In 2018, Royals’ General Manager Dayton Moore faced a draft that could define his organization’s decade. The pressure was on as he’d gained picks from the free agent core exodus, and the organization was staring into the abyss. 

Premium college pitching was falling. 

It didn’t seem to fit with Kansas City’s positional needs. 

But Moore leaned in, took what fell, and planted a wave of pitching talent that has succeeded so far. In Singer, Kowar, Lynch, Bowlan and Bubic, Moore might’ve scored a starting rotation in a day. Might’ve drafted the best pitching class in the club’s history. 

Since that fateful day in 2018, the Royals have unearthed Adalberto Mondesi, Jorge Soler, and Hunter Dozier and might find themselves contending again way before anyone would have guessed. 

Kansas City’s best prospects are mostly these recent additions that quickly leapt the names we’ve been accustomed to seeing on this list. Nick Pratto was the 14th overall pick in 2017, but he’s a first baseman who hit .197 in High A. He was young for the level, but I’m not pounding the table for a decent hit, decent power first baseman who hasn’t hit as a professional. Seuly Matias was somehow even worse, striking out 44.3 percent of the time while hitting .148 and slugging .307. They might both be decent free agent adds at the moment, but you can’t trade for them or trade them away. 

For our game, the tacit appeal of Kansas City prospects remains Dayton Moore’s steadfast commitment to his guys. When/if they reach the majors, they will get a lot of opportunities to fail. Whit Merrifield wasn’t an accident to Moore. Drafted in 2010, Merrifield spent seven seasons in the organization before hitting two home runs and stealing eight bases in 81 games with a .323 on-base percentage as a rookie. Not a loud debut for a 27-year-old rookie. But then Whit got steady playing time in 2017 and went nuts: 19 HR 34 SB. 

It pays to keep an eye on their upper minors, is all I’m saying, and their slow-burn youngsters. From Mondesi to Merrifield to Dozier to whoever might step forward in 2020, Kansas City has been a sneaky source for value these past few years. I’m worried about the role Ned Yost played in these Soler-ish breakouts. I’m just recklessly speculating from a distance here, but Yost seems like a major dude who exudes positive energy, while Matheny seems to prefer a flexed rectum lifestyle. Could be he’s loosened up some. Could be he was already loose, and my perspective is too distant to have any accuracy. 

 

Player | Age on 5/1/2020 | Highest Level Played | ETA

1. SS Bobby Witt Jr. | 19 | R | 2024

Though he’s been on the prospect radar since his early teeny bopper days, the picture of who Bobby Witt Jr. will be as a pro is still pretty unclear. He’s been a bit old for his competition, and he’s got a little more swing and miss than you love to see in a premium prospect who’s a few months from being 20 in rookie ball. His bat and foot speed are elite—should be a five-tool Star if it all comes together. 

 

2. OF Erick Peña | 17 | R | 2024

Speaking of bat speeding into the unknown, Erick Peña is flying up lists as the echo chamber ramps up toward Meseeks season. We’ve only got a few videos and the $3.9 million price tag to build from, but I’m excited. The power is all-fields and comes pretty easily already. 

 

3. LHP Daniel Lynch | 23 | A+ | Early 2021

4. RHP Jackson Kowar | 23 | AA | Mid 2020

5. RHP Brady Singer | 23 | AA | Mid 2020

Could have these in any sequence. 

Daniel Lynch has big helium coming off the Arizona Fall League, pumping high nineties heat in short bursts in front of the fantasy taste-makers. 

Jackson Kowar is least loved of the trio in terms of perceived value. I’d recommend sending out some trade feelers. His command of a devastating changeup and solid curveball ticked up in 2019. Could be looking at an exciting season that ends with useful big league innings. 

That last sentence applies to Brady Singer as well. Once in the conversation with Casey Mize for top overall pick, Singer fell to pick 18 after an up-and-down college stretch but came out strong as a pro and remains a low-floor, decent-topside arm with a ground ball profile. 

 

6. RHP Jonathan Bowlan | 23 | A+ | Early 2021

7. LHP Kris Bubic | 22 | A+ | Early 2021

8. RHP Carlos Hernandez | 23 | A | Mid 2021

Jonathan Bowlan’s probably a free agent in most leagues, but I’m a big believer. He’s 6’6” 260 with a smooth downhill delivery that portends durability. His velocity has been climbing little by little since getting picked in the 2nd round of 2018’s draft, and I think he’s a sleeper for big league innings this year. 

I’m a little lower on Kris Bubic than some because he’s herky-jerky in his delivery and pitches off his change up. Looks like it could work in relief, but I’m skeptical of his sustainability. 

You know 6’4” Carlos Hernandez is a dude the first time you see him. A prototype frontline arm, his price is obscured by a weird path to the present, but he’s here now, he was good when healthy, and he’ll climb lists in 2020. 

