2013 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.

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Kansas City Royals

The Royals' 2012 marketing slogan was Our Time. It should have been Déjà Vu All Over Again.

Kansas City again found itself unable to contend in one of the weakest divisions in baseball, the American League Central. The Royals finished below .500 for the 18th time in 19 seasons and have gone 27 years since their last playoff appearance. Many players on the current major league roster weren't alive the last time the club made the postseason.

A playoff run in 2012 would have been a serendipitous early arrival for a team fielding rookies or second-year players at catcher, first base, second base, shortstop, third base and center field. But those hopes took a hit early with the loss of closer Joakim Soria and starters Danny Duffy and Felipe Paulino to Tommy John surgeries, gutting an already thin pitching staff.

There will be no such excuses in 2013. Now two seasons removed from being the first club ever to place nine players on Baseball America's Top 100 Prospects list, Kansas City will field largely the same lineup as the one it rolled out for most of the second half of 2012. No. 1 prospect Wil Myers will be ready to help the big league club and second baseman Christian Colon might join the team late in the year, but otherwise, no significant position players are expected to arrive from the minors before 2014.

General manager Dayton Moore and his staff have developed a lineup that should be an asset if it continues to mature. The bullpen is equally young, homegrown and talented. If the Royals fall flat in 2013, it likely will be for the same reason they've struggled throughout Moore's 6½ years as GM: an inability to produce starting pitching.

The six drafts Moore has overseen in Kansas City have produced a total of 26 big league starts—18 by Duffy and eight by Everett Teaford—the 21st-best total in baseball over that stretch. High-dollar draft picks Chris Dwyer, Tim Melville and Mike Montgomery haven't developed as hoped, nor has $6.9 million Cuban defector Noel Arguelles. John Lamb is another arm sidetracked by Tommy John surgery.
Kansas City has multiple holes and no frontline starters for its 2013 rotation. Luke Hochevar, drafted No. 1 overall in 2006, has gone 38-59, 5.39 in parts of six seasons and posted the second-worst ERA (5.73) among major league qualifiers in 2012.

Jake Odorizzi, acquired in the Zack Greinke trade with the Brewers, could claim a spot during spring training. Otherwise, the Royals will have to look outside the organization for other options. They acquired Ervin Santana from the Angels for minor league reliever Brandon Sisk in October, with an eye toward more moves as the offseason continued.

Moore and his front office have plenty of incentive to solve their pitching problems. Just eight clubs have failed to make the playoffs since he was hired in May 2006, and the Royals are the lone team in the group that hasn't made a GM change.

If Kansas City fails to advance to the postseason in 2013, Moore will have one of the five longest GM tenures without a playoff appearance in the last two decades. Former Royals GM Herk Robinson leads that list with nine playoff-less seasons.

The Royals sacked the ad agency that came up with the Our Time slogan. If their time doesn't come in 2013, more firings may ensue.

1. 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: For much of his career, Wil Myers' eventual position has been unclear. His destiny as an impact big leaguer has been much more certain. In high school, he had more success as a pitcher than as a hitter as a junior, and he would have been a two-way player had he followed through on his commitment to South Carolina. But after his $2 million asking price dropped him to the third round of the 2009 draft, the Royals met his price. Myers began his pro career as a catcher, but after splitting time with Salvador Perez at high Class A Wilmington in 2010, he agreed to move to right field. He added center field to his list of positions in 2012 and also dabbled with third base for 15 games. Myers made the decision to tweak his stance, setting up more upright and working on backspinning the ball for more carry. It paid off to the tune of 37 home runs, second most in the minors and 23 more than he had ever hit in a pro season. In the last 50 years, only one 21-year-old has hit more homers in a minor league season (Arlo Engel, with 41 in 1963). Myers joined Tom Gordon as the only Royals to win Baseball America's Minor League Player of the Year award.

