Royals Farm Report 2018 Mid-Season Top 100: 90-81

Hello and welcome. It feels like forever since we did our first ever Top 100 list this winter. We’ll be updating our lists throughout the year to include new prospects, but we’ll vote on a new top 100 twice a year. One mid-season, one in the offseason. In case you missed our last top 100 segment, here is a link to every write up we did this winter. 

This season, our top 100 we’ll consist of an aggregate of four of our writers’ individual lists. We average the lists out to give you a consensus top 100. Without further ado, here’s 90-81.

90. John Brontsema, 2B

DOB: 12/13/1994
Ht/Wt: 6’2″ 187 lbs
Levels Played, 2018: Wilmington (A+), Northwest Arkansas (AA)
Acquired: 2016 MLB Draft, 26th Round
ETA: 2020
2018 Stats (A+/AA): 35 G, .234/.325/.355, 25 H, 5 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 11 BB, 29 SO, 5 SB

John Brontsema makes this list for the simplest of reasons. His versatile and he’s hit well throughout his career, owning a .298/.371/.404 slashline.

The Royals 26th round pick in the 2016 draft out of UC Irvine, Brontsema profiled as a hitter with very little pop (three career home runs in college) that made his money with on-base skills. He tore up his professional debut with the AZL Royals (slashed .343/.395/.406) and hit very well in 52 games with Lexington last season (.323/.416/.484), also hitting the first four home runs of his professional career.

Brontsema has moved up the organizational ladder somewhat quickly, currently running utility infield for the Naturals in AA. He’d be higher on this list if it weren’t for the .680 OPS he’s owning between two levels this year.

He’s added a bit more pop since being drafted, but it’s still not at the level you’d like for a guy with subpar BB-rates and high K-rates. He plays all four infield positions adequately though, so if you squint, you could see a future reserve infielder here.

89. Raymond Lopez, OF

DOB: 12/4/1998
Ht/Wt: 6’1″ 155 lbs
Levels Played, 2018: AZL Royals (AZL), Idaho Falls (Rookie)
Acquired: 2015 International Signing
ETA: 2023
2018 Stats (AZL/Rookie): 5 G, .227/.261/.273, 5 H, 1 2B, 0 3B, 0 HR, 1 BB, 10 SO, 0 SB

Raymond Lopez might not seem like a familiar name among Royals prospects, but there is some upside here. A part of that big 2015 international class, Lopez was signed out of the Dominican Republic in made his professional debut in the DSL in 2016. He caught some attention, putting up a .372 OBP in a very tough league to hit in, complimented with a 12.6% BB% and 18.3% K%. Not to mention, he also swiped 26 bags.

I was excited to see how Lopez would fare in the AZL the following season, but his season was cut short after three games due to injury. There isn’t much public information available on him yet, playing only a few games stateside so far, but the reports I’ve heard from Arizona on him are good. He’s a lot of projection at the moment, but a plus-hit tool from both sides of the plate with some pop if some loft in his swing is added.

He also looks much bigger than his listed size of 6’1″ 155 lbs.

Lopez started the season on the Idaho Falls roster, but was bumped back down to the AZL after a few games. He’s still only 19-years-old, so being as toolsy as he is, he could be a guy to fly up the rankings if he hits.

88. Holden Capps, LHP

DOB: 3/24/1995
Ht/Wt: 6’2″ 180 lbs
Levels Played, 2018: Lexington (Low-A)
Acquired: 2017 MLB Draft, 8th Round
ETA: 2020
2018 Stats (A): 16 G, 2.66 ERA, 40.2 IP, 43 H, 19 R, 12 ER, 5 BB, 39 SO

A smaller-framed left-hander that pitched at three different colleges, Holden Capps was the Royals eighth round pick last year out of Central Oklahoma. He gave Royals Farm Report a great interview last July during his first season in the Royals organization.

“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.”

As Capps said himself, velocity isn’t what’s going to dictate his success, sitting in the lower-90s. Location seems like his biggest thing, working down in the zone with often, posting a GB% of 57.5% last season at Idaho Falls and sitting at 53.7% this season in Lexington.

Control was a thing Capps needed to work on once he got to pro ball and we’re starting to see his strides in that department in Lexington this season. Working in shorter stints out of the bullpen with the Legends have saw his BB-rate tumble down to 1.1 after posting a 3.3 mark last year.

