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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.

Others: Alec Mills, Bubba Starling, Corey Toups, Miguel Almonte, Jake Junis

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.


Others: Ashe Russell, Nolan Watson, Marten Gasparini, Meibrys Viloria, Ricky Aracena

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  1. Duda Want to Build a Snowman? says:
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    Hey Ralph (btw, did you know that iPhone autocorrects typos of your name to “zealous”?),

    Since you sound so pumped up Royals prospects, wondering if I could pick your brain on your thoughts about (still rookie?) David Dahl?

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Duda Want to Build a Snowman?: Love Dahl, great get in any format this year. He reached his limits last year so he is no longer a rookie.

      Zealous hey? Siri hates me yo!

      • Smokey

        Def not smokey says:
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        @Ralph Lifshitz: more like Zealot

      • Duda Want to Build a Snowman? says:
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        @Ralph Lifshitz: Cool, thanks! Just traded for him in my keeper league at$10 for my final keeper slot. Hoping for big things a la a young Blackmon…

          • Duda Want to Build a Snowman? says:
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            @Ralph Lifshitz: At this rate, I’m gonna go buy a ring! But hoping for the same, particularly since Dahl’s not even 23 yet (pre man muscles!) and already projected for about 20/20.

            Here’s a related question for you, if possible…

            For that keeper league (which is 12 team mixed, keep 7 forever, +$3 inflation), below are my 7 keepers. I MIGHT be able to trade Kershaw for a $6 Correa, $6 Lindor, or $20 Manny. Given that Kershaw is Kershaw and my other 6 keepers are bats (and that nearly all certified Aces are kept), would you do any of these trades? In a vacuum, I’d trade Kershaw for one of those, but wondering if my other keepers alter that…

            $33 Rizzo
            $30 Kershaw
            $28 Betts
            $11 Story
            $10 Dahl
            $6 Khris
            $3 Moncada

            Thanks!

  2. Tweak says:
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    You mentioned Cuthbert and Dozier potentially battling for time at 3B; does that mean that you think Moustakas is going to lose his job? I know he’s coming back from a torn ACL and is in a contract year, but one would have to think that he still has the lead going into the spring.

    Do you buy Dozier’s adjustments at the plate? I haven’t seen any visuals on the before/after with his swing change, so I’m not sure. My skepticism level goes through the roof with Royals prospects after waiting on Bubba Starling to become a superhero.

    Also, the Royals have to have a fire-sale this year, right? With a farm like this, guys like Cain really should move to get some traction back in the system. Maybe try to extend Hosmer at least.

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Tweak: I think Mous is a DH, and sees some starts at 3B as well. My guess is they’ll try and limit his usage defensively. Cuthbert’s D is much better and he’s hit enough to play everyday. My guess is Soler slots into a corner OF spot and sees some DH at bats as well. They’re actively shopping Dyson, and Cain could be moved as well, so some PT in the OF should open up at some point.

      Yes, I buy into his adjustments. He really simplfied his trigger which allows him to make harder contact. Bubba is a bum.

  3. Dr. Kenneth Noisewater says:
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    “Has to be the oldest group of hobos” made me laugh entirely too hard. My mind painted a vivid picture of grizzled vagabonds and drifters sitting around a fire, drinking homemade brandy and vigorously molesting feral cats, a simpler time. Or the Yankees starting lineup, them too.

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Dr. Kenneth Noisewater: Those groups are one in the same. Ferrel molestation is a next level fetish.

    • Crapshoot Kershaw says:
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      @Dr. Kenneth Noisewater: man hoboes get a bad rep, i’m sure the very large majority of them have nothing to do with cat molestations. most of them are just drunks/drug addicts or just really hate people/jobs.

  4. Another Dan says:
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    Hey Ralph,

    Excellent information as usual. Keeping me informed and entertained in equal measures.

    3 questions :-

    A) Staumomt is not taken in our dynasty. Can take him in our first year player draft (5 rounds, plus supplementary picks if we need to expand our MiLB roster to 20). Roughly where should he be drafted?

    B) I traded Kole Calhoun, Elvis Andrus away. Got Christin Stewart, Trey Mancini and 2nd rnd pick in the upcoming draft. Good deal?

    C) thoughts on Gallo this year?

    Thanks again,

    Dan

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Another Dan: depending upon who’s there. Somewhere around late 2nd or early 3rd I’d take a chance on him.

      Hmmm could be, Stewart is a really nice prospect has his warts but I like him. Mancini needs playing time, if he gets it, I don’t see you losing much with Calhoun. Maybe a little. What you get in the second is the differencs maker. Probably need to add some speed to replace Andrus, but maybe you already do.

      Gallo needs to get traded or for Adrian Beltre to get really hurt

  5. Malicious Phenoms says:
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    Hey man,

    I need to cut one:
    Greg Allen
    Mauricio Dubon
    Rafael Bautista

    Who do you think needs to go, position does not matter.

    cheers

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Malicious Phenoms: Bautista, he’s the best base stealer of the trio, but the other two have better bats.

