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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When Dayton Moore took over as Royals general manager in mid-2006, one of the first things he said he wanted to do was figure out a way to develop pitching. "If you have 20 pitching prospects," he said, "you might get four or five to the big leagues."

Now he has his pitching prospects, and plenty of position prospects as well. Thanks to a willingness to spend large amounts of money in the draft and a solid player-development system, the Royals now have the deepest farm system in baseball. If Moore is going to be a success in Kansas City, it will depend on the young talent coming up through the organization.

That focus on the future is good news for Moore, because little has gone right for him at the big league level. The Royals have been just as disastrous under Moore as they were under previous GM Allard Baird. Kansas City has topped 70 wins only once in Moore's four-plus years running the franchise, and only twice in the last decade.

And it's hard to say that the 2010 Royals were any better than the group Moore inherited back four years earlier. Kansas City continues to rank near the bottom of the American League in most significant batting, pitching and fielding stats. Many of the cornerstones of the current team—Billy Butler, David DeJesus, Zack Greinke—already were in the big leagues or nearly ready when Moore took over.

With a farm system bereft of talent when he arrived, Moore ended up signing a revolving cast of low-level free agents and veteran trade acquisitions to fill holes at the big league level. Few of them have turned out to be finds, and most were soon headed elsewhere. That steady stream of mercenaries should start to slow down in 2011, thanks to a system almost ready to start producing significant big leaguers.

Third baseman Mike Moustakas should filter into the lineup at some point during the season, and first baseman Eric Hosmer could join him before the end of 2011. All five of the Royals' top pitching prospects—John Lamb, Mike Montgomery, Danny Duffy, Chris Dwyer, Aaron Crow—will open the year in the Double-A Northwest Arkansas rotation, and some of them could bolster the big league staff later in the year. It will be 2012 before the majority of their best prospects reach Kansas City for good, however, which likely means another season of struggling at the big league level.

By devoting resources to player development, the Royals finally have found a possible path of success. They rank fifth in draft bonus expenditures over the last five years at $37.8 million, and spent heavily again in 2010 to land shortstop Christian Colon ($2.75 million), outfielder Brett Eibner ($1.25 million) and righthander Jason Adam ($800,000). They've also done well internationally, finding such talents as Dominican righthanders Yordano Ventura and Robinson Yambati, Nicaraguan third baseman Cheslor Cuthbert and Venezuelan shortstop Humberto Arteaga in the last three years.

But just as their investments are starting to pay off, the Royals may have to plan a different approach. There has been much talk about a mandated slotting system for the draft beginning in 2012, which would cost Kansas City one of the few competitive advantages a small-revenue team can have—a willingness to sign over-slot players.

1.  Eric Hosmer   Born: Oct. 24, 1989B-T: L-LHt: 6-4Wt: 215
 Drafted: HS—Plantation, Fla., 2008 (1st round)Signed by: Alex Mesa
Eric HosmerBackground: At its simplest, hitting has been described as "see the ball, hit the ball." Hosmer showed in 2010 how important it is to see the ball. After signing $6 million at the Aug. 15 deadline as the No. 3 overall pick in 2008, he initially struggled to live up to his reputation as the best high school bat in his draft class. During his first full season in pro ball, he batted .241/.334/.361 between two Class A stop and was diagnosed with astigmatism. He had his vision corrected with LASIK surgery, and he looked like a totally different hitter last season. Recovering from a broken knuckle on his right hand in 2009 and improving his conditioning also helped—he worked out extensively in the offseason and showed up in significantly better shape in 2010. Hosmer led the high Class A Carolina League in batting (.354) and on-base percentage (.545) and showed increased power after a promotion to Double-A Northwest Arkansas, which he helped led to the Texas League title. He rated as the No. 2 prospect in both leagues. After the season, he led Team USA by hitting .389 at the Pan Am qualifier before heading to the Arizona Fall League for some more seasoning.

