Royals Farm Report’s 2020 Preseason Prospect Rankings: 75-61

Welcome back. This is now the third edition of our preseason prospect rankings here at Royals Farm Report. Before we get into the rankings, there is a lot that has changed here at the site that I want to catch you up on.

First of all, our founding father and fearless leader, Patrick Brennan (@paintingcorner), is now working on the analytics team for Kansas State Baseball. One of our writers, Joel Penfield (@jtpenfield), was picked up by 2080 Baseball doing scouting in the Texas League. Another writer and editor, Joshua Payton (@josh_payton), was hired by Excelsior Leader Sports as their new Director of Baseball Operations.

We’re all busy people, but with the turnover we’ve had recently things are going to be a little different around here. You’ll still see a lot of familiar names writing here, it may just be in different capacities. In any case, we’d like to like to sincerely thank all of you for reading along. As you can tell from above, this website has given our writers access to opportunities bigger and better than we ever could have imagined. We love sharing our love of Minor League Baseball, and of the Royals, with you, and we thank you for allowing us to do so.

You can check out or 2019 midseason top 75 here.

Without further ado, here are our 2020 preseason prospect rankings, 75-61.

#75: Justin Hooper, LHP

  • Age: 22 (October 21, 1996)
  • Bats/Throws: R/L
  • Ht: 6′ 8″ Wt: 238′
  • Acquired: 2019 MLB Draft
  • 2019 stats: N/A

Brother of Atlanta Falcons TE Austin Hooper, Justin Hooper came to KC during the 2019 draft as a wildcard from UCLA. The 6′ 8″ LHP missed all of 2018 due to Tommy John Surgery, but his fastball was capable of reaching the mid-90’s before going under the knife. If Hooper can return to KC healthy this season, he’s a powerful arm with the ability to cause a lot of really uncomfortable at-bats.

#74: Burle Dixon, OF

  • Age: 20 (October 15, 1998)
  • Bats/Throws: L/L
  • Ht: 6′ 5″ Wt: 185′
  • Acquired: 2019 MLB Draft
  • 2019 stats (Burlington): 191 PA, .204/.300/.329/.629, 3 HR, 12 XBH, 9 SB, 0.32 BB/K, 78 wRC+

Dixon is a lanky center fielder with decent raw power but hasn’t accessed much of it in games yet. He hit .367 with 17 stolen bases at Cosumnes River College last spring with 9 doubles, a triple, and a home run. Dixon is very much a projectable pick that will be an offensive project. Should he pan out, the Royals would have an absolute steal from the 18th round.

#73: Tyler Tolbert, OF

  • Age: 21 (January 27th, 1998)
  • Bats/Throws: R/R
  • Ht: 6′ 0″ Wt: 160′
  • Acquired: 2019 MLB Draft
  • 2019 stats (AZL): 174 PA, .221/.349/.250/.599, 0 HR, 3 XBH, 26 SB, 0.54 BB/K, 81 wRC+

Like a long list of Royals prospects before him, Tyler Tolbert can absolutely fly. Tolbert shows good promise at the plate with his ability to make contact, and with his defensive ability in CF, but it will be the legs that carry him through the system. If he can just hit for as much power as someone like Nicky Lopez, and cut down on the strikeouts a bit, Tolbert has some tools that could carry him to the big leagues.

#72: Anthony Veneziano, LHP

  • Age: 22 (September 1, 1997)
  • Bats/Throws: L/L
  • Ht: 6′ 5″ Wt: 205′
  • Acquired: 2019 MLB Draft
  • 2019 stats (Idaho Falls): 46.2 IP, 5.59 ERA, 4.87 FIP, 8.49 K/9, 2.51 BB/9, 1.16 HR/9

Veneziano got off to a slow start at Coastal Carolina last spring, causing him to fall to the 10th round, but he did strike out 85 batters in 78 IP and his fastball reportedly was up to 94 mph before the draft. Veneziano will need to master his slider in order to reach the big leagues in any capacity, but it’s a good enough pitch to keep him on prospect radars for the time being.

#71: Michael Emodi, C

  • Age: 23 (April 18, 1996)
  • Bats/Throws: R/R
  • Ht: 6′ 4″ Wt: 225′
  • Acquired: 2018 MLB Draft
  • 2019 stats (Idaho Falls): 200 PA, .331/.410/.663/1.073, 12 HR, 32 XBH, 3 SB, 0.30 BB/K, 173 wRC+

Emodi had one of the best summers of any Royals prospect with the bat. He completely destroyed Pioneer League competition and figures to get a shot at A-ball to begin 2020. He’s a little old for the level, but if Emodi can get his way to Wilmington before the end of 2020, and he hits well, he’ll be worth keeping around on this list heading into 2021.

