2019 Royals Farm Report Prospect Rankings: 50-46

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 worthy 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!

50. Tyler Zuber, RHP

DOB: 6/16/1995 (23 YO)
B/T: R/R
Ht/Wt: 5’11″ 175′
Levels Played, 2018: A, A+
Acquired: 2017 MLB Draft
ETA: 2021
2018 Stats (A+): 22 IP, 4.91 ERA, 3.31 FIP, 9 K/9, 3,68 BB/9, 0.41 HR/9, 39.3% GB%
Projected level to begin 2019: A+

Tyler Zuber does a lot of things better than numbers would suggest. For starters, Zuber throws a lot harder than his 5′ 11″ frame would suggest. Secondly, he generates a lot of strikeouts for a guy who posted just an 8% SwStr% in the Carolina League last year. And thirdly, he pitches much better than his 4.91 ERA for the Blue Rocks would suggest as well (as evidenced by his 3.31 FIP).

For a lot of those reasons, Zuber can be a hard guy to peg. He’s a right-handed reliever only out of Arkansas State that doesn’t normally throw 95 mph. Pretty atypical. There’s another right-handed reliever in the Royals system that lacks an upper-90’s fastball but has soared through the system that we’ll get to later, but it seems the Royals have done a pretty good job developing these types of guys. Think Greg Holland from years past.

Anyway, we really like Zuber here at RFR. I think he follows Grant Gavin’s 2018 path by starting in Wilmington and getting a quick bump to AA where he’ll end the season. If everything goes right, we could see Zuber as early as 2020. With an influx of pitchers in the system recently and giving room for error, I think 2021 is a pretty safe bet for Zuber to find KC.

49. Humberto Arteaga, IF

DOB: 1/23/1994 (24 YO)
B/T: R/R
Ht/Wt: 6’1″ 160′
Levels Played, 2018: AAA
Acquired: International Free Agent
ETA: 2019
2018 Stats: 445 PA, .292/.322/.386/.708, 6 HR, 19 2B, 4.7% BB%, 16.4% K%, 85 wRC+
Projected level to begin 2019: AAA

I was holding out for some offensive improvement for Arteaga this season and we finally got it. Unfortunately, offensive improvement lead to an 85 wRC+, .094 ISO, and a .337 BABIP. Fact is that Arteaga has struggled to turn himself into any kind of viable offensive threat since joining the organization in 2011 and he doesn’t run much either (only 2 SB in 2018). Arteaga will be 25 years old when the season starts and just made his way onto the 40-man roster.

What Arteaga can do however is play three positions on the infield at a Gold Glove level. I am not exaggerating. He is arguably the best defender in the entire Kansas City Royals minor league system. The bat may not allow for it, but he’d easily be the Royals best option for utility infielder in the future defensively. He’s got a good chance to be big league backup and if he can just be on base 30% of the time, he could potentially be above replacement level value.

48. Jecksson Flores, UTIL

DOB: 10/28/1993 (25 YO)
B/T: R/R
Ht/Wt: 5’11″ 145′
Levels Played, 2018: AA
Acquired: International Free Agent
ETA: 2020
2018 Stats: 508 PA, .314/.363/.440/.803, 7 HR, 31 2B, 27 SB, 5.9% BB%, 14.2% K%, 121 wRC+
Projected level to begin 2019: AAA

I really really really like Jecksson Flores. I legitimately believe he can be a low-end big league starter at some point in the future if he continues to develop. Standing at 5′ 11″ and weighing just 145 lbs., there should be some room for growth in his frame that allows for future power development as well. For example, Whit Merrifield is roughly the same height as Flores and is listed at 190 lbs. Jecksson Flores would do well to make friends with Merrifield and do what ever Whit had to do to gain weight. The numbers speak for themselves: Jecksson Flores can flat out hit. His 31 doubles suggest that there’s even more room in there for power to grow than just his frame would suggest. I’m a believer, but he’s going to have to make some strides regarding his plate discipline in 2019 in order to carve out a big league role for himself.

