Friday, January 21, 2011

Top 20 prospect preview

This post was written by Keith Blackburn, a guy who unquestionably knows more about the Royals farm system than I do. Keith ranks the top 20 prospects, suggests where they should begin the season, and provides a Kansas City ETA. For more of Keith's thoughts follow him on twitter (seriously, do that!).

First off I would like to thank Jeff for allowing me to post this here. Second I’d like people to know that I’m no expert, I’m just some nerd who relentless follows the Royals minor league system. That being said I’d like to go ahead and thank experts like the guys at Baseball America, Kevin Goldstein, Keith Law, Dave Sanford, Greg Schaum, and all the other guys who really know what they are doing for supplying a lot more of this specific information. All I’m doing here is checking out video, reading stats and scouting reports, seeing as many of these guys as I can, and going with my gut feeling to make this list. So without further ado, here it goes.

1. Eric Hosmer, 1B

To put it simply, Eric Hosmer might be the best hitter in the minor leagues. Hosmer put to rest almost every doubt after a very disappointing 2009 campaign. He can hit and hit for power, not to mention draw walks and strike out at a limited rate. In fact, Hosmer was just one of three minor leaguers in 2010 to have more extra base hits than strikeouts. He's athletic for his size and plays a good first base, though I'd like to see him tried in a corner outfield spot -- for flexibility in interleague games if nothing else. Though Hosmer does not have any Triple-A time yet, he's a polished player who won't need a lot more minor league seasoning.

2011: AAA Omaha Storm Chasers | ETA: Late-2011

Year Tm PA H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG
2010 2 Teams 586 176 43 9 20 86 14 59 66 .338 .406 .571
2010 Wilmington 375 115 29 6 7 51 11 44 39 .354 .429 .545
2010 Northwest Arkansas 211 61 14 3 13 35 3 15 27 .313 .365 .615
2. Wil Myers, C/RF

I would like to say Myers is the best "up the middle" talent to come through the Royals system in the last decade, but catcher probably is not his long term home. I'd like to see him stay there as long as possible, but I've seen too much conflicting information about it, so we'll assume he's a future right fielder. However, Myers' ticket is the bat. Myers has a very advanced approach at the plate, leading to a high batting average and a lot of walks. He doesn't have quite the power of Hosmer, but it's pretty good in its own right. Indications are that Myers will open the season behind the plate, but from there, who knows. Wherever he is on the diamond, we know Myers will bring his bat to the ballpark.

2011: AA Northwest Arkansas Naturals | ETA: Mid-2012

Year Tm PA H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG
2010 2 Teams 541 141 37 3 14 83 12 85 94 .315 .429 .506
2010 Burlington 294 70 19 1 10 45 10 48 55 .289 .408 .500
2010 Wilmington 247 71 18 2 4 38 2 37 39 .346 .453 .512
3. Mike Moustakas, 3B
Hosmer was one of three hitters to have more extra base hits than strikeouts, and Moustakas was the second of these three. Moustakas features excellent contact and power tools that lead to a .322 average and minor league leading 36 home runs in 2010. Though "Moose" had the most outstanding season of the three big offensive prospects, he lacks the on-base skills that the former two do. His contact skills and ability to put the ball over the wall will counter the inability to take a free pass, but it's certainly something to watch. Some see a potential move off third base, but I don't see the big fuss. He's got the first step quickness, instincts, and arm to play the position well. Moustakas should be the first of the big prospects to make it to Kansas City, and that could come quickly in 2011.

2011: AAA Omaha Storm Chasers | ETA: Mid-2011
                                                                            
                                                                                                                                                                    
Year Tm PA H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
2010 2 Teams 534 156 41 0 36 124 2 34 67 .322 .369 .630 .999
2010 Northwest Arkansas 298 90 25 0 21 76 0 26 42 .347 .413 .687 1.100
2010 Omaha 236 66 16 0 15 48 2 8 25 .293 .314 .564 .878
4. John Lamb, LHP

John Lamb was universally thought of as a potential break through candidate in 2011, but I don't think many saw this coming. After starting in Low-A to open the season, Lamb breezed through both "A ball" levels and made it to Northwest Arkansas by July, where he finally ran into a little trouble.  Lamb features a low-90's fastball, a great changeup, and a good yet inconsistent curveball. His stuff plays up thanks to very good command of his fastball. Lamb is the youngest of the pitching prospects and he has the upside to be the best of them also.