Scouting Report: Myers' outstanding raw power has been clear since he put on a show at Kauffman Stadium in a predraft workout. What makes him stand out is that he pairs his pop with an advanced approach at the plate and excellent hand-eye coordination. When he uses the opposite field and doesn't worry about hitting homers, he can post high batting averages and on-base percentages. His decision to try to hit for more power in 2012 meant that Myers took more aggressive swings in two-strike counts, resulting in a career-high 140 strikeouts. After struggling with chasing balls that were too far in on his hands to hit fair in 2011, he made adjustments to lay off those pitches while showing he could pull fastballs on the inner half for extra bases. Myers has fringy speed but is a heady baserunner. He fits best in right field, where he should become a solid defender. He responded well to the challenge of center field, but his lack of quickness limits him there. The Royals see him as an average center fielder in the short term, but scouts on other teams grade him as well below average. Though he's much more raw at third base, his plus arm and soft hands would allow him to stick there if the need arose. He possibly could develop into an average third baseman in time if he was allowed to work on the positon full-time.

The Future: Myers was ready to stay in Kansas City when he arrived for the midseason Futures Game. Since he wasn't yet on the 40-man roster and didn't need to be added to it this offseason, the Royals kept him in Triple-A for the full season. If the Royals end the offseason with Jeff Francoeur still on the roster, it won't be a surprise to see Myers start 2013 at Triple-A Omaha. That would allow him to work on cutting down his strikeouts and could help delay his arbitration and free-agent eligibility. Regardless, he'll be in the major leagues before long. He projects as an eventual No. 3 hitter in the lineup because of his batting eye and power potential.

'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
'12 NW Arkansas (AA) 134 32 46 11 1 13 30 16 42 4 1 .343 .414 .731
'12 Omaha (AAA) 388 66 118 15 5 24 79 45 98 2 2 .304 .378 .554
Minor League Totals 1407 237 426 93 12 64 259 207 339 29 11 .303 .395 .522

2. Kyle Zimmer, rhp Born: Sep 13, 1991 B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-3 Wt.: 215
Drafted: San Francisco, 2012 (1st round).  Signed by: Max Valencia
Kyle ZimmerBackground: Zimmer went to San Francisco as a third baseman, but moved to the mound and developed into a top prospect as a sophomore. He established his credentials by shutting out UCLA and beating No. 1 overall pick Gerrit Cole in a 2011 NCAA regional, setting the stage for going fifth overall in the 2012 draft. A predraft physical revealed bone chips in his elbow, but the Royals still signed him for $3 million. He made nine pro starts before having September surgery to clean out his elbow.

Scouting Report: Zimmer consistently sits at 93-95 mph with his four-seam fastball, touching 97-98 at his best. His fastball has enough late life to generate swings and misses, as does his hard-breaking curveball. He actually has more confidence in his slider, though it's more of an average pitch and not as good as his curve. Zimmer has developed an erratic but promising changeup with late tumble. A quality athlete who also played basketball and water polo in high school, he has tremendous command and feel for his delivery for a pitcher with just two years of experience.

The Future: The Royals desperately wanted a frontline starter with top-five picks in 2010 and 2011, and they finally got one in Zimmer.  He's likely to start the season at high Class A Wilmington, but could pitch his way to Double-A before long.

'12 Royals (R) 1 0 0.90 3 3 0 10 5 1 1 0 0 13 .143
'12 Kane County (LoA) 2 3 2.43 6 6 0 30 34 15 8 1 8 29 .276
Minor League Totals 3 3 2.03 9 9 0 40 39 39 9 1 8 42 .245

3. 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: A three-sport star in high school, Starling turned down a scholarship to play quarterback at Nebraska when the Royals selected him fifth overall and paid him $7.5 million in 2011. He remained in extended spring training at the start of 2012 to retool his set-up and swing, then headed to Rookie-level Burlington. Of the 13 high school first-rounders from 2011, he was one of three who didn't play full-season ball during the year.

Scouting Report: Starling has well above-average raw power and his speed, center-field defense and arm strength all project as at least plus tools. His ultimate impact will be determined by his bat, however. He's still raw at the plate and swings and misses a lot—he struck out in 35 percent of his at-bats, fifth worst in the system. He too often drops his bat head during his load, which leads to a long, flat swing. Kansas City is working on having him pull his bat back with his top hand instead of pushing it back with his bottom hand to help him control the bat head better. He also has to improve in recognizing breaking balls. Defensively, he's more advanced than expected and projects as a plus center fielder.

