2019 Royals Farm Report Mid-Season Prospect Rankings: 35-26

Welcome back. This version of our prospect rankings will look eerily similar to the rankings we released in our E-Book right before the MLB Draft at the very beginning of June. We made some minor tweaks to the rankings themselves, but most of the changes will simply reflect the prospects that Kansas City added through the draft.

Please remember that these rankings mean absolutely nothing outside of a few peoples’ opinions. If we leave your favorite player off of our rankings, that doesn’t mean they won’t become a successful big leaguer. Please enjoy these rankings for what they are, our  opinions. As always, thank you for reading, and do enjoy the release of our newest Royals prospect ranking!

#35: Arnaldo Hernandez, RHP

  • Age: 23 (February 9, 1996)
  • Birthplace: San Felix, Venezuela
  • Bats/Throws: R/R
  • Ht: 6′ 0″ Wt: 175
  • Acquired: International Free Agent
  • 2019 stats (Omaha): 53.2 IP, 8.22 ERA, 34 K, 21 BB

What ever happens to Arnaldo Hernandez when he puts on an Omaha Storm Chasers uniform is beyond me. After beginning the 2018 season with High-A Wilmington, Hernandez made three starts at AA and then shot right up to Omaha. He looked great for Wilmington and NWA, and even though his ERA was solid for Omaha, the peripherals kind of hit rock bottom.

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Honestly, I don’t know. His stuff saw an uptick in 2018, propelling him through the minors, but it seems to have fallen back off a bit in 2019. When Hernandez is on like he had been to begin 2018, he’s a wildly intriguing arm for this system. He’s had an awful 2019, but he’s still just 23 years old. I’m willing to give him a little more time to adjust to the new ball and a new level than just 53.2 IP.

#34: Josh Staumont, RHP

  • Age: 25 (December 21, 1993)
  • Birthplace: La Habra, CA
  • Bats/Throws: R/R
  • Ht: 6′ 3″ Wt: 200
  • Acquired: 2015 MLB Draft
  • 2019 stats (Omaha): 43 IP, 2.51 ERA, 63 K, 32 BB

Josh Staumont the opener has been quite an effective weapon thus far.

In total, Josh Staumont has made 11 appearances as an opener and thrown 19.2 IP in those 11 appearances. He’s allowed just 4 ER (1.88 ERA) with 12 BB and 27 K. The walks are still a problem for Staumont over all, but he’s apparently figured out how to at least minimize those problems as an opener. I’m really excited to see how the big league club is going to utilize him after the All-Star Break.

#33: Jon Heasley, RHP

  • Age: 22 (January 27, 1997)
  • Birthplace: Plano, TX
  • Bats/Throws: R/R
  • Ht: 6′ 3″ Wt: 215
  • Acquired: 2018 MLB Draft
  • 2019 stats (Lexington): 74.1 IP, 2.78 ERA, 89 K, 19 BB

Jon Heasley did not “wow” in his professional debut in 2018. He has been “WOW” so far in 2019. I don’t think Heasley has any business still being in Lexington, the Royals just haven’t been able to find him any room in Wilmington thus far for a promotion. Heasley’s stuff wouldn’t fool anyone as being “plus,” but Heasley’s command and pitchability appear to be off of the charts. Heasley’s 23.2% K-BB% currently ranks as the 7th best mark in the South Atlantic League (min. 40 IP), and the 12th best mark in all of A-ball. We’ll have to reserve too much excitement on the 22-year old until he gets to Wilmington, but he’s been impressive so far.

#32: Nick Heath, OF

  • Age: 25 (November 27, 1993)
  • Birthplace: Junction City, KS
  • Bats/Throws: L/L
  • Ht: 6′ 1″ Wt: 187
  • Acquired: 2016 MLB Draft
  • 2019 stats (NWA): 278 PA, .245/.330/.336/.666, 4 HR, 6 2B, 5 3B, 44 SB, 91 K, 31 BB

You read that right, 44 SB in 278 PA. That is absolutely insane. Nick Heath currently has 10 more SB than anyone in Minor League Baseball (Khalil Lee is tied for 2nd with 34). Heath strikes out far too much for a guy that doesn’t hit for a ton of power, but my goodness can he run. He plays an excellent CF defensively, gets on base his fair share, creating a pretty decent floor for Heath’s prospect status. I wonder if he could hit enough to carve himself out a Jarrod Dyson-like role, however. Heath only has 40 AB this year against LHP, but he has not fared overly well against them. He’s been much better against RHP, which gives me hope that a big league platoon role could be in Heath’s near future. Regardless, his speed is so much damn fun to watch, even at AA.

#31: Sebastian Rivero, C

  • Age: 20 (November 16, 1998)
  • Birthplace: Maracay, Venezuela
  • Bats/Throws: R/R
  • Ht: 6′ 1″ Wt: 195
  • Acquired: International Free Agent
  • 2019 stats (Wilmington): 206 PA, .201/.279/.268/.548, 1 HR, 7 2B, 1 3B, 51 K, 16 BB

Sebastian Rivero is in the discussion for best defensive prospect in the entire Royals organization. He is an absolute wizard behind home plate. He’s not quite as athletic as MJ Melendez, and he doesn’t throw as many runners out, but he is an elite receiver and is mature beyond his years as a game manager.

