Written by: Jake Tweedie
Follow him on Twitter: @MLBUKAnalysis1
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**Right below is the Royals Top 20 list simplified. Scroll further down for FULL Present/Future Grades, FV, ETA, and summaries on EACH PLAYER ranked in the system! Tons of Statistics on each player as well! Some player highlights, future outlooks and more enjoy!**
If you like Podcasts, Click here to take a listen to the Royals Top 20 Pod where you can hear our prospect Analysts discuss the Top 5 prospects, and 5 others they find interesting in the system! Who doesn’t like more prospect analysis?
|1||Bobby Witt Jr||SS||1st Round: 2nd Overall – 2019 Draft|
|2||Asa Lacy||LHP||1st Round: 4th Overall – 2020 Draft|
|3||Daniel Lynch||LHP||1st Round Comp: 34th Overall – 2018 Draft|
|4||Brady Singer||RHP||1st Round: 18th Overall – 2018 Draft|
|5||Erick Pena||OF||International FA Signing 2019|
|6||Jackson Kowar||RHP||1st Round Comp: 33rd Overall – 2018 Draft|
|7||Kris Bubic||LHP||CBA: 40th Overall – 2018 Draft|
|8||Kyle Isbel||OF||3rd Round – 2018 Draft|
|9||Nick Loftin||SS||1st Round: 32nd Overall – 2020 Draft|
|10||Khalil Lee||OF||3rd Round – 2016 Draft|
|11||MJ Melendez||C||2nd Round – 2017 Draft|
|12||Austin Cox||LHP||5th Round – 2018 Draft|
|13||Seuly Matias||OF||International FA Signing 2015|
|14||Carlos Hernandez||RHP||International FA Signing 2016|
|15||Jonathan Bowlan||RHP||2nd Round – 2018 Draft|
|16||Ben Hernandez||RHP||2nd Round – 2020 Draft|
|17||Wilmin Candelario||SS||International FA Signing 2018|
|18||Brady McConnell||SS||2nd Round – 2019 Draft|
|19||Alec Marsh||RHP||CBB – 2019 Draft|
|20||Maikel Garcia||2B/SS||International FA Signing 2016|
1. Bobby Witt Jr – AZL Royals (ROK)
20 Years Old – Throw: R – Bat: R – 6’1″ 190lbs – ETA 2022
The standout player in the Royals’ system comes in the shape of Bobby Witt Jr. Big things were expected of him after being touted to be drafted 2nd overall in last year’s Draft. He started his rookie year slowly, before finding his feet towards the end of the season. He has big potential and does well in all aspects of his game.
Witt has the ability to drive the ball anywhere with his quick bat speed. His big stance and the way he puts his body through his swing generates decent power. This enables him to control his barrel well thus producing XBHs and the occasional HR. This wasn’t seen as much in 2019 but with work on his approach and swing, he should be able to continue this development. Once on base his aggressive running allows him to get around the bases well when hitting XBH, and allows for a few stolen bases.
Defensively his arm is strong and does well from the SS position, whilst he is well-suited to this due to his accuracy and powerful throws. His hands are also quick and allow him to make plays quickly and efficiently. His speed and range are also key factors in his defense.
Easily the top prospect in the system but he will need to continue his development and adapt to the demands of pro ball. Don’t be surprised to see him in the next couple of years.
2. Asa Lacy LHP – Drafted 2020
21 Years Old – Throw: L – Bat: L – 6’4″ 215lbs – ETA 2022
No Professional Stats
Picked up 4th overall in this year’s Draft, Lacy dominated at college level despite starting his college career as a reliever. He had a big year in 2018 that demonstrated his starter ability and he continued to do well despite a COVID affected 2019. His hit rate has decreased whilst his impressive SO rate has further developed, making him an exciting player for the future.
His fastball sits between 92-96mph, topping at 97mph. He uses his height to create a downhill plane, causing problems for hitters. He combos this pitch well with his breaking balls, despite some control issues.
