Kansas City Royals Top 10 Prospects
Index of Top 10 Prospects for all 30 Major League Teams
By David Rawnsley
1. Dee Brown, OF
Background: Under his more formal first name of Dermal, the well-built Brown was listed as the Royals top prospect following the 1997 season. He fell to No. 4 last year after a subpar year in high Class A and an equally mediocre Maryland Fall League. In retrospect, Browns lack of baseball experience was the root of the problems. A year older and more mature, with about 500 more at-bats, Brown rebounded strongly in 1999 to regain his luster. A midseason promotion enabled him to be named the second-best prospect in both the Carolina and Texas leaguesand, if anything, he was more impressive after moving up to Double-A Wichita. Brown capped off the year by finishing fourth in the Arizona Fall League in RBIs in a .324-3-28 showing in 108 at-bats.
Strengths: Brown presents the whole package as an offensive player. He looks stocky, but under the uniform Brown is a rock hard combination of speed and strength. He can drive the ball to all fields with excellent bat speed, and he dramatically improved his ability to loft the ball in 1999. Brown has above-average speed on the bases and the Royals think he should be able to maintain his quickness long enough to be a potential 30/30 player in Kansas City. For a young player who played more football than baseball as a teenager, Brown shows solid plate discipline, and his walk total last year topped his 1998 sum by 26.
Weaknesses: Browns critics always have pointed to his defense, but he surprised the big league staff last September by making a number of good plays in left field. Brown has below-average arm strength but his accuracy has improved, as have his jumps on fly balls. Offensively, he tends to be a streak hitter.
The Future: A Royals official commented about Brown, "Hes the one player in our organization we need to have the most patience with." Brown struggled in his September trial last year, and a strong feeling exists within the organization that a full year in Triple-A is the best thing for his long-term development. The Royals outfield depth helps give them the luxury of waiting for another year.
1999 Club AVG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB Wilmington (A) .308 221 49 68 10 2 13 46 44 56 20 Wichita (AA) .353 235 58 83 14 3 12 56 35 41 10 Kansas City .080 25 1 2 0 0 0 0 2 7 0
2. Chris George, RHP
Age: 20 B-T: L-L Ht: 6-2 Wt: 165
Drafted: HS--Klein, Texas, 1998 (Supplemental 1st round) Signed by: Bill Price
Background: Many were surprised when the Royals took George with the first pick of the compensation round in 1998. The surprise has worn off. George skipped two levels in 99 and finished sixth in the Carolina League in ERA.
Strengths: George uses his fastball and changeup in classic Greg Maddux/Tom Glavine fashion, mixing the velocities between 76 and 93 mph with different movements so no two pitches in sequence are similar. All of Georges skills and intangibles are at the top of the scale.
Weaknesses: Georges curveball rates around major league average but will not be a strikeout pitch for him. He still needs more work on his cutter-like slider that dives in on righthanded hitters fists.
The Future: With a system full of 96 mph power righthanders, the Royals enthusiasm for their prized southpaw is unmistakable. They feel Georges raw stuff and pitching acumen are all-star caliber and that hes not far from Kansas City.
1999 Club W L ERA G GS CG SV IP H BB SO Wilmington (A) 9 7 3.60 27 27 0 0 145 142 53 142
3. Kyle Snyder, RHP
Age: 22 B-T: B-R Ht: 6-8 Wt: 215
Drafted: North Carolina, 1999 (1st round) Signed by: Paul Faulk
Background: Snyder was a candidate to be the top pick in the 1999 draft before persistent tendinitis last spring dropped him to seventh overall. He received the second-largest signing bonus ($2.1 million) in club history. Then, despite facing strict pitch counts, he was named the top prospect in the Northwest League.
Strengths: Though he is tall with extra-long arms, Snyder is a good athlete with a balanced, compact delivery. His fastball was back in the 95-96 mph range with great downward plane during instructional league. Snyders curveball and changeup are both quality offspeed pitches.
Weaknesses: Snyders curveball release is inconsistent and is likely the cause of his tendinitis problems, but the Royals feel he made progress in instructional league with his curve.
The Future: The Royals have tried to identify which players from their last two draft classes can be rushed and which cant. Snyder will start on the slow track until he proves himself healthy and improves his mechanical consistency.
