2017 Royals Prospect Rankings: 50-41

Method:

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.

50. Glenn Sparkman, RHP

DOB: May 11, 1992

B/T: S/R

Levels Played, 2017: High-A, AA, AAA, MLB

Acquired: 20th Round of the 2013 MLB Draft

ETA: 2019

2017 Stats (AA NWA only): 2.61 ERA, 5 K, 5 BB, 1.55 WHIP, 10.1 IP

Glenn Sparkman was selected by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 2016 Rule 5 Draft, and May very well be headed back this year as the Royals chose not to protect him on the 40-man roster. Sparkman is an interesting prospect in that he’s had some success at every level, but he’ll spend most of the 2018 season as a 26-year old and has yet to pitch an entire big-league season above AA. With the Rule 5 Draft coming up in December, we’ll see how long he’s a Royals prospect.

49. John Brontsema, 2B

DOB: December 13, 1994

B/T: R/R

Levels Played, 2017: Low-A, High-A

Acquired: 26th round of the 2016 MLB Draft

ETA: 2021

2017 Stats (Low-A only): .323/.416/.484/.900, 4 HR, 21 RBI, 6 SB, 161 AB

John Brontsema had one of my favorite seasons of any Royals prospects this season. Originally scheduled to start in the Pioneer League with Idaho Falls, Brontsema got a chance to fill in for Gabriel Cancel in full-season ball with Lexington and made the most of it. Brontsema’s wOBA z-score was among the best in all of minor league baseball last year, and he may yet have some Whit Merrifield type value in him. That being in a second baseman, drafted out of college, with the ability to really hit the baseball, but it might take him a bit longer to develop. Brontsema is a guy I’ll have my eye on in 2018.

48. Chris DeVito, 1B

DOB: December 1, 1994

B/T: L/R

Levels Played, 2017: Low-A, High-A

Acquired: 8th Round of the 2016 MLB Draft

ETA: 2020

2017 Stats:

Low-A: .347/.374/.702/1.077, 11 HR, 38 RBI, 10 2B, 121 AB

High-A: .240/.287/.382/.670, 10 HR, 53 RBI, 21 2B, 387 AB

It was a season full of splits for Chris DeVito Carrying what may well be the most powerful bat in the Royals system, the young first baseman had an up and down year in 2017. DeVito lit the world on fire early in the year at Low-A, and was promptly promoted to High-A where the results simply didn’t translate.

The other mega-split for DeVito in 2017 were his righty/lefty splits. Here’s how DeVito faded against righties in his time with High-A Wilmington: .304/.353/.486/.840 with 8 HR in 247 AB. Against lefties: .129/.164/.200/.364 with 2 HR in 140 AB.

DeVito clearly has some work to do against lefties, but if he can just figure out how to hit .200 against LHP, he could very well have a major league career ahead of him.

47. Marten Gasparini, OF

DOB: May 24, 1997

B/T: S/R

Levels Played, 2017: Low-A

Acquired: International Free Agent Signing

ETA: 2021

2017 Stats: .227/.274/.355/.629, 9 HR, 50 RBI, 19 2B, 18 SB, 406 AB

Gasparini was a guy that I was really excited to watch grow as a hitter in 2017. The Royals decided to move him from SS to CF to take some of the pressure off of him at the plate this year, and it worked to an extent. Obviously though, Gasparini didn’t have the year anyone would’ve hoped for. The 20-year old from Italy won’t turn 21 until the 2018 season is already underway, so there’s obviously still time for him, but I’m sure the Royals would like to see some growth at the plate sooner rather than later.

One way Gasparini might be able to do that would be to give up switch-hitting. The talented young man struggled against LHP this season, hitting only .180 from the right side of the plate. Moving from SS to the OF seemed to help his bat a little bit, maybe simplifying it further by strictly hitting left-handed would help him even more. We’ll see. After two full seasons playing in Low-A, expect Gasparini to start off with High-A Wilmington in 2018.

46. Oliver Nunez, 3B

DOB: February 21, 1995

B/T: S/R

Levels Played, 2017: Rookie (Burlington)

Acquired: International Free Agent Signing

ETA: 2021

2017 Stats: .321/.389/.421/.809, 2 HR, 20 RBI, 10 2B, 19 SB, 221 AB

Had Nunez not been a 22-year old in rookie ball last summer, his numbers would probably far more impressive. Yet here we are after yet another good season from the young third baseman and he only registers at 46 on the Royals prospect list because his age sort of devalues his success.

However, if Nunez can bypass Low-A next year and make the jump to High-A Wilmington, he has a chance to jump up the prospect rankings in 2018. The numbers are undeniable. The age is a bit of a concern. If the soon-to-be 23-year old can climb through the system next year, he may climb the rankings as well.

