Josh’s Top 50 Royals prospects:
- Gavin Cross, OF, 21, A
- Drew Waters, OF, 23, AAA
- Nick Loftin, UTIL, 23, AAA
- Maikel Garcia, SS, 22, AAA
- Ben Kudrna, RHP, 19, A
- Asa Lacy, LHP, 23, AA
- Jonathan Bowlan, RHP, 25, AAA
- Tyler Gentry, OF, 23, AA
- Alec Marsh, RHP, 24, AA
- Angel Zerpa, LHP, 22, MLB
- Carter Jensen, C, 19, A+
- Nate Eaton, UTIL, 25, MLB
- Cayden Wallace, 3B, 20, Rookie
- Frank Mozzicato, LHP, 19, A
- Tucker Bradley, COF, 24, AA
- Brennon McNair, SS, 19, Rookie
- Noah Cameron, LHP, 22, A+
- Diego Hernandez, OF, 21, A+
- TJ Sikkema, LHP, 24, AA
- Junior Marin, OF, 18, Rookie
- River Town, OF, 22, A+
- Beck Way, RHP, 22, A+
- Maximo Castillo, RHP, 23, MLB
- Darryl Collins, OF, 20, A
- Luca Tresh, C, 22, AA
- Peyton Wilson, 2B, 22, A+
- Brewer Hicklen, OF, 26, AAA
- Drew Parrish, LHP, 24, AAA
- Andrew Hoffman, RHP, 22, A+
- Erick Pena, OF, 19, A
- Adrian Alcantara, RHP, 22, A+
- Seuly Matias, OF, 23, AA
- Samad Taylor, UTIL, 24, AA
- Kale Emshoff, C, 24, A+
- Ben Hernandez, RHP, 20, A
- Shane Panzini, RHP, 20, A
- Will Klein, RHP (RP), 22, AA
- Anthony Veneziano, LHP, 24, AA
- Herard Gonzalez, MIF, 21, A+
- Chandler Champlain, RHP, 23, A
- Anderson Paulino, RHP, 23, A+
- John Rave, OF, 24, AAA
- Emilio Marquez, LHP (RP), 24, AAA
- Logan Porter, C/1B, 26, AAA
- Dillan Shrum, 1B, 24, A+
- Morgan McCullough, SS, 24, AA
- Robbie Glendinning, 1B, 26, AA
- Ivan Castillo, SS, 27, AAA
- Nate Webb, RHP (RP), 24, AA
- Austin Cox, LHP, 25, AAA
Alright so let’s start with a preface. I was one of the first ones to submit their rankings to Alex. Did I leave out/forget about some guys? Yes (apologies to Austin Charles). Should I probably be higher on some guys. Again, yes. (Apologies to Cayden Wallace). This is really hard, you guys.
Next, a bit about my thought process as I made my rankings. First, I looked at their current production over the last couple years, sample size permitting. Then I looked at age relative to level to contextualize that production a bit. Then I thought about the previous scouting reports from prestigious sites such as Royals Farm Report (be sure to subscribe to podcast and the new substack) to see what other people (read: smarter people) thought about these guys in the past, especially the red flags that might keep these guys from reaching their potential. Finally, I thought about those red flags and (subjectively) weighed them against their potential ceiling. To me, a higher floor isn’t nearly as exciting as a higher ceiling, but a guy’s high ceiling won’t matter if there’s no way he gets there (Please get there, Erick Pena).
With all this in mind, my rankings look a bit different than the site’s aggregate rankings. Everyone has their own process (mine is the only correct one, mind you, obvs) so that’ll produce differing rankings and in the end, an aggregate ranking is the right way to go for things like this. So I wanted to take a look at who I might be higher/lower on guys compared to the agg. rankings and give my reasons. And if I don’t have a reason, I’ll blame Cal Eldred or something.
Cayden Wallace (RFR Rank: 6, My Rank: 13)
This one isn’t the biggest difference, but it’s the one with the biggest difference regarding the Top 10. The Royals drafted Wallace #49 overall in the 2022 Draft. Leading into the draft and our coverage of it, I was begging for the org to go after a cornerstone third baseman with big-to-decent upside either in the draft or at the deadline; so I should be high on Wallace, right? Well kind of. From what I saw, it seemed like Wallace profiled as an average bat profile. Not as much power one could want from a corner infielder. Solid hit for average but nothing out of this world. Big arm, which is nice. But he just didn’t seem like what I was wanting. Maybe I see his profile and only think of Cheslor Cuthbert/Kelvin Gutierrez/Emmanuel Rivera and it’s influencing my view of him. From what everyone else seems to think of him, that’s wrong, and I’ll happily be wrong about him. He’s currently sporting a .929 OPS in 3 games of Rookie ball, so it’s looking good so far.
