Royals Farm Report Mid-Season Top 100: 40-31

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
50-41

40. Elier Hernandez, OF

DOB: 11/21/1997
B/T: 
R/R
Ht/Wt: 6’3″ 197 llbs
Levels Played, 2018: AA
Acquired: International free agent
ETA: 2019
2018 Stats (AA): 84 G, 352 PA, .288/.326/.390, 3 HR, 10 SB, 4% BB%, 19.6% K%, 92 wRC+

Time is running out for the Royals former “signing bonus baby” to blossom into any kind of star. The former highly touted prospect and receiver of one of the biggest signing bonuses in Royals history has struggled to hit for any kind of power at AA. He’s stuck in RF with Donnie Dewees and Khalil Lee being better fits in CF, and he’s not running much anymore either. He’s still just 23, and he’s by no means a bust, yet, but the high hopes the Royals once had for him get dimmer every day.

Hernandez’ numbers aren’t all bad. He still hits the ball decently well. He’s only been 8% worse than league average so he hasn’t been awful. It’s just the lack of power. It’s almost non-existent. Hernandez is hitting the ball on the ground 49% of the time in NWA, the worst mark of his career since his debut in 2012. You want to talk about a guy who could benefit from the flyball revolution? Elier Hernandez is Exhibit 1A.

 

39. Erick Mejia, IF

DOB: 11/9/1994
B/T: S
/R
Ht/Wt: 5’11″ 155 lbs
Levels Played, 2018: AA
Acquired: Trade for Scott Alexander/Joakim Soria
ETA: 2019
2018 Stats (AA): 85 G, 377 PA, .246/.306/.349, 4 HR, 24 SB, 8% BB%, 18% K%, 77 wRC+

I know there were some people who weren’t happy with the return for Scott Alexander, but I for one was thrilled. You got rid of $9M and traded two relievers whose futures were no guarantee for a 25-year old SP and a 23-year old SS. Sounded good to me.

Well, fast forward to, now, and Trevor Oaks leads the PCL in ERA (despite his struggles in KC) and Erick Mejia has a 77 wRC+ in the Texas League. Not great, but I think Erick Mejia has a ton of potential as a utility infielder.

As a 22-year old in 2017, Mejia posted a 117 wRC+ in 403 AA PA’s with 7 HR and 25 SB. He’s a switch hitter capable of playing three positions and runs the bases well. Despite his struggles in 2018, Mejia has a history of being a decent to good hitter and has been a tick younger than league average for much of his career. Mejia probably isn’t an every day big leaguer, but I think there’s a real shot that he could be a respectable utility man off the bench. Think Ramon Torres but a better hitter. At his ceiling, I could even see a little Whit Merrifield in Mejia.

 

38. Sebastian Rivero, C

DOB: 11/16/1998
B/T: 
R/R
Ht/Wt: 6’1″ 180 lbs
Levels Played, 2018: Low-A
Acquired: International free agent
ETA: 2021
2018 Stats (AA): 56 G, 220 PA, .261/.303/.419, 7 HR, 5.5% BB%, 18.6% K%, 103 wRC+

In Sebastian Rivero, the Royals may have one of their top 5 most important prospects in the entire system. No, seriously.

With the way that MJ Melendez is hitting this season, it’s going to be tough for Rivero to ever surpass him in terms of offensive prowess. On defense, both Melendez and Rivero throw the ball exceptionally well, but Rivero may very well be the better receiver of the two. Rivero’s defensive wizardry behind the plate does not go unnoticed, as it’s the sole reason we’ve got him in our top 40 here.

Sebastian Rivero’s role in the Royals system going forward should not be understated. Rivero has improved his ISO every single season he’s been with the Royals, and now he’s walking 2.2% more than he did last year, despite a few more strike outs as well. He’s posting his first wRC+ over 100 since he played 8 games in the DSL back in 2016, and if he can hit just a little bit, he’s going to be a valuable prospect.

