Sign Up! Join our newsletters, get a FREE e-Edition
Use the options to filter your search.
The son of former Dodgers right fielder Raul Mondesi, Raul Adalberto was the second-most prominent international signing the Royals landed in 2011 He signed for $2 million, while Dominican outfielder Elier Hernandez signed for $3 million. But ever since Hernandez and Mondesi came to the States in 2012, the latter has established himself as the Royals' best position prospect. Mondesi was the youngest player in the high Class A Carolina League when the 2014 season began. The Royals were so taken by his spring training performance that they half-expected him to reach Double-A Northwest Arkansas by midseason, but after a strong April, he failed to hit better than .215 in any of the final four months of the season. He did hit six home runs and four triples in August. Mondesi's tools are outstanding. In the words of one scout: "Every now and then you see flashes. You could put a lot of 70s and 80s (on the 20-80 scouting scale) on him." But Mondesi has to improve his approach and his ability to work counts to get a chance to take advantage of his excellent bat speed. He is a 70 runner who will turn in top-of-the-scale 80 times occasionally. He has a strong arm, soft hands and excellent shortstop actions, and he's sure-handed for his age (.963 fielding percentage). He projects as an aboveaverage defender at shortstop. The wiry-strong Mondesi has a chance to one day hit 12-15 home runs as he matures. His combination of speed and pop helped him lead the Carolina League with 12 triples. He also has improved as a bunter, and roughly 15 percent of his singles in 2014 were bunt hits. He also has the tools to be at least an average hitter, and possibly better than that, but he's yet to show that in long stretches. Too often, Mondesi over-aggressively swings at everything, leaving himself in bad counts. His two-strike approach is even worse, as he'll expand the zone to chase unhittable breaking balls and fastballs. His swing has no obvious mechanical flaws from either side, but too often he gets caught lunging because of poor pitch recognition that disconnects his legs from his swing. Mondesi presented one of the toughest player evaluations scouts faced in 2014. His tools are exceptional, but his contact issues meant that those tools were only seen sporadically . Scouts around baseball generally wrote off Mondesi's awful season as a byproduct of being 18 in the Carolina League. He's still the most talented player in the Royals' system and one of the top shortstop prospects in the game. The Royals have moved Mondesi aggressively , but it's time to let him catch up to his competition. He's the Royals' long-term answer at shortstop, but for now a return to Wilmington is likely. Based on 20-80 scouting scale and future projection rather than present grades.
The first pitcher to ever pitch in the College World Series and the World Series in the same season, Finnegan fell into the Royals' lap at 17th overall only because of an ill-timed shoulder issue. Considered in the mix to go in the top five picks, he left a late-April start early with shoulder tightness. After a week off, he returned to action and showed no ill effects. Finnegan made just 13 minor league appearances before joining the big league club, becoming the primary lefty reliever almost immediately and making seven playoff appearances. Finnegan isn't your typical first-round starter prospect. He's 5-foot-11 and his delivery is not without effort. The Royals, and some other teams' scouts, believe he's strong enough and athletic enough to repeat his mechanics, but others see him as a power reliever. Finnegan has run his fastball up to 98 mph at his best, but he sat at 92-94 as a pro reliever, and the Royals wouldn't be shocked to see him sit at 90-92 as a starter. His slider is at least average pretty much every time he takes the mound and is aboveaverage regularly. His changeup, which he rarely used in short relief outings, is less consistent, but was an above-average pitch in college. Finnegan will get a chance to earn a spot in the Royals' rotation in spring training, but considering his lack of pro starting experience, he likely won't be ready for that role yet. He's ready to help a big league club as a reliever, however, so the Royals might opt to deploy him in that role, perhaps at the risk of affecting his long-term development as a starter.
