Kansas City Royals' Top 10 Prospects for 2014

Adam WellsFeatured ColumnistJanuary 8, 2014

Kansas City Royals' Top 10 Prospects for 2014

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    Ed Zurga/Getty Images

    It's taken longer than expected, but the Kansas City Royals are finally starting to show that promise their loaded farm system had a few years ago.

    The Royals won 86 games in 2013, their first season over .500 since 2003 and most wins since 1989. They traded star prospect Wil Myers to Tampa Bay for James Shields, who led the league with 228.2 innings pitched and provided stability at the top of a volatile rotation.

    Eric Hosmer got off to another slow start, but he really turned things on in the second half with a .323/.379/.473 slash line. Catcher Salvador Perez made the All-Star team and won a Gold Glove. 

    The young, dominating bullpen was comprised largely of homegrown talent (Greg Holland, Luke Hochevar, Aaron Crow). Yordano Ventura, their 22-year-old right-hander, dazzled after a late-season promotion.

    Even more impressive about the Royals heading into 2014 is there's a lot more high-upside talent coming. It's not all going to arrive this season, but the system could take big steps forward thanks to young guys in the lower levels.

    A third-place team in 2013, the Royals are poised to take more leaps forward next season thanks to the arrival of Ventura and potential debut of Kyle Zimmer. The future is getting brighter in Kansas City. 

    Here are the top 10 prospects for the Kansas City Royals heading into the 2014 season.

    Note: All stats courtesy of MiLB.com unless otherwise noted. All scouting reports/rankings are based on personal evaluations and opinions.

No. 10 Orlando Calixte, SS

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    Position: SS

    DOB: 02/03/1992 (Age: 21)

    Height/Weight: 5'11", 160 pounds

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Signed: August 2010 (Dominican Republic)

    ETA: 2015

     

    2013 Stats

     

    Scouting Report

    Toolsy shortstop prospect whose performance is starting to catch up; immature approach at the plate limits hit tool; good bat speed and more power than size would suggest; lacks recognition of off-speed stuff. 

    Best tool is arm strength; will play at shortstop; footwork and range up the middle are questionable; has feel for position, but needs to improve reactions; bat won't project well at third base; average runner. 

    Still young for Double-A at age 22; walk rate slowly increasing; cutting down swings and misses will determine ultimate future; underrated upside.

    Ceiling: First-division regular

    Risk: Moderate

    Video via Steve Fiorindo, Bullpen Banter

No. 9 Christian Binford, RHP

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    Position: RHP

    DOB: 12/20/1992 (Age: 21)

    Height/Weight: 6'6", 217 pounds

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted: 30th round, 2011 (Mercersburg Academy HS, PA)

    ETA: 2016

     

    2013 Stats

     

    Scouting Report

    Difficult prospect to measure; at peak, has projection of solid mid-rotation starter; stuff lacks consistency; fastball velocity can play plus from right side; finding quality second pitch will determine ultimate role.

    Giving high ranking after solid full-season debut with Lexington; lacks arm speed to maintain velocity; gets good plane on fastball from lanky frame; works from high 3/4 angle; more thrower than pitcher at present; solid present control with average command projection.

     

    Ceiling: No. 3 starter

    Risk: Extreme

    Video via KCScoliny

No. 8 Hunter Dozier, SS

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    Position: SS

    DOB: 08/22/1991 (Age: 22)

    Height/Weight: 6'4", 220 pounds

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted: First round, 2013 (Stephen F Austin)

    ETA: 2016

     

    2013 Stats

     

    Scouting Report

    2013 draftee performed exactly as you would expect college junior in Rookie League; big, athletic body; plays shortstop now, but no chance to stick at position in MLB; well below-average speed; limited range; average arm strength; glove should translate at third base; footwork is decent; decent lateral movement.

    Bat is carrying tool; solid bat speed; average power potential; top-heavy swing; quick to the ball; little load limits power ceiling; must extend arms to drive ball; solid feel for hitting; will get eaten up by velocity on the hands; pieces fit to be quality starter; needs refinement and experience against quality competition.

     

    Ceiling: First-division regular

    Risk: High

    Video via David Lee

No. 7 Jorge Bonifacio, OF

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    Position: OF

    DOB: 06/04/1993 (Age: 20)

    Height/Weight: 6'1", 192 pounds

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Signed: December 2009 (Dominican Republic)

    ETA: 2015

     

    2013 Stats

     

    Scouting Report

    Young, athletic, projectable outfielder hitting stride in advanced levels; still growing into power; wide base, little load allows quick path to ball; line-drive stroke; approach and patience continue to improve.

    Plus bat speed; quick wrists and great extension through the zone; projects to hit for average and power; arm strength is plus tool; accuracy continues to improve; fringe-average running speed; limited range in right field; reads and routes improving; arm profiles well in right field; will add more pop as frame fills out.

     

    Ceiling: First-division regular

    Risk: Moderate

No. 6 Sean Manaea, LHP

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    Position: LHP

    DOB: 02/01/1992 (Age: 21)

    Height/Weight: 6'5", 235 pounds

    Bats/Throws: L/L

    Drafted: First round, 2013 (Indiana State)

    ETA: 2016

     

    2013 Stats

     

    Scouting Report

    Top-10 talent fell in draft due to injuries and dips in velocity; if stuff returns to Cape League level, ceiling is enormous; fastball has touched 98 from left side; slider is plus pitch; sharp tilt and late bite; slings ball from 3/4 angle instead of staying on top; limited command profile.

