Comparing Royals Prospect Lists

In the past I’ve put together a spreadsheet with everyone’s preseason lists but it seems like everyone wants to put stuff behind a paywall these days so I can’t just give you all of their paid content for free, unfortunately. What I will do though is link the articles for you to read because if you’re reading this, you should probably be subscribed to these other places anyways.

For the comparison, we’ll be referencing our list, Baseball America, MLB Pipeline, and Prospects Live. God only knows when FanGraphs’ list will be out so they won’t be included even though they normally would be. Here are the links to all of the lists I’ll be referencing in this piece:

I’ll go through several prospects that either caught my eye in terms of where they were ranked, were ranked way differently than our list, or had varying rankings on the four different lists. We’ll start with the only one of the consensus top four prospects with various rankings.

Asa Lacy, LHP

  • RFR: 3
  • PL: 4
  • BA: 2
  • MLB: 4

We had Geoff Pontes and Matt Thompson on the podcast recently to discuss BA’s and PL’s respective lists, and we asked Pontes specifically about having Lacy ranked as the Royals second best prospect ahead of Pratto and Melendez. Pontes mentioned that if Lacy is a dominant back of the ‘pen reliever, it’s possible that he could be even more valuable than the average #4 or #5 starter in a rotation. He also doesn’t fully buy the struggles that Lacy had in 2021 and thinks the stuff is too good to ignore in terms of his potential moving forward. Is there plenty left to harness, sure, but Lacy has some of the best stuff in all of MiLB and should not be getting overlooked in any capacity.

Nick Loftin, UTIL

  • RFR: 5
  • PL: 10
  • BA: 12
  • MLB: 6

I find it fascinating how low Baseball America has Loftin on their list. To be fair, they still have Kowar and Isbel ranked ahead of him, two guys we took off of our list, so he’s still in their top 10 among guys who have not made their debut, but still. Loftin is a mortal lock to be an every day big leaguer in my opinion, and I am super intrigued by the Royals apparent interest to move him to CF at the AA level this spring. There is nothing that Loftin doesn’t do well, he’s got some upside left for a guy with a floor as high as his, and his positional versatility means he doesn’t have to worry about being blocked at the big league level the way guys like Vinnie Pasquantino and Michael Massey might have to. The first four guys on all of these lists are clearly the top four prospects in this system, but Loftin has as good a case as anyone to be the next guy up.

Alec Marsh, RHP

  • RFR: 9
  • PL: 5
  • BA: 11
  • MLB: 13

No surprise here, but the more analytically-inclined the list, the higher you’ll find Alec Marsh. Marsh’s raw stuff is behind only Lacy in the Royals system and despite his iffy command, he actually shows a really good feel to pitch on the mound with how he mixes his pitches and deploys them all at will. His fastball/slider combo is deadly against RHH and LHH alike and his changeup should keep him from having problems with lefties in the big leagues. The command issues combined with his injuries in 2021 are fair question marks, but Marsh’s stuff is so good that it won’t take much improvement for him to be an effective big leaguer in some capacity. Not sure what the justification is ranking a lower-level guy like Erick Pena ahead of him at the moment (MLB Pipeline).

Angel Zerpa, LHP

  • RFR: 8
  • PL: 16
  • BA: 20
  • MLB: 14

I don’t know what Baseball America is smoking but this is two years in a row I’ve been relatively unimpressed by their Royals list. In what world is a 22-year old LHP with big league innings ranked six spots behind an almost 21-year old RHP that’s never appeared in High-A (Ben Hernandez)? That is a massive oversight in my opinion and is kind of inexcusable from such a well-regarded publication. Prospects Live even has him below Shane Panzini which is…something. I definitely should’ve brought Zerpa up in our podcast last week. In any case, this kid is going to compete for a spot in the starting rotation in 2022 and it wouldn’t really shock me if he was the Royals #3 in 2023. Don’t overlook Zerpa this year in conversations about the starting rotation.

