Even after the graduation of several of club’s former top prospects — Eric Hosmer, Salvador Perez, Alcides Escobar, Yordano Ventura, etc… — the Royals’ farm system still sports an impressive collection of youngsters.
Outside of Raul Mondesi and Jorge Bonifacio, most of the upper-tier talent can be found on the mound, which adds a certain level of risk associated with potential injuries. But how does rotation fronted by Yordano Ventura, Kyle Zimmer, Sean Manaea, Brandon Finnegan, and Mark Binford sound?
For a look at the club’s Top 10 Prospects heading into the year click HERE.
1. Kyle Zimmer, LHP, Age: 21
In my book, The 2014 Prospect Digest Annual, I rated Zimmer as the top pitching prospect – and fourth overall – in the minor leagues heading into the season. He’s currently shutdown due to a pretty severe lat injury, but the front-of-the-rotation, ace-type potential is too good to overlook.
2. Sean Manaea, LHP, Age: 22
This could prove to be one of the better draft picks in the Dayton Moore-era. Manaea, who slid in the draft last season due to a hip injury, is averaging 11.61 K/9 with Wilmington. Not bad considering his long time off. Front-of-the-rotation-type potential.
3. Brandon Finnegan, LHP, Age: 21
From my favorite pitcher in the minor leagues to my favorite pitcher in the 2013 draft to my, wait for it, my favorite pitcher in the entire pitching-heavy 2014 draft class – Brandon Finnegan. The TCU left-hander will have to answer some questions about his slight frame, a la Tim Lincecum, but there’s some incredibly high upside. For Finnegan’s full pre-draft analysis click HERE.
4. Raul Mondesi, SS, Age: 18
The 18-year-old shortstop got off to a hot start with Wilmington this season, hitting .304/.382/.430 during the month of April. He abruptly followed that up with a .171/.203/.237 showing in May and a .176/.187/.243 line in June.
5. Mark Binford, RHP, Age: 21
As of mid-June, Binford owned the second best strikeout-to-walk ratio, 7.18, in the entire minor leagues. In 70 innings, the massive, 6-foot-6 right-hander fanned 79, walked just 11, and posted a tidy 1.69 FIP. Granted, Wilmington’s ballpark depresses offense, but, damn, that’s some impressive production.
6. Jorge Bonifacio, RF, Age: 21
Bonifacio suffered a broken hamate bone last season, an injury known to sap a player’s power for a year-plus, so his power outage this season – he’s posted a .105 ISO – isn’t a concern at this time.
7. Foster Griffin, LHP, Age: 18
One of the top prep southpaws, Griffin has the type of frame – 6-foot-5 – that could allow for a couple extra ticks on the fastball.
8. Miguel Almonte, RHP, Age: 21
Overshadowed by some of the bigger arms in the system, Almonte, nonetheless, offers a nice combination of youth, ability to miss some bats, and strong control. Nice mid-rotation-type arm.
9. Hunter Dozier, 3B, Age: 22
Not sure if he’ll ever hit for enough power for the position, but in one of the least hitter-friendly environments in the minors Dozier is hitting .289/.391/.421. Solid plate discipline, a smidgeon of speed, and a smattering of pop. He’s more likely to develop into a Mike Aviles-type player.
10. Chase Vallot, C, Age: 18
A nice, solid prep backstop with some offensive upside, though the organization doesn’t have an enormous track record with these types of players.
Photo Courtesy of the Chron.com.