1999 Club W L ERA G GS CG SV IP H BB SO Spokane (A) 1 0 4.13 7 7 0 0 24 20 7 25
4. Dan Reichert, RHP
Age: 22 B-T: R-R Ht: 6-3 Wt: 180
Drafted: Pacific, 1997 (1st round)Signed by: Dave Herrera
Background: Reichert has suffered his share of adversity since the Royals selected him with the seventh overall pick in the 1997 draft. He brought a diabetic condition under control only to be rocked in his American League debut, notably by an Albert Belle line drive that broke his right arm.
Strengths: Reicherts slider is potentially one of the best breaking pitches in baseball. He throws it hard (81-86 mph) with a late, sharp and abnormally large break. He usually pitches in the 89-92 mph range with his fastball but hit 96 this winter. His change is a solid third pitch.
Weaknesses: The Royals feel Reichert tried to be too perfect with every pitch instead of trusting what got him to the big leagues. They have placed a big emphasis on Reichert starting each hitter with a strike.
The Future: Reichert proved he was both healthy and unscarred with a strong showing in the Puerto Rican League. He will be a favorite to win a spot in the 2000 Royals rotation.
1999 Club W L ERA G GS CG SV IP H BB SO Omaha (AAA) 9 2 3.71 17 17 1 0 112 92 50 123 Kansas City 2 2 9.08 8 8 0 0 37 48 32 20
5. Orber Moreno, RHP
Age: 22 B-T: R-R Ht: 6-2 Wt: 190
Signed: Venezuela, 1993Signed by: Chuck McMichael
Background: Moreno was set to assume an important role in the Kansas City bullpen, but he came down with persistent tendinitis in his elbow and essentially was shut down for the second half of 99. However, he threw well in instructional league.
Strengths: Morenos out pitch is an explosive fastball that sits in the 94-95 mph range and can touch 98. He has a smooth, simple delivery and has shown the ability to spot his fastball with excellent command. Morenos slider is a quality secondary pitch.
Weaknesses: After overthrowing once he reached the majors, Moreno wound up with elbow problems. The Royals have addressed the problem extensively with him during his rehab.
The Future: The Royals cant be faulted for imagining what a difference Moreno would have made to their beleaguered bullpen following his minor league success. He will get a chance to prove himself from the start of 2000.
1999 Club W L ERA G GS CG SV IP H BB SO Kansas City 0 0 5.63 7 0 0 0 8 4 6 7 GCL Royals (R) 0 0 0.00 1 1 0 0 1 0 0 1 Omaha (AAA) 3 1 2.10 16 0 0 4 26 17 4 30
6. Chad Durbin, RHP
Age: 22 B-T: R-R Ht: 6-1 Wt: 175
Drafted: HS--Baton Rouge, 1996 (3rd round)Signed by: Dennis Woody
Background: Durbin grew stronger during the second half of 1999 and impressed the Royals enough to be called up after the Texas League playoffs. He followed that up by leading the Arizona Fall League in ERA at 0.75 in 24 innings.
Strengths: Throwing from a high release point, Durbin gets excellent plane and deception to his pitches. He works aggressively with a 90-93 mph fastball and has learned how to spot a hard curveball and above-average changeup. Durbin has impressed the Royals with his poise and makeup, especially for such a young pitcher.
Weaknesses: Durbins slider lacks consistency and is definitely behind his other three pitches at this point.
The Future: The Royals will give Durbin a chance to make their 2000 rotation, though at least a half-season in Triple-A seems more likely. Though he pitched in relief in Arizona, Durbins durability (no missed starts in four years) and age dictate that hell keep starting.
1999 Club W L ERA G GS CG SV IP H BB SO Wichita (AA) 8 10 4.64 28 27 1 0 157 154 49 122 Kansas City 0 0 0.00 1 0 0 0 2 1 1 3
7. Jeff Austin, RHP
Age: 23 B-T: R-R Ht: 6-0 Wt: 185
Drafted: Stanford, 1998 (1st round)Signed by: Dave Herrera
Background: Austin, Baseball Americas College Player of the Year in 1998, was the fourth overall pick that year. He didnt sign a club-record $2.7 million bonus until Feb. 20, 1999.
Strengths: Austins stuff is solid. He throws a low 90s fastball that he keeps low and on the corners then puts hitters away with a hard-breaking curveball. His changeup improved with more frequent use in 1999. Austins makeup, professionalism and work ethic are outstanding.
