2017 Royals Prospect Rankings: 80-71

This is the third piece of the second edition of Royals Farm Report’s Prospect Rankings; as we came out with our first top 30 list in July. We’ve expanded our horizons on these rankings, deciding to come out with a top 100 list. This post will cover 80-71 in our rankings. Enjoy!


Our method for determining our top 100 Royals prospects came from an aggregate of three separate top 100 lists. These lists were compiled by three members of our writing staff: Patrick Brennan, Alex Duvall, and Drew Osborne.

100-91 here

90-81 here

80. Vance Vizcaino, OF

DOB: 08/01/1994

B/T: L/R

Levels Played, 2017: Rookie (Idaho Falls), A (Lexington)

Acquired: 2016 MLB Draft, 11th Round

ETA: 2020

2017 Stats: 42 G, .315/.381/.376, 47 H, 9 2B, 0 3B, 0 HR, 22 R, 14 RBI, 11 SB (Lexington), 22 G, .287/.344/.460, 25 H, 5 2B, 2 3B, 2 HR (Idaho Falls)

After being drafted four times, twice by the Royals, Vance Vizcaino finally put the pen to paper, signing with the Royals for after being picked in the 11th round of the 2016 draft. This all came after a seesawing college career, playing a year at Tennessee and two years at Stetson. He looked like a prospect on the rise after his sophomore year, hitting .341/.384/.466 in 58 games. Though a rough junior year that saw his OPS tumble to .703 caused him to slip a few rounds in the draft.

Vizcaino is probably one of the faster players in all of the organization. The thing is, he isn’t a guy that will burn the base paths. He’ll steals some bases, but not at the level that you’d like. And like most speed guys, he hits the ball on the ground a lot. This allows him to rack up a great amount of infield hits, therefore sustaining a high BABIP that carries any offensive value he has.

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Vizcaino possesses great bat-to-ball abilities, as his bat speed exists at any plane. This holds up his decent contact skills. His swing path doesn’t allow for much more power, as he’s only hit two home runs in his first 117 minor league games.

Questions are out about Vizcaino’s ability to be a centerfielder, suggesting the corners are a more likely destination for him. This would obviously give him a huge knock as a prospect with the bat not being suited for the corners at all.

Other than his speed, Vizcaino has no standout tools. A Jarrod Dyson-lite is his ceiling.

79. Amalani Fukofuka, OF

DOB: 09/25/1995

B/T: R/R

Levels Played, 2017: Rookie (Idaho Falls), A (Lexington)

Acquired: 2013 MLB Draft, 5th Round

ETA: 2022

2017 Stats: 66 G, .295/.360/.442, 56 H, 17 2B, 3 3B, 6 HR, 66 R, 36 RBI, 24 SB (Idaho Falls), 33 G, .208/.280/.274, 4 2B, 0 3B, 1 HR, 12 R, 11 RBI, 9 SB (Lexington)

This was a guy that I had high hopes for with the bat after the 2013 draft. The success has been minimal though, slashing .250/.322/.362 in 369 career minor league games, while not making it above Low-A. Take out his two stints in the hitters haven Idaho Falls and Fukofuka hasn’t hit at any stop. He has been overmatched by tons of pitchers, perhaps explained better by this interesting stat…

  • Amalani Fukofuka vs. Younger Pitchers: .312/.358/.457
  • Amalani Fukofuka vs. Older Pitchers: .237/.322/.346

He doesn’t do anything flashy with the bat, but I love the tools. He’s got some quick hands that were thought to maybe have produced a good contact and power bat. That hasn’t been the case, with Fukufuka striking out in 27.4% of his plate appearances and slugging .362 for his career. He has shown a decent eye though, owning an 8.6% walk rate.

Fukofuka can play all three outfield positions well. He’s got a pretty good feel in the field overall, showing an above-average arm with some great range, sometimes allowing him to make some improbable plays.

Unless Fukofuka can make some adjustments to higher-level pitchers, he’ll be nothing more than organizational guy.

78. Matt Tenuta, LHP

DOB: 12/16/1993

B/T: L/L

Levels Played, 2017: A+ (Wilmington), AA (Northwest Arkansas)

Acquired: 2012 MLB Draft, 25th Round

ETA: 2018

2017 Stats: 17 G, 5.74 ERA, 5.04 FIP, 53.1 IP, 74 H, 38 R, 34 ER, 17 BB, 38 SO (Northwest Arkansas), 13 G, 1.57 ERA, 2.96 FIP, 34.1 IP, 28 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 13 BB, 40 SO (Wilmington)

The Royals 2012 25th round pick showed decent results as a starter in his first few minor league seasons. But after eight really rough starts in AA (29 runs in 33.2 innings, 6.7 K/9) and a really good season in the bullpen (15 runs in 54 innings, 8.8 K/9), Tenuta is probably best served to turn into a full-time reliever.