One of the most underrated pieces of importance for Rivero has to do with his role on the team. One reason that Rivero will be so important going forward will have to do with how he and MJ Melendez build off of each other. Unless Rivero makes big changes to his offensive game, he’ll likely always be “the other catcher” to Melendez. Which is certainly not a knock given the prospect status of MJ. But if these two guys, both 19 years old playing in A-ball, can build off of each other moving forward, they could be one of the most special catching duos we’ve ever seen when they get to Kansas City.

 

37. Samir Duenez, 1B

DOB: 6/11/1996
B/T: 
L/R
Ht/Wt: 6’1″ 230 lbs
Levels Played, 2018: AA, AZL
Acquired: International free agent
ETA: 2020
2018 Stats (AA): 32 G, 134 PA, .254/.306/.451, 5 HR, 7.5% BB%, 21.6% K%, 96 wRC+

It’s easy to forget that Samir Duenez is still just 22 years old. Because it’s so easy to forget that, I’ll post this every single time I write about Duenez:

  • At age 17 in rookie ball, where the average age is 19.4, Duenez posted a 103 wRC+.
  • At age 20 in Low-A, where the average age is 21.2, Duenez posted a 108 wRC+.
  • At age 20 in High-A, where the average age is 22.4, Duenez posted a 132 wRC+.
  • At age 21 in AA, where the average age is 23.8, Duenez posted a 95 wRC+.

Duenez had an awesome season in High-A back in 2016 and had me really excited about what he might become. Unfortunately for Duenez, he’s been injured for much of this season and the power still hasn’t really come around. Now stuck at 1B, Duenez is gonna have to access more in-game power to move back up the prospect rankings. He was posting a career high ISO before the injury, and was hitting HR’s at an impressive clip, but it still wasn’t quite enough for us to keep him in our top 30.

 

36. Juan Carlos Negret, OF

DOB: 6/19/1999
B/T: 
R/R
Ht/Wt: 6’1″ 190 lbs
Levels Played, 2018: Rookie
Acquired: Free Agent
ETA: 2022
2018 Stats (Rookie): 19 G, 79 PA, .230/.278/.392, 2 HR, 4 2B, 1 SB, 2.5% BB%, 29.1% K%, 72 wRC+

Juan Carlos Negret may be the best Royals prospect you’ve not yet heard of. A free agent signing that was a result of the buffoonery in Atlanta, the Royals picked up a really solid outfield prospect in Negret.

A 19-year old that doesn’t have a ton of history in affiliated ball, Negret is a lottery ticket that shows flashes of being a real 5-tool player. He runs fairly well. He has a decent arm. He can play good enough defense in RF. He can hit, and he can really flash some power. His floor is admittedly a little low, as there’s a chance he doesn’t amount to much, but his ceiling is sky high. Like, sooooooooo high. Keep an eye on this kid for the next year or so.

 

35. Tyler Zuber, RHP

DOB: 6/16/1995
B/T: 
R/R
Ht/Wt: 5’11″ 175 lbs
Levels Played, 2018: A, A+
Acquired: 2017 MLB Draft
ETA: 2021
2018 Stats (A): 23 G, 29 IP, 3.10 ERA, 2.45 FIP, 14.9 K/9, 1.24 BB/9, 31.3% GB%

Purely a reliever, Tyler Zuber absolutely dominated the South Atlantic League this season. Zuber uses a good fastball combined with a funky delivery to absolutely dominate younger hitters. He was recently promoted to High-A Wilmington, where he hasn’t been quite as good, but still good enough. The Royals have a knack for developing dominant relievers, and Zuber appears to be next in line along with Gavin, Lovelady, and Staumont.

 

34. Elvis “Mound Dog” Luciano, RHP

DOB: 2/15/2000
B/T: 
R/R
Ht/Wt: 6’2″ 184 lbs
Levels Played, 2018: Rookie
Acquired: Trade for Jon Jay
ETA: 2022
2018 Stats (Rookie): 4 G, 16.2 IP, 6.48 ERA, 4.19 FIP, 8.64 K/9, 3.78 BB/9, 52.8% GB%

Elvis Luciano is one of my favorite acquisitions that the Royals have made recently.

