2019 Royals Farm Report Prospect Rankings: 4

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!

4. Khalil Lee, OF

DOB: 6/26/1998 (20 YO)
B/T: L/L
Ht/Wt: 5’10″ 170′
Levels Played, 2018: A+, AA
Acquired: 2016 MLB Draft
ETA: 2020
2018 Stats (A+): 301 PA, .270/.402/.406/.808, 4 HR, 13 2B, 14 SB, 15.9% BB%, 24.9% K%, 136 wRC+
Projected level to begin 2019: AA

If you’d have asked me in May who the Royals top prospect was, I think I (and everyone at the site) would’ve unequivocally answered Khalil Lee. Lee is a special talent. We’ve seen him hit 17 HR in a season, we’ve seen him steal 20 bases in a season, we’ve seen him play CF, RF, LF all well, we’ve seen him in AA and now the Arizona Fall League. In case you didn’t read it in the information above, Khalil Lee is still 20 years old.

Khalil Lee has accomplished a lot in his short minor league career. We played the “examine his prospect grades” game with Nicky Lopez yesterday, but I want to play the game again with Khalil Lee, because the kid is impressively well rounded (this according to MLB Pipeline).

  • Hit – 50
  • Power – 55
  • Field – 55
  • Arm – 60
  • Run – 55
  • Overall – 50

I’d like to start by saying that I have no idea how MLB Pipeline does their collective “Overall” grade. How you can look at those grades and come away with a 50 is strange, but what ever.

Over at FanGraphs, they give Khalil Lee just a future “Hit” grade of 40, which seems low, so let’s give Lee a 45 to average it out. That means that Lee has 4/5 tools that register 55+. MLB Pipeline’s top 30 for each team aren’t out yet, and Lee didn’t make their top 100 in 2019, but based on Lee’s 2018 grades, here’s how he compares to some other outfielders in MLB Pipeline’s 2019 top 100:

  • Victor Victor Mesa (#99):
    • Hit – 50
    • Power – 45
    • Field – 60
    • Arm – 65
    • Run – 65
    • Overall – 55
  • Heliot Ramos (#92):
    • Hit – 45
    • Power – 55
    • Field – 50
    • Arm – 60
    • Run – 55
    • Overall – 55
  • Julio Pablo Martinez (#88):
    • Hit – 55
    • Power – 45
    • Field – 55
    • Arm – 50
    • Run – 60
    • Overall – 55

I’m here to tell you two things:

  1. Khalil Lee is a top 100 prospect. I love MLB Pipeline’s rankings, but they’re not perfect.
  2. MLB Pipeline incorporates way too much reputation into their rankings. Both Martinez and Mesa were high dollar international signings, Ramos was a first round pick, and Lee was a 3rd rounder. Lee is younger than Martinez and Mesa and has quite frankly had far more success than Ramos.

So if I’m here telling you that Khalil Lee is a bonafide top 100 prospect in all of baseball, why does he find himself at number four on our list of Royals prospects? Simple: we believe that the Royals have four top 100 prospects.

Lee certainly isn’t perfect. He strikes out a bit too much, he swings and misses too much, and his power numbers saw a steep decline in 2018. Much of that is developmental I think. Lee flashed some crazy pop in 2017, the Royals wanted to clean up some plate discipline and he did that at an elite level in 2018. 2019 will be about putting all of that together. If Khalil Lee can go out and tear it up in AA as a still-20-year old, and find his way to AAA much like Nicky Lopez did in 2018, he’ll be a consensus top 100 talent around the national media.

It sounds like he’s going to play RF in NWA while Blake Perkins mans CF, but Lee can play all three outfield spots well which should help his rise to Kansas City. I don’t quite think we’ll see Lee in 2019, but he could take the league by storm in 2020.

 

Photo Credits: Ken Inness, MiLB.com

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10 thoughts on “2019 Royals Farm Report Prospect Rankings: 4

    • Lynch Lee Melendez Singer. I’d have all 4 if I made a top 100. All between 60-100, but all in nonetheless. Call it what you want, but all 4 have appeared on top 100 lists in the national media. KLaw had Lynch and Lee. BP Seuly Melendez Lee. BA and MLB had Singer.

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      • Sometimes I wonder if our familiarity with the players in the Royals organization tends to give us a bias that inflates our evaluation of those players. After all, we do have a pretty short book on those 4. I hope you are right, but I remember when Lamb, Dwyer, Duffy, Montgomery and Odorizzi were all in the top 100.

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      • But, and this is important, not all four appeared together on the same list. These are four divisive prospects. The back 50 is a flexible on these lists, but there’s a reason that they aren’t all appearing on the same list. Lee and Singer appearing on two of the big four lists so far (to be fair, Singer was HM on BP’s list two, mean that two other rankings deemed them unworthy of top 100 spots. Melendez cracked one list. Matias cracked one list. Lynch cracked one list. The lists are unanimous in saying that there aren’t four top 100 Royals prospects.

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      • And that’s fine. None of those lists are perfect. Jorge Bonifacio used to be a top 100 prospect. Chris Dwyer. John Lamb. Etc. It’s 100% your opinion.

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