Lacy’ss secondies include a curveball, a slider, and a changeup. His curveball has 12-6 qualities and this downer action is effective despite his slider taking over as his plus pitch. His slider has plenty of horizontal break, whilst showing decent velocity. He slightly lowers his arm slot to stay low 80s. His changeup features fade and sink with the same arm speed and action as his FB that causes deception.
There are some hesitations with his action that can lead to some inconsistencies, but with some work shouldn’t be a long term issue. He uses plenty of effort with his technique and can sometimes struggle to control his velocity. However, he gets swing and misses and will further develop this with some action adjustments.
3. Daniel Lynch LHP – Wilmington Blue Rocks (A Adv)
23 Years Old – Throw: L – Bat: L – 6’6″ 190lbs – ETA 2020
Hugely impressive in pro ball since he was drafted in the 2018 Draft, alongside 7 other college pitchers for the Royals. He has made 32 appearances in the Minors, but this could have been significantly more if it wasn’t for injury at the back end of 2019. This did allow him to recover properly and he finished the season in good form.
His fastball sits in the mid-90s, with the potential to go higher with continued work. It works well up in the zone, but his tall frame allows him to have increased perceived velocity.
Lynch’s 3-mix secondary pitches include a curveball, a slider, and a changeup. His curveball is around the mid-80s with decent control due to his clean delivery. His slider is the pitch that complements his FB best due to its big depth and a sharp bite. The changeup also flashes some consistency in the mid-80s and was his standout pitch previously.
With a full season under his belt, he could really prove his ability to be part of the rotation in the future. His arsenal is solid and shows good control, whilst having strong strikeout rates. With continued progression, he could be a top pitcher due to his advanced feel for his pitches.
4. Brady Singer RHP – MLB
24 Years Old – Throw: R – Bat: R – 6’5″ 210lbs
Made it into the Majors this season and is currently 5 appearances in at the time of writing. He has pitched the most amount of innings for the Royals, becoming a key member of their rotation. Despite missing the 2018 season through injury, he dominated A+ with an ERA of 1.87 and 53 SOs in 51 innings. This earned him a call-up to AA, where he continued to do well albeit with an increased ERA and lower SO rate.
His fastball sits in the low-90s with sinking action, whilst being able to slow down further for his four-seamer. He controls both pitches well and has plenty of horizontal break. It also works well with his SL.
His secondary pitches include a slider and a changeup. His slider is in the mid-80s, that he stays on top of well. Currently is a decent pitch but will need to add something extra to work against experienced hitters. He manipulates his velocity and depth well. His changeup is his most inconsistent pitch and used rarely in games. He started to develop it slightly in his last couple of games with some decent horizontal break.
Singer is consistently around the strike zone with more control than command. He puts the ball in the right areas and encourages ground balls. With more focus on interchanging between pitches, he could become more dangerous.
5. Erick Pena OF – DSL Royals 1 (ROK)
17 Years Old – Throw: R – Bat: L – 6’3″ 180lbs – ETA 2024
No Professional Stats
One of the youngest players on this ranks list and probably one of the most exciting. Despite not making a pro ball appearance, he showed advanced feel and athleticism in the instructional league. Signed for $3,877,500, his batting approach and hitting tools are what the Royals really saw in him.
He has the ability to play the ball around the field, generates decent contact, and barrels the ball well. His frame generates natural strength, and with his quick thinking and adjustments at the plate, he can time the ball well.
His offensive tools could move him to corner outfield as he progresses but he shows the talents to play any position well and make them his own with some familiarity to pro ball. He comes across as a smart fielder and hitter, as well as having the natural talents and instincts to be a top player for the Royals. One of the brightest batting sparks in a pitcher-heavy farm system.