The Future: Starling's power and speed will allow the Royals to live with some strikeouts, but he still has a long way to go at the plate. He'll advance to Kansas City's new low Class A Lexington affiliate in 2013.

'12 Burlington (R) 200 35 55 8 2 10 33 28 70 10 1 .275 .371 .485
Minor League Totals 200 35 55 8 2 10 33 28 70 10 1 .275 .371 .485

4. Yordano Ventura, rhp Born: Jun 3, 1991 B-T: R-R Ht.: 5-11 Wt.: 140
Signed: Dominican Republic '08 Signed by: Pedro Silverio
Yordano VenturaBackground: Signed for $28,000 as a 17-year-old with a mid-80s fastball, Ventura quickly blossomed into one of the hardest throwers in the organization. Slated to return to low Class A in 2012, he earned a spot at high Class A during spring training, then merited a Double-A promotion and Futures Game appearance at midseason.

Scouting Report: Nicknamed "Lil' Pedro" because of his combination of size and velocity, Ventura has a fastball that sits at 94-97 mph and reaches 102. He can throw his curveball for strikes by taking a little off it, or use it as a chase pitch by breaking it off harder. It's a true downer curve that should end up as a plus pitch if he continues to refine it. His changeup has more deception than movement, and he needs to show more trust in it. Ventura still is working to improve his command and control. Some scouts worry that his fastball will lack effectiveness at higher levels because his size doesn't give him much angle or downward plane.

The Future: Despite his small stature, Kansas City hopes Ventura can fill one of the holes in their big league rotation, perhaps as soon as mid-2013. His stuff makes him a safe bet to at least be a power reliever.

'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
'12 Wilmington (HiA) 3 5 3.30 16 16 0 76 66 32 28 7 28 98 .224
'12 Royals (R) 0 0 2.45 1 1 0 4 3 1 1 0 1 7 .214
'12 NW Arkansas (AA) 1 2 4.60 6 6 0 29 23 16 15 1 13 25 .207
Minor League Totals 12 17 3.62 69 56 3 281 260 260 113 19 89 300 .236

5. Jake Odorizzi, rhp Born: Mar 27, 1990 B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-2 Wt.: 185
Drafted: Highland (Ill.) HS, 2008 (1st round supplemental).  Signed by: Harvey Kuenn Jr
Jake OdorizziBackground: While other Royals starting pitching prospects were faltering or succumbing to injuries in 2012, Odorizzi made progress and jumped to the majors in September. His arrival meant that all four of the players acquired in the December 2010 Zack Greinke trade—Odorizzi, Lorenzo Cain, Alcides Escobar and Jeremy Jeffress—are big leaguers

Scouting Report: Odorizzi doesn't have a true out pitch, but his ability to throw four offerings for strikes makes him hard to hit. He works both sides of the plate with a fastball that sits at 89-92 mph, touches 94 and features nice sink. His curveball and slider are both average pitches, and his changeup has similar potential. Odorizzi will need more consistent control and command if he's going to thrive in the big leagues with average stuff. He's a good athlete who repeats his delivery well.

The Future: Odorizzi will head to spring training with a chance to make the Opening Day major league rotation. If his changeup and command need further refinement, he could see more time in Triple-A. He has a relatively high floor, though his lack of plus stuff limits him to a ceiling as a No. 3 or 4 starter.

'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
'12 NW Arkansas (AA) 4 2 3.32 7 7 0 38 27 15 14 2 10 47 .191
'12 Omaha (AAA) 11 3 2.93 19 18 0 107 105 41 35 12 40 88 .246
'12 Kansas City (MAJ) 0 1 4.91 2 2 0 7 8 4 4 1 4 4 .267
Major League Totals 0 1 5.14 2 2 0 7 8 8 4 1 4 4 .276
Minor League Totals 34 21 3.50 99 86 1 481 438 438 187 43 152 489 .233

6. Jorge Bonifacio, of Born: Jun 4, 1993 B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-1 Wt.: 192
Signed:  Dominican Republic '09 Signed by: Edis Perez
Jorge BonifacioBackground: The brother of big leaguer Emilio Bonifacio, Jorge couldn't be more different from his older sibling. Where Emilio is a light-hitting infielder who stands out for his speed, Jorge is a barrel-chested, power-hitting right fielder. In his first taste of full season ball, he hit .314/.369/.469 in the first half of 2012 as a teenager in low Class A, before slumping and missing much of August with an injured right wrist.

