If you follow us on the Twitter account (@RoyalsFarm), you may have seen these tweets on Sunday:
I am of the opinion that Jackson Kowar and Kris Bubic may each be just one start away from a promotion to AA and A+, respectively. Neither pitcher really has anything left to prove at the level they currently reside in, and I believe there is room for both of them at their next respective levels.
With that being said, let’s take a look at a full list of Royals prospects that could be due for a promotion sooner rather than later.
1.) Kris Bubic
Kris Bubic seems to be toying with Low-A hitters. He’s simply too good. He has three pitches that are simply too advanced for the level and tops it off with potential ++ command and a funky delivery from the left side. Even if you think the stuff plays out as average at the big league level, it’s by no means “average” in the South Atlantic League. There’s nothing left for Kris Bubic in the Sally. He owns a 1.69 ERA, a 1.48 FIP, 14.34 K/9, and just 1.97 BB/9. He’s ready for Wilmington, and had his not start been shortened by rain, I suspect he’d have been promoted already. I seriously doubt he’s in Lexington for more than two more starts, so if you’re in the area, catch him while you can.
2.) Jackson Kowar
Jackson Kowar is quite the opposite case of Bubic, but equally deserving of a new challenge. Instead of having the ++ command, funky delivery, and elite pitchability like Bubic currently possesses, Kowar’s just got some sick nasty stuff. According to our guy Nick Vitolano who was at Kowar’s most recent start, Kowar was touching 99 mph with his fastball in the 7th inning. If Kowar is gonna be throwing 99, with his changeup, he may just be flat out too much for even AA hitters. He certainly doesn’t have the command or polish like Bubic yet, but he needs to be in AA in order to receive a real challenge.
3.) Nicky Lopez
Lopez has always been an OBP machine, but he’s been outright silly in AAA this season. The current owner of a .326/.423/.453/.876 slash line and Minor League Baseball leading 5.00 (!!!) BB/K ratio, Lopez’ plate discipline is more than big league ready. Lopez is performing worlds better in 2019 than he was at AA in 2018 before his promotion to AAA, and he’s quickly approaching 400 AAA PA. Nicky continues to play highlight reel defense, and the Royals offense is currently soaring when Chris Owings is out of the lineup. Should the Royals find a place for Lopez to get every day playing time in Kansas City, he’ll be up in a moment’s notice.
4.) Erick Mejia
Erick Mejia could actually see a promotion before Nicky Lopez. Lopez, a high profile prospect, is going to need every day playing time, like I mentioned above. Until the Royals find every day playing time, Lopez will remain in AAA. Mejia, on the other hand, profiles as more of a utility role type and may not need EVERY day playing time. Mejia could feasibly fill in for Chris Owings on the bench, play 3-4 days per week, and not require the Royals to do much in the way of cutting assets. Mejia can play 3B, SS, 2B, LF, CF and potentially RF if necessary. Should Owings continue to struggle, Mejia and his newfound offense could be a bit of a spark plug in the Royals offense. He’s currently slashing .309/.414/.415/.829 with a much improved 0.94 BB/K ratio and 115 wRC+. He also stole 34 bases at AA last season, and while he’ll probably never be a 3-win player, he could certainly provide positive value off the bench both offensively and defensively. Something Chris Owings has not done.
5.) Josh Dye
Looking for the next Richard Lovelady in the Royals system? Josh Dye may be your answer. The funky left-handed reliever currently owns a 0.92 FIP (2.30 ERA) in 15.2 IP at Lexington, with 15.51 K/9 and just 1.72 BB/9. Dye dominated the Carolina League for 5 innings in a pinch at the end of 2018, and appears to be close to the Carolina League once again. The Royals front office will want the Wilmington Blue Rocks to continue winning in 2019, as they like their cores to make playoff runs, and Dye could go a long way in helping ensure that Wilmington makes the playoffs this year.
Photo Credits: PLPhoto2015 (@PPhoto2015)