Tenuta features a low-90s fastball, a curveball that has some drop, a slurvy slider, and a flat changeup. The lack of a third offering probably solidifies his identity as a reliever. If he shows good results in the bullpen next year, presumably in Omaha, I wouldn’t count him out as a September call up.

77. Jordan Floyd, LHP

DOB: 02/23/1995

B/T: L/L

Levels Played, 2017: Rookie (AZL), Rookie (Burlington)

Acquired: 2017 MLB Draft, 10th Round

ETA: 2021

2017 Stats: 14 G, 2.20 ERA, 4.04 FIP, 28.2 IP, 35 H, 10 R, 7 ER, 9 BB, 18 SO (Burlington), 2 G, 0.00 ERA, 2.87 FIP, 3 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 5 SO (AZL)

One of the better local prospects in this year’s draft, the Royals were able to grab up Kansas State University alum Jordan Floyd. I liked the lefty coming out of college as a high-floor guy. The arsenal of a mid-90s heater, plus-plus slider, and an above-average changeup intrigued me.

The results could have been better for Floyd’s inaugural professional season. He didn’t get many strikeouts and left too many pitches over the plate. I did see a positive though. One of Floyd’s problems coming out of college was the control, walking a high 4.2 batter per nine. But in Burlington, he only walked 2.8 per nine.

Maybe the Royals can work with Floyd and produce better results as he moves up the ladder. He could be an ample major league arm.

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76. Cal Jones, OF

DOB: 09/16/1997

B/T: R/R

Levels Played, 2017: Rookie (Burlington)

Acquired: 2016 MLB Draft, 6th Round

ETA: 2023

2017 Stats: 59 G, .224/.272/.373, 54 H, 12 2B, 3 3B, 6 HR, 33 R, 31 RBI, 8 SB (Burlington)

An all-around baseball player, Jones is another guy who has had his toolsy attributes not translate to results. One thing known for sure is his speed. He plays a great centerfield and is a skilled base runner.

Was one of my favorite picks in the 2016 draft, but so far the bat is lagging (73 wRC+ this year).

75. Robby Rinn, 1B

DOB: 10/17/1992

B/T: L/L

Levels Played, 2017: Rookie (Idaho Falls)

Acquired: 2016 MLB Draft, 25th Round

ETA: 2021

2017 Stats: 69 G, .355/.429/.511, 100 H, 22 2B, 2 3B, 6 HR, 58 R, 59 RBI, 3 SB (Idaho Falls)

A guy that started college late, not starting his pro career until age 23, Robby Rinn has usually been ahead of his competition. He destroyed the ball at Bryant University, hitting .330/.418/.493 in his four years. Age was the probably the reason he went so late in the draft, being taken in the 25th round.

I love the approach from Rinn at the plate. He was able to hit for some power (30 extra-base hits in 69 games) and still have hold up his contact management (10.9 K%). Part of this has to do with Rinn being so much older than his competition and some of it has to do with the sound approach at the plate.

He isn’t anything to rave about at first base, but he gets the job done. Good range, decent footwork.

As long as Rinn keeps on moving up and hitting, he’ll be on this list. I’d like to see the Royals push him to Wilmington, lowering the age difference between him and the league average. As for a comp, maybe think Frank Schwindel with plate discipline and a better glove.

74. Christian Binford, RHP

DOB: 12/20/1992

B/T: R/R

Levels Played, 2017: AA (Northwest Arkansas), AAA (Omaha)

Acquired: 2011 MLB Draft, 30th Round

ETA: 2019

2017 Stats: 22 G, 7.28 ERA, 6.28 FIP, 115.2 IP, 157 H, 96 R, 93 ER, 39 BB, 94 SO (Omaha), 5 G, 1.99 ERA, 3.76 FIP, 31.2 IP, 29 H, 7 R, 7 ER, 7 BB, 23 SO (Northwest Arkansas)

It has been hot and cold with Christian Binford and the Kansas City Royals ever since the he was started his career in 2011. After his first few years in pro ball, Binford caught people’s attention with some good results, being considered one of the better pitching prospects in all of baseball. Since then, it has mostly been downhill, with perhaps 2017 being rock bottom (7.24 ERA, .317 BAA, 1.69 WHIP in 115.2 AAA innings). Binford’s chapter with the Royals might be coming to an end soon though, as Binford is set to become a minor league free agent this offseason.