The Royals signed 2013 first-round pick Hunter Dozier to a below-slot deal in order to free up money to sign Manaea for $3.55 million in the sandwich round. The potential top-five pick suffered a torn labrum in his hip, but after turning pro and having surgery, Manaea showed no ill effects in 2014. Early in the season, Manaea would lean back early in his delivery, which caused him to open up too soon and spin off the mound. That left his fastball up in the zone and made his slider too sweepy. After getting more upright and direct in his finish, Manaea posted a 1.45 ERA in his final 10 starts at high Class A Wilmington. He gets excellent extension and downhill plane on his plus 90-95 mph fastball that has a touch of late life. Manaea's slider became an above-average pitch late in 2014 as it became tighter with more tilt. His changeup is a potentially average pitch with late fade. The long-limbed Manaea never has had pinpoint control and may struggle to achieve more than average grades on that front. He's too easy to run on (24 steals in 29 attempts), but he lowered his leg kick from the stretch to speed up from a glacial 1.7 to a still-slow 1.4 seconds to the plate. Manaea made big strides in his first pro season, but he still has to demonstrate he can be more precise with his pitches. He heads to Double-A Northwest Arkansas with the raw ingredients to be a future No. 3 starter.
The Royals must be tempted to send Zimmer to the mound covered in bubble wrap. In 2014 he missed time with a biceps injury and followed that with a lat injury that postponed his season debut until Aug. 17. He pitched well in the Triple-A playoffs, made two excellent starts in the Arizona Fall League, then was shut down again with a tight shoulder and a bone bruise. In October, he had exploratory arthroscopic surgery in which doctors performed labrum and rotator-cuff cleanup. Zimmer could be back by May 1, but his timetable has frequently been pushed back in the past. When healthy, Zimmer has shown front-line starter stuff. He has three potentially plus pitches, led by a double-plus 93-97 mph fastball and equally-potent, sharp-breaking curveball. His changeup is at least average as well, and his slider flashes average. Injuries have been the only thing preventing Zimmer from joining the big league team. Doctors haven't been able to find any one underlying issue that ties Zimmer's lengthy list of injuries together, but one of the key attributes of a front-line starter is durability, something he has not achieved. If he can stay healthy, Zimmer is the Royals' most talented pitching prospect.
Dozier will be linked with lefthander Sean Manaea for as long as the two players remain Royals. The organization reached to take the former with the eighth overall pick in the 2013 draft, believing he wouldn't last until the Royals' second pick at No. 34, which they used to select Manaea and bestow him with an above-slot bonus. Dozier showed an extremely advanced approach at high Class A Wilmington. He employs a simple swing, making use of a slight toe tap as a timing mechanism before taking a balanced, short stroke best geared for line drives up the middle. Dozier always has demonstrated a good idea of the strike zone and an ability to draw walks. All of that fell apart after his promotion. He became pull-happy, overaggressive and began chasing poor pitches. Defensively, Dozier has adapted quickly to third base after moving off shortstop. He's becoming more confident at positioning himself and deciding when to play up or back on hitters. His arm strength and accuracy improved after he fixed a tendency early in the season to throw with a lowered front arm. Dozier's second-half performance at Double-A was an uncharacteristic hiccup, and he'll return to Northwest Arkansas in 2015.
The Royals have had plenty of success developing Dominican pitchers whom they originally signed for inexpensive bonuses. Almonte signed for just $25,000, but he quickly established himself as one of the organization's best pitching prospects with a breakthrough performance at low Class A Lexington in 2013. Almonte's flaws became much more apparent at high Class A Wilmington in 2014. He was able to rely on his changeup to handcuff hitters at low Class A Lexington, but against more advanced Carolina League hitters, his lack of present feel for mixing his pitches was apparent. Almonte's fastball generally sits 91-95 mph and touches 97, but he struggles to locate it to the glove side and too often leaves it up in the zone. When his delivery gets out of whack, his fastball leaks back over the heart of the plate. He commands his plus changeup better than his fastball, which contributes to him becoming too reliant on the pitch. His slurvy curveball always has been a below-average pitch, partly because he throws from a low arm slot. Eventually he may need to switch to a harder slider or cutter, which would better fit his release point. Some scouts believe Almonte's future lies in the bullpen, where he could try to blow hitters away with a plus fastball and changeup. The Royals have every incentive to see if he can sequence his pitches better and improve his command to stick as a starter. He'll head to Double-A Northwest Arkansas for further refinement.