David Sandlin (RFR Rank: 28, My Rank: Not Ranked)
Now we’re getting to the juicy stuff, amirite?!? Marcus did a great writeup of Sandlin where he profiled the good and the bad. And my takeaway from that was, in a word, inconsistency. That isn’t different from guys in the minors, that’s why they’re there. The difference comes in velocity and control. If you have one but not the other, you could still do something. But if you’re inconsistent with both, that’s an issue. Sandlin has a great slider and a really good curve and both show spin rates that can compare to current major leaguers pretty well, which is promising. But the fastball velocity ranges from 90-96 and doesn’t have much life. If your fastball doesn’t play, your ceiling starts to close in on you like you’re Luke Skywalker in a trash compactor. If his ceiling becomes a breaking-ball heavy reliever as MLB Pipeline suggests it could, that will definitely have value to the Royals, but not value that’s going to get you high on my rankings.
Nate Webb (RFR Rank: 27, My Rank: 49)
Speaking of a reliever with great stuff but no control, what a great segue into Webb. Webb throws fire and has a wipeout slider. Those 2 pitches were close to ready to miss major league bats coming into the season. We, as a site, had big expectations of Webb, placing him on a pedestal with the likes of Staumont, Coleman, and Will Klein as guys with elite velo and a great secondary. And that was based off his domination of A+ batters in 2021 where he struck out 35.1% of the batters he faced and only walking 6.9% of guys. His addition to the 40 man roster in November also helped. This season he’s battled an injury and it’ll take reps to get back to banging on all cylinders, but in 11.1IP in AA, he’s still walking guys, and opponents are hitting .424 against him, and he’s not striking guys out anymore; just a 17.6% K rate. If he’s lost something permanently to the injury while still not correcting things he struggled with prior, he won’t find himself on these rankings for much longer. He can most definitely come out of it, recapture nightmare status, and chalk this season up to injury-plagued, but until we see that again, relievers’ ceilings just aren’t high enough to ignore flaws because the stuff is good.
Junior Marin (RFR Rank: 40, My Rank: 20)
Enough Negative Josh for a second. Let’s get to someone I’m higher than most on. Junior Marin had a MONSTER season last year in the DSL that led to him popping up on prospect site radars all over, including getting a mention as a sleeper in Keith Law’s Preseason Top 20 Royals rankings, saying if he kept hitting like he did, he could slip into the Top 100 overall. And guess what; he is still hitting like he did (kind of). He’s striking out more (17.1% to 28.4%) and not walking as much (14.4% to 9.9%) but still carrying a solid .885 OPS in 81 plate appearances. He’s a 6′-2″, 240 lbs 18-year old that is currently hitting line drives 29.8% of the time and hitting to all fields. That size with that plate approach spells a high ceiling to me, even if the numbers are coming in Rookie ball.
Brennon McNair (RFR Rank: 44, My Rank: 16)
The gap between me and my RFR colleagues is even larger for McNair as it is for Marin, but the logic is a lot of the same. He’s had success relative to his age for Rookie ball. Last year in Arizona, he held a .981 OPS in a small 39 plate appearance sample size while showing the capacity to hit to all fields. This year, his sample size has increased and while his numbers are regressing (as you’d expect), they are still profiling as a power hitter. In 150 plate appearance again in Arizona, he’s carrying an .838 OPS, bolstered by a .485 SLG, striking out 30% of the time, and walking 8.7% of his appearances. He’s been primarily playing third base this season, while still getting reps at shortstop. So we’re talking about a guy with a former shortstop’s glove and a bat of a traditional third baseman. That smells like a high ceiling to me, and if he’s able to get to even a reasonable point of that height, painters will start charging him more…get it?…cuz his ceiling is higher than normal…and there’s an increase in liability…cuz of the ladders and such…forget it.
River Town (RFR Rank: 39, My Rank: 21)
For me, this one is more about floor + awesome name. He has an all around tool set instead of doing one thing exceptional. He had about 72 plate appearances in Rookie ball last year after being drafted by the Royals, where he profiled as an average level prospect. This year in Columbia though, he showed that he could be more. In 356 PA’s, he carried a 137 wRC+ that included a 14.6% BB% and 18.0% K%. All that goes along with a pace of a 15 HR-20SB season and playing all 3 outfield positions. I can see the argument as to why the other rankers aren’t super high on him. An all around tool set can easily flame out in the minors when the competition gets tougher and there is no loud tool to carry you through. As far as ranking the outfielders and putting my money on one guy over another, in Town’s case, it’s about the belief in the floor than it is about the hype around the ceiling. I’m excited to see what he’s capable of in Quad Cities.
Photo Credits: Ryan Griffith (@ryanrgriffith)