    Outstanding size and strength from left side; big lower half and excellent arm speed generate premium velocity; changeup has above-average potential; tries to throw too often instead of pitch; could end up pitching in relief.

     

    Ceiling: No. 2 starter

    Risk: Extreme

    Video via Perfect Game Baseball

No. 5 Bubba Starling, OF

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    Position: OF

    DOB: 08/03/1992 (Age: 21)

    Height/Weight: 6'4", 180 pounds

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted: First round, 2011 (Gardner-Edgerton HS, NE)

    ETA: 2016

     

    2013 Stats

     

    Scouting Report

    Talented but raw first-round pick, Starling finally took steps forward in 2013; still more tools than performance; quickly getting old for current assignments; ceiling has fallen considerably in last two years.

    Plus raw power doesn't play up in games due to poor hit tool; lacks ability to recognize pitches; still chases too many balls out of zone; struggles to catch velocity; long swing mechanics prevent consistent contact.

    Still possesses premium athleticism; plus arm strength and speed fit center field profile; reads and instincts in field continue to improve; still a work-in progress; likely won't be ready until 2016.

     

    Ceiling: First-division regular

    Risk: High

No. 4 Raul Mondesi, SS

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    Position: SS

    DOB: 07/27/1995 (Age: 18)

    Height/Weight: 6'1", 165 pounds

    Bats/Throws: S/R

    Signed: July 2011 (California)

    ETA: 2017

     

    2013 Stats

     

    Scouting Report

    Raw shortstop prospect impressed in full-season debut; showed very good offensive skills; still refining approach; contact an issue, but will improve with experience; open stance from right side allows him to catch up to velocity on inner half; struggles against stuff on outer half; very quiet swing from left side. 

    Still owns a ton of physical projection; 165-pound frame will fill out, bringing even more power; projects to have average pop; advanced hit tool; plus speed and arm strength; range for days at shortstop; highest ceiling of any position player in system, but years away from MLB.

     

    Ceiling: First-division regular; All-Star potential

    Risk: High

No. 3 Miguel Almonte, RHP

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    Position: RHP

    DOB: 04/04/1993 (Age: 20)

    Height/Weight: 6'2", 180 pounds

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Signed: November 2010 (Dominican Republic)

    ETA: 2016

     

    2013 Stats

     

    Scouting Report

    Present stuff and projection give Almonte huge helium in system stacked with intriguing arms; already filling out lanky frame; epitome of loose, easy arm action; quiet mechanics; arm speed is electric; showed three dominating pitches in 2013.

    Fastball is best pitch; sits in low 90s and more to come; ball jumps out of his hand; hides ball well, preventing hitters from getting good look; changeup has plus potential; holds deep in hand and generates great arm speed; can get too straight at times, but features tremendous fade at peak; breaking ball lacks consistency and feel; has shape and snap to be average offering; excellent control for young pitcher.

     

    Ceiling: No. 2 starter

    Risk: High

No. 2 Kyle Zimmer, RHP

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    Position: RHP

    DOB: 09/13/1991 (Age: 22)

    Height/Weight: 6'3", 215 pounds

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted: First round, 2012 (San Francisco)

    ETA: 2015

     

    2013 Stats 

     

    Scouting Report

    Slow start to 2013 left questions, but Zimmer rebounded with a strong second half to quell some doubts; arsenal is top-notch; fastball has premium velocity; routinely touches 98-99, will sit in mid 90s; pitch can be too straight and easy to see out of his hand.

    Best weapon is hammer curveball; features 12-6 break with tight snap; going to generate swings and misses; developing feel for average changeup; tremendous athlete who repeats delivery well; more control than command right now.

    Keeping ball out of hitter's eye longer will be critical; most likely Royals pitcher to reach full ceiling; must learn to place ball instead of trying to blow hitters away.

     

    Ceiling: No. 2 starter

    Risk: Moderate

    Video via Northeast Baseball Prospects

No. 1 Yordano Ventura, RHP

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    Position: RHP

    DOB: 06/03/1991 (Age: 22)

    Height/Weight: 5'11", 180 pounds

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Signed: October 2008 (Dominican Republic)

    ETA: 2014

     

    2013 Stats

     

    Scouting Report

    One of the best fastballs in baseball; routinely touches triple digits, though may have to pull back as a starter; fantastic arm speed and action generates a lot of movement on plus-plus heater; curveball has improved greatly; excellent downward movement and velocity.

    Throws changeup but lacks comfort with pitch; will look like above-average offering at times; feel must improve to be usable third offering; small stature causes concerns about ultimate role; doesn't generate plane on fastball; inability to get on top of ball may cause homer problems.

    Still more thrower than pitcher; has stuff to be dominant two-pitch reliever; could turn into top-of-the-rotation starter with quality third pitch and improved command; repeats delivery well; one of the most exciting arms in baseball.

     

    Ceiling: No. 2 starter; All-Star potential

    Risk: Low

    Video via MLB Advanced Media

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