 

9. OF Khalil Lee | 21 | AA | Early 2021 

10. OF Brewer Hicklen | 24 | A+ | Late 2021

Got some speed here on the way out. Khalil Lee and Brewer Hicklen have physical gifts that will buy them time to develop, which is great because as it stands neither figures to make enough contact to access their speed and power. If either hits, he’ll be a key piece in fantasy. I prefer to track these types in the minors and move fast if they get hot, but that’s not always an option, and both are decent enough uses of a roster spot, as are OF Kyle Isbel, OF Darryl Collins, SS Brady McConnell and LHP Daniel Tillo.

 
  1. Harley Earl says:
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    Hey Itch,

    Great stuff as always! Just wanted to say I saw Khalil Lee in person last year at Double-A Arkansas. I think he was with the Naturals and they were playing the Travelers in Little Rock. Anyway, Lee seemed very small to me. Speedy for sure, played the outfield well. But his bat was awful that night. Nothing hard, nothing even on a line. Strikeouts and pop flies. I left telling myself that I could find a better prospect to invest in. Not trying to be a downer, just following up what you seem to already have assessed yourself.

    So when will that Seattle Mariners’ prospect list becoming out!!??

    • goodfold2 says:
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      over/under the 23rd at around the rate he’s going. they got a catcher over there that’s probably the last unowned/likely to remain a catcher/highly ranked/can hit (power for sure, not zunino-bad hit tool) catcher left in this psycho deep dynasty league we’re slow drafting in now. i’m more gunked up to wait for OAK, as nobody i can find has even done them. many prospectors are putting out lists in similar order and out of like 8 none have done OAK yet. few have done SEA either yet, but more than zero. glad to see one value drafted SP of mine in the last 2 or so years that hasn’t fully fell on his face and progressed here with c-her. w.crowe counts i suppose.

      • goodfold2 says:
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        and beware metheny KC fans, he f’d with wong’s head for about 5ish years, even when he never once had any better options for defense nor hitting. that’s just one example. there’s also (proven by somebody at baseball prospectus about 5ish years ago) where for 2 years in a row literally randomly inputting (think monkeys throwing darts at names) RP would’ve been more optimal than his bullpen usage.

      • The Itch

        The Itch says:
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        Nice pick on Hernandez! On a great trajectory right now.

        Have you made the final call on Barreto? I’ve been thinking on that a bit.

        You mean Raleigh in Seattle?

        Yeah Matheny doesn’t invite much confidence. Though I wonder how that monkey study would play out applied to every manager . . .

        • goodfold2 says:
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          yeah flipped staumont + 2.22 for barreto, which means since i was going SP for sure either at 2.22 or coming up at 3.20 (and probably again at 3.22, then done for a while) i missed these: dobnak, tabor (wasn’t at top of my list), small (was close), frias (pretty high), s.moss (nope) and t.ward, but there’s still 13 picks till 3.20. yep on c.ral. good point, but i’m guessing whoever even thought to make that up probably did it with at least some other coaches at the time. some pretty good hitters did go from 2.22 till now: g.henderson, toro, h.hernandez so far.

          • goodfold2 says:
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            only missed pena at 2.22 by 9 picks.

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      Thanks Harley Earl!!

      And well said regarding Lee. I think the night you saw was pretty typical of his 2019.

      Anyone jump off the page that night, so to speak?

      Seattle . . . let’s see . . .

      Sunday = Minnesota

      Wednesday 15th = Anaheim

      Sunday 19 = Houston

      Wed 22 = Oakland

      Sun 26 = Seattle

      Wed 29 = Texas . . . (list-completion party!!!)

      • Harley Earl says:
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        Hey thanks for the list! Now I know what’s coming up!!

        Let’s see, the night I saw, Sheffield was pitching for Arkansas and he dominated. Like 7 innings, one hit and one run and 8 or 9 Ks. It was tied 1-1 when he left the mound. Then the bulllpen blew it. Evan White looked solid. Hard hit balls each at-bat, I was very impressed, had two doubles. Kelenic wasn’t up yet so nothing to see there.

        RP for NW Arkansas came in named Tyler Zuber in the 9th and picked up the save. He looked solid and I’ve followed him a while now. I think he’s got a chance.

        White impressed me the most that night. Khalil was a major disappointment. Zuber earned some brownie points.

  2. knucks says:
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    I’m Mr. Meeseeks, look at me!

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      How we’re not all walking around saying only that all day every day is beyond me.

      • knucks says:
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        Itch, you workin on that Prospects Live Best Ball with DT? If yes, it will be an honor competing with you for the next 5 years.

        • Donkey Teeth

          Donkey Teeth says:
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          Itch has his own team in another league but I’m going off the grid for the start of that draft so he’s coming aboard to help out with the domination!

        • The Itch

          The Itch says:
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          Yeah more of an advisory role here, but cheers to the start of a solid dynasty best-ball rumble!!

          Best of luck and bounces with your draft!!

  3. Snacks Zillion says:
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    Great article, love these. Do you think Mondesi is worth an investment in the 4th rd? I am hoping for 20 hr ‘ s and 45 sb’s. Thanks!

