Kansas City Royals Top 20 Prospects 2015
The calendar has flipped and spring training is fast approaching once again, meaning it is time for the baseball world to go crazy over prospect rankings for the forthcoming season. Based primarily on stats and potential, below is our list of the Kansas City Royals’ top 20 prospects for 2015.
1. Raul Adalberto Mondesi SS: Mondesi is the consensus number 1 prospect in the Royals’ farm system. Signed as a 16 year old back in 2011, Adalberto’s father was also a major leaguer. The younger Mondesi is among the top shortstop prospects in the entire minor leagues and quite rightly heads this year’s list.
Mondesi made his American debut when he was just 17 years of age and more than held his own against tough competition. In 2014, the switch hitter posted just a .211 average in the Carolina League, but did manage to slug 8 home runs, 14 doubles and 12 triples in 110 games. His speed helps him on defense and Royals fans may be seeing Mondesi sooner than they think.
2. Brandon Finnegan LHP: After just 15 games in the minor leagues, Brandon Finnegan may well be ready for a spot with the Royals in 2015. Drafted 17th overall in 2014, the lefty blasted his way through the minors, reaching the majors in his first professional season.
In 7 innings for the AL Champions, Finnegan gave up just one earned run and struck out 10 batters, while surrendering a WHIP of just 1.00. The 21 year old works his fastball in the mid-90s and has the ability to reach three digits. His slider and changeup are above average, and the Royals may well have an ace or lock down reliever in their hands. Finnegan will compete for a spot on the 25-man active roster out of spring training.
3. Kyle Zimmer RHP: At number three on our list is Kyle Zimmer, who was drafted 5th overall in 2012. Zimmer, older brother of 2014 first-rounder Bradley, has spent the past couple of seasons battling injuries. When healthy however, the older Zimmer is up there with the best pitchers in the minors.
In 2014, Kyle only managed 4.2 innings in Single A, but did manage to strike out 5 hitters and surrendered a decent 1.93 ERA. The right-hander will likely be under an innings limit in 2015, and will look to regain the form that saw him taken in the first round. Royals fans can expect to see Zimmer on the cusp of the majors by the end of 2016.
4. Sean Manaea LHP: Manaea is a highly regarded lefty drafted in the first round in 2013. Since then, Manaea has developed nicely for the Royals, who hope he’ll slot in at the front end of their rotation for years to come. The Royals front office hope they will have him in the majors within a couple of years.
At 22 years of age, Manaea will look to spend time at Double and Triple A for the forthcoming season. In 2014, he performed sterlingly. In 25 starts with the Single A advanced Wilmington Blue Rocks, he recorded an ERA of 3.11 and struck out 146 batters in 121.2 innings. His excellent fastball, curveball and changeup are all major league offerings.
5. Christian Binford RHP: Binford is your typical starting pitcher: tall, athletic and dominating. Though his fastball won’t reach three figures that often, his exceptional demand means he consistently pounds the strike zone. Binford also has a decent change up offering. Drafted in the 30th round in 2011, Binford is proving to be an absolute steal.
The 22 year old sailed through the minors in 2014 and spent time at each level. At Single and Double A combined, he finished with an 8-6 record, 2.69 ERA and struck out a batter per inning. In a brief stint with the Triple A Omaha Storm Chasers, the righty pitched in 10 innings and had an ERA of 5.40. Binford will get the chance to pitch at the highest level before long.
6. Foster Griffin LHP: Griffin is another tall pitcher with a large frame in the Royals’ farm system. The left-hander puts together three above average pitches that caught the attention of the Royals front office out of The First Academy high-school in Florida. Drafted 24th overall in 2014, Griffin got to straight to work last summer.
The 19 year old pitched in 11 games in the rookie Appalachian League, but was on an innings limit and pitched in just 28 innings. He managed a 3.21 ERA, however, and will look to develop his arsenal further as he advances through the system. He’ll likely start 2015 with the Single A Lexington Legends.
