This is the eleventh 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 15-11 in our rankings. As we get into the top 30, we will slowly be putting fewer and fewer prospects in each article in order to give you more information about the higher up prospects. 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.
15. Eric Skoglund, LHP
Levels Played, 2017: AA (Northwest Arkansas), AAA (Omaha), MLB (Kansas City)
Acquired: 2014 MLB Draft, 3rd Round
2017 Stats: 19 G, 4.11 ERA, 4.46 FIP, 100.2 IP, 110 H, 57 R, 46 ER, 29 BB, 102 SO (Omaha), 7 G, 9.50 ERA, 5.05 FIP, 18 IP, 30 H, 20 R, 19 ER, 12 BB, 14 SO (Kansas City), 1 G, 2.70 ERA, 5.42 FIP, 3.1 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 1 SO (Northwest Arkansas)
I’m pretty bullish when it comes to Eric Skoglund as a prospect. Compared to other pitchers in the organization, his chances of sticking in a big league starting rotation are high.
The lanky southpaw out of Central Florida relies on a consistent fastball than runs in the lower-90s, complementing it with a hard slider and horizontal curveball. He’ll also throw the occasional changeup. The repertoire is nothing to get really excited about. His strengths include a fine-tuned delivery and plus-command of his pitches.
He made numerous improvements in Omaha this year.
- K/9- 7.7 in 2016, 9.1 in 2017
- Strike%- 65.6% in 2016, 66.1% in 2017
- SwStr%- 8.7% in 2016, 10.2%
The problem with Skoglund at the major league level this past season was that he couldn’t get anybody out with his fastball (.467 BAA). If he can locate that pitch better, the Royals have themselves an easy back-end starter here. If not, he’s just an organizational arm.
14. Ryan O’Hearn 1B
Levels Played, 2017: AA (Northwest Arkansas), AAA (Omaha)
Acquired: 2014 MLB Draft, 8th Round
2017 Stats: 114 G, .252/.325/.450, 104 H, 26 2B, 1 3B, 18 HR, 48 R, 53 RBI, 1 SB (Omaha), 19 G, .259/.355/.485, 11 H, 1 2B, 1 3B, 4 HR, 7 R, 11 RBI, 0 SB (Northwest Arkansas)
Ryan O’Hearn was probably one of the more disappointing Royals prospects in 2017. Playing in the PCL, I expected some big offensive numbers from him this past season, possibly propelling himself to a role on the major league team. That wasn’t the case though, as O’Hearn saw a decrease in both the power and plate discipline department, leading to ugly 99 wRC+, especially for a first baseman.
Scout’s opinions really vary on O’Hearn. Some think he’ll be a consistent 25 home run bat, while some think he’ll his long swing will be exposed at the next level. Hopefully this year was just an outlier, but he needs to seriously improve his mechanics at the plate.
His lower-half is pretty awkward in his swing, but what I do love is how quickly he drops the bathead for some elite pull-power.
Holding a pretty good frame for a first baseman, O’Hearn is adequate with the glove and could probably turn into a serviceable corner outfielder with more reps.
With O’Hearn being available for selection at the upcoming Rule 5 Draft, I wouldn’t be overly concerned at the possibility of him getting plucked away from the Royals. First baseman tend to be hard to hide on a 25-man roster and I really don’t think teams are getting overly excited at a first baseman that just his for a .199 ISO with a 25.7% K% in AAA. We’ll see.
13. Josh Staumont, RHP
Levels Played, 2017: AA (Northwest Arkansas), AAA (Omaha)
Acquired: 2015 MLB Draft, 2nd Round
2017 Stats: 16 G, 6.28 ERA, 6.47 FIP, 76 IP, 64 H, 56 R, 53 ER, 63 BB, 93 SO (Omaha), 10 G, 4.44 ERA, 4.34 FIP, 48.2 IP, 42 H, 25 R, 24 ER, 34 BB, 45 SO (Northwest Arkansas)
I may have finally given up on Josh Staumont as a starter. Good news is, I still have high hopes for him, as I think he is still one of the higher-potential pitching prospects in the system. Featuring two of the best pitches in the Royals organization (100 MPH fastball, plus-plus curve), the bullpen could be a likely destination for the Azusa Pacific product.
The elephant in the room here is the command. It can be frustrating at times watching Staumont, as some times he looks straight lost on the mound. The arm action is inconsistent, the delivery is awkward, leading to unbearable walk numbers.
Like I implied above, I really want to see Staumont in the bullpen for a long period of time. He’s oozing with potential there. But another reality is that even as a reliever, he might not ever be able to fix the command issues. If those issues don’t get even relatively resolved, it is tough visioning a big league career for Staumont.
12. Scott Blewett, RHP
Levels Played, 2017: A+ (Wilmington)
Acquired: 2014 MLB Draft, 2nd Round
2017 Stats: 27 G, 4.07 ERA, 4.23 FIP, 152.2 IP, 153 H, 76 R, 69 ER, 52 BB, 129 SO (Wilmington)
Since he was drafted, I’ve lowered my expectations for Scott Blewett, but I still think he’s one of the better arms in the organization, just not the high-ceiling pitcher he was coming out of the draft.
The tall righty put together an adequate season in Wilmington this year, posting a 4.07 ERA and 4.23 FIP in a career high 152.2 IP. Blewett features a plus-fastball, showing good velocity and movement, but a lack of overall command. At times, he’ll have trouble getting fooling hitters with it though, as it doesn’t hold much strikeout ability. The curveball is quite the bender with big swing and miss capabilities. He also offers up a changeup.
He works his repertoire with deception, as his slow motion can be hard to time for hitters.
A big bodied pitcher with a smooth, over-the-top delivery, Blewett should mold into a nice 4/5 starter that can eat some innings in the future. I’d expect to see him start next season in AA.
11. Evan Steele, LHP
Levels Played, 2017: Rookie (AZL)
Acquired: 2017 MLB Draft, 2nd Round
2017 Stats: 5 G, 5.63 ERA, 4.95 FIP, 8 IP, 11 H, 8 R, 5 ER, 2 BB, 16 SO (AZL)
Evan Steele is probably one of the higher ceiling arms in this organization. Taken with the 73rd selection of the 2017 draft out of baseball powerhouse Chipola College, instead of going to what would have been his third school (also pitched at Vanderbilt, was set to transfer to Auburn), Steele inked a deal with the Royals, getting a $826,500 signing bonus, above the slot value. Steele impressed in a small sample size when the AZL season was winding down, striking out 16 batters and only walking two in eight innings of work.
Working with a large frame of 6’5″ 201 lbs, Steele features a low-90s fastball (probably could even add a couple MPH), an excellent slider, along with a curve and a change. The delivery concerns me though, as I stated in my earlier scouting report on him.
The biggest concern for me with Steele is his delivery. Yes, it is unique and can be tough for hitters to pick up, but it’s eccentric way can cause a concern for injuries. If my reasons for fear stay in hiding, I think Steele has a legit shot to start at the major league level. His competitiveness, above-average offerings, and ability to mix pitches well should get him somewhere. Worst things worst, he can’t handle a starter’s workload and has to be moved to the bullpen. Steele as a reliever with his FB/SL combo and added velocity could have a relatively high-ceiling.
Steele will be one of the more intriguing Royals prospects to watch in 2018. I figure he’ll be on some sort of innings limitation, but expect to see him spend most of the year in the Lexington rotation.
Photo Credits: Keith Gillett—Icon Sportswire
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