of a very consistent swing combined with nice plate discipline. Questions about his power exist, though there is a lot of room for improvement on 6’0″, 200 lbs frame. He could be a player that has his power arrive with time.

Pratto isn’t the fastest player, but he gets the job done at first. He flashes a plus-plus arm for a first baseman (two-way player in HS) and he has the skill set to become an above-average first baseman.

2. OF Khalil Lee

DOB: 06/26/1998

B/T: L/L

Current Level: A

ETA: 2021

Could be the highest ceiling hitter in the organization. So far in his career, he has flashes all five tools. After being selected in the 3rd round as a two-way player last year, Lee posted some great numbers in the AZL last year. This led the Royals to be very aggressive with him, quickly putting him in full-season ball. He’s seem to handle the transition fairly well, ranking in the top 15 in wRC+ among Sally League hitters. Also worth noting among those 15 hitters, Lee is the youngest by six months.

The most concerning thing about Lee is his hit tool. His K% of 33.1 is second highest in the Sally League. This happens because of Lee’s uppercutting swing, which creates a ton of power (6th best ISO in South Atlantic), but is prone to a bunch of swing and miss.

In the field, he’ll probably end up in right. He has limited range, but flashes probably the best arm in the organization.

3. RHP Miguel Almonte

DOB: 04/04/1993

B/T: R/R

Current Level: AAA

ETA: 2017

Almonte might have the best pitch in the organization. His changeup is dirty. He also features a nice mid-90s fastball, complimented by a curveball.

He showed tremendous improvements on his command to start the year in AA as a starter, which has carried over into AAA as reliever. If he can keep up the improvements on his command, he could turn into a nice reliever.

4. C Chase Vallot

DOB: 08/21/1996

B/T: R/R


Current Level:
A+


ETA:
2019

Chase Vallot may have more power than any player in the Royals organization. I always like to use this piece of info that Shaun Newkirk at Royals Review pointed out.

“Here is the list of players since 2006 with a walk rate >= 11%, an ISO >=.200 and is a teenager in full season ball: ”


Nothing new for Vallot this year, as there is a lot of power and a lot of strikeouts. How he accesses his power is pretty simple. He hits the ball in the air A LOT (FB% of 57.1%) and with his strength, it equates into a lot of balls over the fence.

Like I said, Vallot does have serious issues with the making contact. His 35.8 K% ranks 1st in the Carolina League. But he does have a patient approach, as his 17.3 BB% ranks 3rd in the Carolina League.

Vallot struggles behind the plate, with below-average receiving skills and a below-average arm. Could end up at first.

5. 3B/OF Hunter Dozier

DOB: 08/22/1991

B/T: R/R

Current Level: AAA

ETA: 2017

For the most part it’s been a lost season for one of the Royals top prospects, Hunter Dozier. He’s struggled with both an oblique and wrist injury, receiving only 40 plate appearances between A+ and AAA this year.

After a share of ups and downs in his first few seasons of professional baseball, Hunter Dozier returned to the prospect scene, hitting .296/.366/.533 between AA and AAA last year. This came after after a 2016 season, in which he struggled mightily. Dozier went to go put in the work though and made some very positive corrections to his swing. He went away from some bad habits at the plate, decreasing his K% from 28.9% to 22.6%.

Dozier has a nice compact swing that allows him to have power to all fields.

On defense, Dozier is a very athletic player. He has a good enough arm to play in the corner outfield. He has enough speed to be a situational base runner. If all goes well for Dozier, he could be something like a .260 hitter in the majors with 20 home run power.

6. OF Seuly Matias

DOB: 09/04/1998

B/T: R/R

Current Level: Rookie

ETA: 2021

One of the highest ceiling players in all of the Royals system is Seuly Matias. Signed out of the Dominican Republic for $2.25 million, Matias was one of the more highly regarded players in the 2015 international signing period.

A lot of Matias’ high ceiling comes from his power potential, led by his insanely quick hands. He showed this off early, posting the second best ISO in the Arizona League last year. It should only be put on display more, once he grows into his frame.

