SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The Royals saw the first two of their loaded 2018 Draft class reach the Major Leagues in 2020, with right-hander Brady Singer and left-hander Kris Bubic graduating from MLB Pipeline’s Top 30 Prospects list in their rookie seasons. More figure to follow.
Kansas City seems to be on the verge of contending in the next few years, and it has added a wealth of experience to the 2021 roster to help push the club back into the postseason. But to get to where they want to be, the Royals will have to rely on their young talent, just like they did in their 2014-15 run to the World Series. The curret crop of prospects is impressive, with the farm system ranked No. 10 among MLB's best.
For the second straight year, shortstop phenom Bobby Witt Jr. headlines the Royals’ Top 30 Prospects list, and the 20-year-old seems to just be getting better since he was drafted No. 2 overall in 2019, despite not having any Minor League games last year. Another 2018 Draft pitcher, Daniel Lynch, is ranked behind Witt at No. 2 on the Royals’ Top 30 list this year -- and hopes to graduate off the prospect list sometime in 2021 with his debut looming. All 10 of the prospects ranked in the Royals’ Top 10 are homegrown players, with nine coming via the Draft and one (Erick Pena, No. 6) coming via international signing.
Entering the Top 30 this year are 17-year-old shortstop Daniel Vasquez, whom the Royals signed during the international signing period this year; right-hander Will Klein, who was drafted in the fifth round of the 2020 Draft; and right-hander Samuel Valerio, who burst onto the scene at fall instructional camp with a 102-mph fastball.
The Royals have some young studs ranked among their best prospects, but they also have a number on the verge of the Majors. This will give Kansas City a steady stream of talent for years to come as it hopes to get back on top of the American League Central.
Here’s a look at the Royals’ top prospect:
Here are the players whose ranks changed the most from the 2019 preseason list to the 2020 preseason list:
Jump: Noah Murdock, RHP (2020: NR | 2020: No.16) -- An imposing presence on the mound at 6-foot-8, Murdock showed significant strides in his strength, arsenal and control when he got to the Royals’ fall instructional program in Kansas City last year. The right-hander can now touch 100 mph with his fastball while sitting comfortably in the mid-90s, and his extension gives him added deception on the pitch. A new grip on his high-spin curveball makes the pitch a different-looking pitch than what it was in 2020.
Fall: Jeison Guzman, SS (2020: No. 17 | 2021: NR) -- He provides quality defense and some savvy on the bases, but he has been passed by other infield prospects in the system because he has been more aggressive than productive at the plate.
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.
Hit: 60 -- Witt Jr.
Power: 60 -- Witt Jr.
Run: 65 -- Brewer Hicklen
Arm: 70 -- Seuly Matias
Defense: 70 -- Nick Pratto
Fastball: 75 -- Samuel Valerio
Curveball: 60 -- Alec Marsh (Austin Cox, Noah Murdock)
Slider: 60 -- Lynch (Lacy)
Changeup: 70 -- Kowar
Control: 60 -- Jonathan Bowlan
How they were built
Draft: 20 | International: 8 | Trade: 2
Breakdown by ETA
2021: 9 | 2022: 11 | 2023: 6 | 2024: 3 | 2025: 1
Breakdown by position
C: 1 | 1B: 1 | 2B: 0 | 3B: 0 | SS: 5 | OF: 6 | RHP: 12 | LHP: 5