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      Thanks, Snacks Zillion!!

      I love Mondesi.

      Would bet on him in any league at almost any price.

  4. IV says:
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    Good morning Itch,

    Dynasty trade question for you.
    15 team AL only 5×5 (with SV+Hld), Keep everyone.

    Would you trade James Paxton for Jarred Kelenic?

    I’m trying to remain competitive for the year, and would have the core staff to do so without Paxton (Montas, Minor, Bundy, German), but it seems the Kelenic owner is willing to part with him for a high end SP and I feel like I have to jump on this opportunity.

    • Mike L says:
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      I would take a good look at your OFers ages and how deep you are. Kelenic for Pax is more than fair but if you’re in compete mode you might be shooting yourself in the foot. I’d rather package Paxton with someone else for Robert or Adell but then again not everyone is willing to trade either.

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      Good morning IV!

      I think it’s a smart play.

      Might not feel great if Paxton starts hot, and while I agree with Mike L that it’d be nice to get the bigger names from the group, I think it’s exactly this concept that makes Kelenic available. He’s seen as both among the elites and not—an odd place that creates opportunities like this one.

      Get it, IV!

      • IV says:
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        Thanks Itch and Mike!

        Unfortunately, it’s not often top prospects are available so Kelenic is the best I can do, which is still great. I think I am going to go for it.

        Appreciate the content!

  5. Lenny says:
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    Love the prospect analysis. Any thoughts on some prospects that have lost their shine in Duplantier and Michael Baez?

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      Thanks Lenny!!

      Baez seems pretty locked into a bullpen role, where he could really flourish, but he’s got a lot of competition for those valuable late innings.

      I think Duplantier fits best in relief, too, but Arizona has seemed committed to letting him start. They’ve added some arms in Bumgarner and Gallen, so it’ll be interesting to see what 2020 holds. I’m not a big buyer on either.

  6. Prospect Gold says:
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    Itch

    What’s your thoughts on Pratto?

    • The Harrow says:
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      above he said:
      “Kansas City’s best prospects are mostly these recent additions that quickly leapt the names we’ve been accustomed to seeing on this list. Nick Pratto was the 14th overall pick in 2017, but he’s a first baseman who hit .197 in High A. He was young for the level, but I’m not pounding the table for a decent hit, decent power first baseman who hasn’t hit as a professional”
      that’s something there.

  7. goodfold2 says:
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    pick up soon. cantillo/walston just went. gone through almost all of the systems so far, how you ranking these guys (who all seem to have at least #3 upside at least from somebody thinking it somewhere, often numerous somebodies):
    – l.gil (you’re lower on him than mostly everybody i see due to bullpen risk, but it appears his upside is higher than the below and unlike some of them IF he does end up bullpen it’s probably quite useful bullpen spot)
    – baumann BAL (everybody seems to have his floor/ceiling pretty nicely)
    – m.thompson/dalquist WSOX (you like dalquist more but mostly everybody from either thinking dalquist has bullpen risk or thompson’s projection has it the other way, except pitcherlist, they have dalquist 1 spot higher too)
    – n.song BOS (the navy risk of course, but seems like unless that hurts him long term we’d still have a mid rotation guy at worst)
    – j.lewis LAD (possible #3 upside)
    – a.kelly MIL (everybody agrees this guy has big bullpen risk but upside is a 55 in some spots, i’m seeing all the above having 50/45’s or so on upside/likely)

    those above i’m assuming are higher up, but then we got these too:
    – s.johnson TB
    – g.stinson TB (only person i’ve seen write about him is ralph but ralph says when he saw him he was at least as good as manoah)
    – b.bailey BAL (probably only #4 upside, but he’d probably be free, and i know you mentioned him as did the other new dynasty guy here)
    – bello BOS (you had him high, and fangraphs (they’re all the way up to 6 teams done if fantasy rundown’s page is accurate (but it’s about 3 or so teams behind showing what you’re up to)) has all of his pitches and command at 55-50 ceilings)
    – wiu BOS (you also had him high, and fangraphs has some of his stuff 60 ceilings and splitter 55)
    – abbott/thompson CUBS
    – ashby MIL

    • goodfold2 says:
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      gill went 3 picks before me, throw him out. so that’s like the top 13 SP i had gone through pick 91. could be worse of course. but also means i’m going deeper on this list. also i might now just go hitter at my 2nd pick out of next 4 total if these others are just that close anyway.

      • goodfold2 says:
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        baumann out too.

        • goodfold2 says:
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          throw b.williamson SEA in there too, he just went after i went m.thompson WSOX but i want to see how the dearth of SEA’s lists out there at all affected me here. he appears to have a higher ceiling and floor.

          • goodfold2 says:
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            and bowlan in. forgot he’s the one other one on this list not owned. like every other pitcher i can find lately he’s a 50 up/40 realistic for what prospects live says (and some 50/45’s and kelly’s 55/40)

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