6. Jackson Kowar RHP – Northwest Arkansas Naturals (AA)
23 Years Old – Throw: R – Bat: R – 6’5″ 180lbs – ETA 2020
One of a handful of pitchers to be drafted by the Royals in 2018, he reached AA by the middle of his second season, showing consistency and quality pitching. Although his SO rates aren’t as good as some of his other fellow pitchers, his pitchability and blend of stuff make him a useful member of the pitching staff.
His fastball sits between 93-96mph, topping at 98mph. It has some sidearm life and showed improved command across his 2 seasons in pro ball. This led to an improvement in his SO rate and works well with his changeup.
His secondary pitches include a changeup and a curveball. His changeup sits in the mid-80s and is by far his best pitch. It has quality deception and decent arm speed, followed by a tumbling and fading action that makes it hard for hitters to get a grip of. His curveball has shown signs of improvement, with better spin rates and more downward action. It could be a solid 3rd pitch with some work and more experience.
Although his command is good with his fastball, he needs to continue this development with his breaking balls. He works deep into innings and has shown his durability with 148.1 innings pitched in 2019. If he can continue this moving forward then he could be the next pitcher to join the Majors.
7. Kris Bubic LHP – MLB
23 Years Old – Throw: L – Bat: L – 6’3″ 220lbs
The left-handed pitcher has shown incredible progression to make the Majors at just 23 and just 2 seasons of Minors. His first year saw him at Idaho Falls, where he started 10 games and had an impressive strikeout rate of 30.8%. This progression continued in 2019, where he picked up 185 SOs, starting 26 games with 2 complete games. His 2.23 ERA led to an early MLB call-up, and he has shown glimpses of his potential in a young Royals rotation.
His fastball sits between 90-93mph, topping at 95mph. He is naturally deceptive with his arm and action and delivery, despite not having the quickest heater.
His secondary pitches include a changeup and a curveball. His changeup is not much slower than his FB, sitting in the mid-80s, but his arm speed and fading action make it his strikeout pitch due to its deception and ability to work well against both RHH and LHH. His curveball isn’t as consistent but shows the making of a decent 3rd pitch with some work.
He has not set the the world on fire, but his consistent performances and consistent work load make him bet to be a member of the rotation for the long haul. He has still picked up 19 SOs in 22.1 innings as of writing but will need to continue to develop his 3-pitch arsenal to be effective against better hitters.
8. Kyle Isbel OF – Wilmington Blue Rocks (A Adv)
23 Years Old – Throw: R – Bat: L – 5’11″ 183lbs – ETA 2021
An impressive first-half debut season at Idaho Falls saw him called-up to full-season ball almost immediately. There he hit 16 XBH, as well as having 12 SBs, to showcase himself as a player who can develop quickly and with ability. Unfortunately, injuries hampered his 2019 season and limited him to 52 appearances at Wilmington. He came back strongly for the Arizona League and will need to prove his fitness moving forward.
Isbel has an all-round hitting approach as he can hit for average, but he can also hit for power too. He has the ability to barrel the ball well and spreads the ball around the field with precision. His quick bat speed, alongside his ability to control the strike zone well, allows him to make clean contact and projects him to hit multiple XBHs in the future.
Defensively he makes solid plays, like the video above shows, but he is more known for his versatility and average arm strength. Whilst not being a standout fielder, he can be a useful player that shows plenty of batting upside.
9. Nick Loftin SS – Drafted 2020
21 Years Old – Throw: R – Bat: R – 6’1″ 185lbs – ETA 2023
The first-rounder from Baylor University is a strong defensive player but his bat shows some promise of coming good. He’s not a big power player but his decent contact and ability to read the pitch well allows him to maintain a good average.
His best offensive tool is his ability to get bat on ball. He can line drive all around the field with some decent pop off the bat without threatening the HR line. His quick swing and the way he uses his hips to create the torque to increase his exit velocity allows for this and he picks the gaps with precision.
Defensively he has a plus arm and able to make plays from around the diamond due to his accuracy. He is a plus fielder with the versatility to play multiple positions and do so effectively. He gets into the right positions well and shows great agility.
