I’m not going to lie, it took me a while to get into the mood to write this post. As fun as a system like the Astros or the Braves is to write up, is as painful as a system like the Royals is to do the same. Then it hit me, the Royals system is your hometown bar. You know the dingy one with a name like Home Plate, Donovan’s, or The Old Mill. Not because you need to be drunk in order to even go in there, though alcohol certainly helped write this. It’s because you’ve been avoiding it like the plague every time you venture home. But one night in a moment of weakness one of your old high school buddies talks you into going. So you get over your irrational fear of seeing the girl that dumped you for the guy that only got his name right on his SAT’s, and that once popular jock that’s gained 60 pounds of Burger King breakfast, and has gone from filling up stat sheets in his glory days, to filling up sweatpants and rap sheets with petty misdemeanors. In other words, everyone in the Royals system is 25 and watching their once promising futures vanish with each passing Jager-bomb. That’s not a joke, this has to be the oldest group of hobos I’ve ever covered. I hesitate to say I’m talking about Kansas City Royals Prospects as much as I’m talking about washed up Kansas City Royals Prospects. Amirite?
Tier 1: Specs On The Beach
Potential stars. Consensus T100 prospects with premium fantasy ceilings.
Josh Staumont, RHP | Age: 22 | ETA: 2018 | 2016 Level: AA/A+
If you’re anything like the kids from the cinematic game changer Rookie of the Year, and live for the pitchers that throw that hot, stinky, cheddar. Then do I have a prospect for you!! His name is Josh, Josh Staumont, and boy can he throw that hardball by ya, make you look like a fool. That’s a direct quote from one of my scouts down in Jersey. Goes by the name of Bruce, nice guy, mumbles a lot. Scouts and cheese aside, Staumont is the only Royals prospect that I can make a case for being universally owned. He’s a stuff over pitchability guy through and through. With a serious upper 90’s fastball that ramps up to triple digits in relief appearances. Staumont maintains good velocity later into starts, and can look like an ace when he locates his pitches. The problem is he’s still learning to harness his stuff, and quite frankly pitch. He’s always had trouble commanding and controlling his pitches, and it’s plagued him throughout his pro career. When I say he walks batters, I mean homie be walking some serious batters. Like a 7.7 Bb/9 type of dude. It’s such a problem his 6.6 Bb/9 in AA was considered a drastic improvement. But here’s the thing, I like the guy. Sure, he walks more batters than there are stars in the sky, but he also averages 12.5 k/9. He mixes his 70-80 grade fastball with a plus curveball, and a below average change. If he can learn to set batters up, and do all the things good starters do, he’ll be an ace. If not, he should end up a very useful pen piece. Hopefully a late season mechanical tweak begins to yield more consistent results.
Hunter Dozier, 3B | Age: 25 | ETA: 2017 | 2016 Level: MLB/AAA/AA
After two lost seasons in 2014 and 2015, the former 8th overall pick bounced back in a big way in 2016. In 129 games between AA and AAA Dozier slashed .296/.366/.533 with 23 homers and 75 RBIs. He was amongst the minor league leaders in extra base hits and slugging %, and even saw a late season cup of coffee with the Royals. Crediting major swing adjustments made during instructs in the spring of 2015, Dozier looks like he’s back on track to relevancy. Due to his average defense at third, he should yield to Cheslor Cuthbert, and see most his time in the outfield. Super Dark-horse for rookie of the year.
Tier 2: Floorboreds
Lacking the “star” upside. They might have some warts, but their ETAs are on the horizon.
Matt Strahm, LHP | Age: 25 | ETA: 2017 | 2016 Level: MLB/AA
An older pitching prospect that should break through as a reliever in 2017, with a chance to eventually make it in the rotation long term. Strahm made some adjustments to his mechanics in 2016 and was able to take a step forward with his stuff, and control. His fastball works in the low 90’s as a starter and mid 90’s out of the pen. He mixes in a slurvy curveball, and an average change. With Wade Davis now in Chicago, Strahm could be in the mix for a late inning role with the Royals. Though a shot to compete for a rotation spot is said to be in the plans for Strahm in the spring.
