Kansas City Royals Top 10 Prospects
Index of Top 10 Prospects for all 30 Major League Teams
By Jim Callis
1. Angel Berroa, ss
Age: 22. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-0. Wt.: 175. Signed: Dominican Republic, 1997. Signed by: Santiago Villalona (Athletics).
Background: Berroa is the exception to the rule that the Athletics take advantage of the Royals whenever the two clubs swing a trade. In recent years, Oakland has plucked Scott Chiasson (for Jay Witasick), Kevin Appier (for Jeff DAmico, Brad Rigby and Blake Stein) and Jermaine Dye (in a three-team deal that left Kansas City with Neifi Perez). Kansas City did make out well in January 2001, when it gave up Johnny Damon and infield prospect Mark Ellis in another three-team transaction. Roberto Hernandez and A.J. Hinch were disappointments, but Berroa gave the Royals the shortstop prospect they coveted. He set career highs in most offensive categories while improving defensively. Called to the majors in September, Berroa started for the final two weeks of the season and held his own. He stacks up against the top shortstop prospects in the minors.
Strengths: Berroa has Gold Glove potential at shortstop, where theres nothing he cant do. He has plenty of range and arm. He can get outs by making the long throw from deep in the hole as well as charging slow rollers. He got steadier in 2001, cutting his errors to 33 after making 54 in 2000. Unlike most standout middle-infield defenders, he can hit. With his speed and pop, Berroa could be a 20-20 player. He led all minor league shortstops with 60 extra-base hits last season.
Weaknesses: In order to hit at the top of a lineup, Berroa will need to draw more walks. He consistently puts the ball in play early in the count rather than working pitchers. He has become much less nonchalant in the field, though some high Class A Carolina League managers thought he showed off his arm too often. He can become more proficient as a basestealer after getting caught 12 times in 39 attempts last year.
The Future: Royals scouts thought Berroa was two years away from being ready for the majors at the time of the trade. But he has developed much more quickly than expected and will get a look in spring training. He has considerably more upside than Perez, so even if Berroa begins the year at Triple-A Omaha he shouldnt stay there long.
2. Jimmy Gobble, lhp
Age: 20. B-T: L-L. Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 190. Drafted: HSBristol, Va., 1999 (1st round supplemental). Signed by: Paul Faulk.
Background: One of four Royals first-round picks in 1999and one of three credited to area scout Paul FaulkGobble has excelled in Class A the last two seasons. Hes built like Chris George, Kansas Citys future ace, and Gobble has slightly better stuff. He also had more success in the Carolina League at the same age.
Strengths: Gobble has command of three quality pitches. He works with a low-90s fastball, the best curveball in the system and an advanced changeup. There was concern hed have trouble keeping his big-breaking curve in the strike zone, but it hasnt been a problem. He does a nice job of keeping the ball down, surrendering just 18 homers in 314 pro innings. Hes unflappable on the mound, which he showed when he shut out the Royals for six innings in an exhibition game.
Weaknesses: Gobble could tweak his changeup and use it more often. But all he really needs is experience, because his stuff should play at higher levels.
The Future: Other than letting him skip short-season Spokane, the Royals have moved Gobble one level at a time. They may not be able to stay so patient if he pitches well at Double-A Wichita to start 2002.
3. Colt Griffin, rhp
Age: 19. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-4. Wt.: 198. Drafted: HSMarshall, Texas, 2001 (1st round). Signed by: Gerald Turner.
Background: Until scouts went to see Natchitoches (La.) Central High righthander Calvin Carpenter pitch against Marshall (Texas) High last spring, Griffin wasnt even on the prospect radar screen. Then he threw 98 mph and attracted a huge following to his subsequent starts. After becoming the first high schooler to hit 100 mph, Griffin went ninth overall in the draft and signed for $2.4 million.
Strengths: Not only can Griffin light up radar guns like few other pitchers, but the ball comes out of his hand easily. He has a classic pitchers body that still has room for projection, so he could throw even harder. The Royals expect his slider and changeup eventually will become major league average pitches.