47. Jonathan Bowlan, RHP

DOB: 12/1/1996 (22 YO)
B/T: R/R
Ht/Wt: 6’6″ 262′
Levels Played, 2018: Rookie
Acquired: 2018 MLB Draft
ETA: 2021
2018 Stats: 35 IP, 6.94 ERA, 6.02 FIP, 5.91 K/9, 2.31 BB/9, 1.54 HR/9, 50.4% GB%
Projected level to begin 2019: A

After over slotting for Brady Singer with the 18th pick in the 2018 MLB Draft (which, by the way, was weird), Jonathan Bowlan appeared to be the Royals money saving pick at number 58 overall out of the University of Memphis. The fifth college pitcher that the Royals selected in the first 58 overall, Bowlan his a huge kid with a heavy sinker and developing off-speed offerings. He struggled mightily in the Pioneer League, which is not at all surprising given the Pioneer League, but he did show an impressive 23:9 K:BB ratio which is promising, along with a GB% greater than 50%.

I’m a bit conflicted with Bowlan in terms of prospect valuation. On one hand, he was pretty dang dominant as a junior at Memphis, posting over 11 K/9 and under 2 BB/9 in 85 innings. On the other hand, that didn’t carry over at all into pro ball. On one hand, the motion is fluid, the sinker is heavy, and Bowlan is a big dude with TONS of room to improve. On the other hand, we haven’t seen Bowlan have any success to speak of in professional baseball, and you typically like to have a sample size before getting too carried away over a guy who signed for $1M under slot value.

So here we are at #47. I THINK Bowlan can work his way much higher than this. I think he can work his way into being a potential top 20 prospect for Kansas City. However, given the pitch arsenal and lack of any relative success at the professional level, we’re going to have to hold him here for now. Just don’t be surprised if Bowlan halves prospect rank by mid-season.

46. Yunior Marte, RHP

DOB: 2/2/1995 (23 YO)
B/T: R/R
Ht/Wt: 6’2″ 180′
Levels Played, 2018: AA
Acquired: International Free Agent
ETA: 2020
2018 Stats: 80.1 IP, 2.91 ERA, 3.86 FIP, 8.96 K/9, 3.25 BB/9, 0.78 HR/9, 40.4% GB%
Projected level to begin 2019: AAA

There are times when Yunior Marte looks like he might be the Royals best pitching prospect. There are also stretches where he struggles for days at a time. That’s all part of being a prospect though, but it’s promising to me because it means Yunior Marte isn’t far away from being a really good relief prospect. He’s figured out the dominate part, now we’ve just gotta learn some consistency to go with it.

Here was Marte’s ERA by month in 2018:

  • April – 3.24
  • May – 5.14
  • June – 1.59
  • July – 3.52
  • August – 1.56

As he slowly improved in the runs allowed department over the course of the AA season, he also struck out fewer batters. It was a roller coaster of a season to be certain, but I love what the Royals are doing with Marte. In 43 games this season, Marte threw 80 innings. The Royals aren’t going to allow him to go just one inning every time out, and I think Marte will spend the entire 2019 season going through the same routine with AAA Omaha before making his big league debut in 2020. He may never be a big league closer, but I think there’s some real value here as a multi-inning swing man in the later innings of games that could carry some extreme value for the Royals. Marte in an opener role wouldn’t be out of the question either.

 

Photo Credits: Ben Goff

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16 thoughts on “2019 Royals Farm Report Prospect Rankings: 50-46

  1. Finally getting to prospects who have a real chance of seeing some major league time (not counting guys like Schwindel and Dewees who could have moved up already if not for the logjam ahead of him.
    Zuber has the potential and 2019 may be the year he makes the big charge up the ladder (If DM clears some space ahead of him.)
    Arteaga should have been the guy on the KC bench to start 2019 (instead of paying millions to Owings). You are correct on Humberto’s hitting assessment, but nothing wrong with having him back up the infield and see what happens while Lopez gets some swings at AAA.
    Flores needs to be in AAA this year but Dayton is already creating problems with bringing Cuthbert back and now signing Featherston.
    I liken Bowlan to Junis at the same stage. Let’s see if he turns out the same.
    Marte is a wild card who just might get a chance at some point this year (depending on how many more cast offs Dayton acquires and how bad the injury bug hits. Don’t have high expectations at this point but who knows, he might just be the next serviceable surprise like Alexander or McCarthy.

    Like

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