Orlando, 2014 Of the 31 players drafted and signed by the Royals in 2014, 11 of them were lefthanded pitchers, including first-round picks Brandon Finnegan and Griffin. A lanky lefty with an excellent body, Griffin led Orlando's The First Academy to a National High School Invitational title. Limited to three innings per start in his pro debut at Rookie-level Burlington, he allowed just four extra-base hits in 28 innings. Griffin could end up with three aboveaverage pitches. A plus athlete, he might gain a tick or two on his fastball, but at 88-92 mph he already is effective at getting good angle. He can run his fastball in on righthanders and shows an ability to locate the pitch to both sides of the plate. Griffin is a strike-thrower with a clean delivery. His 79-91 mph changeup has solid deception and some late fade to generate swings and misses. His curveball is a tight downward breaker at its best, but too often is a slower, loopier pitch he can't always control. Griffin is the most prominent high school lefty the Royals have had in the system since the days of Mike Montgomery, Danny Duffy and John Lamb. He'll head to low Class A Lexington in 2015 and his polish gives him a chance to excel once he gets accustomed to the heavier workload of pro ball. High.
Blewett is the first high school righthander from the state of New York to be selected in the top two rounds since Steve Karsay back in 1990. He attended the same Baker High in Baldwinsville as Jason Grilli. Blewett went 23-0 in his prep career, though a muscle strain in his shoulder gave him a scare just before the draft. He returned in time to prove his health, go in the second round to the Royals and sign for $1.8 million. Blewett is a bigbodied, wide-shouldered righthander with present physicality. His nearly over-the-top delivery increases the plane he gets from his 6-foot-6 frame. At his best, he pitches at 90-92 mph, touching 94 with good sink as he works down in the zone. When he struggles, he rushes his delivery and leaves the ball up too often. Blewett's curveball has gone from fringy to potentially plus in the past year. It's a 12-to-6 hammer with swing-and-miss potential. Working limited innings in his pro debut, he didn't use his fringy changeup much. Blewett's control is below-average at this point, but as a Northeastern arm, he has plenty of development ahead of him. Blewett is a high-risk, high-reward prospect. His control and command will have to improve for him to reach his potential ceiling as a mid-rotation starter.
The younger brother of long-time big league speedster Emilio Bonifacio, Jorge has been one of the more productive hitters in the Royals system. After hitting .280 or better in each of his first three pro seasons, however, Bonifacio's average and power both cratered in 2014. Bonifacio, like Hunter Dozier, has an up-the-middle approach that is better suited to hitting for average than cranking home runs. His wide stance makes it difficult for him to use his legs fully in his swing, but when he has tried to narrow his base, he doesn't look as comfortable at the plate. Bonifacio has the bat speed to catch up to most any fastball with a simple stroke, but he's proven vulnerable to sliders and changeups off the outer half at Double-A Northwest Arkansas. He has above-average raw power, but it's never translated to productive in-game power, and he probably won't develop that power without hurting his average. A strong-bodied right fielder with a strong arm, Bonifacio has average range and below-average speed. Bonifacio still is the Royals' best hope for an in-house option to become an everyday corner outfielder, but he's no closer to filling that role than he was a year ago. At his best, he's a useful complementary regular whose solid average and on-base skills help compensate for a lack of profile power.
Colon was the first player ever named team captain of the USA Baseball collegiate national team and was a key member of Cal State Fullerton's 2009 College World Series team. He might be better known as the player the Royals drafted fourth overall in 2010 instead of Chris Sale. Colon made his big league debut in 2014 and earned a spot on the postseason roster. Colon doesn't have any one exceptional tool, but he is productive because he does everything well enough. He's a below-average runner, but he's heady enough to steal a bag against a slow pitcher. He's an average defender at second, a tick below that at third and a below-average defender at shortstop who can fill in as a backup. He doesn't make many flashy plays, but he is reliable and sure-handed. At the plate, Colon's whole-field approach is geared to hit for average with below-average power. Colon is ready to be the Royals' utility infielder, and he could grow into a slightly larger role. As a regular, his only fit would be at second base.
