2019 Royals Farm Report Prospect Rankings: 65-61

Happy New Year and welcome back! We have now been writing about the Royals farm system for 18 months and it’s only going to get better from here. We started off our original prospect rankings with 30, expanded to 100, and now we’re coming back to earth a bit. Are there 100 worth names in the Kansas City Royals system? Absolutely. Are there always 100 names worthy of being on the list…well…

So here we go. The Kansas City Royals top 75 prospects as brought to you by six members of your Royals Farm Report staff. Joel, Drake, Drew, Josh, Pat, and I voted on our top 75 Royals prospects and then ran a collective ranking. We will release five prospects a day, starting with 75, working our way down to #5 where our top 5 prospects will all get their own article. So, without further ado, here we go!

65. Kevin Lenik, RHP

DOB: 8/1/1991
B/T: R/R
Ht/Wt: 6’5″ 225′
Levels Played, 2018: AAA
Acquired: Free agent signing
ETA: 2019
2018 Stats: 49.1 IP, 4.93 ERA, 4.74 FIP, 9.30 K/9, 4.56 BB/9, 0.73 HR/9, 39.6% GB%
Projected level to begin 2019: AAA

I am still holding out hope that Kevin Lenik can be a solid big league reliever. His pitch arsenal kind of reminds me of Kevin McCarthy, but Lenik appears to have a touch more velocity and, being a much bigger human being, gets kind of a more natural down hill plane, whereas McCarthy intentionally sinks the ball. Lenik burst onto the scene in 2017 out of indy ball and dominated AAA hitters. He actually improved on his K-rate in 2018, but his BABIP regressed to the mean and he walked way too many hitters out of the bullpen. If he can cut his walks and half and keep his BABIP a tick below average, he’s got a shot to be a big league reliever by year’s end.

64. Frank Schwindel, 1B

DOB: 6/29/1992
B/T: R/R
Ht/Wt: 6’1″ 205′
Levels Played, 2018: AAA
Acquired: 2013 MLB Draft
ETA: 2019
2018 Stats: 556 PA, .286/.336/.506/.842, 24 HR, 38 2B, 6.1% BB%, 12.8% K%, 116 wRC+
Projected level to begin 2019: AAA

Frank Schwindel improved on all of the reasons that he was still a minor leaguer in 2018 and he still wasn’t given a shot at the big leagues. Trust me when I tell you that the Royals front office is not stupid. There’s a reason that they promoted Ryan O’Hearn instead of Schwindel in the middle of 2018 even though Schwindel was outperforming O’Hearn. Schwindel’s plate discipline would get him tortured at the big league level. 2019 might be his last chance to improve on some of these issues in the Royals organization. He’s still got a shot, and time is running out on the 26-year old slugger, but my goodness can the kid put on a show when he connects.

63. Foster Griffin, LHP

DOB: 7/27/1995
B/T: R/L
Ht/Wt: 6’3″ 200′
Levels Played, 2018: AA
Acquired: 2014 MLB Draft
ETA: 2020
2018 Stats: 152.2 IP, 5.13 ERA, 4.41 FIP, 6.90 K/9, 2.36 BB/9, 1.18 HR/9, 37.6% GB%
Projected level to begin 2019: AAA

I really don’t even know who to blame for the failed development of Foster Griffin. Reports on Griffin out of high school back in 2014 had the LHP sitting 89-91, and that has not changed in the 4 seasons since. He literally has not gained any velocity in 4 seasons of professional baseball. I truly don’t know who to blame for that. In the days of Mike Montgomery, it became pretty clear that the Royals had a system in place that clashed with what Montgomery wanted and it didn’t work for either party. Could that be the case with Griffin as well? I have no idea, but the regression of Griffin as a pitcher is worrisome, and may have something to do with why the Royals went with all college arms in the 2018 draft, and stayed mostly away from prep arms. Should Griffin see an uptick and velocity and more consistency out of his slider, he could still be a big league pitcher.