Scouting Report: Hosmer's approach is very advanced for his age, and one scout likened it to Joey Votto's. He already likes to use the opposite field and has the strength to drive the ball out of the park while going the other way. Pitchers who nibble on the outside corner to stay away from his power are doing just what he prefers. The Royals would like to see Hosmer become a little more pull-conscious, as they believe his home run numbers will jump once he turns on inside fastballs more often. He has shown the ability to do so and he has enough bat speed to pull good fastballs, but at times he seems reluctant to abandon the opposite field. He projects as well-above average as a hitter and power hitter, with a swing that has drawn comparisons to Will Clark's with the same kind of high finish. While fellow Royals prospect Mike Moustakas gets his power from a big rip, Hosmer prefers an easier, if less powerful, stroke. After struggling against lefties in 2009, he showed no such problems in 2010, batting .360/.409/.566 against southpaws. Defensively, Hosmer showed increased agility and good range at first base last season. The Royals believe he has Gold Glove ability down the road. He was clocked up to 97 mph as a high school pitcher, though his plus arm strength rarely comes into play at first base. He shags balls in the outfield regularly and is good enough to play occasionally out there if the Royals want to get his and Billy Butler's bats in the lineup in interleague games. Though he's a below-average runner, he knows how to pick his spots to run, as evidenced by 14 steals in 16 tries in 2010.

The Future: Hosmer should start 2011 as part of a loaded Northwest Arkansas lineup. A midseason promotion to Triple-A Omaha is likely if he keeps hitting as he has, and it's not outside the realm of possibility that he could make it to Kansas City late in the year for a brief call-up. He projects as the team's long-term three-hole hitter.
2010 Club (Class) AVG OBP SLG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB
Wilmington (Hi A) .354 .429 .545 115 48 115 29 6 7 51 44 39 11
Northwest Arkansas (AA) .313 .365 .615 195 39 61 14 3 13 35 15 27 3
2.  Wil Myers, c   Born: Dec. 10, 1990B-T: R-RHt: 6-3Wt: 190
 Drafted: HS—High Point, N.C., 2009 (3rd round)Signed by: Steve Connelly
Wil MyersBackground: The Royals thought about drafting Myers 12th overall in 2009, but gambled successfully that his $2 million price tag would drop him to their next choice in the third round. Now that he has hit .324/.429/.533 in two pro seasons, plenty of teams wish they had met his price.

Scouting Report: Myers' success at the plate comes in large part from excellent pitch recognition. He often stops loading his swing just as a pitcher releases the ball—because he quickly determines whether it's a pitch he wants to hit. He's a pull hitter who works deep counts and projects to have easy above-average power down the road. The big question is whether he'll be able to catch in the big leagues. Though he threw out 32 percent of basestealers in 2010 and has plus arm strength, he stands too tall and drops his elbow, costing him accuracy. His long arms and legs make it hard for him to receive and block balls. He's more athletic and a better runner than most catchers, and should be able to handle a move to an outfield corner if needed.

The Future: While the Royals believe Myers can stay behind the plate, they also know they can get him to the majors quicker and get more offensive production out of him if they move him to the outfield. He'll spend 2011 in Double-A, with his position still to be determined.
2010 Club (Class) AVG OBP SLG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB
Burlington (Lo A) .289 .408 .500 242 42 70 19 1 10 45 48 55 10
Wilmington (Hi A) .346 .453 .512 205 28 71 18 2 4 38 37 39 2
3.  Mike Moustakas, 3b   Born: Sept. 11, 1988B-T: L-RHt: 5-11Wt: 230
 Drafted: HS—Chatsworth, Calif., 2007 (1st round)Signed by: John Ramey
Mike MoustakasBackground: The No. 2 overall pick in the 2007 draft and the recipient of a $4 million bonus, Moustakas led the low Class A Midwest League with 22 homers in his first full pro season. After a poor 2009 encore, he bounced back to earn Texas League MVP honors and tie for the minor league lead with 36 homers.

