2022 wasn’t fun in the standings for Kansas City fans, but in the long arc of time, 2022 was a good year for the organization. MJ Melendez, Vinnie Pasquantino and Brady Singer all emerged as first-division starters. Melendez even looks like a functional defensive outfielder. Bobby Witt Jr. is also here and good. Needs work on the approach but who doesn’t. Every season brings them closer to the post-Dozier era, which is only addition by subtraction because the team insists he’s an everyday player. New Manager Matt Quataro figures to come in like a kind wind after years with Mike Matheny. Might be some playing-time surprises in our near future.
1. SS Maikel Garcia | 23 | MLB | 2022
Rare player here. Fantasy-friendly profile. Easy-plus defense. Several paths to playing time. Favorable scouting reports. Only real hiccup is the awful home park, but aside from that, I’m struggling to understand the general vibe of disinterest I feel around Garcia in the echo chamber. In 40 games at Triple-A, Garcia hit seven home runs and stole 12 bases. You don’t have to be watching Numberblocks everyday to know that would be 28 home runs and 48 stolen bases over 160 games. The power is new, but that’s often the plan with skinny youngsters with barrel feel and strike-zone judgment. It’s all coming together perfectly on time for Garcia.
2. OF Tyler Gentry | 24 | AA | 2023
Tyler Gentry is following the Vinnie-P path, reducing his strikeouts while boosting his power output. The coaching in Kansas City has proven itself adept at strike-zone management, and the top two on this list are my next two bets on that development team. Gentry is 6’2” 210 lbs but remains quick enough to swipe some bases. He stole ten in 108 games across two levels last year, slashing .326/.422/.542 with 16 home runs, 66 strikeouts and 40 walks.
3. OF Drew Waters | 24 | MLB | 2022
TLC is in my head about not chasing this guy if he falls in drafts, but that’ll be easier said than done in our complicated outfield landscape. The 6’2” 185 lb switch-hitter was blocked on an Atlanta squad that’s moving too fast for a high-strikeout slow-burn developer, but he should get 500 or more plate appearances on a Kansas City team looking for a found-money spark. He smelled the opportunity and played well for the Royals, slashing .240/.324/.479 with five home runs (125 wRC+) in 32 major league games after posting a 149 wRC+ in 31 Triple-A games with KC. The strikeouts are scary, but Waters posted 17 home runs and 18 stolen bases in 122 games across two levels last year. You might not get much else, but the hope is you’ll get power, speed and playing time for a few seasons.
4. OF Gavin Cross | 22 | A | 2024
The club’s first pick this summer at 9th overall, Cross features plus power and an above average hit tool at 6’3” 210 lbs from the left side. He got to work right away as a professional, slashing .293/.423/.596 with seven home runs in 26 games at Low-A. Great match between player and org given his advanced approach and near-term opportunities in the lineup.
5. 2B Lizandro Rodriguez | 20 | A | 2026
Swing gets a bit slashy at times, but that’s partly because Rodriguez lets pitches get deep before he fires off a swing. When he triggers early, he can bring the thunder, as evidenced by his .573 slugging percentage in 25 complex league games. The numbers support this one, especially the easy-plus plate skills he’s put on paper across three levels, but I should say this is largely an eyeballs take by me. I haven’t seen Rodriguez mentioned much elsewhere. He’s a 5’11” 180 lb switch hitter who looks dynamic from both sides of the plate, dynamic on the bases, dynamic in the field. Get him where you can fit him. We’re early now, but I’ve been seeing these reads get old early for a couple years now. People have asked me a few times for my next Vaughn Grissom type lede, and I’ve been saying Matt Mervis since that started. That window’s closing. Grissom window might be sliding open again. Rodriguez might be a few years away, but he’s in this bucket for me where I couldn’t find much validation for my early thoughts on the player for a while before suddenly I was swimming in it.
6. 3B Cayden Wallace | 21 | A | 2026
Sounds like a Nascar driver to me. Born into a family of ballplayers, Wallace was selected 49th overall in the 2022 draft and hit well in Low-A, slashing .294/.369/.468 with an 18 percent strikeout rate and eight stolen bases in 27 games. He only got caught once. Speed isn’t the calling card, but it’s nice to see him utilize it in-game at 6’1” 205 lbs. Plus hit with above average power and a good approach will carry Wallace through the levels.
7. OF IF Nate Eaton | 26 | MLB | 2022
Quataro coming from the Rays, I’m eager to see how he sees Nate Eaton: a Jack of all trades with an 80-grade arm. My theory is that he’ll play more than Nicky Lopez this year, so big wow to that, I suppose, but Eaton does have a little bit of power and a lot of speed. He hit 15 home runs and stole 34 bases in 135 games across three levels. I’m not saying we should all be in on this guy. I just think he’s too interesting to ignore.
8. 2B Samad Taylor | 24 | AAA | 2023
In 157 games across Double and Triple A the past two seasons, Samad Taylor has hit 25 home runs and stolen 53 bases. He’s probably not that type of player in the majors, of course, but it’s a fun look at the flashes Taylor can provide on a day-to-day basis. On the one hand, it’s good he got out of Toronto because he wasn’t going to play there. On the other, he’ll play in a park that’s probably too big for him, assuming he can crack the lineup at some point.
9. OF Junior Marin | 19 | CPX | 2027
Marin was a hot name about this time last year on the strength of a noisy DSL season and some scouts-eyes stuff that mentioned him here and there. He struck out 17.1 percent of the time over that dominant DSL stretch but scuffled early in complex ball this year and wound up with a 30.1 percent strikeout rate. He got better over the 30-game sample and posted a 120 wRC+ despite the whiffs. This hitting development team has proven a knack for helping hitters manage the strike zone, so I’m optimistic on Marin.
10. SS Nick Loftin | 24 | AAA | 2024
I wanted to put Dairon Blanco here, but I’ve got enough skepticism about how the club sees him that I’ll go with Loftin, a solid speed prospect in his own right. A versatile defender at 6’1” 190 lbs, Loftin should be able to slide around any kind of playing time blocks in his path if he’s hitting the ball hard enough. He hit 17 home runs and stole 29 bases in 128 games across two levels last year, but he was much less productive at Triple-A (69 wRC+) than he was at Double-A (100 wRC+). Other names I considered here: OF Diego Hernandez, C Carter Jensen, OF Darryl Collins and LHPs Asa Lacy and Frank Mozzicato. Might really help them to have some new voices in the organization.
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