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.
Without further ado, here are our 2020 preseason prospect rankings, 30-26.
#30: 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): 33.1 IP, 4.05 ERA, 4.08 FIP, 10.26 K/9, 1.08 BB/9, 1.35 HR/9
The numbers may not look it, but Alec Marsh was really really good for Idaho Falls last summer. In a league that is super offense friendly, Alec Marsh managed to hold his own in his professional debut. Marsh’s 1.08 BB/9 was the second best mark in the league among all pitchers with at least 30 IP, and his 25.8% K-BB% ranked 4th. A 4.05 ERA doesn’t sound overly impressive, but it was in the top 1/3 of pitchers in the Pioneer League and his FIP was 25th. As a pitcher, Marsh reminds me a bit of Royals’ Jake Junis, where he gets some good run out of his low-90’s fastball but throws a wipe out slider. Like Junis, he’ll need to develop his changeup in order to keep starting, but I think Marsh has a really good chance to reach the big leagues in some capacity on the back of his breaking ball.
#29: Emmanuel Rivera, 3B
- Age: 23 (June 29, 1996)
- Birthplace: Mayaguez, Puerto Rico
- Bats/Throws: R/R
- Ht: 6′ 2″ Wt: 195
- Acquired: 2015 MLB Draft
- 2019 stats (NWA): 534 PA, .258/.297/.345/.642, 7 HR, 27 XBH, 6 SB, 0.32 BB/K, 79 wRC+
Emmanuel Rivera kind of ran out of excuses in 2019. After posting a 140 wRC+ as a 21-22-year old in Lexington back in 2017, Rivera moved to a pitcher’s paradise in Wilmington and was hurt for part of 2018. He was really good, posting a 113 wRC+ and only striking out in 14.4% of his PA, but the walks never came and the power didn’t increase. In NWA in 2019, Rivera had an okay April followed by a decent May, and just got progressively worse as the year went on. Over his final 272 PA at AA last year, Rivera hit a measly .246/.269/.296/.566 with a 0.17 BB/K, 0.050 ISO, and 57 wRC+. If he hits like that again in 2020, Rivera may never see AAA. I’m not exactly sure what happened to the slick-fielding third baseman last year, but I had higher hopes for him than that. Hopefully he’s worked out what ever his issue was, because he won’t last too long hitting like that.
#28: Vinnie Pasquantino, 1B
- Age: 22 (October 10, 1997)
- Birthplace: Richmond, VA
- Bats/Throws: L/L
- Ht: 6′ 4″ Wt: 245′
- Acquired: 2019 MLB Draft
- 2019 stats (BUR): 248 PA, .294/.371/.592/.963, 14 HR, 33 XBH, 0.68 BB/K, 152 wRC+
I don’t mean to be hyperbolic, but Vinnie Pasquantino almost physically could not have been any better than he was in 2019. In terms of hitting baseballs at the professional level, he was like, really good. As soon as Vinnie reported to Burlington after the draft in June, he became one of the Royals best hitters for KC at any level. Vinnie is really slow, and is limited defensively solely to first base, which does hurt his value a bit, but if he hits the pitching at Lexington like he did in Burlington, he could legitimately surpass Nick Pratto on our rankings by midseason. That’s a stretch, we’ll see what happens for Vinnie this spring, but with just his 2019 season to go off of, this looks like it could go down as a steal for KC in the 11th round of last June’s draft.
#27: Nick Pratto, 1B
- Age: 21 (October 6, 1998)
- Birthplace: Huntington Beach, CA
- Bats/Throws: L/L
- Ht: 6′ 1″ Wt: 195
- Acquired: 2017 MLB Draft
- 2019 stats (WIL): 472 PA, .191/.278/.310/.588, 9 HR, 31 XBH, 17 SB, 0.30 BB/K, 73 wRC+
I really wish I could just forget all about Nick Pratto’s 2019 season, but unfortunately it was bad enough that we can’t. We’re not even three years removed from Pratto being the 14th overall pick in the 2017 MLB Draft and I’m not exactly sure what to make of his prospect status. On one hand, the kid has handled his failures with a maturity you don’t always see in a 21-year old, and his work ethic suggests he’s capable of fighting through this. On the other hand, there’s not a single example of a player hitting as poorly as Pratto did in High-A and then going on to be a successful big leaguer. Obviously there are circumstances that add nuance to every individual, but it’s hard to overlook Pratto’s struggles from last season. I will say this, however. If there’s anyone that can get a high-caliber draft pick back on track and get him to the big leagues, it’s the Kansas City Royals.
#26: Jeison Guzman, SS
- Age: 21 (October 8, 1998)
- Birthplace: Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
- Bats/Throws: L/R
- Ht: 6′ 2″ Wt: 180
- Acquired: International Free Agent
- 2019 stats (LEX): 490 PA, .253/.296/.373/.669, 7 HR, 35 XBH, 15 SB, 0.26 BB/K, 95 wRC+
I never really know what to do with Jeison Guzman when ranking Royals prospects. Sometimes I want to leave him out of my top 30. Sometimes I want him in my top 20. So, 26 feels like a good spot for him.
Jeison Guzman is the reason we had to introduce analytics into baseball. He has never really hit that well at any point during his four year professional career, but my gosh he looks good doing it. The kid is so athletic, so gifted, so smooth, you can’t help but to believe in the talent. He strikes out too much, he doesn’t walk at all, he’s strong but doesn’t hit for that much power, but he’s really athletic, man.
In all seriousness, I think it’s just a matter of time before we’re either writing Guzman off of these lists, or putting him in the top 10. I don’t think he can stick around 26 that long, it’s going to be one or the other, and soon.
Photo Credits: Doc Riddle (@TheGrandOldGame)