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Track Record:Singer was another in the long line of highly-acclaimed starting pitchers coming out of the University of Florida. But the righthander's pedigree goes further back then his time in Gainesville. He was a Blue Jays second-round pick out of high school who opted not to sign. The decision to skip pro ball the first time around turned out to be a wise choice by Singer. He was a key member of the Gators' rotation as a sophomore and junior and was the Baseball America College Player of the Year in 2018. Coming into the season, Singer was seen as a potential top-five pick for the 2018 draft. He slid to the 18th pick, but his $4.25 million bonus was nearly $1 million above the slot for that pick and was the 11th richest bonus in the first round. After pitching deep into the College World Series, Singer waited until three days before the deadline to sign. Because of Singer's heavy college workload in addition to a minor hamstring problem after reporting to the Royals' complex this summer, he has yet to make his official pro debut. He did pitch in instructional league. Scouting Report: The Royals were thrilled to get a near major league-ready pitcher that far into the draft. They see Singer as a starter with a durable body and competitive makeup. He flashes two plus pitches--a fastball and slider--delivered from a lower arm slot. That arm slot concerned some scouts, and they said they felt it limited his ability to consistently throw his changeup. While still a bit rusty during instructional league, Singer looked the part. His fastball sat 91-94 mph, which was close to his college velocity, with good movement down in the zone. His lower arm slot helps him get plenty of run on his fastball. He has good feel for his sharp slider, which comes in around 83 mph. He didn't have to use a changeup much in college and the pitch still is inconsistent for him. Singer has yet to become comfortable throwing it frequently, but it has potential to give him another above-average offspeed weapon. His control grades as above-average. The Future: Singer will likely start his career in a loaded high Class A Wilmington rotation in 2019. His advanced control and competitiveness give him a chance to be a mid-rotation starter. With his big-game experience and arsenal, Singer will move quickly through the system and could reach Double-A before the end of his first pro season.
Track Record: Lee continued on the fast track through the Royals' system, making it to Double-A three days after his 20th birthday. The athletic outfielder took big strides forward in 2018, especially in cutting his strikeout rate from 32 percent in his first full season to 25 percent. He was one of the most productive players in the Carolina League before his midseason promotion to Double-A. He also improved his walk rate from 12 to 14 percent. He missed the last month of 2018 to back soreness but made up for lost time with an assignment to the Arizona Fall League. Scouting Report: The key to Lee's improvement at the plate resulted from cutting down on his swing with two strikes and using the whole field more often. The larger ballparks in the Carolina League helped to suppress his home run total, which dropped from 17 in 2017 to six in 2018. But Lee projects to hit for more power as he matures. He shows easy plus raw power in batting practice and scouts believe he has good feel to hit and keeps his hands back and works deep counts. While not a burner, Lee is a smart baserunner and has the above-average speed, athleticism and arm to stay in center field. The Future: Lee will return to Double-A Northwest Arkansas to start the 2019 season. In a system with a number of high-ceiling prospects in the lower levels of the minors, Lee stands out because he's not that far away from the big leagues. Lee should be starting in Kansas City by the end of 2020.
Track Record: Lynch shot up draft boards late in the spring of 2018 when he showed improved stuff and control in late-season outings, including an excellent Atlantic Coast Conference tournament start in front of many Royals front office officials. Based on an outstanding pro debut between Rookie-level Burlington and low Class A Lexington, Lynch has solidified the belief that his improvement is sustainable. Scouting Report: After sitting 88-92 mph for much for his college career, Lynch's velocity bumped up to 93-95 late in his college career. It got even better when he got on the mound as a pro. He continued to sit 93-95 and started touching 97. He commands his plus fastball to both sides of the plate and is able to front-door his two-seamer back over the plate against righthanded hitters. Lynch throws two 83-85 mph breaking balls, and he varies the shape between the two. Both pitches have sharp downward bite and generate swings and misses, with his wipeout slider being the better of the two. His 85 mph changeup flashes above-average potential but is currently his most inconsistent pitch. It's a good pitch when he sells it, but he too often tries to guide it. Lynch has embraced his new power-oriented approach as he has embraced attack hitters with his new-found power. The Future: Lynch will move up to high Class A Wilmington in 2019, along with fellow first-rounders Brady Singer and Jackson Kowar, forming three-fifths of the Blue Rocks rotation. Lynch's rapid improvement gives him a shot of becoming one of the better lefthanded pitching prospects in the minors, but he needs to prove he can sustain his late-season 2018 form over a full season.
