2017 Royals Prospect Rankings: 60-51

This is the fifth 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 60-51 in our rankings. Enjoy!

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 BrennanAlex Duvall, and Drew Osborne.

60. Malcom Culver, RHP

DOB: 02/09/1990

B/T: R/R

Levels Played, 2017: AAA (Omaha)

Acquired: 2008 MLB Draft, 8th Round

ETA: 2018

2017 Stats: 32 G, 4.10 ERA, 3.94 FIP, 37.1 IP, 40 H, 17 R, 17 ER, 19 BB, 34 SO (Omaha)

Another Omaha arm set to hit minor league free agency, Malcom Culver was a guy I visioned helping the Royals bullpen in 2017, but lack of performance and injury kept that from coming to fruition. The righty arm flashed his usual good repertoire, but he had a lot of trouble keeping the hard contact at an ideal rate. It becomes even more disappointing considering this was his second straight year pitching the whole year in the Storm Chasers bullpen.

Part of the reason I liked Culver so much had to do with his fastball. He could run it up to the mid-90s, work low in the zone with it to get a good amount of ground balls, and generate some nice armside run. The changeup looks really great at times, working with a lot of vertical movement. He also features a mid-80s slider.

A lot of the issues with Culver have surrounded his control (mainly the offspeed stuff). The California product has walked 4.2 per nine in his career.

59. Corey Toups, 2B

DOB: 02/12/1993

B/T: R/R

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

Acquired: 2014 MLB Draft, 15th Round

ETA: 2018

2017 Stats: 88 G, .232/.322/.363, 67 H, 12 2B, 4 3B, 6 HR, 46 R, 28 RBI, 9 SB (Omaha), 25 G, .286/.336/.418, 19 H, 7 2B, 0 3B, 2 HR, 14 R, 10 RBI, 4 SB (Northwest Arkansas)

Corey Toups might have had the biggest fall in these rankings. Another player I saw making contributions in the near future that had a very disappointing season in AAA, the 79 wRC+ Toups posted in Omaha might have suggested he’s more of an organizational guy.

Versatility is the best attribute of Toups. In his career, he’s appeared in games at second base, shortstop, third base, left field, and right field, taking on a Whit Merrifield type of persona. His approach at the plate is advanced, which I thought suggested he would have a fairly easy transition to the big leagues, but he did see his K% take a big jump this year (22.9% in 2016, 28.5% in 2017).

He looks skilled at the plate, showing good timing, quick hands, and a good eye. His swing tends to find the right path to the ball a lot, resulting in a fairly high amount of pulled line drives. Uncharacteristically, he was getting the ball in the air a lot more than his norm (career high 43.7 FB%), maybe suggesting why his usually high BABIP took a hit this year, also taking the batting average down with it.

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Toups will need to show better results in 2018 to prove that he can stick in the big leagues.

58. Kort Peterson, OF

DOB: 04/29/1994

B/T: L/R

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

Acquired: 2016 MLB Draft, 23rd Round

ETA: 2020

2017 Stats: 52 G, .290/.374/.389, 56 H, 12 2B, 2 3B, 1 HR, 24 R, 19 RBI, 5 SB (Lexington), 11 G, .333/.366/.590, 7 H, 3 2B, 2 3B, 1 HR, 7 R, 1 RBI, 0 SB (Wilmington)

Kort Peterson is a guy that I’ve always been bullish on. If it weren’t for his injury-proned 2017, he’d be much higher on this list. Since being selected in the 23rd round of the 2016 draft out of UCLA, all Peterson has done is filled up the box scores, hitting for a .319/.401/.475 line his first two seasons.

Peterson possesses a very pretty swing, using an all fields, line drive approach. If he can lower his 21.3% career K%, I could see him hitting for a high average at any level. The problem is, he lacks power at a power position. This makes me pin a low-ceiling, high-floor profile on him, suggesting maybe he’ll end up as a serviceable bench bat.

Kort Peterson.png

Peterson sprays the ball all over the field from the left side. (Courtesy of MLBfarm.com)

Peterson holds great athletic tools, showing above-average speed and an above-average arm. Expect him to stick in the corners.

