Interviewing Adam McInturff of 2080 Baseball

In case you missed it yesterday, 2080 Baseball released their organizational review of the Kansas City Royals minor league system.

Friend of the site Adam McInturff, who wrote up the Royals organizational review for 2080 Baseball, was nice enough to answer some questions for us about their Royals prospect rankings. For reference, here were their top 15 Royals prospects:

Rank Name Position Ceiling Risk ETA
1 MJ Melendez C 60 Extreme 2022
2 Khalil Lee OF 55 High 2020
3 Seuly Matias OF 60 Extreme 2022
4 Brady Singer RHP 55 High 2020
5 Nick Pratto 1B 55 Extreme 2022
6 Jackson Kowar RHP 50 High 2021
7 Nicky Lopez SS 50 High 2019
8 Daniel Lynch LHP 50 High 2021
9 Richard Lovelady LHP 45 Moderate 2019
10 Kyle Isbel OF 50 Extreme 2021
11 Michael Gigliotti OF 50 Extreme 2021
12 Yefri Del Rosario RHP 50 Extreme 2022
13 Carlos Hernandez RHP 50 Extreme 2021
14 Josh Staumont RHP 45 High 2019
15 Kelvin Gutierrez 3B 45 High 2020

Here’s what Adam had to say about their rankings:

1) Like most other publications, you guys are a bit higher on Matias than we are. Obviously we love him, but I think the national media is more confident in his floor than we are. Obviously his ceiling is sky high, but what are your thoughts on Matias and his floor?
Adam: “I see Royals Farm has him listed at #7 in this system, and while we have him third, I can see the rationale for him placing a bit lower for someone else. He’s that polarizing a prospect. You can point to what was honestly a historic performance last year—from an age+power output standpoint relative to his level—and you can also point to swing/miss issues that could potentially render that raw power moot. Given that he’s on the south side of 20-years-old and is very athletic, we decided to buy in to the upside on our list and look past some of the hiccups. I think he is always going to come with strikeouts, but you’re betting on that rate cutting down to (roughly) the 25-percent range as he gets more reps against pro-level secondary stuff.
Given Matias’ defensive ability in right field, I think his floor is still at least a Major League bench player. His physical gifts are pretty tremendous and will always tempt people to give him shots to prove himself, even if the hit tool struggles in the early goings. We’re hoping for a little more. The degree Seuly can refine his approach over the next 2-3 years will be a large factor in what he turns out to be.”
2) We were a bit more aggressive in our rankings with Morel than most, for guys like that, is it just a lack of exposure in your opinion?
Adam: “Sometimes it is lack of exposure, sometimes it’s just general risk and proximity. It’s a high-variance demographic, and that’s something we generally acknowledge no matter how much we like a complex-level arm at 2080.
We like Morel quite a bit too; former 2080 evaluator (and current Marlins scout) John Eshleman ran through Royals Instructional League this fall and was very enthusiastic about what he saw from Morel. I don’t have an exact height and weight, but he has grown a lot since whenever his official listing was taken. He’s a lot bigger than 6-foot and 170-pounds. The stuff has taken a jump accordingly, and he could be a breakout guy in the next year or two.”
3) How much does proximity to the big leagues matter for you guys in your prospect valuations?
Adam: “That’s a great question. Comparing the top prospect lists of national-level outlets, inferring the degree that particular group values proximity is always interesting. I think we do recognize general safety and floor of a prospect as pluses, and there are definitely times we will bump up a higher-floor prospect—Richard Lovelady was an example of this on our Royals list—given his distance from the big leagues.”
4) I think the biggest knock on Kelvin Gutierrez is his ability to access in-game power. In my opinion, he’s actually got some decent raw pop. If he learns to access his raw power in games, could he potentially be a big league regular?
Adam: “That’s something we talked about when we were putting this list together. I’ve seen Gutierrez going back for a few years now, as I get a good amount of looks at Washington’s system. He was an interesting return piece for Herrera, among the others they got back.
He’s physical enough that you can still envision power coming on with more focus on lift throughout the swing. His bat is quick and he’s surprisingly athletic, so the supplementary aspects of a player capable of making adjustments are here. I generally want to see a guy make a swing change and then credit him, as opposed to just assuming it’s going to happen.”
5) I think we may disagree on Viloria’s offensive potential a bit. In our eye, the kid is probably better than most big league backups right now, and he’s got a chance to hit enough to be a big league regular in a couple years. What are the holes you see in his offensive game?
Adam: “He’s the type of prospect that always scares you a little bit when you see and rank as many players as I do. It’s not possible to have an even understanding of every player in the minors—there are always going to be guys you have a better “feel” for as a scout, and those you might not have gotten that good of a look at. Viloria falls into the latter category a bit for me, even though he was out in Fall League. I didn’t cover Surprise as much as some of our other staffers did, though I got a handful of looks at him out there (including the Fall Stars Game).
Truthfully, I didn’t see tons of offensive impact. I know his power numbers are going to be a little deflated because of Wilmington’s park—and it’s worth mentioning he carries some sneaky pop and can put a charge into the ball at times—but it wasn’t blow-away power potential, and it’s generally pretty rare to see catchers who project as truly high-average hitters. Like we said in our writeup, the appeal is probably lead by the glove and center-diamond position. Definitely willing to admit this could be a case of under-appreciation on our end though. Seeing as he’s on the 40-Man Roster and got a taste of the big leagues last year, I imagine Viloria will have the chance to show what he’s got pretty soon.”
6) Your ETA for MJ Melendez is 2022. We have him at 2021. Do you think 2022 is more realistic because of Salvy, Viloria, etc., or purely based on the development of Melendez alone.
Adam: “There’s not a lot of exactitude to predicting ETAs, especially for players that are still over a year away like MJ is. In our grading system, MLB ETA generally represents when the evaluator feels this player could provide positive value at a level relatively close to his future ceiling grade.
For catchers—even ones like Melendez, where there’s unique instincts and intangibles behind the plate—the development process can take longer than other positions. I think we tacked on an extra year for that reason. It’s a little conservative, but we figured he wouldn’t see Kansas City in 2019 at any point, so we have another full year to get a better sense of where he stands developmentally and gauge the proximity from there.”
7) I personally had Kowar ahead of Lynch in my rankings as well, though I was completely outnumbered at the site. Are you buying into his ceiling as well?
Adam: “The Kowar/Lynch debate got as much air time in our pre-ranking calls as any head-to-head in this system, so I’m glad you brought it up. A lot of people are sky-high on Daniel Lynch given the pro debut he had, and rightfully so. The velo spike he showed going into June remained, and I got a live look at both Kowar and Lynch with Lexington later in the summer—both touched the 96-to-97 mph on their fastballs.
Kowar has a little bit more track record for us, and for that reason alone, he wound up just a hair above Lynch on our list going into 2019. We know that Lynch is able to jump over some of the arms ahead of him—that definitely is not out of the realm of possibility. We gave the nod to two safer-bet starters in Singer and Kowar, but if Lynch comes out firing and ranks #3-#5 on this list by the mid-season iteration, no one will be surprised.
It’s worth noting we aren’t appreciably higher on Kowar than Lynch, for whatever that’s worth. Both of them placed in the 50/High tier and we noted the potential for both arms to move into future Top 125 territory (FV 55 and above) with strong 2019 seasons.”
You can follow Adam on Twitter @2080Adam and follow at @2080ball.
Photo Credits: PLPhoto2015 (@PPhoto2015)

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