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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

    BA Grade: 70/ Medium

    Track Record: The second overall pick in the 2019 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 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. Expectations have been high for the son of former pitcher and 18-year major league veteran Bobby Witt. As the younger Witt has been successful at every level, going back to youth baseball and continuing through his high school career at Colleyville Heritage High when he was named High School Player of the Year. To say that Witt exceeded expectations is quite the 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, producing a .295/.369/.570 average with 16 home runs and 14 stolen bases in 61 games, most occurring before his 21st birthday. He moved up to Triple-A at mid-season and produced nearly identical numbers. In recognition of his outstanding season Witt was named Baseball America’s Minor League Player of the Year, just one of many accolades that will follow throughout his career. He ranked as the top prospect in the Double-A Central league and was third best in the Triple-A East circuit.

    Scouting Report: Witt checks all boxes for a true five-tool player with all tools grading as plus or better. What really makes him special is the 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 and compact swing or to his approach. Instead just letting 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 but also cut down on the swing-and-miss. The speed that he showed in 2021 was a surprise to many, contributing to 28 stolen bases, and he could swipe more bags as he gains experience. He also showed he could leg out infield hits and regularly take the extra base. Witt is the complete package on the field, with foot speed and steady hands as well as 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 as the Royals regular shortstop and a cornerstone in the lineup. This may happen as early as opening day in 2022.

    Scouting Grades: Hit: 60. Power: 70. Speed: 70. Fielding: 60. Arm: 60.

  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

    BA Grade: 60/High

    Track Record: Lacy was finally able to make his official professional debut one year after the Royals drafted the hard-throwing southpaw with the fourth overall pick. After leaving Texas A&M and signing with the Royals for a $6,670,000 bonus, Lacy reported to the Royals alternate training camp midway through the 2020 major league season and then was part of the fall instructional league program at Kauffman Stadium. He was invited to major league spring training to start 2021 but did not pitch in games until minor league spring training was underway. Ultimately he broke camp with the High-A affiliate Quad Cities. Lacy struggled with his control throughout the season and those issues continued during instructional league, but he still flashed the top-of-the-rotation stuff that allowed him to hold opposing hitters to a .222 batting average against while recording 79 strikeouts in 52 innings.

    Scouting Report: The centerpiece of Lacy’s arsenal is a plus-plus fastball regularly touching in the 97-98 mph range, with the ball coming out of his hand with sharp downward tilt and plenty of deception from a full effort downhill delivery. His three off-speed pitches all flash as plus offerings, getting swings-and-misses in the zone. The high-80s slider, often looking more like a cutter, is his wipeout strikeout pitch against both righthanded and lefthanded batters. The slider and changeup both have late life and project as plus offerings when he commands them, and the curveball has good bite. To improve his control, Lacy needs to keep his feet and head in synch during his delivery. In order to maintain a more fluid direction to the plate. But rival scouts are not yet concerned with the difficulty in consistently throwing strikes because of the quality of his pitches.

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

    Scouting Grades: Fastball: 70. Curveball: 55. Slider: 60. Changeup: 60. Control: 50

  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

    BA Grade: 55/Medium

    Track Record: Melendez, Kansas City’s 2nd round pick in 2017, was one of several hitters with the High-A Wilmington club in 2019 to have a very difficult season at the plate that year. 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 his ranking as the fifth best prospect in the Double-A Central league. His 41 combined home runs led all minor league hitters. Even more significant was how he cut his strikeout rate from nearly 40 percent in 2019 to 21.7 percent 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 has led to fewer chase swings out of the 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 would be base stealers at a 31 percent rate.

    The Future: Melendez will benefit from a full season at Triple-A, especially with Salvador Perez firmly entrenched in the catcher position 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.

    Scouting Grades: Hit: 45. Power: 60. Speed: 45. Fielding: 60. Arm: 70.