#70: Nick Dini, C

  • Age: 26 (July 27, 1993)
  • Bats/Throws: R/R
  • Ht: 5′ 8″ Wt: 180′
  • Acquired: 2015 MLB Draft
  • 2019 stats (MLB): 64 PA, .196/.270/.357/.627, 2 HR, 5 XBH, 0.22 BB/K, 62 wRC+

I don’t want to completely write off Nick Dini yet, but time is running out on the Royals catcher. Dini has hit well in each of the last two seasons in the minors, but his defense leaves a bit to be desired behind home plate, and with Salvador Perez, Cam Gallagher, and Meibrys Viloria in the fold for the foreseeable future, I don’t know where Dini’s future is with this team.

#69: Nathan Webb, RHP

  • Age: 22 (August 20, 1997)
  • Bats/Throws: R/R
  • Ht: 6′ 2″ Wt: 215′
  • Acquired: 2016 MLB Draft
  • 2019 stats (IDF): 63.1 IP, 4.55 ERA, 4.65 FIP, 10.94 K/9, 3.84 BB/9, 0.85 HR/9

Nathan Webb can throw the absolute bajeezus out of a baseball. Reportedly reaching up to 97 mph with his fastball, Webb struck out 10 batters on three separate occasions in 2019. A Lee’s Summit North grad back in 2016, Webb has had something of a roller coaster career up to this point. Finally arriving on the prospect scene in 2019, it will be interesting to see how Webb carries his most recent success into A-ball in 2020.

#68: Marlin Willis, LHP

  • Age: 21 (June 5, 1998)
  • Bats/Throws: L/L
  • Ht: 6′ 4″ Wt: 190′
  • Acquired: 2017 MLB Draft
  • 2019 stats (BUR): 47.2 IP, 2.83 ERA, 4.83 FIP, 9.25 K/9, 5.29 BB/9, 0.76 HR/9

I really like Willis’ profile. The numbers haven’t come together yet, but they were better in 2019 than they had been for the rest of Willis’ professional career. I think there’s a chance that, with his frame and stuff from the left side, there’s a chance that Willis could reach the big leagues in a bullpen capacity. He’s going to have to get his stuff under control and quit walking so many people, but I’m a fan of the profile here.

#67: Jimmy Govern, 3B

  • Age: 23 (December 11, 1996)
  • Bats/Throws: R/R
  • Ht: 5′ 11″ Wt: 190′
  • Acquired: 2019 MLB Draft
  • 2019 stats (AZL): 199 PA, .365/.492/.628/1.120, 6 HR, 26 XBH, 6 SB, 1.70 BB/K, 196 wRC+

I felt like Royals fans were getting upset with us for not having Govern on our midseason list last summer. He was destroying the AZL and made it to AAA in the year he was drafted after all! The thing is that college draftees are supposed to destroy the AZL and he was called to AAA to fill in in a pinch, not because the Royals thought he was deserving that sort of promotion. Don’t get me wrong, Govern was most excellent in his professional debut, but no one is THAT good. Govern will more than likely get a shot to prove himself with Lexington this spring, at which time we’ll really get to see what this kid is all about.

#66: Anderson Miller, OF

  • Age: 25 (May 6, 1994)
  • Bats/Throws: L/L
  • Ht: 6′ 3″ Wt: 208′
  • Acquired: 2015 MLB Draft
  • 2019 stats (NWA): 330 PA, .248/.295/.342/.637, 5 HR, 16 XBH, 10 SB, 0.22 BB/K, 78 wRC+

I promise, this will be the last time that you see Anderson Miller on this list barring a breakout 2020 campaign. After an okay 2018 campaign, Miller followed up with a dreadful 2019 that most people would use to write him off. I just can’t do it yet. The tools are too present for me to be done with him yet. Miller is probably undeserving of this spot and may be cut before Opening Day, but I’m willing to give him six more months before writing him off.

#65: Anderson Paulino, RHP

  • Age: 21 (September 12, 1998)
  • Bats/Throws: R/R
  • Ht: 6′ 2″ Wt: 200′
  • Acquired: International Free Agent
  • 2019 stats (AZL): 60.2 IP, 4.90 ERA, 5.08 FIP, 6.53 K/9, 3.56 BB/9, 0.74 HR/9

Paulino has a huge arm and was in consideration for a top 50 spot on my personal list last spring. The numbers haven’t matched up with his stuff just yet, but the arm is big and that’s valuable for any organization. I’d imagine that Paulino will begin his year in either Burlington or Idaho Falls.

