Starting spots for Royals' Top 30 prospects

April 4th, 2019

With the 2019 Minor League Baseball season getting underway, here's a look at where the Royals' Top 30 prospects are starting the year. We also identify the prospect who just missed the Top 30 list, a player who didn't make the big league Opening Day roster but should make an impact this year, a prospect who is ready to break out in 2019 and the team's best defensive prospect.

  1. Brady Singer (MLB No. 53), RHP -- Wilmington Blue Rocks (A Adv)
  2. Khalil Lee, OF -- Northwest Arkansas Naturals (AA)
  3. M.J. Melendez, C -- Wilmington Blue Rocks (A Adv)
  4. Daniel Lynch, LHP -- Wilmington Blue Rocks (A Adv)
  5. Nick Pratto, 1B -- Wilmington Blue Rocks (A Adv)
  6. Seuly Matias, OF -- Wilmington Blue Rocks (A Adv)
  7. Jackson Kowar, RHP -- Wilmington Blue Rocks (A Adv)
  8. Nicky Lopez, ss -- Omaha Storm Chasers (AAA)
  9. Kris Bubic, LHP -- Lexington Legends (A)
  10. Kyle Isbel, OF -- Wilmington Blue Rocks (A Adv)
  11. Carlos Hernandez, RHP -- Extended spring training -- rehab
  12. Yefri Del Rosario, RHP -- Extended spring training -- rehab
  13. Michael Gigliotti, OF -- Lexington Legends (A)
  14. Kelvin Gutierrez, 3B -- Omaha Storm Chasers (AAA)
  15. Scott Blewett, RHP -- Omaha Storm Chasers (AAA)
  16. Richard Lovelady, LHP -- Omaha Storm Chasers (AAA)
  17. Brewer Hicklen, OF -- Wilmington Blue Rocks (A Adv)
  18. Emmanuel Rivera, 3B -- Northwest Arkansas Naturals (AA)
  19. Meibrys Viloria, C -- Northwest Arkansas Naturals (AA)
  20. Yohanse Morel, RHP -- Extended spring training
  21. Josh Staumont, RHP -- Omaha Storm Chasers (AAA)
  22. Austin Cox, LHP -- Lexington Legends (A)
  23. Blake Perkins, OF -- Wilmington Blue Rocks (A Adv)
  24. Jeison Guzman, SS -- Lexington Legends (A)
  25. Daniel Tillo, LHP -- Wilmington Blue Rocks (A Adv)
  26. Arnaldo Hernandez, RHP -- Omaha Storm Chasers (AAA)
  27. Sebastian Rivero, C -- Wilmington Blue Rocks (A Adv)
  28. Gerson Garabito, RHP -- Northwest Arkansas Naturals (AA)
  29. Jonathan Bowlan, RHP -- Lexington Legends (A)
  30. Janser Lara, RHP -- Extended spring training -- rehab
    Complete list »

Just missed Top 30: Janser Lara
He’s started and relieved, but after posting a 1.98 ERA, .174 batting average against and a K/9 rate of 11.9 in 15 relief outings in the South Atlantic League in 2018, he’ll be in the bullpen going forward. His super-quick arm that delivers fastballs up to 100 mph and power breaking ball should work very well in shorter stints.

On the shelf
Carlos Hernandez and Yefri Del Rosario had big up arrows next to their names after strong 2018 seasons. But Royals fans will have to wait to see what their encores look like in 2019, at least for a little while. Del Rosario should be back first, once he’s back from a bicep flare up. Hernandez will take more time to be ready after suffering a stress fracture in his rib.

Impact prospect: Nicky Lopez
Watch Lopez for one day and you might not be that impressed. Watch him for a week and you can see he’s a big leaguer. He hit .333 during Spring Training and he’s shown the ability to play short and second well. He’s also played third and the outfield in the past, the kind of super-utility type who can be plugged in wherever he’s needed.

Breakout prospect: Kyle Isbel
Isbel took a leap forward during his junior season at UNLV, before the Royals took him in the third round of the 2018 Draft. The 21-year-old carried that momentum into his professional debut, where he hit .326 with seven homers over 64 games. Isbel finished the year with Lexington, and his initial success, along with his compact swing and patient approach, could be foreshadowing a big full-season debut in '19.

Best defensive prospect: Sebastian Rivero
M.J. Melendez is very athletic for a catcher and has a chance to become a plus defender with an arm to match. Yet South Atlantic League managers rated Rivero, his teammate at Lexington last summer, the low Class A circuit's best defensive backstop in a Baseball America survey last year. The Royals liken Rivero to a young Salvador Perez, and in addition to his physical ability, Rivero also draws raves for his leadership skills, intelligence and work ethic.