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Kansas City Royals

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Player Reports

  1. 1. Bobby Witt | SS
    Bobby Witt
    Born: Jun 14, 2000
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'1" Wt.: 185
    Drafted/Signed: HS--Colleyville, Texas, 2019 (1st round).
    Signed By: Chad Lee.
    Minors: .290/.361/.575 | 33 HR | 29 SB | 497 AB

    Track Record: Expectations have long been high for the son of former pitcher and 18-year major league veteran Bobby Witt. The younger Witt has been successful at every level, going back to youth baseball and continuing through his high school career at Colleyville (Texas) Heritage High, where he was named BA High School Player of the Year in 2019. The second overall pick in that year’s draft has met every challenge thrown his way since signing for a full-slot bonus of $7,789,000 and debuting that summer in the Rookie-level Arizona League. He handled the advanced pitching at the alternate training site in 2020 and was challenged in 2021 with an assignment to Double-A for his first full season. To say that Witt exceeded expectations would be an understatement, as his 2021 season split between Double-A and Triple-A was one for the ages. After a slow start when he made the necessary adjustments, Witt obliterated Double-A pitching and moved up to Triple-A at midseason. He finished in the top five in the minor leagues in hits (144), runs (99), home runs (33) and RBIs (97) and finished just shy of a 30-30 season with 29 stolen bases, all in his age-21 season at the highest levels of the minors. In recognition of his outstanding season, Witt was named BA Minor League Player of the Year.

    Scouting Report: Witt checks all of the boxes for a true five-tool player, with all of his tools grading plus or better. What really makes him special is his cognitive ability and unique baseball instincts that allow him to simplify the game. He started the 2021 season relatively slowly but stuck to his game, improving his pitch selection and driving balls in the zone, and it wasn’t long before he began performing at a higher level. Whenever he faces more advanced pitching, Witt and the Royals staff don’t make mechanical adjustments to his short, compact swing or to his approach. Instead, they let his athleticism and instincts take over. The strength that he’s added with maturity has given more power to his swing and allows him to hit balls hard to all fields. He controls the barrel very well and has become more aggressive with his swing while also cutting down on his swings and misses. Witt’s speed that he showed while stealing 29 bases in 2021 was a surprise to many, and he could swipe more bags as he gains experience. He also showed he could leg out infield hits and regularly take an extra base. In addition to his well-rounded offensive game, Witt is the complete package on defense at shortstop with steady hands and a strong, accurate arm. What also separates Witt is how hard he works behind the scenes, a factor contributing to how simple the game appears for him. His makeup is outstanding and he’s a good teammate, helping others with their individual games.

    The Future: Witt will soon take his place in the Royals’ lineup. He projects to be a franchise cornerstone who impacts games at the plate, on the bases and in the field. His major league debut will come in 2022 barring injury, and may be as soon as Opening Day.

  2. 2. Asa Lacy | LHP
    Asa Lacy
    Born: Jun 2, 1999
    Bats: L Throws: L
    Ht.: 6'4" Wt.: 215
    Drafted/Signed: Texas A&M, 2020 (1st round).
    Signed By: Josh Hallgren.
    Minors: 2-5 | 5.19 ERA | 79 SO | 41 BB | 52 IP

    Track Record: Lacy finally made his pro debut one year after the Royals drafted the hard-throwing southpaw fourth overall out of Texas A&M. After signing with the Royals for a $6,670,000 bonus, Lacy spent 2020 at the alternate training site and opened 2021 at High-A Quad Cities. Expected to move quickly, Lacy instead struggled to a 5.19 ERA and walked more than seven batters per nine innings in an underwhelming season, albeit while flashing exhilarating pure stuff.

    Scouting Report: The centerpiece of Lacy’s arsenal is a plus-plus fastball that regularly touches 97-98 mph with sharp downward tilt. His three off-speed pitches all flash plus and get swings and misses in the strike zone. His high-80s slider, which sometimes looks more like a cutter, is a wipeout strikeout pitch against both righthanded and lefthanded batters. His changeup has late life and projects as a plus offering when he commands it, and his curveball has good bite. To improve his below-average control, Lacy needs to keep his feet and head in sync during his delivery in order to maintain a more fluid direction to the plate. But rival scouts are not yet concerned with his struggles to consistently throw strikes because of the quality of his pitches.

    The Future: After four starts in the Arizona Fall League, where he showed loud stuff with very high strikeout and high walk rates, Lacy will be ready to move up to Double-A in 2022.

  3. 3. M.J. Melendez | C
    M.J. Melendez
    Born: Nov 28, 1998
    Bats: L Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'1" Wt.: 185
    Drafted/Signed: HS--Miami, 2017 (2nd round).
    Signed By: Alex Mesa.
    Minors: .288/.386/.625 | 41 HR | 3 SB | 448 AB

    Track Record: Melendez was one of several hitters at High-A Wilmington in 2019 to have a very difficult season at the plate. The improvement of the hitters from that season to 2021 was remarkable and a testament to the Royals’ improved hitting development program. Melendez made perhaps the most drastic turnaround of all, culminating in him leading the minor leagues with 41 home runs and finishing fifth with a 1.011 OPS as he climbed from Double-A to Triple-A. Even more significant was how he cut his strikeout rate from nearly 40% in 2019 to 21.7% in 2021.

