As the 2013 season enters its final quarter, it's time for an update on the development of the five best prospects in the Kansas City Royals organization.
According to the Royals' website, the top five prospects for the club are pitchers Kyle Zimmer and Yordano Ventura, outfielders Bubba Starling and Jorge Bonifacio and, finally, shortstop Adalberto Mondesi.
One former prospect for the Royals that has succeeded this year is outfielder David Lough, who's hitting .286 with 29 RBI and 37 runs scored as a rookie.
With that, here's a look at how Kansas City's best prospects are developing.
According to Baseball America, Zimmer has come alive since late June after a rough start to his season. In Zimmer's first 12 starts for Class-A Wilmington this year, his ERA was 6.32.
However, since his promotion to Double-A Northwest Arkansas, Zimmer has been red-hot. Through three starts, Zimmer is 2-1 with a 2.16 ERA and 27 strikeouts.
Here's what Baseball America has to say about why he was able to turn his season around:
"Zimmer’s stuff never really dropped off, but he was opening up his front side too early. His fastball too often would run back over the plate, and his slider flattened out. Since making adjustments and working on improving his delivery from the stretch (Carolina League batters put up an .889 OPS with runners on), Zimmer has fixed many of the flaws that were leading to big innings. His summertime improvement has him back on track to be considered for a September call-up if the Royals need him."
Ventura is cruising along in the minors this season.
He started the year with Double-A Northwest Arkansas. There, he made 11 starts and went 3-2 with a 2.34 ERA.
Then on June 3, the Royals announced on Twitter that they moved Ventura up to Triple-A Omaha. Since then, he's made another 10 starts and is 4-3 with a 3.62 ERA. Ventura was also a member of the World team in the MLB Futures Game, part of the All-Star festivities.
According to the team's website, this prospect could be ready for the majors in 2014.
While Starling is still rated as a top-five prospect for the club, he's struggled a bit this season in Class-A Lexington.
Having just turned 21 on August 3, the youngster is going through growing pains. In 108 games he's hitting just .235 with 55 RBI. He has 10 home runs as well.
Per a report by Pete Grathoff of The Kansas City Star, Royals assistant general manager for scouting and player development J.J. Picollo is still confident in Starling's ability to develop.
“There are a lot of things that we need Bubba to do, but overall he’s still a very, very good athlete who is trying to figure out how to use his tools to become a very, very good baseball player,” Picollo said. “The tools are just off-the-chart type tools. He’s a plus-runner, he’s got plus-power, he’s a plus-defender, he’s got a plus-arm. So all the tools are there. Now it’s just a matter of at-bats and allowing his athleticism to play on the baseball field. It’s what’s going to take some time.”
Shortstop Adalberto Mondesi is having a great year in Class-A Lexington. He's batting .272 with 45 RBI.
He's also scored 56 runs this season.
The son of former Atlanta Braves outfielder Raul Mondesi, the shortstop is just 19 years old, but is still killing it in the minors.
He's estimated to be ready for the majors by 2016, according to the team's website.
The younger brother of Toronto Blue Jays second baseman Emilio Bonifacio, outfielder Jorge Bonifacio just recently climbed the ladder to Double-A Northwest Arkansas on July 29, per a report by the Associated Press.
This prospect started in rookie ball this season, but has advanced two levels. He batted .300 in rookie ball, .296 at Class-A Wilmington and now is hitting .286 through 13 games at Northwest Arkansas.
He should be ready for the majors by 2015. But if his rapid 2013 progress is a sign of anything, we may see Bonifacio's name even sooner in Kansas City.