Royals Farm Report Mid-Season Top 100: 50-41

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.

Check out the rest of our list here:

100-91
90-81
80-71
70-61
60-51

50. Chase Vallot, C

DOB: 8/21/1996
B/T: 
R/R
Ht/Wt: 6’0″ 225 llbs
Levels Played, 2018: Rookie (Idaho Falls), High-A (Wilmington)
Acquired: 2014 MLB Draft, 1st Round
ETA: 2021
2018 Stats (Rookie/A+): 45 G, .099/.279/.254, 14 H, 4 2B, 0 3B, 6 HR, 22 RBI, 0 SB

One of the more polarizing prospects in all of the Royals system, Chase Vallot has taken a big hit in the past couple of rankings for a couple of reasons. First off, he’s posting an extremely ugly line of .101/.282/.261. Second off, it seems as if he currently doesn’t have a position, as most of his time this year has come at DH.

A first round draft pick by the Royals in 2015, Vallot was drafted at a rather younger age, entering the Royals organization at the age of 17. The Royals were enamored with him enough to send him to Burlington (a thing they rarely do with high schoolers), where Vallot would put up respectable numbers. He entered full-season ball at the age of 18 with Lexington, showing off his combination of contact issues, power, and superb plate discipline. The Royals sent him back to Lexington to repeat the level in 2016 and he dealt with some injuries (notably a baseball to the face), but he hit well enough to earn himself a spot on the Wilmington roster in 2017.

It was in Wilmington last year where Vallot turned in his best season to date, slashing .231/.380/.438 in a tough hitters park. The injuries stuck around  though and he was only limited to 89 games.

Given how aggressive the Royals had been with Vallot and a lack of catching depth in Northwest Arkansas, it came as a bit of shock to me that they sent him back to Wilmington. Things have taken a turn for the worst since then, as Vallot has had a disaster of a season at the plate, his still dealt with nagging back injuries, and was even sent back to extended Spring Training earlier in the year.

It seems unlikely that Vallot will ever stick at catcher, which comes as a shame, because the potential for his bat there was great. If DH is where he ends up, he basically becomes a near non-prospect.

49. Grant Gavin, RHP

DOB: 7/10/1995
B/T: 
R/R
Ht/Wt: 6’2″ 185 lbs
Levels Played, 2018: High-A (Wilmington), AA (Northwest Arkansas)
Acquired: 2016 MLB Draft, 29th Round
ETA: 2019
2018 Stats (A+/AA): 24 G, 2.83 ERA, 41.1 IP, 32 H, 13 R, 13 ER, 17 BB, 52 SO

A Kansas City native that pitched out of relief at Central Missouri, the Royals grabbed Grant Gavin in the 29th round of the 2016 draft. In his first three minor league seasons, he has put up very eye-popping numbers, posting a 2.08 ERA in 153 innings, striking out 176 and walking 47.

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GIF Courtesy Baseball Census

A polished pitcher that has soared up the ranks, Gavin may not be too far away from a major league bullpen. He throws a fastball that sits closer to the lower-90s but can touch mid-90s. The curveball may end up being his best secondary, but I love what I’ve seen from his late life changeup out of the Northwest Arkansas bullpen.

48. Yunior Marte, RHP

DOB: 2/2/1995
B/T: 
R/R
Ht/Wt: 6’2″ 180 lbs
Levels Played, 2018: AA (Northwest Arkansas)
Acquired: 2012 International Signing
ETA: 2020
2018 Stats (AA): 28 G, 3.04 ERA, 53.1 IP, 46 H, 20 R, 18 ER, 22 BB, 57 SO

Pitching in his second season as a full-time reliever, Yunior Marte has shown improvement is second go-around at AA. After a dominant first half in Wilmington last year, he got the bump to Northwest Arkansas, where he looked like a mess on the mound (5.75 ERA, 5.51 FIP, 9.5 K/9, 6.7 BB/9). The command with both his fastball and his offspeeds wavered badly, throwing strikes at a terrible 57% clip in the second half last year. While still below-average, he’s showing some of the best command of his career this season, only walking batters at a rate of 3.7 per nine.

