2012 Kansas City Royals Top 10 Prospects With Scouting Reports




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Baseball America's Top 10 Prospects lists are based on projections of a player's long-term worth after discussions with scouting and player-development personnel. All players who haven't exceeded the major league rookie standards of 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched (without regard to service time) are eligible. Ages are as of April 1, 2011.

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Kansas City Royals

The Royals' slow slog to respectability sped up in 2011.

That might not be apparent from the club's won-loss record, 71-91. But this wasn't the same old team that has disappointed Kansas City fans for years. The Royals had their 16th losing season in the last 17 years and once again were out of the playoff race before the all-star break, but this time they did it with youth.

By the end of the season, there were days where Kansas City fielded five rookies in its starting lineup. At times, the bullpen featured just two pitchers with more than a year of big league experience.

Royals position players averaged 25.8 years of age, their youngest since their first year as an expansion team in 1969 and nearly two years younger than any other team in baseball in 2011. Kansas City's pitching staff averaged 26.4 years of age, its youngest since 2000 and again the youngest in the game last season.

More important than birthdates, for the first time in years, the Royals actually fielded a lineup of players whose best days are ahead of them. Rather than aging free-agent acquisitions such as Jose Guillen and Jason Kendall, Kansas City featured a wave of prospects who gave fans something interesting to watch for a change.

The Royals entered 2011 with a farm system not only ranked No. 1 by Baseball America, but also acclaimed as the best baseball had seen in quite a while. Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas were expected to reach the majors last season—and they did—while Johnny Giavotella and Salvador Perez sped up their timetables. It also helped the Alex Gordon, the No. 2 overall pick in 2005 and the franchise's most promising position prospect of the previous generation, finally lived up to expectations with a breakout season.

Kansas City will enter 2012 with a relatively set lineup that it hopes will mature together after ranking sixth in the American League in scoring last year. More quality bats are on the horizon. Outfielder Wil Myers is roughly a year away, while outfielder Bubba Starling and third baseman Cheslor Cuthbert will need longer to develop but have equally high ceilings.

For the Royals to return to contention, their starting pitching prospects will have to step up after a disappointing 2011. Danny Duffy made it to the majors, but Mike Montgomery and Chris Dwyer both struggled while John Lamb had Tommy John surgery.

Even after acquiring Jonathan Sanchez from the Giants in a November trade, Kansas City had few clear-cut fixtures in its starting rotation. The Royals have plenty of prospects who eventually could fill that void, and they hope that the hiring of former Tigers pitching coach Rick Knapp as pitching coordinator will help end their difficulties in developing starting pitchers. Zack Greinke is their lone homegrown starter to post a sub-4.00 ERA since 2000.

Kansas City is in better shape in the bullpen thanks to the arrival of several talented arms in 2011. Aaron Crow, the club's 2009 first-round pick, made the all-star team as a rookie after moving to the bullpen. Nathan Adcock, Louis Coleman, Tim Collins and Greg Holland also had fine rookie seasons.

1. Mike Montgomery, lhp Born: July 1, 1989 B-T: L-L Ht.: 6-4 Wt.: 185
Drafted: Hart HS, Newhall, Calif., 2008 (1st round supplemental). Signed by: Dan Ontiveros.
Mike MontgomeryBackground: In spring training last year, Montgomery made a strong push to make the Royals' Opening Day roster. In the end, Kansas City decided to send him to Omaha to give him Triple-A experience, with the expectation that he'd soon make the trek to the majors. He recorded a 2.45 ERA in his first six starts before struggles with his control and command caught up to him. He went 3-10, 6.12 with a gaudy 1.56 WHIP in his final 22 outings and never got that callup. It was the first on-field hiccup for Montgomery, who quickly established himself as the Royals' best pitching prospect after signing for $988,000 as the 36th overall pick in the 2008 draft. He ranked No. 1 on this list prior to the 2010 season, when he was spectacular at high Class A Wilmington in April before straining his forearm. Montgomery sat out two months and hasn't missed a start since, though his control hasn't been as sharp. He averaged 2.6 walks per nine innings before being sidelined, compared to a rate of 3.9 afterward.

