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 CF in the big leagues, ranked in order of their ability to do it on Opening Day in 2022.
#1: Kyle Isbel
I’m coming around on the idea that Isbel may need to play a lot of CF. He may not be very good at it, but he needs to develop at the big league level and I don’t know how many opportunities will exist for him in the corners. I was looking around at FanGraphs, and noticed that Chris Taylor was rated pretty terrible in CF last year, but had a 113 wRC+ and was worth 3.1 fWAR in 148 games for the Dodgers. Michael A. Taylor was the best CF in all of baseball, but he posted a wRC+ of just 77 and thus was worth just 1.9 fWAR in 142 games. Baseball Reference had the two players at 2.6 WAR and 2.5 WAR, respectively, so that’s obviously much more of a wash, but you get the idea. Even if Isbel is bad in CF, his offensive potential may actually make him more valuable than Taylor overall. He certainly needs to be playing everyday against RHP in any case.
#2: Michael A. Taylor
Regardless of whether or not Michael A. Taylor has any upside at all, he’s still probably the best defensive CF in baseball and thus should provide good value for the Royals in 2022. I don’t want to see him out there every day, but I understand why the Royals want him out there.
#3: Edward Olivares
The options for Kansas City in CF get real thin, real quick. I’m sure the Royals would run JaCoby Jones out there before Olivares, but Jones was rated horribly in CF last year too so I don’t really know what the plan is. Let’s all pray that Isbel and Taylor stay healthy.
#4: JaCoby Jones
Jones might only be able to stay neutral in terms of his WAR this year but the sheer fact that he isn’t playing AGAINST the Royals has value in some regard.
#5: Whit Merrifield
After Whit, the Royals may just cancel the season. I don’t think there’s a situation in which he’s playing CF more than literally once this year, but he has done it before.
#6: Dairon Blanco
Dude can really run and had a breakout offensive season at AA last year. I don’t know that he really has a big league future at this point, but I think he’s fast enough to provide you with SOMETHING if it got to this point.
#7: Brewer Hicklen
Hicklen figures to start the year with AAA Omaha, has won a championship at every level in the minors, and is one of the better pure athletes in the system. I ultimately think any role he’ll have in the big leagues will be a 4th outfielder type in the corners, but I think he can hold it down in smaller parks in CF if you really needed him to. Sort of similar to Kyle Isbel in that regard.
#8: Nick Loftin
The CF of the future? The Royals have him playing there this spring and while I’m a little skeptical, it’s cool to see they’re at least trying him out there.
#9: John Rave
Toolsy outfielder that’s probably the most realistic defensive option in the upper minors. Just don’t think the bat is quite there.
#10: Diego Hernandez
A guy I’m going to be watching a lot of in 2022. Can absolutely fly in the outfield and on the bases. One of the best defenders in CF in the system. Just a long ways away from the big leagues.