2019 Royals Farm Report Prospect Rankings: 45-41

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!

45. Janser Lara, RHP

DOB: 8/10/1996 (22 YO)
B/T: R/R
Ht/Wt: 6’0″ 170′
Levels Played, 2018: Rk, A
Acquired: International Free Agent
ETA: 2021
2018 Stats (A): 66 IP, 3.41 ERA, 3.68 FIP, 10.23 K/9, 3.82 BB/9, 0.68 HR/9, 36% GB%
Projected level to begin 2019: A+

Janser Lara has some of the best pound-for-pound stuff in the Royals system. His 12.6% SwStr% was in the top half of all pitchers to throw 60+ innings in the South Atlantic League and his 10.23 K/9 was 19th in the league. If I was convinced that Lara would be a starter in the future, he certainly wouldn’t be here at #45 in the Royals system. However, Lara appears to be destined for the bullpen after making only 8 starts compared to 15 relief appearances with Lexington in 2018, and he’ll turn 23 during the 2019 season where he figures to start out in Wilmington. If he can progress to AA rather quickly, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Lara take some Arnaldo Hernandez like steps and move from High-A to AAA in one season. That would certainly do some good for Lara’s prospect status. I believe Lara has some serious high-end relief potential, but he’s gonna have to get a move on in 2019.

45. Travis Jones, UTIL

DOB: 9/29/1995 (23 YO)
B/T: R/R
Ht/Wt: 6’4″ 210′
Levels Played, 2018: A, A+
Acquired: 2017 MLB Draft
ETA: 2021
2018 Stats (A+): 258 PA, .298/.438/.356/.794, 2 HR, 4 2B, 11.2% BB%, 20.9% K%, 141 wRC+
Projected level to begin 2019: AA

It is at this point in the article where I give you the good news…BONUS PLAYER.

Okay look, I miscounted. GIVE ME A BREAK. I accidentally had 76 players listed on our top 75 list so Janser Lara and Travis Jones are going to have to share the #45 spot. Lucky you.

I have no idea what to do with Travis Jones. His peripherals are somewhat horrific. He posted strikeout percentages over 20% in both A-ball leagues as a college drafted 22-year old in his second year of pro ball, and a .396 BABIP in Wilmington. Posting a high BABIP is certainly not a bad thing, it just hints at the fact that, if there’s any BABIP regression, there could be a lot of offensive regression as well. Any 6′ 4″ 210′ corner infielder/outfielder that wants to be taken seriously needs to be posting better than a .059 ISO (the ISO Travis Jones posted in Wilmington).

However, Jones has absolutely raked at every single level of pro ball that he’s played in so far. The worst wRC+ that he’s posted at any level is 129 and he just continues to improve in the plate discipline department. If he can continue to take walks at a double digit rate, strike out fewer than 20% of the time, and improve in the power department, the Royals may have something here. Which is also the problem, is that he’s going to have to hit for a low of power to play in the corners. 2019 should be a big year for Travis Jones.

44. Jose Marquez, 2B

DOB: 10/7/1997 (21 YO)
B/T: S/R
Ht/Wt: 6’0″ 175′
Levels Played, 2018: Rk
Acquired: International Free Agent
ETA: 2022
2018 Stats (BUR): 253 PA, .301/.355/.498/.853, 7 HR, 14 2B, 6.3% BB%, 19.4% K%, 121 wRC+
Projected level to begin 2019: A

If there is one position player that you’ve probably never heard of that I really want you to make sure to pay attention to in 2019, it’s Jose Marquez. There’s not a single position player yet to debut in A-ball that I’d rather you pay attention to than Jose Marquez. He’ll be 21 years old for most of the 2019 season and he has absolutely raked for the past couple of seasons. What might be the most impressive part of Marquez is how much power he’s hit for before the age of 21, and he plays SECOND BASE! You ought to know by now how much we love second baseman that can hit here at the site, and Jose Marquez fits the bill beautifully. We should be able to get our first true look at him in Lexington this coming spring.