62. Walker Sheller, RHP

DOB: 5/21/1995
B/T: R/R
Ht/Wt: 6’3″ 195′
Levels Played, 2018: AA
Acquired: 2015 MLB Draft
ETA: 2020
2018 Stats: 51 IP, 3.53 ERA, 4.90 FIP, 4.76 K/9, 2.47 BB/9, 0.88 HR/9, 46.6% GB%
Projected level to begin 2019: AAA

Walker Sheller has a chance to be a Louis Coleman-esque reliever for the Royals in my opinion. The submariner from Stetson has pitched really well for the Royals since being drafted in 2016 and should arrive in AAA to begin his 4th professional season. Sheller’s funky delivery gives him an edge against RHH and helps him induce his fair amount of ground balls. I’m not 100% certain that we’ll see Sheller in 2019, but I think there’s a decent chance we’ll see him in September if he has a good year at AAA, despite all the other arms that should be in KC.

61. Donnie Dewees Jr., OF

DOB: 9/29/1993
B/T: L/L
Ht/Wt: 5’11″ 204′
Levels Played, 2018: AA, AAA
Acquired: Trade for Alec Mills
ETA: 2020
2018 Stats (AAA): 241 PA, .266/.315/.423/.738, 6 HR, 11 2B, 6.2% BB%, 18.7% K%, 92 wRC+
Projected level to begin 2019: AAA

I was really really excited about Donnie Dewees after his 2017 campaign with the Northwest Arkansas Naturals (AA). After just 167 PA in High-A in the Cubs organization in 2016, The Royals felt comfortable enough with Dewees to launch him to AA to begin 2017. After starting off cold, Dewees scorched the Texas League and finished with a 109 wRC+ as a 23-year old in 2017. Then 2018 came and Dewees took a step back. He only hit .253 for the Naturals and saw his walk rate dip 2% over the first half of the season. His BABIP rebounded a bit in AAA, but Dewees was still something of a disappointment on the season and he was not invited big league Spring Training in 2019. With a huge logjam of outfielders between AAA and Kansas City, I have no idea where Dewees’ at-bats will come in 2019. There’s still plenty of time for Dewees to carve himself out a role as a big league outfielder, but he’s going to have to prove himself this season with AAA Omaha. One thing that Dewees has going for him is that he can absolutely fly and he plays great defense in CF, despite something of a weak arm. His future role with the Royals should become very apparent by the end of May.


Photo Credits: Minda Haas Kuhlmann (@minda33)


6 thoughts on “2019 Royals Farm Report Prospect Rankings: 65-61

  1. Comments on this 5.
    Lenik had a crazy meteoric rise in 2017 after being released by Texas (due mostly to lack of control). That lack returned in 2018. He showed in 2017 what he is capable of. Maybe he will get it back in 2019.
    I still think Griffin’s problems in 2018 were more frustration than ability. He should have started in AAA but got shunted back to AA due to Dayton’s plethora of R5, free agent and waiver claims. Same happened to Dini in 2018 and O’Hearn in 2017 when log jams forced demotions and statistical regression. O’Hearn showed upward movement and competition can yield positive results. Hopefully Griffin, Dini and others get a chance to show the same this year.
    Royals need to either sh*t or get off the pot with Schwindel. The guy has earned the chance. I keep hearing how he will never survive in MLB but same was said about Merrifield, Junis and others in previous years. Is he another Whit or another Kila? Well, lets give him a shot and find out. If Whit then great for KC. Otherwise DFA him and move on. But stop blocking prospects who show success in minors while continually taking chances on other team’s players already given up on.
    I will bet you that Walker Sheller starts 2019 back in AA. When you look at how many pitchers are already on KC and Omaha rosters, there is no room for Sheller or many other AA pitchers ready to move up. And I doubt Dayton is done adding other team’s rejects either. I just hope Sheller does not get stymied like Griffin and so many others when he is sent back to a league he has already shown he can master.
    As for Dewees, I think it was a slap in the face he did not get invited to MLB camp this year. Yes, he started slow at Omaha. But look at his last month. He was hitting well over .300 and with power and driving in runs. He is also a solid (and underrated) outfielder. Dewees is a slow starter at every level but I still think (if Royals gave him a real chance) he can be better than Phillips, Goodwin and Starling in KC.


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