    Scouting Report: Melendez went to work on his swing and approach right after the 2019 season, resulting in a shorter swing, a toned-down leg kick, a better stance and a more relaxed approach. As a result, he is now able to pick up spin earlier, which leads to fewer chase swings out of the strike zone. Moving away from being a dead- pull hitter allowed Melendez to open up the opposite side of the field. He took well to the challenge of Triple-A, getting on base at a higher rate than in Double-A while maintaining his over-the-fence power. Melendez still has work to do with his receiving and blocking behind the plate, but he’s athletic and flexible enough to keep improving. Blessed with a plus-plus arm, he continues to throw out runners at a high rate. In 2021, he threw out potential base stealers at a 31% rate.

    The Future: Melendez will benefit from a full season at Triple-A, especially with Salvador Perez firmly entrenched at catcher in Kansas City. He played a few games at third base after his promotion to Omaha and will continue to get experience at other positions.

  4. 4. Nick Pratto | 1B
    Nick Pratto
    Born: Oct 6, 1998
    Bats: L Throws: L
    Ht.: 6'1" Wt.: 195
    Drafted/Signed: HS--Huntington Beach, Calif., 2017 (1st round).
    Signed By: Rich Amaral.
    Minors: .265/.385/.602 | 36 HR | 12 SB | 445 AB

    Track Record: Like teammate MJ Melendez, Pratto suffered through a miserable 2019 season at High-A Wilmington and went to work improving his swing and approach at the plate. The work paid off in 2021 as Pratto hit 36 home runs while rising from Double-A to Triple-A, tied for the second most home runs in the minor leagues, and finished the season with a .988 OPS.

    Scouting Report: The key changes that Pratto made revolved around developing a new approach and mindset at the plate and adapting a more efficient bat path to allow his barrel to get into the zone sooner. This was helped further by the innate bat speed and quickness in his hands. Pratto now hits the ball in the air with more authority and will continue to add strength to his frame. Pratto sees the ball well and has shown that he can pick up spin, and a key factor in his improvement was better pitch selection. He doesn’t miss his pitch to hit, especially those at higher velocities. Pratto also handles lefthanded pitchers well. While not a burner, Pratto continues to reach double-digit stolen bases every year, with sneaky instincts allowing his speed to play up on the bases. He’s at least a plus defender at first base, with some plus-plus grades given to his glove and projections that he will win Gold Glove awards.

    The Future: First base has been a position of need for the Royals since Eric Hosmer departed as a free agent. Pratto will head to spring training vying to earn playing time in the big leagues, although additional Triple-A seasoning would provide long-term benefit for his career.

  5. 5. Jackson Kowar | RHP
    Jackson Kowar
    Born: Oct 4, 1996
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'5" Wt.: 180
    Drafted/Signed: Florida, 2018 (1st round).
    Signed By: Jim Buckley.
    Minors: 9-4 | 3.46 ERA | 115 SO | 34 BB | 81 IP

    Track Record: Of the five college pitchers the Royals took in the first two rounds of the 2018 draft, Kowar was the fourth to make it to the big leagues, with his debut coming on June 7, 2021. The former Florida righthander struggled to command his fastball in the majors and logged an ugly 11.27 ERA in nine appearances (eight starts), but he was solid throughout the rest of the season in Triple-A.

    Scouting Report: Kowar’s plus-plus changeup continues to be the gem of his arsenal. He throws his changeup with confidence and its trapdoor action makes it a tough pitch to barrel. Kowar complements his changeup with a fastball that sits 94-95 mph but plays down from its velocity at times. When his fastball gets up in the zone, it flattens out and there’s not a lot of deception. When he’s on top of the pitch it has two-seam running life in on righthanded batters and late sinking action. Kowar’s curveball was a below-average pitch he used infrequently in college, but he worked on it extensively at the alternate training site in 2020. It has improved to the point that it’s now an above-average pitch with the potential to be a plus offering. It has 11-to-5 shape with good spin, and will be more effective when he lands it for strikes with greater frequency. Kowar uses a three-quarters delivery with a full stroke and the ball comes out clean, giving him average control.

    The Future: Kowar will be ready for another chance at the majors in 2022. He has the velocity and stuff to be a mid-rotation starter and will head to spring training looking for a spot in the Royals’ rotation.

  6. 6. Kyle Isbel | OF
    Kyle Isbel
    Born: Mar 3, 1997
    Bats: L Throws: R
    Ht.: 5'11" Wt.: 183
    Drafted/Signed: Nevada-Las Vegas, 2018 (3rd round).
    Signed By: Kenny Munoz.
    Minors: .269/.357/.444 | 15 HR | 22 SB | 394 AB

    Track Record: Isbel broke camp with the big league team in 2021 in what was really just his second full season since being drafted in the third round in 2018. The UNLV product struggled at the plate in his first Royals stint but hit much better after his late-season return from Triple-A Omaha.

    Scouting Report: Isbel showed much more confidence when he returned to the Royals’ lineup in September, posting a .286/.362/.452 batting line in his final 11 games, as he was more focused at the plate, his swing path improved, and he wasn’t as pull-conscious. The expected power started to emerge in Triple-A, where he hit more line drives and fly balls than in the past, with his 15 home runs with Omaha being a career high. Isbel continues to improve his outfield defense, impressive considering he started his college career as an infielder. He played all three outfield positions with Omaha, spending more time in center field and emerging as a plus defender with the plus speed to cover the ground. He’s able to close on balls in the gap and gets good initial reads and angles, and his outfield instincts have improved. His arm grade jumped to above-average thanks in part to the accuracy of his throws. Isbel stole 22 bases during his time with Omaha, giving another positive note to his game.

    The Future: With his strong Triple-A season and the improvement he showed upon his return to Kansas City, Isbel has a very good chance of earning a spot on the Opening Day roster, either a starting job or as a fourth outfielder.