Scouting Report: As a 6-foot-5 lefthander who generates good downward plane, Montgomery can dominate when he maintains his delivery. He runs his fastball up to 95-96 mph on his best nights and sits at 92-93, overpowering hitters when he commands it. But he struggled to do that in 2011, which left him behind in too many counts. Though Montgomery did a good job of getting out on the front side of his delivery in spring training, he had trouble keeping his mechanics in sync once the season began. While he battled to control his fastball, Kansas City tried to get him to focus more on pitching up and down in the zone and worrying less about working in and out. Even when he struggled, Montgomery was able to locate his plus changeup. He throws the changeup with deceptive arm speed and nice fade, and he keeps it down in the zone. After four pro seasons, Montgomery still is seeking the right grip for his curveball. He tried a spike curveball in spring training and while it showed some promise, it also caused forearm discomfort. He shelved it in May and went back to a more traditional curve. That version is slower at 74-76 mph and has big break that often carries it out of the strike zone. Montgomery still has the palmball/curve he used in high school that he can use when he feels he has to throw a strike. Whichever breaking ball Montgomery throws, it's usually his third-best offering and shows only flashes of becoming a plus pitch. On some days he can generate strikeouts with it, but more often than not, he lacks the confidence he has in his other two offerings. He's an intense competitor who was kicked off his high school basketball team for too many technical fouls.

The Future: Montgomery's 2011 struggles were disconcerting, but he also was a 22-year-old in the Pacific Coast League. He sill has plenty of time to work out his delivery issues. The Royals aren't worried, and scouts from other teams see no long-term hiccups. He still projects as a frontline starter and will head to spring training with an outside chance to make the big league club. Even if he heads back to Triple-A to begin the season, he is likely to be in Kansas City at some point during the 2012 season and projects as a rotation anchor for years to come.

 
Year Team W L ERA G GS SV IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
'08 Royals (R) 2 1 1.69 12 9 0 43 31 12 8 2 12 34 .195
'09 Burlington (LoA) 2 3 2.17 12 12 0 58 42 19 14 1 24 52 .194
'09 Wilmington (HiA) 4 1 2.25 9 9 0 52 38 15 13 0 12 46 .196
'10 Wilmington (HiA) 2 0 1.09 4 4 0 25 14 5 3 0 4 33 .159
'10 Royals (R) 0 1 1.04 3 3 0 9 6 1 1 0 1 7 .188
'10 NW Arkansas (AA) 5 4 3.47 13 13 0 60 56 31 23 4 26 48 .238
'11 Omaha (AAA) 5 11 5.32 28 27 0 151 157 95 89 15 69 129 .258
Minor League Totals 20 21 3.41 81 77 0 398 344 344 151 22 148 349 .224

2. Bubba Starling, of Born: Aug. 3, 1992 B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-4 Wt.: 180
Drafted: Gardner-Edgerton HS, Gardner, Kan., 2011 (1st round). Signed by: Blake Davis.
Bubba StarlingBackground: As a high school senior, Starling accounted for 3,167 yards and 39 touchdowns as a quarterback and averaged 28 points per game in basketball. He could have been Nebraska's quarterback of the future, but the Royals signed him for a franchise-record $7.5 million bonus after selecting him fifth overall in the 2011 draft.

Scouting Report: In an organization that covets premium athletes, Starling is the best of the bunch. He has excellent strength and bat speed and shows plus-plus power in batting practice. While he's not nearly as polished as Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas were when the Royals drafted them near the top of the first round out of high school, Starling has shortened his swing enough over the last year that scouts believe he'lll hit for average as well. He's a well above-average runner, making him a basestealing threat and giving him plus range in center field. Clocked at 95 mph on the mound, he has a stronger arm than most center fielders. He was cited for underage drinking during instructional league, but the Royals say his makeup isn't a problem.

The Future: Starling has a huge ceiling but will require more development time than Hosmer or Moustakas. Starling could make his pro debut at low Class A Kane County, or he could begin 2012 in extended spring training.

