by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
As they have been a successful franchise over the past few years, the Royals have dealt away some prospects to push towards a World Series title. At the end of the day no one is going to complain with the results, but thanks to those moves and some failures among their prospects the system has been left extremely bare. Is there anyone that catches our attention? Let’s take a look:
1) Hunter Dozier – Third Baseman/Outfielder
Grade – B
ETA – Already Arrived
At 25-years old the time has come for the former eighth overall selection in 2013 to show his true value and upside. He showed signs in 2016, including getting his first taste of the Majors, as he combined to hit 23 HR (as well as 45 doubles and 1 triple) across three levels. He doesn’t have much speed, so the question comes down to how the power develops and if he can make consistent contact. The latter has always been an issue, though he did make strides last season:
- Double-A (110 PA) – 20.9%
- Triple-A (434 PA) – 23.0%
Obviously that’s not a highly impressive mark, especially with the potential for it to jump a little bit further. Barring a further improvement there the average could be limited, so unless he taps in and starts slugging 30+ HR (unlikely) he’s a solid, but unspectacular prospect.
2) Matt Strahm – Left-Handed Pitcher
Grade – B
ETA – Already Arrived
Strahm thrived coming out of the bullpen for the Royals in ’16 (1.23 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 30 K over 22.0 IP), so it’s possible that the team continues to utilize him in that role. However he showed much more than that in his 102.1 innings at Double-A, with 107 K vs. 23 BB. In fact, over his minor league career he owns a 10.9 K/9 and a 3.0 BB/9. With that type of potential to generate strikeouts while commanding the strike zone, as well as being left-handed, the upside is there to make an impact. He may not be an ace, but he should be a solid contributor and get a shot to earn a starting role in the Majors.
3) Ryan O’Hearn – First Baseman
Grade – B-
ETA – 2017/2018
Splitting time between High-A and Double-A in ’16 O’Hearn showed off his power potential, with 32 doubles, 2 triples and 22 HR (a .478 SLG). After hitting 27 HR in ’15, there’s little question that he should bring power to the table. Will he be able to make consistent enough contact to tap into it, though? The strikeout rates last season certainly bring significant concern:
- High-A (98 PA) – 27.6%
- Double-A (466 PA) – 28.1%
Sure he hit .258 at Double-A, but he needed a .342 BABIP to get there. With the strikeout rate likely to continue rising, unless he develops into a 40+ HR threat (ala Chris Carter) the overall upside is going to be limited. He’s 23-years old, so this season is going to be an important one (especially as he should get his first taste of Triple-A).
4) Jorge Bonifacio – Outfielder
Grade – B-
ETA – 2017
Bonifacio spent all of 2016 at Triple-A, hitting .277 with 19 HR. He’s clearly starting to tap into his power potential, though only adding 22 doubles and 6 triples while playing in the Pacific Coast League does bring some question into his overall upside. It’s certainly not like he has elite speed nor does he own an impressive contact rate (23.3% strikeout rate, 9.1% walk rate in ’16). Once a highly intriguing prospect, at this point it no longer appears like he’s going to be an impact bat in the Majors.
5) Josh Staumont – Right-Handed Pitcher
Grade – B-
ETA – 2018
He throws extremely hard (with reports that he hit triple digits coming out of the bullpen), and his 167 K over 123.1 IP last season shows his immense strikeout stuff. Of course that came at a price with an unbelievable 104 BB, and you have to wonder if he’ll be able to figure out his mechanics enough to produce and avoid walking the ballpark. If he could do that and stick as a starter, he has immense potential. If not? He could ultimately transition into a lights out reliever, with closer of the future potential, but he still would need to find his control in order to get there.
6) Miguel Almonte – Right-Handed Pitcher (Grade C+)
7) A.J. Puckett – Right-Handed Pitcher (Grade C+)
8) Khalil Lee – Outfielder (Grade – C+)
This is an aggressive ranking, but seeing him post 6 HR, 8 SB and a 14.9% walk rate in his first taste of professional baseball (222 PA) is promising. At 18-years old there’s a long ways to go, but the 2016 third round pick is certainly a name worth monitoring.
9) Kyle Zimmer – Right-Handed Pitcher (Grade C+)
10) Chase Vallot – Catcher (Grade C)
Sources – Fangraphs, Baseball Reference, Brooks Baseball, MLB.com, MILB.com
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Grade A – Elite Prospects (aka potential future perennial All-Stars)
Grade B – Above Average Prospects (aka above average Major Leaguers, could develop into a potential All-Star)
Grade C – Average Prospects (aka solid, though unspectacular)
Grade D – Nothing More Than Roster Filler
Grade F – Move On
Make sure to check out all of our 2017 Prospect Rankings: