Royals continue wave of promotions: who’s next?

The Kansas City Royals have been promoting people all over the place lately. This is just a quick update on some of the bigger promotions that have occurred already in 2018, and predictions as to who is next.


  • Khalil Lee
    • Lee was batting an impressive .270/.402/.406/.808 with a 134 wRC+ and 14 SB in High-A, and was promoted just days after his 20th birthday to AA. He’s struggled just a bit since arriving in AA, but he’s still taking his fair share of walks and playing solid defense in the outfield.
  • Nicky Lopez
    • After hitting .331 in the Texas League, Lopez was promoted to AAA Omaha right after the Texas League All-Star Game. Lopez has since found some success in AAA, but hasn’t quite been as good as he was in AA. This is an expected transition, and I’m actually impressed with the way he’s handled AAA pitching so far. He’s still walking nearly 10% of the time, but his K% has more than doubled from NWA. If Nicky can cut down on the K’s and get back to putting the ball in play, he should be fine.
  • Brewer Hicklen
    • Hicklen was destroying the baseball in Low-A to the tune of a .290/.353/.520/.873 slash line and 143 wRC+ with 13 HR and 20 SB in 66 games. He’ll report to High-A Wilmington where all eyes will be on the uber-talented 22-year old.
  • Nick Heath
    • Shortly after I tweeted out that I’d like to see Heath get his chance in AA, Heath gets his shot in AA. Heath is slashing .276/.391/.354/.745 with a 119 wRC+ and 29 SB in 53 games!!!! Heath obviously isn’t a big time slugger, and at the age of 24 I wouldn’t expect him to develop much power, but my goodness can he fly. It’ll be interesting to see how he’s utilized in NWA.
  • Jacob Condra-Bogan
    • An underrated bullpen arm, Jacob was destroying Low-A. In 26 IP, he had a 1.71 FIP and 39 K to only 2 BB. His fastball is reportedly reaching the upper-90’s, and the Royals may have found a gem after signing Condra-Bogan out of independent ball.
  • Donnie Dewees Jr.
    • After a pretty impressive 2017 campaign, Dewees struggled a bit in 2018 before being promoted to Omaha. Things have not gotten better for Dewees, as he’s hitting just .159 in AAA. I expect he’ll be fine eventually, but it would be nice to see him get things turned around pretty quickly, as he’s going on four month slump here.
  • Kyle Isbel
    • After making a joke of the Pioneer League, Isbel was rightly promoted immediately after he went 4-5 with 2 HR the other night. He’ll move to Low-A Lexington where we’ll get our first look at Isbel in full-season ball where he’ll join fellow 2018 draft pick…
  • Jackson Kowar
    • I’m not sure this counts as a promotion, but Kowar being assigned to Lexington is noteworthy. He’s made two starts so far and is working on building his pitch count back up, but I’m really excited to see how he fares against professional hitters.
  • Daniel Lynch
    • Another 2018 draftee to be assigned to the Lexington Legends roster.
  • Charlie Neuweiler
    • After performing well with rookie league Burlington, Neuweiler was promoted to Low-A Lexington. The 2017 draftee has looked pretty solid in four starts with Lexington.
  • Kort Peterson
    • After posting a 142 wRC+ with High-A Wilmington, Kort was promoted to AA NWA where he has not found the same success. The 24-year old has some promise as a late blooming Whit Merrifield type, but he’ll have to hit in AA first.
  • Cristian Castillo
    • Castillo was one of my “under the radar” guys to watch this spring. He’s not been fantastic in High-A with Wilmington, but he’s been a little banged up and I am excited to see how the LHP does in AA. The Texas League can be a bit of a hitter’s league so it will be interesting to see how Castillo transitions to AA.
  • Bryan Brickhouse
    • After registering triple digits in the Carolina League All-Star Game, Brickhouse was promoted to AA Northwest Arkansas where he’s struggled a bit with more advanced hitters. Still, his fastball should play and he could be an effective bullpen option down the road.
  • Grant Gavin
    • One of the better bullpen arms in the Royals system, Gavin was an All-Star his first two years with the Royals. He was promoted to AA after having another successful run with High-A Wilmington where’s continued to find success.
  • Tyler Zuber
    • Another guy like Gavin, Zuber has the potential to be an effective RHP out of the ‘pen and was promoted to High-A after handling Low-A.
  • Jake Newberry
    • Another RHP bullpen arm, Newberry has absolutely dominated AAA since being promoted from NWA.
  • Xavier Fernandez
    • An intriguing catching option, Fernandez was promoted to AA after having some success in High-A. He’s probably a defense-only backup, but he’s pretty good defensively.
  • Andres Sotillet
    • After pitching well in Low-A, the 21-year old RHP was promoted to High-A Wilmington where he’s joined the Blue Rocks rotation.
  • Daniel Tillo
    • The Royals 4th round pick out of Iowa Western CC performed well in Low-A, and has performed similarly since being promoted to High-A. He’s a ground ball machine, producing a 59.6% GB%.
  • Nolan Watson
    • The struggling RHP has found a bit more success since being promoted to High-A Wilmington from Lexington.
  • Arnaldo Hernandez
    • An increase in velocity, combined with a rotation need in AAA Omaha, has allowed Hernandez to move from High-A Wilmington all the way to AAA this season.

Who’s Next?

  • DJ Burt
    • On his second go at High-A, Burt is getting on base in 40.1% of his PA for Wilmington. He’s also got 23 SB in 70 games.
  • Gabriel Cancel
    • All Cancel does is hit. He’s lighting the world on fire after getting off to a slow start, and I’d love to see the 21-year old second baseman get a shot at AA before the end of the year.

4 thoughts on “Royals continue wave of promotions: who’s next?

  1. Pingback: Minor League Minutes: 7/19/18 – Khalil Lee hits his first AA home run | Royals Farm Report

  2. Pingback: Royals Farm Report Week in Review: 7/15 – 7/21 | Royals Farm Report

  3. Pingback: ‘Will they ever be Royal?’ (July 21st): Matias wows at Futures; Lee homers; and Starling injured (again) – The Roto Royal

  4. Pingback: ‘Will they ever be Royal?’ (July 21st): Matias wows at Futures; Lee homers; and Starling injured (again) – The Royals Reporter

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