Revisiting the Royals top prospects: 2B

It has been a long time since we’ve had real, actual MiLB to watch. When we released our top 50 Royals prospects list last week, I briefly recapped some of the players on our list, but I wanted to go a little further in-depth and remind everyone how our boys were doing on the farm last time there was MiLB: in the fall of 2019. For the next couple of weeks we’ll take a deeper look at the top prospects at each position for KC, including ETA’s, where we project them to start in 2021, where they are currently ranked on our top 50, where we project them to be ranked before the 2022 season, and their stats from the last season in which they played professional baseball.

We’ve gone through the shortstops, catchers, third base, and first base. Now let’s get into the second basemen.

#1: Michael Massey

  • ETA: 2023
  • Begin 2021: High-A Quad Cities
  • Current ranking: #32
  • Projected ranking in 2022: #25-30
  • 2019 stats (Rookie): 192 PA, .272/.339/.399/.737, 5 HR, 12 XBH, .127 ISO, 0.46 BB/K, 105 wRC+, 4 SB

Similarly to Emmanuel Rivera on the 3B list, Michael Massey is the only actual 2B prospect that made our top 50 list. There are several guys that made our SS list that I think could handle the 2B position, and we’ll talk about them here in a little bit, but I felt like Massey and a couple other guys set themselves apart in the conversation for best 2B prospect, in a way that Rivera did not at 3B.

Massey, a 2019 pick out of the University of Illinois, had a really nice collegiate career before coming to the Royals in the 4th round of the 2019 June Draft, but he never really had the breakout season you’d have hoped to see. He posted OPS’ of .843, .883, and .831 respectively in his three years at Illinois. His OBP grew steadily each year, but his power dipped a bit as a junior and his strikeout rate was up just a hair. He still doesn’t have an issue with strikeouts, as his hit tool should be his carrying tool through the minors, but he doesn’t really have any other tools that “pop” so-to-speak and excite you about the prospect long-term. There is some sneaky power here for a guy that doesn’t get to much power in games, and I think he’ll stick at 2B in the long run, but there isn’t a 60-grade tool in here anywhere. I’m excited to see how he can handle full season ball as we get into 2021.

#2: Gabriel Cancel

  • ETA: 2022
  • Begin 2021: AAA Omaha
  • Current ranking: UR
  • Projected ranking in 2022: #40-UR
  • 2019 stats (AA): 513 PA, .246/.308/.427/.735, 18 HR, 48 XBH, .181 ISO, 0.24 BB/K, 104 wRC+, 15 SB

Ugh. Cancel probably didn’t deserve to fall all the way off our board this year but, if anything that ought to give you an idea of how discouraged we were by the second half of his 2019 season. From June on, Cancel hit .239/.301/.375/.676 with a .136 ISO, 89 wRC+, and 0.21 BB/K. He didn’t appear to make any adjustments to his approach as the year went on (0.13 BB/K in August) and got progressively worse as the year went on. Add that in with the fact that the Royals were moving him over to 1B fairly often at the end of the year, and nothing really went right for Cancel after he got off to a blazing start and represented the Naturals in the Texas League HR Derby. However, if Cancel can rebound and be any kind of consistent at the plate, as well as maybe solidifying his place on the field at 2B, he could be a serious platoon option for Kansas City in a year or two. Especially if the Royals still want to keep Nicky Lopez away from tough LHP this time next year. Otherwise, Cancel is probably AAA depth.

#3: Clay Dungan

  • ETA: 2023
  • Begin 2021: High-A Quad Cities
  • Current ranking: UR
  • Projected ranking in 2022: #40-UR
  • 2019 stats (Rookie): 293 PA, .357/.427/.494/.921, 2 HR, 26 XBH, .137 ISO, .88 BB/K, 146 wRC+, 9 SB

I was really happy to see someone ask in the comments of our SS article why Clay Dungan was left off of the list. It mostly involves the fact that I think Dungan will be forced off of the position as early as this spring and could make a very good 2B prospect. Dungan impressed the hell out of me in 2019 with a Nicky Lopez like effort at Idaho Falls. Lopez is a lot like who Dungan will be as a professional, but there may actually be a little bit more power potential in there than Lopez has if Dungan grows into his 6′ 1″ frame at all. Dungan got an NRI to big league Spring Training this year which ought to be a quick vote of confidence for what the org thinks of him at the moment. Dungan is nearly 25 years old already, so his prospect value will be sort of Whit Merrifield like in that he’ll be a late arrival to The Show, but he’s certainly a kid to keep an eye on as MiLB gets back underway here in 2021.

#4: Rubendy Jaquez

  • ETA: 2024
  • Begin 2021: High-A Quad Cities
  • Current ranking: UR
  • Projected ranking in 2022: #40-UR
  • 2019 stats (Low-A): 466 PA, .243/.320/.352/.672, 6 HR, 29 XBH, .109 ISO, .43 BB/K, 98 wRC+, 30 SB

I should mention that Cancel, Dungan, and Jaquez are all pretty interchangeable on this list and would all battle for spots between 51 and 55 if we expanded that list that far. Jaquez was a guy that I was higher on than most heading into 2019 and kind of lost out on amongst the voters heading into 2021. Jaquez has a lot of tools. 30 SB and a Swiss army knife defensively ought to be a sign of that. Jaquez got off to a really slow start in 2019 and then really picked it up as the season went along. Between April and May, Jaquez hit .201 with a 74 wRC+. Starting in June, however, I don’t think I even realized how good Jaquez got down the stretch. In the next three months, Jaquez posted wRC+’s of 107, 145, and 78 in June, July, and August respectively. Jaquez is still just 22 years old, giving him a leg up on Cancel and Dungan in that regard, and is probably going to be able to play 3B and 2B all the way through the minors. If he picks it up again in 2021, he’ll almost certainly be back on our top 50 by this time in 2022.

Other guys who could handle the position if necessary:

  • Omar Florentino, Wilmin Candelario, Lucius Fox, Jeison Guzman, Kevin Merrell, Nick Loftin, Maikel Garcia

Photo Credits: Doc Riddle (@TheGrandOldGame)

2 thoughts on “Revisiting the Royals top prospects: 2B

  1. Pingback: Revisiting the Royals top prospects: RP | Royals Farm Report

  2. Pingback: Revisiting the Royals top prospects: OF | Royals Farm Report

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