2019 Royals Farm Report Prospect Rankings: 25-21

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!

25. Kelvin Gutierrez, 3B

DOB: 8/28/1994 (24 YO)
B/T: R/R
Ht/Wt: 6’3″ 215′
Levels Played, 2018: AA
Acquired: Trade for Kelvin Herrera
ETA: 2020
2018 Stats (KC): 264 PA, .277/.337/.409/.746, 6 HR, 8 2B, 7.6% BB%, 17.4% K%, 105 wRC+
Projected level to begin 2019: AAA

If you read our most recent write up on Tuesday morning, you may remember what I wrote about Royals prospect Emmanuel Rivera. If you didn’t read it, here’s a snippet of what I wrote: “We really like ceiling here at Royals Farm Report, and while Emmanuel Rivera might have a high floor, questions remain about his ceiling. You can pretty well know what to expect from Rivera. Good defense at third base, a great arm, a professional at-bat, and great contact skills.”

The exact same description applies to Kelvin Gutierrez. He plays excellent defense at the hot corner, has a cannon for an arm, makes great contact (just a 10.1% SwStr%), and brought his BB/K ratio up to 0.43 with the NWA Naturals. Also like Emmanuel Rivera, Gutierrez still hasn’t hit for much power despite his 6′ 3″ frame and it’s going to be tough for him to carve out a lengthy MLB career if he doesn’t post better than a .132 ISO.

Luckily for the Royals, and for Gutierrez, he’s got plenty of time to figure it out. The Royals aren’t going to be very good for a couple of years and they’ve got Hunter Dozier that needs big league at-bats in 2019. Gutierrez is a phenomenal athlete with a developing swing. He hits the ball hard and despite the low power numbers, he’s certainly got the potential to turn things around if he can begin to elevate the ball more often (51.6% GB% in NWA).

The Royals insist they’ll get Cheslor Cuthbert at-bats in AAA if he doesn’t make the big league club, but I’m not sure if I buy it. There’s simply too many guys that need AAA at-bats with a priority over Cuthbert. Gutierrez needs to be in AAA by June and Rivera needs to be in AA ASAP. We’ll see what happens, but Gutierrez should be in AAA Omaha before too long.

24. Charlie Neuweiler, RHP

DOB: 2/8/1999 (19 YO)
B/T: R/R
Ht/Wt: 6’1″ 205′
Levels Played, 2018: Rookie, A
Acquired: 2017 MLB Draft
ETA: 2022
2018 Stats (A): 50 IP, 5.58 ERA, 5.63 FIP, 8.28 K/9, 4.14 BB/9, 1.44 HR/9, 43.5% GB%
Projected level to begin 2019: A

Charlie Neuweiler might be the best Royals prospect that no one knows about yet. When I say no one, I obviously don’t mean literally. The truest fans of this site and of the Royals minor league system know who he is. It’s the average Royals fan we need to educate about Neuweiler. It’s your buddy that doesn’t read our site (shame on that guy, eh?) that needs to know about Charlie Neuweiler. So I’m challenging all of you reading this to tell one Royals fan about Charlie Neuweiler today. Let ’em know.

Neuweiler was the Royals 5th round pick in the 2017 draft out of New York. He’s got legitimate stuff and decent command that got away from him during the 2nd half of his first full professional season. That happens. If you look at Neuweiler’s first 7 starts in Lexington in 2018, he posted a 2.61 ERA with a 2.25 K/BB ratio as a 19-year old in full-season professional baseball. That is no small feat.

We don’t have access to reliable trackman data for minor leaguers, but scouts have noted that Neuweiler’s curveball, which is absolutely FILTHY, has a nearly big league spin rate. The pitch is disgusting. I was watching video of Neuweiler pitching trying to figure out who he reminded me of, and found this:

Yeah. I went there. I gave Neuweiler a Charlie Morton-lite comp. Fight me. I expect he’ll begin his 2019 season back in Lexington, and I expect he’ll be promoted to Wilmington once one of Lynch/Kowar/Singer gets the promotion to AA. The kid is good, make sure you’re on the bandwagon.

23. Blake Perkins, OF

DOB: 9/10/1996 (22 YO)
B/T: S/R
Ht/Wt: 6’1″ 165′
Levels Played, 2018: A+
Acquired: Trade for Kelvin Herrera
ETA: 2021
2018 Stats (KC): 291 PA, .240/.381/.322/.703, 11 2B, 17 SB, 17.2% BB%, 23% K%, 112 wRC+
Projected level to begin 2019: AA

I’m a big fan of Blake Perkins. Perkins rivals Michael Gigliotti as the best defensive CF in the Royals minor league system, and the kid can absolutely fly around the base paths. He didn’t start switch hitting until he was drafted by the Nationals back in 2015, and he’s immediately shown a knack for reaching base from both sides of the plate with an absurd 17.2% BB%.