Now in Burlington, Matias has shown things that have really impressed me. Last year, like most young players, strikeouts were a big problem for Matias. But, this year in Burlington, Matias has cut his K-rate in half. What’s even more impressive is that he hasn’t lost any power in the process.

I’m the field, Matias probably projects to end up in right. He’s got average range, average speed, but he possesses one of the better arms in the organization.

7. RHP Josh Staumont

DOB: 12/21/1993

B/T: R/R

Current Level: AA

ETA: 2018

After jumping into the radar as a legit prospect this year, Josh Staumont has had quite the disappointing season so far. After showing some improvement in AA last year (more respectable 6.6 BB/9), Staumont’s control has completely rolled backwards this year. This led to a disastrous 6.28 ERA and 6.50 FIP in AAA

The story is still the same on Staumont’s stuff. Triple-digit fastball, a devastating curveball that he sometimes struggles to command, and a changeup.

I’ve always seen Staumont as a reliever. The results so far this year confirm that thought even more.

8. LHP Richard Lovelady

DOB: 7/7/1995

B/T: L/L

Current Level: A+

ETA: 2019

I recently interviewed the dominating left handed reliever.

Lovelady has arguably been one of the best relief pitchers in all of minor league baseball this year. After being drafted out of Kennesaw State, he has climbed through the ranks quite nicely, pitching well at every level. This season, he has posted a 1.19 ERA and 1.37 FIP, with most of his success relating to his ability to generate groundballs and get strikeouts at a very high rate.

Lovelady has posted a GB% of 71.4 and a K% of 33.9. With those high rates, being lefty, a flailing delivery, and mainly fastball and slider, he reminds me of Zach Britton. I really wanted to put Lovelady higher. I feel like the sky is the limit for him.

The Royals might have themselves another stud reliever. Expect to see him in AA soon.

9. LHP Foster Griffin

DOB: 7/27/1995

B/T: R/L

Current Level: AA

ETA: 2019

After posting a disastrous stint in High-A during 2016, Griffin was much improved in his second go-around with the Wilmington Blue Rocks. He noticeably raised his K/9 from 7.2 to 9.5 in A+, finally harnesting some of his crafty off speed stuff.

He earned himself a promotion to AA, where he has looked fine so far.

The problem I have with Griffin is there is nothing that stands out. His fastball sits in the high-80s. When he’s on, the changeup can be deadly, but he hasn’t shown the consistency you’d like from it. The slow curve is a below-average offering. This adds up to a back-end starter for me.

I have an impressive stat though. Griffin has only allowed 26 home runs in 351.1 career minor league innings.

10. RHP Scott Blewett

DOB: 04/10/1996

B/T: R/R

Current Level: A+

ETA: 2019

Blewett sort of looks funky on the mound. Big 6’6” righty that uses a three-quarters arm slot. He uses a low-90s fastball that could have room to grow. He compliments that with a plus-plus curveball and shaky changeup.

In a limited showing, Blewett showed some strikeout stuff in his pro debut, posting a 9.3 K/9’in Burlington. He lost a lot of that in 2016, plunging to a K/9 of 6.6. Some of that resurfaced early this year, as his K/9 wa sitting at 7.1 through June 11. Since then, Blewett has been on a tear, posting a K/9 of 10.2.

I like Blewett’s makeup a lot and I think he is one of the higher potential starters in all of the organization.

11. 1B Samir Duenez

DOB: 06/11/1996

B/T: L/R

Current Level: AA

ETA: 2018

Throughout his career, Duenez has received mixed reviews as a prospect. The Royals thought high enough of him to protect him from the Rule 5 Draft, which was a questionable move. Nonetheless, all Duenez has done in his young career is hit.

  • At age 17 in the Rookie League, where the average age is 19.4, Duenez posted a 103 wRC+.
  • At age 20 in Low-A, where the average age is 21.2, Duenez posted a 108 wRC+.
  • At age 20 in High-A, where the average age is 22.4, Duenez posted a 132 wRC+.
  • At age 21 in AA, where the average age is 23.8, Duenez has posted a 110 wRC+.