2011: AA Northwest Arkansas Naturals | ETA: Mid-2012

Year Tm W L ERA G GS SV IP BB SO WHIP BB/9 SO/9 SO/BB
2010 3 Teams 10 7 2.38 28 28 0 147.2 45 159 1.131 2.7 9.7 3.53
2010 Burlington 2 3 1.58 8 8 0 40.0 17 43 1.075 3.8 9.7 2.53
2010 Wilmington 6 3 1.45 13 13 0 74.2 15 90 0.991 1.8 10.8 6.00
2010 Northwest Arkansas 2 1 5.45 7 7 0 33.0 13 26 1.515 3.5 7.1 2.00
5. Mike Montgomery, LHP

Montgomery was the early breakout prospect of 2010, but some up-and-down performance in Double-A in addition to some elbow problems knocked him down a notch. Still, Montgomery rebounded late in the season to pitch well in the playoffs and showed strong stuff in the Arizona Fall League. Mike features a fastball that routinely is 92-96 from the left side, as well as a good changeup and ever improving traditional curveball. Though the upside here is similar to Lamb's, the command isn't quite on the same level at this point and there are the questions about health.

2011: AA Northwest Arkansas Naturals | ETA: Mid-2012

Year Tm W L ERA G GS SV IP BB SO WHIP BB/9 SO/9 SO/BB
2010 3 Teams 7 5 2.61 20 20 0 93.0 31 88 1.151 3.0 8.5 2.84
2010 Royals 0 1 1.04 3 3 0 8.2 1 7 0.808 1.0 7.3 7.00
2010 Wilmington 2 0 1.09 4 4 0 24.2 4 33 0.730 1.5 12.0 8.25
2010 Northwest Arkansas 5 4 3.47 13 13 0 59.2 26 48 1.374 3.9 7.2 1.85
6. Chris Dwyer, LHP

Yet another left hander with top of rotation type potential. Dwyer's overall numbers don't do him a whole lot of justice considering the enormous progress he made throughout the season. Dwyer ended his season by issuing four walks in less than an inning and being immediately shut down with a back injury shortly thereafter. He combines a 90-94 fastball with a very good curveball and a nice changeup. Dwyer could still use some command work, though not nearly to the extent as in the past.

2011: AA Northwest Arkansas Naturals | ETA: Late-2011

Year Tm W L ERA G GS SV IP BB SO WHIP BB/9 SO/9 SO/BB
2010 2 Teams 8 4 3.00 19 19 0 102.0 43 113 1.304 3.8 10.0 2.63
2010 Wilmington 6 3 2.99 15 15 0 84.1 33 93 1.328 3.5 9.9 2.82
2010 Northwest Arkansas 2 1 3.06 4 4 0 17.2 10 20 1.189 5.1 10.2 2.00
7. Danny Duffy, LHP

The final of the quartet of lefties is Duffy, though any order of them is defensible. After news of his "retirement" early in spring training, it would be difficult to see how his stock could rise. But, it did, and not just a little bit. Duffy saw a sharp increase in velocity with readings reaching as high as 98 at times. While reports of the absurd increase might have been a tad much, Duffy's velocity did legitimately increase, and he's now more 90-95. He mixes in a curve and changeup that flash plus. Though he is the fourth of these lefties on my list, he is the closest to the Majors and will reportedly compete for a spot on the ML roster. Omaha, though, is more likely.

2011: AAA Omaha Storm Chasers | ETA: Mid-2011

Year Tm W L ERA G GS SV IP BB SO WHIP BB/9 SO/9 SO/BB
2010 4 Teams 5 3 2.74 14 14 0 62.1 17 69 1.107 2.5 10.0 4.06
2010 Royals 0 0 3.38 2 2 0 2.2 1 4 1.125 3.4 13.5 4.00
2010 Idaho Falls 0 1 1.50 2 2 0 6.0 0 6 0.667 0.0 9.0
2010 Wilmington 0 0 2.57 3 3 0 14.0 7 18 1.071 4.5 11.6 2.57
2010 Northwest Arkansas 5 2 2.95 7 7 0 39.2 9 41 1.185 2.0 9.3 4.56
8. Aaron Crow, RHP

By all accounts, Crow's 2010 season was a disaster. But on the flip side, Crow's scouting reports were universally positive for the most part. He still has a terrific sinker and a wipeout slider. The command though was simply so poor at times that he couldn't go to the slider. Crow was even demoted, and even though the ERA was high with Wilmington, the strikeout, walk, and ground ball rates were very strong. So there is optimism, and I am buying. Crow could move very quickly if things start to come together.

