Kansas City Royals: Top 10 Prospects

Kansas City Royals

Baseball America's Top 10 Prospects lists are based on projections of a player's long-term worth after discussions with scouting and player-development personnel. All players who haven't exceeded the major league rookie standards of 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched (without regard to service time) are eligible. Ages are as of April 1, 2007.

1.Alex Gordon, 3b
2.Luke Hochevar, rhp
3.Billy Butler, of
4.Chris Lubanski, of
5.Tyler Lumsden, lhp
6.Erik Cordier, rhp
7.Mitch Maier, of
8.Justin Huber, of/1b
9.Billy Buckner, rhp
10.Brent Fisher, lhp
Best Hitter for AverageBilly Butler
Best Power HitterAlex Gordon
Best Strike-Zone DisciplineAlex Gordon
Fastest BaserunnerDerrick Robinson
Best AthleteDerrick Robinson
Best FastballErik Cordier
Best CurveballLuke Hochevar
Best SliderCarlos Rosa
Best ChangeupDanny Christensen
Best ControlChris  Nicoll
Best Defensive CatcherAdam Donachie
Best Defensive InfielderAngel Sanchez
Best Infield ArmAngel Sanchez
Best Defensive OutfielderMitch Maier
Best Outfield ArmJose Duarte
CatcherJohn Buck
First BaseRyan Shealy
Second BaseEsteban German
Third BaseAlex Gordon
ShortstopJeff Bianchi
Left FieldChris Lubanski
Center FieldDavid DeJesus
Right FieldMark Teahen
Designated HitterBilly Butler
No. 1 StarterLuke Hochevar
No. 2 StarterZack Greinke
No. 3 StarterTyler Lumsden
No. 4 StarterErik Cordier
No. 5 StarterBilly Buckner
CloserAmbiorix Burgos
YearPlayer, Position2006
1997Glendon Rusch, lhpCubs
1998Dee Brown, ofRoyals
1999Carlos Beltran, ofMets
2000Dee Brown, of
2001Chris George, lhpMarlins
2002Angel Berroa, ssRoyals
2003Zack Greinke, rhpRoyals
2004Zack Greinke, rhpRoyals
2005Billy Butler, ofRoyals
2006Alex Gordon, 3bRoyals
YearPlayer, Position2006
1997Dan Reichert, rhpNashua (Can-Am)
1998Jeff Austin, rhpOut of baseball
1999Kyle Snyder, rhpRed Sox
2000Mike Stodolka, lhpRoyals
2001Colt Griffin, rhpRoyals
2002Zack Greinke, rhpRoyals
2003Chris Lubanski, ofRoyals
2004Billy Butler, ofRoyals
2005Alex Gordon, 3bRoyals
2006Luke Hochevar, rhpRoyals
Alex Gordon, 2005$4,000,000
Luke Hochevar, 2006$3,500,000
Jeff Austin, 1998$2,700,000
Mike Stodolka, 2000$2,500,000
Zack Greinke, 2002$2,475,000
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Kansas City Royals

During the 1970s and 1980s, the Royals could stake a claim to being baseball's model franchise. Not coincidentally, their demise corresponded with John Schuerholz leaving his Kansas City general manager post to take the same job with the Braves for the 1991 season. Now the Royals hope some of that karma will come back their way.

Kansas City went to the Atlanta well in search of the cure for its problems, hiring assistant GM for baseball operations Dayton Moore to replace Allard Baird as general manager in May. Moore had been with the Braves since 1997 and was an integral part of the best player-development system of the past decade. Now the Royals are banking on Moore being able to turn the "Braves Way" into the new "Royals Way."

In his first few months on the job, Moore wasn't been subtle in his attempt to bring the Atlanta model with him to Kansas City. Among his first orders of business were bringing on J.J. Picollo as farm director and Rene Francisco as director of international scouting, after working closely with both while with the Braves.

With the addition of Francisco, who was responsible for signing the likes of Rafael Furcal, Andy Marte and Odalis Perez for Atlanta, the Royals plan to beef up their scouting operation in Latin America after it was limited by financial constraints in recent years. They're set to open up a new academy in the Dominican Republic in 2007. While their budget for signings may not increase significantly, they'll allocate more time to becoming a presence in the international market.

The other major change that comes from Atlanta's model is the addition of a seventh minor league affiliate. With the new club in the Rookie-level Appalachian League, the Royals will join the Mets as the only organizations with seven U.S. affiliates. The Braves carried at least seven and sometimes eight from 1986-2001 before trimming costs.

"Adding another rookie league club is another opportunity for players to develop, especially pitchers," Moore said. "We felt a strong need to build depth with pitching. If you have 20 pitching prospects, you might get four or five to the big leagues. Some get hurt, some get traded, some underachieve."

Depth of pitching is still a weakness for Royals system, but they began to address that this season. Just before Moore took over, they selected Luke Hochevar with the No. 1 overall pick in the draft. Moore pulled off a series of trades that added promising young arms such as lefthander Tyler Lumsden and righthanders Blake Johnson, Julio Pimentel, Joselo Diaz and Daniel Cortes at the cost of Mike MacDougal, Matt Stairs and Elmer Dessens. Moore also grabbed slugger Ryan Shealy from the Rockies in a deal for Jeremy Affeldt and Denny Bautista, two more players who had no future in Kansas City.

As for position players, the Royals have arguably the best 1-2 prospect punch in third baseman Alex Gordon, Baseball America's 2006 Minor League Player of the Year, and outfielder Billy Butler. Both have bats that will play anywhere and are almost major league-ready. The only question remaining is where they'll play.

Gordon is a natural third baseman, but Mark Teahen developed into a solid everyday player in 2006, so one of them will have to move to the outfield. Long viewed as a DH waiting to happen, Butler will get the chance to establish himself as a playable right fielder.

With only one winning season in their last 14, having too many talented players at a position is a new problem for the Royals, one they're not complaining about. With Moore on board and a vision for the future, there's finally cause for hope in Kansas City.