Ryan O’Hearn, 1B | Age: 23 | ETA: 2018 | 2016 Level: AA/A+
Is O’Hearn the answer if Eric Hosmer walks after 2017? Following a successful collegiate career at Sam Houston State, O’Hearn adjusted his approach from line drive hitter in college to power hitter in the pros. His bat speed is meh, so he generates his plus raw power from his strength and leverage. His approach is pull heavy, but he made major strides in 2016 hitting the ball the other way with more consistency. Has a shot to hit 25 homers a year or so in the majors.
Jorge Bonifacio, OF | Age: 23 | ETA: 2017 | 2016 Level: AAA
A former contact hitter who morphed into a pull happy power hitter. Bonifiacio is like Slug in 2003 just trying to find a balance. In 2016, Bonifacio may have just found it. Over 134 games with AAA Omaha, Bonifacio slashed .277/.351/.461 with 19 homers and 86 RBIs. His second half saw his power dip, and the hope is he’s not going too far back in the other direction. Could see some time in KC if there’s injuries to the outfield, but more than likely needs a trade to break through.
Kyle Zimmer, RHP | Age: 25 | ETA: Is he healthy? | 2016 Level: AA/A+
Can this guy stay healthy? It’s truly tough to assess Zimmer’s value because he’s rarely been at full strength or at any strength for that matter. Having not logged anywhere close to 100 innings in a season since 2013, the hope is surgery to correct thoracic outlet syndrome, will allow him to enter 2017 healthy for the first time in nearly 5 years. When healthy Zimmer is nasty. With ace quality stuff he can generate swings and misses at 10+ K/9 like levels. The talent is there, whether he can return to his former self, and stay healthy doing it is the big question.
Eric Skoglund, LHP | Age: 24 | ETA: 2018 | 2016 Level: AA
A back of the rotation type lefty with three average offerings and great control. Did you fall asleep yet? Yeah he’s an excellent play in really deep leagues as cheap minor league arm that can offer your big club some in innings.
Tier 3: Long Shot Lolitas
Sexy ceilings, but these youngsters also come with risks and distant ETAs
Scott Blewett, RHP | Age: 20 | ETA: 2019 | 2016 Level: A
A former 2nd round pick out high school, Blewett made major strides during the second half of 2016, going 5-5 with a 3.55 ERA, a 9.27 K/9, and a 3.0 Bb/9. His size and arm strength give evaluators something to dream on. After making mechanical adjustments Blewett ramped his fastball velocity up to the mid 90’s, and his breaking stuff as well. He struggles against lefties and needs to refine his secondary offerings. Has the upside of a durable mid-rotation arm.
Chase Vallot, C | Age: 20 | ETA: 2019 | 2016 Level: A-/Rk
Vallot is a catcher with the one thing that makes everyone stop and pay attention. Elite power. After breaking scoreboards, bones, and his face, Vallot looks to leave a tumultuous 2016 behind him. Vallot’s game is raw at, and behind the plate, with his power flashing moments of brilliance. He struggles with strikeouts and throwing out runners equally. The hope is at 20 he has plenty of time to evolve as a hitter and catcher, best case scenario he’s Angels Mike Napoli.
A.J. Puckett, RHP | Age: 21 | ETA: 2019 | 2016 Level: A-
After an excellent junior year at Pepperdine that included a a 45.2 inning scoreless streak, the Royals selected Puckett in the 2nd round. I know A.J. Puk and A.J. Puckett in the same draft. Though they share a similar name their styles couldn’t be more dissimilar. Puckett is a polished control starter with mid-rotation promise and middling K upside for fantasy owners. In real life he features two plus pitches in his fastball and change, and a developing curve. All of which should help him matriculate quickly to the majors.
Seuly Matias, OF | Age: 18 | ETA: 2020 | 2016 Level: Rk/DSL
The highest ceiling hitting prospect in the system, Matias brings an exciting power/speed profile for dynasty owners looking to add a player to wait on. With a lightening quick bat, plus raw power, and plus speed, his upside is superstar. Matius is the Royals prospect I’m most interested in owning.
Khalil Lee, OF | Age: 18 | ETA: 2020 | 2016 Level: Rk
A 2016 3rd round pick Lee was one of the top two way players in the draft. The Royals preference were he pursue a major league career as an athletic 5 tool outfielder. Lee brings above average power, hit tool, and running to the table with a quick bat and athletic ability. He’s a ways away, but a high upside prospect for leagues with deep minors.
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