  7. 7. Frank Mozzicato | LHP
    Frank Mozzicato
    Born: Jun 19, 2003
    Bats: L Throws: L
    Ht.: 6'3" Wt.: 175
    Signed By: Casey Fahy.

    Track Record: Mozzicato was an under-the-radar draft prospect until his stock soared in his senior season, when he pitched four straight no-hitters and showed one of the best curveballs in the country. The Royals pulled a surprise when they selected Mozzicato seventh overall in the draft and signed him for a $3,547,500 bonus, about $3 million under slot. Mozzicato reported to the Royals training facility in Surprise, Ariz., after signing but did not pitch in games during the regular season. He made his unofficial debut during instructional league.

    Scouting Report: Mozzicato’s curveball is his money offering. It’s at least a plus pitch with some observers believing it could eventually be plus-plus because of its high spin rate, sharp bite and good depth. It has 1-to-7 shape, and he showed in instructs that he can fold it into the zone for a strike and expand the zone with it when ahead in the count. His fastball sits 90-93 mph with good vertical movement, and with his size and athleticism he should be able to add velocity with more experience and physical maturity. Like most prep pitchers, Mozzicato didn’t have to use a changeup much during his high school career, but it’s a potential plus pitch that is hard for hitters to see because he sells it with arm speed and it looks like his fastball coming out of his hand. He repeats his delivery and has good feel to pitch.

    The Future: After getting his feet wet in the pro game, Mozzicato will be ready for a full-season assignment in 2022, with a likely limit on his total innings throughout the season.

  8. 8. Ben Kudrna | RHP
    Ben Kudrna
    Born: Jan 30, 2003
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'3" Wt.: 203
    Signed By: Matt Price.

    Track Record: Kudrna started building his reputation at the 2020 Area Code Games and continued with a strong senior season at Blue Valley Southwest High in Overland Park, Kan., about 30 miles south of Kansas City. The Royals selected the local product in the second round, 43rd overall, and signed him for an above-slot $3 million bonus. Like Royals first-round pick Frank Mozzicato, Kudrna was held out of games during the regular season and didn’t pitch until instructional league in the fall.

    Scouting Report: Kudrna presents an imposing presence on the mound and backs it up by attacking hitters with a 96-98 mph fastball. He generates easy velocity from his loose, quick arm and makes hitters uncomfortable with his downhill angle and late hop on his pitches. He may have more velocity in the tank as he adds strength to his solid, high-waisted frame with broad shoulders. Kudrna is still developing his slider and shows the potential to turn it into an above-average pitch with depth and tilt. He began incorporating his changeup, a hard pitch that he throws with arm speed and deception, more during instructs. Kudrna is very competitive on the mound, with Royals coaches noting he bears down and gets better with men on base.

    The Future: Kudrna will likely make his professional debut with Low-A Columbia in 2022. He has a chance to be a hard-throwing, mid-rotation starter.

  9. 9. Jonathan Bowlan | RHP
    Jonathan Bowlan
    Born: Dec 1, 1996
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'6" Wt.: 248
    Drafted/Signed: Memphis, 2018 (2nd round).
    Signed By: Travis Ezi.
    Minors: 2-0 | 1.59 ERA | 25 SO | 3 BB | 17 IP

    Track Record: Heeding the advice of Royals officials to get his body in better shape, Bowlan arrived at spring training in 2021 with a significantly improved physique. It appeared to pay off when he began the 2021 season with three outstanding starts at Double-A Northwest Arkansas, but after being pulled early in his fourth start, it was determined he needed Tommy John surgery. The injury robbed Bowlan of what was looking like his breakthrough season and the chance to represent his country as a member of the United States Olympic qualifying team.

    Scouting Report: Bowlan uses a four-pitch mix highlighted by a 93-97 mph fastball. His fastball jumps on hitters because of the extension he gets in his delivery out of his big, 6-foot-6 frame and plays as a plus pitch with late explosion in the strike zone. Bowlan’s biggest change in 2021 was the addition of a curveball to complement his low-80s slider and give him a second breaking ball. His nascent 80-82 mph curve with downward break gives hitters a different look from his slider and plays well off of his other pitches. Bowlan’s slider has late bite and he has a good feel for his changeup, which he throws to both righthanded and lefthanded batters. His pitches play up because of how well he controls and commands them. Bowlan repeats his clean delivery and pounds the strike zone effectively, and the above-average life and deception on all of his pitches allow him to go right after hitters.

    The Future: Bowlan’s work ethic and dedication to conditioning will help him during the injury rehab process. The Royals hope he may return late in the 2022 season, but it may be 2023 before he gets back on the mound.

  10. 10. Vinnie Pasquantino | 1B
    Vinnie Pasquantino
    Born: Oct 10, 1997
    Bats: L Throws: L
    Ht.: 6'4" Wt.: 245
    Signed By: Jim Farr.
    Minors: .300/.394/.563 | 24 HR | 6 SB | 437 AB

    Track Record: Pasquantino was an unheralded 11th-round pick out of Old Dominion in 2019. He stood an ungainly 6-foot-4, 245 pounds, but his bat held promise and earned quiet praise from evaluators. He returned from the coronavirus shutdown an improved hitter and defender and broke out in 2021. He hit .300/.394/.563 with 24 home runs and 84 RBIs as he rose from High-A to Double-A and had as many walks as strikeouts (64).