A 6-foot-7 lefty with low-90s velocity, Flynn is difficult for other teams to miss, which explains how he's been traded twice in the past two years. First the Tigers traded him to the Marlins as part of the haul for Anibal Sanchez, then Detroit shipped him to the Royals for Aaron Crow last November. Flynn arrived at Marlins camp in 2014 as one of the favorites to earn a big league rotation spot. That bid never got on track because he couldn't command the bottom of the strike zone and his delivery was a mess. Flynn shows average to solid-average velocity and sink on his fastball, and his low-80s changeup plays as average when his delivery is in sync and he's commanding his fastball. Neither his curveball nor slider plays consistently as a reliable third pitch, but his fastball, changeup and average control give him back-end starter potential.
One of the better power bats on the 2013 summer showcase circuit, albeit with a big swing and lots of swing and miss, Vallot improved his stock with a strong senior season. He hit .545 with 13 home runs and led St. Thomas More High to its first Louisiana state title in more than 20 years. The Royals knew that Vallot's defense needed a lot of work, and it showed at Rookie-level Burlington. Early in the Appalachian League season, he could not cleanly catch pitchers with plus stuff--but by the time instructional league rolled around, he was able to catch Aaron Crow with no issues. Vallot needs to improve his hands and stop stabbing at pitches. His footwork and technique are also very raw, which keeps his plus arm from generating even average pop times consistently. At the plate, Vallot has the best raw power in the system with a chance to hit 25 or more home runs if he makes consistent contact. He has good bat speed, but his simple swing is geared for power with leverage, length and an uppercut finish that generates flyballs and strikeouts. How Vallot looks in the spring will determine whether he goes to low Class A Lexington or Rookie-level Idaho Falls.
Calixte can be a frustrating prospect for scouts to watch and evaluate. His tools are always better than the results, but that's now been the case for five seasons. Calixte has his virtues. For example, he has excellent bat speed that produces fringe-average power. At shortstop he should be a tick above-average defender with quick hands and smooth actions and average range. His above-average arm allows him to make plays in the hole, but he struggles going to his left. Calixte needs to improve his accuracy after he committed 16 throwing errors at Double-A Northwest Arkansas on his way to leading the Texas League with 26 miscues. He focused on shortstop in 2014, but he's played second and third base adequately in the past. At the plate, the righty-hitting Calixte's swing is too big and he is too pull-happy, largely because he doesn't appear to recognize spin quickly enough. With Raul A. Mondesi coming up behind him in the system and Christian Colon ahead of him as the Royals' presumptive utility infielder, Calixte will head to Triple-A Omaha knowing he's got plenty of competition. He has the tools to be an everyday regular with more refinement, but without a better approach, even a utility job is out of reach.
A 16th-round pick of the Pirates out of high school, Skoglund put his time at Central Florida to good use. He gained 10 pounds per year to go from a 6-foot-7, 170-pound pencil in high school to a still lanky but much more solid 200 pounds. Skoglund earned American Athletic Conference pitcher of the year honors as a junior. Skoglund struggled through his pro debut when he threw plenty of strikes but gave up too much solid contact at Rookie-level Idaho Falls. He throws an average 90-91 mph fastball with some life and an average 80-83 mph slider that he pairs with a below-average changeup that he doesn't really trust. His pitches play up because he locates well with average control, a rare trait for a young, long-levered pitcher. As he presently stands, Skoglund projects as a back-end starter, but one who could end up being more than that if he gains some more strength and velocity.
