Spring is here. Spring Training is over. The hot dogs are on the grill and…the rain is on the way.
Opening Day kind of marks the beginning of the new year for lots of baseball fans. Winter is cold and miserable and I like to think of that time as the end of the year, and baseball as the beginning. And a new beginning we shall have in 2019.
Minor League Opening Day isn’t until next week, but with the beginnings of baseball happening today, and the minor league rosters having been released to you by us earlier this week, we’re going to go ahead and kick things off today in anticipation of Minor League Baseball getting started next week. Without further ado, here are some thoughts on the 2019 Royals minor league season.
Prospects to watch:
- Nathan Eaton, UTIL
Eaton destroyed rookie ball in 2018 during his first go at professional baseball. He posted a 153 wRC+, hit 5 HR, and stole 19 bases over 66 games, and will be opening the 2019 season with the Lexington Legends. Eaton is going to have to improve defensively to be considered a top-end prospect, but the bat and the wheels are super intriguing should he stick at 2B.
- Daniel Lynch, LHP
One of the more obvious choices here, Lynch could be a very quick mover through the system. He absolutely would’ve been in Wilmington in 2018 had Lexington not been in a playoff hunt, and it’s not ridiculous to think that Lynch could finish the 2019 season in AAA. You know to watch Lynch in this system, but I’ll be keeping a very close eye on his ascent through the system.
- Holden Capps, LHP
Capps is another guy I think could make a very quick ascent through the ranks. The left-handed reliever dominated Lexington in 2018 and should be on to AA fairly quickly in 2019, though he’ll start with the Wilmington Blue Rocks. Capps is a really intriguing LHP that could also wind up with AAA Omaha before year’s end, putting him an off-season away from potentially cracking a big league roster. He, Lovelady, and Hill would be a force to be reckoned with on the left side of the bump out of the bullpen.
- Gabriel Cancel, 2B
I’ll be quick here. You already know how much we love Cancel at the site. This is for anyone who hasn’t caught on quite yet. MLB Pipeline and Baseball America still don’t have Cancel in their list of top 30 Royals prospects, and they’re gonna feel pretty bad about it by July. Cancel was hitting 3rd in the Naturals lineup the other night in Surprise, and I’m excited to see how much damage he does in the Texas League (AA).
- Brady Singer, RHP/Michael Gigliotti, CF/Chase Vallot, C/DH
Pretty obvious reasons here. If Singer comes out and dominates the Carolina League, he’s a consensus top 100 prospect moving to AA by June. Gigliotti is coming off of an ACL tear and, when healthy, is a lot like Nicky Lopez in this Royals. Vallot has had his share of issues the last few seasons, but if he comes out, is healthy, and hits, he could be a part of the core at AA by season’s end as well.
- Gabriel Cancel will hit the ball so well early on that he is firmly on the list of top 30 Royals prospects for every major publication by mid-season.
- Khalil Lee struggles out of the gate, but goes on a mid-season tear and earns himself a promotion to AAA after the Texas League All-Star Game.
- The Carolina League won’t slow down the core in Wilmington. Seuly Matias, Nick Pratto, Kyle Isbel, MJ Melendez, and Brewer Hicklen will keep hitting, regardless of their environment, and all look for promotions to AA by July.
- Brady Singer, Daniel Lynch, and Jackson Kowar will all get promotions to AA by the beginning of the second half of the Texas League.
- Humberto Arteaga is getting semi-regular big league PA by August. The Royals will be out of playoff contention at the deadline, flip Chris Owings for extra mold for the hot dogs at Buck Night, and Arteaga will assume the super-utility defensive wizard role on the infield.
- Scott Blewett will reassert himself as a legitimate SP prospect by mid-season. I wasn’t thrilled with Blewett’s season in AA last year, but his performance in the Arizona Fall League has me thinking that he could still make it as a starting pitcher in the big leagues. Great frame, good stuff, just needs to put it all together.
- Rubendy Jaquez will be firmly on prospect radars by the end of 2018. The Royals 2B/3B prospect in Lexington swings a big stick, and I wouldn’t be surprised at all if I was starting to compare him to Gabriel Cancel by season’s end.
What say you, Royals fans? Any predictions for the upcoming season? Which prospects will you be watching in 2019? Let us know.
Photo Credits: PLPhoto2015 (@PPhoto2015)