RFR’s 2022 Midseason Top-50 Royals Prospect Rankings: 10-6

Alright alright alright.

As I mentioned on our Honorable Mention list the other day, our midseason list is never as detailed as our preseason list. So, this is more of an inventory check than a full write-up like we do preseason. As always, our lists are an aggregate of several folks that vote on individual top-50 lists. Enjoy!

#10: Ben Kudrna, RHP

Kudrna has been far and away the best pitcher from the 2021 draft class thus far, posting an ERA of 2.86 through his first 13 professional starts. He’s allowed just one home run in over 50 innings and opponents are hitting just .228 off of him overall. His walks are up a little bit, and he isn’t striking out a bunch of batters the way he did early on, but he simply isn’t getting hit very hard at all and that’s at least a significant upgrade over what we’ve seen from Mozzicato and Panzini so far. Kudrna was drafted because of his projectable body, big fastball, and sharp slider, but it’s actually been his changeup that’s caught my eye more than anything so far this season. It’s a legitimate 60-grade offering and has some crazy depth and arm side run to it. He commands the ball better than his 4.65 BB/9 would suggest, I think, and I maintain that there isn’t a ceiling Kudrna can’t reach if he keeps developing like this. There aren’t many teenagers who have this kind of success in full-season ball as a teenager, and Kudrna fits the bill of what a future top-100 prospect would look like.

#9: Alec Marsh, RHP

Ironically enough, for as much as we’ve talked about the hitting development side of things this season, four of the five players on this portion of our rankings are pitchers.

I can’t figure Alec Marsh out. There are only 19 pitchers in all of Minor League Baseball with more strikeouts than Marsh (116) this year, and only 8 of them are pitching at AA or AAA. I’ve commented on Twitter about some things that are notably wrong with Asa Lacy. Frank Mozzicato’s issues can be boiled down pretty easily to command issues. Some of these guys aren’t that hard to figure. Marsh just doesn’t make any sense to me. He has two, distinct, NASTY breaking balls. He’s got a fastball that reaches 97 mph and a changeup that’s a legitimately useful fourth pitch. Steamer’s “Rest of Season” projections on Alec Marsh thinks he’d post a 4.68 ERA if he pitched the rest of the year in the big leagues. That just…I don’t know, man. I don’t want to just say, “Well he’s been pretty unlucky,” because he misses in the fat part of the zone pretty frequently with his fastball, but man…he’s been pretty damn unlucky.

I personally believe that Alec Marsh is still capable of being a #3 in a big league rotation. There aren’t many guys with two breaking balls as good as his AND a legitimate 45 FV changeup. We’ll see if he can sort the rest of it out, but there are way more reasons to be optimistic about Marsh than pessimistic.

#8: Angel Zerpa, LHP

We normally take guys off our lists with this much big league experience, but Zerpa appears to be done for the season and I wanted y’all to know where we see him in terms of organizational standing moving forward. I LOVE Angel Zerpa. I understand there are plenty of good reasons to be skeptical about his ability to be more than a #5 starter long-term, but I’m all in. I think he can be a very good #4 type of starter in a playoff rotation. I think at his best he can be a serviceable #3 option in a playoff rotation. The kid is an absolute bulldog on the mound. He’s 22 years old with a career 1.13 ERA in 16 big league innings. He can generate whiffs, he induces a ton of weak contact, and he limits his walks. Is he ever gonna be a front of the rotation guy? Absolutely not. Is he perfectly capable of being a big league starter as soon as Opening Day in 2023? Absolutely.

#7: Cayden Wallace, 3B

Cayden Wallace is one of six Royals prospects left with legitimate top-100 potential. The Royals second round pick out of Arkansas absolutely hammers baseballs and I really think he’ll be able to hold it down at 3B long-term. He’s currently on a tear to begin his professional career and he’s supposed to be a junior at Arkansas next spring. Instead, he’ll hopefully be playing with the Royals High-A affiliate in Quad Cities where he’ll have a chance to hit his way to AA and onto top-100 lists.

#6: Jonathan Bowlan, RHP

Jonathan Bowlan was dominating AA hitters in a way we don’t see very often to begin 2021. He only made it 17 innings before he went down with a torn UCL, but that version of Jonathan Bowlan was going to get a bunch of big league innings before the year ended. He’s back and pitching again, but he’s still recovering from Tommy John Surgery and hasn’t quite looked like his old self just yet. Which is fine. This year is just about getting healthy. Bowlan will be 26 next season and ready to pitch his way into a big league rotation. If he hadn’t gotten hurt, I have a feeling we’d be talking about Bowlan in the same vein as Brady Singer and Daniel Lynch right now.

5 thoughts on “RFR’s 2022 Midseason Top-50 Royals Prospect Rankings: 10-6

  1. Pingback: Alex’s Personal Top-50 List | Royals Farm Report

  2. Pingback: RFR’s 2022 Midseason Top-50 Royals Prospect Rankings: 5-1 | Royals Farm Report

  3. Pingback: Marcus’ Personal Top-50 List | Royals Farm Report

  4. Pingback: Comparing Royals prospect lists | Royals Farm Report

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