Royals Are Looking at a Rebuild

The Royals could not sign a number of their free agents that gave them one World Series win and two World Series appearances. They were hoping for a third last year but it didn’t happen. Don’t know what the market would have been for Lorenzo Cain, Mike Moustakas or Erik Hosmer but hanging on to them deprived them of building up their prospect bank. Currently it appears light. Their top two picks of the last two years are their premium prospects but after that it gets thin

Nick Pratto was their first round pick in 2017. The slugging first baseman has decent pop but at 6′1″ is not a towering figure for the position. One thing that cannot be questioned is his ability to win. He played on a California team that won the Little League World Series, beating Japan with a game winning hit and he played for two 18 and under World Cup teams that won gold in both. A lack of speed should keep him at first base. In his first minor league season the power was absent (.414 slugging) but he did slug four homeruns. At 18 years of age he is still too far from the majors to replace Hosmer, but the Royals will start that trek in 2018 by starting his second season in Low A.

Khalil Lee was the Royals first round pick in 2016. He is a potential five tool player with good speed, a strong arm and the potential for power. Last year he had trouble making contact (171 whiffs) which led to a low .236 average. His above average speed also did not result in stolen base success as he was caught stealing 18 times in his 38 attempts. Khalil will work on improving those two areas when he heads to High A in 2018.

Myworld likes the potential of catcher Meibrys Viloria from Colombia, though he went from a .376 average in rookie ball in 2016 to a .259 average last year in Low A. Weight issues could have a negative impact on his rise to the major leagues. His catching skills need to improve on defense, last year committing 14 errors with a less than stellar arm. So with average defense the bat needs to work. Viloria will start the 2018 season in High A.

Catching is a strength with the Royals with 2017 second round pick M.J. Melendez and 2014 supplemental first round pick Chase Vallot ahead of Viloria. Melendez is a quality defensive catcher with a strong arm who also has the potential for a good bat. His .262 batting average in Rookie ball surpassed Viloria and he outslugged him with a .417 slugging percentage. Melendez has the potential to be an All Star catcher in the major leagues as he develops. He will start the 2018 season in Low A groomed to replace Savador Perez behind the plate.

Chase is a catcher who lacks strong defensive tools. His major asset is his ability to hit for power. Last year he hit 12 homeruns with a .438 slugging percentage. A tendency to swing and miss (127 whiffs) kept his average down to .231. With a career average of .226 he is not expected to win any batting titles. A lack of speed will keep him behind the plate where he will play his 2018 season in AA.

Seuly Matias is another toolsy outfielder who has the speed to play centerfield with the arm to fit in right. At 6′3″ he may slow down as he bulks up making him a likely fit for right. There is the potential for power with 15 homeruns his last two years in the short season leagues. His proclivity to swing and miss has kept his average to .250 or less. Next year should be his first year in full season ball (Low A) where a breakout season could put him on the prospect map.

Hunter Dozier was a first round pick in 2013 who has not equaled his hype. Injuries last year limited him to just 33 games. He did make his major league debut in 2016. He has the power to fill in at a corner outfield spot but not the speed to play center. His natural position is third base, where he will not win any gold gloves. His ability to play third base and the outfield could give him an eventual promotion to the big club but first he needs to spend some time in AAA to recuperate from his injuries and get his swing back.

Marten Gasparini is from Europe (Italy) who broke Max Kepler’s international signing bonus record with a $1.3 million payout. His fielding at short was too inconsistent to stick there resulting in numerous errors so the team has moved him to centerfield. His speed will allow him to cover a lot of ground, but his bat may be too weak to justify him being in the lineup. Last year he only hit .227 with a 27 to 121 walk to whiff ratio. His arm and speed are his best tools. Marten will try to improve his hit tool starting the 2018 season in AA.

The Royals top pitching prospect is perhaps Josh Staumont. His fastball has premium velocity that can hit triple digits and sits in the high 90s. The biggest struggle is his ability to find the plate. Last year he walked 97 hitters in 125 innings. He was also susceptible to the homerun ball at AAA giving up 14 dingers in just 76 innings, resulting in an ugly 6.28 ERA. Josh needs to find the plate more to get the trust of the Royals for a major league callup. Expect him to repeat his 2018 season in AAA.

Eric Skoglund and Foster Griffin have been around for awhile. Eric was a third round pick and Foster was drafted in the first round, both in 2014. Both have made a slow trek to the majors with Eric seeing his major league debut last year. They both throw lefthanded. Eric stands tall at 6′7″ but his fastball lacks big time velocity, sitting in the low 90s. His pedestrian stuff resulted in a poor major league debut with .375 opposition average and a 9.50 ERA. A good spring could provide him a shot to slot in the back end of the Royals rotation. Foster is not as tall (6′3″) and also lacks premium velocity. He has developed a quality change that makes his fastball appear to have more hop. A AAA promotion in 2018 will leave him a step away from the major leagues.

Scott Blewett was drafted between the two lefthanders in 2014. The righthander stands 6′6″ but also lacks velocity, sitting in the low 90s. His secondary pitches are also not very challenging, resulting in minor leaguers hitting him at a .268 clip. If his command is not good he also has the tendency to give up the long ball.

Kyle Zimmer has seen the prospect status dim through the years. The first round 2012 pick has had trouble staying healthy limiting his innings. Last year he debuted in AAA, pitching mainly in relief but struggling with a 5.79 ERA. When healthy Zimmer has quality stuff. To keep his arm intact the Royals will probably move him to the bullpen, starting the season in AAA. His major league debut could arrive if he has success and stays healthy.

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