57. Holden Capps, RHP

DOB: 03/24/1995

B/T: R/L

Levels Played, 2017: Rookie (AZL), Rookie (Idaho Falls)

Acquired: 2017 MLB Draft, 8th Round

ETA: 2021

2017 Stats: 9 G, 5.49 ERA, 4.80 FIP, 41 IP, 52 H, 33 R, 25 ER, 15 BB, 34 SO (Idaho Falls), 4 G, 3.00 ERA, 3.37 FIP, 12 IP, 12 H, 6 R, 4 ER, 4 BB, 11 SO (AZL)

A DII arm selected in the 8th round this year, Holden Capps had some success in his inaugural professional season. Capps held his own in the Pioneer League, a very tough league for pitchers, posting a 5.49 ERA and 4.80 FIP in nine starts with Idaho Falls. These stats were not as nearly as bad as they seemed though. I loved his GB-rate, but the tough conditions of the league he played in were partly to blame for a .379 BABIP.

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Pioneer League GB% leaders, minimum 40 IP

Our own Alex Duvall interviewed Holden back in July, as he had some interesting things to say. Here’s how he described his repertoire.

“I like to think of myself as an attack pitcher, meaning I’m going to attack the zone and challenge the hitter to put the ball in play. Velocity is something I don’t really focus on as long as I’m getting outs and missing barrels. I throw two different types of sliders, one that has more depth and downward movement, and one that is harder and has less break but breaks tighter and later. My changeup is a pitch I’m still developing and gaining trust in, but is a pitch that I can mix in and still get weak contact or ground balls with. I also throw a 4-seam and 2-seam/sinker.”

And comparing his stuff to a current big league pitcher.

“Dallas Keuchel is someone who I believe I share some characteristics with. He doesn’t overpower people with his velocity but he is able to locate all of his pitches and throw them in any count. He’s an Oklahoma boy as well, and is someone I grew up hearing about as well as watching. One thing I think we really have in common is the way we compete. I’d like to think that both of us being from Oklahoma has something to do with it, but there’s so many guys out there that are competitors. You have to get 27 outs, you can’t run out the clock or anything like that, that’s what makes this game so great.

He flashed more strikeout stuff than I thought he had this past season. Likely to end up in Lexington next year, it should be interesting to see how he fairs in his first full professional season.

56. Frank Schwindel, 1B

DOB: 06/29/1992

B/T: R/R

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

Acquired: 2013 MLB Draft, 18th Round

ETA: 2018

2017 Stats: 99 G, .321/.340/.528, 126 H, 30 2B, 0 3B, 17 HR, 51 R, 72 RBI, 0 SB (Omaha), 34 G, .350/.374/.577, 13 2B, 0 3B, 6 HR, 17 R, 25 RBI, 0 SB (Northwest Arkansas)

Tons of people got excited over the slugging rampage Frank Schwindel went on in Omaha, slashing .321/.340/.528 in 99 games after his promotion from AA.  Schwindel flashes some serious in-game power, knocking 66 extra-base hits this year.

I wouldn’t expect a guy with Schwindel’s peripherals to really sustain a high batting average. A ridiculous .353 BABIP in Omaha this year really aided his offensive production, but don’t expect that from year to year. His approach really won’t even play in the majors (low 2.5% BB% in Omaha). Considering he just reached Omaha at age 25 and posted the second worst BB/K ratio out of 124 hitters with 300 plate appearances in the PCL, I wouldn’t hold my breath for offensive success at the big league level.

55. Corey Ray, RHP

DOB: 12/15/1992

B/T: R/R

Levels Played, 2017: AA (Northwest Arkansas)

Acquired: 2014 MLB Draft, 5th Round

ETA: 2019

2017 Stats: 29 G, 5.41 ERA, 5.09 FIP, 143 IP, 170 H, 97 R, 86 ER, 59 BB, 93 SO (Northwest Arkansas)

I really need to see Corey Ray as a full-time reliever. He’s a prospect that would benefit so much for a change in roles, as he appeared in 29 games this year, all starts. Lacking natural movement on the fastball, a couple added MPH in the bullpen could do wonders for this pitch, being able to run it up to the high-90s.

His changeup looks wonderful at times too, suggesting a possible great two-pitch mix out of the bullpen (think a younger Joakim Soria). He also features a slider with little movement.

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Pretty simple delivery that is very repeatable. Relatively easy on the arm.

54. Nick Dini, C

DOB: 07/27/1993

B/T: R/R

Levels Played, 2017: A (Lexington), AA (Northwest Arkansas)

Acquired: 2015 MLB Draft, 14th Round

ETA: 2019

2017 Stats: 64 G, .310/.381/.380, 67 H, 9 2B, 0 3B, 2 HR, 22 R, 25 RBI, 8 SB (Northwest Arkansas), 24 G, .283/.323/.457, 26 H, 10 2B, 0 3B, 2 HR, 19 R, 11 RBI, 2 SB (Lexington)

A 5’8″ catcher isn’t something you see everyday. The Royals 2015 14th round pick makes it work though, putting up tremendous numbers in his first three seasons. This is even more impressive considering the fact that he was supposed to spend most of the season in Lexington. But a need for catcher popped up in Northwest Arkansas and Dini did more than fill in, slashing .310/.381/.380.

