Shaun Newkirk recently wrote a really excellent article over at Royals Review arguing that the Royals need to recalibrate their rebuild timeline. You can find that article here. The point of Shaun’s article is that the Royals current farm system is no where near what it was in 2011 and that the Royals need to readjust their current timeline because of that fact.
I can absolutely see Shaun’s point. In 2011, the Royals had 9 prospects in Baseball America’s top 100 prospects list. As it currently stands in 2018, the Royals have, maybe, 3 top 100 prospects depending which site you look at: MJ Melendez, Seuly Matias, and Brady Singer.
Over the next couple of weeks or so, I’m going to be writing a series of articles comparing the farm systems leading up to a 2011/2021 comparison. For now, let’s go back and take a look at the Royals farm system at the beginning of the 2009 season and see how many guys from that system were a part of the 2014-2015 playoff runs (we’ll use Baseball America for this comparison):
1.) Mike Moustakas, 3B – #13 overall
2.) Eric Hosmer, 1B – #24 overall
6.) Danny Duffy, LHP
12.) Kelvin Herrera, RHP
19.) Salvador Perez, C
NR) Greg Holland, RHP
NR) Jarrod Dyson, OF
And here is a look at some of the best Royals prospects at the end of the 2018 season:
2019 (early look)
1.) Brady Singer, RHP – #57 overall
2.) Khalil Lee, OF – Just outside top 100 (was #99 before the draft)
3.) Daniel Lynch, LHP
4.) Jackson Kowar, RHP
5.) Nicky Lopez, SS/2B
6.) MJ Melendez, C
7.) Nick Pratto, 1B
8.) Seuly Matias, OF
9.) Kyle Isbel, OF
10.) Kris Bubic, LHP
So, at the end of the 2008, heading into 2009, the Kansas City Royals had their corner infielders in place, their World Series MVP backstop (who had played exactly 55 professional games and was 18 years old to this point), and most of their bullpen. That’s it. Alcides Escobar, Lorenzo Cain, Wade Davis, and Yordano Ventura hadn’t even entered the Royals system yet. Alex Gordon, Luke Hochevar, and Billy Butler were already playing in the big leagues. The Royals playoff rotations consisting of James Shields, Jason Vargas, Jeremy Guthrie, Edinson Volquez, and Chris Young were all free agent acquisitions. Jarrod Dyson, the team’s 4th outfielder, was never thought of as much of a prospect.
What the Royals clearly lack is the high profile, top 25 overall prospects. They don’t have a single player in their system that you could really even argue 100% deserves to be in the top 50. Personally, I think I’d have Kowar, Melendez, and Lee all top 100, but they are not viewed that way by the industry just yet.
The important thing to note here is that, while this current farm system is very shallow in terms of depth in the upper levels, the system at the beginning of the 2009 season wasn’t full of world beaters either. Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer played crucial roles in the forward progress of this organization, and while the Royals may not have any players to fill that role just yet, they certainly have the people in place to do so. MJ Melendez, Nick Pratto, Nicky Lopez, are examples of standout human beings that exemplify the hard-nosed, gritty, leadership attitude the Royals wanted to put in place.
Next week, I’ll break down what I believe to be the single biggest difference between the 2008-2011 farm system and the current crop of Royals youngsters.