Track Record: Royals scouts obviously liked what they saw from the University of Florida pitching staff in 2018 because they used their top two draft picks to grab the Gators' top two starters. They took Brady Singer at No. 18 and Kowar at No. 33. Like Singer, Kowar had a very storied Gators career. Kowar finished with the third-best winning percentage (.803) in Florida history. His final outing in the College World Series saw him strikeout 13 in 6.2 shutout innings. Scouting Report: Like Singer, Kowar already sports a pair of plus pitches. His wipeout plus-plus changeup is already regarded as the best in the organization. He has easy velocity, and his fastball touched 97 mph in his pro debut. He delivers his pitches with a clean arm action, and he should be able to improve his velocity as he adds strength to his tall, lean frame. Kowar generates fastball arm speed and screwball action on his 85-87 mph changeup, which has plenty of fading life. His breaking ball got slurvy at Florida before he settled into a mid-to-upper-70s curveball that projects to be an average pitch as he gets more consistency with it. That will be a key development focus for him as a pro because he's long struggled to find a breaking ball he is comfortable using regularly. Kowar pitches with a free-and-easy delivery, though he can get in trouble when he gets too quick with his delivery and leaves pitches up in the zone. The Future: Kowar will continue to pair with Singer as they advance to the big leagues. They will start the season together at high Class A Wilmington.
Track Record: Lopez was a three-year starter at Creighton. As a Blue Jay he steadily improved, showing a solid glove and a sparkplug mentality as a hitter. The Royals were enamored with his approach and said they believed he was among the best college shortstops in the 2016 draft class, even though 11 college shortstops were drafted before him. Three years later, he's living up to those expectations. The overachieving Lopez continued to impress in 2018 by advancing to Triple-A midway through his second full professional season. He has walked more than he has struck out and posted a .371 on-base percentage in his pro career. Scouting Report: Lopez is a smart and instinctive ballplayer who consistently plays above his solid but unspectacular tools. While he needs to keep adding strength to his slight frame, he has good barrel control and understands the strike zone. He works counts and knows how to take his walks. He's an above-average hitter with excellent on-base skills, even if he likely never will hit more than 10 home runs. While his range at either shortstop or second base is no better than average, he gets his body in the right position to make plays, and his average arm is enough because of an excellent internal clock. Lopez is extremely reliable--he made only five errors in 2018 and made zero errors in 32 games at second base. He's a plus runner with good instincts on the bases. The Future: With Whit Merrifield and Adalberto Mondesi set in the Royals' middle infield, Lopez will get additional seasoning at Triple-A. While not yet on the 40-man roster, he likely will make his big league debut in 2019. He is at least an option as utility infielder, but he has potential to be an everyday second baseman if the opportunity arises.
Track Record: The son of Florida International head coach Mervyl Melendez, M.J. showed good aptitude at the plate and advanced skills behind it. Melendez shared catching duties at low Class A Lexington with Sebastian Rivero for the South Atlantic League champs. Both Melendez and Rivero earned spots in the SAL all-star game. Melendez's 19 home runs were fifth-most in the South Atlantic League and he finished second in the league with 54 extra-base hits. Amazingly for a catcher, he also finished third in the league with nine triples. Scouting Report: Melendez makes hard contact at the plate with a level swing and good hand-eye coordination that gives him power to all fields. Plus, he shows the aptitude to adjust during at-bats. Despite hitting .251, Melendez projects as an average hitter. He sells out for power at times, as evidenced by his 30 percent strikeout rate in 2018, but he gets to his plus power. Melendez is an average runner who runs much better than the average catcher. Behind the plate, he needs to continue working on the mechanics of his setup and receiving, but he works well with pitchers. He is bilingual and calls a good game. His plus arm helped him tie for the Sally league lead by throwing out 42 percent of basestealers. The Future: Young catchers don't typically hit like Melendez did in 2018. He projects as a first-division regular with a power bat behind the plate. He'll move on to high Class A Wilmington in 2019 where his power will likely be sapped by his home park. He needs to continue to improve his contact rate, but he has a ceiling few minor league catchers can match.
