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Kansas City Royals 2013 Top 15 Prospects

Written By on 20th November, 2012

Our Team Top Prospect Lists are back! -BB


Bullpen Banter Kansas City Royals 2013 Top 15 Prospects

Player Name
1Wil MyersOF
2Kyle ZimmerRHP
3Jacob OdorizziRHP
4Derek StarlingOF
5Adalberto MondesiSS
6Yordano VenturaRHP
7Jorge BonifacioOF
8Orlando Calixte
9Jason AdamRHP
10Cheslor Cuthbert3B
11Sam SelmanLHP
12Kyle Smith RHP
13John LambLHP
14Mike MontgomeryLHP
15Elier Hernandez OF

Al Skorupa: The Royals farm system is still quite strong but it has fallen some in depth and quality from the peaks reached a couple years back. I also wonder if the system will be depleted further this offseason as Dayton Moore searches for starting pitching. Moore is now in his 7th season at the helm in KC and the Royals have the longest playoff drought of any major American pro sport franchise. You have to wonder how much pressure is on Moore and the Royals to compete this year and who that pressure might lead him to trade.

I can’t imagine the Royals parting with Wil Myers, though. Myers has a mature command of the strike zone and a plus hit tool. From what I’ve seen and the reports I’ve gotten I feel Myers has better athleticism and is a better runner than I’ve seen him given credit for. Myers finally tapped into his raw power in 2012 and he’s now a ready made above average MLB outfielder. I’ve long felt that Myers might end up the true franchise cornerstone for this franchise – moreso than Hosmer and Moustakas, even.

Kyle Zimmer was an excellent 1st round pick. Early in the Spring it became increasingly clear he was the big helium arm that was wowing scouts and working his way up draft boards. I see frontline starter potential and its an added bonus that he has a fresh arm. Last year’s 1st rounder Bubba Starling has been somewhat disappointing. I knew going in that Starling was a raw athlete you’d have to teach the game. I didn’t expect much progress this year and his numbers weren’t bad… but the reports I got were surprisingly negative and it looks like he’s going to need a LOT of development with the bat for him to survive at higher levels. The ceiling is very high, but the swing is so raw other guys have passed him in my prefs.

Jacob Odorizzi looks like a nice mid rotation piece. Jeff and I at BB were the only major source out there listing Adalberto Mondesi in our top 15 last year. It was definitely gratifying to see him explode on the scene and justify our placement. Yordana Ventura is a potential impact arm and while he should get a chance to start for awhile I do still think he ultimately will end up in the pen. If he can start for a few years he could look electric and the Royals would be thrilled. Kyle Smith doesn’t have dominating stuff but he’s very advanced for his age and has a strong chance to be a useful MLB arm. Orlando Calixte is interesting but I’m not entirely sold that he’ll hit enough. Sam Selman improved his stock dramatically after being draft but with his skills, frame and arm action I’d still wager he eventually ends up in the pen. John Lamb is obviously a tough guy to place given his unimpressive showing this season. Right now I’m a little skittish and can’t commit to his profile above Selman’s. This year is a real turning point in the fortunes of this system and team. It will be interesting to see how Moore handles things.

 Jeff Reese: The Kansas City Royals no longer have the elite system that they had a couple of seasons ago: some have graduated to the major leagues and others have seen their stocks stagnate and plummet. Still what remains is hardly one lacking talent. Wil Myers is surprisingly not yet in that former category; in another organization he would have likely made a mid season splash after terrorizing the Texas League, but the Royals opted to let him thrive in the PCL to finish out the year. He’s elite and still well ahead of schedule. For the reasons that Al mentions, along with a passing grade from our mechanical expert Kevin Scobee, Kyle Zimmer was a favorite amongst us all by the time of the draft. He’s the clear choice for the number two spot.

Once past Myers and Zimmer, you see the talent drop off a bit and the slotting becomes a bit less definitive. Odorizzi has never enthused me, but he should be able to have some MLB success. Despite the lack of top of the rotation upside, that safety gives him the edge over the much less refined, toolsy guys who follow. Bubba Starling resides near the opposite pole. Spending the entire season in the Appalachian League, his raw stat line paints a different picture than his swing (below). There may be more work involved than anticipated, but his ceiling is still huge. Al is the one who really pushed Mondesi last year so he deserves most of the credit there. As a legitimate defensive short stop with offensive tools, he has eclipsed the more celebrated Elier Hernandez from that signing class. Yordano Ventura fits in well with this group despite the age difference because of the dreams that his electric fastball can induce.

Jorge Bonifacio had a torrid start to the season, showing the power and offensive upside absent in his older brother. The oppressing Midwest League environment in his first full season eventually caught up with him, but he could emerge as a true right fielder. I’m more endeared to Orlando Calixte however, and this is perhaps my biggest difference with Al. Calixte took major strides offensively, showing a surprising amount of power at both Wilmington and Kane County. More refinement is necessary in all phases of his game — especially at short stop where he will need to become much more reliable to stick long term — but the potential is notable. And then there’s Cheslor Cuthbert. It was an ugly 2012 season for him in the Carolina League — one of the few places where we do not have anyone close to cover in depth — but it must be remembered how young he still is and how difficult it is to hit in Wilmington. The stock has fallen, but there’s ample time for it to rebound.

Aside from Elier Hernandez the rest of the list is dominated by pitching prospects with something to prove. Sam Selman impressed me throughout the spring when watching Vanderbilt, but his pro debut could not have been predicted. It will be interesting to see whether the control is good enough for higher levels. Mike Montgomery was perhaps the biggest disappointment for me; I was expecting a bounce back after a down 2011, only to see the plummet become steeper.

The Royals have a good system overall with upside in the lower minors and quality depth well past the 15 listed above.


OF Wil Myers (Steve Fiorindo)

OF Bubba Starling (Chris Blessing)

RHP Kyle Zimmer (Steve Fiorindo)

Cheslor Cuthbert (Steve Fiorindo)

Jason Adam (Steve Fiorindo)

Christian Colon (Peter Wardell)

Al Skorupa
Albert Skorupa
About Albert Skorupa

Al Skorupa writes about baseball & baseball prospects for Bullpen Banter and Fangraphs/Rotographs. He lives in Rhode Island. He watches & videotapes a good amount of amateur and minor league baseball. You can follow him on twitter @alskor.

Features, Prospect Video, Scouting, Team Prospect Rankings

16 Comments on "Kansas City Royals 2013 Top 15 Prospects"

  1. Profile Photo
    tibb November 20, 2012 at 5:12 pm -

    Lamb only pitched 13 innings this year, and he pitched hurt, with tendonitis in his foot.  While I don’t think he pitched enough to label his performance at all, how much do you think the injury had to do with his “unimpressive” showing?  Still a good candidate for a bounceback when fully healthy in the spring?

    • Profile Photo
      JD Sussman November 20, 2012 at 5:26 pm -

      Tibb, it’s impossible to say without speaking to Mr. Lamb. However, rough results are to be expected following Tommy John surgery. I do believe he is a very strong bounce back candidate.

    • Profile Photo
      Al Skorupa November 20, 2012 at 8:40 pm -

      tibb – I think he’s still a strong bounce back candidate, yes. Have to wait until Spring and see where he is. He had a previous injury – but it was from a car accident, so no reason to think he’s injury prone or anything. Just scouting perspective wise, reports from his 2013 action were that the velo was significantly down and stuff not crisp. Typically guys will have those kinds of problems coming back from TJ. Command and control also typically take a long time to return.

      I want to qualify this by saying I’m obviously not a doctor nor have I examined Lamb (not that it would do him or I any good!), but the timeframe here has been on the long side, I think. He’s ~17? months out from surgery right now. Its not a real increased long term concern at this point (everybody heals different) but its enough to give me pause. So if you asked me to do a pref list of the KC system (which is how we approach these) I’d take some other guys first because they might be more of a known quantity, if you will. I was of the belief pre-injury that Lamb had more question marks than popularly thought, too. 

      Its certainly possible and probably likely the foot hampered him… but in terms of taking guys from this system I’d still like to see him fully healthy and at least flashing his pre-injury stuff before I’d recommend him.

      • Profile Photo
        tibb November 21, 2012 at 12:05 pm -

        Thanks for the responses, guys. Regarding Lamb’s extended timeframe for recovery, I’d like to note that the Royals had announced that his first start would be July 3, but that had to be scratched due to the foot injury. That would have been 13 months post-surgery, so you can at least blame the foot for the recovery delay. They also said that it hampered his conditioning. It would be nice to see a bounceback; the Royals really need it.

  2. Profile Photo
    Shawn November 21, 2012 at 9:28 am -

    Mike Montgomery has struggled mightily the past two years.  Has his stuff fallen or is it mostly control/command?  Does he still project as a starter?

    • Profile Photo
      JD Sussman November 22, 2012 at 1:29 pm -

      It’s mostly command/control, Shawn. It’s not surprising he’s stuggled, in fact, it’s something we’ve been talking about here for a long time. I don’t project him as a starter. Because of his inconsistant mechanics, I see a power LOOGY. A valuable guy, for sure, but not the world beater he was once projected by so many to be.

  3. Profile Photo
    Steve Fiorindo November 21, 2012 at 10:26 am -

    Nice to see Calixte up there. . . He was a guy that stood out for me during Spring Training as an under the radar type of guy.  Was raw, but I liked what I saw. . . I’ll add his video at the bottom. . 

    • Profile Photo
      Steve Fiorindo November 21, 2012 at 10:30 am -

      Maybe I won’t, maybe I didn’t upload it. . . I remember talking about him. . . weird

      • Profile Photo
        JD Sussman November 22, 2012 at 1:43 pm -


  4. Profile Photo
    Dan November 26, 2012 at 12:21 am -

    Nice work, guys!
    In looking at the prospect video, I can’t help but notice that Myers doesn’t get much from his lower body in his swing.  His back knee straightens out behind him rather than bending under him like you see in most elite swings.  Hands look great, though, and I guess that’s how he hit 37 HRs last year!