    Scouting Report: Pasquantino is a determined hitter with a high level of focus at the plate. He regularly takes professional at-bats and his strikeout-to-walk rate is rare for a power hitter in the modern era. Instead of making a lot of mechanical changes to his swing, Pasquantino instead has focused on seeing the ball well, keeping his eyes behind the ball, letting pitches travel deep and taking pitches in the right situations. He works hard on improving his defense and is now at least an average defender at first base, with the work ethic to continue improving. He provides a big target for infielders throwing to first and is athletic enough for the position. While he’ll always be a well below-average runner, he makes up for the lack of speed with good baserunning instincts and reads on the bases. What makes Pasquantino even more special is his gregarious personality, outstanding makeup and passion for the game.

    The Future: Pasquantino didn’t miss a beat after his midseason promotion. He has a chance to be a power-hitting first baseman or DH.

  11. 11. Alec Marsh | RHP
    Alec Marsh
    Born: May 14, 1998
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'2" Wt.: 220
    Drafted/Signed: Arizona State, 2019 (2nd round supplemental).
    Signed By: Kenny Munoz.
    Minors: 1-3 | 4.97 ERA | 42 SO | 13 BB | 26 IP

    Track Record: Marsh entered 2021 as one of several picks to click in the Royals system after gaining strength during the 2020 shutdown, giving his fastball a significant velocity bump while also developing more separation between his breaking balls. But Marsh made just six regular- season starts at Double-A before being shut down because of biceps soreness and arm fatigue. He returned to make one start in the Arizona Fall League.

    Scouting Report: Despite limited looks in 2021, Marsh showed enough to remain one of the better pitching prospects in the Royals system. He attacks the zone with a fastball that sits at 96 mph and tickles triple-digits. He aggressively goes right at hitters, throwing four pitches, all potential plus offerings, for strikes. Marsh’s two breaking balls tended to blend together earlier in his career, but he now gets enough separation to make them distinct pitches. His mid-80s slider is a hard, tight pitch that sometimes resembles a cutter, and his curveball that ranges from the high 70s to low 80s has solid depth. His changeup has natural depth and he throws it with good arm speed. His delivery is clean and repeatable.

    The Future: Marsh has all the attributes of a starting pitcher, but he could also thrive as a power arm at the back of the bullpen. He could be a contributor to the big league team in 2022 if he stays healthy.

  12. 12. Nick Loftin | SS
    Nick Loftin
    Born: Sep 25, 1998
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'1" Wt.: 185
    Drafted/Signed: Baylor, 2020 (1st round supplemental).
    Signed By: Josh Hallgren
    Minors: .289/.373/.463 | 10 HR | 11 SB | 356 AB

    Track Record: Loftin was generally regarded as a solid all-around performer when the Royals made him the 32nd overall pick in the 2020 draft. So far, the Baylor product has come as advertised. He made his professional debut at High-A Quad Cities in 2021, helping them win a championship. He was one of three players to tie for the league lead in batting average (.289), including teammate Michael Massey.

    Scouting Report: Loftin is a gap-to-gap contact hitter favoring his pull side with sneaky pop that should increase as he gets stronger. A minor wrist injury slowed his start to the season, but he finished strong down the stretch, posting a 1.014 OPS over the final two months of the season. He shows good strike zone awareness and walks nearly as often as he strikes out. Loftin is solid at shortstop with a good first step, a quick release, and good hands and range. He also saw time at second and third base, and with his athleticism he’d thrive in a utility role if that’s his future. Loftin is an average runner, but his instincts allow his speed to play up both in the field and on the bases. He draws raves for his leadership quality, and his work ethic and off-the-charts instincts allow his tools to play up.

    The Future: Loftin’s development path has often been compared to Royals star Whit Merrifield. If he can live up to that, he’ll be around the game for a long time.

  13. 13. Jon Heasley | RHP
    Jon Heasley
    Born: Jan 27, 1997
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'3" Wt.: 215
    Drafted/Signed: Oklahoma State, 2018 (13th round).
    Signed By: Chad Lee.
    Minors: 7-3 | 3.33 ERA | 120 SO | 34 BB | 106 IP

    Track Record: Heasley was Kansas City’s 18th-round pick in 2018 out of Oklahoma State and has since surpassed other more high-profile pitching prospects in the organization. He reached the majors in 2021 and made three starts for the Royals. He spent the bulk of the season at Double-A Northwest Arkansas, where he went 7-3, 3.33 and struck out 10.3 batters per nine innings.

    Scouting Report: Heasley stands out for his bulldog mentality and extreme competitiveness on the mound, allowing his stuff to play up. His fastball sits 93-95 mph with sink and touches 97. His solid-average 12-to-6 curveball in the low 80s is thrown with depth and spin, and he has good feel for a mid-80s changeup that projects to be above-average. Heasley repeats his delivery well and pounds the strike zone with above-average control of all three of his pitches.

    The Future: With a strong body, pitchability and resilience, Heasley is capable of filling multiple roles on a pitching staff. His ceiling is a back-of-the-rotation starter, but he can also provide value in a swingman role or as a multi-inning reliever.

  14. 14. Ben Hernandez | RHP
    Ben Hernandez
    Born: Jul 1, 2001
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'2" Wt.: 205
    Drafted/Signed: HS--Chicago, 2020 (2nd round).
    Signed By: Scott Melvin.
    Minors: 1-2 | 4.33 ERA | 33 SO | 17 BB | 36 IP

    Track Record: Hernandez broke camp with Low-A Columbia at the start of the 2021 season, his first full pro season after the Royals drafted him in the second round of the 2020 draft. Arm fatigue limited the Chicago high school product to nine starts before he was shut down, although he returned for three late-season starts in the Arizona Complex League and also pitched in Kansas City’s fall instructional league.

