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!
#10: Gabriel Cancel, 2B
- Age: 22 (December 8, 1996)
- Birthplace: Manati, Puerto Rico
- Bats/Throws: R/R
- Ht: 6′ 1″ Wt: 185
- Acquired: 2015 MLB Draft
- 2019 stats (NWA): 304 PA, .267/.336/.493/.828, 14 HR, 19 2B, 8 SB, 83 K, 25 BB
I have finally convinced enough voters to get Gabriel Cancel into our top 10 Royals prospects. Cancel, the current Texas League leader in home runs, has been on a power surge for pretty much the entire 2019 season. After leading the Carolina League in doubles in 2018, Cancel has finally turned some of that into home run production in 2019. I wish I could say we saw that coming…
Cancel’s overall production at the plate could use some work, but what he’s done in the power department this year is legit. Among all qualified hitters under the age of 25, in all AA leagues, here is how Cancel ranks in certain categories:
- Doubles (19) – t5th
- HR (14) – t5th
- ISO (.226) – t8th
- OPS (.828) – t18th
- SLG% (.493) – 15th
By all accounts, Cancel has been one of the best power hitters in all of AA this season as a 22-year old, where the average age is a tick over 23. The national media continues to slight Cancel in their Royals prospect rankings, but if you read our site, you know about him. He’s certainly not a perfect prospect (perhaps obviously). He still strikes out more than I’d like (26.6%) and doesn’t walk much (8%), though he does put together very professional PA for his age. He’s no elite defender either, though he’s serviceable, so I worry about how the Royals will view him and where he might play moving forward. If he continues to hit like this, and sticks at second base, this dude is the most under rated prospect in the Royals farm system.
#9: Michael Gigliotti, CF
- Age: 23 (February 14, 1996)
- Birthplace: Fort Lauderdale, FL
- Bats/Throws: L/L
- Ht: 6′ 1″ Wt: 180
- Acquired: 2017 MLB Draft
- 2019 stats (Lexington): 279 PA, .309/.394/.411/.805, 1 HR, 19 2B, 1 3B, 29 SB, 49 K, 27 BB
If Michael Gigliotti continues to walk in nearly 10% of his PA, and can just get on base 34-35% of the time, he is the Royals future in CF. The kid can absolutely fly and plays some of the best CF I’ve seen in a Royals prospect in a long time, which is saying something considering some of the guys that have come through the system (Bubba, Heath, etc.). “Gigs” fell to KC in the 4th round of the 2017 draft after a bit of a down junior year at Lipscomb, but he took off again when he got to pro ball. He missed effectively all of 2018 with an ACL tear, but he currently has the 4th most SB in all of MiLB and appears to be 100% recovered.
Gigs reminds me a ton of Nicky Lopez as prospect. The biggest difference between the two is that Gigs will play a higher profile position defensively in the big leagues (CF opposed to 2B) and is a better runner than Nicky. Neither hitter will hit for much power, but their legs and hit tool should run them into their share of doubles, and both have a knack for being on base at a plus clip. It was easy to forget about Gigs coming into 2019 after his ACL tear, but I’d caution you from doing that. This is a kid you need to have your eye on for 2021.
#8: Kris Bubic, LHP
- Age: 21 (August 19, 1997)
- Birthplace: Cupertino, CA
- Bats/Throws: L/L
- Ht: 6′ 3″ Wt: 220
- Acquired: 2018 MLB Draft
- 2019 stats (Wilmington): 37 IP, 3.89 ERA, 39 K, 13 BB
Kris Bubic can best be described as “funkadelic.” The kid’s delivery is whack enough, but when he pairs that with a fastball that sits 92-93 and perhaps the best changeup of any LHP in MiLB, you have the makings of a dominant starting pitcher in A-ball. Bubic didn’t find much in the way of competition while pitching in the SALLY this spring, and his performance in 2019 earned him a spot on the MLB All-Star Future’s Game roster with Brady Singer.
Bubic doesn’t have the stuff that guys like Daniel Lynch or Jackson Kowar possess, but his command and pitchability are top of the line. He has a delivery that looks similar to that of Clayton Kershaw, which adds some additional deception to his pitches. I think Bubic will have a more difficult time adjusting to higher levels of MiLB than a guy like Kowar will, but I think he’s a really nice prospect that KC got at #40 overall last summer and I’m excited to watch him continue through the minors.
#7: Kyle Isbel, OF
- Age: 22 (March 3, 1997)
- Bats/Throws: L/R
- Ht: 5′ 11″ Wt: 183
- Acquired: 2018 MLB Draft
- 2019 stats (Wilmington): 52 PA, .348/.423/.630/1.054, 2 HR, 5 2B, 1 3B, 5 SB, 8 K, 4 BB
Kyle Isbel’s ascension from 3rd round pick to fringe top 100 prospect has been incredible to watch. When the rest of the Carolina League (besides Luis Robert) was struggling in April, Isbel was lighting the world on fire. In all seriousness, he probably wasn’t more than 150 more PA from finding himself in NWA. Isbel is currently rehabbing from a hamate bone removal in AZ, where he hit his 2nd HR in two games last night. He should be back in Wilmington very soon.
Had Isbel not gotten hurt, and kept any kind of pace like he had early on, it wouldn’t be ridiculous to think we could’ve seen him in Omaha at some point this season. That obviously won’t happen now, but I think there’s a real chance that he gets to Omaha by the All-Star Break in 2020. By 2021, the Royals could legitimately be looking at an outfield of Kyle Isbel, Michael Gigliotti, and Khalil Lee from left to right. That, my friends will play. There is some serious defensive potential in that outfield with a ton of on-base ability and raw pop to go with it. That, my friends, is a scenario I can only dream about for now.
Photo Credits: Ryan Griffith (@ryanrgriffith)