Track Record: Pratto was the Royals' first-round pick in 2017 after an illustrious high school career in Southern California and with multiple Team USA clubs. He was also an effective pitcher in high school, but scouts were unanimous that his pro future was as a hitter. Pratto got off to a slow start in 2018 but finished strong by compiling a 1.106 OPS in his final 32 games and followed that with a .333/.474/.600 batting line in the South Atlantic League playoffs. He also was named the MVP of the league's all-star game. Scouting Report: Pratto's late-season improvement at the plate came after he shortened his swing and got more aggressive. Before that, he struggled to handle premium velocity, but his adjustments helped him fix that issue. His 28 percent strikeout rate was surprisingly high for a hitter with his advanced approach and batting eye--most scouts have seen him as a hit-first first baseman with developing power. While scouts question whether he'll develop the plus home run power desired from a first baseman, he has the potential to be a plus hitter who needs to figure out how to tap into his plus raw power. A fringe-average runner, Pratto is a heady baserunner. He's an above-average defender with good footwork, good hands and instincts. The Future: Pratto's strong finish helped allay some concerns about his bat. He'll have to continue to develop more power, but he has the potential to be an everyday first baseman with a plus bat and at least average power.
Track Record: Matias had a chance to break the South Atlantic League record for home runs, which was set by Russell Branyan with 40 in 1996. But a freak accident when he caught his thumb in the cargo door of the team bus caused him to miss the last month of the season. Even so, Matias finished with 31 homers as well as an impressive opposite-field shot in the Futures Game. Scouting Report: Despite projecting to be a below-average hitter, Matias has plenty of impact potential thanks to his plus-plus power and impressive set of tools. Matias is looking to drive the ball at every opportunity--all but one of his home runs was hit to left or center field. He made progress at the plate in his first full season, showing an ability to make adjustments, especially in the second half when he toned down his aggressiveness against breaking balls. Matias will need to cut down his strikeout rate from a lofty 35 percent, but his overall improvements indicate that he will improve his contact rate when he gains better control of his aggressive nature at the plate. Matias has prototype right field tools as an average defender with a plus-plus arm and above-average speed underway. The Future: Matias has a lofty ceiling but also carries more risk than any other Royals Top 10 Prospect. Few players with strikeout rates like Matias figure out how to make enough contact to get to their power at the major league level, but those who do can be impact players. He will jump to high Class A Wilmington in 2019.
Track Record: Isbel went from a productive hitter to a middle-of-the-lineup masher as a junior at UNLV thanks to a big increase in his power--he hit 14 home runs as a junior after hitting seven in his first two seasons combined. Isbel's increased power came with increased selectivity at the plate that boosted his on-base percentage. That boosted Isbel up draft boards in 2018. The Royals grabbed the lefthanded hitter in the third round. He quickly showed he was too advanced for Rookie-level Idaho Falls in his pro debut and advanced to low Class A Lexington where he helped the Legends win the South Atlantic League title. Scouting Report: Isbel profiles as a top-of-the-order bat with very good plate discipline. He's better suited to get on-base and run around the bases than to drive people in. He projects as an above-average hitter who uses a compact swing to shoot balls to the gaps. He's more of a doubles hitter for now but has above-average raw power and should park 10-15 home runs over the fence eventually. He's also an aggressive baserunner with plus speed. Isbel is still relatively new to the outfield, having entered college as a second baseman, and his inexperience shows at times with some of the routes he takes. He should be able to stay in center field with his first-step quickness and an above-average arm. The Future: Isbel's advanced baseball instincts, raw tools and hard-nosed style of play should allow him to jump to what should be a stacked high Class A Wilmington club next year.
