RFR’s 2021 Mid-Season Royals Prospect Rankings: HM & 46-50

Ah, yes, it is that time again. Thank you all very much for following us along the last four years. It was just over a month ago in 2017 when our Founding Father, Patrick Brennan, released our very first top 30 prospects list. And now, in July of 2021, we will have the fifth edition of our mid-season rankings here at Royals Farm Report. Just for funsies, let’s take a quick look at the top 10 from July of 2017:

  1. Nick Pratto
  2. Khalil Lee
  3. Miguel Almonte
  4. Chase Vallot
  5. Hunter Dozier
  6. Josh Staumont
  7. Scott Blewett
  8. Jakob Junis
  9. Seuly Matias
  10. Samir Duenez

WOOF. I’m not going to sugarcoat it, that was a rough time for the Royals farm system. Let’s check back in at the mid-season turn in 2018:

  1. Khalil Lee
  2. Seuly Matias
  3. MJ Melendez
  4. Brady Singer
  5. Jackson Kowar
  6. Nicky Lopez
  7. Nick Pratto
  8. Michael Gigliotti
  9. Daniel Tillo
  10. Richard Lovelady

That is a lot better. We were still finding our way in terms of evaluating prospects but regardless of our opinion, the system clearly took a turn in the right direction after that 2018 draft. 2019:

  1. Bobby Witt Jr.
  2. Daniel Lynch
  3. Jackson Kowar
  4. Khalil Lee
  5. Brady Singer
  6. MJ Melendez
  7. Kyle Isbel
  8. Kris Bubic
  9. Michael Gigliotti
  10. Gabriel Cancel

A little over reactionary there, but my goodness was that hard to watch as the core went into Wilmington and just zapped the energy of Royals fans. Last year, in 2020, we didn’t have much to go off of except for the draft, so we tried to keep it consistent, but there were a couple of big moves:

  1. Bobby Witt Jr.
  2. Asa Lacy
  3. Jackson Kowar
  4. Daniel Lynch
  5. Brady Singer
  6. Erick Pena
  7. Kris Bubic
  8. Khalil Lee
  9. Kyle Isbel
  10. MJ Melendez

And just for a quick reminder, here is how our list shook out this preseason:

1Witt Jr.
12C. Hernandez
19Del Rosario
37B. Hernandez

At the moment, it is really difficult to pin down a top 50. We always leave you with the caveat that the rankings don’t matter, that it’s our opinion, have fun with it, etc., but please keep in mind that as deep and as talented as this system is, there are a ton of guys we left off that we didn’t want to leave off. So, if you don’t see your favorite prospect, remember, we aren’t affiliated with the team and our opinion doesn’t stop them from being a big league All-Star. Emmanuel Rivera is a good example. I almost kicked him off our preseason list entirely. Left him at #50 just because I thought there was a 1% chance he developed enough power to stick. Well, he did, and he’s going to take a massive jump up our board as a result. So, without further ado, let’s get into the Honorable Mentions and 46-50.

Honorable Mention

  • Anderson Paulino (46)
    I just haven’t seen enough from Paulino to keep him in the top 50 at the moment. He’s got a big fastball and that’s about it in terms of high-profile stuff. Wild card worth holding onto, could be back on this list next midseason.
  • Diego Hernandez (NR)
    Toolsy CF that can really go get it on defense. Young kid that has plenty of time to develop. Could be nothing. Has the tools to be a big leaguer.
  • Grant Gavin (HM)
    Good fastball/slider combo with a new split change that’s helped him neutralize LHH. Needs to be more consistent but has a chance to see big league time as soon as this year.
  • Adrian Alcantara (44)
    Good pitchability for a younger guy, but the stuff just hasn’t come together yet. Of all the guys falling off our list, I think I’ll regret this one the most. He’s probably #51.
  • Delvin Capellan (36)
    Similar story as Alcantara here but with lesser stuff.
  • John Rave (HM)
    Toolsy CF that needs to hit more.
  • Tyler Tolbert (NR)
    Kid can fly and actually strikes the ball sort of well. Just doesn’t strike it often enough. Plays all over the field. Could be a Terrance Gore like asset in a playoff run with better defensive versatility.
  • Roger Leyton (NR)
    Having some success as an 18-year old in Arizona. Name to watch.
  • Rothaikeg Seijas (NR)
    Good batted ball data. 18, Arizona. Could be a big riser next year.
  • Foster Griffin (NR)
    I’m a sucker for a good comeback story. Also features a cutter now that I am kind of intrigued by.