The fastball sits mid-90s and has seen a decent bump since his time in the lower-minors. The changeup is great, showing some awesome armside fade. He’ll need to improve his command on both these pitches though if he wants to make a career in the majors. There’s setup man ceiling here.

47. Andres Machado, RHP

DOB: 4/22/1993
B/T: 
R/R
Ht/Wt: 6’0″ 220 lbs
Levels Played, 2018: AA (Northwest Arkansas), AAA (Omaha)
Acquired: 2010 International Signing
ETA: 2018
2018 Stats (AA/AAA): 19 G, 7.23 ERA, 61 IP, 88 H, 61 R, 49 ER, 34 BB, 50 SO

The development of Andres Machado was one of the storylines I was most excited to pay attention too down on the farm this year, but my excitements have been tampered with a huge step back from a successful 2017 season.

A surprise September call-up last season, Machado pitched well across three levels (A+, AA, AAA) in 2017, striking out 111 batters in 111 innings. The Venezuela native rolled his momentum into big league Spring Training, showing spurts of his ability in 6.1 innings. The Royals sent Machado to start the year in the Omaha rotation, but his struggles there sent him to the Northwest Arkansas starting five, where he continued to struggle. He’s now in the Northwest Arkansas bullpen and there has yet to be any visible improvement.

When his fastball/slider combo is working, Machado looks damn near unhittable. The problem is it has been extremely inconsistent this year. The reason I came to love him as a prospect was that he had a 97 MPH fastball that he could locate, but all of his command seems washed this year. Both the slider and changeup have seemed more hittable also.

Machado seems like he has a future in the bullpen, but if he can ever find consistency as a starter, he’ll get an extended look there simply due to his larger frame (6’0″ 220 lbs).

46. Eric Cole, OF

DOB: 1/17/1997
B/T: 
S/R
Ht/Wt: 6’0″ 180 lbs
Levels Played, 2018: N/A
Acquired: 2018 MLB Draft, 4th Round
ETA: 2022
2018 Stats: N/A

One of the final Royals draft picks to sign, fourth rounder Eric Cole is coming off a big junior season at Arkansas. He showed it all at the plate, posting the best K/BB ratio and the best ISO of his college career.

A switch-hitter with good plate skills and quick hands, if all goes well for Cole, he should be able to climb up the ranks quickly (he was recently just assigned to Burlington). He’ll need to hit though, as he probably doesn’t have the range to play centerfield.

45. Jonathan Bowlan, RHP

DOB: 12/1/1996
B/T: 
R/R
Ht/Wt: 6’6″ 262 lbs
Levels Played, 2018: Rookie (Idaho Falls)
Acquired: 2018 MLB Draft, 2nd Rounf
ETA: 2022
2018 Stats (Rookie): 4 G, 2.25 ERA, 16 IP, 13 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 4 BB, 11 SO

Jonathan Bowlan had the most strikeouts in a game by any NCAA pitcher this year, punching out 18. That the one game was part of a successful junior season at Memphis (85 IP, 3.71 ERA, 104 SO, 18 BB) that helped push his draft status to the upper-rounds. The Royals grabbed him in the second with their final pick on day one, adding to their draft stash of college arms.

Just by looking at hm, you would guess Bowlan is a football player with his 6’6″ 260 lbs frame. He uses a power-sinker with good command. The best secondary is a hard, sweeping slider that he’ll pair with a lesser-changeup. The repertoire screams back-end starter to me, but their could be an interesting profile as a reliever here.

44. DJ Burt, 2B

DOB: 10/13/1995
B/T: 
R/R
Ht/Wt: 5’9″ 160 lbs
Levels Played, 2018: High-A (Wilmington)
Acquired: 2014 MLB Draft, 4th Round
ETA: 2020
2018 Stats (A+): 65 G, .302/.394/.396, 71 H, 9 2B, 5 3B, 1 HR, 24 RBI, 22 SB

DJ Burt is your ultimate fringe prospect. His speed holds up any prospect status he has, as he’s currently running a .395 BABIP in Wilmington this year. After the hit tool took a step back last year, it seems to be back to full-strength. With his speed that allows him to leg out a handful of extra hits each year and his great plate discipline, he should be a high-OBP guy level-to-level.