43. Andres Sotillet, RHP

DOB: 3/2/1997 (21 YO)
B/T: R/R
Ht/Wt: 6’1″ 175′
Levels Played, 2018: A, A+
Acquired: International Free Agent
ETA: 2021
2018 Stats (A+): 51.2 IP, 5.40 ERA, 4.98 FIP, 4.35 K/9, 3.66 BB/9, 0.87 HR/9, 44% GB%
Projected level to begin 2019: A+

Andres Sotillet is my favorite sleeper SP prospect in the Royals system. Among pitchers to record at least 70 IP in the SALLY, Sotillet recorded the league’s 25th best SwStr% (best on the Legends). This isn’t just impressive because he was 25th, or because Sotillet did it in just his age 21 season, but because Sotillet doesn’t throw particularly hard. He doesn’t have the advantage of being a LHP, he doesn’t throw super hard, and his off-speed stuff isn’t elite. Yet Sotillet is able to generate a ton of swings and misses, get his fair share of strike outs (not so much in Wilmington), and didn’t walk hardly anyone in Lexington. He didn’t find that same success in Wilmington, which is where I expect he’ll begin the 2019 campaign, but if he can add a couple mph to his fastball, the Royals may have a very legitimate back end starter on their hands.

42. Juan Carlos Negret, OF

DOB: 6/19/1999 (19 YO)
B/T: R/R
Ht/Wt: 6’1″ 190′
Levels Played, 2018: Rk
Acquired: Minor League Free Agent
ETA: 2022
2018 Stats: 222 PA, .224/.284/.423/.707, 9 HR, 11 2B, 5.9% BB%, 27% K%, 81 wRC+
Projected level to begin 2019: A

Juan Carlos Negret is an interesting case. He came over to the Royals after he became a free agent during that Braves debacle. He absolutely destroyed the baseball in 2017 and I was super excited to watch him develop in 2018. To say that his 2018 season was disappointing wouldn’t be totally fair, but it wouldn’t be too far off either. Negret’s BB% dipped 6.5%, his K% went up over 5%, and his overall production was way down. His ISO was up, which is good, and he hit 9 HR in something of a stingy Appalachian League. Negret has the potential to be a real 5-tool player, and he’ll remain in my “players I’m excited to watch” list, but I’m really hoping that he shows out in Lexington in 2019.

41. Grant Gavin, RHP

DOB: 7/10/1995 (23 YO)
B/T: L/R
Ht/Wt: 6’2″ 185′
Levels Played, 2018: A+, AA
Acquired: 2016 MLB Draft
ETA: 2020
2018 Stats (AA): 31 IP, 3.19 ERA, 5.03 FIP, 8.71 K/9, 4.94 BB/9, 1.16 HR/9, 25.9% GB%
Projected level to begin 2019: AA

Another link in the Royals long bullpen chain, Grant Gavin has soared through the minor leagues since being drafted out of the University of Central Missouri in 2016. (By the way, I have no idea why FanGraphs and MiLB say Gavin hits RHH, but trust me, he hits LHH.) Gavin uses a 92-93 mph fastball combined with an absolute hammer of a curveball to neutralize hitters on both sides of the plate. After posting over 12 K/9 in Wilmington during his second round in the Carolina League, and was promptly promoted to AA. He had a groin injury that limited his time in AA, but he should begin his 2019 campaign back with the Naturals where I expect he’ll get another quick promotion to AAA where he’ll end 2019. By 2020 the Royals could have their next Kevin McCarthy or Jake Newberry filling out the middle relief innings at The K.

20 thoughts on “2019 Royals Farm Report Prospect Rankings: 45-41

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  3. With the addition of so many starting pitchers from 2019 draft, Lara looks destined for bullpen. His stuff will play up and he could be a fast moving closer type! With the changes in the bullpen usage in MLB, KC could be looking good with Lara.

    Liked by 1 person

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