#50: Dayton Dooney, 2B

  • Acquired: 2021 MLB Draft (6th Round)
  • Bats/Throws: S/R
  • Age: 21
  • College Stats (JUCO): .376/.452/.706/1.158, 9 HR, 34 XBH, 31 K : 25 BB

Dooney reminds me a bit of the Michael Massey pick back in 2019. Getting an undervalued, college 2B with a track record of hitting and some circumstances that dropped his value. Dooney raked at the University of Arizona as a freshman in 2019 and transferred out after the COVID year in 2020. He continued raking again in 2021 and almost surely would have been a top 3 round pick if he had done this at Arizona this spring. I can’t wait to see him get into pro ball.

#49: Saul Garza, C/1B

  • Acquired: 2020 UDFA
  • Bats/Throws: R/R
  • Age: 23
  • 2021 stats (Rk./A-): 24 PA, .333/.417/.476/.893, 3 XBH, 6 K : 3 BB

Some thought of Garza as one of the gems of the 2020 UDFA class after just a 5-round draft. Here’s what Baseball America wrote about him at the time:

“Garza ended up spending less time behind the plate in 2020 because freshman Alex Milazzo’s glovework was so impressive, but the two-time draftee—Cardinals, 31st-round 2017 and Royals, 32nd-rounder, 2019—still fits as a potential backup catcher with plus raw power. Garza is a fringe-average defender who fits as a DH/first baseman as well.”

He’s off to a slow start to his professional career in terms of age for the level, but he’s hit the ball well so far and could be in AA early next year. The Royals have a bevy of young C prospects so Garza is in a long line to The Show, but he’s got some potential to be a late bloomer on a big league roster.

#48: Omar Hernandez, C

  • Acquired: 2018 International Free Agent (Spain)
  • Bats/Throws: R/R
  • Age: 19
  • 2021 Stats (A-): 150 PA, .207/.253/.321/.574, 2 HR, 10 XBH, 35 K : 8 BB

Omar Hernandez reminds me a lot of Sebastian Rivero as a prospect. Elite defender handling advanced pitchers at a very young age and may just never hit enough. Rivero has found his way to the big leagues already, and we know the Royals love mature catchers that can handle a pitching staff, but Hernandez’ bat isn’t currently at a level where he could be an everyday big leaguer (unless you need a Martin Maldonado type in a pinch). Still, he is incredible to watch behind home plate at such a young age and should be fun to follow through the system.

#47: Shane Panzini, RHP

  • Acquired: 2021 MLB Draft (4th Round)
  • Bats/Throws: R/R
  • Age: 19

Panzini is an older prep arm, but has a big fastball and spins his breaking ball well. He got exactly $1M in signing bonus money at a slot valued around $535,000. I figure the Royals put him in Arizona for the rest of the summer and start him out in Columbia next spring. If Panzini’s fastball is as good as the Royals think it is, he should be able to develop into a big league arm at some point.

#46: Eric Cerantola, RHP

  • Acquired: 2021 MLB Draft (5th Round)
  • Bats/Throws: R/R
  • Age: 21
  • College Stats (MS State): 17.1 IP, 5.71 ERA, 24 K, 11 BB

Cerantola was thought to perhaps be the best prospect on the 2021 Bulldogs team that won the CWS in Omaha before the season started. He was left off the CWS roster entirely and slipped into the 5th round after a disappointing career in Starkvegas. However, his fastball has hit 100 mph and he regularly spins his breaking ball with over 3,000 RPMs. It’s easy to see what the Royals like in the arm, the challenge will be getting him to hold it all together. If everything works, Cerantola still has a chance to pitch in the back of a big league rotation, but is more likely an effective, late-inning reliever. There is a ton to like in the arm if everything pans out.

8 thoughts on “RFR’s 2021 Mid-Season Royals Prospect Rankings: HM & 46-50

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