Ranking the Top 10 Prospects in the Kansas City Royals' Farm System

Mike Rosenbaum@GoldenSombreroMLB Prospects Lead WriterDecember 28, 2012

Ranking the Top 10 Prospects in the Kansas City Royals' Farm System

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    The Kansas City Royals’ farm system has served as a pipeline to the major leagues in recent years, producing former top prospects such as Mike Moustakas, Eric Hosmer, Salvador Perez and Danny Duffy, as well as a slew of late-inning arms.

    It seemed as though the organization would once again boast a top-10 farm system headed into the 2013 season, but after trading three of their top-10 prospects—including their top offensive (Wil Myers) and pitching (Jake Odorizzi) prospects—to the Tampa Bay Rays in exchange for James Shields and Wade Davis, it’s a shell of what it was a few years ago.

    In the wake of their deal with the Rays, the Royals’ prospect pool is now highlighted by a host of young, inexperienced players who are still years away from reaching the major leagues. A majority of their top prospects will open the 2013 season at either High-A Wilmington or Double-A Northwest Arkansas, where they each will presumably be tested.

    Most of the team’s success in developing prospects has been the result of strong drafts, especially in 2009 and 2010. And although both Kyle Zimmer (2012) and Bubba Starling (2011) represent their top prospects, the Royals also have quietly assembled an impressive crop of raw, international talent.

    Here’s a look at the Kansas City Royals’ top 10 prospects headed into the 2013 season.

10. C Cameron Gallagher

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    Position: C

    DOB: 12/6/1992 (Age: 20)

    Height/Weight: 6’3”, 210

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted/Signed: 2nd round, 2011 (Manheim Township HS, Penn.)

    ETA: 2016

    2012 Stats

    Scouting Notes: Large, physical catcher at 6’3”, 210 pounds; struggled in pro debut last season, batting .157/.227/.213 in 28 games; battled injuries all season which limited him to only 36 games in the rookie-level Appalachian League; much stronger performance at the plate, batting .276/.331/.425 with 13 extra-base hits; missed time with a hand and shoulder injury; compact swing results in loud contact; potential for above-average hit tool; lacks bat speed but still drives through the ball with authority; more power to the pull side; advanced plate discipline considering his age and amount of experience.

    Appeared in only 30 games behind the plate last season; larger frame and lack of clear path to the major leagues may ultimately move him off the position; above-average receiver; blocking lacks consistency and needs improvement; lauded for game-calling and ability to slow down the game; above-average arm strength limits the running game, but he needs to streamline his throws with consistency.

    2013 Opening Day Level: Low-A Lexington

9. RHP Jason Adam

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    Position: RHP

    DOB: 8/4/1991 (Age: 21)

    Height/Weight: 6’4”, 219

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted/Signed: 5th round, 2010 (Blue Valley Northwest HS, Kan.)

    ETA: 2014

    2012 Stats

    Scouting Notes: Right-hander is physically mature at 6’4”, 219 pounds, but still has room left to fill out; didn’t make professional debut until 2011, in which he registered a 4.23 ERA in 104 innings; mechanics were simplified upon turning pro which detracted from his velocity; led to improved command is sophomore campaign; utilized a more active delivery as an amateur.

    Fastball was touching high-90s in instructs in 2010, though he typically sat in the 90-94 mph range last season; pitch isn’t explosive with new, refined mechanics; shows ability to command it to both sides of the plate; locates curveball with consistency, though it’s a dead pitch at the moment; pace can be too slow and pace too loopy; changeup is undeveloped and flashes average potential; don’t be surprised if he struggles in 2013 at Double-A.

    2013 Opening Day Level: Double-A Northwest Arkansas

8. 3B Cheslor Cuthbert

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    Position: 3B

    DOB: 11/16/1992 (Age: 20)

    Height/Weight: 6’1”, 190

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted/Signed: July, 2009 (Nicaragua)

    ETA: 2015

    2012 Stats

    Scouting Notes: Cuthbert was signed out of Nicaragua in 2009 for $1.35 million; posted a .742 OPS in full-season debut in 2011 as an 18-year-old; struggled at High-A Wilmington this past season as the youngest everyday player in the Carolina League; batted .240/.296/.322 in 124 games; present strength at 6’1”, 190 pounds; plus raw power; uses entire field; pitch recognition is poor; chases too many breaking balls out of the zone; solid bat-to-ball ability.

