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.
2. Khalil Lee, OF
Levels Played, 2017: Low-A
Acquired: 3rd Round of the 2016 MLB Draft
2017 Stats: .237/.344/.430/.774, 17 HR, 61 RBI, 24 2B, 6 3B, 20 SB, 171 K, 65 BB, 32.1% K%, 12.2% BB%, .193 ISO, .338 BABIP, 125 wRC+, .355 wOBA, 451 AB
Khalil Lee may have the highest ceiling of anyone in the Royals organization. Seuly Matias and MJ Melendez would like a word, but Khalil Lee’s name is definitely in the conversation. The young lefty spent the first half of 2017 as an 18-year old at Low-A and held his own in spurts throughout the year.
Lee had pretty average months in April and May. Nothing eye opening, nothing to be too concerned about either. After all, most kids his age spend the season in the AZL (he’s not that much older than Nick Pratto or MJ Melendez). Then in June Lee put up these numbers: .258/.353/.562/.915 with 6 HR and 3 SB in 23 games (89 AB). To be honest with you, after Khalil Lee’s month of June I wondered if there wasn’t an outside chance that he’d be promoted to High-A Wilmington after the All-Star Break. The kid was raking and as the Royals former top prospect, I wondered if he wouldn’t be put on a fast-track to the big leagues.
Then July happened. In 24 games in July (83 AB), Lee did this: .157/.290/.241/.531 with 1 HR and 38 K. That’s not what you want from your top prospect. Like, not even close. Lee looked completely lost at the plate, and at one point struck out 8 times in 10 PA’s during a 21 inning game. I mean, good grief. I’m not sure what was wrong with Lee in July but it was disheartening, to say the least.
Then in August Lee put most of that worry to rest again. In August, Lee put up numbers similar to June, hitting .281/.381/.531/.912 with 4 HR in 26 games (96 AB). Months like August and June make you realize why we have Khalil Lee so highly ranked in our top 100, but months like July make you realize why he isn’t the clear-cut number 1.
One thing that I noticed about Lee is that he quit running as the year went on. Known for having great speed, here are Lee’s stolen base attempts by month:
- April – 10
- May – 11
- June – 8
- July – 4
- August – 4
I’m not entirely sure why he quit running, but one thing that excites me about Lee is the potential that he has to be a 20 HR/20 SB guy in the major leagues one day. If he was experiencing pain or discomfort in his legs, obviously that’s one thing (and may explain his July honestly). Otherwise, I’d like to see Lee get back to running a little more with Wilmington in 2018, assuming the Royals start him out at High-A, which I think they will.
Khalil Lee can be a bit of a polarizing prospect. On one hand, he has a real chance to be a 20/20 guy in the Majors one day. On the other hand, he struck out 171 times in 451 at-bats last year. I totally understand the concern, but in a system that lacks in high ceiling prospects, Khalil Lee stands out more than most.
One thing that I really like about Khalil Lee is his swing path. He is definitely a fly ball hitter which should translate to big HR numbers as he continues to mature and get stronger.
I mean . . . that is impressive. Really, really impressive.
That ball is never, ever coming back, folks.
The kid is talented. He plays the field well, he has a huge arm in RF, he runs well, he gets on base, and he hits for a ton of power. He has the chance, along with a few other Royals prospects, to become the bonafide number 1 in this organization by the end of next year. There aren’t many guys that I’m more excited about in the Royals organization than Khalil Lee, and there’s a reason that he’s still number 2 on our top 100 list.
Photo Credits: Clinton Riddle