Prospect Sleeper: Could The Royals’ Khalil Lee Put Himself On The Map In ’17?

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

Looking at a players’ first taste of professional baseball and drawing definitive conclusions is often a mistake.  As it is it’s an extremely small sample size, and any player can catch fire in the short-term.  That said, the Royals’ Khalil Lee (2016 third round pick) did more than enough after being selected to draw an aggressive ranking from us.

When we did our Royals’ Top 10 prospects (click here to view) we slotted him at #8 in the system saying:

“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.”

The left-handed hitter is going to have a lot to prove as he progresses in the system, as he stands at 5’10” and isn’t known to have blazing speed.  Is he going to be able to hit for significant power?  Is he going to be able to steal enough bases?

Let’s take a look at what a few others have said about him:

“The Royals believed Lee was the best athlete available when they drafted him with the 103rd overall choice, and he has the potential for average or better tools across the board.”  – MLB.com

“impressive tools with power, speed, throwing arm all positives; was one of the top pure athletes in the entire draft and showed enough in his debut to make us think he can tap those tools; he is a risk, but the payoff could be big.” – John Sickels of Minor League Ball

Obviously he’s still just 18-years old and has a lot of work to do, but it’s clear that people see upside.  The list of questions are long, though, and it’s not just the aforementioned power and speed.

Can he hit left-handed pitching?  Look at his split from ’16:

  • RHP – .284/.404/.532
  • LHP – .220/.373/.317

He also posted a 25.7% strikeout rate, and it’s possible that his swinging for the fences (he also had 9 doubles and 6 triples) will lead to more strikeouts then we’d like to see.  Time will tell, but it’s something else to keep an eye on.

Obviously there’s significant talent, despite falling to the third round, but there also are significant questions.  While there’s no reason to make a move on him quite yet, he’s a name to keep filed away and see how he develops.  He could breakout as soon as 2017, though time will tell.

Sources – Fangraphs, MLB.com, Minor League Ball, MILB.com

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Grading System:
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:

AL EastAL CentralAL West
Baltimore OriolesChicago White SoxHouston Astros
Boston Red SoxCleveland IndiansLos Angeles Angels
New York YankeesDetroit TigersOakland A's
Tampa Bay RaysKansas City RoyalsSeattle Mariners
Toronto Blue JaysMinnesota TwinsTexas Rangers
NL EastNL CentralNL West
Atlanta BravesChicago CubsArizona Diamondbacks
Miami MarlinsCincinnati RedsColorado Rockies
New York MetsMilwaukee BrewersLos Angeles Dodgers
Philadelphia PhilliesPittsburgh PiratesSan Diego Padres
Washington NationalsSt. Louis CardinalsSan Francisco Giants

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