 
Year Team AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
Did Not Play

3. Wil Myers, of Born: Dec. 10, 1990 B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-3 Wt.: 205
Drafted: Wesleyan Christian Academy, High Point, N.C., 2009 (3rd round). Signed by: Steve Connelly.
Wil MyersBackground: A potential first-round talent in 2009, Myers fell to the third round because of his $2 million asking price, which the Royals met. He finished 2010 as one of the top catching prospects in baseball. A year later, he had switched positions and added a little tarnish. Myers missed a month in 2011 with a knee injury that got infected, and he didn't hit with as much authority as he had in the past.

Scouting Report: Myers has the quick hands and raw strength to hit 20-25 homers per year, plus the understanding of the strike zone and the hand-eye coordination to hit for average. He's most comfortable hitting pitches on the outer half, but Double-A pitchers busted him inside with fastballs and he struggled to turn on them. Late in the season, he spread out his feet, which opened him up to handle inside heat better. Myers has average speed and a plus arm, but he's a below-average right fielder for now. He takes poor routes to balls and some scouts were turned off by his low-energy approach, especially when it came to working on his defense.

The Future: Myers looked like his old self while hitting .360/.481/.674 in the Arizona Fall League and profiles as a possible all-star corner outfielder. He'll return to Northwest Arkansas to begin 2012, seemingly better prepared to handle Double-A pitchers this time around.

 
Year Team AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
'09 Burlington (R) 16 1 2 0 1 1 4 0 3 0 0 .125 .125 .438
'09 Idaho Falls (R) 68 18 29 7 1 4 14 9 15 2 0 .426 .488 .735
'10 Burlington (LoA) 242 42 70 19 1 10 45 48 55 10 3 .289 .408 .500
'10 Wilmington (HiA) 205 28 71 18 2 4 38 37 39 2 3 .346 .453 .512
'11 NW Arkansas (AA) 354 50 90 23 1 8 49 52 87 9 2 .254 .353 .393
Minor League Totals 885 139 262 67 6 27 150 146 199 23 8 .296 .399 .477

4. Jake Odorizzi, rhp Born: March 27, 1990 B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-2 Wt.: 175
Drafted: Highland (Ill.) HS, 2008 (1st round supplemental). Signed by: Harvey Kuenn Jr. (Brewers).
Jake OdorizziBackground: Odorizzi starred as a pitcher, shortstop and wide receiver in high school before Milwaukee made him the 32nd overall pick in the 2008 draft and signed him for $1.06 million. He swiftly blossomed into the Brewers' top pitching prospect before they packaged him with Lorenzo Cain, Alcides Escobar and Jeremy Jeffress to acquire Zack Greinke and Yuniesky Betancourt from the Royals in December 2010.

Scouting Report: Odorizzi sits at 91-93 mph and touches 95 with his fastball, which seems a little firmer because he has a slow, easy delivery with a quick finish. He misses a lot of bats with his heater, which has sinking and running action, and he maintains its velocity deep into games. Odorizzi's curveball, slider and changeup all have the potential to be average. His curve has the most upside, and he throws his changeup with conviction. After his promotion to Double-A Northwest Arkansas last July, he tried to be too fine with his pitches, which led to more walks and deeper counts.

The Future: Odorizzi could pitch his way to Triple-A with a dominant spring, but it's more likely that he'll return to Northwest Arkansas for a tuneup. He profiles as a No. 2 or 3 starter once he refines his secondary pitches.

