Here are the Royals' 2023 Top 30 prospects

March 2nd, 2023

The Royals’ youth movement made its way to Kansas City last year, with 21 rookies appearing in a game and 13 players who made their Major League debuts in 2022. Bobby Witt Jr. began the year as baseball’s No. 1 prospect and ended the year fourth in AL Rookie of the Year voting.

MJ Melendez began last year as the Royals’ No. 2 prospect; he’ll be an Opening Day outfielder and play behind the plate in 2023. Vinnie Pasquantino jumped to No. 5 at the start of ’22 -- now he’s a mainstay in the middle of the Royals’ lineup.

These are names that will populate the Royals’ lineup for years to come. But there are still plenty of rising prospects to know.

Gavin Cross is “the real deal,” multiple scouts said throughout this process, and the No. 9 overall pick in the 2022 Draft is the No. 62 overall prospect in baseball. He’s the Royals’ No. 1 guy and leads a position-player-heavy Top 10. Seven of the Royals’ top 10 prospects are hitters, while most of the Royals’ pitchers populate in the middle of the list.

Local Kansas City product Ben Kudrna is the Royals’ top pitching prospect at No. 2, nearly two years removed from being selected in the second round of the 2021 Draft out of Blue Valley Southwest High School. A couple spots down at No. 10 is catcher Carter Jensen, who went to Park Hill HS in Kansas City before the Royals drafted him in the third round in 2021.

The Royals were busy last season adding prospects in trades, and plenty of new names are on the list this year because of that. Drew Waters, Beck Way, Andrew Hoffmann, Samad Taylor, T.J. Sikkema, Chandler Champlain and Steven Cruz all joined the Royals in the past year from other organizations.

Here's a look at the Royals' top prospects:
1. Gavin Cross, OF (MLB No. 62)
2. Ben Kudrna, RHP
3. Maikel Garcia, SS
4. Nick Loftin, UTIL 
5. Cayden Wallace, 3B 
Complete Top 30 list »

Biggest jump/fall

Here are the players whose ranks changed the most from the 2022 preseason list to the 2023 preseason list:

Jump: Tyler Gentry, OF (2022: 29 | 2023: 8)
No Royals prospect took a bigger step forward than Gentry in 2022. He went from a fringe prospect with a chance to be a fourth outfielder to having the potential to be a regular corner outfielder in the big leagues. A knee injury ended his ’21 season early, but he quickly showed it wouldn’t affect him in ’22. The Royals’ third-round pick in the 2020 Draft, Gentry beat High-A quickly by hitting .336/.434/.516, then was promoted to Double-A on June 14. He was even better there, crushing 16 homers and posting a .972 OPS. Big, strong and physical, Gentry has raw power that he’s still unlocking. He has one of the strongest arms in the Royals’ system, profiling best in right field. After playing in the Arizona Fall League last year, Gentry could move quickly this season.

Fall: Ben Hernandez, RHP (2022: 16 | 2023: NR)
Hernandez was the Royals’ second-round pick in the 2020 Draft and boasted one of the best changeups in the high school class that year. It’s been a bumpy and injury-prone road since. Hernandez posted a 5.38 ERA in 23 starts last season in Single-A Columbia, striking out 71 and walking 40 in 77 innings. His mechanics were out of whack because of a knee injury, and he had a minor surgery to fix the problem this offseason. He’s back to throwing this spring but on a rehab progression. The 21-year-old still has loads of potential and will be one to watch if he can get back on track.

Top 30s

Best tools

Players are graded on a 20-80 scouting scale for future tools -- 20-30 is well below average, 40 is below average, 50 is average, 60 is above average and 70-80 is well above average. Players in parentheses have the same grade. This list only includes players among the Royals’ Top 30 prospects.

Hit: 55 -- Gavin Cross, (Maikel Garcia, Lizandro Rodriguez)
Power: 55 -- Gavin Cross, (Cayden Wallace, Tyler Gentry, Carter Jensen, Luca Tresh)
Run: 70 -- Diego Hernandez
Arm: 65 -- Wallace (Peyton Wilson)
Defense: 60 -- Maikel Garcia (Drew Waters, Diego Hernandez, Daniel Vazquez)
Fastball: 75 -- Steven Cruz
Curveball: 60 -- Frank Mozzicato
Slider: 60 -- Beck Way (Asa Lacy)
Changeup: 60 -- Asa Lacy, Noah Cameron
Control: 55 -- Jonathan Bowlan (Noah Cameron)

How they were built
Draft: 18 | International: 6 | Trade: 6

Breakdown by ETA
2023: 8 | 2024: 10 | 2025: 10 | 2026: 2

Breakdown by position
C: 2 | 1B: 0 | 2B: 3 | 3B: 1 | SS: 3 | UTIL: 1 | OF: 5 | RHP: 11 | LHP: 4