Kansas City Royals Top Prospects (Post 2015 Draft)

(Photo Credit: Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
(Photo Credit: Ed Zurga/Getty Images)

With the 2015 First Year Player Draft now in the books, teams have replenished their farm systems with young players. In what seems to be the year of the rookie, prospect rankings have been shuffled on multiple occasions so far this season. The Royals have most of their positions set for now, so they do not have any prospects who have graduated to the majors. But performance throughout the season is what make the rankings, so here is what I have for the Royals up to this point in the season.

1. Raul Mondesi – SS: To say that the Royals have pushed Mondesi would be an understatement. The 19-year old shortstop is the youngest player in the Texas League. The switch-hitter spent some time on the DL early in the season, but has performed well since. His actions in the field are advanced for his age and he has promise offensively. He will have to improve his plate discipline (he has only walked three times all year), but that should come as he gains more experience. He is facing pitchers who are five and six years older than he is, so it will take time for that to develop. He won’t be the same power threat that his dad of the same name was, but he has the potential to be an all-star player at a premium position. (ETA: 2017)

2. Sean Manaea – LHP: Manaea has yet to throw a pitch this season due to various injury problems. This ranking is based on his performance from a year ago since there are no numbers to judge his progress from this season yet. He should be ready to head to Northwest Arkansas soon, but we will have to wait and see with him. Manaea finished 2014 with a 5-1 record with a 1.48 ERA over his last 61 innings. He is still raw for a college pitcher, but he has a top of potential. If healthy, and that is a big if, Manaea has the ability to be a workhorse starter near the top of a rotation. (ETA: 2016)

3. Kyle Zimmer – RHP: Speaking of big ifs, Zimmer is another guy who just has not been able to stay healthy. When he’s on, Zimmer has the ability to throw four pitches for strikes. The thing with him is he always seems to have some health concern pop up. The Royals are having him pitch in shorter stints in Lexington right now and will advance him as he performs. If he had been healthy, he could be the ace of the Royals’ staff right now. But until he stays on the mound on a consistent basis, it is hard to say when he will be ready to pitch in KC. (ETA: 2016)

4. Brandon Finnegan – LHP: The story of Finnegan is well known. He became the first player to appear in the College World Series and the World Series in the same year. The TCU southpaw helped the Royals in September and into the postseason out of the bullpen, but the Royals view him as a starter long term. He has been up and down this season due to various injuries and he has struggled in the rotation while in Omaha, but I still think the Royals want to see what he can do in the rotation, especially with the struggles they have had recently. If that plan fails, they already know what he can do for them in a relief role. (ETA: 2015)

5. Ashe Russell – RHP: The 21st selection in this year’s draft, Russell comes from Cathedral High School in Indianapolis, Indiana. He features a plus fastball right now, which sits in the low to mid 90s. His slider is a wipeout pitch already. Those two plus pitches were enough for him to dominate the Indiana high school ranks, meaning he still has to work on his changeup, which some scouts feel can become a pretty good pitch. He stands at 6’4”, 195, so there is room for him to fill out and potentially add more velocity to his already plus fastball. Russell was arguably the top high school arm in the draft class, and he has the potential for three plus pitches and good command. It may take a few years for him to develop, but the wait could be very much worth it if he develops into a frontline starter. (ETA: 2019)

6. Scott Blewett – RHP: One of two high school arms the Royals selected on day one of the 2014 draft, Blewett was selected in the second round (56th overall) out of a high school in New York. Because of this, there is considerable upside with Blewett as he has not thrown much in his prep career. He has a plus fastball and has the makings of a solid curveball and changeup as well. While most evaluators coming into the season liked Foster Griffin more, I think that Blewett has a higher ceiling and he has gotten off to an excellent start for Lexington this season. I think Blewett has the chance to develop into a special arm given the proper development. (ETA: 2018)

7. Miguel Almonte – RHP: Almonte broke through in 2014 while pitching in the Carolina League, and appeared in the Futures Game. He has a mid-90s fastball and an advanced feel for a changeup and is able to throw both for strikes. His breaking ball is behind, however, and still needs to develop that pitch in order to reach his potential. He is off to an okay start with a 4.08 ERA in the Texas League this season. If he can improve his curveball to go with his already strong fastball and changeup, he could pitch near the top of a rotation. But if not, some scouts feel he may be better off in the bullpen. (ETA: 2016)

8. Chase Vallot – C: One of the youngest players drafted in 2014, Vallot will turn 19 in August. Despite hitting .208, he has shown his solid power in Lexington. He has also shown a good eye at the plate, proved by his .365 on base percentage. He has a cannon for an arm and is starting to prove that he will be able to stay behind the plate long term, which would greatly enhance his value. This is an upside placement, but if Vallot becomes a power bat with a good eye at the plate and is able to stay behind the plate with a plus arm, he could be an all-star. (ETA: 2019)

9. Foster Griffin – LHP: Griffin has an advanced feel for pitching for a high school arm. He was a two-way player in high school as he also played the outfield, so there could be more upside here. He throws a low 90s fastball with a solid changeup and a developing curveball. The Orlando native has drawn some comparisons to Cole Hamels because of his pitchability, his size and his changeup, but that is likely wishful thinking. Griffin has struggled to a 6.46 ERA in seven starts so far in Lexington. I think his teammate Scott Blewett on the South Atlantic League affiliate has a higher upside. I could be wrong (and I hope I am), but I think Griffin profiles more as a mid-rotation starter. (ETA: 2019)

10. Nolan Watson – RHP: Watson had a lot of “helium” as the draft approached last week, and the Royals selected the Indiana high school product with the 33rd selection. Watson sat in the upper 80s last season, but saw a spike in his velocity and pitched last summer in the low 90s. He then came out this year and found himself touching 95 and sitting 91-94. While he is polished for a high schooler, his recent spike in velocity suggests there is room for more. He also throws a slider, curveball and a changeup and has a clean delivery. Watson is all projection right now, but an ideal pitcher’s frame, good mechanics and a four pitch mix should lead to promising things for the right hander. (ETA: 2019)

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