2011: AAA Omaha Storm Chasers | ETA: Late-2011

Year Tm W L ERA G GS SV IP BB SO WHIP BB/9 SO/9 SO/BB
2010 2 Teams 9 10 5.73 29 29 0 163.1 65 143 1.506 3.6 7.9 2.20
2010 Wilmington 2 3 5.93 7 7 0 44.0 6 53 1.295 1.2 10.8 8.83
2010 Northwest Arkansas 7 7 5.66 22 22 0 119.1 59 90 1.584 4.4 6.8 1.53
9. Jake Odorizzi, RHP

The fact that Jake Odorizzi is the sixth best pitching prospect in this organization is filthy. Odorizzi was acquired in the Greinke trade after a superb first full season with Low-A Wisconsin. Odorizzi has an athletic frame and throws a low-90's fastball with a very promising curveball. Like most young pitchers he will need to improve his changeup to combat LH hitters.

2011: High-A Wilmington Blue Rocks | ETA: 2013

Year Tm W L ERA G GS SV IP BB SO WHIP BB/9 SO/9 SO/BB
2010 Wisconsin 7 3 3.43 23 20 1 120.2 40 135 1.152 3.0 10.1 3.38
10. Christian Colon, SS

Colon was put in a tough spot after being selected fourth overall back in this previous draft. Colon was sent straight to Wilmington and struggled out of the gate on both sides of the ball. He played better down the stretch and started to show why he was such a high pick. Of course, that being because he can really hit the ball. The Royals drafted Colon as a shortstop, but the consensus is he'd struggle to be average there, and with the addition of Alcides Escobar, it will be interesting to see if they go ahead and move him over to the other side of the bag.

2011: AA Northwest Arkansas Naturals | ETA: Mid-2012

Year Tm PA H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG
2010 Wilmington 271 68 12 2 3 30 2 13 33 .278 .326 .380
1 Season 271 68 12 2 3 30 2 13 33 .278 .326 .380
11. Brett Eibner, CF

The Royals caught a break when Eibner fell to them in the second round of this past draft. There were rumblings that he would not sign unless the team wanted him as an outfielder, and that is where the Royals preferred him so it was a no brainer. Eibner is an outstanding athlete with very good power and speed. Though he improved his approach at the plate last year at Arkansas, Eibner still strikes out a great deal and it could be a speed bump. That said, though it could take a little time, Eibner has nearly as much upside as any other player in the organization.

2011: High-A Wilmington Blue Rocks | ETA: 2013

12. Johnny Giavotella, 2B

I have been a big fan of Giavotella since he was drafted and this year he really started to take off. Johnny does a lot of things well on the diamond but none of his tools stand out. The one thing he does really well though is hit and get on base, which is valuable no matter the quality of the total package. He has a quick, compact swing that allows him to shoot the gaps for extra-base hits. Giavotella is not a strong defender but has reportedly improved some since his college days. With the pending move of Colon to second base, it will be interesting to see how Giavotella fits into the future.

2011: AAA Omaha Storm Chasers | ETA: Late-2011

Year Tm PA H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG
2010 Northwest Arkansas 597 168 35 5 9 65 13 61 67 .322 .395 .460
13. Everett Teaford, LHP

Teaford was not really on the radar until this season when his velocity took a giant step forward, as did the quality of his breaking pitches. At 87-89, that's not really an interesting prospect. At 90-93 with improved curve and slider, it's very intriguing. Stats back it up too -- check out his strikeout rate compared to previous years. It's extremely rare for a 26-year-old prospect to see such an increase in quality of stuff, so there is reason to remain skeptical that this will stick. But for now, he looks like a near ML ready mid-rotation starter. That flies with me.