 
Year Team W L ERA G GS SV IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
'08 Brewers (R) 1 2 3.48 11 4 0 21 18 10 8 2 9 19 .225
'09 Helena (R) 1 4 4.40 12 10 0 47 55 27 23 3 9 43 .281
'10 Wisconsin (LoA) 7 3 3.43 23 20 1 121 99 52 46 7 40 135 .215
'11 Wilmington (HiA) 5 4 2.87 15 15 0 78 68 30 25 4 22 103 .224
'11 NW Arkansas (AA) 5 3 4.72 12 12 0 69 66 38 36 13 22 54 .243
Minor League Totals 19 16 3.70 73 61 1 336 306 306 138 29 102 354 .233

5. Cheslor Cuthbert, 3b Born: Nov. 16, 1992 B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-1 Wt.: 190
Signed: Nicaragua '09. Signed by: Orlando Esteves/Juan Lopez.
Cheslor CuthbertBackground: Miguel Sano (Twins) and Gary Sanchez (Yankees) were the big names of the 2009 international signing class, but Cuthbert has been right on their heals since signing for $1.35 million out of Big Corn Island off the coast of Nicaragua. His polish made the Royals comfortable sending him to Kane County last May at age 18, making him the Midwest League's youngest position player. He had a .866 OPS entering August but wore out in the final month.

Scouting Report: Cuthbert is an advanced hitter for his age. He works deep counts, recognizes breaking balls and uses the entire field. Thanks to his approach, strength and simple swing, he could become a plus hitter with plus power. The Royals also think Cuthbert can become an above-average defender at third base with good hands, solid footwork and an above-average arm. MWL observers wondered if he'll be able to stay at third base because he's a well-below average runner with fringy range and a thick lower half. He'll have to maintain his conditioning and agility to avoid a move across the diamond.

The Future: With above-average offensive potential and a chance to stick at third base, Cuthbert could emerge as one of the game' better prospects with a solid 2012 season in high Class A. He's on course to reach Kansas City at age 22.

 
Year Team AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
'10 Royals (R) 68 14 18 3 2 1 5 6 19 1 1 .265 .342 .412
'10 Idaho Falls (R) 60 10 14 4 1 2 10 3 16 1 0 .233 .281 .433
'11 Kane County (LoA) 300 33 80 13 1 8 51 36 65 2 0 .267 .345 .397
Minor League Totals 428 57 112 20 4 11 66 45 100 4 1 .262 .336 .404

6. John Lamb, lhp Born: July 10, 1990 B-T: L-L Ht.: 6-4 Wt.: 200
Drafted: Laguna Hills (Calif.) HS, 2008 (5th round). Signed by: Gary Johnson/John Ramey.
John LambBackground: Lamb's stock dipped when he fractured his pitching elbow in a car accident as a high school senior. The Royals stayed on him, drafted him in 2008's fifth round and signed him for $165,000. He reached Double-A two years later and established himself as one of game' top lefty prospects. Lamb strained an oblique muscle in spring training last year and showed decreased velocity once the season began. Even when his oblique healed, his stuff didn't bounce back and doctors found a torn elbow ligament that required Tommy John surgery in June.

Scouting Report: Before the surgery, Lamb showed exquisite command of a 90-95 mph fastball and a plus changeup. He also threw an inconsistent curveball that can become an average pitch. Because of Lamb's feel for his delivery, the Royals expect he won't take long to regain his command when he returns. He has shown the ability to keep the ball down in the zone and to win without his best stuff.

The Future: If his pitches come back to what they were before he got hurt, Lamb projects as a solid No. 2 or 3 starter. He was throwing off flat ground during the offseason and won't return to game action until June at the earliest. It probably will be 2013 before he's fully back to his pre-injury form. Even so, he still could get to the majors before he turns 23.

 
Year Team W L ERA G GS SV IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
'09 Burlington (R) 2 2 3.95 6 6 0 27 24 14 12 4 9 25 .226
'09 Idaho Falls (R) 3 1 3.70 8 8 0 41 33 20 17 4 11 46 .210
'10 Burlington (LoA) 2 3 1.58 8 8 0 40 26 12 7 2 17 43 .178
'10 Wilmington (HiA) 6 3 1.45 13 13 0 75 59 18 12 1 15 90 .208
'10 NW Arkansas (AA) 2 1 5.45 7 7 0 33 37 24 20 2 13 26 .272
'11 NW Arkansas (AA) 1 2 3.09 8 8 0 35 33 15 12 3 13 22 .239
Minor League Totals 16 12 2.87 50 50 0 251 212 212 80 16 78 252 .220

7. Kelvin Herrera, rhp Born: Dec. 31, 1989 B-T: R-R Ht.: 5-10 Wt.: 190
Signed: Dominican Republic '06. Signed by: Daruys Nin/Rafael Vasquez.
Kelvin HerreraBackground: Herrera ranked among the Royals' best pitching prospects after he made his U.S. debut in 2008, then lost nearly two years to elbow problems. To get him back on track, Kansas City moved Herrera to the bullpen last year, and he threw more innings (70) than he did in as a starter (46) in 2009-10.