Royals area scout Steve Gossett convinced the club to take a flier on Adams even though he was much more accomplished as a basketball player. His athleticism allowed him to compete against more experienced competitors. Added to the 40-man roster after the 2013 season to protect him from the Rule 5 draft, he got off to a brutal start at Double-A Northwest Arkansas and he missed much of July with a wrist injury. Adams recovered to post a .924 OPS over the second half and reached the majors in September as a pinch-runner/defensive replacement. He is a plus-plus runner who is a plus defender in center field. He's not a good fit in right field because of his fringe-average arm. Offensively, Adams has some strength and shows pull power, but he projects as an average hitter with the ability to hit 8-10 home runs and plenty of doubles. He most likely winds up as a fourth outfielder. He heads to Triple-A Omaha in 2015.
As was the case with Brandon Finnegan and Sean Manaea, the Royals were able to land Binford late because he came with an injury history. He had Tommy John surgery in high school, so most scouts expected to see him go to Virginia as a projectable starter. The Royals, however, convinced him to sign for $575,000 as a 30th-round pick in 2011. After an excellent start at high Class A Wilmington in 2014, Binford moved up to Double-A Arkansas in July, then moved to the Triple-A Omaha bullpen. The move did not suit him and he did not get called up. Binford is one of the few minor league pitchers with aboveaverage present command. He doesn't just throw strikes--he locates to the corners. He carved hitters up with well-placed two-seamers down and in to righthanders. His fastball is average at best (89-91 mph), but it's been effective because he gets excellent extension and locates it. His slurve has morphed into two pitches. His slider is his second-best pitch, for he can throw it consistently for strikes, but he mixes in a slurvy curveball that is more of a chase pitch and a straight 80 mph change with little fade but good arm speed. Binford has no true plus pitch, but he succeeds with pitch movement and command. He will return to Northwest Arkansas with a chance to become a No. 5 starter, but one who has little margin for error.
The surprise star of the Royals' 2014 farm system was Sparkman, a previously little-noticed 20th-round pick. After starting the year in the high Class A Wilmington bullpen, he pitched his way into the rotation and finished the year with the second best ERA in the minors at 1.56. A friendly home ballpark helped, but he performed slightly better on the road. Sparkman's success was based on a combination of his deceptive delivery and his ability to throw to all four quadrants of the strike zone. He leads with his elbow, then brings his hand and the ball forward with a quick over-the-top release. Sparkman gets more swings and misses than one would expect from a 90-93 mph fastball. He mixes in a potentially average changeup with a little late fade and a potentially average hard slider at 83-84 mph. The pitch doesn't have much depth but cuts enough to swerve away from the sweet spot of opponents' bats. His curveball is generally below-average and loopy. Sparkman's four pitches all play up because he has present above-average control and average command. He'll head to Double-A Northwest Arkansas as a starter.
If hitting for average weren't required to reach the majors, then Starling would already be an all-star. He turned down a chance to be Nebraska's quarterback to sign with the Royals for $7.5 million as the fifth overall pick in 2011. He's an excellent center fielder with plus range and an above-average arm. He turns in average to tick above-average times coming out of the box, but he's an above-average runner underway. But as a hitter, Starling is still a long way from where he needs to be. He simply struggles to square up the ball. Part of it is a pitch-recognition issue, but part of it appears to be a hand-eye coordination issue. The Royals see signs of an improved approach. He no longer is a consistent victim of sliders off the plate. Starling's tools (and his signing bonus) give the organization every reason to be patient, but it's harder to find scouts for other teams who still view him as a future regular. Starling can hope the better hitting environment at Double-A Northwest Arkansas gives him a shot of confidence in 2015.
Figuring out when to promote a player to a higher level is not always an easy call. After Fernandez dominated the Dominican Summer League and the Rookie-level Arizona League in 2013, the Royals watched him look equally impressive in extended spring training in 2014. Emboldened, they assigned him to low Class A Lexington in June and watched him struggle to handle a tougher level of competition. Fernandez is a short righthander. His arm swing is long in the back as he takes the ball away from his glove to begin his motion, but prior to 2014, he had shown an ability to repeat this complex delivery. Fernandez gets good extension out front, which helps his plus fastball play up further. He sits at 90-93 mph, but he'll touch 97 when he humps up. His fringe-average slurvy breaking ball shows some tilt, but it's slower than the typical slider and doesn't feature as much break as the typical curveball. His changeup has shown flashes, but it wasn't as consistent in 2014. Most likely he heads back to Lexington in 2015 to try to reassert himself as a starter prospect.