Binford’s 2017 season ended up as the worst season of his career. He showed no deception in his pitches and wasn’t fooling anybody. For a pitcher that works in the zone with a low-90s fastball like his, the results aren’t ideal. He also features a slurvy slider and a hard changeup.

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Binford works with a smooth, nice and easy, over the top delivery. Not a lot of moving parts. He repeats it well.

73. Jack Lopez, SS

DOB: 12/16/1992

B/T: R/R

Levels Played, 2017: AA (Northwest Arkansas), AAA (Omaha)

Acquired: 2011 MLB Draft, 5th Round

ETA: 2019

2017 Stats: 95 G, .281/.332/.366, 83 H, 12 2B, 2 3B, 5 HR, 42 R, 29 RBI, 19 SB (Northwest Arkansas), 18 G, .146/.197/.177, 7 H, 2 2B, 0 3B, 0 HR, 2 R, 1 RBI, 1 SB (Omaha)

Another one of the more notable minor league free agents for the Royals this offseason, Jack Lopez looks like a glove first organizational filler. He’s usually nothing with the bat, but he was way more respectable this season, hitting for a 96 wRC+, the best mark of his career.

His offensive profile has to do with on-base skills, though free swinging, barely lifting the ball with no strength to drive the ball at all.

Jack Lopez_HeatMap.png

Heat Map courtesy of MLBfarm.com

Lopez doesn’t have a lot of feel for the bat, usually pulling a lot of ground balls that are hit softly, as seen in this heat map. Even with his plus speed, I don’t see this translating to a high average, basically meaning he’ll have nothing going for him offensively.

The good news on Lopez is the glove. He plays second, third, and short all routinely, using his soft hands and above-average range.

72. Anthony Bender, RHP

DOB: 02/03/1995

B/T: R/R

Levels Played, 2017: A (Lexington), A+ (Wilmington)

Acquired: 2016 MLB Draft, 20th Round

ETA: 2021

2017 Stats: 23 G, 3.93 ERA, 3.96 FIP, 73.1 IP, 69 H, 35 R, 32 ER, 20 BB, 74 SO (Lexington), 1 G, 4.50 ERA, 3.40 FIP, 4 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 3 SO (Wilmington)

Looking back, I wish we could have put Bender higher in our rankings. Not talked about enough was the stellar season he had in in Lexington this year. Working both as a starter and a reliever, Bender put together a stellar season in his second year (3.93 ERA, 3.96 FIP in 73.1 innings). Unusually, Bender had better numbers as a starter. A lot of that came from a great stretch he had in July…

Bender can run it up into the 96-98 range as a reliever, possibly suggesting that’s probably where he ends up. The a plus slider is probably the other thing to mention.

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From what I’ve seen from Bender, he gets a lot of vertical and horizontal movement on his pitches. He’ll also mix his secondary offerings well with his heater to rack up the strikeouts (good marks in K% and SwStr%) and weak contact. I’ll need to see more of Bender as a starter to generate more of an opinion on him. I’ll mark him down as a bullpen arm now.

71. Rubendy Jacquez, 2B

DOB: 02/13/1999

B/T: S/R

Levels Played, 2017: Rookie (DSL)

Acquired: Free Agent, Dominican Republic

ETA: 2024

2017 Stats: 62 G, .267/.362/.338, 56 H, 8 2B, 2 3B, 1 HR, 19 R, 18 RBI, 19 SB (DSL)

Likely heading for the Arizona League next year, Jacquez is a guy I’m kind of excited to see some of. Playing in the Dominican Republic his first two years, Jacquez hit well for the offense lacking DSL, slashing .267/.362/.338.

The 2017 DSL Royals Hitter of Year showed great plate discipline his first two years in pro ball (54 walks, 61 strikeouts). It should be interesting to see the move stateside for Jacquez, jumping from the pitcher-friendly DSL to the hitter-friendly AZL. We should get a better feel for Jacquez as a prospect. Could be a guy that soars up the rankings next year.

Photo Credits: Brendan Sullivan—Omaha World-Herald

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