    Scouting Report: The gem of Hernandez’s arsenal is a plus changeup that he throws with fade and deception, and it’s been his bread-and-butter offering dating back to high school, where it was routinely recognized as the top changeup in the 2020 high school class. Hernandez pitches off a 94-96 mph fastball that jumps out of his hand with armside run and sink, inducing plenty of ground balls. Hernandez’s curveball has always been a distant third pitch, but it showed improvement during the season. The Royals’ staff worked with him to throw it more aggressively, particularly in the lower quadrants. With the added bite, the breaking ball provides Hernandez with another weapon to pair with his fastball/changeup combination. He throws all three offerings from an easy, deceptive delivery.

    The Future: Reports from instructional league were very favorable, so Hernandez should be ready to go back to full-season ball in 2022. Concerns that he would be better suited for a bullpen role have been allayed by the improvement in the curveball, along with his pitchability and athleticism.

  15. 15. Michael Massey | 2B
    Michael Massey
    Born: Mar 22, 1998
    Bats: L Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'0" Wt.: 190
    Signed By: Scott Melvin
    Minors: .289/.351/.531 | 21 HR | 12 SB | 388 AB

    Track Record: Healthy for the first time since his sophomore season at Illinois, Massey broke out in 2021. He hit a career-best 21 homers for High-A Quad Cities and tied for the High-A Central batting title (.289) with teammate Nick Loftin.

    Scouting Report: Massey has plus raw power, but his lack of experience and poor health prevented him from showing it consistently. That changed in 2021. His 21 homers were more than his entire three-year college career combined (17). Massey has a solid approach at the plate, with good strike zone awareness and bat speed, and stays short to the ball. Defensively, Massey has played only second base but he could likely handle third base or a utility role. He is a solid-average defender with an average arm. Despite just average speed, his reads and baserunning instincts allow his speed to play up. Massey draws positive reviews for his character and makeup.

    The Future: Massey shares many of the same attributes as Loftin. Both players will move to Double-A Northwest Arkansas and form a promising double-play tandem in 2022.

  16. 16. Carter Jensen | C
    Carter Jensen
    Born: Jul 3, 2003
    Bats: L Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'1" Wt.: 210
    Signed By: Matt Price
    Minors: .281/.388/.404 | 1 HR | 4 SB | 57 AB

    Track Record: The Royals twice dipped into the greater Kansas City area high school ranks in the 2021 draft, taking righthander Ben Kudrna in the second round and Jensen in the third round. After signing for an over-slot $1,097,500, Jensen appeared in 19 games in the Rookie-level Arizona Complex League and impressed with his performance during instructional league.

    Scouting Report: Jensen has a strong, mature build and an advanced lefthanded bat with plus raw power. He stands out for his feel to hit, all-fields approach, and an ability to slow the game down. He’ll need to learn to make adjustments against lefthanded pitchers, especially against good breaking balls. Like most catchers coming into pro ball from the prep ranks, Jensen has a lot of work ahead of him defensively. He has the athleticism, flexibility, strong hands and tools to stay behind the plate, with an above-average arm that shows average or better pop times consistently.

    The Future: Lefthanded-hitting catchers with power are valuable, so Jensen will be given time to develop. He needs defensive instruction and plenty of reps, but has youth on his side.

  17. 17. Erick Pena | OF
    Erick Pena
    Born: Feb 20, 2003
    Bats: L Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'3" Wt.: 180
    Drafted/Signed: Dominican Republic, 2019.
    Signed By: Edis Perez.
    Minors: .161/.256/.314 | 3 HR | 4 SB | 137 AB

    Track Record: Pena was Kansas City’s top international signing in 2019, inking a $3.9 million bonus. He made his long-awaited debut in 2021 and struggled badly in the Arizona Complex League, batting .161 with 57 strikeouts in 40 games.

    Scouting Report: Pena has a promising set of tools, including projected above-average power, but he has a hitch in his swing that needs to be fixed. The Royals worked with him on creating more separation with his hands, which he’ll need to live up to his previous projections as an average hitter. Pena has grown more muscular since he signed and is limited to a corner outfield spot defensively. He has the outfield instincts and average arm strength to handle either corner position.

    The Future: The Royals believe Pena’s work ethic and aptitude will help him make the necessary adjustments. He’ll be just 19 years old in 2022 and could reach Low-A Columbia.

  18. 18. Will Klein | RHP
    Will Klein
    Born: Nov 28, 1999
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'5" Wt.: 225
    Signed By: Scott Melvin
    Minors: 7-1 | 3.20 ERA | 121 SO | 44 BB | 71 IP

    Track Record: Klein was Kansas City’s final pick in the shortened five-round 2020 draft, and it’s already looking like the Royals have found excellent value. A converted catcher, Klein pitched his first two college seasons in Eastern Illinois’ bullpen before moving into the starting rotation prior to the abbreviated 2020 season. The Royals used him exclusively in a reliever role during his pro debut, and Klein struck out nearly 41% of hitters he faced with High-A Quad Cities.

    Scouting Report: Klein attacks hitters with a plus four-seam fastball that sits at 96-97 mph with good vertical break and touches 100 mph. Batters struggled to catch up to his fastball, with 43% of balls hit to the opposite field against Klein in 2021. He pitched in two-inning stints with Quad Cities and held his velocity. Klein arrived in Kansas City’s organization with two distinct breaking balls, but has since shelved his slider/cutter in favor of refining his curveball. It’s a hard breaker, sitting at 83-85 mph, and batters struggled with it as Klein messed with their eye levels, whiffing nearly 45% of the time. He’s also working on a split-grip changeup, but it’s not a regular part of his repertoire. Batters hit just .173 against Klein, but he struggled with control issues, walking 5.63 batters per nine innings.

