RFR’s 2021 Mid-Season Royals Prospect Rankings: 31-35

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. Here are the links to the previous years’ mid-season rankings and the first piece of our 2021 rankings:

Here are the next 5 players on our 2021 list:

#35: Noah Murdock, RHP

  • Acquired: 2019 MLB Draft (7th Round)
  • Bats/Throws: R/R
  • Age: 22
  • 2021 Stats (A+): 21.1 IP, 3.38 ERA, 3.78 FIP, 7.59 K/9, 4.22 BB/9

Well, I had an entirely different write up ready for Murdock before he left last night’s game early with an injury. Murdock was pulled after just 1.1 IP so…we’ll see how that goes. The Royals have had a tough time keeping their arms healthy this year, which I don’t blame them for entirely coming off of the lost COVID year. Murdock didn’t start the season with Quad Cities but looked great since joining them. He was nearly unhittable at times and while the strikeout numbers weren’t there yet, I was really impressed with Murdock’s ability to command the zone at times and induce a ton of weak contact. The 6′ 8″ righty creates a really tough plane with his upper-90’s fastball that could play well in a big league bullpen. We’ll have to see what this injury is before freaking out too much.

#34: Charlie Neuweiler, RHP

  • Acquired: 2017 MLB Draft (5th Round)
  • Bats/Throws: R/R
  • Age: 22
  • 2021 Stats (A+): 9.1 IP, 6.75 ERA, 4.42 FIP, 7.71 K/9, 1.93 BB/9

Charlie Neuweiler has been on our list as an under-the-radar SP prospect for a while now. I was really hoping we’d get to see him work his way to AA by now, but some soreness led to him having a delayed start to his 2021 season and only making two starts in High-A so far. I think he’s likely to finish the season with Quad Cities and start at AA next year as a 23-year old, but he’s got plenty of time. He controls the ball well and while his fastball isn’t thrown in the mid-90’s, it’s got good movement and he can get it to 93-94 on occasion. His money pitch is the breaking ball which he manipulates several different ways. He never throws the same breaking ball twice in a row. He spins it really well and it’s a legitimate weapon for him that could carry him all the way to the big leagues. If he can stay healthy and keep starting, I can see him being in the top 25 of this list next season.

#33: Drew Parrish, LHP

  • Acquired: 2019 MLB Draft (8th Round)
  • Bats/Throws: L/L
  • Age: 23
  • 2021 Stats (AA): 37 IP, 4.62 ERA, 4.29 FIP, 10.22 K/9, 2.92 BB/9

Drew Parrish has really impressed me this season. That may sound funny for a guy that’s in exactly the same spot he was in during the preseason and made an appearance on the US Olympic roster, but I didn’t think his fastball was this good. He was pumping 93 in the 7th inning of his start last week and has absolutely dominated the AA level at times. He went out and held down a good Tulsa Drillers lineup last night and shows no signs of slowing down. I’d like to see the breaking ball be a little more consistent, as we’ve seen Kris Bubic struggle at times being fastball/changeup dominant in the big leagues when you’re topping 93/94, but Parrish has a little bit to iron that out. His changeup is plenty good to carry him through the minors, and I wouldn’t even be surprised to see him get some innings in with AAA Omaha at this rate. In any case, Parrish’s 2021 season continues to be an overwhelming positive for the system.

#32: Emmanuel Rivera, 3B

  • Acquired: 2015 MLB Draft (19th Round)
  • Bats/Throws: R/R
  • Age: 25
  • 2021 Stats (AAA): 193 PA, .287/.337/.593/.930, 14 HR, 26 XBH, 44 K : 12 BB, 139 wRC+

Emmanuel Rivera finally did it. He finally started tapping into some of his raw power this season in Omaha. He almost fell off of our list entirely this preseason because he just didn’t hit for any kind of meaningful power at AA in 2019. I still don’t think he’s likely to stick as an impactful member of an every day lineup in the big leagues, but I’m at least of the opinion now that there is some kind of role for him as a platoon corner infielder. His hit tool has always been plus, he’s finally hitting with enough thump for it to matter, and he’s good enough around the bag at 3B that he won’t be an overwhelming negative. I’m not entirely sure he’ll have a spot on the field if Mondesi and Witt Jr. are ever healthy at the same time, but again, I think he’s a serviceable bench bat and platoon type at this point, which is more than enough to earn this spot on the rankings.

#31: Rylan Kaufman, LHP

  • Acquired: 2018 MLB Draft (12th Round)
  • Bats/Throws: L/L
  • Age: 22
  • 2021 Stats (A-): 49.2 IP, 4.71 ERA, 4.67 FIP, 9.79 K/9, 3.26 BB/9

After what was a disastrous first start coming off of the missed COVID year earlier this spring (an outing where Kaufman gave up 8 ER and did not record an out), Kaufman has thrown 49.2 IP with an ERA of 3.26 since May 14th. That would be the 18th best ERA in all of Low-A among pitchers 22 or younger with at least 40 IP this season. Kaufman has run his fastball up as high as 97 mph this season, and he consistently spins his breaking ball with over 3,000 RPMs. You just can’t teach that kind of raw ability. I’m not entirely sure how many innings the Royals will want him to throw this season, given he’s thrown a whopping total of 15 professional innings in two seasons before 2021, but he has been fantastic so far. I imagine he’ll be shut down in Low-A sometime soon and start next year as a 22-year old in High-A (in what will technically be his age-23 season) with a chance to move to AA around the All-Star Break. Pray this kid stays healthy, because if he does, he has a chance to be the best teenage pitcher the Royals have developed in a long time. He’ll be much higher on this list this time next year if he proves he can continue this success through the upper levels of MiLB. Kaufman is what the Royals ought to pray Frank Mozzicato looks like in 4 years (97 mph fastball from the left side with a ++ breaking ball).

Photo of Rylan Kaufman: Nicole Seitz (@NicoleCPhotos)

6 thoughts on “RFR’s 2021 Mid-Season Royals Prospect Rankings: 31-35

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