Scouting Report: Moustakas' swing isn't that different than what it was in 2009, but a better approach led to better results. He started laying off pitches that he couldn't do much damage to, leading to more favorable counts and more opportunities to unleash his plus-plus power. With his excellent bat speed, he can drive the ball out of the park to any field. He may never walk a lot, but he also has an uncanny ability to make contact. Scouts worry about Moustakas' ability to stay at third base. He's a below-average runner who likely will continue to get slower, and his footwork and mechanics lack consistency. He does have some assets at the hot corner, with a strong arm and average first-step quickness and hands.

The Future: Moustakas probably will spend a couple of months in Triple-A to open 2011, but he should be the first of the much-anticipated wave of prospects to arrive in Kansas City.  He should hit in the middle of the Royals' lineup for years.
2010 Club (Class) AVG OBP SLG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB
NW Arkansas (AA) .347 .413 .687 259 58 90 25 0 21 76 26 42 0
Omaha (AAA) .293 .314 .564 225 36 66 16 0 15 48 8 25 2
4.  John Lamb, lhp   Born: July 10, 1990B-T: L-LHt: 6-3Wt: 195
 Drafted: HS—Laguna Hills, Calif., 2008 (5th round)Signed by: Gary Johnson/John Ramey
John LambBackground: Lamb lasted five rounds in the 2008 draft because he missed his high school senior season after fracturing his elbow in a car accident. The Royals were able to sign a premium talent for $165,000, and he has shown no ill effects since. He led Kansas City farmhands with a 2.38 ERA and 159 strikeouts while reaching Double-A at age 20 in 2010.

Scouting Report: Few lefthanders can match Lamb's combination of three possible plus pitches and exquisite command. He paints the outside corner with his fastball, which usually ranges from 90-95 mph, and works down and away with a quality changeup. He also throws a curveball that isn't as consistent as his other two offerings. While Lamb's stuff is a tick below Mike Montgomery's, his ability to succeed without his best stuff could make him the better pitcher. He already has shown he can win on nights when his fastball sits at 89-90 mph and he doesn't have feel for his curve. He keeps the ball down in the zone, allowing just five homers in 148 innings last season.

The Future: Lamb is expected to be part of an all-prospect Northwest Arkansas rotation with Montgomery, Danny Duffy, Chris Dwyer and Aaron Crow to start the 2011 season. If he makes as much progress as he did in 2010, he could end the year in Kansas City.
2010 Club (Class) W L ERA G GS CG SV IP H HR BB SO AVG
Burlington (Lo A) 2 3 1.58 8 8 0 0 40 26 2 17 43 .188
Wilmington (Hi A) 6 3 1.45 13 13 0 0 75 59 1 15 90 .219
NW Arkansas (AA) 2 1 5.45 7 7 0 0 33 37 2 13 26 .280
5.  Mike Montgomery, lhp   Born: July 1, 1989B-T: L-LHt: 6-5Wt: 180
 Drafted: HS—Newhall, Calif., 2008 (1st round supplemental)Signed by: Dan Ontiveros
Mike MontgomeryBackground: Signed for $988,000 as the 36th overall pick in the 2008 draft, Montgomery ranked No. 1 on this list a year ago. He missed nearly two months with a strained forearm in 2010, but he returned in mid-July and was healthy down the stretch, pitching with Team USA (he won two starts in the Pan Am qualifier) and in the Arizona Fall League and starting the Rising Stars Game in the Arizona Fall League.

Scouting Report: On his best nights, Montgomery features a plus-plus fastball to go with an above-average curveball and changeup. He generates excellent angle with his fastball while running it up to 95-96 mph, more often sitting at 91-93. He has junked his high school palmball/curve and developed a more traditional, big-breaking 74-76 mph bender. He's still learning how to locate his curve for strikes. His changeup has some late fade, and his ability to throw it with excellent arm speed and keep it down in the zone makes it a plus pitch. His mechanics are solid, so his health isn't a major concern going forward.

