There have been some phenomenal pitching performances early on on the farm for KC. Kris Bubic, Conner Greene, Zach Hakke, Josh Dye, Jackson Kowar, among others are absolutely lighting it up on the mound. Offense, on the other hand, has been relatively hard to come by for KC early on in 2019. As many pitchers are off to hot starts, equally as many hitters are off to blistering cold starts to the season.
Here are how some Royals affiliates rank in terms of runs scored in their respective leagues:
AAA Omaha: 10th out of 16 teams
AA NWA: 7th out of 8 teams
A+ Wilmington: 10th out of 10 teams
A Lexington: 7th out of 14 teams
In contrast, here are how those teams rank in runs allowed:
AAA Omaha: 7th out of 16 teams
AA NWA: 5th out of 8 teams
A+ Wilmington: 3rd out of 10 teams
A Lexington: 9th out of 14 teams
As you can see, Lexington is the only team on the farm that is scoring runs at a better clip than they are allowing them, and that’s the same team that has Josh Dye, Kris Bubic, Charlie Neuweiler, Zach Haake, Austin Cox, and Jonathan Heasley on the pitching staff.
What may be most concerning regarding the early offensive struggles on the farm is the struggles of some of Kansas City’s top prospects. Most of KC’s core currently resides in Wilmington and in NWA, the two teams struggling perhaps the most offensively in terms of run production.
Using our top 75 prospect list here at Royals Farm, let’s take a look at the performances of some of KC’s top prospects early on in 2019:
- #1 MJ Melendez: .111/.241/.200/.441, 0.28 BB/K, 46.3% K%, 34 wRC+
- #4 Khalil Lee: .306/.375/.403/.778, 0.37 BB/K, 63.5% GB%, .097 ISO, 117 wRC+
- #5 Nicky Lopez: .306/.368/.484/.852, 2.5 BB/K, .293 BABIP, .177 ISO, 111 wRC+
- #7 Seuly Matias: .194/.292/.516/.808, 0.23 BB/K, 36.7% K%, .323 ISO, 120 wRC+
- #8 Nick Pratto: .188/.268/.234/.502, 0.26 BB/K, 32.4% K%, .047 ISO, 49 wRC+
- #9 Michael Gigliotti: .270/.382/.413/.794, 0.67 BB/K, .143 ISO, 138 wRC+
- #11 Kyle Isbel: .348/.423/.630/1.054, 0.5 BB/K, .283 ISO, 194 wRC+
- #17 Gabriel Cancel: .234/.320/.484/.804, 0.3 BB/K, .250 ISO, 113 wRC+
- #18 Brewer Hicklen: .175/.340/.200/.540, 0.44 BB/K, 32% K%, .025 ISO, 69 wRC+
- #22 Meibrys Viloria: .115/.207/.115/.322, 0.29 BB/K, 36.2% K%, .000 ISO, -1 wRC+
Those were our top 10 position player prospects coming into the 2019 season. Of the Royals 10 best position player prospects, only Nicky Lopez, Michael Gigliotti, and Kyle Isbel have been as advertised or better. Khalil Lee and Gabriel Cancel have both been pretty good, but Lee isn’t hitting for any power and Cancel has struck out far too often. Melendez, Matias, Pratto, and Hicklen have all been pretty awful in Wilmington, along with Viloria in NWA.
Here’s the good news: it is April 24th. Only Khalil Lee has 80 PA among Royals prospects. There is pleeeeeeenty of time for these guys to get into a groove. Your concern meter should be a 4/10 at the absolute highest right now. Adjustments will be made. Promotions will be made. Things will change. There will be a #2 overall pick added into this group.
In addition to offensive improvements that will be made, the defense has actually been pretty good. MJ Melendez has thrown out just about everyone, and picked off the rest. Khalil Lee has looked good playing CF. Kyle Isbel has played a respectable CF. Nicky Lopez looks GREAT at 2B. It hasn’t been all bad for some of our top guys.
Let me reiterate that it’s too early to panic about some of KC’s top hitting prospects. It’s April. Making note of this isn’t to alarm concern, but to mark the beginning of where adjustments ought to start being made. Pitchers have pretty much stayed completely away from MJ Melendez early on, so last night he roped a double down the line in LF. Hopefully that’s a sign of an acknowledged adjustment that he’ll need to make to continue to climb the MiLB ladder.
As the weather warms up north, expect the offenses to start heating up as well.
Photo Credits: Ken Inness – MiLB.com