Track Record: Bubic capped his three-year career at Stanford with an outstanding junior season in which he went 8-1, 2.62. The Royals continued their run on college arms with the extra draft picks they had accumulated, selecting Bubic in the supplemental first round with the 40th overall pick. Scouting Report: Bubic profiles as a back-of-the-rotation innings-burner with a high floor and less ceiling than his fellow Royals first-rounders. His 90-94 mph fastball has good run and sink. It's a pitch that he can cut to his glove side and sink to his arm side. The gem of Bubic's arsenal is his plus changeup with late sink. His mid-to-high 70s curveball has medium depth and 12-to-6 movement. It projects as an average pitch. Bubic gets some deception from his low-effort delivery, which features a pause in the back that creates timing issues for opposing hitters. The Future: The Royals added a plethora of high-profile college pitchers to their system via the 2018 draft. That could create a logjam at the lower levels of the system in 2019. Bubic's most likely landing spot out of spring training will be low Class A Lexington.
Track Record: Del Rosario had originally signed with the Braves in 2016 for $1 million, but he was declared a free agent in 2017 as part of Major League Baseball's sanctions against Atlanta for circumvention of international signing rules. The Royals signed him for $665,000. The Braves' loss is the Royals' gain as Del Rosario's stock rose in parallel with an uptick in his fastball velocity. Scouting Report: Del Rosario was named the organization's pitcher of the month for August, when he posted a 5-0, 0.75 mark. He commands his 92-95 mph fastball with late life to both sides of the plate and is adept at pitching inside to hitters. His 79-80 mph curveball flashes as a plus pitch with good shape, and he gets swings and misses on it, but he misses up in the zone when he doesn't throw it from the same slot as his fastball. Del Rosario commands his 88-89 mph changeup, but it's too firm. His delivery is unique and gets a little funky, providing deception, but he gets in trouble when he throws across his body. The Future: Del Rosario will move up to high Class A Wilmington in 2019 as part of a prospect-packed rotation. The odds that he remains a starting pitcher have increased.
Track Record: The best-known of the three prospects acquired from the Nationals for Kelvin Herrera in June 2018, Gutierrez played all of 2018 in Double-A after seeing time in the Arizona Fall League the year before. His results at the plate with the two teams were practically identical, combining for a .275/.329/.400 slash line and a career-high 11 home runs. Scouting Report: Gutierrez has consistently shown the defensive skills to play third base at the big league level, but he's yet to prove he has the power needed for the position. He has a relatively simple inside-out, line-drive swing with quick hands at the plate, routinely producing hard contact to all fields. The Royals' hitting coaches had him adjust his swing to reduce the length, allowing him to get to pitches sooner. There's quickness in Gutierrez's bat, with power to right-center field and the ability to barrel good velocity. Defensively, Gutierrez is an above-average defender thanks to soft hands and good first-step quickness. His arm grades as plus-plus. He got a few games at shortstop this year just as a look to increase his versatility. Gutierrez has fringe-average speed but used his instincts to steal 20 bases in 24 attempts. The Future: Gutierrez will move to Triple-A. If the power emerges, he could be a regular, but otherwise, there are few big league roster spots for backup third basemen.
Track Record: McWilliams' combination of promise and inconsistency has been part of the reason he's been traded twice--teams can dream on his potential, but also worry about whether he'll ever reach it. McWilliams was considered one of the highest-ceiling pitchers in the Rule 5 draft and the Royals quickly made him the No. 2 pick in that draft. Scouting Report: The 6-foot-7 McWilliams is still refining his delivery and trying to find consistency. He's toned down the tempo of his delivery as a pro, and now always pitches from the stretch with a simple leg lift and gather. At his best, his 91-95 mph plus fastball and slider can be a devastating one-two pairing as his slider will flash above-average to plus at its best. But he mixes sharp sliders with some spinners that don't do a lot. And while he can elevate the fastball for swings and misses out of the zone, he's not nearly as consistent with his fastball location when he tries to locate to his armside. His changeup is still a fringy pitch, but he continues to work on it to make it a viable third offering. The Future: McWilliams' below-average control is his biggest hurdle. He has potential to be a back-of-the-rotation starter eventually, but he's not ready to do that. As a Rule 5 pick, he will more likely fit as a power arm in the bullpen, where he can focus on his fastball and slider and air it out.