  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

    BA Grade: 55/Medium

    Track Record: Like teammate MJ Melendez, Pratto went right to work on improving his swing and approach at the plate after the 2019 season, and his turnaround rivals that of his fellow 2017 draftee. Pratto also split the year between Double-A and Triple-A, combining for 36 home runs after hitting just 9 in the 2019 season at High-A Wilmington. In addition to raising his batting average 74 percentage points from 2019 to 2021, Pratto boosted his walk rate from just over 10 percent to 15 percent. However most importantly he put significantly more balls in the air.

    Scouting Report: The key changes that Pratto made after 2019 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. He’s hitting 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, as a key factor in his improvement was better pitch selection. He just doesn’t miss his pitch, especially those at higher velocities. Pratto also handled lefthanded pitchers well. While he’s not a burner, Pratto continues to get double digits in 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 in the future.

    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 at the big league level, although additional Triple-A seasoning would provide long-term benefit for his career.

    Scouting Grades: Hit: 55. Power: 60. Speed: 45. Fielding: 60 Arm: 55.

  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

    BA Grade: 55/Medium

    Track Record: Of the five college pitchers the Royals took in the first two rounds of the 2018 draft, Kowar was the fourth of the quintet to make it to the big leagues, with his debut coming on June 7, 2021. In many of his starts for the Royals, the former University of Florida righthander struggled to command his fastball, leading to ineffective results in most of his nine MLB outings.

    Scouting Report: Kowar’s plus-plus changeup continues to be the gem of his arsenal, complemented by a plus fastball sitting 94-95 and an improving curveball that now grades as an above-average pitch. Kowar uses a three-quarters delivery with a full stroke and the ball comes out clean. While the fastball can get up to 98 mph, it’s generally a more effective pitch when thrown in the mid-90s as he tends to overthrow the pitch. When the fastball gets up in the zone it flattens out and there’s not a lot of deception, but when he’s on the pitch it has two-seam like running life in on righthanded batters and late sinking action. Kowar throws his changeup with confidence, with its trapdoor action making it a tough pitch to barrel. Coming out of the draft his curveball was a below-average pitch that he used infrequently, but he worked on it extensively at the alternate site in 2020. The bender improved to the point that it’s now graded as above-average with the potential to be a plus pitch. It has 11-to-5 shape with good spin, and will be more effective when he lands it for strikes with greater frequency.

    The Future: Now that he has gotten past the difficulties of pitching in the big leagues, Kowar will be ready for another chance in 2022. He’s got the velocity and stuff to be a mid-rotation starter and will head to spring training looking for a spot in the Royals rotation.

    Scouting Grades: Fastball: 60. Curveball: 55. Changeup: 70. Control 50

  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

    BA Grade: 50/Low

    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 3rd round in 2018. The UNLV product struggled at the plate in his first Royals stint, hitting 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.

    Scouting Grades: Hit: 55. Power: 45. Speed: 60. Fielding: 60. Arm: 55

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

    BA Grade: 55/Extreme

    Track Record: The Royals pulled a surprise with the 7th overall pick in this year’s draft, selecting the Connecticut high school lefthander. Mozzicato was an under-the-radar prospect until his stock soared in his senior season as he twirled four straight no-hitters and showed scouts one of the best curveballs in the country. He signed for a $3,547,500 bonus, about $3 million under slot, with the savings allowing the Royals to sign 2nd round pick Ben Kudrna for nearly the same bonus. Mozzicato reported to the Royals training facility in Surprise, Arizona after signing but did not pitch in games during the regular minor league season. Finally making his unofficial debut during fall instructional league.

    Scouting Report: As expected, the curveball is Mozzicato’s money offering, the pitch that is a separator for him. It’s at least a plus pitch with some observers believing it could eventually be double-plus because of the high spin rate, sharp bite and good depth. It’s got 1-to-7 shape, and he showed in instructs that he can fold it in the zone for a strike and expand the zone when ahead in the count. His fastball was 90-93 mph in the fall 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.

    Scouting Grades: Fastball: 55. Curveball: 60. Changeup: 55. Control: 50

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

    BA Grade: 55/Extreme

    Track Record: A big, hard throwing righthander, Kudrna presents quite a contrast to fellow draftee and new teammate Mozzicato. One of the top prep arms in the latest draft class from the Midwest, Kudrna started building his reputation in the 2020 Area Code Games and continued with a strong senior high school season. Selected with the 43rd overall pick, Kudrna signed with the Royals for an over slot bonus of nearly $3 million. Like Mozzicato, he didn’t pitch in games until the fall instructional league.