Ben Kudrna, RHP

  • RFR: 10
  • PL: 11
  • BA: 8
  • MLB: 11

The lowest that any of these sites have Kudrna ranked at the moment is 11 and somehow we’re the only ones with him above Mozzicato. After speaking with Geoff and Matt on the podcast, I feel much better about what Mozzicato might be able to provide in the future, but I still think Kudrna’s upside is tremendous. In any case, I think it’s really telling that Kudrna’s range is only three spots here. The kid is insanely talented, works his ass off, and is going to be a problem in Low-A this spring.

Frank Mozzicato, LHP

  • RFR: 11
  • PL: 7
  • BA: 7
  • MLB: 8

I really wonder if you just flipped who was drafted where and signed for what, would people still rank Mozzicato ahead of Kudrna. Hell, MLB Pipeline even gave Kudrna better grades overall and still have him behind Mozzicato. Here’s a blind profile of the two:

  • Player A: 6′ 3″ 195′ RHP, 92-95, t98, 55 slider, 55 changeup, 50 control
  • Player B: 6′ 3″ 185′ LHP, 90-93, t95, 60 curveball, 50 changeup, 50 control

It’s not a big deal. I’m not overly invested in who is ranked ahead of the other. I just think this is way more interchangeable than most are willing to admit. Probably due to draft position.

Erick Pena, OF

  • RFR: 12
  • PL: 20
  • BA: 17
  • MLB: 12

Erick Pena is an insanely gifted athlete with some of the best hands I’ve ever seen on a teenage hitter. He struggled in Arizona last summer but I don’ think he warrants a drop all the way to 20 just yet, though that’s also the nature of a more analytically-inclined site like Prospects Live. There’s a chance that Pena busts and turns into more of a Seuly Matias than a Salvador Perez, but there aren’t five prospects in this system with more pure upside than Pena either. We ought to get a much better look at the 19-year old in Low-A this summer.

Darryl Collins, OF

  • RFR: 13
  • PL: 12
  • BA: 33
  • MLB: 26

Again, I don’t know what Baseball America is smoking, but there are not 32 better prospects than Darryl Collins in this system. I even think 26 is too low but…it’s better. Y’all know by now that Collins is one of my favorite prospects in this system, so I’m biased, but the kid can flat out hit and he’s done it in full-season baseball. Daniel Vasquez is awesome, but he’s never even played in the Complex League. Noah Murdock is electric, do you trust he can start and stay healthy? We’ll see, I like all of these guys, but Collins is a top-25 prospect in this system. Full stop.

Michael Massey, 2B

  • RFR: 16
  • PL: 17
  • BA: 15
  • MLB: 24

MLB Pipeline needs to put the crack pipe down on this one. Having Peyton Wilson nine spots ahead of Massey is another example of what is most likely draft bias. I’m admittedly a little bit curious about Massey’s future, and I think it’s more likely he’s a fringe starter than future All-Star, but the kid won the MiLB Gold Glove Award at 2B last year to go with 21 HR in High-A. Seems like everyone but MLB Pipeline is about on the same page when it comes to Massey.

Drew Parrish, LHP

  • RFR: 20
  • PL: NR
  • BA: 38
  • MLB: 30

*lights crack pipe*

Alright we admittedly may be a little high on Parrish at the moment, but he doesn’t deserve to not be ranked. I’m not entirely sure what his ceiling is, but I think he’s got a better shot to start in the big leagues than a lot of the guys BA and MLB Pipeline have ranked ahead of him. I certainly don’t understand having players like Samuel Valerio and Emmanuel Rivera ranked ahead of him (BA). As a 23-year old in AA last year, Parrish struck out 95 batters while walking just 25 in 83 IP while posting an ERA of 3.36. His ERA and K/BB ranked in the top 20 of all AA starters aged 23 or younger last season. His velocity started ticking up at the end of the year and he worked with the US Olympic team at the beginning of the year. Parrish ought to find himself in the AAA Omaha rotation to begin 2022, and although he isn’t currently on the Royals 40-man roster, he may not be too far from his big league debut.