7. Scott Blewett RHP: Blewett’s ceiling is currently unknown. That’s because at just 18 years of age, and standing at 6’6, he has another 2-3 years to fill out his 210 pound frame. Blewett already reaches 97mph on the radar gun, and is extremely daunting for hitters to face.
Drafted in the 2nd round in 2014, the righty did manage to pitch in 8 games (7 starts) last year. Though his ERA was high at 4.94, this will deflate once he becomes acclimatized with a full season of professional baseball. Likely to remain in Single A ball for the next couple of years, the Royals could be looking at their next ace of the future.
8. Elier Hernandez OF: Hernandez was arguably the best prospect on the international market in 2011, and the Royals rightly snapped him up for $3,000,000. An outfielder that does everything well, Hernandez had a solid season with the Single A (full) Lexington Legends in 2014.
In 111 games, the right-hander slugged a surprising 9 home runs and a modest .264 average. The right-hander is solid on defense, helped by his above average speed. Still just 20 years of age, Hernandez will look to start 2015 with the Double A Northwest Arkansas Naturals and look to make it to the majors by 2016.
9. Sam Selman LHP: Selman was drafted in the 2nd round in 2012 for two reasons: his fastball and his slider. These two above-average pitches will be enough to get him to the majors, but it will be his demand that will determine which role he has once he gets there. Selman, 24, is on the cusp of making it.
In 2014, he played in 28 games in Double A, 16 of which were starts, and produced a 3.87 ERA. He then made brief 5 relief appearances with the Double A Northwest Arkansas Naturals, but struggled greatly. He’ll look to perform solidly at the same level in 2015, and make the big-league roster at some point in the season.
10. Jorge Bonifacio OF: Younger brother of big-leaguer Emilio, Jorge is a solid all round player. As an outfielder, Jorge runs and throws well on defense, and hits for a good average and can hit home runs at the plate. Bonifacio owns the necessary tools to be an essential asset in the outfield for the Royals for years to come.
Bonifacio spent the entirety of 2014 in Double A and produced modest numbers: .230 average, 4 home runs and 8 stolen bases. However, the right-hander will be just 22 years of age in 2015 and is already performing ahead of where the Royals coaching staff had projected him to be. He will look to improve on those numbers in 2015 and expect to receive a September call up.
11. Hunter Dozier 3B: Dozier has all of the measurements and tools of a big-league third baseman. Big and tall, Dozier owns substantial power and is ready to unleash on the biggest stage. He will remind Royals fans a little of Evan Longoria of the Tampa Bay Rays, and has similar projectablity.
Though he did not destroy opposing pitching in 2014 – he hit just 8 homers in 130 games across Single and Double A – the power of the 23 year old is undeniable. The right-hander draws a lot of walks, which helps his OBP, but it will be his ability to hit balls out of the park that will get him to Kansas City.
12. Orlando Calixte SS: Signed for $1million in 2010, Orlando Calixte represents a bit of an anomaly when it comes to middle infielders. The 22 year old plays the shortstop position as he should, with a strong arm and good range. However, it is with the bat that coaches are slightly mystified.
Calixte strikes out around once a game, and has surprising power as a consequence, hitting 9 home runs in 96 games last year. However, his average suffers, and he only hit .241. While power is nice to have on any team, the Royals front office will need to see an elevated average for Calixte to advance. All the tools are there to do.
13. Marten Gasperini SS: Gasperini is widely considered to be the best ever prospect to come out of Europe. The 17 year old signed with the Royals for $1,300,000 in 2013 and played at two of the organizaton’s Single A levels in 2014. Though he struggled slightly, fans must remember that he is playing above his age in a new country.
At shortstop, Gasperini has a decent arm and range, and runs the bases well. He possesses decent power for the position and hits for a good average. In a nutshell, the Italian does everything well. He’ll look to get as many reps in as possible in 2015, but Gasperini could be the best European baseball player, ever.