If he can maintain his hitting ability moving forward as well as showcasing his defensive talents then there is a promising future for him as a strong utility player.
10. Khalil Lee OF – Northwest Arkansas Naturals (AA)
22 Years Old – Throw: L – Bat: L – 5’10″ 170lbs – ETA 2022
The talented left-handed outfielder made quick progression through the Royals farm system, reaching AA at just 20. He hit 47 XBHs with 20 SBs in 2017 at Lexington before a call-up to A Adv saw him hit 21 XBH and 14 SBs. This earned him a call-up to AA, and despite his high strikeout rate over these 2 seasons, saw him named as a Texas League Midseason All-Star.
Whilst his strikeout rate is a concern, his ability to be an impact player with both his power and his contact makes him an exciting prospect. If he can refine his approach and be more aggressive early in counts and less as aggressive later into counts, then he could showcase his quick bat speed and hard contact ability more often. He also had an impressive 53 SBs in 2019, which shows his threat when he does get on base.
Defensively he is solid with impressive arm strength. Although billed as a center-fielder, his bat and arm could suit him better as a corner outfielder. With continued work offensively, he could be a quality option to have.
11. MJ Melendez C –Wilmington Blue Rocks (A Adv)
21 Years Old – Throw: R – Bat: L – 6’1″ 185lbs – ETA 2023
Before delving in a bit more into MJ Melendez, check out his prospect profile here.
One of a handful of players that seemed to struggle in 2019, Melendez slashed just .163 despite picking up 34 XBHs. As seen in Josh’s profile breakdown, this seemed to be an issue related to his mechanics. He was not consistent with what he did, and this led to him potentially over-thinking his action.
When he does hit, he does so with extreme power potential and his 19 HR 2018 season proves this. There are questions whether his leg kick in his action helps him or hinders him due to the inconsistent results, but with the right guidance and focus on doing so with a controlled movement, this allows him to generate solid power.
Defensively, he is already at a level to be a Major League catcher. He has the agility, the ability to make calls, and blocks the ball well. These qualities matched with his impressive arm strength, and ability to catch-and-throw quickly and efficiently, make him defensively very solid.
If he can find the momentum that saw him hitting HRs for fun in 2018, with a refined approach, then he could be a viable replacement for Salvador Perez.
12. Austin Cox LHP – Wilmington Blue Rocks (A Adv)
23 Years Old – Throw: L – Bat: L – 6’4″ 185lbs – ETA 2022
A pitcher that struggled to pick up strikes in college ball with mixed results, came on strong once drafted in 2018. He had 51 SOs in 33.1 innings in his first year, before continuing his progression by reducing his ERA to 2.76 and making 24 appearances across A and A+. He showed his quality stuff and ability to control his pitching action, alongside bulking up and maintaining a good H/9 rate.
His fastball sits in the low-90s, topping at 95mph. He controls this pitch well and does well against both RHH and LHH. It misses bats with its run and sink.
Cox’s secondaries include a curveball, a slider, and a changeup. His curveball is thrown with power and 12-6 downer action, utilizing his big frame to keep the ball low in the zone. It has hitters swinging due to its ability and the FB/CB combo. More around the upper-70s. His slider is a hard one in the mid-80s range. His changeup is a decent delivery that uses his FB arm speed to create deception, alongside his control.
He has shown progression year-on-year so will need to continue this trend. He controls his pitches well and mixes his arsenal effectively. There are some concerns being a fly ball pitcher, considering he gave up 11 HRs last season, but repeats his delivery well and misses bats.
13. Seuly Matias OF – Wilmington Blue Rocks (A Adv)
21 Years Old – Throw: R – Bat: R – 6’3″ 198lbs – ETA 2022
Matias’ surprise season came as a huge shock for everyone involved in the system. He had a breakout year in 2018, hitting 31 HRs, despite striking out 131 times. This aggressive approach seemed to be found out in 2019, as he struck out 44.3% of the time, however this time he didn’t have the HRs to back this. There were questions about his fitness as he played just 57 times and finished his season early with a hand fracture.