#64: Josh Dye, LHP

  • Age: 23 (September 14, 1996)
  • Bats/Throws: L/L
  • Ht: 6′ 5″ Wt: 180
  • Acquired: 2018 MLB Draft
  • 2019 stats (WIL): 36 IP, 1.25 ERA, 2.88 FIP, 9.50 K/9, 3.75 BB/9, 0.25 HR/9

Josh Dye’s stuff is not normal. The lefty reliever out of Florida Gulf Coast presents some serious problems for hitters, especially other lefties, that are not commonly found. Dye has totally dominated professional baseball thus far and will presumably get a chance to show off at the AA level at some point this year. Given that he doesn’t throw overly hard, Dye will need to cut down on the walks to reach the big leagues, but I don’t think that’s something he’ll have an issue with long-term.

#63: J.C. Cloney, LHP

  • Age: 25 (August 3, 1994)
  • Bats/Throws: L/L
  • Ht: 6′ 1″ Wt: 226
  • Acquired: 2017 MLB Draft
  • 2019 stats (NWA): 101 IP, 3.74 ERA, 4.50 FIP, 7.22 K/9, 2.32 BB/9, 1.16 HR/9

Like Dye, Cloney doesn’t throw overly hard, but has had tons of success thus far in his professional career. There could be something of a logjam for pitchers between the big leagues and AA this season, but I’m excited to see how Cloney handles the juiced ball of the upper levels. If he can continue to keep the ball in the yard, I imagine he’ll get a shot to continue moving up the organizational ladder.

#62: Eric Cole, OF

  • Age: 23 (January 17, 1997)
  • Bats/Throws: S/R
  • Ht: 5′ 11″ Wt: 170
  • Acquired: 2018 MLB Draft
  • 2019 stats (LEX): 543 PA, .240/.330/.382/.712, 11 HR, 38 XBH, 7 SB, 0.69 BB/K, 110 wRC+

Eric Cole’s stat line from 2019 may not be overly impressive, but as a 22-year old in the South Atlantic League, Cole was actually 10% better than the league average hitter. Cole has the ability to be a plus-defender at multiple positions in the outfield, but I’m not 100% certain that the bat will carry him that far. He figures to be headed to the dreaded Carolina League in 2020, where his bat will certainly be put to the test.

#61: Clay Dungan, MIF

  • Age: 23 (June 2, 1996)
  • Bats/Throws: L/R
  • Ht: 6′ 1″ Wt: 190′
  • Acquired: 2019 MLB Draft
  • 2019 stats (IDF): 293 PA, .357/.427/.494/.921, 2 HR, 26 XBH, 9 SB, 0.88 BB/K, 146 wRC+

Clay Dungan had to return to Indiana State for his senior season 2019 after a disappointing junior campaign in 2018, but he was awesome for all of 2019. He struck out and walked 36 times each last spring at ISU and followed that up striking out just four more times than he walked in his professional debut. Dungan doesn’t hit for much power, but he makes lots of solid contact and is smooth up the middle defensively. If he continues to improve like he did in 2019, he’s a legitimate candidate for a top 40 spot in this organization.


Photo Credits: PLPhoto2015 (@PPhoto2015)

8 thoughts on “Royals Farm Report’s 2020 Preseason Prospect Rankings: 75-61

  1. Pingback: Royals Farm Report’s 2020 Preseason Prospect Rankings: 60-51 | Royals Farm Report

  2. I think the Dini defensive comments are way off. Did you watch any of his KC games? Excellent at blocking balls and he did a great job throwing out runners and from what I can tell these guy love throwing to him


  3. Royals Academy had Josh Dye in top 25. His stuff as a reliever got him to Wilmington and pitching significant innings. KC lower system seems to be filled with OF who struggle hitting.


  4. Pingback: Royals Farm Report’s 2020 Preseason Prospect Rankings: 50-41 | Royals Farm Report

  5. Pingback: Royals Farm Report’s 2020 Preseason Prospect Rankings: 45-41 | Royals Farm Report

  6. Pingback: Royals Farm Report’s 2020 Preseason Prospect Rankings: 40-36 | Royals Farm Report

  7. Pingback: Royals Farm Report’s 2020 Preseason Prospect Rankings: 35-31 | Royals Farm Report

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