Comparing the 2008 and 2018 farm systems, Part 4: Prospect for Prospect

In a recent series of articles, I’ve taken some time to compare the current Royals farm system with the farm system in 2008 that went on to capture a World Series title in 2015. You can find the first three articles of the series here:

Part 1: Top 100 Prospects
Part 2: Adalberto Mondesi and other key cogs already in the system
Part 3: The Pitchers

In this final article of the series, I’m going to take Baseball America’s top 30 Royals prospects from the beginning of the 2009 season and directly compare it to the current list of top 30 Royals prospects the Royals will take into the 2019 season.

As I’ve stated in previous articles, the reason that we’re comparing 2008 and 2018 is because the core of Danny Duffy, Salvador Perez, Eric Hosmer, and Mike Moustakas all debuted in the 2011 season. The current core of Royals prospects are scheduled to debut sometime in the 2021 season. It’s a pretty comparable situation, really. Comparing the systems ought to give us an idea of when we should expect the next Royals competitive window to open.

Without further ado, here are your top 30 Royals prospects to begin 2009 according to Baseball America, and your top 30 Royals prospects to begin 2019 according to MLB Pipeline (BA isn’t out yet unfortunately):

Mike Moustakas Brady Singer
Eric Hosmer Khalil Lee
Dan Cortes Seuly Matias
Mike Montgomery Jackson Kowar
Tim Melville MJ Melendez
Danny Duffy Nick Pratto
Danny Guiterrez Nicky Lopez
Carols Rosa Daniel Lynch
Kila Ka’aihue Kris Bubic
Blake Wood Michael Gigliotti
Johnny Giavotella Josh Staumont
Kelvin Herrera
Carlos Hernandez
Henry Barrera
Richard Lovelady
Tyler Sample Kyle Isbel
David Lough Blake Perkins
Derrick Robinson
Emmanuel Rivera
Jason Taylor Kelvin Gutierrez
Julio Pimentel Austin Cox
Salvador Perez Daniel Tillo
Chris Fortuna Trevor Oaks
Matt Mitchell Brewer Hicklen
Adrian Ortiz Jeisson Guzman
Mitch Maier Yefri Del Rosario
Joe Dickerson
Jonathan Bowlan
Juan Abreu Scott Blewett
Jose Bonilla Sam McWilliams
Kyle Martin Janser Lara
Sam Runion DJ Burt
Yowill Espinal Foster Griffin
Keaton Hyenga Ofreidy Gomez

One thing that I think shouldn’t go unmentioned along with the organization’s prospects are young, future pieces of the core that have already reached the big leagues. In 2009 you had Billy Butler, Alex Gordon, Luke Hochevar, and Zack Greinke. Butler was on the first playoff team, Gordon and Hoch were both around to win the title in 2015, and Greinke was a huge piece as he helped KC acquire Alcides Escobar and Lorenzo Cain: the SS and CF on the 2015 team.

The 2019 Opening Day roster will contain Danny Duffy, Whit Merrifield, Salvador Perez, Jake Junis, Brad Keller, Adalberto Mondesi, Ryan O’Hearn, Jorge Lopez, Heath Fillmyer, Sam McWilliams, Tim Hill, and potentially Brett Phillips that could all “potentially” be a part of the next competitive Royals team beyond 2021, or be traded for someone else that could be instead  (there’s a 0% chance that they all contribute).

*Let me make very clear that not all of those guys will contribute to the next playoff team, whether it be by playing or in a trade, it’s just possible that they could be future assets*

It’s undeniable that the core of the Royals playoff teams was already in the system by the end of 2008. Alex Gordon, Billy Butler, Salvador Perez, Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Kelvin Herrera, Danny Duffy, Luke Hochevar, and Greg Holland had all been assembled by the end of 2008. Alcides Escobar and Lorenzo Cain were acquired via Zack Greinke who was also on the 2009 team. That’s 11/25 players on the 2014 playoff roster and 9/25 on the 2015 World Series championship roster (Butler was gone and Holland got hurt) (also, Yordano Ventura made his professional debut in 2009 after being signed in October of 2008).

Over the next two seasons, Kansas City would go on to draft Aaron Crow and Christian Colon with their first picks in the 2009 and 2010 drafts. The Royals have a chance to make vast improvements to the system in 2019 and 2020, possessing the #2 overall pick in 2019 and a likely top 10 pick again in 2020. Hello Bobby Witt Jr.

So, anyway, here’s what the Royals would need their current crop of prospects to live up to in order to be “on par” with that 2008 system:

  • MJ Melendez – Salvador Perez
  • Daniel Lynch/Kris Bubic – Danny Duffy
  • Nick Pratto – Eric Hosmer
  • Richard Lovelady – Kelvin Herrera
  • Josh Staumont – Greg Holland
  • Brady Singer/Jackson Kowar – Yordano Ventura
  • Kelvin Gutierrez/Emmanuel Rivera/Gabriel Cancel/DJ Burt (?????) – Mike Moustakas

This leaves a lot of room for improvement in the way of Michael Gigliotti, Seuly Matias, Khalil Lee, and Nicky Lopez.

The big picture for me here is that the Royals don’t quite have the bonafide All-Stars in the system that they had in 2008. The Royals don’t have a clear third baseman of the future. Eric Hosmer obliterated minor league pitching and was a key cog to that playoff run, whether the advanced metrics can figure it out or not. Danny Duffy never made a playoff start, but was part of a lights out bullpen.

What this current crop of Royals prospects do have on the ’08 system however is depth. The ’08 system didn’t have a middle infield, a center fielder, starting pitchers, nada. The 2018 system has at least a few of each. Adalberto Mondesi and Michael Gigliotti are the big separators in my opinion. The Royals don’t need to go out and trade anyone to have their SS/CF of the future. They are already in the system. Not a single SP from that 2008 group (Yordano didn’t play until 2009 so that’s a caveat) made it to the big leagues. The Royals figure to at least get some kind of big league contributions from Bubic/Lynch/Singer/Kowar/Hernandez/Del Rosario/etc.

The big take aways here are these: depth, starting pitching, and Adalberto Mondesi. The Royals are in a better position heading into 2019 than they were in 2009 in my opinion, and they possess the #2 overall pick in the MLB Draft this June. This will be fun to track as we get closer to that magic 2021 season.

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