After making rapid progress early in his career, Cuthbert has settled into a bit of a holding pattern. Cuthbert showed improvement in his return to Double-A Northwest Arkansas in 2014, and he earned a 25-game trial at Triple-A Omaha. He always has demonstrated an ability to draw walks, but despite a relatively simple, compact swing, his hit tool hasn't matched expectations. He needs to be at least an average hitter, for his tick below-average power hasn't turned into an asset. Cuthbert slid over to first base when Hunter Dozier joined the Double-A club, and he's played second base sporadically as well. At third base, Cuthbert is sure-handed, but his range is limited. He's a well below-average runner whose thick lower half hints that he'll continue to slow down. He has the hands and arm to be a range-limited second baseman, but he doesn't profile at first base. Cuthbert now looks like a bench bat.
Gasparini received the highest bonus ever for a European amateur at $1.3 million. Gasparini's pro debut was nearly wiped out by a hamstring injury that cost him a month and limited him even before that. In limited action at Rookie-level Burlington, he showed a plus arm and the actions and range to stay at shortstop, though his reliability is lacking, for he made 15 errors in 22 games, 11 of them fielding miscues. Before the hamstring problem, Gasparini showed above-average speed. At the plate, he is understandably raw. The switch-hitter's lefthanded swing is more powerful and more consistent than his righthanded stroke, which gets too long. Gasparini will return to Burlington in 2015. He has the highest ceiling of any Royals' shortstop other than Raul A. Mondesi, but he's likely five or six years away.
Hernandez had the good fortune to sign for $3 million as a 16-year-old. He had the misfortune to sign that deal the same year as Raul A. Mondesi agreed to terms for $2 million. When the two players made their debuts together at Rookie-level Idaho Falls in 2012, Mondesi quickly outclassed Hernandez, whose swing is fairly straightforward, but he hasn't shown the consistent pop that was expected. Hernandez's overaggressiveness has been an issue and he has struggled to recognize and lay off sliders off the plate. He improved his reads and comfort level in right field in 2014, showing signs he can become an average defender, but his average arm may force an eventual move to left. Hernandez still is young enough to take big strides forward, but so far he hasn't shown the requisite hitting or power potential to fit as a corner outfielder. He will still be one of the younger players in the high Class A Carolina League.
The Royals decided after the 2013 season to have five minor league pitchers experiment with a weighted ball as part of an offseason training program. They didn't see much difference for four of the pitchers, but for Stephenson it transformed him from a likely release candidate to one who now is a legitimate prospect. He gained nearly 10 mph on his fastball to regularly sit at a plus 92-95 mph and touch 97. Stephenson has cleaned up his arm action as well. He's shorter in back and more consistent in terms of repeating his delivery. He was an above-average strike-thrower at Rookie-level Burlington in 2014, with a chance to have at least average control. His breaking ball and changeup flash average, but Stephenson's curveball is a pitch he uses consistently, while his changeup is one he's just starting to feel comfortable throwing. His delivery has some effort and a little bit of recoil after he releases the ball, but the Royals will develop him as a starter so long as he throws strikes. Next up: a rotation spot at low Class A Lexington.
As a sophomore in 2013, Downes led a 50-win Virginia team in multiple offensive categories. A twohome- run game against future first-round pick Jeff Hoffman early in his junior season seemed to hint at a big year, but Downes soon after suffered a right wrist injury he tried to play through. That left him dragging a slow bat through the zone, but after signing as a seventh-rounder in 2014, his bat speed returned, and he once again showed the tools to be a center fielder with plenty of power. Downes is among the best athletes in the Royals system. He is a solid-average runner who runs faster than that once underway. He's shown a tick above-average power potential to go with an average hit tool. Downes may not fit in spacious Kauffman Stadium as a center fielder--his range is simply average--but he can also play right field with an above-average arm. He could prove to be the steal of the Royals' 2014 draft class.