Track Record: With the big league team needing an extra catcher after the trade of Drew Butera, Viloria was called up to the majors and played in 10 games in September. Scouting Report: A defense-first backstop, Viloria has a plus arm with a quick release, throwing out 41 percent of would-be base stealers in 2018, consistent with his totals in previous seasons. He's bilingual and knows how to call games behind the plate. Offensively, Viloria has a good feel for hitting with good hands and solid bat speed. He has above-average raw power, but is more of a gap-to-gap, line-drive hitter because his swing is naturally geared to using all fields. Improving his walk rate from six percent in 2017 to 10 percent in 2018 is a positive sign. He is a tough kid who plays the game with passion.
Track Record: Blewett's climb through the Royals' system has been a slow simmer. After three seasons in Class A, Blewett made it to Double-A in 2018 with mixed results. It seemed to click late in the season when he went 3-0, 2.59 over his final six starts. He continued that surge in the Arizona Fall League. Scouting Report: With a tall, strong frame, Blewett certainly passes the eye test. He possesses above-average command of his 92-96 mph fastball, which comes from a powerful, high three-quarter delivery that he is still working on repeating. His average curveball with solid three-quarter break has gotten better and flashes plus, but it will occasionally flatten out and roll. He gets good action on his changeup, which flashes as an average pitch, but at 84-86 mph it is still a touch too firm. The Future: After his strong finish in Double-A and impressive stint in the Arizona Fall League, Blewett should be ready for the challenge of pitching in the hitter-friendly Triple-A Pacific Coast League.
Track Record: Drafted in the fifth round and signed for $447,500, Cox had an impressive pro debut in 2018. His pure stuff at Mercer was generally better than his results, with opponents hitting .284 despite him striking out 12.7 hitters per nine innings, which ranked in the top 10 among all Division I pitchers. Scouting Report: The source of Cox's issues in college was a quick delivery that he didn't always repeat. The Royals worked to get him to slow his delivery down, as well as learn how to pitch to the edges of the strike zone while keeping the ball out of the middle of the plate. Cox has an elite ability to miss bats, using an above-average fastball in the mid-90s with average or better movement and two good breaking balls that could be considered plus pitches in the future. Rounding out his pitch mix is an above-average changeup, while his control projects to be fringe-average. The Future: Cox could be either a starter or a multi-inning reliever. He should make it to full-season ball at low Class A Lexington.
Track Record: Lovelady continued his rapid progress, spending all year in Triple-A in only his second full pro season. Scouting Report: With some funk in his delivery, Lovelady gives hitters uncomfortable at-bats. His 91-95 mph fastball with solid-average life was slightly down in terms of velocity this year, but it did not reduce his effectiveness as the life and movement of the pitch was still there. His fastball has hard tailing action with sink, and he locates it to both sides, but the biggest factor is the elite extension he gets from his drive off the mound. Lovelady's go-to offspeed offering is his 83-87 mph slider, a plus pitch that gets swings and misses. His fringe-average changeup is used infrequently. The Future: With his pure stuff and ability to get righthanded hitters out, Lovelady can function as more than just a lefty specialist. He should make it to Kansas City in 2019.
Track Record: Hernandez is the classic late bloomer, not signing with the Royals until he was 19 for $15,000 in 2016. His first full season with low Class A Lexington was interrupted twice, once early in the season when he returned home to Venezuela for a family emergency and then again when he was shut down for the last month of the season due to minor soreness. Scouting Report: Hernandez overpowers hitters with a 93-95 mph fastball that touches 97 mph with late life. His 80-82 mph, power curveball has the potential to be a plus pitch, and he's effective at selling his 80-84 mph, split-grip changeup, especially to lefthanded hitters. Hernandez throws all three pitches for strikes, and both secondary offerings have the potential to be plus pitches. There's still room for improvement with his delivery, as he gets late with his arm and misses up in the strike zone. The Future: Hernandez needs to smooth out his delivery and further refine his impressive arsenal. Some scouts view him as a future reliever with the potential to be a power arm in the back of a bullpen. He will battle to fit in a stacked starting rotation at high Class A Wilmington.