Scouting Report: With the exception of Wil Myers, Bonifacio is the best pure hitter in the system. He produces line drive after line drive with quick wrists and plenty of strength in his hands. His swing can get long at times and it isn't picture perfect, but he hasn't had problems catching up to good velocity and he consistently barrels the ball. Unlike many young hitters, Bonifacio already knows that the opposite-field gap is his friend. He also has the strength to produce plus power as he matures, but he'll have to learn to pull inside pitches more frequently. He's an adequate right fielder with plenty of arm for the position, though he figures to slow from his current average speed as he matures and his stocky frame continues to fill out.

The Future: If he continues to develop, Bonifacio has the tools to become an impact right fielder. He'll head to a more difficult hitting environment in Wilmington in 2013.

'10 Royals (R) 164 22 55 16 2 1 28 26 27 13 5 .335 .429 .476
'10 Royals (R) 76 9 16 0 5 0 6 6 31 1 2 .211 .271 .342
'11 Burlington (R) 236 26 67 20 4 7 30 16 58 5 6 .284 .333 .492
'12 Kane County (LoA) 412 54 116 20 6 10 61 30 84 6 3 .282 .336 .432
Minor League Totals 888 111 254 56 17 18 125 78 200 25 16 .286 .348 .448

7. Adalberto Mondesi, ss Born: Jul 27, 1995 B-T: B-R Ht.: 6-1 Wt.: 165
Signed:  Dominican Republic '11 Signed by:Edis Perez/Alvin Cuevas
Adalberto MondesiBackground: The son of 1994 National League rookie of the year Raul Mondesi and the brother of Brewers minor leaguer Raul Mondesi Jr., Adalberto signed with the Royals for a $2 million bonus. Some international scouts didn't think his bat was worth such a hefty price tag, but he has been working to convert the critics. He was the youngest player in the Rookie-level Pioneer League in 2012 and didn't turn 17 until midseason, yet he more than held his own against players three to five years his senior.

Scouting Report: A switch-hitter, Mondesi has an advanced approach and present gap power. Some scouts project him to have average home run power as he gets older and matures physically. He already has started to fill out and has gotten quicker since signing, becoming an above-average runner. He'll need to improve his plate discipline, but time is on his side. At shortstop, Mondesi has excellent instincts, hands so quick that his transfers seem like a blur, and a strong arm. He made 23 errors in 47 games in 2012, the result of his youth and ability to get to balls that other shortstops can't reach.

The Future: Mondesi should be the youngest player in full-season ball in 2013, when he'll play in Lexington. If he advances one level a year, he could still get to Kansas City at the age of 21.

'12 Idaho Falls (R) 207 35 60 7 2 3 30 19 65 11 2 .290 .346 .386
Minor League Totals 207 35 60 7 2 3 30 19 65 11 2 .290 .346 .386

8. Sam Selman, lhp Born: Nov 14, 1990 B-T: R-L Ht.: 6-3 Wt.: 165
Drafted: Vanderbilt, 2012 (2nd round).  Signed by: Sean Gibbs
Sam SelmanBackground: Selman totaled just 12 innings as a freshman and sophomore at Vanderbilt because of control problems, and he was demoted to a midweek starter as a junior when they persisted. He recovered, returned to the weekend rotation in May and pitched his way into the second round of the 2012 draft. The Royals signed him for $750,000 and then watched him lead the Pioneer League with 89 strikeouts despite falling one inning short of having enough innings to qualify for the ERA title.