    Moves well at the hot corner despite thick lower half; should be able to remain at the position even if he fills out unfavorably; gets to more balls than expected; clean footwork despite lack of speed; good instincts; plus arm; will likely open 2013 back at High-A but should graduate to Double-A as a 20-year-old.

    2013 Opening Day Level: High-A Wilmington

7. SS Orlando Calixte

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    Position: SS

    DOB: 2/3/1992 (Age: 20)

    Height/Weight: 5’11”, 160

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted/Signed: Aug., 2010 (Dominican Republic)

    ETA: 2016

    2012 Stats

    Scouting Notes: Highly athletic shortstop with an array of tools and steadily developing baseball skills; was overmatched last season as a 19-year-old at Low-A Kane County; repeated the level to open the 2012 season and batted .241/.303/.465 with 27 extra-base hits in 62 games; received aggressive mid-season promotion to High-A Wilmington and exceeded expectations; batted .281/.326/.426 with 65 strikeouts in 63 games; showcases plus bat speed; pull-oriented approach is problematic; swing can get too long; swings at everything and makes too much weak contact due to bat-to-ball skills; moves well on the basepaths but isn’t a basestealer.

    Inconsistent and frustrating defender; natural ability is there but his skills are raw; has the range to remain at the position; seems to lose focus on routine plays and abandons fundamentals; error total should come down with experience; strong arm; fails to consistently generate momentum towards target which results in inaccurate throws.

    2013 Opening Day Level: High-A Wilmington

6. LHP Sam Selman

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    Position: LHP

    DOB: 11/14/1990 (Age: 22)

    Height/Weight: 6’3”, 165

    Bats/Throws: R/L

    Drafted/Signed: 2nd round, 2012 (Vanderbilt)

    ETA: 2014

    2012 Stats

    Scouting Notes: Raw college arm with minimal experience; untapped potential; had serious helium headed into the draft; dominated in professional debut in the Pioneer League, registering a 2.09 ERA and leading the league with 89 strikeouts in 60.1 innings; control and command will be challenged against more advanced hitters; arm gets stiff on the backside; has to work for consistent release point; not conducive to commanding secondary offerings.

    Fastball has steadily gained velocity and now sits 91-96 mph; can reach back for a few more ticks when needed; throws it with weight and induces a favorable amount of groundouts; slider is a second plus pitch with late, diving break, though his command is fringy; swing-and-miss offering; changeup is present but nothing special; will need it to be at least average for success at higher levels; still has a high ceiling as a reliever if third pitch doesn’t develop; seems like a pitcher who needs to be challenged next season.

    2013 Opening Day Level: High-A Wilmington

5. OF Jorge Bonifacio

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    Position: OF

    DOB: 6/4/1993 (Age: 19)

    Height/Weight: 6’1”, 192

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted/Signed: Dec., 2009 (Dominican Republic)

    ETA: 2015

    2012 Stats

    Scouting Notes: Younger brother of Emilio; physically mature at 6’1”, 192 pounds; played entire 2012 season as a 19-year-old at Low-A Kane County; batted .282/.336/.432 with 36 extra-base hits (10 home runs) and 84/30 K/BB in 105 games; struggled during second-half of the season; was limited over final two months of the season due to a wrist injury.

    After the Wil Myers trade, Bonifacio is now, arguably, the top hitter in the system; above-average bat speed; laces the ball to all fields with quick wrists and a line-drive stroke; potential for above-average hit tool; adept to tracking the ball deep and driving it the other way; slightly above-average power potential; power frequency should improve as he becomes more comfortable turning on the ball; will arm bar on occasion and drag bat head through the zone; highly advanced approach for his age.

    Average runner with similar range in right field; will likely lose a step as he matures but shouldn’t be forced off the position; above-average arm strength ideal for right field; reads are still raw but should improve with additional experience; a strong season could have him in Double-A before the end of the year.