Track Record: Morel had barely started his career in the Nationals' organization, pitching just one game in the Dominican Summer League before being one of three prospects acquired by the Royals in exchange for major league reliever Kelvin Herrera in June 2018. He immediately headed west to make his Royals debut in the Rookie-level Arizona League, pitching most of the summer at age 17. Scouting Report: Morel is not physically big, coincidentally drawing comparisons to Herrera at the same age because of the way his arm works and the potential for added velocity. He's a fierce competitor on the mound, delivering his pitches with an athletic, loose power arm. Morel's 90-93 mph fastball, which touches 95 mph, has late life and the chance to play up, but it gets flat at times resulting in hard contact. His slurvy breaking ball--a hard pitch with bigger shape--flashed plus at times but projects as more of an average pitch. Morel's changeup was an above-average pitch in the AZL but then flashed plus potential during instructional league. He improved his command in the fall by better repeating the finish and delivery of his pitches. Morel shows a good aptitude to learn. The Future: Most scouts in the Arizona League projected Morel as a future reliever because he commanded his pitches better in shorter bursts, but he has the arsenal to be a starting pitcher with plenty of developmental years ahead. He'll need another year of short-season ball in 2019.
Track Record: Hicklen was a two-sport athlete at Alabama-Birmingham, doubling as a wide receiver until the school dropped its football program in 2015. Drafted in the seventh round in 2017, Hicklen signed for $337,500. He was slowed by injuries in his first pro season, but had a solid 2018 that was split between low Class A Lexington and high Class A Wilmington. He was especially effective in Lexington, leading the team in batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage. Scouting Report: Pure strength and raw power are Hicklen's most noticeable attributes. He's not real loose athletically, with the athleticism coming from his strength. While he has above-average to plus raw power, Hicklen projects to hit for average more than power. He was good plate coverage and lays off secondary pitches out of the strike zone, but he has a tendency to chase fastballs up in the zone. As expected from a former wide receiver, Hicklen is a plus runner underway but closer to above-average out of the box. He's an average fielder with fringe-average range. While his arm is no more than fringe-average, he gets rid of balls quickly to make up for any shortage in arm strength. Hicklen is a vocal leader on the field, constantly inspiring his teammates. The Future: A potential power-speed threat, Hicklen is viewed by some scouts as a fourth outfielder. A future role as a starting outfielder isn't out of the question, however, especially as he continues to develop his baseball skills to go along with his raw athleticism. He'll head back to Wilmington in 2019.
Track Record: It's been a slow climb through the Royals' system for Garabito. He first pitched in the Dominican Summer League in 2013, but while he's had to repeat levels at times, the Dominican native flashes enough stuff. Scouting Report: Garabito pitches up in the strike zone with his fastball, moving it around enough and throwing it to both sides of the plate to get away with the location. His fastball gets up to 95-96 mph, with his comfort zone more in the 91-92 mph range. He's got a big curveball that he throws in any count with good depth and action. Garabito's changeup is still a work in progress and was a below-average pitch early in the season before flashing above-average potential later in the year. His athleticism gives him a loose, fluid delivery with some length in his arm action, and he has a sturdy build with a strong lower half. The Future: Garabito was not added to the 40-man roster to keep him out of the Rule 5 draft and he went unpicked. He'll head to Double-A to begin 2019. He's likely more of a future bullpen arm using his fastball-curveball combination.
Track Record: Rivera put up another strong year at high Class A Wilmington in 2018, posting a .280/.333/.427 slash line despite missing time to an oblique injury. He's made steady progress in the Royals' system, with his breakout coming in 2017 at low Class A Lexington. While he's not a high-profile prospect, Rivera plays with a low-key demeanor and needs to be watched over a longer period of time to appreciate his value. Scouting Report: At the plate, Rivera is a consistent gap-to-gap hitter who puts together good at-bats and finds ways to put balls in play. He has yet to show much in-game power, with only 18 home runs in his two full seasons combined, but he shows average raw power in batting practice. He may get more over-the-fence power as he advances and gets more loft in his swing, but that's not his game as he wants to hit for a high average and move runners. Defensively, Rivera has the range and hands to handle third base. He has a plus arm but doesn't always show it off because he tries to make everything look easy. A below-average runner who doesn't steal a lot of bases, Rivera is smart and knows how to run bases. The Future: Rivera should be ready to move to Double-A in 2019, which will be a good test. The biggest question remaining will be to see if he can develop at least a touch more power to better profile at third base.