I’m a believer that he will be able to add more power. He’s already having the best power season of his career, which could pertain to a change in approach (has cut down GB%, posting highest LD%, HR/FB% of career, increased K%).

He’s also a first baseman that has nice base running instincts, swiping 26 bags last year and 9 so far this year. Though, I wouldn’t put much stock into that. Overall, he’s pretty average at first. He has a good enough arm to play in the outfield too.

12. 1B Ryan O’Hearn

DOB: 07/26/1993

B/T: L/L

Current Level: AAA

ETA: 2017

One of the best power hitters in the organization, that wasn’t always the case for the slugger out of Sam Houston State. Slugging only .405 in college, the Royals though he had power potential in his bat, taking him in the 8th round of the 2014 draft. And he hasn’t disappointed. He has torn his way through every level, hitting .282/.358/.492.

Now in AAA, his offensive game has sputtered a bit. But there still are encouraging signs. He has shown more power in AAA, while striking out less.

He gets his power from an extreme flyball approach. His power also goes to all fields, shown my his home run spray chart.


He’s a pretty average at first base. He isn’t the quickest player, but has a good enough arm to play in the corner outfield.

13. RHP Jake Junis

DOB: 09/16/1992

B/T: R/R

Current Level: AAA

ETA: 2017

Royals fans got to a glimpse of Jake Junis this year in 35 innings. He pitched very inconsistently in those innings, but down in Omaha, he has looked better than ever. He holds amazing peripherals against PCL hitters, with a K/9 of 11.7 and BB/9 of 1.8.

Junis rocks a fastball in the low-mid 90s that he commands in every part of the zone well. He adds in a power curve and average changeup. If he can improve consistency on his changeup, Junis might be a slam-dunk 4/5 in the bigs. If not, he could profile as a decent reliever.

14. OF Donnie Dewees

DOB: 09/29/1993

B/T: L/L

Current Level: AA

ETA: 2019

Acquired last offseason in a minor trade that sent Alec Mills to the Chicago Cubs. Dewees struggled early on in the Royals organization, posting a .643 OPS in April and a .630 OPS in May. He went on to hit for a .994 OPS, which made his numbers much more respectable.

The top visual is Dewees in April and May. The bottom one is Dewees in June and July. It looks as if Dewees has been hitting less pulled ground balls, likely leading to his increase production.

Dewees plays a nice center with a weak arm and good speed. Could end up in the corners.

15. LHP Eric Skoglund

DOB: 10/26/1992

B/T: L/L

Current Level: AAA

ETA: 2017

Eric Skoglund is a prospect on more bullish on than others. He isn’t a player that will impress at all, but I feel like he is a solid bet to be a reliable back-of-the-rotation starter.

Skoglund doesn’t blow you away with his stuff. His fastball sits in the low-90s, but adds on a couple of MPH with perceived velocity, due to his tall frame. He also mixes in a decent moving slider and changeup, but nothing impressive.

Like I said above, I think Skoglund has a high-floor. This relates to his solid control (2.6 BB/9 in AAA this year) and ability to work down in the zone.

Worth noting his SwStr% has increased from 8.7% in AA last year to 9.5% in AAA this year.

16. SS/2B Nicky Lopez

DOB: 03/13/1995

B/T: L/R

Current Level: AA

ETA: 2019

Drafted in the 4th round of last year’s draft out of Creighton, Nicky Lopez had made a good impression early on in his professional career, hitting .291/.387/.413 so far. Lopez isn’t going to come to the plate with a lot of power due to his small frame (two home runs this year), but he easily makes up for it with a terrific approach.

Getting on-base has always been a skill for Lopez. At Creighton, he had an OBP of .387. This year at Wilmington, before his promotion, he had the fifth best OBP in the Carolina League. Another thing to love about him is his 4.3% SwStr rate, second best mark in the Carolina League.