    Scouting Report: Kudrna presents an imposing presence on the mound and then backs it up by attacking hitters with a 96-98 mph fastball. It’s easy velocity coming from his really loose, quick arm, attacking hitters from a downhill angle with a late hop on his pitches. There may be more in the tank as he adds strength to his already solid, high-waisted frame with broad shoulders. Kudrna is still developing his slider, an above-average pitch with depth to the tilt. He was incorporating his changeup more during instructs, a hard pitch that he throws with arm speed and deception. He is very competitive on the mound, with Royals coaches noting that he’d bear down and get better with men on base. Kudrna has many of the same attributes possessed by current Royals reliever Kyle Zimmer when the latter was coming up through the system, a heady comparison but one that should suit the younger pitcher well.

    The Future: The Royals will keep Kudrna, Mozzicato and 4th round pick Shane Panzini together for as long as possible, with all three young arms likely to make their professional debuts in 2022 with Kansas City’s Low-A affiliate.

    Scouting Grades: Fastball: 60. Slider: 55. Changeup: 50. Control: 50

  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

    BA Grade: 50/High

    Track Record: Heeding the advice of the Royals to continue getting his body in better shape. The 2018 second rounder arrived at spring training in 2021 with significantly improved physicality. The work that he did in changing his diet and working with the Royals strength & conditioning staff was obviously reaping benefits. Bowlan started the 2021 regular season with three outstanding starts at Double-A Northwest Arkansas in which his pitches were exploding late and in the zone. But after being pulled early in his fourth start it was determined that Bowlan required Tommy John surgery, ending what was looking like his breakthrough season. Unfortunately the injury robbed him of the opportunity to represent his country as a member of the USA Olympic qualifying team.

    Scouting Report: Bowlan uses a four-pitch mix highlighted by a 93-97 mph fastball, a pitch that would jump on hitters because of the extension he gets in his delivery. The big change in 2021 was the addition of a curveball to complement his low-80s slider that has late bite and a changeup with feel to throw to both righthanded and lefthanded batters. The nascent 80-82 mph curveball with downward depth gives hitters a different look from his slider and plays off his other pitches. His pitches play up because of how well he controls and commands them. Bowlan repeats his clean delivery, pounding the strike zone effectively, and the above-average life and deception in his pitches allows him to go right after hitters.

    The Future: The Royals believe that Bowlan’s work ethic and dedication to conditioning will help him during the injury rehab process, perhaps shortening his time away from the mound, with a return later in the 2022 season being the most optimistic prognosis. The dedication to his career and improvement on the mound early in 2021 keeps him from dropping down the Royals prospect list.

    Scouting Grades: Fastball: 60. Slider: 55. Curveball: 55. Changeup: 50. Control: 60

  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

    BA Grade: 50/Medium

    Track Record: Pasquantino was a rather unheralded draft pick by the Royals in 2019, selected from Old Dominion in the 11th round and signed for $125,000. At the time he looked more like an ungainly presence on the field but with a solid and promising bat. Multiple rival scouts were intrigued with his potential, noting Pasquantino as a prospect to keep an eye on as his career progressed. Continued development of the hit tool and improvement in his defense at first base has now landed the affable Pasquantino firmly into the conversation as more than just a unique presence on the field.

    Scouting Report: Pasquantino is a determined hitter with a high level of focus at the plate, regularly taking professional at-bats, and his strikeout-to-walk rate is unheard of 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, seeing pitches 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 mid-season promotion to Double-A, knocking out four hits in his first game at that level. He was a key member of the championship teams at multiple levels in 2021. Following the regular season Pasquatino headed to the Dominican Republic for winter ball with Licey, one of the LIDOM’s flagship franchises. Where he gained valuable experience facing pitchers with a variety of offspeed pitches.

    Scouting Grades: Hit: 60. Power: 60. Speed: 30. Fielding: 50. Arm: 45.

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