Track Record: Haake made a circuitous journey through the college ranks, spending one year each at Arkansas State, John A Logan (Ill.) JC, and finally at Kentucky where he split his Wildcats season between the bullpen and the rotation. The Royals continued loading their 2018 draft class with a smorgasbord of college pitchers by taking Haake in the sixth round, despite an ugly 8.37 ERA in his final college season. Scouting Report: Haake's difficulties at Kentucky stemmed from moving back and forth between the rotation and the bullpen, as he didn't have the endurance to succeed the second time through a lineup. The first item of business when reporting to the Royals' complex was to start a throwing program to build up his endurance. He also worked on his delivery in order to stay on line and repeat his delivery and his finish more often. Haake's fastball sits 93-98 mph, pitching most often at 95-96 mph in instructional league, but it comes in fairly straight. His 85-86 mph changeup is a below-average offering but showed improvement in the fall, while his average, 84-87 mph slider is still a work in progress that could become above-average in the future. With a tall, slender frame, Haake has plenty of room to get stronger. Track Record: Haake's three-pitch mix in college indicates a future in the starting rotation, but Haake's track record could indicate a bullpen role is more likely, unless the Royals' conditioning program pays off. Haake will most likely begin 2019 with low Class A Lexington.
Track Record: Staumont has long struggled to improve his command and control. He continues to frustrate, with his electric stuff playing down because of his lack of control, although he slightly lowered his walk rate from 7.8 walks per nine innings in 2017 to 7.0 walks per nine in 2018. Staumont spent the entire 2018 season in Triple-A, pitching mostly out of the bullpen. The Royals worked him in relief, primarily to simplify things and have him pitch out of the stretch. Scouting Report: Staumont continually entices with an electric, 91-97 mph fastball that touches 100 mph. The ball jumps out his hand, regularly recording a high spin rate. The biggest issue is that Staumont's control is a 20 on the scouting scale. Staumont attacked hitters better in 2018. He struggles to land his fringe-average, 76-80 mph curveball, but it can be a plus offering with swing-and-miss potential on the rare ocassions when he does command it. His 82-84 mph changeup is a firm, below-average pitch. The Future: Staumont could be a high-leverage reliever using just his four-seam fastball and curveball if his control improves. If not, it's hard to envision him being able to contribute in a big league bullpen.
Track Record: The Royals' 12th-round pick, Kaufman signed for $722,500--a higher signing bonus than all but their first four picks in 2018. Kaufman posted a 7-1, 2.18 record for a San Jacinto (Texas) JC team that advanced to the Junior College World Series. Scouting Report: Kaufman's most notable strength is his extremely high spin-rate breaking ball--a slurvy pitch that comes through with curveball shape at 73-76 mph. His fastball ranges from 87-93 mph, but the velocity should jump as he adds strength to his tall, lean body. Kaufman's changeup has good action at 83-84 mph, routinely drawing swings and misses. He uses a free and easy delivery with a sneaky arm action that hides the ball well from hitters. The Royals also like Kaufman's baseball savvy and intelligence, rooming him with the more experienced Brady Singer during instructional league. The Future: Kaufman pitched at two levels in 2018, making very brief appearances in both the Rookie-level Arizona and Pioneer leagues. He may be held back in extended spring training to better manage his innings, but he could get to low Class A Lexington at some point in 2019.