The Future: The forearm injury slowed Montgomery's ascent, but he's still not far away from Kansas City. He'll return to Double-A to start 2011, but he's yet another blue-chip prospect who could debut with the Royals later in the year.
2010 Club (Class) W L ERA G GS CG SV IP H HR BB SO AVG
Wilmington (Hi A) 2 0 1.09 4 4 0 0 25 14 0 4 33 .165
NW Arkansas (AA) 5 4 4.37 13 13 0 0 60 56 4 26 48 .255
AZL Royals (R) 0 1 1.04 3 3 0 0 9 6 0 1 7 .207
6.  Christian Colon, ss   Born: May 14, 1989B-T: R-RHt: 6-1Wt: 180
 Drafted: Cal State Fullerton, 2010 (1st round)Signed by: Scott Groot
Christian ColonBackground: Though there was no clear-cut No. 4 overall pick in the 2010 draft, the Royals were pleased to get the highly skilled Colon. Baseball America's 2009 Summer Player of the Year, he led the Big West Conference with 17 homers last spring. He signed quickly for MLB's slot recommendation of $2.75 million, enabling him to play 60 games in high Class A.

Scouting Report: Outside of his bat, Colon's tools grade mostly as average, but his consistency and feel for the game let him play well above his pure physical ability. His best attribute is his ability to make solid contact, which allows him to hit for average and project as a No. 2 hitter. He has a quick bat and his hands work well, allowing him to drive the ball to the opposite field even when he gets caught out on his front foot. His average power will really stand out if he can remain at shortstop, which is in question because he has fringy speed and limited quickness. He doesn't have outstanding range, but he can make all the routine plays with his solid hands and average arm. At worst, he should be an offensive second baseman.

The Future: By signing quickly, Colon put himself in position to move to Double-A in 2011. When the Royals' youth movement really takes hold the following year, he could be their starting shortstop.
2010 Club (Class) AVG OBP SLG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB
Wilmington (Hi A) .278 .326 .380 245 38 68 12 2 3 30 13 33 2
7.  Danny Duffy, lhp   Born: Dec. 21, 1988B-T: L-LHt: 6-3Wt: 195
 Drafted: HS—Lompoc, Calif., 2007 (3rd round)Signed by: Rick Schroeder
Danny DuffyBackground: After posting a 2.49 ERA in three pro seasons and pitching in the Futures Game in 2009, Duffy surprisingly walked away from the game during spring training in 2010. He had a minor elbow injury that would have sidelined him in April, but he says that wasn't an issue. He returned in June and looked as good as ever, touching 95-97 regularly throughout the summer.

Scouting Report: Duffy often paces himself in the early innings, sitting at 90-92 mph before reaching the mid-90s later in games. His velocity jump sometimes comes with a propensity to overthrow. He generally commands his fastball well and creates deception with a crossfire delivery, though he has gotten better about staying online to the plate. His best secondary pitch is a changeup that's slightly above average at times, but his feel for it wavers. His slow curveball has plenty of depth, but he'll probably switch to a slider that will be a better fit for his three-quarters arm slot. He has a relatively advanced feel for setting up hitters.

The Future: Though Duffy has made just seven starts above Class A, he's not that far away from the big leagues. He'll return to Double-A to open 2011 and could reach Kansas City by September.
2010 Club (Class) W L ERA G GS CG SV IP H HR BB SO AVG
AZL Royals (R) 0 0 3.38 2 2 0 0 3 2 0 1 4 .222
Idaho Falls (R) 0 1 1.50 2 2 0 0 6 4 0 0 6 .182
Wilmington (Hi A) 0 0 2.57 3 3 0 0 14 8 2 7 18 .170
NW Arkansas (AA) 5 2 2.95 7 7 1 0 40 38 3 9 41 .255
8.  Chris Dwyer, lhp   Born: April 10, 1988 • B-T: L-LHt: 6-3Wt: 210
 Drafted: Clemson, 2009 (4th round)Signed by: Steve Connelly
Chris DwyerBackground: Because he was held back in elementary school and attended prep school, Dwyer was a rare draft-eligible freshman because he was 21 after his year at Clemson. His seven-figure asking price and extra leverage scared teams off, but the Royals gave him mid-first-round money ($1.45 million) as a fourth-rounder and now consider him the equal of any college lefthander in the 2009 draft. He was shut down at the end of July with a back injury, but the Royals do not believe it will be a long-term problem.

