One of the more underrated SP prospects for the Royals is a 21-year old from the Dominican Republic named Janser Lara. Still a bit unknown after two professional seasons, Lara needs to be on your radar heading into 2018.
Janser made 10 starts and 12 total appearances last season for the Idaho Falls Chukars (rookie). In 52.1 IP, Lara struck out 57 batters while walking 29, and gave up 24 HR. The strike out numbers look decent for a 21-year old. The walks aren’t bad and should improve as he advances. The home run number probably looks concerning, but the Pioneer League is arguably the most hitter friendly league in all of minor league baseball. Players put up crazy numbers all the time there so it should be taken with a grain of salt.
Here’s where the good news comes in for Lara. Read Patrick’s analysis of Lara from our original top 100 series last year:
“On the surface, Lara looked like he had a rough year. The statline isn’t as gloomy as it seems though, considering he pitched in the Pioneer League. It gets better when you dig further too, seeing that Lara led the Pioneer League in SwStr% by a far distance.
I expect the numbers to seriously improve sooner or later. There is a lot to like about Lara. Smooth delivery with deception, fastball that can touch upper-90s, swing and miss stuff. Lara could turn into a legit prospect once he smoothens out. Keep an eye on him next year.”
There is a ton to like about Lara. He’s got a smooth delivery for a kid with less than 100 professional innings. His fastball reaches the mid-90’s and his breaking ball is pretty good. He misses a ton of bats and gets his fair share of strikeouts.
The biggest thing I’m going to be looking for from Lara in 2018 is his ability to keep the ball on the ground. One reason that Lara gave up so many HR last year was that 45.4% of the balls hit against him were fly balls. Another 24.1% were line drives. That is way too many baseballs being hit in the air, especially in the Pioneer League.
On a positive note, Lara’s LD% decreased from 43.9% in 2016 to just 24.1% in 2017. He nearly cut down on his line drives given up by half. The problem is that those hits didn’t turn into ground balls. Lara’s GB% in 2016 was 32.9%, in 2017 it was 30.5%. That’s not a huge change, but it’s headed in the wrong direction. Instead of giving up more ground balls, Lara’s FB% jumped from 23.2% in 2016 to 45.4% in 2017. Lara did a good job of giving up less solid contact, but now he needs to focus on getting the ball on the ground.
One other thing to note on Lara is how raw he still is as a pitcher. After watching a game’s worth of at bats from Lara, it’s clear that he doesn’t have a perfect feel for his mechanics. He’s really smooth, but upon release he seems erratic. In the video of Lara that I’ve seen, he almost never gets hit when he hits his spots (I’d say he NEVER does, but I don’t always know where exactly he wanted the ball either). Lara really only runs into trouble when he leaves the ball out over the plate. This is a good sign that he has some nasty stuff, but needs to learn to control it as he advances through the system.
Lara has a chance to be one of KC’s top 30 prospects by the end of the 2018 season. He could also very easily fall out of our top 100 and never be seen again (currently number 98). If he can start to put some pieces together and locate his pitches, look out. The young man is a gifted athlete who could really climb the rankings with a strong campaign in 2018.