25 RYAN O'HEARN, 1B After O'Hearn hit .262 with little power as a junior, the Royals sensed they might be among the few who still believed in his bat. They told O'Hearn, their 2014 eighth-round pick, to trust his power as a pro, and he responded by hitting 13 home runs at Rookie-level Idaho Falls to win Pioneer League MVP honors. (He hit just four bombs in three college seasons.) O'Hearn's compact swing and all-fields approach actually is more geared to spraying the ball around, but his power allows some of those line drives to clear the fence. O'Hearn is an average defender at first base who also is a playable, if below-average, right fielder.
Franco has a brother, also named Wander, who is a shortstop in the Astros system. The Royals' Wander is a lanky switch-hitting third baseman with natural bat-to-ball skills and a smooth swing from both sides of the plate. A shoulder injury hindered him in 2014, forcing him to hit righthanded only. Franco has a loose, handsy swing and projects as an above-average hitter, but will he fill out and gain much-needed core strength? He presently has well below-average power. Pre-injury, Franco showed a tick above-average arm that fit at third base. He has the athleticism to stick at third as an average defender.
The son of long-time big league catcher Tony Pena, Francisco Pena faded from the prospect radar as he struggled with his weight and inconsistency. The Royals made him their top priority on the minor league free agent market after the 2013 season, signing him to a major league contract and adding him to the 40-man roster. Pena responded with the best season of his pro career. His pull-happy hitting approach leaves him vulnerable to pitches away. Defensively, he has good hands and a strong enough arm to fire off sub-2.0-second pop times on throws to second base despite inconsistent mechanics. He threw out nearly 40 percent of basestealers in 2014. Pena does have defensive hiccups, namely on balls in the dirt, when he too often stabs at the ball. He profiles as a well below-average hitter with average power potential.
Gallagher was thought to be a power-first catcher with average-at-best defensive tools. Nowadays, he's an excellent receiver who has shown no productive power. Gallagher's soft hands are his best asset, and he's an excellent receiver with an extremely accurate arm. He will show plenty of pop times of 1.9 seconds, but it's his ability to put throws on the bag consistently that explains why he led the high Class A Carolina League by catching 40 percent of basestealers. Gallagher shows bat speed in batting practice, but when the pitches start to count, that bat speed seems to disappear for a contact-oriented approach. The Royals remain patient as Gallagher heads to Double-A Northwest Arkansas in 2015.
The Royals were willing to add Orlando, an 11-year pro with no big league experience, to the 40-man roster this offseason after re-signing him to minor league contracts each of the past three seasons to keep him in the organization. A native of Brazil, Orlando's limited exposure to the game helps explain why he's still making strides at age 29. He's an above-average center fielder with a plus arm The long-legged Orlando is a plus runner. He has learned to use the whole field and cut down his swing, aiming for contact and line drives. He's an average hitter with below-average power. Orlando's best fit is as an extra outfielder.
The long-limbed, lean Gustave finally reached full-season ball with the Astros in 2014, his fifth pro season, before the Royals snagged him in the Rule 5 draft in December. He possesses a fastball that clips triple-digits. Gustave went back to the bullpen when he returned from an oblique injury in late August. It was in relief that he touched 100 mph and sat 95-98. Gustave's control improved this season as he trimmed his walk rate to 3.3 per nine innings, an immense improvement from his career ratio of 6.7. He is limited to a reliever ceiling because he lacks dependable secondary offerings. Scouts say he needs more tilt on the slider to make it an effective swing-and-miss pitch. His delivery is clean, but he lacks a feel for repeating his release point and arm slot. Gustave faces long odds of sticking in a stacked Royals bullpen.