Track Record: After being drafted by the Nationals in the second round and signing for $800,000 in 2015, Perkins was traded to the Royals in exchange for Kelvin Herrera in June 2018. Scouting Report: Drawing multiple comparisons to major league outfielder Jon Jay, Perkins best fits the profile of a fourth outfielder if he can make a significant improvement at the plate. He's a glove-first player, a plus defender in center field with mature instincts, excellent routs and an above-average arm. He controls the strike zone well, as evidenced by his 15 percent walk rate, but his 22 percent strikeout rate indicates that he needs to make more contact in order to take advantage of his above-average speed. He has no power. He also needs to improve his instincts on the bases. The Future: Perkins will move to Double-A in 2019. He has to hit more to be a viable major leaguer.
Track Record: The Royals' fourth-round pick out of Lipscomb in 2017, Gigliotti had a solid debut season, ut his second pro season ended early when he tore his ACL after only six games. Scouting Report: Gigliotti profiles as a top-of-the-order hitter with elite plate discipline, using his advanced knowledge of the strike zone to work counts and focus on making contact. He has a strong frame and quick hands with an efficient bat path. His below-average power is balanced by the plus-plus speed he showed prior to his knee injury. Gigliotti gets good jumps and reads on fly balls, and his average arm is enough for center field. The Future: Assuming he's back to full strength in 2019, Gigliotti should move to high Class A Wilmington. That determination won't be made until he's back in action during spring training, however.
Track Record: After signing out of Venezuela as a 16-year-old in 2012, Hernandez has long been considered more of an organizational depth piece than prospect. He jumped onto the prospect radar by moving across three levels in 2018, however, finishing the year with 10 strong outings in the Triple-A Pacific Coast League. Scouting Report: Hernandez is an effective strike-thrower. He moves the ball up, down, in and out, all while changing speeds. A strong competitor, it's Hernandez's feel for pitching that separates him. He uses both his four-seam and two-seam fastball, with his four-seamer sitting 90-94 mph while his two-seamer comes in a tick slower with arm-side run. His best pitch is a changeup with sink that flashes as a plus offering, and he also has an average 79-82 mph curveball with depth. The Future: Hernandez was added to the Royals' 40-man roster this offseason to keep him out of the Rule 5 draft. He'll head to Spring Training with a chance to make the big league team in some capacity.
Track Record: While Peterson's performance in college and in summer wood bat leagues didn't stand out, his raw tools got him drafted out of UCLA in the 23rd round in 2016. At 24 years old, it might be easy to dismiss Peterson as too old to be regarded as a prospect. But he's performed well at every level. He made it to Double-A Arkansas midway through 2018 after starting the year with high Class A Wilmington, recording career bests in home runs (15), RBIs (60) and stolen bases (11). Scouting Report: Peterson is lauded for his plus makeup as well as being a student of the game and level-headed. He has good feel for the barrel and a nice, smooth swing that is quiet at the plate. His raw power grades as plus-plus, and while he combined to hit 15 home runs in 112 games at two levels in 2018, there should be more in-game power coming. There's still too much swing and miss in his game. Peterson steals bases more on instincts than with his average speed, and he was successful on 11 of 15 attempts in 2018. He's played mostly right field in his pro career. His slightly above-average arm is enough for the position and it plays up because he knows when to go after runners and throw behind them. The Future: Peterson is slated to go back to Double-A in 2019. He could be a backup outfielder.
Track Record: One of two first-round picks by the Royals in 2014, Griffin had a breakout year in 2017, regaining his prospect luster with an uptick in fastball velocity and a more aggressive attitude on the mound. He wasn't the same pitcher when he returned to Double-A Arkansas in 2018, however, nibbling too much. Scouting Report: Griffin has good aptitude on the mound to go with his adequate three-pitch mix. He normally throws his 89-92 mph fastball with average command, but his velocity would often drop during rough periods. Griffin has both a two-seam and four-seam fastball, getting tail from the former and cut with the latter. His best pitch is a changeup, an average offering. Earlier in the season, he used his changeup infrequently against lefthanded hitters but started going to the pitch more often later in the season. Griffin rounds out his arsenal with an average, 11-to-5 curveball. The Future: Griffin will be challenged with an assignment to Triple-A Omaha, where he'll have to continue his aggressiveness on the mound. He projects best as an up-and-down starting pitcher because of his lack of a plus pitch and his struggles to miss bats. The Royals left him unprotected in the Rule 5 draft and he went unpicked.