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:
25. Meibrys Viloria, C
Ht/Wt: 5’11″ 220 lbs
Levels Played, 2018: A+
Acquired: International free agent
2018 Stats (A+): 69 G, 284 PA, .224/.326/.294/.620, 4 HR, 5 2B, 11.6% BB%, 18.7% K%, 83 wRC+
When I got my first live look at Meibrys Viloria earlier this year in Spring Training, I was thoroughly impressed. Viloria is a physical specimen that commands some respect at the plate for no other reason than he is big. Viloria is not a unhealthy 220 lbs., instead built like a brick….you know what.
After watching Viloria catch for two innings, I typed up in my notes for that day that he’s a big league catcher. I stand by that today. The kid is a really talented backstop that doesn’t let much by him. He’s allowed only 5 past balls in 515.1 innings behind the plate this season, much improved from his mark of 18 in 783.1 innings last season in Low-A ball. FanGraphs rates Viloria’s arm as a 55 future value on an 80-grade scale, which feels low to me. Part of that may have to do with his transfer because, in my opinion, Viloria has a cannon that’s more like 65 future value. It takes him a bit to get rid of it, but he’s got a cannon.
Offensively, Viloria just hasn’t been able to put anything together this season in Wilmington. After winning the MVP of the Pioneer League (rookie) in 2016, Viloria had a respectable offensive season in Lexington last year and now is slumping a bit in 2018. He’s still walking a lot, he’s not striking out too much for a power hitting catcher, and his SwStr% is the 19th best rate among qualified hitters in the Carolina League. Better than top prospects Carter Kieboom and Leody Taveras. So what gives?
One problem that Viloria has often had in the minor leagues is that he simply hits way too many balls on the ground. A guy with his kind of raw power needs to be hitting the ball in the air close well over 50% of the time (Gabriel Cancel gets it in the air 57.8% of the time). So far in 2018, Viloria’s GB% is 51.6%, meaning he’s not even hitting the ball in the air half of the time. The year that Viloria won the MVP of the Pioneer League, he also posted his career low in GB% at 49.5%. Coincidence?
If Viloria can get the ball off of the ground, he’s got the profile to be a very good hitter. He swings like a man on a mission and plays good enough catcher to reach the big leagues. He may not be far away from being a top 10 prospect in this system. There’s a reason the Royals protected him from the Rule 5 Draft this offseason.
24. Scott Barlow, RHP
Ht/Wt: 6’3″ 215 lbs
Levels Played, 2018: AAA, MLB
Acquired: Free agent
2018 Stats (MLB): 6 G, 15 IP, 3.60 ERA, 3.48 FIP, 9 K/9, 1.80 BB/9, 38.3% GB%,
Considered to be the best available minor league free agent this past offseason, Scott Barlow has been pretty impressive so far in his time with the big league club. His fastball/curveball combination has been enough to keep hitter’s honest, and his slider has been incredibly effective as well. Barlow made most of his appearances in the minors as a starter, though he’s been strictly a reliever for the big league club.
If you follow me on Twitter, you may be familiar with the rankings that I come up with for individual pitches. Check out where Scott Barlow’s curveball ranks among all major leaguers that have thrown at least 25 curves this season (mega SSS alert):
That ought to give you a good idea of just how good Barlow’s stuff can be at times. I don’t know if he’s quite got the arsenal he’ll need to remain a starter in the big leagues, but he certainly has a decently high ceiling as a reliever with his FB/CB combo. When Barlow returns from the DL, look for him to quickly find a place on the big league club’s pitching staff.
23. Yefri del Rosario, RHP
Ht/Wt: 6’2″ 180 lbs
Levels Played, 2018: A-
Acquired: Free agent
2018 Stats (A-): 7 G, 33 IP, 5.18 ERA, 8.45 K/9, 3.82 BB/9, 34.3% GB%
Arguably my favorite pick up of the entire offseason for KC, Yefri del Rosario contained at the time what may very well have been the highest ceiling of any SP in the system. The Royals have since added guys like Brady Singer, Jackson Kowar, and Daniel Lynch via the draft, but at the time, del Rosario featured a slim ray of hope for a bleak system.