Perkins reminds me a bit of Lorenzo Cain, in that he’s an incredible athlete with a lot of raw ability that hasn’t even begun to tap into his full potential yet. I certainly don’t expect Perkins to finish 3rd in the AL MVP voting, ever, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he challenged Michael Gigliotti (who is yet to appear on our rankings for obvious reasons) for the right to man CF for the KC Royals for a long time. The ability to be an elite defender in CF and reach base at a .380 clip spell great things for Perkins’ future.

We heard from a reliable source that Perkins should start the year as the NWA Naturals CF, where I expect he’ll spend the entire 2019 season. As I mentioned before, Perkins is still relatively new to the switch hitting thing and the power hasn’t really come around at all yet. The addition of Billy Hamilton should allow Perkins to take his time and get a full 500 PA in the Texas League this summer. He should be ready for AAA pitching to begin 2020 where he’ll be just one step away from the big leagues.

22. Meibrys Viloria, C

DOB: 2/15/1997 (21 YO)
B/T: L/R
Ht/Wt: 5’11″ 220′
Levels Played, 2018: A+, MLB
Acquired: International Free Agent
ETA: 2020
2018 Stats (A+): 407 PA, .260/.342/.360/.702, 6 HR, 16 2B, 9.8% BB%, 18.4% K%, 103 wRC+
Projected level to begin 2019: AA

Meibrys Viloria has an 80-grade bat flip.

I mean look at that. That’s beautiful. Why am I about to waste time writing up anything else about this kid? You’ve seen enough.

When I was in Spring Training last February, I wrote in one of my “Notes from Day __ of Spring Training” that Meibrys Viloria was going to be a big leaguer one day. I had no way of knowing that that day would come in 2018. Viloria was yanked to Kansas City from A-ball due to a Salvador Perez injury, and held his own in the big leagues catching 3/11 potential base stealers and recording 7 total assists. Scouts would tell you that Meibrys Viloria is probably good enough to be a big league backup right now, and I don’t disagree with them.

But obviously the goal for Viloria is not to be a backup. Viloria has the ability to be a starter one day in the big leagues, and after seeing him in KC in 2018, I can’t help but to wonder if that day may not be sooner rather than later.

The obvious issue with that is the 5-time Gold Glove Award winner that is the current backstop for the Kansas City Royals. Salvador Perez’ contract carries him all the way through the 2021 season, when the Royals could potentially have Viloria, MJ Melendez, Sebastian Rivero, and Xavier Fernandez all ready to assume a big league role. Who knows how the catcher situation will shake down by then, but I expect Meibrys Viloria to be right in the thick of things. He’s an excellent defender with a chance to hit for plus power if he can maintain his near 0.5 K/BB ratio. We may get another glimpse of Viloria in September, but it’ll be a while before we get a long-term look at him in Kansas City.

21. Yohanse Morel, RHP

DOB: 8/23/2000 (18 YO)
B/T: R/R
Ht/Wt: 6’0″ 170′
Levels Played, 2018: Rookie
Acquired: Trade for Kelvin Herrera
ETA: 2023
2018 Stats: 43.2 IP, 3.71 ERA, 3.59 FIP, 9.69 K/9, 3.3 BB/9, 0.21 HR/9, 52.6% GB%
Projected level to begin 2019: Extended Spring Training

Surprise.

As excited as I was about the success that Delvin Capellan had in the Arizona League in 2018, I’m even more excited about what I saw from Yohanse Morel. Morel’s 9.69 K/9 was just a tick below Capellan’s 9.98 K/9, and Morel didn’t turn 18 until the season was almost over! I went back and looked at every 17-year old to post better than 9.5 K/9 and a 3.75 ERA in the Arizona League (min. 40 IP) since 2006, and here was the list:

  • Yohanse Morel
  • Luis Patino (mentioned by MLB Pipeline as a player to watch on their top 10 RHP prospects list to begin 2019)
  • Jairo Pacheco (injuries have haunted him)
  • BRAD KELLER
  • Felix Sterling (former top 10 prospect in Cleveland’s system, career ruined by injury)

That’s it. That’s the list. That’s everyone.

Morel was the hidden gem of the Kelvin Herrera trade (of which all three of the prospects are included in this article). He throws a low-to-mid-90’s fastball with a developing slider and a wicked changeup. The changeup is his best off-speed offering. Watch this thing.

The kid is crazy talented. I was talking with Clint Scoles, formerly of Baseball Prospectus Kansas City, about Morel’s outing during instructs. He described a scene where Morel was dominating and the entire team was fairly ho-hum about it. Work as usual for Morel.

Morel has a chance to follow the Yefri Del Rosario path and end his 2019 season in A-ball with the Lexington Legends. Should he find his way to Lexington and have success, he could make Del Rosario type leaps into the top 10 of our Royals prospects list.

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