After we got done releasing our top 75 Royals prospects, we had to address a couple of errors that we made during the process. We wound up with 78 prospects on our top 75 list. The more the merrier, right?
Even after we were done with our top 78 list, folks still had questions about some guys who may have just missed the cut. Maybe we should’ve gone all the way to 100 after all. Anyways, because several of you asked, here is a list of prospects that just missed the cut for our top 75, with a brief description of the player and why they missed.
Jose Marquez, 2B
2018 Stats (Rk): 253 PA, .301/.355/.498/.853, 7 HR, 9 SB, 6.3% BB%, 19.4% K%, 121 wRC+
I personally had Marquez on my top 45 list. Marquez is a decent second baseman that busted out a bit offensively in 2018. The problem for Marquez, a switch hitter, is that he’s a bit too old for the level, as he figures to begin his 2019 season as a 21-year old in Lexington (A). That’s not terribly old, Kyle Isbel was 21 in Lexington last summer. Marquez has time to advance up prospect ranks, but we’re gonna need to see him have success at full-season ball before we shoot him up into Rubendy Jaquez territory.
Nick Dini, C
2018 Stats (AA): 304 PA, .239/.287/.362/.649, 8 HR, 7 SB, 3.9% BB%, 21.1% K%, 76 wRC+
I was super excited for Nick Dini to begin 2018. He destroyed AAA over 40 PA and then was sent back to AA when Salvador Perez returned to the big league club, forcing Cam Gallagher back to AAA. Dini is a good athlete, and a good-not-great defender behind the dish. He’s going to have to be on base at an elite level in order to carve out a big league career, but that did not happen in 2018.
Dini was really good during his first stint at AA in 2017, then when he lit the world on fire to begin 2018, I was on board. He struggled mightily upon returning to AA. His BB% was nearly halved from 2017 and his K% nearly doubled. His ISO was up a bit, but his overall offensive production tanked. Given the depth that Kansas City has at catcher, Dini is gonna have to rebound in 2019, especially with Meibrys Viloria coming in hot.
Nathan Eaton, UTIL
2018 Stats (Rk): 303 PA, .354/.427/.581/1.008, 5 HR, 19 SB, 10.9% BB%, 19.8% K%, 153 wRC+
Nathan Eaton destroyed the baseball in 2018. College, pro ball, metal bat, wood bat, didn’t matter. Eaton posted a 153 wRC+ in Idaho Falls and stole 19 bases to go with it. He’ll almost certainly start out in Lexington, where I assume he’ll handle the pitching just fine. The problem with Eaton is on the defensive side of the baseball. Eaton played 2B, 3B, CF, RF, in 2018 for the Chukars, but that’s different than playing them well. Errors are by no means the end-all be-all when talking about defense, but Eaton committed 17 of them in 61 games. He committed 5 errors in the outfield in just 21 games. I don’t really understand how that’s possible. Even as a DH, Eaton could theoretically provide some future value with the bat, but if he improves at all defensively, he’s going to soar up prospect rankings.
Eric Cole, OF
2018 Stats (Rk): 187 PA, .281/.353/.389/.742, 1 HR, 6 SB, 9.1% BB%, 14.4% K%, 100 wRC+
Eric Cole is a solid ball player. He reminds me a bit of Whit Merrifield in the sense that he does just about everything right. He walks, he doesn’t strikeout much, he can hit his share of doubles, he gets on base, and plays solid defense. Eric Cole does a lot of things well, but he doesn’t do anything at an elite level. In order to reach the big leagues, he’s going to have to develop an elite skill. Merrifield’s elite skill was his speed. Cole is going to have to find his niche, otherwise it’s going to be really difficult for him to bypass guys like Perkins, Gigliotti, Matias, Hicklen, Lee, Heath, in this system. He’s capable, but he’s got a long road ahead of him too.
Kyle Hinton, RHP
2018 Stats (Rk): 30.2 IP, 3.52 ERA, 3.60 FIP, 13.5 K/9, 5.28 BB/9, 0.59 HR/9, 48.4% GB%
Kyle Hinton is an interesting case. He doesn’t throw with elite velocity, his off-speed stuff is graded out as average, yet he struck out just about everyone during his first go at pro ball. He’s probably strictly a reliever at this point in his career, but if he can continue to get swings-and-misses like he did in 2018, he could be a viable bullpen option for KC in the future.
Jake Kalish, LHP
2018 Stats (AAA): 89 IP, 3.34 ERA, 2.98 FIP, 8.6 K/9, 1.31 BB/9, 0.3 HR/9, 31.3% GB%
Call me crazy, but I think there’s a chance that Kalish breaks camp with the big league club. Kalish is a year younger than Brian Flynn and reminds me a bit of him as a pitcher. He doesn’t throw particularly hard, but Kalish spins the life out of his pitches, helping create deception and generating swings-and-misses. I talked to a scout recently that said Kalish’s trackman data was really good, meaning the spin axis and spin rate were proficient for the level. Kalish had something of a breakout campaign in 2018, but at the age of 27, his time as a prospect is just about over.
Photo Credits: Ben Goff