Lopez has had trouble making solid contact in AA (GB% of 72.2, IFFB% of 40.0), suggesting his .318 batting average is a bit BABIP fueled. But what is encouraging is he still has shown the same plate discipline he did in Wilmington, walking as many times he has struck out.

There is a lot to love about Lopez’s glove too. Good speed, good instincts, good arm.

I think Lopez is one of the those high-floor prospects, as a he looks like he could profile as a great utility infielder. I still love the bat and glove a lot enough to make me think he could make a great lead off hitter for the Royals.

17. C Meibrys Viloria

DOB: 02/15/1997

B/T: L/R

Current Level: A

ETA: 2020

Signed out of Colombia for $460,000 as a shortstop, Meibrys Viloria has made some serious strides as a player.

In 2015, Viloria collected 39 hits. All 39 were singles. It had looked as if there wasn’t a lot of hope for power. He then made some changes in his approach, such as hitting more flyballs and pulling the ball more. This unlocked some of his power, as his ISO rose from .000 (which is hard to do, by the way) to a way more respectable .260 mark. His whole offensive game had now come together, dominating his way to Pioneer League MVP last year with a line of .376/.436/.606.

He’s had some trouble adjusting to full-season ball in Lexington (95 wRC+), but he’s still only 20 years old.

As I said above, Viloria has made some serious strides as a player, that includes moving from shortstop to catcher. He could become a nice player behind the plate with some repetition. Already has a nice arm.

18. RHP AJ Puckett

DOB: 05/27/1995

B/T: R/R

Current Level: A+

ETA: 2018

Another high-floor guy, AJ Puckett looks like a 3-4 type starter. Fastball, curveball, changeup, Puckett is able to pitch very effectively in the zone, generating a high amount of ground balls and IFFBs. This also comes with plus-command (2.3 BB/9 last year).

His changeup is probably his best offering. Sits around 82-85. His curveball has been said to be flat, showing itself as a below average offering.

With an ability to generate weak contact (Career HR/9 of 0.6), above-average command, and a good fastball/changeup combo, Puckett should have a quick rise to the major leagues.

19. OF Michael Gigliotti

DOB: 12/14/1996

B/T: L/L

Current Level: Rookie

ETA: 2020

Maybe my favorite player from this year’s Royals draft class. I think the Royals got Michael Gigliotti as a steal in the 4th round.

All of Gigliotti’s value circles around his defense, speed, and handling of the bat. Jumping onto the scene in the Cape Cod League, he turned some heads when hit .310/.404/.426. A nice line drive approach at the plate, but along with a knack for bunting, profiles Gigliotti as a guy that could hit for a nice average.

He should be able to stick in center, as he has shown great work there. The one concern is his arm, as it shows below average.

20. RHP Kyle Zimmer

DOB: 09/13/1991

B/T: R/R

Current Level: AAA

ETA: 2017

You know it, I know it, everybody knows the story on Kyle Zimmer. Injury. That story may have finally caught him too. After another injury early in the season, Zimmer was moved to the bullpen. This seemed like it could finally be the path that would lead Zimmer to the majors, being a dominant reliever. Sadly, that hasn’t been the case so far. Only two of his eight relief outings have been scoreless. Some of this due to an unlucky BABIP and a LOB% that is below his career average.

Zimmer has a fastball that sits in the low-90s, adding in a curveball and changeup.

He’ll need to get a feel for his off-speed pitches again and gain back some of his control (4.8 BB/9 this year) to pitch in the big league bullpen this year.

21. 1B Chris DeVito

DOB: 12/01/1994

B/T: L/R

Current Level: A+

ETA: 2019

One of the more better power hitters in all of the organization, all Chris DeVito has done in pro ball is hit. Promoted to Wilmington after producing an absurd .355 ISO in Lexington, he has held his own in High-A with a 117 wRC+.

Most of his power comes from his strength. He has a very simple swing, showing almost no leg kick. I’m concerned about how he’ll fare against advanced pitching, posting a higher K% and lower BB% in full-season ball. I’d be nice for him get back to more along of the likes of hi 0.69 K/BB ratio, rather than his 0.16 this season.

