2014 Kansas City Royals Top 10 Prospects

By
Updated: January 21, 2014
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After a long delay – something measured in the months, not days -  I have a bit of an announcement to make: I will be publishing the first ever Prospect Digest Annual sometime late January/early February.

The Prospect Digest Annual will feature each organization’s Top 30 Prospects, ranking the farm systems, and several additional articles.

Until the big day happens, I will be posting each organization’s Top 10 Prospects, starting with the Arizona Diamondbacks. Enjoy!

For more Top Prospects click HERE

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1. Kyle Zimmer, Position: RHP, Age: 22

Level

IP

ERA

SIERA

K/9

BB/9

K%

BB%

HR/9

GB%

A+

89.2

4.82

2.71

11.34

3.11

29.8%

8.2%

0.90

48.7%

AA

18.2

1.93

1.86

13.02

2.41

36.0%

6.7%

0.96

48.8%

Profile: Unearthed as a potential ace by the University of San Francisco coaching staff, Zimmer entered the collegiate ranks as unheralded third baseman and left three seasons later as one of the top prospects in the 2012 draft class. Among MiLB hurlers with 100+ innings, Zimmer’s strikeout rate, 11.63 K/9, trailed only Chicago’s C.J. Edwards and Pittsburgh’s Tyler Glasnow.

Analysis: The very definition of outpitching one’s ERA. Zimmer, who posted an unsustainably low strand rate in high Class A, showed tremendous swing-and-miss ability and strong control en route to posting a combined 2.56 Skill Independent ERA. True ace potential and one of the top pitching prospects in the minors, Zimmer also has a relatively fresh arm, lacking the typical wear-and-tear of the normal collegiate hurler.  

Ceiling: 6.5- to 7.0-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Moderate to Above-Average

 

2. Yordano Ventura, Position: RHP, Age: 23

Level

IP

ERA

SIERA

K/9

BB/9

K%

BB%

HR/9

GB%

AA

57.2

2.34

2.48

11.55

3.12

32.2%

8.7%

0.47

42.4%

AAA

77.0

3.74

3.61

9.47

3.86

24.3%

9.9%

0.47

41.0%

MLB

15.1

3.52

4.46

6.46

3.52

17.2%

9.4%

1.76

48.9%

Profile: Armed with one of the best fastballs in baseball, Ventura struck out 166 hitters in 150 innings spread across baseball’s top three levels. He’s averaged 9.9 punch outs per nine innings through his five-year minor league career.

Analysis: Similar to Cleveland’s Danny Salazar, Ventura owns a plus fastball, incredible strikeout totals and surprisingly strong control. The lone red flag – and really it’s not that much of a concern – is that the fire-balling right-hander’s height: 5-foot-11.

Ceiling: 5.5- to 6.0-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Above-Average

 

3. Raul Mondesi, Position: SS, Age: 18

Level

PA

wRC+

AVG

OBP

SLG

BB%

K%

ISO

2B

3B

HR

SB/AT

A

536

94

.261

.311

.361

6.2%

22.0%

.100

13

7

7

24/34

Profile: Fun fact: The teenaged shortstop’s father, former All-Star right fielder Raul Mondesi, spent 13 years in the big leagues, hitting .273/.331/.485 with 271 homeruns and 229 stolen bases, but never topped 100 RBIs or runs in any season.

The Royals signed the younger Mondesi for a cool $2 million bonus in July 2011 and sent him to the Pioneer League the following year where he was a slightly below-average bat as a 16-year-old. The organization pushed the promising youngster to low Class A last season, where he hit a respectable .261/.311/.361 as the league’s second youngest player.

Analysis: Pure projection. But, damn, a 17-year-old league average bat in full season is something to behold. Mondesi showed a decent eye the plate, an improving contact rate, above-average speed, and enough power potential to slug 20- to 25-HRs in a season. He could be among the minors’ top breakout players in 2014.

Ceiling: 5.0- to 5.5.-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Low to Moderate

 

4. Jorge Bonifacio, Position: RF, Age: 21

Level

PA

wRC+

AVG

OBP

SLG

BB%

K%

ISO

2B

3B

HR

SB/AT

A+

234

118

.296

.368

.408

9.8%

17.1%

.112

11

3

2

0/2

AA

105

129

.301

.371

.441

10.5%

21.9%

.140

7

0

2

2/3

Profile: The younger brother of utility infielder Emilio Bonifacio, Jorge missed more than a month courtesy of broken hamate bone, an injury that often saps a hitter’s power for about a season. Including his rehab stint in the Arizona Summer League, Bonifacio hit a solid .281/.351/.414 upon his return.

Analysis: Bonifacio’s power is still largely untapped, but it has the potential to develop into 20+ homeruns down the line. He’s consistently topped the league average offensive production by about 20%, despite playing against much older competition. Solid-average walk rate and strong contact skills, Bonifacio should develop into a #5/#6-type hitter.

Ceiling: 4.0-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Moderate to Above-Average

 

5. Sean Manaea, Position: LHP, Age: 22

Level

IP

ERA

SIERA

K/9

BB/9

K%

BB%

HR/9

GB%

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

Profile: Of all injuries that could befall a pitcher, the labrum tear in Manaea’s hip ranks fairly low on the long term risk meter. The 6-foot-5 southpaw looked like a lock for a top five pick – and in the conversation for the #1 pick – but the injury caused the Indiana State product to slip till the 34th pick in the draft last season.