As most of you probably know by now, del Rosario was the SP that the Royals acquired when the Braves were forced to release him this past offseason. He’s the one who throws like this:
del Rosario’s best pitch at the moment is definitely his fastball, which can get up into the mid-90’s. His curveball is a decent pitch that could be a very good one, but is still developing a bit. The changeup is what, in my opinion, will dictate del Rosario’s success as a future starter. Having a third pitch helps keep hitters honest and as of now, del Rosario doesn’t have a really good one. I’ve seen enough of his changeup to think it could be pretty good one day, it’s just not there yet.
I’m all in on Yefri del Rosario. The 18-year old has been susceptible to the HR in Lexington but, then again, who isn’t? Among all pitchers in the South Atlantic League, Yefri del Rosario is the only 18-year old to throw a pitch this season. If you go back and look, the list of 18 year olds to pitch in the SAL is small, and it’s impressive. This ought to give you a pretty good idea of how confident the Royals are in this young man.
22. Trevor Oaks, RHP
Ht/Wt: 6’3” 225 lbs
Levels Played, 2018: AAA, MLB
Acquired: Trade for Scott Alexander
2018 Stats (AAA): 14 G, 83 IP, 1.84 ERA, 3.97 FIP, 5.2 K/9, 3.04 BB/9, 54% GB%
Trevor Oaks may be the most curious prospect in this Royals system. It is incredibly difficult for a SP to depend on weak contact in this day in age. MLB hitters are just too good at elevating the ball and hitting it hard to bank on them hitting it soft and on the ground.
But that’s just what Trevor Oaks is doing, and he’s doing it quite well in AAA Omaha. When Trevor Oaks made his MLB debut, the Pitch F/X system was having a hell of a hard time reading what he was throwing. Oaks would throw an 89 mph sinker, and the pitch would register as a slider. Then Oaks would throw an 82 mph slider, and it would read sinker. His stuff is really, really good, as long as it’s down in the zone.
The problem with that is, Oaks has not been down in the zone in his time with KC. Check out his heat map courtesy of Baseball Savant:
As you can see, Oaks has been up and pretty well over the heart of the plate in his brief time with KC. When Oaks is down, he can be effective. When he’s up, he’s going to get hit. I still believe Oaks is capable of being a big league starter, as he’s shown us in AAA, but he’s going to have to dial in his command first.
21. Evan Steele, LHP
Ht/Wt: 6’5″ 210 lbs
Levels Played, 2018: N/A
Acquired: 2017 MLB Draft
2017 Stats (Rookie): 5 G, 8 IP, 5.63 ERA, 4.95 FIP, 18 K/9, 2.25 BB/9, 63.2% GB%
Evan Steele has not pitched a single inning in 2018, and owns a career 5.63 ERA. The fact that he’s still this high on our list ought to tell you something.
Steele is a complicated case. He has, in my opinion, the best stuff in the entire organization. I mean that sincerely. He’s a 6′ 5″ LHP with an unorthodox delivery, a 95 mph fastball, and a WICKED slider. I remember watching his film before the draft last year and, while it’s obvious that teams have a right to be cautious about his mechanics, the stuff is eye opening. Hence the 16 K in 8 IP last season.
Here’s some quick video of Steele courtesy of @CaliKusiolek on Twitter.
Here’s a link to some video from MLB.com:
Here’s the thing with Evan Steele, if the kid’s healthy, he’s Patrick Corbin, he’s Chris Sale-lite. He’s legit. He’s really good. Unfortunately, he’s dealt with shoulder issues all season after enduring a heavy work load at Chipola College last spring. Combine a heavy work load with some mechanical issues and you have a potential for lots more shoulder issues.
Evan Steele probably isn’t a professional starter because of those issues. But if the Royals can just get him healthy enough to be a reliever, he’s Richard Lovelady. The kid is absolutely filthy. He’s a dynamic LHP that could be in the big leagues pretty quickly, if the Royals can just get him healthy.