Weaknesses: Griffin is raw and inexperienced. While everyone coveted his arm strength, some scouts worry he prizes velocity more than movement. They also wonder how much aptitude he has for a breaking ball. He had no command when he reported to Spokane, though a long layoff for negotiations was at least partly to blame.
The Future: Griffin needs a lot of polish, so a return trip to Spokane may be in order. The Royals are willing to wait on an arm like his.
4. Mike MacDougal, rhp
Age: 25. B-T: B-R. Ht.: 6-4. Wt.: 195. Drafted: Wake Forest, 1999 (1st round). Signed by: Paul Faulk.
Background: Though MacDougal had just two starts above high Class A entering 2001, Kansas City rushed him to Triple-A. He wasnt ready, as evidenced by his 1-6, 7.02 record through mid-June. He rebounded in the second half, going 7-2, 3.43 to earn his first big league callup. That stint ended when MacDougals skull was fractured when he was struck by a bat in the dugout during a game.
Strengths: MacDougals stuff is better than that of any pitcher the Royals have, including the major leaguers and Griffin. He throws in the mid-90s with ease, and his fastball dives so much he cant always throw it for strikes. His slider is the nastiest breaking pitch in the system. His changeup was much improved late last season.
Weaknesses: His pitches are so electric that MacDougal has had difficulty directing them over the plate. He gets behind in counts and gives up more hits and walks than someone with his arsenal should.
The Future: MacDougal started putting everything together late last summer, so it wouldnt be any surprise if he opened 2002 in Kansas Citys rotation. He has no lingering effects from the skull fracture.
5. Roscoe Crosby, of
Age: 19. B-T: L-R. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 193. Drafted: HSBuffalo, S.C., 2001 (2nd round). Signed by: Junior Vizcaino.
Background: The Royals always have gone after big-time football recruits, from Willie Wilson and Bo Jackson to 1990s first-round picks Matt Smith and Dee Brown. They considered Crosby before taking Colt Griffin ninth overall last June, and got Crosby in the second round because he insisted on playing wide receiver at Clemson. Signed for $1.75 million, he caught 27 passes and scored four touchdowns for the Tigers as a freshman.
Strengths: Longtime Royals scout Art Stewart says the only high school player comparable to Crosby over the last two decades is Ken Griffey. Crosby has a quick bat and feet to match, and his power-speed combination was the best available in the 2001 draft. He covers a lot of ground in center field.
Weaknesses: No matter how athletic prospects may be, they almost never develop unless they concentrate on baseball. Crosby isnt close to doing that. His competition in high school wasnt strong, intensifying his need for pro at-bats. Some scouts question his swing.
The Future: Crosby wont rejoin the organization until May. He will make his pro debut in Spokane before returning to Clemson in August. He has NFL first-round potential, which further clouds his future.
6. Miguel Ascencio, rhp
Age: 21. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 180. Signed: Dominican Republic, 1998. Signed by: Sal Agostinelli (Phillies).
Background: Kansas City lost righthanders Corey Thurman and Ryan Baerlocher in Decembers major league Rule 5 draft, but came out ahead by taking Ascencio from the Phillies with the fifth overall pick. The Royals liken the move to getting an extra first-round pick. He led the high Class A Florida State League in ERA last season.
Strengths: Unless the Royals want to expose Ascencio to waivers and offer him back to Philadelphia for half his $50,000 draft price, he has to stick on the major league roster in 2002. He has two pitches that are ready for that levela 90-94 mph fastball that chews up bats and the best changeup in the system.
Weaknesses: Ascencio occasionally will flash a plus curveball, but is far from doing so on a consistent basis. His mechanics and command also need refinement. His status as a Rule 5 pick could hinder his development in 2002.
The Future: Kansas City general manager Allard Baird says the club wont just carry Ascencio on the 25-man roster to retain him. Hell be given every chance to earn a job as a starter or reliever in spring training.
7. Ken Harvey, 1b
Age: 24. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 240. Drafted: Nebraska, 1999 (5th round). Signed by: Craig Struss.
Background: Few hitters can match Harveys résumé. He won batting titles in NCAA Division I (.478) and the short-season Northwest League (.397) in 1999. He might have done the same in the Carolina League if he hadnt been injured in 2000 or promoted in 2001. His overall .350 average ranked fourth in the minors last year.