Analysis: Huge fan of Manaea’s coming into the draft, writing: “[His] hip/shoulder issues likely cost him a shot at the top 5 – so he’s a bit risky. Bu he’s not only performed well while in school, but his performance in the Cape shows what he can do against elite levels of competition. He could be nabbed by a team with multiple first round picks.” Assuming the health issues are a thing of the past, Manaea has the ceiling as a #2/#3-type guy, something along the lines of Danny Hultzen coming out of college, though that’s sort of damning praise, no?

Ceiling: 4.0- to 4.5-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Low to Moderate

 

6. Miguel Almonte, Position: RHP, Age: 21

Level

IP

ERA

SIERA

K/9

BB/9

K%

BB%

HR/9

GB%

A

130.2

2.89

3.18

9.09

2.48

43.3%

2.48

0.41

43.3%

Profile: After an impressive showing in the Dominican and Arizona Summer Leagues in 2012, Almonte handled the transition into full-season ball well last season, nearly doubling his career high in innings pitched while posting some impressive peripherals: 9.09 K/9 and 2.48 BB/9.

Analysis: Nice production from a 20-year-old in low Class A, but the real test will be how Almonte handles the Carolina League next season. He’s thrown just 219.2 innings throughout his career, so the data is a bit limited, but it’s been impressive nonetheless: 3.21 SIERA, 8.82 K/9 and 2.30 BB/9. A nice mid-rotation ceiling.

Ceiling: 3.5-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Moderate

 

7. Mark Binford, Position: RHP, Age: 21

Level

IP

ERA

SIERA

K/9

BB/9

K%

BB%

HR/9

GB%

A

135.0

2.67

2.93

8.67

1.67

17.9%

4.9%

0.47

49.2%

Profile: A tremendous find in the thirtieth round three years ago, Binford was one of the top pitchers in the South Atlantic League, posting the third best Skill Independent ERA, 2.93, as well as the eighth highest groundball rate (49.2%).

Analysis: What’s not to like, really? Young, 6-foot-6, projectable, above-average groundball rates, strong peripherals, and solid SIERAs, Binford looks like a future mid-rotation, perhaps peaking as a very good #3 if he can avoid injury.

Ceiling: 3.0- to 3.5-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Moderate

 

8. Bubba Starling, Position: CF, Age: 21

Level

PA

wRC+

AVG

OBP

SLG

BB%

K%

ISO

2B

3B

HR

SB/AT

A

498

111

.241

.329

.398

10.6%

25.7%

.156

21

4

13

22/25

Profile: Hyped for his five-tool potential coming out of high school two year ago, Starling underwent Lasik eye surgery after posting a Mario Mendoza-esque .213/.298/.361 through the middle May. After missing only a handful of games, the former fifth overall pick batted .269/.359/.434 through the remainder of the season.

Analysis: He’s likely to never hit for any type of respectable average, so his success will be largely driven by his intriguing power/speed combo. There’s still hope for Starling to develop into an above-average everyday player, but he’s largely underwhelmed two years into his pro career.

Ceiling: 3.5-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Low

 

9. Jason Adam, Position: RHP, Age: 22

Level

IP

ERA

SIERA

K/9

BB/9

K%

BB%

HR/9

GB%

AA

144.0

5.13

4.06

7.88

3.38

19.8%

8.5%

0.75

38.2%

Profile: The youngest pitcher in the Texas League last summer, Adam looked like a lost cause four starts into the season, allowing 27 ER in 15.1 innings of work. He would turn it around, however, posting a 3.81 ERA with 110 strikeouts and 45 walks over the next 132.1 innings

Analysis: Another solid mid-to-back-of-the-rotation arm. The Royals have pushed the young right-hander through the system quite aggressively, bypassing the rookie leagues and debuting in the low Class A as a 19-year-old in 2011. He doesn’t have swing-and-miss stuff, but has typically limited free passes throughout his career. #4-type.

Ceiling: 2.5-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Moderate to Above-Average

 

10. Cheslor Cuthbert, Position: 3B, Age: 21

Level

PA

wRC+

AVG

OBP

SLG

BB%

K%

ISO

2B

3B

HR

SB/AT

A+

254

116

.280

.354

.418

10.6%

14.6%

.138

21

2

2

1/3

AA

264

77

.215

.279

.359

7.6%

19.3%

.143

16

0

6

5/7

Profile: Cuthbert’s up-and-down habits continued last season. After struggling mightily with Wilmington in 2012 (.240/.296/.322), the Nicaraguan-born third baseman hit .280/.345/.418 while producing 16% above the league average in a do-over. And, well, he tanked upon his promotion to Class AA.

Analysis: Better than the numbers would indicate, Cuthbert spent the season in two extreme pitcher’s parks. The doubles, 37, are eventually going to turn into 20-HR potential. And ignoring the low averages, Cuthbert’s an interesting prospect. Solid walk rates. Power potential. Youth. Potential league average or better everyday player.

Ceiling: 2.5-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Moderate

 

 

2 Comments

  1. Jeff Zimmerman

    June 30, 2014 at 1:46 PM

    Hunter Dozier at the very least needs to be #8

    • JMWerner

      June 30, 2014 at 4:04 PM

      I have him #9 in the updated look at the farm system:

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