    The Future: Developing command and control will dictate Klein’s future, and even subtle improvements will enhance his potent two-pitch mix. He’s a candidate for a high-leverage bullpen role if he throws more strikes.

  19. 19. Dylan Coleman | RHP
    Dylan Coleman
    Born: Sep 16, 1996
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'5" Wt.: 230
    Signed By: Troy Hoerner (Padres)
    Minors: 5-1 | 3.28 ERA | 93 SO | 22 BB | 58 IP

    Track Record: Coleman was a member of Missouri State’s starting rotation when the Padres drafted him in the fourth round of the 2018 draft, but he struggled to hold velocity deep into starts in college. Those issues continued as a professional even after San Diego shifted him to the bullpen. But Coleman returned from the pandemic layoff in a new organization—Kansas City acquired him in 2020 as the player to be named later in the a deal for Trevor Rosenthal—and with renewed velocity. The harder fastball helped spark Coleman’s ascension through the upper levels, culminating in his big league debut.

    Scouting Report: Coleman began to rediscover his velocity and the bite on his slider while pitching in a semi-pro league in Missouri before joining the Royals. His fastball, which had dropped to the upper 80s by the end of his Padres tenure, sat at 98 mph in his brief big league showing and touched as high as 101 mph in 2021. The Royals staff worked with Coleman to throw his slider harder, getting it into the 84-88 mph range with nasty late break and enough separation from the fastball to mess with hitters’ timing. His repertoire creates a powerful one-two punch out of the bullpen and the ability to generate swings and misses in bunches.

    The Future: After a breakout 2021 season, Coleman looks like a potential bullpen option for Kansas City in 2022 and could work his way into high-leverage opportunities.

  20. 20. Angel Zerpa | LHP
    Angel Zerpa
    Born: Sep 27, 1999
    Bats: L Throws: L
    Ht.: 6'0" Wt.: 211
    Drafted/Signed: Venezuela, 2016.
    Signed By: Richard Castro/Joelvis Gonzalez/Orlando Estevez.
    Minors: 4-4 | 4.58 ERA | 108 SO | 28 BB | 89 IP

    Track Record: Zerpa was a surprise addition to the 40-man roster just before the 2020 deadline despite never having pitched above the Rookie levels. However, the native Venezuelan proved that the Royals made a wise decision, as he moved across three levels of the minors. He finished 2021 with a single late-season start in Kansas City, pitching five innings and yielding just two unearned runs in his big league debut.

    Scouting Report: More of a pitchability-over-stuff type, Zerpa has plenty of weapons at his disposal. A lower arm slot adds an element of deception to his arsenal and helps his pedestrian raw stuff play up. The fastball ticked up in 2021, ranging from 91-96 mph, with a four-seamer that he commands to his glove side and a two-seamer with good movement that he uses when he falls behind in the count. Zerpa’s slurvy slider is a hard pitch at 85-88 mph with late bite and sweep. His changeup sits 86-87 mph, a firm pitch that’s best when it is inducing grounders. Zerpa is a competitor and has no fear, as scouts noted that his velocity would tick up as he faced better competition.

    The Future: Zerpa could fill any number of roles on a big league staff. He has the look of a high-floor, back-end of the rotation or swingman type, but he’s going to have a career in the major leagues.

  21. 21. Anthony Veneziano | LHP
    Anthony Veneziano
    Born: Sep 1, 1997
    Bats: L Throws: L
    Ht.: 6'5" Wt.: 205
    Signed By: Joe Barbera
    Minors: 6-4 | 3.75 ERA | 127 SO | 37 BB | 94 IP

    Track Record: Kansas City’s 10th-round pick in 2019, Veneziano wasn’t on many radars until a heavily scouted appearance late in 2021 minor league spring training, where he flashed a fastball up to 97 mph. The Coastal Carolina product built on his solid spring, enjoying a very good season with High-A Quad Cities, where he struck out 127 batters in 93.2 innings. He was especially tough down the stretch for the eventual High-A Central champions.

    Scouting Report: Veneziano attacks hitters with a heavy, bat-missing arsenal out of an easy three-quarters arm slot and repeatable motion. His sinking fastball sits 94-97 mph and plays above his velocity due to his whippy arm motion and good extension. Veneziano needs to become more confident in his secondary offerings to take another step forward. His breaking ball is a slurvy slider that he commands inconsistently. He also throws an average changeup with tumble and fade.

    The Future: Veneziano is nowhere near a finished product, but he has the upside of a mid-rotation starter. He should move to Double-A in 2022.

  22. 22. Austin Cox | LHP
    Austin Cox
    Born: Mar 28, 1997
    Bats: L Throws: L
    Ht.: 6'4" Wt.: 185
    Drafted/Signed: Mercer, 2018 (5th round).
    Signed By: Jim Buckley.
    Minors: 4-1 | 4.10 ERA | 60 SO | 30 BB | 68 IP

    Track Record: Cox consistently ranked between No. 9 and No. 16 in Kansas City’s Top 30 Prospects since the Royals made him their 2018 fifth-round selection out of Mercer, but his 2021 season represented a bit of a step back. Cox spent almost all season with Double-A Northwest Arkansas and was not added to the 40-man roster after the season.