Capps has been one of the more improved pitchers in the organization this year. I’d like to see him continue to get shorter stints in relief, while seeing the changeup keep up its improvements. There is little margin for error for a prospect like Capps, so adding another consistent secondary on top of his slider that he can command will be important for his future.

87. Vance Vizcaino, OF

DOB: 8/1/1994
6’3″ 215 lbs
Ht/Wt: 6’3″ 215 lbs
Levels Played, 2018: Lexington (Low-A), Wilmington (High-A)
Acquired: 2016 MLB Draft, 11th Round
ETA: 2020
2018 Stats (A/A+): 40 G, .248/.315/.346, 33 H, 5 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 12 BB, 31 SO, 2 SB

A four time draftee, twice by the Royals, Vizcaino finally signed with the Royals after an up and down college career, making his professional debut at the age of 21 with the AZL Royals. His game relies on speed. He flies down the line, so anything hit by him on the ground is trouble.

He’s nothing that will “wow” you as a prospect. I’ve pinned a plus-hit tool on him, but the getting into deep counts has always kept his K-rate below-average. The hands are very quick and his bat stays in the zone long, but the extreme downward angle of his swing has kept his power near non-existent. He’ll rack up the infield hits with the best of them though, as he’s a slash and dash type of hitter.

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While being one of the faster players in the organization, the base running is still below-average and he doesn’t have the skills to play center and the reads he gets are bad, severely hurting his profile as a prospect, considering how his bat would profile in the corner spots.

Other than his one full-season at Idaho Falls last year, he’s never really hit. He’s played the majority of this season in Wilmington after starting off in Lexington, but the plate discipline has taken a big hit moving up another level. He’ll always be a guy that posts high BABIPs though, as it’s keeping his bat somewhat afloat in High-A, slashing .284/.318/.358 in 24 games.

86. Yohanse Morel, RHP

DOB: 8/23/2000
Ht/Wt: 6’0″ 170 lbs
Levels Played, 2018: DSL Nationals (DSL), AZL Royals (AZL)
Acquired: Kelvin Herrera Trade with the Nationals
ETA: 2024
2018 Stats (DSL/AZL): 2 G, 9.00 ERA, 6 IP, 12 H, 7 R, 6 ER, 1 BB, 8 SO

The third piece acquired from the Washington Nationals in the recent Kelvin Herrera trade looked like the throw-in lotto ticked part of the deal. Apparently Royals scouts had seen him though and liked what they saw.

There isn’t a lot known about Morel at the moment, mainly due to the fact that he was more of an under-the-radar international signing out of the Dominican Republic and has only thrown six innings in his professional career (all coming in the past two weeks), throwing 3.1 innings with the Nationals DSL squad and 2.2 innings recently with the AZL Royals.

A $100,000 signing by the Nationals as part of their 2017 international class, it was reported that Morel had a fastball that sat in the low-90s, but has had a recent velocity spike that now clocks him closer to 95. He also throws a slider and a changeup

He has a big frame for a 17-year-old pitching prospect, standing at 6’0″ 170 lbs. The delivery also sounds pretty polished compared to his age counterparts, so the projection on his fastball should be somewhat interesting.

It’s tough to pin a future outlook on guys like Morel. He could be one dominant season in the AZL away from becoming a legit prospect, or he could flame out and be a guy that falls off the radar quickly. Just your standard lottery ticket type of prospect.

85. Arnaldo Hernandez, RHP

DOB: 2/9/1996
Ht/Wt: 6’0″ 175 lbs
Levels Played, 2018: Wilmington (A+), Omaha (AAA)
Acquired: 2013 International Signing
ETA: 2020
2018 Stats (A+/AAA): 14 G, 3.66 ERA, 66.1 IP, 79 H, 29 R, 27 ER, 21 BB, 53 SO

A fairly intriguing advanced arm with the profile for a future reliever, Arnaldo Hernandez has had a smooth climb through the minor league system, starting out in the DSL in 2014 and finishing out the 2017 season all the way up in AAA to help with a thin rotation.

An international signing out of Venezuela, Hernandez is a small-framed righty that has pitched most of this season as a starter in Wilmington, where he showed off good results, posting a 3.92 ERA and 3.35 FIP in 13 appearances (12 starts).

Hernandez has makes up for below-average stuff with a great command (career 2.0 BB/9 in the minors). If he makes it, it’ll probably be as a reliever, as durability is not a plus for him.

