Good evening (morning) my fellow Americans (Royals Fans). I come to you tonight (morning) to bring you an update on the state of our great Nation (Farm System), specifically, our Infrastructure (Middle Infielders). Ok, I will dispense with the formality.
Remember when someone brought in a plate of cookies to the office and you were late getting over to grab some and there was nothing but crumbs? Well those crumbs represent what the Royals have in the farm system for middle infielders. With the promotion of Raul Mondesi the Royals do not have a shortstop or second baseman in their top 5 prospects, regardless of which list you use.
I understand that some still view Mondesi* as a prospect but I do not. Others feel good about Nicky Lopez but from my vantage point, there isn’t a player in the system that will fill a spot in a lineup card for 140 games or more in the next few seasons. Of course that could change drastically with a trade or two and most certainly will after June’s Amateur draft. So let’s take a look at some of the middle infielders that are in the system now.
Nicky Lopez – SS/2B (#8 in RFR’s Royals Top 100): Lopez lands in the Royals top 10 which is part talent and part (mostly) lack of top talent in the Royals system. Lopez has range and arm strength to stick at SS but is probably best suited for 2B and in the long run, a utility guy. The hope is that his bat develops at the higher levels enough to be more. After the move to AA, Lopez was moved to 2B for 25 games to allow 23 year old Humberto Arteaga some time at short. There may have been more to that move than simply allowing Arteaga some time at his natural position. If Lopez was the #15 overall prospect and at best the #2 middle infielder in a stronger system, you’d feel better about the world. That very well could be the case when July rolls around.
Gabriel Cancel – 2B (#12 in RFR’s Royals Top 100): I’m not as high on Cancel as some around the Royals blogosphere but you don’t have to squint too hard to see a scenario where he matures into a fine MLB player. He’s not your prototypical Royals player in the fact his bat is better than his glove. He started out his pro career at SS but was quickly moved to 2B. His bat is where he will make his money though. A line drive “doubles” type of hitter, Cancel also possesses enough speed to turn a ball in the gap into something more. Plate discipline will most likely be the difference between him topping out at Omaha or filling those huge alleys at the “K”. Right now he’s closer to a #20 type prospect in a better system but with tools that label him as a guy to keep your eye on.
And there you have it folks. The highest rated middle infielders in the Royals system. I fully expect this list to expand in the next 6 months and we at Royals Farm Report will be standing by to give you a full update.
*It is no secret to anyone that if Raul Mondesi fulfills even half of his potential that he will be an average ML shortstop. Most also know that there are plenty of questions with him as well.
Erick Mejia SS/2B (#38 RFR)
Humberto Arteaga SS (#46 RFR ↑)
Jeison Guzman SS (#51 RFR)