    Scouting Report: Cox has always pitched off the strength of his plus fastball, but his velocity was down a few ticks in 2021, mostly sitting 90-92 mph. He also shelved his inconsistent slider, instead choosing to focus on his curveball and changeup. The curveball made strides and is now considered an above-average pitch, delivered in the upper 70s with good depth and downward movement. His upper-80s changeup is too firm and hasn’t developed into a reliable pitch. In the past, Cox’s arsenal played up because of his command, but he labored to keep his delivery under control in 2021 and walked 3.57 batters per nine innings at Double-A. This heightened concerns about a potential shift to the bullpen.

    The Future: Cox will head to spring training looking to regain velocity and smooth his delivery. He’s shown the ability to get results previously, so a few adjustments may get him back on track.

  23. 23. Noah Murdock | RHP
    Noah Murdock
    Born: Aug 20, 1998
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'8" Wt.: 190
    Drafted/Signed: Virginia, 2019 (7th round).
    Signed By: Jim Farr.
    Minors: 2-1 | 3.18 ERA | 19 SO | 11 BB | 23 IP

    Track Record: Murdock’s velocity has slowly returned since he had Tommy John surgery his sophomore year at Virginia, but a rash of injuries limited the 6-foot-8 righty to just seven games with High-A Quad Cities in 2021. Minor soreness wiped out his spring training and he then injured his hamstring while pitching in extended spring training. Once healthy, Murdock settled into the rotation at High-A Quad Cities and posted a 3.18 ERA in 22.2 innings.

    Scouting Report: Murdock creates deception from the excellent extension driven by his long levers. His two-seam fastball has plus velocity, sitting 93-97 mph, and ample horizontal movement. His curveball mirrors the movement of his fastball, keeping hitters off-balance, and is thrown with high spin efficiency. He’ll flash feel for an average changeup, but his fastball and curveball combination is his main point of attack. With unique movement and a deceptive operation, Murdock makes for an uncomfortable at-bat, although it also limits him to below-average control.

    The Future: Murdock could be effective in a relief role where his fastball would play up. He should see Double-A in 2022.

  24. 24. Shane Panzini | RHP
    Shane Panzini
    Born: Oct 30, 2001
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'3" Wt.: 220
    Signed By: Casey Fahy.

    Track Record: Panzini was the third of a trio of high school pitchers selected by the Royals early in the 2021 draft, signing an above-slot $997,500 bonus as a fourth-rounder. The New Jersey native was held out of games before seeing action during instructional league.

    Scouting Report: Panzini aggressively attacks hitters with a heavy fastball that sits 89-92 mph with life and a high spin rate. His velocity, generated by his strong lower half, has touched higher and has room to increase. Panzini presently lacks a true swing-and-miss secondary. His slider is a future average pitch with sweep and horizontal movement. He infrequently throws a changeup, and he’ll need to show it more as he gets his feet wet in pro ball. Panzini shows a repeatable delivery that should portend average control.

    The Future: Panzini projects as a reliever, but the Royals will start him for now. He is set to open the 2022 season at Low-A Columbia.

  25. 25. Daniel Vazquez | SS
    Daniel Vazquez
    Born: Dec 15, 2003
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'2" Wt.: 158
    Drafted/Signed: Dominican Republic, 2021.
    Signed By: Edis Perez

    Track Record: Vazquez signed with the Royals for $1.5 million during the January 2021 international signing period and appeared in 32 games with the Royals’ Dominican Summer League team. He then participated in both Kansas City’s Dominican and Arizona instructional leagues, and scouts who saw him stateside were impressed with the young shortstop.

    Scouting Report: Vazquez certainly looks the part, with a wiry, athletic frame and long levers. He impressed with his actions at shortstop, soft hands, and whippy action from a plus throwing arm. He’s agile on the field with good lateral movement. Defensively, Vazquez profiles as a starting shortstop, although he needs plenty of reps and to add more strength to his frame. Little has come into focus so far at the plate for Vazquez. He showed nice rhythm and timing and a propensity to battle deep into counts. Vazquez utilizes a high leg lift timing mechanism, and his swing produces a line drive stroke now, although he could one day hit 10-15 homers a year as he grows into his body.

    The Future: It will be several years before the Royals really know what they have in Vazquez. He’s expected to spend the 2022 season in the Arizona Complex League.

  26. 26. Nathan Webb | RHP
    Nathan Webb
    Born: Aug 20, 1997
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'2" Wt.: 215
    Signed By: Matt Price
    Minors: 4-3 | 3.94 ERA | 89 SO | 21 BB | 60 IP

    Track Record: For those outside the Royals organization, Webb was a surprise addition to the 40-man roster in November. The Kansas City native, who worked on the Kauffman Stadium grounds crew as a teenager, boosted his stock in his first full season in 2021, when he split the year between Low-A Columbia and High-A Quad Cities. He struck out 13.5 batters per nine innings between the two levels with a walk rate of 3.2 per nine innings. Webb was on the mound to get the final out when Quad Cities won the High-A Central championship.

    Scouting Report: A big bump in velocity during his first full season put Webb on the radar, with his fastball now sitting 97-98 mph, and touching 100 mph. Webb focused on staying behind his four-seam fastball to create more vertical break coming into 2021, and the results followed. It’s now a true swing-and-miss pitch that dominates the upper quadrants of the strike zone. His east-to-west slider improved during the season, a nice complement to the fastball. While his changeup will flash tumble and fade, it’s a work in progress and clearly a distant third offering. His high three-quarters delivery, which was slow and methodical before, now gets more efficient movement to the plate, contributing to the increase in fastball velocity.

    The Future: Webb will head to big league spring training. His most likely starting point for 2022 is Double-A Northwest Arkansas, but continued refinement may lead to a major league opportunity at some point.

