It might seem like it was a long time ago, but the Royals were World Series champions just four years ago, in 2015.
Those who put that team together knew that winning that title would take a toll on the overall organization, that sustaining a winner and a strong farm system simultaneously in a smaller market would be nearly impossible. And that’s why the Royals are in rebuilding mode and have suffered through two straight 100-loss seasons.
The good news is they got to pick second in last June’s Draft and got Bobby Witt Jr., who has the chance to be a franchise player. That came on the heels of an outstanding 2018 Draft haul that allowed the Royals to add a number of advanced college arms to the system. Two of them are in the Top 100, joining Witt for an exciting trio on that list, with several other future starters on the way.
TOP 5 PROSPECTS
HITTING & PITCHING PROSPECTS OF THE YEAR
Khalil Lee, OF: In spending the entire season with Double-A Northwest Arkansas, the 21-year-old Lee continued to get on base (.363 OBP) and wreak havoc once there (career-high 53 stolen bases).
Kris Bubic, LHP: A 22-year-old left-hander who was selected 40th overall in the 2018 Draft, Bubic went 11-5 with a 2.23 ERA in stops at Class A Lexington and Class A Advanced Wilmington. Oh, and the southpaw led all Minor Leaguers with 185 strikeouts. More »
Kyle Isbel, OF (No. 8): Isbel had moved the expectations bar higher following a strong summer debut after going in the third round of the 2018 Draft. Injuries derailed his first full season, but a very strong Arizona Fall League (.315/.429/.438 with six steals) has raised his prospect profile considerably.
Nick Pratto, 1B (No. 10): Pratto was a mid-first-round pick in 2017 because he seemed like an advanced high school hitter whose approach would help him climb the ladder. Instead, he struck out in 34.7 percent of his plate appearances in 2019 while finishing with a .588 OPS.
Draft: Bobby Witt Jr., SS, 1st round (No. 1 on Royals Top 30); Brady McConnell, SS, 2nd round (No. 7); Alec Marsh, RHP, Competitive Balance B (No. 20); Grant Gambrell, RHP, 3rd round (No. 26); Michael Massey, 4th round (No. 28); John Rave, OF, 5th round. Complete Draft list »
International: Erick Pena, OF (No. 5 on International Top 30; No. 23 on Royals Top 30)
Trade: Kevin Merrell, SS/2B (No. 18)
Any time you can start a Draft class with a talent like Witt Jr., it’s going to be a good Draft, and the Royals were able to add four more Top 30 prospects to the fold a year after a very strong 2018 Draft haul. Kansas City was also aggressive on the international market, giving Pena $3,897,500 to sign, the third highest bonus in the 2019-20 signing period.
2020 IMPACT PROSPECT
Brady Singer, RHP: The 2018 first-rounder was as good as advertised during his first full season, reaching and pitching well in Double-A. His three-pitch mix and excellent command should allow him to make a jump up to Kansas City early in 2020. Expect him to get a nice long look in Spring Training and then join the staff at some point a month or two into the season.
Hit: Bobby Witt Jr.
Power: Seuly Matias
Run: Isaiah Henry
Field: Nick Pratto
Arm: MJ Melendez
Best athlete: Bobby Witt Jr.
Fastball: Daniel Lynch
Curveball: Kris Bubic
Slider: Brady Singer
Changeup: Jackson Kowar
Control: Kris Bubic
How they were built:
Every prospect in the organizational top 10 came via the Draft, with seven of the 10 coming from the efforts in 2018 and 2019. Seuly Matias is the top-ranked international player at No. 11, as three of the next five (in the 11-15 set) were international amateur free agent signings.
Top 30 breakdown by position:
Thanks largely to the 2018 Draft, the top of the Royals' list has some outstanding arms on it. Four of the top six players are pitchers, with Singer, Lynch, Kowar and Bubic all taken in the top 40 picks of that ’18 Draft.