The trick is going to be the bat for Rivero. Rivero has never been much of a hitter, but showed flashes of improvement in 2018. Most of that has gone back down a bit, but Rivero is so good defensively that it may not matter much. Rivero is probably a big leaguer regardless, but his prospect status soars if he ever figures it out with the bat.

#30: Erick Mejia, UTIL

  • Age: 24 (November 9, 1994)
  • Birthplace: Villa Mela, Dominican Republic
  • Bats/Throws: S/R
  • Ht: 5′ 11″ Wt: 155
  • Acquired: Trade for Joakim Soria and Scott Alexander
  • 2019 stats (Omaha): 329 PA, .276/.351/.386/.737, 3 HR, 15 2B, 4 3B, 9 SB, 58 K, 33 BB

Another defensive minded prospect, Mejia has finally started hitting a little bit to go with his versatility. If Mejia can continue getting on base at this clip, he’s a bonafide option off of a big league bench. Mejia struggled a bit at AA last year, and he’s been slightly inconsistent in his professional career, but I really like what I’ve seen from him in 2019.

#29: Daniel Tillo, LHP

  • Age: 23 (June 13, 1996)
  • Birthplace: Sioux City, IA
  • Bats/Throws: L/L
  • Ht: 6′ 5″ Wt: 215
  • Acquired: 2017 MLB Draft
  • 2019 stats (Wilmington): 78.2 IP, 4.58 ERA, 42 K, 29 BB

Daniel Tillo has struggled a bit in the Wilmington rotation this year, but I don’t want Royals fans to forget about him in the discussion of college pitchers that KC has on the farm. I personally don’t know if Tillo can continue starting through the minors and into KC, but I think he has a future as one hell of an asset in the bullpen. Tillo’s sinker was reportedly getting up close to 95 mph this spring, and while he has struggled with his command during his professional career, he can be really hard to hit when he’s on.

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As you can see, just because the tradition stats on Tillo are down, he’s not been getting hit hard at all, and he’s dang near impossible to elevate. The control issues might push Tillo to the bullpen eventually, but I think there’s a chance he could be this organization’s next Scott Alexander.

#28: Alec Marsh, RHP

  • Age: 21 (May 14, 1998)
  • Birthplace: Milwaukee, WI
  • Bats/Throws: R/R
  • Ht: 6′ 2″ Wt: 220
  • Acquired: 2019 MLB Draft
  • 2019 stats (IDF): 7 IP, 3.86 ERA, 9 K, 0 BB

You can read my scouting report on Alec Marsh here.

Getting into Marsh as a pitcher at present, here was his stat line from Arizona State this spring: 96.2 IP, 3.17 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, .241 BAA, 92 K, 33 BB, 10 HR.

Nothing crazy, but the walks are much improved from a sophomore season in which he walked 31 batters in 71.2 IP. On video, Marsh’s best pitch appears to be his curveball. It’s a nasty 11-5 (on a clock) offering that often freezes right and left-handed hitters alike. The fastball appears to be an inconsistent offering at times. I’d argue that Marsh tends to get a little too mechanical/robotic in his delivery, and could benefit from some fluidity in his motion.

#27: Grant Gambrell, RHP

  • Age: 21 (November 21, 1997)
  • Birthplace: Clovis, CA
  • Bats/Throws: L/R
  • Ht: 6′ 4″ Wt: 225
  • Acquired: 2019 MLB Draft
  • 2019 stats (IDF): 4.2 IP, 0.00 ERA, 4 K, 4 BB

Gambrell and Marsh are pretty much the same prospect for me. Gambrell is a bit bigger, and I think his stuff will play a tick higher than Marsh’s, which is why he’s one spot ahead of him, but I think they’re generally about the same.

You can read Drew’s thoughts on Gambrell here.

#26: Rylan Kaufman, LHP

  • Age: 20 (June 23, 1999)
  • Birthplace: Galveston, TX
  • Bats/Throws: L/L
  • Ht: 6′ 4″ Wt: 190
  • Acquired: 2018 MLB Draft
  • 2019 stats (IDF): 5 IP, 3.60 ERA, 3 K, 1 BB

Rylan Kaufman is one of my favorite under-the-radar pitching prospects in the system. Kaufman is a lanky southpaw with good velocity and great spin rates that shows some really raw ability. He only did one year at San Jacinto CC, so he’s going to take some time to develop, but I really like the prospect in this system. Assuming he pitches well, I wouldn’t be shocked to see him at Lexington at some point in 2019, which is when we can really start to get a good idea about Kaufman is. For now, he’s a fascinating fringe arm to keep an eye on with an incredible ceiling.

 

Photo Credit: Minda Haas Kuhlmann (@minda33)

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