From an offensive perspective, he possesses the quality to go long and do so around the field. The main issue is making consistent contact to do this on a regular basis. He lacked the ability to recognize pitches and swung at pitches outside of the zone. With the right adjustment in approach, he can prove that he is a dangerous hitter, even with a lower batting average than most.
Defensively he proves himself to be a quality asset with his pure power and one of the best arms in the organization. If he can focus on refining his batting approach then his other qualities should shine through and he should be able to showcase himself as a potential big leaguer.
14. Carlos Hernandez RHP – Lexington Legends (A Full)
23 Years Old – Throw: R – Bat: R – 6’4″ 250lbs – ETA 2021
Hernandez has had an up and down career in the Minors since he signed in 2016. He picked up regular strikes but gave away too many hits that saw him end his first season with a 1-4 record and an ERA of 5.49. He progressed in 2018 with a better SO return and showed some of his electric arm. Since then fatigue and injury have slowed down his progression and limited him to just 15 appearances in 2019.
His fastball shows his velocity ability by consistently being in the upper-90s, whilst touching the triple digits mark. He creates a downhill plane and shows no sign of slowing down, even against better hitters.
His secondary pitches include a curveball, a slider, and a changeup. His curveball is low-80s and has the potential to be a decent pitch. It will need better control due to its big drop in velocity. His slider has a bit more control but isn’t as effective as his CB. His changeup is powerful and works well alongside his FB. They all need more work due to his pitching mechanics.
If he can adjust his action for the breaking balls to be more fluid then he should be able to have better control. His fastballs have a nice action but will need to work on his breaking ball control to reduce the number of walks and hits, as well as increasing his strikeout potential.
15. Jonathan Bowlan RHP – Wilmington Blue Rocks (A Adv)
23 Years Old – Throw: R – Bat: R – 6’6″ 262lbs – ETA 2022
The physical righty didn’t have much chance to showcase his talents after being selected 58th overall in 2018. He managed just 9 appearances and didn’t really leave a lasting impression. This changed in 2019 however, when he had a breakout year across two levels, including a 9-inning no-hitter in A Advanced. He picked up 6 wins and a save in 13 appearances at Lexington, before an impressive 13 appearance stint at Wilmington.
His fastball sits around 90-94mph, topping at 97mph. It has a sinking action that generates plenty of ground outs. His command is good and he uses his big frame to create a downhill plane.
Bowlan’s secondaries include a slider and a changeup. His slider is in the low-80s, with tilt and sharp break, despite its inconsistencies. His changeup isn’t his best pitch but he pounds the strike zone well, which in turn shows his control over his pitching.
Another season like his 2019 campaign would show his ability to stay consistent, and if he can’t make it as a starter then he would be a solid bullpen arm for the long-term.
16. Ben Hernandez RHP – Drafted 2020
19 Years Old – Throw: R – Bat: R – 6’2″ 205lbs – ETA 2024
No professional stats
A young pitcher with plenty of potential. He has a high floor and was one of the standout picks of the draft due to his devastating changeup. He has a repeatable action with decent command.
His fastball sits low-90s, topping at 95mph. It features some sink and plays up due to its command. It works well with his CH and works the strike zone, with the potential to be an above-average pitch.
His secondary pitches include a curveball and a changeup. His curveball sits mid-70s with a looping action. It needs plenty of work but throws the hitters off with its deceptive action. His changeup sits low-80s with plenty of fade. It is his standout pitch and his go-to for strikeouts. It can get plenty of swings and misses due to its ability to work with the FB and mix up his pitching.
His repeatable action and ability to get the ball down in the zone is due to his downhill plane. He has solid control over his pitches and they all play up because of his command and his ability to maintain the same arm speed to deceive hitters. Will need time to develop his breaking ball but his pitching as a whole is generally advanced and will be an exciting player for the future.
