Welcome back. In case you missed our original rankings series, here are the links to all of our writeups for our preseason Royals top-50 prospects list:
We listed the primary position that each player usually plays during the writeups, but I wanted to go back and kind of do an organizational depth chart if you will for how the Royals system looks at each position. For this exercise I’ll include everyone in the system I think can play each position at the big league level, including players that made our preseason rankings, players who did not, and players who have already graduated. This isn’t an exact science but I’m sure you’ve come to expect that from us by now. Here’s the writeups we’ve done so far:
Here’s a list of everyone I think could play SS in the big leagues, ranked in order of their ability to do it on Opening Day in 2022.
#1: Bobby Witt, Jr.
Yes, if we were JUST talking about the shortstop position, I’d roll with Bobby Witt, Jr. over Nicky Lopez on Opening Day. It’s close, really close, but I think Witt Jr. is capable of impacting the game in more ways than Lopez despite an incredible 2021 campaign from Nicky. Witt Jr. will be the one to move to third base because you’re better off overall that way, but I’d take Witt Jr. at SS over anyone else in the organization both now and for the foreseeable future.
#2: Nicky Lopez
Probably should’ve won the Gold Glove Award last year while hitting .300 for the season. The Royals defensive infield will be second to none once Pratto arrives to the big leagues.
#3: Adalberto Mondesi
This comes with a massive caveat, because I would probably still take Mondesi over Lopez if you could guarantee me Mondesi could stay healthy. You can’t, so I won’t, but Mondesi is still crazy talented when he’s actually on the field.
#4: Ivan Castillo
The Royals signed Castillo to a minor league deal this offseason from the Padres organization. Castillo runs well, has an above average glove, and a legitimately useful hit tool, so you can see why the Royals would be interested in giving him an organizational depth role. He doesn’t hit for any present power, and he swings way too much to hope he can be a Nicky Lopez type eventually, but he’s a fine player to have in the minors in case you get a couple injuries at the big league level.
#5: Clay Dungan
Dungan played 35 games at shortstop in 2021, mostly after Bobby Witt, Jr. was promoted to AAA, and he excelled at the position. Dungan kind of falls into the Kyle Isbel category for me of “elite defender at a non-premium position, could hold it down at a premium position” and I think he could provide good defense for you at the big league level if all hell breaks loose. This would be a worst case scenario for the Royals in 2022, but Dungan is adequate and could carve out a big league utility role for himself on the infield.
#6: Maikel Garcia
Garcia is a couple years away from the big leagues, but he has the potential to be a special defender. I know the Royals added him to the 40-man roster this offseason, so you may be wondering why Dungan, a non-40 man player, would be ahead of him. I just don’t think the Royals would rush his development for any reason in 2022, similarly to why Nick Loftin is so low on these lists as well. Garcia is a special prospect that I think can do a lot of good things for you eventually, I just don’t see how it would be in 2022 for any reason.
#7: Nick Loftin
Same principle as Garcia here, I just think Garcia is the better defender at shortstop, even if Loftin might be more valuable due to his versatility.
#8: Gabriel Cancel
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