On the Cusp: Kansas City Royals
After breakout October, Finnegan can be key part of 2015 staff
In this series, Bernie Pleskoff takes a team-by-team look at which top prospects are poised to make a contribution at the big league level in 2015.
The defending American League champions won't return the exact same team this coming season, but most of their roster remains intact. There are some players and pitchers on the cusp that could help at some point in 2015.
Here are the Royals prospects I think have a chance to make an impact in Kansas City in 2015, listed by their rankings in the club's Top 20 Prospects list.
Brandon Finnegan | LHP | 5-foot-11, 185 pounds | No. 6
Finnegan burst on the scene last year as a Major League pitcher, the same year he was selected as the Royals' first-round selection in the First-Year Player Draft. Finnegan threw a total of 27 Minor League innings, 15 at Class A Advanced Wilmington and 12 at Double-A Northwest Arkansas. He throws a sinking, 93-mph fastball and secondary pitches that include a slider and an occasional changeup to change the eye levels of hitters. Finnegan excelled in the postseason and could be seen as a starting candidate or relief specialist in the future.
Jorge Bonifacio | OF | 6-foot-1, 195 pounds | No. 7
The right-handed-hitting Bonifacio had a tough season at Double-A Northwest Arkansas, hitting just .230 in 566 plate appearances. In 2013, he broke his hamate bone and missed six weeks. He returned and finished the season hitting .302 at Northwest Arkansas. Bonifacio may develop into a major power-hitting threat if he improves his pitch recognition and his selectivity. Perhaps he won't be ready for this coming year, but he is a player to watch with his strength and good bat speed. He is a solid defender with some speed and a good arm.
Orlando Calixte | SS | 5-foot-11, 160 pounds | No. 13
Calixte is capable of playing second and third as well as shortstop, but he has the pure skills to remain a shortstop. A good overall player, he has some power in his bat, but may not hit for much average. While I have seen some inconsistency in his defense, he can serve as a utility infielder to come off the bench and pinch-run or pinch-hit as well as play anywhere in the infield with the exception of first base.
Reymond Fuentes | OF | 6-foot, 160 pounds | No. 14
Slight of build, the fleet-footed Fuentes came over from the Padres and may add even more speed and quickness to a team that seemingly steals bases at will. Like most speedy players, he must be able to get on base to use his best skill. He continues to learn how to put the ball on the ground and beat the throw to first base. He has some sneaky power for his frame. He may not make the club out of Spring Training, but his ability may be helpful to the Royals if they need his speed at some point.
Sam Selman | LHP | 6-foot-3, 195 pounds | No. 16
Selman has started and relieved, pitching in both roles last year at Double-A Northwest Arkansas. When he was promoted to Triple-A Omaha he worked solely in relief. He has a fastball that he can change speeds with and use to set up his solid secondary pitches. He throws a slider, a curveball and a changeup. In reality, he could rely solely on the fastball/slider combination out of the 'pen.
Cheslor Cuthbert | 3B/1B | 6-foot-1, 190 pounds | No. 17
Still only 22, the international prospect from Nicaragua has already spent parts of five seasons in the Minor Leagues. He has a composite .255 batting average, after hitting .274 last year. Most of his time was spent at Double-A Northwest Arkansas. He also played at Triple-A Omaha, where he hit two of his 12 homers for the year. His power is real, showing gap doubles ability. His defense is good. He has to show consistent hitting ability and good enough pitch recognition to prove he belongs.
John Lamb | LHP | 6-foot-4, 205 pounds | No. 20
Lamb was seen as a major left-handed pitching prospect following his selection in the fifth round of the 2008 Draft. Tommy John surgery and a slow recovery have hampered his progress. He missed most of 2011 and 2012. He returned to action in 2013 and continued to pitch again last year, starting 26 games at Triple-A Omaha. He has lost some arm speed, but his command and control are good. He throws his fastball at 87-94 mph and also has a curveball and changeup.