Royals Prospects at the AZFL

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Photo Credits: Buck Davidson

The Arizona Fall League is a very exciting time in the world of minor league baseball. It’s a place where many players can make a name for themselves. Last year, Josh Staumont’s performance got people buzzing about his live arm.

The rosters were just announced for the AZFL. As usual, the teams will be the Glendale Desert Dogs, Mesa Solar Sox, Peoria Javelinas, Salt River Rafters, Scottsdale Scorpions, and Surprise Saguaros. All representatives from the Royals organization go to play for the Surprise Saguaros. Here are the players.

Zach Lovvorn

Lovorrn is a 23 year old righty that has spent the whole year in AA. He’s spent most of his minor league career starting, but he’s seen an extended amount of time in the bullpen this year.

His stuff can be a bit underwhelming and it doesn’t scream strikeout stuff, but his low-90s fastball and nice changeup get the job done. The amount of hard contact he allows concerns me, especially not being a strikeout guy. I’d like to see Lovvorn work out of the bullpen in the AZFL. I’m not huge on him as a starter and I think he has a decent floor as a big league reliever.

Nicky Lopez

Here’s what I had to say about Lopez in our prospect rankings earlier this year:

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.

Nick Dini

A guy that has constantly filled the box scores this year is catcher Nick Dini. The 5’8″ (yes, 5’8″ catcher) has hit at every level since being selected in the 14th round of the 2015 draft. So far, he’s slashing .310/.370/.415 between Low-A and AA this year.

Elier Hernandez

It’s been an up and down career for Elier Hernandez so far. Though 2017 has mostly been injury riddled, Hernandez enjoyed his best season ever at the plate, as the big Dominican free agent hit .317/.355/.489 between A+ and AA.

The 22 year old might still have some potential. He’s athletic enough to play all three outfield positions, has above average power, and doesn’t clog the bases. I’m not surprised at all that he’s on the AZFL roster, considering the injury. I’m excited to see how he’ll perform off the injury.

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