Royals Farm Report Mid-Season Top 100: 30-26

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:


30. Ryan O’Hearn, 1B

DOB: 7/26/1993
Ht/Wt: 6’3″ 200 lbs
Levels Played, 2018: AAA (Omaha)
Acquired: 2014 MLB Draft, 8th Round
ETA: 2019
2018 Stats (AAA): 86 G, .242/.328/.411, 73 H, 16 2B, 1 3B, 11 HR, 45 RBI, 1 SB

I’ve been a fan of Ryan O’Hearn for awhile, but hopes on him of becoming a viable major league first baseman are running out. In the middle of his second appearance in AAA, O’Hearn has underwhelmed for the second time, currently posting a 92 wRC+.

Throughout his time in the lower-minors, O’Hearn showcased more in-game power than anyone in the organization, but that hasn’t translated to the PCL quite like I hoped it would. He’s in the middle of the worst power season of his career, owning a .169 ISO as I write this. He isn’t putting as much jolt into fly balls as he did in the past and it feels like he’s making far too much soft-contact than he should.

O’Hearn shows a very playable glove at first and can even move to the corner outfield positions in a pinch.

Approaching 25-years-old, time is running out on O’Hearn to hit. He’ll need a big second half if he wants to get a look in September.

29. Brewer Hicklen, OF

DOB: 2/9/1996
Ht/Wt: 6’2″ 2018 lbs
Levels Played, 2018: Low-A (Lexington)
Acquired: 2017 MLB Draft, 7th Round
ETA: 2021
2018 Stats (A): 63 G, .302/.364/.545, 71 H, 14 2B, 2 3B, 13 HR, 47 RBI, 19 SB

I will say proudly that I drove the Brewer Hicklen hype-train starting the day he was drafted by the Royals. Seeing the results play out in full-season ball has only added to this.

In addition to being a wide receiver on the football team at UAB, Hicklen translated his athletic skillset to all over the diamond (played both catcher and outfield), putting up two monster seasons in Conference USA, slashing a combined .307/.417/.494 in 107 games. With a perfect mold for the Royals, he was snatched in the seventh round, a bit later than he was projected to go. He ended up taking full advantage against less-advanced arms in the AZL and Pioneer League last year, hitting .321/.409/.532 for his professional debut.

Now in full-season ball with the Legends, Hicklen is facing off against peers closer to his age-level, but the results have yet to waver, hitting .302/.352/.545 in 63 games. The power has taken a step forward since moving to pro-ball, but the long swing against pro-arms has exposed his plate discipline issues a bit, striking out in 28.1 percent of his minor league plate appearances so far. If you’re looking for hope on the hit tool though, it should be noted that he has spent little time focusing strictly on baseball, so I wouldn’t be shocked if that developed down the road. The power/speed combo is to drool over though.

I’ve seen mixed results in the outfield, so I have yet to develop a strong opinion of where he’ll end up out there. He’s played a majority of his games in left field for what it’s worth, but he seems pretty capable of playing center. The arm hasn’t wowed me.

Brewer Hicklen has been climbing these rankings consistently and there’s no reason to believe he can’t keep doing it. With how toolsy he is, if he hits at higher levels and/or if the plate discipline ever takes a step forward, we could be looking at one of the better prospects in this organization.

28. Foster Griffin, LHP

DOB: 7/27/1995
Ht/Wt: 6’3″ 200 lbs
Levels Played, 2018: AA (Northwest Arkansas)
Acquired: 2014 MLB Draft, 1st Round
ETA: 2019
2018 Stats (AA): 19 G, 6.16 ERA, 103.2 IP, 137 H, 78 R, 71 ER, 29 BB, 88 SO

Even when he was putting up good number in High-A and AA last year, Foster Griffin never struck me as a prospect that could carve out a successful career in the majors. I’ve probably always been the down guy on him and the warts are starting to show in his second go-around in AA. It seemed like the organization had a plan to get him to Omaha early in the year if he could post decent results in a handful of AA starts, but nothing has gone to plan, as he currently owns a 6.16 ERA and 4.17 FIP in 103.2 innings.

Watching some of Griffin’s starts this year, it’s seemed like in spurts that some of his secondaries have improved. The fastball can look straight terrible at times though, sitting around 88 MPH with little movement. He can have success if he’s commanding it well, but he gets into some serious trouble if they start flying over the zone. If you’re a fan, the changeup is what you cling onto.

Griffin is entering fringe-prospect territory, a year after he was arguably the best pitching prospect in this organization. Lack of fastball velocity and inconsistent command limit his ceiling to a back-end starter.

27. Donnie Dewees, OF

DOB: 9/29/1993
Ht/Wt: 5’11” 204 lbs
Levels Played, 2018: AA (Northwest Arkansas), AAA (Omaha)
Acquired: Trade for Alec Mills
ETA: 2019
2018 Stats (AA/AAA): 89 G, .237/.286/.344, 84 H, 14 2B, 6 3B, 4 HR, 30 RBI, 10 SB

Probably having one of the more disappointing seasons among any top prospect in the organization, Dewees’ bat took a major step back from last year, slashing a measly .253/.305/.351 in 70 games. He got the bump to AAA in order to clear up some space in the Northwest Arkansas outfield and the results have not improved in a better hitting environment, hitting .171/.205/.314 in 19 games.

Like O’Hearn, Dewees has had issues this year squaring up the ball consistently. He’s seen an increase in fly balls this year, but that really shouldn’t be his game, as he’s at best when his swing is on a line drive plane and he’s beating out ground balls for infield hits.\

I think Dewees should probably be able to stick in center field. The lack of arm strength is made up with above-average speed. The instincts are fine. If he does end up there, the bat will profile much better there, as he’ll be able to make up for any shortcomings on offense with defense and base running.

26. Kelvin Gutierrez, 3B

DOB: 8/28/1994
Ht/Wt: 6’3″ 215 lbs
Levels Played, 2018: AA (Harrisburg, Northwest Arkansas)
Acquired: Trade for Kelvin Herrera
ETA: 2019
2018 Stats (AA): 76 G, .262/.306/.376, 78 H, 8 2B, 4 3B, 6 HR, 35 RBI, 12 SB

The player that some considered the main piece in the return for Kelvin Herrera, Kelvin Gutierrez has struggled a bit since joining the Royals organization, slashing .221/.254/.324 in 18 games.

Gutierrez has put up underwhelming numbers throughout his minor league career. Unless he develops more power down the road, he doesn’t present a high-ceiling with the bat at a power position, owning an ugly .103 ISO for his career. Going against the numbers for a bit, he isn’t completely rid of power, as he is capable of running into one here and there with the right swing path. The exceptional amount of upper-body strength he holds though isn’t utilized with an unconventional swing, punching the ball into the ground far too often.

Since he’s joined the squad in Northwest Arkansas, I’ve been pretty impressed with the glove. He holds the above-average instincts needed to play third, and whatever he’s missing with range (while not terrible), he makes up for it with a cannon of an arm. Should be worth noting he has gotten looks twice at shortstop since being traded to the Royals and has even played some first base in his career.

The ceiling isn’t huge with Gutierrez. He seems like a solid bet to at least make the major leagues, but the best case scenario is probably an average third baseman that only starts due to lack of better options.

Photo Credits: Doc Riddle

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