  27. 27. Zach Haake | RHP
    Zach Haake
    Born: Oct 8, 1996
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'5" Wt.: 186
    Drafted/Signed: Kentucky, 2018 (6th round).
    Signed By: Mike Farrell.
    Minors: 4-1 | 3.35 ERA | 58 SO | 23 BB | 54 IP

    Track Record: Durability concerns continue to be part of the equation for Haake, who missed six weeks with an oblique injury in 2021 and also missed two months in 2019 with shoulder soreness. He pitched well with High-A Quad Cities when healthy, posting a 3.74 ERA in 45.2 innings. Kansas City then sent Haake to the Arizona Fall League, where he struggled at times.

    Scouting Report: Injuries and inconsistency have made Haake difficult to project dating back to his underwhelming college career, but his long frame and pitch mix have continued to earn him chances to start when healthy. His fastball sits 93-96 mph with armside run, and he also has feel for a potentially plus changeup, his most consistent secondary. Continued development of Haake’s mid-80s slider will be key for him. Sometimes it tends to flatten out, resembling more of a cutter, but it was a potent swing-and-miss offering against High-A Central hitters this year, generating a 49% whiff rate. Haake walked 4.34 batters per nine innings and will need to tighten his strike-throwing.

    The Future: Some evaluators feel Haake has regressed over the last two years and Kansas City did not add him to its 40-man roster, leaving him unprotected ahead of the Rule 5 Draft. It’s becoming increasingly likely he winds up in a relief role before long.

  28. 28. Maikel Garcia | SS
    Maikel Garcia
    Born: Mar 3, 2000
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'0" Wt.: 161
    Signed By: Richard Castro
    Minors: .291/.380/.405 | 4 HR | 35 SB | 412 AB

    Track Record: Garcia signed as an international free agent out of Venezuela in 2016 and debuted the following year. He spent three consecutive seasons in rookie ball, making limited impact offensively, then missed all of 2020 because of the pandemic. Garcia made his full-season debut this year with Low-A Columbia and showed much better feel for contact, hitting .303 in 51 games, and kept on hitting after his promotion to High-A Quad Cities. Kansas City added Garcia to its 40-man roster in November.

    Scouting Report: Long considered a glove-first shortstop, Garcia added strength and improved his barrel accuracy at the plate, posting a contact rate close to 85% in 2021. His approach and strike zone control improved, too. But Garcia has very little power in his thin, wiry frame and a bail move in the box at times, instead relying on spraying line drives to all fields. Garcia still has plenty of value defensively. He’s at least an above-average shortstop—some evaluators believe he’s a plus defender—and his hands and feet work together well, giving him good range. While not a burner, Garcia has good instincts on the bases, resulting in 35 stolen bases in 41 attempts in 2021.

    The Future: Garcia needs to get stronger to make an impact at the upper levels, but his defense and speed give him a high floor.

  29. 29. Collin Snider | RHP
    Collin Snider
    Born: Oct 10, 1995
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'4" Wt.: 200
    Signed By: Nick Hamilton
    Minors: 5-3 | 4.48 ERA | 64 SO | 26 BB | 67 IP

    Track Record: Snider could be the next success story for the Royals’ pitching development program. Drafted in the 12th round out of Vanderbilt in 2017, Snider primarily pitched out of the bullpen in college. He never struck out more than six batters per nine innings as a professional until 2021, when he broke out in the upper levels and reached Triple-A. Snider was especially effective with Double-A Northwest Arkansas, posting a 2.97 ERA while striking out more than a batter an inning.

    Scouting Report: Snider’s fastball now sits at 97 mph and touches 99—the primary reason for his surge in 2021. His high-spin two-seamer has run and sink and plays well with his other pitches. The other key was improving his 86-88 mph slider, which added movement and plays well off his fastball. The improvement in the slider gives Snider a swing-and-miss pitch that he didn’t have before, but he needs to keep improving the consistency and command of it. His changeup, which he uses infrequently, is very much a work in progress, struggling for shape and strikes. Snider delivers his pitches from a three-quarters arm slot with a longer arm stroke.

    The Future: Snider was added to the 40-man roster at the deadline and will head to spring training with the big league club looking for a spot in the Royals’ bullpen. He’s an intriguing sinker/slider power arm.

  30. 30. Emmanuel Rivera | 3B
    Emmanuel Rivera
    Born: Jun 29, 1996
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'2" Wt.: 195
    Signed By: Johnny Ramos.
    Minors: .285/.347/.574 | 19 HR | 3 SB | 270 AB

    Track Record: Rivera last ranked among Kansas City’s top 30 prospects entering the 2019 season. A power surge, plus a trip to the big leagues, has the Puerto Rico native back on the radar. Despite a hamate injury that cost him a month, Rivera smacked 19 homers in just 255 at-bats with Triple-A Omaha in 2021, and also hit .256 in 29 games with Kansas City. He then played winter ball for Mayaguez in the Puerto Rican League.

    Scouting Report: Always known as a steady hitter and defender at third base, Rivera long lacked the desired power for the position. He tapped into his more consistently in 2021, though, showing simple mechanics at the plate. Rivera creates a long path through the strike zone and drives the ball to all fields while showing movement patterns that are simple and repeatable. Rivera is an average defender at third base with good range and solid hands. He has a plus throwing arm with solid zip and carry. While he’s a below-average runner, Rivera is a smart baserunner and can take an extra base in the right situation.

    The Future: Rivera will report to spring training looking to build on his breakout season and grab a spot on the major league roster.

View Players 11-30

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