Scouting Report: Even as a 160-pound high school senior, Selman could touch 94 mph. Now that he's a much more robust 195-pounder, he sits at 90-95 mph and peaks at 98. He also snaps off a nasty slider at times, giving him the potential for two plus pitches. His changeup is fringy at best. Selman showed improvement with his control as a pro, but it's still a concern. He has a wrap in his arm action that inhibits his ability to repeat his release point and secondary pitches.

The Future: Once projected as a power lefty out of the bullpen, Selman now has a realistic chance at becoming a mid-rotation starter. He'll open his first full season at one of Kansas City's Class A affiliates, with his ability to find the strike zone dictating how quickly he advances.

'12 Idaho Falls (R) 5 4 2.09 13 12 0 60 45 21 14 1 22 89 .199
Minor League Totals 5 4 2.10 13 12 0 60 45 45 14 1 22 89 .200

9. Orlando Calixte, ss Born: Feb 3, 1992 B-T: R-R Ht.: 5-11 Wt.: 160
Signed: Dominican Republic '10 Signed by: Alvin Cuevas/Hector Pineda
Orlando CalixteBackground: Known as Paul Carlixte before teams discovered that he and his brother had swapped identities, Calixte signed with the Royals in 2010 after they had scouted him for more than three years. The questions about his identity didn't cost him much, as he still signed for $1 million. After he struggled in an aggressive assignment to low Class A in 2011, he showed better feel at the plate and thrived after a midseason promotion to high Class A in 2012.

Scouting Report: Calixte has more power and hitting ability than the average shortstop prospect. Wilmington's tough hitting environment kept his home run numbers down after his promotion, but Calixte has average power to go with a solid bat. He has yet to show the patience to draw walks, as he's aggressive early and late in the count. With good range, excellent hands and a strong arm, he is a solid to plus defender at shortstop. He played some third base in the Arizona Fall League, but shortstop is his long-term home.

The Future: Calixte's impressive second half in Wilmington gives him a chance to play in Double-A at age 21. Kansas City has several legitimate shortstop prospects, and he's the closest to the big leagues.

'10 Royals (R) 66 10 15 6 0 0 12 13 13 3 1 .227 .350 .318
'11 Kane County (LoA) 289 19 60 5 1 3 31 20 70 11 4 .208 .256 .263
'12 Kane County (LoA) 228 31 55 13 4 10 34 21 44 2 5 .241 .303 .465
'12 Wilmington (HiA) 256 38 72 17 4 4 28 15 65 8 3 .281 .326 .426
Minor League Totals 839 98 202 41 9 17 105 69 192 24 13 .241 .298 .372

10. Jason Adam, rhp Born: Aug 4, 1991 B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-4 Wt.: 219
Drafted: Blue Valley Northwest HS, Overland Park, Kan., 2010 (5th round).  Signed by: Steve Gossett
Jason AdamBackground: A native of suburban Kansas City who had played at Kauffman Stadium while in high school, Adam lasted five rounds in the 2010 draft because of his up-and-down senior season and commitment to Missouri. Signed for a well above-slot $800,000, he opened eyes by touching 98 mph in instructional league shortly after signing. He hasn't shown the same velocity during his two pro seasons.

Scouting Report: Adam usually works at 90-92 mph and occasionally hits 94 with his fastball. While he has had some success, the Royals aren't ready to give up on finding that lost velocity. They believe he needs to return to the bigger hip turn and higher leg kick he showed in high school, instead of the more tall-and-fall delivery he has used as a pro. He had trouble repeating his high school mechanics, so returning to them could detract from his command, which has been better than expected. Adam's below-average curveball needs more bite, though he controls it well. His changeup is also below-average because he struggles to maintain his usual arm speed.

The Future: Adam will make the jump to Double-A at age 21. How he performs in 2013 will shed light on whether he can be a No. 2 or 3 starter, or more of a back-of-the-rotation option.

'11 Kane County (LoA) 6 9 4.23 21 21 0 104 94 60 49 9 25 76 .231
'12 Wilmington (HiA) 7 12 3.53 27 27 0 158 148 73 62 18 36 123 .238
Minor League Totals 13 21 3.81 48 48 0 262 242 242 111 27 61 199 .235