45. Jeison Guzman, SS

DOB: October 8, 1998

B/T: L/R

Levels Played, 2017: Rookie (Burlington)

Acquired: International Free Agent Signing

ETA: 2022

2017 Stats: .207/.286/.249/.535, 0 HR, 15 RBI, 4 2B, 2 SB, 193 AB

Jeison Guzman is ranked ahead of Oliver Nunez, despite a clearly inferior season at the plate with the same team (Burlington Royals), for the same reason that Nunez isn’t in our Top 30. His age.

Guzman spent the entire 2017 campaign as an 18-year old with Burlington. His ability to hit from both sides of the plate, play good defense, and run well give him some tools that ought to excite Royals fans. The Royals braintrust obviously felt comfortable enough with Guzman to let him bypass the AZL this year, which is a promising sign for the Royals young SS prospect.

44. Rudy Martin, OF

DOB: January 31, 1996

B/T: L/L

Levels Played, 2017: Low-A

Acquired: 25th round of the 2014 MLB Draft

ETA: 2021

2017 Stats (IDF only): .277/.365/.403/.768, 2 HR, 7 2B, 26 SB, 119 AB

Rudy Martin may well be the best Royals prospect that you’ve never heard of. After being drafted in the 25th round of the 2014 draft, Martin didn’t play in a professional game until 2015 in the AZL. After making his professional debut, Martin exploded onto the prospect scene by hitting .338/.477/.541/1.018 with 14 SB in 40 games. Martin hasn’t slowed down much at the plate since then, as he hosts a career slash line of .284/.393/.416/.809 with 5 HR and 62 SB over the course of 125 games in 4 seasons.

Ah. We’ve finally reached the reason that Rudy Martin isn’t a top 10 prospect with that career slash line. The kid can’t seem to stay healthy. He has never played in more than 46 games in a professional season and was placed on the DL on July 14 of this past year which ended his 2017 season. If Rudy Martin can ever put together a full season of at-bats…look out. Who knows what this kid is capable of.

Read Martin’s impressive full bio from MiLB.com:

“Selected in the 25th round of the 2014 first-year player draft…2013: Won 4A State Championship as a junior…2014: Graduated from Lewisburg High (Miss.)…2015: Surprise (AZL) Player of the Year, ranking among Arizona League leaders in on-base percentage (.477, first), triples (tied for first), runs (tied for first), walks (tied for first), slugging percentage (.541, second) and batting average (fourth) in his pro debut…reached safely in 26 consecutive games (July 24-Aug. 28), the second-longest streak in the Arizona League…named Arizona League postseason All-Star.  ”

43. Kevin McCarthy, RHP

DOB: February 22, 1992

B/T: R/R

Levels Played, 2017: AAA, MLB

Acquired: 16th Round of the 2013 MLB Draft

ETA: 2017

2017 Stats (MLB only): 3.20 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, 27 K, 13 BB, .276 BAA, 4 HRA, 45 IP

You saw McCarthy pitch in 2017. The guy has the stuff to be an effective major-league reliever. Which is why we put him so high up here because he has staying power in the MLB. But, yeah. “Technically” he’s no longer considered a “prospect.”

42. Pedro Fernandez, RHP

DOB: May 25, 1994

B/T: R/R

Levels Played, 2017: AA, AA

Acquired: International Free Agent Signing

ETA: 2018

2017 Stats (AA only): 2.66 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 51 K to 13 BB, 1 HRA, 50.2

Pedro Fernandez is an interesting prospect to say the least. Though he’s yet to find success at AAA, he definitely warranted protection from the Rule 5 Draft, although he never received it. His fastball/changeup combo is absolutely devastating and I wouldn’t be surprised if someone took a chance on him this December.

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Who knows how long Fernandez will remain a Royals prospect, but as long as he does, he will certainly remain in the top 50 due to his probable success as at least a bullpen arm in the MLB.

41. Ramon Torres, 2B

DOB: January 22, 1993

B/T: S/R

Levels Played, 2017: AAA, MLB

Acquired: International Free Agent

ETA: 2017

2017 Stats (MLB): .243/.291/.284/.575, 0 HR, 4 RBI, 3 2B, 1 SB, 74 AB

Ramon Torres filled in for the Royals a utility backup infielder in 2017 and performed admirably. Torres can play 3 positions on the infield at an above average clip and his hit tool from both sides of the plate will keep him around the big leagues for at least the next 5 years. He may never be good enough to start for the Royals (barring injury) but his ability to stay in the big leagues for extended periods of time warrants respect on this prospect list. I fully expect Torres to get 150-200 AB next season for KC.

Photo Credits: Rick Scuteri—USA Today Sports

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