Peyton Wilson, 2B

  • RFR: 21
  • PL: 25
  • BA: 34
  • MLB: 15

15-34 might be the widest range of spots on this list outside of Darryl Collins (12-33). I kind of thought we were aggressive ranking Wilson #21 and then MLB Pipeline came in and blew us out of the water. I like Wilson a bit. I think he can move through the system pretty quickly and he does a lot of things well. He’s just not as polished as you’d want a guy with minimal power potential to be and I kind of wonder where his future is with the organization. Good player that I’ll be watching closely to see where he’ll begin 2022.

Anthony Veneziano, LHP

  • RFR: 22
  • PL: 24
  • BA: 21
  • MLB: 18

Veneziano’s rise from 10th round pick to borderline top-20 prospect in this system is almost as impressive as Vinnie Pasquantino going from 11th round pick to borderline top-100 prospect in baseball. Veneziano was a good-not-great prospect in the 2019 MLB Draft that found 7-8 mph on his fastball since joining the Royals system. He’s consistently in the mid-90’s now and touched 100 mph in a game for the first time last summer. At a minimum, Veneziano’s fastball/slider combo is going to make him a force against LHH out of a big league bullpen, while any improvements to his changeup or command moving forward make him a legitimate option to start in the big leagues one day. We’ll see how this year goes at AA, but the 6′ 5″ 25-year old appears to have a bright future ahead of him.

Carter Jensen, C

  • RFR: 26
  • PL: 13
  • BA: 16
  • MLB: 17

Apparently we Michael Massey’d Jensen here. Everyone seems to be on the same page with this kid’s upside but us. I want to be clear that I love Jensen as a prospect. If he catches all the way through the minors then he is absolutely worthy of a top-15 ranking in this system. I just wouldn’t let him. The kid is too good with the stick and you’ve got too many other good catchers in this system to let him catch for the next five year. The first sign of offensive struggle I’d have Jensen out in the field somewhere. So, our ranking is sort of a hedge against positional value and also we admittedly were probably just too conservative with a kid who hasn’t played in full-season ball yet. Look for Jensen to make a leap in our mid-season rankings with any kind of offensive success this spring.

Seuly Matias, OF

  • RFR: 25
  • PL: NR
  • BA: 31
  • MLB: NR

I understand why folks are moving off of Matias a bit. He’s shown no real signs of developing an approach and his hit tool is mostly the same as it’s been. The kid has prodigious power and a cannon for an arm, y’all know that, but it doesn’t matter if he can’t get his K% down near 30% against upper-level pitching. Maybe it never plays out. Matias probably won’t ever be a big league regular at this point. But the margin for improvement that he needs is so small that any kind of tangible changes to his approach make him an immediate impact bat in the big leagues. There were seven qualified hitters in MLB with a K% over 30% last year and they were all league average or better overall because of their power outputs. Seuly doesn’t need to do a ton to get on that level. (Adam Duvall for example doesn’t walk, strikes out a ton, but hit 38 HR and had a 103 wRC+.)

Austin Cox, LHP

  • RFR: 32
  • PL: 22
  • BA: 22
  • MLB: 19

We spent three years as the high-site on Cox and then backed off last offseason due to some concerns about his fastball velocity and the fact that the Royals didn’t see the need to protect him from the Rule 5 Draft. Granted, there wound up being no Rule 5 Draft, but Cox getting left off in favor of Collin Snider was…concerning to say the least. He looked fantastic on the mound the other day in the Spring Training game and now I’m kind of wondering if the old Cox isn’t back. His fastball sits 91-93 t95 when he’s healthy, but it’s such a deceptive delivery that it plays way up. His curveball is filthy and should give lefty hitters fits, especially if he makes a move to the bullpen at some point. I’m a fan, but I’m so curious about the Royals leaving him off the 40.


Photo Credits: Josh Franzen (@PrtTimeFranimal)

3 thoughts on “Comparing Royals Prospect Lists

  1. I am confused by what I read about Mike Massey’s defensive ability. BA refers to him as an average defender with an average arm, but he was named the Gold Glove winner for minor league baseball by MiLB.


  2. Pingback: Happy MiLB Opening Day! | Royals Farm Report

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