2011: AAA Omaha Storm Chasers | ETA: Mid-2011

Year Tm W L ERA G GS SV IP BB SO WHIP BB/9 SO/9 SO/BB
2010 2 Teams 14 4 3.82 28 13 0 103.2 33 117 1.273 2.9 10.2 3.55
2010 Northwest Arkansas 14 3 3.36 27 12 0 99.0 32 113 1.242 2.9 10.3 3.53
2010 Omaha 0 1 13.50 1 1 0 4.2 1 4 1.929 1.9 7.7 4.00

Melville has not been quite the pitcher the Royals dreamed of when they made him a fourth round pick. But he's still got plenty of upside, and like the next pitcher on this list, showed tremendous stuff at instructs after some changes to his delivery. Melville at his best is in the low-90's with a very good curve and changeup. Melville was one of the few disappointments this year but is one of my top picks to raise his stock significantly in 2011.

2011: AA Northwest Arkansas Naturals | ETA: Late-2012

Year Tm W L ERA G GS SV IP BB SO WHIP BB/9 SO/9 SO/BB
2010 2 Teams 2 13 4.92 24 24 0 117.0 56 96 1.376 4.3 7.4 1.71
2010 Royals 0 1 3.86 2 2 0 4.2 2 6 1.286 3.9 11.6 3.00
2010 Wilmington 2 12 4.97 22 22 0 112.1 54 90 1.380 4.3 7.2 1.67
15. Jason Adam, RHP

Another prospect the Royals lucked in to, Adam was a fifth round selection in this past year's draft. Adam flashed first round stuff in the instructional league and has a ML pitchers frame. The secondary pitches are already present and he has shown a feel for pitching. Should he make the necessary adjustments that any young pitcher needs to make, he has as much upside as any pitcher in the organization.

2011: Low-A Kane County Cougars | ETA: 2014+

16. Jeremy Jeffress, RHP

Jeffress was the final piece in the Zack Greinke trade. The one thing Jeffress does really well is throw very, very hard. He's been up to 101 in the past and consistently in the mid-to-upper 90's. He also has very good curveball but it is not a consistent pitch for him, nor is command of any of his pitches. Jeffress has had off the field issues in the past, mostly with marijuana, but seeing as the Royals have punished severely for this in the past, they must not see it as a big issue at this time. With all that said Jeffress has tremendous upside and could serve as a setup man or closer in the future.

2011: MLB Kansas City Royals | ETA: Now

Year Tm W L ERA G GS SV IP BB SO WHIP BB/9 SO/9 SO/BB
2010 3 Teams 1 1 2.23 24 0 4 32.1 12 43 0.928 3.3 12.0 3.58
2010 Wisconsin 0 0 0.00 5 0 0 8.0 3 14 0.375 3.4 15.8 4.67
2010 Brevard County 0 0 5.40 8 0 1 10.0 7 14 1.700 6.3 12.6 2.00
2010 Huntsville 1 1 1.26 11 0 3 14.1 2 15 0.698 1.3 9.4 7.50
17. Tim Collins, LHP

Collins was acquired in the Farnsworth/Ankiel trade to Atlanta right at the deadline last July. Collins has simply been one of the most dominate relievers in the minors ever since signing with the Blue Jays a few years ago out of high school. Collins is only 5-foot-7 and 150 pounds, but he somehow generates 94-95 from that frame. He also uses both a curveball and changeup to generate an absurd amount of strikeouts. His Dontrelle Willis type delivery does not hurt his deception to batters. Collins is ready to serve as a setup man in the Majors now, but might get pushed out due to not being on the 40-man roster yet.


2011: AAA Omaha Storm Chasers | ETA: Early-2011

Year Tm W L ERA G GS SV IP BB SO WHIP BB/9 SO/9 SO/BB
2010 3 Teams 3 1 2.02 56 0 15 71.1 27 108 0.939 3.4 13.6 4.00
2010 Mississippi 0 0 1.12 6 0 2 8.0 3 14 0.875 3.4 15.8 4.67
2010 New Hampshire 1 0 2.51 35 0 9 43.0 16 73 1.000 3.3 15.3 4.56
2010 Omaha 2 1 1.33 15 0 4 20.1 8 21 0.836 3.5 9.3 2.63
18. Louis Coleman, RHP

No matter what Coleman does in the Majors, he will probably still forever be known for throwing the final pitch of the 2009 College World Series. With that said, he does have a legitimate shot to have a very nice career. Coleman throws from a low-3/4 arm angle in the 90-92 range with a strong slider and command of both pitches. He had a strong full 2010 season split between Northwest Arkansas and Omaha, and like Collins, will likely get a shot to make the team in spring training, but will likely go to Omaha for a short while longer.

