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, let’s get things rolling with 100-91.
Check out the rest of our list here:
70. Walker Sheller, RHP
Ht/Wt: 6’3″ 195 lbs
Levels Played, 2018: Wilmington (High-A), Northwest Arkansas (AA)
Acquired: 2016 MLB Draft, 9th Round
2018 Stats (A+/AA): 23 G, 4.09 ERA, 33 IP, 34 H, 15 R, 15 ER, 9 BB, 20 SO
A fairly quick riser through the minor league system, at the completion of the 2016 MLB Draft, Walker Sheller was one of my more favorite Royals selections. Pitching at Lake Sumter Community College and Stetson for his collegiate career, he worked in a relief role most of the time. After filling out his 6’3″ frame a bit and adding some velocity, he had a breakout season his junior year, working as his team’s closer, posting a 1.38 ERA in 45.2 innings, striking out 44. This shot him up draft boards and the Royals were able to grab him in the ninth round.
Perhaps the most impressive thing about Sheller was it took him about one year post-draft to reach AA. He excelled at all three levels he played last year (Lexington, Wilmington, Northwest Arkansas), but with crowded pitching staffs in the upper-minors to begin 2018, Sheller had to start the season in Wilmington. But after allowing only one run in six appearances, he was back up in AA, where he has struggled (4.73 ERA, 5.25 FIP, 4.7 K/9).
Sheller’s fastball will sit mid-90s, adding in a hard, but inconsistent slider, along with a hard changeup. The arm angle is short and loose and the delivery is funky, though they do add plenty of deception. This creates an insanely tough angle for left-handed batters, as they’re hitting a mere .182/.263/.242 off of him. I can’t tell you how many times he makes lefty hitters look silly with a running fastball inside to them. Timing that thing is tough.
If the secondaries add some refinement, you could see a future middle reliever here. We could see the strikeout totals jump for him if that improves along with the command and control, which also lack at the moment.
69. Kevin Lenik, RHP
Ht/Wt: 6’5″ 225 lbs
Levels Played, 2018: AAA (Omaha)
Acquired: 2017 Frontier League Signing
2018 Stats (AAA): 24 G, 4.15 ERA, 34.2 IP, 24 H, 16 R, 16 ER, 19 BB, 32 SO
Kevin Lenik may have the best story out of any minor leaguer in the Royals organization. Mainly an outfielder pre-minor league career, Lenik played with three different teams throughout his collegiate career (College of the Canyons, Hawaii Pacific, Cal-State Dominguez Hills). It wasn’t until the third college that Lenik added on pitching out of the bullpen. After he went undrafted, Lenik earned a tryout with the Texas Rangers with 120 other players. He was the only player that left the tryout with a contract.
The Rangers cut bait with Lenik after one lackluster pitching out of the bullpen for their Low-A affiliate. The Royals then picked him up after an Indy ball stint and sent him out to Burlington, later promoting him to Lexington, and then later all the way up to Omaha. He ended the season with a 1.69 ERA in 37.1 innings across the three levels.
Watching the Royals in Spring Training earlier this year, Lenik was one of the players that stood out to me the most (10.2 IP, 2.52 ERA). He threw strikes, he generated weak-grounders, flashed an unhittable slider at times.
Like Sheller, Lenik combines a great combo of velocity and deception with his quick delivery. A very quick 3/4 arm slot. He works downhill with a larger frame, touching upper-90s with the fastball.
For the most part, Lenik has shown up-and-down results out of the Omaha bullpen in 2018. Watching in him Omaha this year, the command seems to have taken a step back, but it’s still hard to generate good contact off of him.
68. Delvin Capellan, RHP
Ht/Wt: 6’1″ 167 lbs
Levels Played, 2018: Rookie (AZL Royals)
Acquired: 2016 International Signing
2018 Stats (AZL): 3 G, 3.60 ERA, 15 IP, 15 H, 7 R, 6 ER, 2 BB, 16 SO
I’ll be honest with you. Simply due to the lack of information spread around on Delvin Capellan, there isn’t a lot known on his profile. Hopefully we’ll be able to pick up more info on him, as he’s now currently pitching over in the states for the first time in his career this season.
A small international signing out of the Dominican Republic, Capellan dominated in his first professional season, pitching with the DSL Royals last year. In 56 innings spread out across 12 starts, Capellan posted an unbelievable 0.48 ERA and 1.94 FIP. He generated a plethora of weak-contact and showing plus command and control with a 50 percent GB-rate and 0.5 BB/9.