Burt has the looks of a solid bench piece. The lack of power will hold him back a bit (he recently just hit his first home run of the season), but with the ability to rack up the stolen bases and some plus-versatility (he’s played 2B, SS, 3B, and LF in his career) don’t be surprised if ever sticks around on a major league roster.

43. Charlie Neuweiler, RHP

DOB: 2/8/1999
B/T: 
R/R
Ht/Wt: 6’1″ 205 lbs
Levels Played, 2018: Rookie (Burlington), Low-A (Lexington)
Acquired: 2017 MLB Draft, 5th Round
ETA: 2023
2018 Stats (Rookie/A): 4 G, 4.50 ERA, 20 IP, 22 H, 11 R, 10 ER, 6 BB, 19 SO

After being selected in the fifth round of last year’s draft, Charlie Neuweiler turned some heads with a solid debut season in the AZL at the age of 18. While still only 19 this year, the Royals started him in the Burlington rotation, feeling that they saw enough in two starts to bump him up to Lexington.

Neuweiler throws a fastball that sits lower-90s, a four-seamer and a two-seamer, adding in a changeup and curveball. More velocity down the road isn’t out of the question, but he already flashes plus-command and a good feel for his arsenal.

42. Anderson Miller, OF

DOB: 5/6/1994
B/T: 
L/L
Ht/Wt: 6’3″ 208 lbs
Levels Played, 2018: AA (Northwest Arkansas)
Acquired: 2015 MLB Draft, 3rd Round
ETA: 2019
2018 Stats (AA): 74 G, .268/.321/.435, 72 H, 12 2B, 3 3B, 9 HR, 33 RBI, 7 SB

It’s been a tale of two seasons for the former third round pick Anderson Miller. After continuing his struggles in AA earlier this season, he’s been much better.

  • April: .229/.289/.371, 76 wRC+, 6.6% BB%, 27.6% K%
  • May/June/July: .281/.332/.457, 110 wRC+, 7.0% BB%, 14.9% K%

It’s quite a beauty if Miller can put the right swing on a ball, because he hits some absolute shots with his raw power. He still has a little bit too much downhill action in his swing, preventing him from becoming a consistent power threat.

41. Austin Cox, RHP

DOB: 3/28/1997
B/T: 
L/L
Ht/Wt: 6’4″ 185 lbs 
Levels Played, 2018: Rookie (Burlington)
Acquired: 2018 MLB Draft, 5th Round
ETA: 2022
2018 Stats (Rookie): 3 G, 0.77 ERA, 11.2 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 23 SO

Austin Cox was easily one of my more favorite selections in this year’s draft. A fifth round pick out of Mercer University in Georgia, Cox was a big strikeout guy coming out of college, striking out 124 batters in 87.2 innings his junior year. He struggled with mostly everything else though, giving up nearly 11 hits and 4.5 walks per nine, contributing to a career 5.71 ERA.

A lanky lefty with a deep repertoire, Cox mixes in two fastballs with a slider and a changeup. Our Drew Osborne grabbed some good insight from Cox’s college pitching coach.

As far as pitching goes, Cox throws 4 pitches. He has the fastball combo of 4-seamer and 2-seamer, a slider, a change, and what coach Shade calls a double double plus power curveball. I watched video on the curve and it is good. It has 12-6 action that is late and hard. Some would call it a spike curve. In fact, the velo is low 80s. This is a pitch that he throws to both righties and lefties for strikes and for strikeouts. It is a true swing and miss pitch. The slider is used against LHHs as Cox is a LHP and Mercer’s pitching philosophy is to break the ball away from a hitter’s bat path. The slider isn’t designed to be a swing and miss pitch for Cox but more as a variation to get guys to roll over. The change is an okay pitch that breaks back armside and away from RHHs. The fastball has been up to 96 as recently as his last start but usually works 91 to 93.

Cox has been one of the more impressive draft picks by the Royals early on, allowing only one earned run through his first three starts while striking out 23 batters in 11.2 innings. It’s definitely some small sample size, but the command he struggled with in college has looked better over in pro-ball. If he can ever make strides with that while possibly adding on some fastball velocity down the road once he fills out his frame more, we could be looking at a guy that could be one of the higher-ceiling pitchers in the organization. If not, his future is likely in the bullpen.

Photo Credits: Brad Glazier—MiLB.com

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