Scouting Report: Dwyer's sharp, 12-to-6 curveball is the best in the system and rates as a 60-65 on the 20-80 scouting scale. Unlike most young pitchers, he can locate his curve start after start. He sets it up with a 91-92 mph fastball that touches 95. He's not afraid to bust hitters inside with his fastball, and improved his command of it during the season. He also made strides with his straight changeup. When he struggles, it's often because Dwyer starts to throw across his body, causing him to leave his fastball up in the zone. Because he's an excellent athlete, he's able to make quick adjustments.

The Future: Dwyer could have returned to action in late August and should be fully recovered from his back problems by spring training. He'll be part of the minors' best rotation at Northwest Arkansas in 2011.
2010 Club (Class) W L ERA G GS CG SV IP H HR BB SO AVG
Wilmington (Hi A) 6 3 2.99 15 15 1 0 84 79 3 33 93 .246
NW Arkansas (AA) 2 1 3.06 4 4 0 0 18 11 2 10 20 .175
9.  Aaron Crow, rhp   Born: Nov. 11, 1986B-T: R-RHt: 6-3Wt: 195
 Drafted: Fort Worth (American Association), 2009 (1st round)Signed by: Scott Melvin
Aaron CrowBackground: The top college righthander in the 2008 draft, Crow turned down a $3.5 million bonus offer from the Nationals as the No. 9 overall pick. He took a detour to the independent Fort Worth Cats (American Association) before the Royals drafted him 12th overall in 2009 and signed him that September to a $3 million big league contract. He struggled throughout 2010, earning a demotion to high Class A in August.

Scouting Report: Crow's problems were largely mechanical, as he sped up the start of his delivery and opened up too quickly. As a result, hitters saw the ball early, his fastball flattened out and his command slipped. He also has a wrist wrap that Kansas City is willing to live with. There's nothing wrong with his stuff. His fastball often sits at 95-96 mph and touched 98, but he may be better sitting at 92-94 with natural sink. Crow's 84-87 mph slider is still a plus pitch with good bite, but his command issues gave him few chances to use it. His upper-80s changeup is too hard, so he began throwing a low-80s knuckle-curve as an offspeed pitch late in the season.

The Future: Crow will return to Double-A after flunking his first trial there in 2010. If he can't figure out his delivery and command, he has the stuff to be a late-inning reliever.
2010 Club (Class) W L ERA G GS CG SV IP H HR BB SO AVG
NW Arkansas (AA) 7 7 5.66 22 22 0 0 120 130 13 59 90 .279
Wilmington (Hi A) 2 3 5.93 7 7 0 0 44 51 6 6 53 .290
10.  Brett Eibner, of   Born: Dec. 2, 1988B-T: R-RHt: 6-4Wt: 210
 Drafted: Arkansas, 2010 (2nd round)Signed by: Lloyd Simmons
Brett EibnerBackground: The Astros made Eibner a fourth-round pick as a high school pitcher in 2007, but he turned down their $180,000 slot offer to attend Arkansas as a two-way player. That move paid off handsomely, as the Royals signed him for $1.25 million as a second-round pick three years later. Though he can hit 97 mph on the mound, Kansas City drafted Eibner to hit, his preference.

Scouting Report: Eibner's raw power is just as impressive as his fastball. His swing can get sweepy and long at times, but he can drive the ball out of any part of any ballpark. He doesn't always make consistent contact, but he improved during his college career and should be at least an average hitter now that he's focusing on it full-time—he showed significant improvement as a college junior. He's a slightly above-average runner who gets good enough jumps to stay in center field, but he projects better in right field, where his plus arm strength will be quite useful. He always could fall back on being a pitcher, as he also flashed a plus slider and showed feel for a changeup.

The Future: Eibner signed late and is still a relatively raw hitter for a college product, so he could begin his pro career at the Royals' new low Class A Kane County affiliate. By 2013, he could be another powerful bat in the middle of Kansas City's lineup.
2010 Club (Class) AVG OBP SLG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB
Did Not Play—Signed Late

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