It may not be the best farm system ever, but apparently it is still pretty darn good. The Kansas City Royals have seven of their farmhands on the Scout.com Top 100 Prospects List, including 4 in the top 50.
The highest ranked Royals’ minor leaguer is Kyle Zimmer, who is slotted at number 11. The 6’3″ , 215 pounder is the third highest pitcher on the list, behind only Arizona’s Archie Bradley, and Seattle’s Taijuan Walker. In two stops in 2013, Zimmer struck out 140 batters in 108.1 innings, mostly in single A ball. Zimmer could make his major league debut as early as this season but shouldn’t be counted on to be effective until 2015. He still needs some polish but he isn’t very far away either.
The next highest Royal is one we got to see a little bit of in September last season, Yordano Ventura. The diminutive Dominican, standing all of 5’11″, 180 pounds, has a career 3.47 ERA and a 1.254 WHIP. In three major league starts late in the season, his ERA was 3.52 and his WHIP was 1.239. The knocks on Ventura are his size, and his inability to go deeper than 5 innings in his starts. There is a chance Ventura opens the season with the Royals.
Raul Mondesi is the highest position player for the Royals on the list, sitting at 26th. Just 18 years old, Mondesi has 2 seasons of minor league ball under his belt already. Last season at Low A Lexington, playing more than half the games as a 17-year, the shortstop produced a solid slash – .261/.311/.361/.672. While this line may not seem fantastic, keep in mind he was playing against competition much older than he is.
Mondesi also hit for the cycle in a game last season as well. The earliest arrival for Mondesi is probably 2016, as he does need to gain physical size and strength.
At 48th, 6’2″, 180 pound right handeed pitcher Miguel Almonte is Kansas City’s next prospect on the list. Last season at Low A Lexington, as a 20-year, Almonte pitched a strong 130.2 innings, with a 3.10 ERA and a 1.156 WHIP.
He struck out 132 and only walked 36. He has little to prove at that level anymore, so look for him to be promoted to High A ball this season. Chances are slim that he will be ready for the majors until 2016.
Third baseman Hunter Dozier, the Royals first round pick in 2012, is listed at 68th. In his first minor league season, he put up this slash – .308/.397/.495/.892 – in two stops. He played in the Rookie League and Low A. While he may start the season in Lexington again, if he performs like he did last year, he will be moved up quickly.
With Mike Moustakas not progressing as hoped in the Majors, Dozier may be the future at third for Kansas City. He has good doubles power and is still developing his home run power. Plus, he does something not a lot of Royals can do – he walks. In 317 plate appearances last season, he walked 38 times and he struck out only 37 times. If he can keep that ratio anywhere close as he rises in the minors, his value will only increase.
The sixth Kansas City prospect on the list is Sean Manaea, drafted in the second round in 2012. At 6’5″, 235, he is a bigger pitcher than some of the Royals other top arms, and he is left handed. He did not pitch in the minors last season do to a hip injury but he should be fully recovered for 2014. He will go to Spring Training in full health.
He will probably start out in Low A to pitch himself back into form, but if he performs well, he could move up to High A by summer, and could finish the season at AA. His arrival in Kansas City, if he stays healthy, is most likely in 2016, but he might pitch himself into a late 2015 debut.
The final Royal on the list is Jorge Bonifacio, listed at 92nd. The outfield prospect is the younger brother Royals super utility player Emilio Bonifacio. Jorge’s play after a late season promotion to AA was very encouraging. In 105 plate appearances in AA his slash was very good – .301/.371/.441/.798. He won’t turn 21 until June, so his production at such a young age is reason to be excited.
He could be in the mix to be the starting right fielder for the Royals on Opening Day in 2015, but it is more likely he won’t be a factor until 2015. Bonifacio could surprise and earn his way to the big leagues sooner.
Royals fans should be very excited about the future. If they can play competitive, post season worthy ball over the next two seasons, the next wave of talented younsters could be ready to join the big league club as early as 2016. Dayton Moore does deserve credit for building up a terrific farm system that has remained deep and relevant despite promotions to the majors and trades. Now, we need to see some more success stories on the big league level, especially with the pitchers.