    2013 Opening Day Level: High-A Wilmington

4. SS Adalberto Mondesi

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    Position: SS

    DOB: 7/27/1995 (Age: 17)

    Height/Weight: 6’1”, 165

    Bats/Throws: S/R

    Drafted/Signed: July, 2011 (Dominican Republic)

    ETA: 2016

    2012 Stats

    Scouting Notes: Son of former big-leaguer Raul Mondesi, Adalberto signed in the summer of 2011 for $2 million; spent 2012 season in the rookie-level Pioneer League, half of it as a 16-year-old; projectable 6’1”, 165-pound frame leaves room to add strength; switch hitter who’s understandably raw from both sides of the plate; approach is advanced for his age and gives him a chance for an average-to-above-average overall hit tool; above-average bat speed; hard to get a read on his power potential at the moment; shows in-game gap power and has above-average speed to be consistent extra-base threat.

    Mondesi is raw at shortstop, but has the athleticism and defensive skills to stick at the position; intuitive player with an instinctual first step; excellent glove; slick transfer and quick release; needs to improve his body control; plus range led to high error total this past season, though it’s nothing concerning; plus arm should only get stronger.

    2013 Opening Day Level: Low-A Lexington

3. RHP Yordano Ventura

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    Position: RHP

    DOB: 6/3/1991 (Age: 21)

    Height/Weight: 5’11”, 140

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted/Signed: Oct., 2008 (Dominican Republic)

    ETA: 2014

    2012 Stats

    Scouting Notes: Right-hander has wiry frame at 5’11”, 140 pounds with room to add strength, clearly; registered a 3.30 ERA with 98/28 K/BB in 76.1 innings last season for High-A Wilmington; started for the World Team in the XM Futures Game; received mid-season promotion to Double-A NW Arkansas where he posted a 4.60 ERA over six starts.

    Ventura has a lightning-quick arm that pumps fastballs in the mid-to-high-90s; capable of reaching triple-digits earlier in starts and in shorter stints; curveball has the makings of a second plus pitch with sharp downer break; comfortable throwing it in any count; legitimate out pitch but still needs refinement; changeup is fringy but could be a weapon if it develops as hoped; potential to be highly effective considering his arm speed; both command and control are raw; doesn’t always show a consistent feel for arsenal; development of changeup will dictate whether he remains a starter or is fast-tracked as a reliever.

    2013 Opening Day Level: Double-A Northwest Arkansas

2. OF Bubba Starling

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    Position: OF

    DOB: 8/3/1992 (Age: 20)

    Height/Weight: 6’4”, 180

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted/Signed: 1st round, 2011 (Gardner-Edgerton HS, Kan.)

    ETA: 2016

    2012 Stats

    Scouting Notes: Legitimate center field prospect with present plus defense and arm strength as well as above-average range; premium athlete at 6’4”, 180 pounds who receives above-average-to-plus grades for his speed; no reason to believe he won’t remain at the position.

    Batted .275/.371/.485 with 20 extra-base hits and 70 strikeouts in 53 games in Appalachian League; painfully raw from an offensive standpoint; right-handed hitter boasts above-average raw power to all fields with slightly more to his pull side; concerning amount of swing-and-miss in his game (70 strikeouts in 200 at-bats) with an inability to make in-game adjustments; has a tendency to arm-bar which leads to a long swing; bat head travels through the zone on same plane regardless of pitch location; lacks bat-to-ball ability which impedes overall projection of hit tool; more experience will hopefully improve his pitch recognition.

    2013 Opening Day Level: Low-A Lexington

1. RHP Kyle Zimmer

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    Position: RHP

    DOB: 9/13/1991 (Age: 21)

    Height/Weight: 6’3”, 215

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted/Signed: 1st round, 2012 (San Francisco)

    ETA: 2014

    2012 Stats

    Scouting Notes: After the Royals selected Zimmer with the fifth-overall pick in the 2012 draft, the 6’3” right-hander reached Low-A Kane County in his professional debut; registered a 2.03 ERA with 42/8 K/BB in 40 innings across two levels; had surgery following the season to remove bone chips in his elbow; clean, repeatable mechanics; fluid arm action; lack of mileage after moving to the mound as a college sophomore.

    Zimmer’s fastball sits in the low-to-mid-90s with late life; jumps out of his hand thanks to quick arm; can reach back for 96-98 mph at times; curveball projects to be a second plus pitch with sharp downer break; also throws an average slider with tight rotation; changeup has come along nicely and gives him a deep, four-pitch mix; after trading their previous top pitching prospect, Jake Odorizzi, the Royals could fast-track Zimmer this season as long as his elbow is healthy.

    2013 Opening Day Level: High-A Wilmington/Double-A Northwest Arkansas