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, 2009.

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J.J. Cooper
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1. Mike Moustakas, ss

2. Eric Hosmer, 1b

3. Daniel Cortes, rhp

4. Mike Montgomery, lhp

5. Tim Melville, rhp

6. Danny Duffy, lhp

7. Danny Gutierrez, rhp

8. Carlos Rosa, rhp

9. Kila Ka'aihue, 1b

10. Blake Wood, rhp

Best Hitter for Average Eric Hosmer
Best Power Hitter Mike Moustakas
Best Strike-Zone Discipline Kila Ka'aihue
Fastest Baserunner Adrian Ortiz
Best Athlete Derrick Robinson
Best Fastball Carlos Rosa
Best Curveball Danny Gutierrez
Best Slider Henry Barrera
Best Changeup Blake Wood
Best Control Danny Gutierrez
Best Defensive Catcher Salvador Perez
Best Defensive Infielder Mario Lisson
Best Infield Arm Mike Moustakas
Best Defensive Outfielder Jose Duarte
Best Outfield Arm Jose Duarte
Catcher John Buck
First Base Eric Hosmer
Second Base John Giavotella
Third Base Alex Gordon
Shortstop Mike Aviles
Left Field David DeJesus
Center Field Coco Crisp
Right Field Mike Moustakas
Designated Hitter Billy Butler
No. 1 Starter Zack Greinke
No. 2 Starter Gil Meche
No. 3 Starter Daniel Cortes
No. 4 Starter Luke Hochevar
No. 5 Starter Mike Montgomery
Closer Joakim Soria
Year Player, Position 2008
1999 Carlos Beltran, of
2000 Dee Brown, of
2001 Chris George, lhp
Blue Jays
2002 Angel Berroa, ss
2003 Zack Greinke, rhp
2004 Zack Greinke, rhp
2005 Billy Butler, of
2006 Alex Gordon, 3b
2007 Alex Gordon, 3b
2008 Mike Moustakas, ss
Year Player, Position 2008
1999 Kyle Snyder, rhp
Red Sox
2000 Mike Stodolka, rhp
2001 Colt Griffin, rhp
Out of baseball
2002 Zack Greinke, rhp
2003 Chris Lubanski, of
2004 Billy Butler, of
2005 Alex Gordon, 3b
2006 Luke Hochevar, rhp
2007 Mike Moustakas, 3b
2008 Eric Hosmer, 1b
Eric Hosmer, 2008
Alex Gordon, 2005
Mike Moustakas, 2007
Luke Hochevar, 2006
Jeff Austin, 1998
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Kansas City Royals

Like the Athletics before them, the Rays have become the hope for the hopeless. While the disparities between large- and small-revenue clubs stacks the deck in favor of the Yankees, Red Sox and others, Tampa Bay proved again in 2008 that a less-advantaged club can succeed if it drafts well, develops its own players and makes wise trades.

That's good news for the Royals. But it also leads to the question: If the Rays can do it, why hasn't Kansas City been able to break through?

It doesn't take long to find the answer. Over the past decade, the Royals have struggled to produce big leaguers and have lost more trades than they have won. Add it all up and you have a team that has finished below .500 in 14 of the last 15 seasons.

It's not for a lack of opportunities. Like Tampa Bay, Kansas City has consistently drafted high. In the past 10 drafts, the Royals have had the No. 1 pick once, three more choices in the top three and top-10 selections a total of nine times.

With that bounty, it would be fair to expect a team largely built from within. Yet only four of the 14 hitters who recorded 100 at-bats and three of the 16 pitchers who threw 25 innings for the Royals in 2008 were originally signed by the club.

Kansas City has been willing to spend money on the draft, as the $37.1 million it has invested in the first 10 rounds of the last six drafts is more than any other club. But the Royals haven't gotten a lot of bang for their buck. Whiffing on first-round draft picks early in the decade (Mike Stodolka, Colt Griffin, Chris Lubanski) proved costly for a team with little margin for error. They're also still waiting for the investments in recent first-rounders Billy Butler, Alex Gordon and Luke Hochevar to fully pay off, although all three have established themselves as big league regulars.

A bigger problem has been Kansas City's inability to find talent after the first round. Though the Royals have spent heavily, $24.1 million of that $37.1 million went to first-rounders. Rookie sensation Mike Aviles (seventh round, 2003) was a bargain as a $1,000 senior sign, and first baseman Kila Ka'aihue (15th-round, 2002) has a chance to become a big league regular. But they're the only non-first-rounders from the 2001-03 to have any success, and the 2004-06 drafts have yet to show much more promise.

As a result, Kansas City dismissed scouting director Deric Ladnier after the 2008 draft and handed his duties to farm director J.J. Picollo, who now holds the title of assistant general manager for scouting and player development. Before he left, Ladnier put together what likely will be remembered as his best draft. The Royals set a record by spending $11.1 million on bonuses and landed three players considered to be first-round talents: first baseman Eric Hosmer, lefthander Mike Montgomery and righty Tim Melville.

They will be counted on to lead the next Royals' resurgence, but it will likely require more patience. Most of the Royals' best young players already have reached the majors, though they have accumulated a number of strong arms and athletic center fielders in their system. They have few hitting prospects at the upper levels, however, and few high-ceiling bats besides third baseman Mike Moustakas and Hosmer.

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