Now pitching against more advanced hitters in the AZL this season, the right-handed starter has looked fairly good against much older competition in three starts, striking out 16 batters and walking only two in 15 innings so far.
Check back with me on Capellan after the AZL season. Hopefully we’ll have more word on him and can build up a better idea of his prospect status. But for now, he’ll stay on my radar if he keeps pitching well against AZL competition.
67. Noah Bryant, RHP
Ht/Wt: 6’3″ 200 lbs
Levels Played, 2018: Rookie (AZL Royals)
Acquired: 2018 MLB Draft, 17th Round
2018 Stats (AZL): 3 G, 2.45 ERA, 3.2 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 1 SO
A former catcher in high school, the Royals found themselves a high-upside arm in the 17th round of this year’s draft in Noah Bryant. He reigns from a Georgia junior college, only pitching 18.1 innings, mostly out of the bullpen.
The delivery looks high-effort, while short and compact, coming out of a 3/4 arm slot. The arm looks quick, touching upper-90s with his fastball. The slider received great reports coming into the draft. There’s some decent ceiling as a reliever here.
The Royals have assigned Bryant to the AZL to start his professional career. So far, he’s allowed one run in 3.2 innings, walking two and striking out one.
66. Dennicher Carrasco, 3B
Ht/Wt: 5’11” 195 lbs
Levels Played, 2018: Low-A (Lexington)
Acquired: 2015 International Signing
2018 Stats (Low-A): 56 G, .251/.291/.449, 52 H, 9 2B, 1 3B, 10 HR, 30 RBI, 2 SB
Dennicher Carrasco is probably my favorite under-the-radar prospect in the whole system. A corner infielder that has showed off a big bat throughout his career, he first surfaced in the Royals organization in the DSL back in 2016 as a 20-year-old. After hitting seven home runs in a very pitcher-friendly league, the Royals bumped him all the way up to Burlington last year. He continued to put on a power display, tying for second place in the Appalachian League home run leaderboard with 10.
Carrasco has now settled somewhat nicely in full-season ball as Lexington’s third baseman (he had mostly played first base before this season). But the reason he takes such a hit from the previous rankings is the large decline in plate discipline this season (24.5 percent K-rate, 3.6 percent BB-rate). The power is still there though, as he’s hit 10 home runs through 56 games.
Carrasco is predominately a fly ball hitter (though the GB-rate has spiked lately). Most of his power is to the pull-side. There might even be more power to unlock too if he can grow a bit from his 5’11” 195 lbs frame. Overall, he’s got good control of the plate, suggesting he’ll be able to possibly handle advanced pitching down the road.
Carrasco isn’t what you would call fast, but he isn’t a base clogger. The defense isn’t anything special at both corners, but it’s adequate.
65. Marlin Willis, LHP
Ht/Wt: 6’4″ 190 lbs
Levels Played, 2018: Rookie (Burlington)
Acquired: 2017 MLB Draft, 18th Round
2018 Stats (Rookie): 2 G, 13.50 ERA, 6.2 IP, 13 H, 10 R, 10 ER, 6 BB, 4 SO
You might remember Marlin Willis from our interview we had with him a couple months ago. An 18th round pick in the 2017 draft, another Georgia high school pick, I viewed Willis as more of a project pitcher with the potential to fly up the rankings with good results.
Willis pitched all of last season in the AZL. In 21.1 innings, there was a lack of strikeouts, great command, and an abundance of ground ball outs. He’s now in Burlington, where he’s pitched the first two games of the season out of the bullpen.
He’s a lefty that sits in the low-90s with the possibility of adding more velocity down the road. He also throws a low-80s changeup and mid-70s curveball.
64. Nick Dini, C
Ht/Wt: 5’8″ 180 lbs
Levels Played, 2018: AA (Northwest Arkansas), AAA (Omaha)
Acquired: 2015 MLB Draft, 14th Round
2018 Stats (AA/AAA): 63 G, .259/.312/.401, 55 H, 9 2B, 0 3B, 7 HR, 28 RBI, 3 SB
A catcher taken in the 14th round of the 2015 draft out of Wagner College up in New York, Nick Dini has put up some pretty decent numbers in his minor league career. After turning in a mammoth senior season (slashed .392/.489/.625 with 26 XBH in 51 games), he carried his success fairly easily over to pro-ball, hitting the ground running with Idaho Falls (slashed .316/.383/.465).