22. C Sebastian Rivero

DOB: 11/16/1998

B/T: R/R

Current Level: Rookie

ETA: 2021

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.

23. 2B/SS Corey Toups

DOB: 02/12/1993

B/T: R/R

Current Level: AA

ETA: 2018

One of the more professional hitters in all of the Royals system, Toups seems to be a player that could have a smooth transition to the major. A bit heavy on the strikeouts (25.8 K% in career), comes with some good on-base skills (.372 career OBP).

He has a knack of making solid bat-to-ball contact due to his elite bat speed. Most of his power comes from the gaps (35 doubles last year), but his does the ability to hit some out. The power he generates from his 5-10, 170 lb frame is impressive.

You could consider Toups a utility player. Is his minor league career, he has appeared in games at 2B, SS, 3B, and LF. His main position is probably 2B though, with a lack of great range.

24. RHP Yunior Marte

DOB: 2/2/1995

B/T: R/R

Current Level: A+


ETA:
2019

Is another relief ace possibly in the making? Yunior Marte has started to show some real capabilities as a reliever, as he has dominated the Carolina League so far, posting a 1.95 ERA in 32.1 innings. It might be finally coming together for Marte. After struggling the past couple of years, he has been able to work in the lower quadrant of the zone more, thus getting more strikeouts and grounders.

Adding velocity in the bullpen has helped too. He works a nice two seamer along with a fantastic changeup. The improvements are encouraging, but he’ll need to work on his control, as he’s walking 5.0 batters per nine.

25. RHP Corey Ray

DOB: 12/15/1992

B/T: R/R

Current Level: AA

ETA: 2018

Though he has pitched considerably well as a starter, I keep wondering when the Royals are going to move Corey Ray into a relief role. Already throwing mid-90s heat as a starter, Ray would have the potential to get his velocity in the upper-90s if moved to a one inning role.

Ray has dominated left handed hitters in his career, mainly with his changeup and curveball.

You could see a LOOGY with Corey Ray. I would be intrigued a bit if he was moved to the bullpen, but for now, I do not like him as a starter.

26. 2B/SS Ramon Torres

DOB: 1/22/1993

B/T: S/R

Current Level: AAA

ETA: 2017

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.

27. SS Jeison Guzman

DOB: 10/08/1998

B/T: S/R

Current Level: Rookie

ETA: 2020

One of the gems of the 2015 international class, Jeison Guzman has been praised for how advanced he is at his age.

Guzman shows average speed, but great overall skills at shortstop.

I’m probably lower on Guzman than most people. I still have a lot questions about his bat. I think he’ll develop some contact skills along the way, but I just don’t see the power showing up. Just the lack of power and speed concerns me. I see a below-average regular on the left side of the infield.

28. OF Rudy Martin

DOB: 1/31/1996

B/T: L/L

Current Level: A

ETA: 2021

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.

29. RHP Gerson Garabito

DOB: 8/19/1995

B/T: R/R

Current Level: A

ETA: 2020

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.

30. OF Bubba Starling

DOB: 8/3/1992

B/T: R/R

Current Level: AAA

ETA: 2017

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.

April

May and June

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.

Honorable Mentions

C MJ Melendez, RHP Garrett Davila, OF Anderson Miller, OF Kort Peterson, C Cam Gallagher, 2B Esteury Ruiz, OF Brewer Hicklen, RHP Grant Gavin, OF Elier Hernandez, OF Marten Gasparini, RHP Jake Newberry, LHP Eric Stout, RHP Pedro Fernandez

Couple guys on here could be big risers in our next rankings, such as Esteury Ruiz and MJ Melendez.

Photo Credits: Clinton Riddle

One thought on “Top 30 Kansas City Royals Prospects

  1. Pingback: Checking in on Some of KC’s Top Prospects: Staumont Keeps on Rollin’ | Royals Farm Report

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