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Kansas City Royals 2020 Midseason Top 30 Prospects Update

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STATE OF THE SYSTEM

Summer camp has largely reinforced what we already knew about the Royals—the team’s depth is in its wide array of pitching prospects and Bobby Witt Jr. is clearly the team’s No. 1 prospect. Witt has been excellent at summer camp, even when hitting against pitchers who are much more experienced. That doesn’t mean he’s anywhere close to making the big league roster, but it is a strong sign of what’s yet to come. Witt’s hit tool has taken a step forward. That was seen as the only thing keeping him from being a five-tool prospect. When it comes to pitching prospects, Kansas City has an impressive second tier of arms as well, who will provide needed depth to handle the injuries and ineffectiveness that are pretty much a certainty when trying to graduate pitching prospects to the majors.

1. Bobby Witt Jr. SS

Witt has put together quality at-bat after quality at-bat during summer camp (he went 4-for-4 against Royals’ ace Danny Duffy). He’s already shown he’s more advanced than could rightfully be expected. Summer camp has given him a chance to show he’s ready for an aggressive assignment in 2021.

2. Asa Lacy, LHP

There are a lot of potential draft permutations where Lacy would not have made it to the fourth pick. Kansas City is thrilled to get him.

3. Daniel Lynch, LHP

Brady Singer earned a spot in Kansas City first, but Lynch might not be far behind. The lefthander has excellent stuff and could see innings with the Royals in 2020.

4. Jackson Kowar, RHP

Kowar’s summer camp hasn’t been as impressive as Brady Singer’s was. He has battled overthrowing and control issues, but his pitch mix is still a little more tantalizing long term.

5. Brady Singer, RHP

Singer appears to have taken a step forward during the three months since spring training ended, which paid off for him with a spot in Kansas City’s rotation. His changeup has taken a step forward, which is vital since his lack of an offspeed pitch to pair with his hard fastball and slider had been the biggest hurdle for him against lefties.

6. Kyle Isbel, OF

Isbel is a significantly better hitter than his .216/.282/.361 line in 2019 at high Class A Wilmington indicates. He’s gotten a chance to play in the summer camp intrasquad games and will be a fixture at the alternate site.

7. Erick Peña ,OF

Peña’s pro debut will have to wait a year longer thanks to the cancellation of the 2020 MiLB season. He’s still the club’s position prospect with the highest ceiling other than Witt.

8. Nick Loftin, SS

With Whit Merrifield, Adalberto Mondesi and Nicky Lopez in Kansas City and Witt on the way, middle infield was already one of the Royals’ deepest position player groupings. Loftin adds to that, and he has a shot to play short with a polished college bat.

9. Khalil Lee, OF

Don’t forget about Lee. The acquisition of Franchy Cordero pushes Lee’s ETA further into the future, but he still has a very interesting combination of speed and on-base skills.

10. Kris Bubic, LHP

Bubic hit the ground running at summer camp. He’s a little further away than the Singer-Lynch-Kowar trio, but getting innings this this summer will be very beneficial for him next year.

11. Austin Cox, LHP
12. Nick Pratto, 1B
13. Jonathan Bowlan, RHP
14. M.J. Melendez, C
15. Jeison Guzman, SS
16. Ben Hernandez, RHP
17. Carlos Hernandez, RHP
18. Zach Haake, RHP
19. Seuly Matias, OF
20. Brady McConnell, SS
21. Brewer Hicklen, OF
22. Tyler Gentry, OF
23. Kelvin Gutierrez, 3B
24. Yefri Del Rosario, RHP
25. Josh Staumont, RHP
26. Jon Heasley, RHP
27. Alec Marsh, RHP
28. Darryl Collins, OF
29. Richard Lovelady, LHP
30. Erick Mejia, SS/2B

SYSTEM STRENGTHS

The Royals’ binge on college pitching in the 2018 draft has paid off in a group of pitchers who are on the cusp of the majors. Righthander Brady Singer and lefthander Daniel Lynch appear to be first in line to ascend to Kansas City with Singer earning a spot in the Opening Day rotation.

SYSTEM WEAKNESSES

Other than Witt, Kansas City’s minor league bats are well behind the arms. OF Seuly Matias has worked hard on hitting against velocity and has shortened the noise in his setup to get his hands into a better hitting position, but the MiLB season cancellation means he will only be able to work on it at the alternate site. Similarly, 1B Nick Pratto and C M.J. Melendez will not get a chance to show that last year’s awful stat lines are in the past. Both have looked better in summer camp, but they will have to wait until 2021 to get a full season of at-bats.

PLAYER POOL TIDBITS

IF Erick Mejia, acquired in a 2018 trade, has pretty much played his way onto the roster as a utilityman who can play almost anywhere—he’s even tried catching during summer camp. He is a switch-hitter with plus-plus speed whose athleticism gives him a potential role, although his light bat limits him to a likely backup spot. RHP Josh Staumont has shown a better curveball and has added a little more velocity to his already 100 mph fastball. If he can demonstrate even fringe-average control he could be a useful part of the Royals’ bullpen this year. RHP Tyler Zuber, a senior-sign sixth-round pick out of Arkansas State in 2017, made the Opening Day roster. The short (5-foot-11) righthander has shown he can elevate a mid-90s fastball and pair it with a useful slider. RHP Kyle Zimmer’s long road back from injuries continued to gain momentum as he also made the 30-man roster.

INJURY UPDATES

LHP Daniel Tillo had a rough week of summer camp. An examination found elbow ligament damage which could require Tommy John surgery, and in the same week he also tested positive for the coronavirus. 3B Kelvin Gutierrez was placed on the 45-day injured list as he works back from a right elbow ligament sprain.

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