 

Are you seeing what I’m seeing? Luciano’s ceiling is very promising. He’s currently working through his mechanics, as you could imagine an 18-year old in Burlington might be, and I think there’s more in the tank than what we’ve seen from Luciano so far, but my oh my is he promising. The fastball already flashes in the mid-90’s and his slider needs work, but when he gets on top of it, it’s a sharp downward breaker.

Luciano is by no means Luis Severino, but you don’t need Severino either. Considering all the Royals had to give up was Jon Jay, I’d be okay with just a fraction of Sevvy. Given what I’ve seen from Luciano so far, I’m liking our odds here…

33. Heath Fillmyer, RHP

DOB: 5/16/1994
B/T: 
R/R
Ht/Wt: 6’1″ 180 lbs
Levels Played, 2018: AAA, MLB
Acquired: Trade for Ryan Buchter/Brandon Moss
ETA: 2018
2018 Stats (AAA): 13 G, 67.1 IP, 5.75 ERA, 4.64 FIP, 6.28 K/9, 3.74 BB/9, 42.5% GB%

After coming to KC in a trade that sent Brandon Moss and Ryan Buchter to Oakland, Fillmyer has had some mixed results in Omaha. He’s also been pretty decent filling in in Kansas City as well.

Fillmyer features a low-mid-90’s fastball and a pretty effective slider that allow him to be effective enough against more advanced hitters. A former SS, there may even be some room to grow for Fillmyer on the mound despite already being 24 years old. He’s probably* a reliever in the big leagues, but I think there’s quite a bit of potential in the arm. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Royals kept him around a little bit to piece together the bullpen and rotation while they’re dealing with injuries.

32. Janser Lara, RHP

DOB: 8/10/1996
B/T: 
R/R
Ht/Wt: 6’0″ 170 lbs
Levels Played, 2018: Low-A
Acquired: International free agent
ETA: 2022
2018 Stats (A): 12 G, 42.1 IP, 3.61 ERA, 4.37 FIP, 9.35 K/9, 4.46 BB/9, 34.7% GB%

Janser Lara is a guy that I really like kind of under the radar in this system. He’s got a big arm and can be incredibly hard to hit when he is on. He’s going to get his fair share of K’s, but he’s gonna have to cut down on the BB’s if he wants to remain a starter. Lara is a guy that I’d personally just assume make a permanent transition to the bullpen. Lara has a history of impressive SwStr% and a high-octane fastball that would play anywhere from really good to dominant one inning at a time. He was placed on the DL on June 13 and hasn’t pitched since, but I’m curious to see what the Royals do with him when he returns, seeing how the Lexington Legends rotation is now stacked.

 

31. Gerson Garabito, RHP

DOB: 8/19/1995
B/T: 
R/R
Ht/Wt: 6’0″ 160 lbs 
Levels Played, 2018: High-A
Acquired: International free agent
ETA: 2021
2018 Stats (A+): 16 G, 85 IP, 4.02 ERA, 4.76 FIP, 6.99 K/9, 4.87 BB/9, 38.1% GB%

Gerson Garabito has hovered around this spot in our rankings for every single series that we’ve run. He hasn’t gone up much. Hasn’t gone down much. He’s just steadily maintained his position as a top 30-ish prospect for the Royals, despite the addition of guys like Kowar, Singer, Isbel, etc.

Garabtio features a low-90’s fastball and a formidable breaking ball that have allowed him to slowly make his way through the minor league system. In 15 starts with Low-A Lexington in 2017, Garabito posted a 2.80 ERA and started to look like he may become a viable starting pitcher for the future.

Turn to 2018 and Garabito is walking more batters than he ever has as a full-time starter.  Pitching in the Carolina League usually favors pitchers, but much like his teammate Dan Tillo, Garabito has seen a significant increase in his BB/9 since being promoted to Wilmington. Combine that with the fact that Garabito is 22 years old and still weighs just 160 lbs., and it’s fair to question the longevity of Garabito as a starter. If Garabito can gain a little weight, and a little zip on his fastball, he could have a future as a #5 starter in a big league rotation (although probably not a good one). At worst, I could see Garabito filling out a big league bullpen.

Check out Drew’s Prospect Watch on Garabito here.

 

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