84. Jonathan Dziedzic, LHP

DOB: 2/4/1991
Ht/Wt: 6’1″ 190 lbs
Levels Played, 2018: 
Acquired: 2013 MLB Draft, 13th Round
ETA: 2019
2018 Stats (AAA): 14 G, 3.97 ERA, 77 IP, 84 H, 39 R, 34 ER, 17 BB, 57 SO

Probably the oldest prospect to appear at the list at 27-years-old, Dziedzic is an advanced arm that has take advantage of experience to put together a good season in AAA.

The fastball won’t blow anyone away, limiting his ceiling as both a starter and a reliever. It does have plus-movement though, along with his secondary offerings, showing some nice sinking action. The changeup has some good opposite fade, as he also commands it well.

Dziedzic seems to be more of an organizational guy. Don’t get too excited with his performance in AAA. Only way we probably see him is if the Royals run low on starting pitchers at any point and need a quick fill in or logging innings on a bad rebuilding team.

83. Jeison Guzman, SS

DOB: 10/8/1998
Ht/Wt: 6’2″ 180 lbs
Levels Played, 2018: Burlington (Rookie), Lexington (Low-A)
Acquired: 2015 International Signing
ETA: 2023
2018 Stats (Rookie/A): 34 G, .234/.296/.339, 29 H, 4 2B, 3 3B, 1 HR, 11 BB, 40 SO, 10 SB

Jeison Guzman was a highly touted international prospect coming out of the Dominican Republic (ranked the #11 international prospect by MLB Pipeline) and had enough tools that landed him a $1.5 million signing bonus from the Royals. Before scouts got a good look at him in the states, he sat near the top of most Royals prospects list, but it’s been a whole different story since he reached the AZL.

Scouts fell off the projection with Guzman quickly, correlating with him not being able to hit at any level. The real worrying started when he slashed .207/.286/.249 in Burlington last year. The Royals stayed aggressive with him though, pushing him to full-season ball as a 19-year-old, where he proceeded to hit .220/.267/.339 in 30 games with Lexington. The brakes were put on him quickly, as the Royals pulled him out of the lion’s den, sending him back to Burlington for a second season, where he’s looked much more comfortable early on.

Guzman simply looks like one of those international signings that didn’t pan out. The defense has been the one positive, as I will say I feel better about his chances of sticking at shortstop than I did a couple years ago. His only hope as a prospect is that his hit-tool fills out a bit and he can become a glove-first shortstop with an advanced feel for the game.

82. Malcom Van Buren, RHP

DOB: 7/5/1998
Ht/Wt: 6’4″ 185 lbs
Levels Played, 2018: Burlington (Rookie)
Acquired: 2016 MLB Draft, 31st Round
ETA: 2023
2018 Stats (Rookie): 1 G, 54.00 ERA, 0.2 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 0 SO

An upside draft pick in the later rounds of 2016, the Royals snagged Van Buren away from his commitment to North Carolina State.

Van Buren owns a deep arsenal that needs a lot of polish. The Royals held him away from game competition in 2016 while he was recovering from TJS (a reason they got him so late), sending him to make 12 appearances in the AZL last year, where he severely struggled (7.12 ERA, 6.31 FIP).

The fastball sits lower-90s and has some room to add a couple MPH, so that’s something to work with. The secondaries need a lot of work. He’s a project. Should be interesting to see how he fares in Burlington this season.

81. Eric Stout, LHP

DOB: 7/5/1998
Ht/Wt: 6’3″ 185 lbs
Levels Played, 2018: Omaha (AAA), Kansas City (MLB)
Acquired: 2014 MLB Draft, 13th Round
ETA: 2018
2018 Stats (AAA): 22 G, 5.79 ERA, 28 IP, 38 H, 18 R, 18 ER, 13 BB, 21 SO

Eric Stout has taken a hit from our last rankings due to subpar performance in AAA. The times I’ve watched him in Omaha this season, the command and control look down, giving up more hard-contact and walking more as a result. A non-ideal combo that has led to a 5.79 ERA and 4.37 FIP in 28 innings this year, owning an even more unimpressive 6.8 K/9 and 4.2 BB/9.

He did have a cool moment in his major league debut this year though, striking out Christian Yelich on three pitches.

Stout throws from a very deceptive arm angle that is tough for lefties to pick up on. The fastball sits lower-90s with some movement, adding in a decent changeup and curveball, two pitches he’ll need to command more if he wants to make a career in the big leagues.

If Stout ever does end up in a big league bullpen, it’ll be in a LOOGY type of role. Righties have absolutely crushed him this year (.392/.448/.568).

Photo Credits: John Sleezer—Kansas City Star

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