Weaknesses: Austins nine-month layoff may have contributed to his dead-arm period during the second half of 99, but he regained much of his velocity by the Arizona Fall League season. He continues to work on adding movement to his fastball and deception to his delivery.
The Future: The Royals will be looking for a solid, healthy building year from Austin in 2000. Their hope is for him to challenge for a 2001 starting position.
1999 Club W L ERA G GS CG SV IP H BB SO Wilmington (A) 7 2 3.77 18 18 0 0 112 108 39 97 Wichita (AA) 3 1 4.46 6 6 0 0 34 40 11 21
8. Junior Guerrero, RHP
Age: 20 B-T: R-R Ht: 6-2 Wt: 175
Signed: Dominican Republic, 1996Signed by: Luis Silverio
Background: Guerrero shocked the Royals in 1999, dominating both Class A levels as a teenager straight out of the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League. He finished fourth among all Class A pitchers in strikeouts (181) and fifth in ERA (2.31).
Strengths: Guerreros style at this stage of development is to simply overpower hitters. His fastball is consistently 93-94 mph and can touch 96. Guerrero also has shown a beyond-his-years appreciation for keeping the ball down in the strike zone.
Weaknesses: Guerreros slider shows flashes of having above-average biting action, but it isnt a consistent pitch yet. His changeup also remains in the developmental stages.
The Future: Because he has come so quickly, the Royals dont seem sure yet what they have in Guerrero, much as was the case with Moreno in 1998. With a wealth of pitching talent around Guerrero, the Royals likely will approach his development conservatively in 2000.
1999 Club W L ERA G GS CG SV IP H BB SO Charleston (A) 7 3 2.76 19 19 0 0 104 90 45 113 Wilmington (A) 4 2 1.40 9 9 0 0 51 30 26 68
9. Mark Quinn, OF
Age: 25 B-T: R-R Ht: 6-1 Wt: 175
Drafted: Rice, 1995 (11th round) Signed by: Terry Wetzel
Background: Quinn added the 1999 Pacific Coast League batting title to the Texas League title he won with a .349 average in 1998. As if that werent enough, Quinn took the big leagues by storm in September. Hes a .329 lifetime minor league hitter.
Strengths: Quinn bails and pulls off the ball, but he is excellent at manipulating the bat head and hitting line drives everywhere. He has no obvious weakness that pitchers can work on, whether it be offspeed pitches or specific location. He also hits righthanders as well, if not better, than lefthanders.
Weaknesses: As aggressive as Quinn is at the plate, he can be equally tentative in the field, especially in pursuing fly balls and leaving his feet. He is sure-handed, though, and has solid average arm strength.
The Future: Respect has come to Quinn slowly, but last years big league power display has put him in the mix for the Royals DH/backup corner outfield job in 2000.
1999 Club AVG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB Omaha (AAA) .360 428 67 154 27 0 25 84 28 69 7 Kansas City .333 60 11 20 4 1 6 18 4 11 1
10. Brian Sanches, RHP
Age: 21 B-T: R-R Ht: 6-1 Wt: 175
Drafted: Lamar, 1999 (2nd round)Signed by: Chet Sergo
Background: Like first-rounders Snyder and No. 11 prospect Mike MacDougal, Sanches was on a strict pitch limit because of arm fatigue from the spring. It didnt keep him from registering a short-season high 13.5 strikeouts per nine innings or being named the sixth-best prospect in the Northwest League.
Strengths: With a fresher, more rested arm during instructional league, Sanches showed the Royals a devastatingly hard, biting curveball that quickly could become the top breaking pitch in the system. He throws a solid average fastball in the 90-91 mph range and already has a good idea how to use his changeup.
Weaknesses: Sanches doesnt have the mid-90s heater of many of the Royals other prospects, so scouts dont feel his ceiling is quite as high.
The Future: Sanches will be the fastest moving of all the Royals 1999 draft choices if he can bring the command and curveball he showed in instructional league to Wilmington to start the 2000 Carolina League season.
1999 Club W L ERA G GS CG SV IP H BB SO Spokane (A) 1 1 4.76 9 9 0 0 34 32 12 51
Rest of the Best:
11. Mike MacDougal, rhp
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