14. Chase Vallot C: The 2014 Draft class was littered with high-end offensive catchers, and the Royals snagged themselves one of the best. Chase Vallot possesses the tools needed to produce 20 home runs and 100 RBIs in the majors, however he currently lacks significantly on the defensive end.
His power is unquestionable – he hit 7 home runs in 53 games in 2014 – but it is ability on the other side of the plate that will need to improve if he is to make it at the highest level. His .213 average in Single A to date, raises concerns and the right-hander will have to work hard on improving his consistency if he is to go anywhere.
15. Reymond Fuentes OF: The Royals are Fuentes’ third organization in as many years, having originally been signed by the Red Sox and then traded to San Diego as part of the Adrian Gonzalez trade. After making his major league debut in 2013 for the Padres, Fuentes had somewhat of a mixed season a year later.
In 2014, split across Double and Triple A, Fuentes averaged .294, hit 5 home runs and stole 25 bases. The 23 year old has all the tools to succeed at the highest level, and should be given another chance with the Royals at some point this season. Playing for his third organization, Fuentes needs to experience stability as he grows as a player.
16. Frank Schwindel 1B: The Royals’ scouting staff did a nice job drafting Frank Schwindel in the 18th round in 2013. The New Jersey native is listed as a first baseman, but is also a decent catcher, playing 38 games there last year. He will play predominantly at first base moving forward. St John’s University are not known for producing baseball prospects, but they have done so with Schwindel.
In 2014, the 22 year old slugged a mammoth 22 home runs and attained an average of .280 in 116 games across two Single A levels. He will expect to start at Double A in 2015 and, if he can continue his overwhelming power and decent average, he will see time with the Royals before long.
17. Ryan O’Hearn 1B: Drafted in the 8th round in 2014, O’Hearn dominated the rookie Pioneer League the same summer for the Idaho Falls Chukars. The 21 year old launched 13 home runs in just 64 games, and destroyed opposing pitching by maintaining a .361 average.
O’Hearn will look to start 2015 in the upper rungs of Single A and, if he can show the same success at the plate in 2015, he may even get a shot at the big-leagues in the same year. As one of only two first baseman on our list, the left-hander poses as credible depth to Eric Hosmer on the big stage.
18. Carlos Garcia 2B: Signed as an international free agent out of Venezuela in 2009, Garcia has risen steadily through the minor league ranks since then. In his 6 seasons as a professional, Garcia has hit for a modest .269 average, though he has improved at the plate in the last couple of years.
In 2014, the 22 year old played in 80 games for the Single A Lexington Legends and produced an average of .272. His plus speed allowed him to steal 31 bases, and he will look to put it all together once again in 2015. Expect Garcia to see time at Double A this year, and the majors by 2016.
19. Ricky Aracena SS: Aracena will immediately remind you of major-leaguer Rafael Furcal. Aracena too plays at shortstop and possesses the necessary tools to hold down the position for the Royals for years to come. His compact swing and physique may allow him to hit for double figures in home runs once he gains more strength.
Aracena will turn 18 in October and will be left to develop at his own pace in the Royals’ Dominican academy. Standing at just 5’8, the Dominican native runs well too, and could end up being an All-Star multiple times in his big-league career. Though Alcides Escobar has the job locked down for the Royals currently, Aracena is the shortstop of the future.
20. Bubba Starling OF: Starling was drafted 5th overall back in 2011 with high expectations to be the center-fielder of the future for the Royals. Though that may still end up being the case, the 22 year old hasn’t lived up to those expectations thus far in his professional career.
Starling entered pro ball with great power and speed, and, for the most part, has fulfilled his potential with those two tools. It is his inability to hit consistently at the plate that has Royals coaches slightly frustrated. In three seasons, Starling has averaged just .237, which is simply not good enough to succeed in the majors. 2015 is a big year for the right-hander, and will look to improve his approach at the plate at the Double A level.