Thoughts on the Royals MiLB first half

Half of the Royals full-season affiliates are officially at their respective All-Star Breaks. The Lexington Legends will send five representatives to the South Atlantic League (A) All-Star Game tomorrow. The Wilmington Blue Rocks will send five representatives to the Carolina League (A+) All-Star Game on Tuesday as well (though Brady Singer was elected as a sixth representative, he’s in AA so he won’t actually go). The NWA Naturals have their All-Star Break next week, and they’ll send six representatives to the Texas League (AA) All-Star Game. The Pacific Coast League (AAA) All-Star Game, the league the Omaha Storm Chasers play in, isn’t until July 10th.

With All-Star Breaks taking place, it gives us a chance to reflect back on a “first half” of sorts for some of our Royals prospects. Before we dive into individual prospects, here’s a look at how each affiliate has fared as a team thus far.

Omaha Storm Chasers (AAA)

Record: 34-36
Standing: 2nd in the PCL American North Division
Games Back: 4.0

Northwest Arkansas Naturals (AA)

Record: 31-36
Standing: 3rd in the Texas League North Division
Games Back: 12.0

Wilmington Blue Rocks (A+)

Record: 44-25
Standing: Carolina League Northern Division First Half Champions
Games Back: 0.0

Lexington Legends (A)

Record: 37-32
Standing: South Atlantic League Southern Division First Half Champions
Games Back: 0.0

In some MiLB leagues, they award the winner of each division in the first half a playoff spot, because of how many guys will be promoted before the second half gets underway. Also creates a cool regular season environment for the players and teams. So, the Lexington Legends and Wilmington Blue Rocks have each secured a playoff birth for the 2019 season based on their first half performances.

Let’s take a look at some of the top individual performers for the first half of the Royals MiLB season:

Offense

Home Runs:

1.) Gabriel Cancel – 12
2.) Jorge Bonifacio – 11
3.) Brett Phillips/Chase Vallot – 9
5.) Cheslor Cuthbert – 8
6.) Juan Carlos Negret/Kort Peterson/Nick Dini/Freddy Fermin – 7
10.) Taylor Featherson/Samir Duenez – 6

Doubles:

1.) Michael Gigliotti – 19
2.) Gabriel Cancel/Cheslor Cuthbert – 17
4.) Nathan Eaton/Nick Hutchins – 16
6.) MJ Melendez – 15
7.) Erick Mejia – 14
8.) Reed Rohlman – 13
9.) Khalil Lee/Emmanuel Rivera/Jeison Guzman -11

OPS (min. 100 PA):

1.) Nick Dini – .982
2.) Nicky Lopez – .957
3.) Cheslor Cuthbert – .898
4.) Bubba Starling – .834
5.) Gabriel Cancel – .817
6.) Brewer Hicklen – .811
7.) Michael Gigliotti – .805
8.) Kelvin Gutierrez – .793
9.) Erick Mejia – .791
10.) Khalil Lee – .790

wRC+:

1.) Nicky Lopez – 147
2.) Brewer Hicklen – 140
3.) Nick Dini – 139
4.) Michael Gigliotti – 138
5.) Chase Vallot – 127
6.) Khalil Lee – 121
7.) Cheslor Cuthbert/Angelo Castellano – 118
9.) Gabriel Cancel – 117
10.) Nathan Eaton – 112

BB/K:

1.) Nicky Lopez – 4.00
2.) Blake Perkins – 0.91
3.) Angelo Castellano – 0.74
4.) Kelvin Gutierrez – 0.71
5.) Nick Dini – 0.68
6.) Erick Mejia – 0.62
7.) Emmanuel Rivera – 0.57
8.) Michael Gigliotti/Eric Cole – 0.55
10.) Jecksson Flores – 0.52

ISO:

1.) Nick Dini – .264
2.) Chase Vallot – .253
3.) Gabriel Cancel – .239
4.) Cheslor Cuthbert – .218
5.) Brett Phillips – .208
6.) Kort Peterson – .203
7.) Jorge Bonifacio – .200
8.) Juan Carlos Negret – .190
9.) Taylor Featherston – .162
10.) Seuly Matias – .159

Pitching

ERA (min. 30 IP):

1.) Yunior Marte – 1.78
2.) Holden Capps – 2.10
3.) Rito Lugo – 2.27
4.) Josh Staumont – 2.34
5.) Daniel James – 2.40
6.) J.C. Cloney – 2.48
7.) Andres Machado – 2.53
8.) Jon Heasley – 2.64
9.) Collin Snider – 2.73
10.) Austin Cox – 2.75

K%:

1.) Kris Bubic – 34.4%
2.) Josh Dye – 34.3%
3.) Josh Staumont – 33.1%
4.) Holden Capps – 30.5%
5.) Jon Heasley – 28.8%
6.) Daniel James – 27.6%
7.) Emilio Ogando – 26.7%
8.) Jonathan Bowlan – 26.6%
9.) Jake Kalish – 26.3%
10.) Yunior Marte – 25.2%

K-BB%:

1.) Josh Dye – 27.3%
2.) Kris Bubic – 26.1%
3.) Holden Capps – 25%
4.) Jonathan Bowlan/Jake Kalish – 23%
6.) Jon Heasley – 22.6%
7.) Emilio Ogando – 19.3%
8.) Daniel James – 18.1%
9.) Austin Cox – 17.7%
10.) Daniel Lynch – 15.7%

SwStr%:

1.) Josh Dye – 17.1%
2.) Kris Bubic – 16.1%
3.) Marcelo Martinez – 15.5%
4.) Daniel James – 14.5%
5.) Holden Capps – 14.2%
6.) Josh Staumont – 13.9%
7.) Jon Heasley – 13.3%
8.) Jonathan Bowlan – 13.2%
9.) Austin Cox/Jackson Kowar – 12.9%

GB%:

1.) Daniel Tillo – 59.6%
2.) Jace Vines – 57.5%
3.) Andres Sotillet – 56.2%
4.) Foster Griffin – 52.4%
5.) Brady Singer – 51.8%
6.) Josh Staumont/Collin Snider – 50%
8.) J.C. Cloney – 49.7%
9.) Charlie Neuweiler – 49.2%
10.) Rito Lugo – 48.4%

Thoughts

  • The offense is finally starting to come around a little bit. Michael Gigliotti is a 23-year old in A-ball, but he’s been crushing the level of late. Khalil Lee meanwhile has finally turned things around at AA and he’s yet to turn 21. Gabriel Cancel has been mashing the ball all year, but his K/BB ratio could use some work. Nicky Lopez and Kelvin Gutierrez have both seen big league time. MJ Melendez has a .706 OPS in June. Brewer Hicklen has caught fire since the calendar turned to May. The biggest names on the farm are still under performing (Pratto/Matias/Melendez) and Kyle Isbel hasn’t played in a while (hamstring then hamate), but the second tier names in this system are at least starting to pull some weight along with the most promising first tier guy in Khalil Lee.
  • I am pumped for the start that Gabriel Cancel has had, but I’m keeping myself from putting him in my top 5 or anything crazy until his swing-and-miss issues resolve a bit. I think Cancel has a really good eye at the plate. He frequently puts together very professional at-bats, which is impressive for a 22-year old in his first bout with AA. His SwStr% is 12.5% and his BB/K ratio is only 0.27. You’d like to see those numbers closer to 11% and 0.45, but I’m not too worried given, again, he’s 22 and making the biggest jump in MiLB (A to AA). If those numbers improve in the second half of the season, and he keeps hitting for this kind of power, the Royals have a legitimate dude here.
  • I am so happy to see Khalil Lee hitting for power again. Not that there isn’t value in a corner outfielder that plays plus-plus defense with a great arm, steals 25+ bags, and walks a ton, but the power is what makes Khalil Lee a fringe top 100 prospect in baseball. If he keeps hitting like this, he’s going to destroy the juiced ball in the PCL later this year. He could very well be on a Nicky Lopez-like path, meaning we’re less than a year from seeing this kid in the big leagues, should he keep hitting.
  • I have no idea how the Royals are going to choose who to promote from Lexington to Wilmington. You can’t promote the entire team, but they have a lot of dudes ready to make the jump. Heasley, Cox, James, Hinton, Gigliotti, Eaton, Bowlan, and Steele all have cases to be promoted. I think Cox, Heasley, Gigs, and James are locks. With that being said, here is a ranking of the top 10 prospects that I would absolutely promote immediately if it were up to me (excluding players to already make their big league debuts and players that are currently injured):
  1. Michael Gigliotti
  2. Brewer Hicklen
  3. Holden Capps
  4. Tad Ratliff
  5. Anderson Miller
  6. Bubba Starling
  7. Jon Heasley
  8. Austin Cox
  9. Jackson Kowar
  10. Daniel James

There are certainly others that are worthy. It’s been a pretty exciting first half, and I can’t wait to see what the second half will bring. Tweet us some of your second half predictions @RoyalsFarm and we’ll RT our favorites.

Photo Credits: Doc Riddle (@TheGrandOldGame)

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3 thoughts on “Thoughts on the Royals MiLB first half

  1. Pingback: Minor League Minutes: 6/18/19 | Royals Farm Report

  2. Pingback: Royals Rumblings – News for June 18, 2019 | SportsNews

  3. Pingback: More thoughts on the Royals MiLB 1st half | Royals Farm Report

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