Strengths: Harveys bat caught George Bretts eyeor rather his earswith the sound the ball makes coming off it. He uses a wide-open stance and constantly laces line drives and gappers to the opposite field. The Royals believe he has the strength to hit with plus power.
Weaknesses: Though he runs OK for his size, Harvey doesnt offer much besides his bat. He has stiff hands at first base and may move to left field, where hed do less damage. His ability to put the bat on the ball actually works against him in terms of drawing walks.
The Future: While Harvey made his major league debut last September, hell spend most of 2002 in Triple-A. Mike Sweeney is a free agent after this season, so the first-base job could be his in 2003.
8. Kyle Snyder, rhp
Age: 24. B-T: B-R. Ht.: 6-8. Wt.: 220. Drafted: North Carolina, 1999 (1st round). Signed by: Paul Faulk.
Background: The seventh overall pick in the 1999 draft, Snyder was the Northwest Leagues No. 1 prospect in his pro debut. But he has worked just two innings in the two years since, thanks to two elbow operations, which included Tommy John surgery in September 2000. He started to regain his stuff last fall in instructional league and looked good in a five-inning Arizona Fall League cameo.
Strengths: If Snyders velocity comes back better than ever, as it has with many Tommy John survivors, look out. He threw 95-96 mph before he got hurt and threw 90-94 in the AFL. Far from a one-pitch guy, he also had a devastating changeup and a plus curveball. He has worked diligently during his rehabilitation, reinforcing Kansas Citys belief that he has the best makeup among its pitching prospects.
Weaknesses: Snyders comeback is far from complete. He has just 26 pro innings and more elbow surgeries than wins (one).
The Future: If he hadnt gotten hurt, Snyder might already have reached the majors. The Royals say theyll evaluate him in spring training before deciding where to send him for 2002. Hell be monitored carefully wherever he lands.
9. Mike Tonis, c
Age: 23. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 220. Drafted: California, 2000 (2nd round). Signed by: Dave Herrera.
Background: The Royals never have been strong at catcher, with Ellie Rodriguez (1969) and Darrell Porter (1980) the only all-star selections in the franchises 33 seasons. They tried to bolster the position in 2000, when they took Tonis and Scott Walter with second- and third-round picks. Tonis reached Double-A in his first full season despite a right knee injury that required arthroscopic surgery.
Strengths: Tonis has lived up to his billing as an advanced defensive catcher. He threw out 39 percent of basestealers in 2001 and is athletic. He once played all nine positions in the same college game, and was clocked at 90 mph from the mound. Tonis has power and exhibits more patience than most other Royals position prospects.
Weaknesses: Tonis might never hit for much of an average. He has worked on shortening his swing, but it still gets a bit long at times.
The Future: Journeyman Brent Mayne is the best Kansas City has behind the plate right now, and he wont stand in Tonis way when hes ready. That should be in 2003 after he gets another year of seasoning in the upper minors.
10. Brad Voyles, rhp
Age: 25. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-0. Wt.: 195. Drafted: Lincoln Memorial (Tenn.), 1998 (45th round). Signed by: Doug Smith (Braves).
Background: When the Braves went looking for defense at the 2001 trading deadline, the Royals sent Rey Sanchez to Atlanta for Voyles and infield prospect Anderson Machado. After falling and breaking his ankle in February, Voyles had been sidelined until June. He recovered to soar from high Class A to the majors.
Strengths: Voyles two best pitches are his hard curveball and his changeup. His fastball is solid at 88-93 mph, and his career took off in 2000 when he started using it more often. He does a good job of keeping the ball in the ballpark and has the tough mindset required to close games.
Weaknesses: Voyles will overthrow and lose the strike zone, a flaw minor league hitters let him get away with. Those in the majors and Arizona Fall League (where he had a 6.19 ERA) did not.
The Future: If Voyles can command his fastball during spring training, he stands a good chance of making the Royals. When Roberto Hernandez relinquishes the closer role, Voyles might be first in line.
Rest of the Best:
11. Runelvys Hernandez, rhp
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