  6. DMan says:
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    What is your opinion on Glenn Sparkman? You know the pitcher the jays rule fived on the royals?

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @DMan: Don’t have much of an opinion on him. Maybe back end starter upside.

  7. Scott Kimmel says:
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    Ralph,

    would you trade either Donaldson or Machado to get McCutchen. If so which one?

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Scott Kimmel: No, both are worth more than McCutchen.

    • goodfold2 says:
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      @Scott Kimmel: look up osmosis some time. you know, how if you were to say be a bartender in a smoking bar you’d come home every day smelling like smoke, even had you never once smoked in yr entire life.

      this shows here how the “laws” of science (ask any scientist who’s had any philosophy of science in his/her background) aren’t guaranteed, they are really just what we should expect to happen all/most of the time. right here, osmosis is shown to not always “work”

      • Ralph Lifshitz

        Ralph Lifshitz says:
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        @goodfold2: Lol

  8. goodfold2 says:
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    how nice that yr predecessor also at least somewhat liked staumont such that i got him in i think the 4th or 5th round (30 teams, slightly more than 30 picks per round due to comp picks, maybe 7-9 on average more than 30 per round).
    anyhoo, fantrax doesn’t yet have
    Randy Arozarena
    Lazarito Armentaros yet, when i asked them they said i needed to use baseballreference.com for citing them, problem here is that that site also doesn’t have them yet. got any idea about this or how to contact baseballreference.com?

    • goodfold2 says:
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      @goodfold2: yr predecessor by no means liked staumont that much though, not close.

      • goodfold2 says:
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        @goodfold2: even with fixing the spelling to “armentEros” which is correct, still doesn’t show up. it does list 4 dead armenteros’ and this guy:
        rogelio armenteros, is a 22 year old cuban, but he’s a pitcher.

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @goodfold2: Yeah Staumont is a recent breakout he’s not owned in a lot of leagues.

      I could have sworn he was in the player pool, but perhaps I’m wrong. He’ll be added soon I’m sure.

  9. SheriffMcRawDawg says:
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    Riggity! checked out the pod the other day — really good stuff. Hoping you’re right on Benni over Moncada, but I agree; Sox have to make that trade.

    If you’d indulge me, I’m in a 12 team roto keeper (2 c’s, MI/CI/5TH OF, 3 SP/2 RP/3 P/7 BN/1 NA). normally, players can be kept the round drafted for up to 4 years. Undrafted FAs can be kept once in the 25th and once the year after, in the 10th. we are switching to auction this year (finally), with a $260 budget.

    Unless otherwise noted, players can be kept for 4 years at the value below. I can keep 8 players, with a max of 4 undrafted free agents (listed below). These undrafted FA guys can be kept for a max of 2 years ($1 value this year, and $11 next year).

    Let me know what you think — which 8 are you rolling with? thanks man!

    $36 Donaldson
    $27 Tulowitzki
    $23 Braun
    $20 Hamels (2 years)
    $18 Darvish
    $17 N. Cruz (2 years)
    $15 Belt
    $14 Segura
    $11 Familia (1 year)
    $10 Andrew Miller
    $10 Giolito
    $9 Schoop
    $5 Berrios
    $5 Billy Hamilton (1 year)
    $5 T. Walker (3 years)
    $3 Gallo (3 years)
    $2 Nola
    $2 Cain (2 years)
    $1 Velasquez
    $1 Chris Carter
    $1 Tim Anderson

    Undrafted FAs — ($1 value this year, and $11 next year):
    $1 Renfroe
    $1 David Dahl
    $1 Aaron Altherr
    $1 Sam Dyson
    $1 Tanner Roark
    $1 Junior Guerra

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @SheriffMcRawDawg: I’d keep Dahl at a$1
      B-Ham at $5
      Darvish at $18
      Miller at $10
      Cruz at $17
      Cain (Lorenzo I assume) at $2
      Velasquez at $1
      Donaldson at $36.

      There’s some good value there, but I think you need to keep Donaldson or Braun.

  10. Kenneth says:
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    Did Chris Devito get much consideration or not enough upside there?

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Kenneth: Not going to lie he’s off my radar but those numbers were great in rookie ball. Granted he’s 22, so I’ll need to see how he looks in full season A ball next year. Good sleeper though. I’ll mention him on next week’s podcast.

      Love that his nickname is Red Hercules! From a quick twitter search he seems to have excellent taste in woman as well! Good find!

      • Kenneth says:
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        @Ralph Lifshitz: Picked him up in a deeper league draft. Seemed worthy of the late round flyer and worth a mention in such a barren system. Speaking of barren, is the RazzNasty league still going? Haven’t seen it renewed for next season yet, or was I dropped?

        • Ralph Lifshitz

          Ralph Lifshitz says:
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          @Kenneth: No, it will renew I’m waiting to hear from Cheese. What team are you? Sorry, I should know this.

          • Kenneth says:
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            @Ralph Lifshitz: The rebuilding Georgia Peach.

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