2011: AAA Omaha Storm Chasers | ETA: Early-2011

Year Tm W L ERA G GS SV IP BB SO WHIP BB/9 SO/9 SO/BB
2010 2 Teams 7 3 2.15 42 1 7 92.0 25 103 0.946 2.4 10.1 4.12
2010 Northwest Arkansas 2 1 2.09 21 1 6 51.2 14 55 0.871 2.4 9.6 3.93
2010 Omaha 5 2 2.23 21 0 1 40.1 11 48 1.041 2.5 10.7 4.36
19. David Lough, LF

Sometime during the middle of the 2010 season, David Lough started taking free passes after taking very, very few for most of his minor league career. Lough has always had impressive tools, but his approach was raw, yet even the most amateur scouting eye could tell that it was vastly improved by the end of the 2010 season with Omaha. Lough has a quick swing and speed that allowed him double digit doubles, triples, home runs, and steals this past season. I would like to see Lough get a chance but he will need some failure from the outfielders ahead of him at the ML level for that to happen.

2011: AAA Omaha Storm Chasers | ETA: Late-2011

Year Tm PA H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG
2010 Omaha 531 129 15 12 11 58 14 40 72 .280 .346 .437
20. Salvador Perez, C

The difference between Perez and other players on this list is that Perez does not have an absurdly high ceiling, but his floor as a player is very high. That's because he's an ML ready defender for the most part and also because he has upside at the plate. That upside started to get tapped into last year when he hit .290 with modest power at Wilmington. He still has plenty of work to do at the plate, most noticeably at the plate where he doesn't strike out much but draws very few walks. Perez will get plenty more time to work on this before he's called upon at the ML level.

2011: AA Northwest Arkansas Naturals | ETA: 2013

Year Tm PA R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG
2010 Wilmington 396 35 106 21 1 7 53 1 18 38 .290 .322 .411

5 Others in alphabetical order.

Noel Arguelles, LHP - Let's assume this guy is alive -- the scouting reports were too strong to write off after one year. ETA: Your guess is as good as anyone’s.

Jeff Bianchi, SS - Missed year with Tommy John surgery, strong defender up the middle and hitting upside when healthy. ETA: Late-2011

Cheslor Cuthbert, 3B - Great power upside and solid glove, but I'm always skeptical of Latin American prospects with such raw approaches at plate. ETA: 2014+

Yordano Ventura, RHP - Exceptional arm but still needs to improve quite a bit with secondary pitches and command. ETA: 2014+

Robinson Yambati, RHP - Another great Dominican arm but needs further refinement. ETA: 2014+

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

No Lorenzo Cain? Or did he lose his prospect status? This year will be a dog but I'm pumped for 2012 and beyond.

keith said...

Cain did lose his prospect status, just barely. I thought about including him but it's a slippery slope when you start going down the "barely missed" road. He'd be in the 9-12 range I'd think.

Doug said...

Nice information, always nice to see what the overall opinion is from different people. Thanks

Anonymous said...

It is crazy that you could talk about that much depth in the system and still have not mentioned guys like Crawford Simmons and Tyler Sample, who have potentially very good ceilings. Great stuff.

Mel said...

Bianchi and Johnny G have the talent to be productive middle infielders but likely are destined for utility duty in KC due to Escobar/Colon. I could see one of them as being dangled as trade bait. Not being snarky like other people but the system really is that good.

Question though, who would you like to see KC draft this year and where would they rank on this list?

keith said...

i like Sonny Grey the P from Vandy A LOT. he's short but he has big time stuff. he'd rank 8th i think if i put him in right now.

Mel said...

Ok thanks, I'll keep an eye on him.

Greg said...

Interesting thoughts on Hosmer heading to the outfield too...

http://douglongball.blogspot.com/