17. Wilmin Candelario SS – AZL Royals (ROK)
18 Years Old – Throw: R – Bat: S – 5’11″ 165lbs – ETA 2024
Despite his high SO rate, Candelario surprised a few people with his ability offensively. There was no doubting his defensive qualities, but there were concerns that his offensive side lagged slightly.
Although not the biggest build, the youngster hit 19 XBHs as well as swiping 11 bases. His SO rate was just under 30% but showed enough hitting ability to warrant his aggressive approach. There is potential to cut this as he shortens his swing, especially from the right side. He shows an advanced feel for the bat from his left side, something that has served him well at rookie ball. With more focus on his SO rate and being a bit more conservative, he could be a steal as a free agent.
18. Brady McConnell SS – Idaho Falls Chukars (A Short)
22 Years Old – Throw: R – Bat: R – 6’3″ 195lbs – ETA 2023
Despite injury restricting him in his Junior year, he exploded out of the gates the following year, averaging .332 with 15 HRs. This led to him being drafted in the 2nd round. He hit a 2B and a HR in a quick spell in the Arizona League before spending the rest of the season in Idaho Falls.
Although his batting average was low, he barrelled the ball well and hit XBHs. This shows his ability to generate decent power, but his aggressive approach leads to too many SOs. He is a physical player and opens up his body to hit around the field. He will need to refine his approach in order to tap into his power and hitting potential.
Defensively he has a decent arm due to his size and strength. He makes throws across the diamond but there are questions on his accuracy. He made too many errors last season, with 16 from the SS position. Due to the reliability needed there, his handling of the ball and his actions do not make him a viable option there long-term, but his athleticism and extra work could see him stick there for now.
With work on the defensive aspect of his game, and refining his aggressive approach, he could become the talent that had him picked in the 2nd round due to his potential.
19. Alec Marsh RHP – Lexington Legends (A Full)
22 Years Old – Throw: R – Bat: R – 6’2″ 220lbs – ETA 2023
After being drafted 70th overall, he made 13 appearances in 2019. He showed an advance feel for his arsenal and picked up 38 SOs in 33 innings. He also allowed just 4 walks. His college career started with him as a relief pitcher, before becoming the Friday night starter, and he’s been a starter since.
His fastball sits between 90-94mph, topping at 96mph. He uses his four-seam to get a bit more velocity with some late cut and uses his two-seam to sink the ball. He can add some decent spin rate to his four-seamer, generally around 2350rpm.
Marsh’s secondaries include a curveball, a slider, and a changeup. His curveball sits upper-70s that flashes some depth and works well alongside his harder SL. His slider works between 78-83mph and manipulates well off of his FB. He has quality control over it and his most dangerous secondary pitch. His changeup is not the most advanced pitch but he has some feel for it and would be beneficial to develop it.
He has improved year-on-year with his control and that bodes well for him in the future. He will need to work on his changeup but his breaking balls are good and his fastball has good movement. Not the quickest pitcher but will pick up SOs with the way he manipulates the ball.
20. Maikel Garcia SS – Burlington Royals (ROA)
20 Years Old – Throw: R – Bat: R – 6’0″ 145lbs – ETA 2023
The Venezuelan started to show some of his raw potential with an All-Star call-up in 2019 after slashing .286 with 19 SBs and 13 XBHs. Despite a slow start in rookie ball when he first signed, he has progressively improved his stock with more consistent performances and having career-highs in all offensive stats.
He started showing more maturity at the plate, with a lower SO rate, as well as increasing his ability to find the gaps in the field to hit more XBHs. Despite being CS more regularly in 2019, he showed his threat on-base and this allowed to pick up 19 more runs than in 2018.
He also shows decent potential potentially, making accurate throws across the diamond and being positionally good. There is more work to be done, as he made more errors in 2019, but there’s a lot to like and a lot more to come.
There will be a requirement to move him past Rookie Advanced after a solid 2019 season, but the potential is there to be a key player for the Royals moving forward.
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