Bouncing between four levels, Dini lost most of the 2016 season due to injury, playing in only 20 games total. The Royals started him in Lexington last year and later moved him up to Northwest Arkansas as a temporary promotion. He stuck around though, hitting .302/.364/.403 in 88 games with the Naturals. When Salvador Perez started the season on the disabled list and Cam Gallagher was up in the majors, Dini filled in nicely for Omaha, though now he’s back in Northwest Arkansas where he is having struggles with the bat for the first time.
Dini has great control of the bat (12.2 percent K-rate, 6.4 percent BB-rate) and he isn’t totally free of power. He’s missing out on the home runs, simply because his batted ball tendencies favor the ground ball a lot.
Standing at 5’8″, he isn’t your typical catcher. But he’s above-average behind the plate, throwing out runners at a 35 percent clip for his career. There’s a ceiling of a backup catcher in the big leagues here.
63. Kort Peterson, OF
Ht/Wt: 6’1″ 195 lbs
Levels Played, 2018: High-A (Wilmington), AA (Northwest Arkansas)
Acquired: 2016 MLB Draft, 23rd Round
2018 Stats (A+/AA): 71 G, .280/.353/.480, 70 H, 19 2B, 2 3B, 9 HR, 37 RBI, 7 SB
All Kort Peterson does is hit. In college. In every stop he’s had along the minor league ladder. Everywhere. After a breakout junior season at UCLA, the Royals grabbed Peterson in the 23rd round of the 2016 draft. A fairly advanced hitter, the Royals placed him in Burlington to start his pro-career. That’s when he caught my eye after he slashed .347/.437/.545 in 49 games. Since then, he’s hit at every level. Lexington, Wilmington, and now Northwest Arkansas.
After missing the end of the 2016 season with an injury (which came shortly after his High-A debut), Peterson struggled to get back into rhythm. It was almost two different seasons for him in High-A this year.
- April: 18 G, .250/.294/.438, 33.8% K%, 5.9% BB%
- May/June: 44 G, .310/.392/.523, 20.2% K%, 7.3% BB%
The power isn’t great, which hurts his profile a lot, as he’s likely to stick in the corner outfield spots. But having one of the better hit tools in the organization will give Peterson a greater chance as he moves level-to-level. He’ll need to keep hitting though.
62. Garrett Davila, LHP
Ht/Wt: 6’2″ 180 lbs
Levels Played, 2018: Low-A (Lexington)
Acquired: 2015 MLB Draft, 4th Round
2018 Stats (A): 14 G, 4.28 ERA, 61 IP, 57 H, 33 R, 29 ER, 21 BB, 46 SO
Another 3/4 arm slot guy, Garrett Davila has more of the a crafty profile than that of one of a power pitcher. Not great, considering he lacks in command too. Drafted in the fourth round of the 2015 draft out of a North Carolina high school, I viewed Davila as an extra high-variance guy. I was all on board after he put up a great professional debut in Burlington as a high school guy (the Royals didn’t let him pitch in 2015), posting a 2.77 ERA in 65 innings. It has since been a struggle though, as he has had serious trouble getting his stuff by more advanced hitters in full-season ball.
Davila’s fastball sits in the low-90s. His secondaries are a curveball with some nice sideways action and a changeup. He still could add some velocity down the road (6’0″ 180 lbs frame), which could do wonders for him.
61. Zach Haake, RHP
Ht/Wt: 6’4″ 185 lbs
Levels Played, 2018: None
Acquired: 2018 MLB Draft, 6th Round
2018 Stats: N/A
Just by purely looking off of Zach Haake’s college numbers, you probably figure out why he was sixth round pick at all. Pitching his freshman season at Arkansas State, he had some initial struggles at the collegiate level, allowing 10 runs in 12 innings while striking out 12 and walking 10. He would then transfer to John A. Logan College, where he would dominate as a starter (78.1 IP, 2.52 ERA, 10.4 K/9). But he would have his struggles again moving back up the Division I level, posting an 8.47 ERA in 34 innings.
Inconsistency has long been a problem for Haake, but the raw ability is there. A lanky righty, his fastball sits in the mid-90s with some serious movement. He also possesses some hard-offspeeds, owning a mid-80s slider and changeup. The delivery seems low-effort and simple. He could be one mechanical adjustment away from becoming a legit prospect.
I like the ceiling for Haake as a reliever. I’m excited to see how he fares in pro-ball.
Photo Credits: John Owen—MiLB.com