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Top Ten Prospects: Kansas City Royals
Complete Index of Top 10s

By Will Kimmey
November 19, 2004


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, 2005.

Scouting reports for the Top 10 Prospects (Subscribers only) -- Click Here to Subscribe


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TOP TEN PROSPECTS
1. Billy Butler, 3b
2. Denny Bautista, rhp
3. Mark Teahen, 3b
4. Chris Lubanski, of
5. Justin Huber, c
6. Luis Cota, rhp
7. Shane Costa, of
8. Mitch Maier, 3b/of
9. Donald Murphy, 2b
10. J.P. Howell, rhp
BEST TOOLS
Best Hitter for Average Billy Butler
Best Power Hitter Billy Butler
Best Strike-Zone Discipline Billy Butler
Fastest Baserunner Mel Stocker
Best Athlete Chris Lubanski
Best Fastball Denny Bautista
Best Curveball Denny Bautista
Best Slider Denny Bautista
Best Changeup Danny Tamayo
Best Control Dusty Hughes
Best Defensive Catcher Matt Tupman
Best Defensive Infielder Andres Blanco
Best Infield Arm Andres Blanco
Best Defensive Outfielder Mel Stocker
Best Outfield Arm Brian McFall
TOP PROSPECTS
OF THE DECADE
1995 Johnny Damon, of
1996 Jim Pittsley, rhp
1997 Glendon Rusch, lhp
1998 Dee Brown, of
1999 Carlos Beltran, of
2000 Dee Brown, of
2001 Chris George, lhp
2002 Angel Berroa, ss
2003 Zack Greinke, rhp
2004 Zack Greinke, rhp
TOP DRAFT PICKS
OF THE DECADE
1995 Juan LeBron, of
1996 Dee Brown, of
1997 Dan Reichert, rhp
1998 Jeff Austin, rhp
1999 Kyle Snyder, rhp
2000 Mike Stodolka, lhp
2001 Colt Griffin, rhp
2002 Zack Greinke, rhp
2003 Chris Lubanski, of
2004 Billy Butler, 3b
LARGEST BONUSES
IN CLUB HISTORY
Jeff Austin, 1998 $2,700,000
Mike Stodolka, 2000 $2,500,000
Zack Greinke, 2002 $2,475,000
Colt Griffin, 2001 2,400,000
Kyle Snyder, 1999 $2,100,000
Chris Lubanski, 2003 $2,100,000

The Royals and their fans entered 2004 with guarded optimism. Kansas City was coming off its first winning season in nine years and supplemented a young roster with veteran free agents at reasonable prices.

The Royals won four of their first six games, but then dropped six straight and never climbed above .500 again. Injuries piled up (new acquisition Juan Gonzalez played just 33 games), the pitching staff crumbled and the team elected to trade free-agent-to-be Carlos Beltran in June. Shortstop Angel Berroa, the 2003 American League rookie of the year, struggled so much that he was sent down to Double-A Wichita. The cumulative result was a franchise-record 104 losses.

Disappointment was an understatement, general manager Allard Baird said.

The rough year did provide a few bright spots. The club may have filled three organizational needs with the Beltran deal, acquiring John Buck to become the everyday catcher, Mark Teahen to take over at third base sometime in 2005 and Mike Wood to add depth to the pitching staff. Righthander Zack Greinke reached the majors before he turned 21 and emerged as the teams best pitcher by seasons end. Fellow farmhands Andres Blanco, David DeJesus and Ruben Gotay also gained major league experience, and the club added prospects Denny Bautista and Justin Huber at little expense in astute trades.

We never changed our rebuilding-mode approach, Baird said. We didnt hold anybody back. If a young player is ready to come to the big leagues, he does.

The Royals enter 2005 in the same development-first mindset. Baird planned to sign major league and minor league free agents to use as roster filler until players such as Bautista, Huber and Teahen are ready for full-time duty. The Royals have seen the Twins succeed under similar small-market budget constraints and wish to build their team in the same mold, relying on homegrown talent.

Kansas City took steps toward that goal in 2004. Baird strengthened the player-development and scouting systems by hiring Donny Rowland, the former Angels scouting director who restocked that organizations prospect coffers, to oversee both departments. The initial returns on scouting director Deric Ladniers draft were positive, as the Royals added a slugger in Billy Butler, polished college pitchers with their next three selections, then a few high-ceiling high schoolers and some budget-conscious picks that emerged as pleasant surprises. Signing 2003s top draft-and-follow, hard-throwing righthander Luis Cota, gave the organization another shot in the talent arm.

The Royals must continue to draft and develop players to aid a farm system that has gained depth in recent years but still lacks an abundance of star-caliber players. Those are the types needed to win at the major league level, and its much cheaper for Kansas City to produce its own than to try to sign them on the open market.


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