Scouting Report: Herrera has the best pure stuff in a system brimming with intriguing arms. Clocked as high as 102 mph, he consistently touches 100 and sits at 95-98 with an overpowering fastball. He backs up his heat with a solid curveball and even flashes a plus changeup with late tumbling action, though he doesn't use the changeup much in relief. Herrera's delivery never will be particularly clean, but he has smoothed out the jarring motion he used in past years. While his mechanics don't prevent him from throwing strikes, they do lead to concerns about his long-term health.

The Future: Herrera followed a two-inning big league cameo with a dominating stint in the Dominican League last fall. He's ready for a set-up role in Kansas City and could be Joakim Soria's eventual successor at closer if he stays healthy.

Year Team W L ERA G GS SV IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
'07 Royals (R) 4 1 0.84 11 5 1 43 30 6 4 1 15 50 .190
'08 Burlington (R) 2 2 1.42 11 8 0 51 48 17 8 0 5 45 .240
'08 Burlington (LoA) 2 0 2.13 3 1 0 13 13 4 3 0 2 7 .255
'09 Burlington (LoA) 1 0 0.00 1 1 0 5 3 0 0 0 0 1 .167
'10 Burlington (LoA) 2 3 4.35 8 8 0 41 38 20 20 2 15 40 .235
'11 Wilmington (HiA) 2 1 0.61 8 0 1 15 8 1 1 1 2 12 .154
'11 NW Arkansas (AA) 4 0 1.75 23 0 7 36 22 9 7 4 6 40 .169
'11 Omaha (AAA) 1 0 2.12 14 0 6 17 12 5 4 1 7 18 .190
'11 Kansas City (MAJ) 0 1 13.50 2 0 0 2 2 3 3 1 0 0 .250
Major League Totals 0 1 13.50 2 0 0 2 2 2 3 1 0 0 .250
Minor League Totals 18 7 1.91 79 23 15 221 174 174 47 9 52 213 .208

8. Jason Adam, rhp Born: Aug. 4, 1991 B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-4 Wt.: 225
Drafted: Blue Valley Northwest HS, Overland Park, Kan., 2010 (5th round). Signed by: Steve Gossett.
Jason AdamBackground: The Royals have a renewed emphasis to scout, draft and sign players in their area, such as Adam, whose high school sits 22 miles from Kauffmann Stadium. His inconsistent senior season and commitment to Missouri helped drop him to the fifth round of the 2010 draft, where Kansas City pounced and signed him for $800,000. The Royals sent Adam to low Class A for his 2011 pro debut, and while he had an up-and-down year, he allowed just two unearned runs over 5 2/3 innings in the deciding game of the Midwest League quarterfinals.

Scouting Report: After showing a 95-96 mph fastball during instructional league in 2010, Adam didn't have the same velocity while enduring the grind of starting every fifth day. He pitched at 88-93 for much of the season. His curveball shows flashes of being a plus pitch, and he locates it well for a 20-year-old, but the pitch lost some of its bite when his velocity dropped. Adam's changeup eventually could give him a third average-or-better pitch. He was glacially slow to the plate at the start of the season, but while he improved, he has to get quicker after giving up 27 steals in 30 attempts.

The Future: Adam didn't dominate in his pro debut, but he did make every start after arriving in Kane County. He's a potential No. 3 starter and headed to high Class A.