Above-average defensively too (has thrown out 35% of runners in his career), Dini could make a serviceable backup catcher in the bigs.

53. Travis Jones, OF

DOB: 09/29/1995

B/T: R/R

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

Acquired: 2017 MLB Draft, 29th Round

ETA: 2020

2017 Stats: 42 G, .335/.423/.537, 55 H, 15 2B, 3 3B, 4 HR, 40 R, 42 RBI, 20 SB (Idaho Falls), 9 G, .485/.585/.576, 16 H, 1 2B, 1 3B, 0 HR, 10 R, 6 RBI, 4 SB (AZL), 7 G, .391/.385/.522, 9 H, 3 2B, 0 3B, 0 HR, 3 R, 4 RBI, 0 SB (Burlington)

All Travis Jones did after the draft was hit. Playing across three levels, Jones consistently racked up the base hits wherever he played.

  • AZL Royals- 16 for 33 (.485 AVG)
  • Burlington Royals- 9 for 23 (.391 AVG)
  • Idaho Falls Chukars- 55 for 164 (.335 AVG)

Part of this was obviously assisted by a .425 BABIP, but Jones showed what he could potentially do offensively. Coming out of the draft, I liked the potential with the bat. Though he hasn’t shown much of it yet, power lies within that strong, quick swing and big frame of his. He’ll need to cut down on the ground balls, but don’t be surprised if the home runs start coming. Elevation is the key.

Defensively, Jones takes on a utility-type role. If needed, he could probably play every position on the diamond, excluding pitcher and catcher. He’s super athletic, showing flashy plays in the outfield, a very strong arm, and a lot of stolen bases (24 for 29 on attempts this year).

Jones seems like a fairly matured bat that could climb through the system quickly. Expect to see him start in Lexington next year.

52. Jace Vines, RHP

DOB: 09/04/1994

B/T: R/R

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

Acquired: 2016 MLB Draft, 4th Round

ETA: 2019

2017 Stats: 19 G, 3.42 ERA, 3.91 FIP, 100 IP, 96 H, 45 R, 38 ER, 23 BB, 63 SO (Lexington), 7 G, 3.60 ERA, 4.17 FIP, 40 IP, 41 H, 17 R, 16 ER, 15 BB, 20 SO (Wilmington), 1 G, 3.00 ERA, 2.72 FIP, 6 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 3 SO (Omaha)

Jace Vines won’t come at you with the velocity, but he does work a cute sinker that gets the job done plenty, inducing a plethora of ground balls. He also features a really nice looking slider, along with a changeup.

Vines is another pitch to contact, plus-control guy, as he’ll get weak contact with the best of them. There could be a backend starter in this Texas A&M product.

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Vines works with a quick and easy delivery, getting the ball down in the zone with an over-the-top motion.

51. Dennicher Carrasco, 1B

DOB: 10/12/1995

B/T: R/R

Levels Played, 2017: Rookie (Burlington)

Acquired: Free Agent, Dominican Republic

ETA: 2022

2017 Stats: 61 G, .288/.322/.500, 68 H, 14 2B, 3 3B, 10 HR, 34 R, 41 RBI, 1 SB (Burlington)

One of my sleeper prospects in the organization. Signed out of the Dominican Republic at an older age, Carrasco is still behind in his development, but the corner infielder has shown some early success. He started his career off with a bang, hitting seven home runs for the DSL Royals in 2016 (that’s a high number for the DSL), hitting .263/.365/.406 overall on the year.

I like to say he took on a Mike Moustakas approach in 2017 (great power, good contact, low BB%), seeing his average raise to .288, but significantly lowering his BB% (12.5% in 2016, 4.7% in 2017).

I’m excited to see how his power develops. The more aggressive approach saw him add some pop (increased ISO from .143 to .212), knocking 27 of his 68 hits for extra bases. Not to mention, he still hasn’t grown fully into his frame, suggesting there could be more to come.

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Carrasco is very much a strong pull hitter. (Courtesy of MLBfarm.com)

He can play first and third both well, posting above-average speed for the respected positions.

Photo Credits: David Beach—NWA Democrat-Gazette

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