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:
10. Richard Lovelady, LHP
Ht/Wt: 6’0″ 175 lbs
Levels Played, 2018: AAA (Omaha)
Acquired: 2016 MLB Draft, 10th Round
2018 Stats (AAA): 32 G, 2.77 ERA, 52 IP, 41 H, 18 R, 16 ER, 19 BB, 45 SO
If you would ask me which player in the system would excel most in his respective role at the major league level, my answer for you would be Richard Lovelady. The closest thing to a future closer that the Royals have, Lovelady bursted onto the prospect rankings after an unbelievable 33.1 innings in Wilmington last year (1.08 ERA, 1.48 FIP, 11.1 K/9, 1.1 BB/9, 69.9% GB%). The numbers at AA and AAA have seen a decline since, but he’s still pitched at a high enough level to give him a chance at a September call up later this season.
Lovelady had a rough go to start things off in Omaha, but since then he’s returned to his old self.
- April: 9 IP, 2.00 ERA, 6.00 FIP, 7.0 K/9, 6.0 BB/9
- May: 16.2 IP, 5.40 ERA, 3.96 FIP, 7.6 K/9, 3.2 BB/9
- June: 15 IP, 1.80 ERA, 2.78 FIP, 10.2 K/9, 1.2 BB/9
- July: 13.1 IP, 0.68 ERA, 3.80 FIP, 6.1 K/9, 3.4 BB/9
While the K’s have gone down, Lovelady is still generating the usual low amount of soft-contact via the ground ball (fifth highest GB% in the PCL, min. 50 IP), while still adding in above-average amount of swinging strikes.
Overall, everything still looks fine for Lovelady this year. The one thing I’d say that has declined is the command, following up a 2017 season in which he was plus-plus in that category. That has hurt some of his numbers in a hitter-friendly environment, but the arsenal still looks big league ready. The mid-90s fastball coming out of a funky arm slot paired with a high-movement slider has been impossible for lefties to hit (.159/.250/.286 this year). I think the ceiling hear is a closer, the floor being a LOOGY.
9. Daniel Tillo, LHP
Ht/Wt: 6’5″ 215 lbs
Levels Played, 2018: Low-A (Lexington), High-A (Wilmington)
Acquired: 2016 MLB Draft, 3rd Round
2018 Stats (A/A+): 19 G, 4.26 ERA, 101.2 IP, 90 H, 52 R, 48 ER, 50 BB, 82 SO
If you’re a fan of ground balls, Daniel Tillo is a prospect for you. The Royals third round pick out of Iowa Western last year, Tillo runs a plus-fastball/slider combo to the fullest extent. While the numbers aren’t eye-popping across 19 starts in Lexington and Wilmington, Tillo has looked fantastic from time to time, working at his best when the command and control are on par, generating whiffs and ground balls for days. But there has been an inconsistency problem here.
The prospect status with Tillo is low-ceiling/high-floor as a starter and high-ceiling as a reliever. The profile could really play to a future bullpen role, owning a great two-pitch combo and a velocity bump that could have him touching above mid-90s. The Royals will keep giving him looks as a starer, but unless a consistent third pitch develops, the bullpen seems like his most likely road to the majors.
8. Michael Gigliotti, OF
Ht/Wt: 6’1″ 180 lbs
Levels Played, 2018: Low-A (Lexington)
Acquired: 2017 MLB Draft, 4th Round
2018 Stats (A): 6 G, .235/.435/.471, 4 H, 1 2B, 0 3B, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 SB
With an ACL injury that derailed his season early, Michael Gigliotti seems like the forgotten prospect of the system. A player that should not be overlooked though, if he can return from injury smoothly, expect him to fly up the minor league ranks with an already finished approach.
There is a ton to like about Gigliotti at the plate. He uses a very balanced and upright stance at the dish that allows for a quick reaction time.
He should definitely be able to stick in center, where the power in his bat will play more. The instincts and coordination are great, adding in very above-average speed and reaction time. The arm is his lacking tool out there.
Another high-floor prospect, Gigliotti should be able to make the big leagues in some capacity. A future leadoff hitter that can knock 40 extra-base hits with the gaps in Kauffman and add in 20+ stolen bases is the best case scenario.
7. Nick Pratto, 1B
Ht/Wt: 6’1″ 195 lbs
Levels Played, 2018: Low-A (Lexington)
Acquired: 2017 MLB Draft, 1st Round
2018 Stats (A): 88, .246/.297/.357, 84 H, 17 2B, 0 3B, 7 HR, 33 RBI, 12 SB
An advanced hitter for his age with a polished swing for a high schooler, Nick Pratto was coming off a debut season in the AZL in which he could build off of heading into full-season the ball. His start in Lexington was nice (123 wRC+ in April), but he has struggled mightily since (75 wRC+ since April), with that plus-presence at the plate not really showing (6.8% BB%, 29.7% K%).
What may underly Pratto’s power dip and struggles at the plate is a change in his batted ball profile, seeing his GB-rate spike from a low 32.1% last year to a high 49.1% this year. The power and strength still seem like they have some developing to do, hopefully once he adds onto his frame.
The potential in Pratto comes from his highly-rated swing.
For a first baseman, Pratto is athletically gifted. The speed and range could be better, but he flashes an elite arm for first and some nice glove-work. All in all, he is above-average defensively.
Sticking at first base, the pressure is on Pratto to hit. Having a rough season as a 19-year-old in full-season ball won’t destroy his prospect status, but still need to see some improvement somewhere along the line.
6. Nicky Lopez, 2B/SS
Ht/Wt: 5’11” 175 lbs
Levels Played, 2018: AA (Northwest Arkansas), AAA (Omaha)
Acquired: 2016 MLB Draft, 5th Round
2018 Stats (AA/AAA): 94 G, .312/.388/.419, 111 H, 11 2B, 6 3B, 5 HR, 35 RBI, 12 SB
Another prospect that is likely to contribute in some way at the major league level soon, Nicky Lopez has continued an impressive stint in the Arizona Fall League (.383/.433/.568) into the 2018 season, recently earning a promotion to AAA after a much improved second go-around in AA (123 wRC+).
Transitioning up the ranks has been a pretty easy task for Lopez with his outstanding approach at the plate. He’s walked 13 more times than he’s struck out in his career, rarely swings-and-misses (second lowest SwStr% in the Texas League), and uses his speed to fit his batted ball profile.
The lack of power is what keeps Lopez as a high-floor prospect. With little loft, drive, and strength in his swing, a home run is a rare occasion for him, with most of his power numbers coming from the gaps.
Sticking at shortstop would be great for Lopez, but it seems that second base is the more likely destination if Adalberto Mondesi is going to be running the position at the major league level soon. He plays at an adequate level for both premium positions and can provide some value on the base paths, so it’s very possible he could make a career out of a below-average offensive profile. The ceiling is for him is a high OBP, leadoff type profile that can stick at shortstop. The floor is a reserve infielder.
Photo Credits: Mary Lay