 
Year Team W L ERA G GS SV IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
'11 Kane County (LoA) 6 9 4.23 21 21 0 104 94 60 49 9 25 76 .231
Minor League Totals 6 9 4.24 21 21 0 104 94 94 49 9 25 76 .232

9. Chris Dwyer, lhp Born: April 10, 1988 B-T: R-L Ht.: 6-2 Wt.: 210
Drafted: Clemson, 2009 (4th round). Signed by: Steve Connelly.
Chris DwyerBackground: The Royals viewed Dwyer, a rare draft-eligible freshman, as one of the top lefthanders in the 2009 draft and paid him accordingly, $1.45 million as a fourth-round pick. He made it to Double-A in his first full pro season, but he was shut down that July with a back injury and had control problems when he returned to Northwest Arkansas in 2011. His ERA swelled to 6.96 by mid-July, though he recorded a 3.53 ERA over his final nine starts.

Scouting Report: When Dwyer was able to throw strikes early in games in 2011, he'll get ahead with a 90-92 mph fastball that touches 94 and set up hitters for his sharp 12-to-6 curveball. But too often, he couldn't find the strike zone because of delivery issues. He had problems locating pitches to his glove side and keeping the ball down in the zone. Dwyer tends to throw across his body and fails to finish his pitches, which takes away some of the bite and effectiveness from his curve. Interestingly, his average changeup was his most consistent pitch last year.

The Future: Dwyer had delivery issues even when he was going well in 2010 and he must take a step forward with his control if he's going to be the middle-of-the-rotation starter that Kansas City envisions. If he continues to struggle, his breaking ball could work well in the bullpen. He'll advance to Triple-A at some point in 2012.

 
Year Team W L ERA G GS SV IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
'09 Idaho Falls (R) 0 0 4.15 4 4 0 9 12 5 4 1 8 15 .316
'10 Wilmington (HiA) 6 3 2.99 15 15 0 84 79 36 28 3 33 93 .238
'10 NW Arkansas (AA) 2 1 3.06 4 4 0 18 11 8 6 2 10 20 .172
'11 NW Arkansas (AA) 8 10 5.60 27 27 0 141 124 93 88 14 78 126 .226
Minor League Totals 16 14 4.50 50 50 0 252 226 226 126 20 129 254 .230

10. Yordano Ventura, rhp Born: June 3, 1991 B-T: R-R Ht.: 5-11 Wt.: 140
Signed: Dominican Republic '08. Signed by: Pedro Silverio.
Yordano VenturaBackground: Ventura is the rare sub-6-foot pitcher who can reach triple digits on the radar gun. Signed for $28,000 out of the Dominican Republic at age 17, he has added nearly 10 mph to his fastball since then as he's gained weight and cleaned up his delivery.

Scouting Report: While Ventura can throw 100 mph, he's better off when he stops worrying about the radar gun, something that has been a problem for him. When he's trying to throw hard, his delivery becomes much messier with plenty of effort, leading him to spin off the mound and recoil at the end of his follow-through. When he relaxes and throws eaiser, he stays more in line to the plate which leads to improved control. Then he locates his 94-97 mph fastball much better, and his curveball shows plus potential rather than becoming the flat spinner he shows when he's overthrowing. His fastball has good late life. Ventura's 79-83 mph changeup is his third-best pitch, but it has late fade and almost unfair separation from his heater. He generally throw strikes, but his lack of command leads to his stuff getting hit harder than it should.

The Future: Ventura has the upside of a frontline starter, though he could wind up in the bullpen if he can clean up his mechanics. He responds well to being challenged, and the Royals will push him to high Class A at age 20 this season.

 
Year Team W L ERA G GS SV IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
'09 Royals (R) 0 1 2.78 10 5 3 23 28 11 7 0 5 11 .292
'10 Royals (R) 0 1 2.31 3 3 0 12 9 5 3 0 1 13 .205
'10 Royals (R) 4 2 3.25 14 6 0 53 49 28 19 3 17 58 .237
'11 Kane County (LoA) 4 6 4.27 19 19 0 84 82 43 40 8 24 88 .245
Minor League Totals 8 10 3.61 46 33 3 172 168 168 69 11 47 170 .246