Meet the prospects Royals have acquired at Deadline

August 2nd, 2023

KANSAS CITY -- The Royals stockpiled Minor League players this Trade Deadline, some of whom will help out the big league club in the final two months of the season while others are far away from Kansas City -- but offer plenty of upside.

On Wednesday, the Royals traded closer Scott Barlow to the Padres and starter Ryan Yarbrough to the Dodgers. In return, they received four prospects: Two who have been added to the club’s Top 30 list on MLB Pipeline, as well as a couple of young players who could play their way into the rankings.

Here’s a rundown of what you need to know about all of the newest members of the Royals’ system.

Henry Williams (Kansas City's No. 9 prospect, per MLB Pipeline), RHP, Single-A Columbia
Acquired from the Padres for Barlow

Pipeline scouting report: The Padres have no problem drafting a Tommy John pitcher if they believe the talent is there. They proved that by taking Dylan Lesko (perhaps the best prep arm in the class) in the middle of the first round in 2022, and they went back to the strategy in this year's Draft, taking Williams out of Duke in the third round. The Connecticut native managed only 37 2/3 innings as a Blue Devil, but he was showing promising signs in the fall of 2021 before undergoing the elbow procedure that December. He still signed above slot at $800,000. Williams worked his way back to the mound with Single-A Lake Elsinore in late May and was still trying to regain his stuff when he headed to the Royals at the 2023 Trade Deadline.

Part of the pre-TJ excitement with Williams was his added velo in the fall. His fastball picked up from 90-92 mph the previous spring to regularly being around 94-95 mph. His low-80s slider could get a healthy amount of swing-and-miss as it dove down and away from right-handed batters. A mid-80s changeup also flashed above-average potential but could sit a little too close for comfort to his fastball velo at times.

Williams stands 6-foot-5, making him a presence on the mound, and he has the athletic delivery to keep throwing strikes. The Tommy John surgery isn’t the only health issue on his docket, however, after arm soreness and a forearm strain popped up in 2020 and 2021 respectively. The elbow reconstruction could go a long way toward putting all of that in his past, and if he can stick on the mound, there’s mid-rotation upside. It’ll be on Kansas City to mold him into that moving forward.

Organizational fit:
Williams was the key piece the Royals were looking for when shopping Barlow this season. He’ll head to Columbia to continue his rehab year -- he’s made 12 starts for the Padres’ Single-A affiliate and posted a 5.74 ERA -- after the elbow surgery. But if he returns to the type of pitcher he was before the surgery, the Royals see him as a mid-rotation candidate in the future.

“Our scouts really liked him in the fall of ‘21, and he was somebody we really had our eyes on going into the ‘22 season, but he obviously didn’t pitch,” general manager J.J. Picollo said. "He’s on the mend now. We’ll have more discussions with how they’re handling him, but I suspect it was very much treated as a rehab year, so we’ll continue on that path once we have those talks with the Padres.”

ETA: 2026

Devin Mann (Kansas City's No. 26 prospect), INF, Triple-A Omaha
Acquired from the Dodgers for Yarbrough

Pipeline scouting report: Many scouts regarded Mann as more of a good college player than a quality prospect while he was at Louisville. But the Dodgers thought they could unlock some more upside and drafted him in the fifth round in 2018. He has increased his power and defensive ability as a pro, and he was enjoying his best season yet as a 26-year-old in Triple-A in 2023 when Kansas City acquired. He doesn't have a huge ceiling but could fill a utility role at the big league level.

After Mann totaled just 15 homers in three years of college, the Dodgers helped him find more power by getting him to use his legs more at the plate, add some loft to his right-handed swing and adopt a more aggressive offensive approach. He concentrated on getting on base at Louisville but now looks to launch balls to his pull side, showing the ability to provide 15-20 homers per season. He has retained some of his plate discipline as well.

Mann has quickened his footwork and improved his throwing since signing, yet he has fringy speed and arm strength to match. His reliable hands are his best defensive asset and he's more steady than spectacular. Best suited for second base, he has played every position but catcher and pitcher since turning pro, starting games at all four infield spots as well as left field before joining Kansas City.

Organizational fit:
The Royals were looking for right-handed bats to complement the lefty-heavy group of hitters they have in the Major Leagues. They acquired outfielder Nelson Velázquez from the Cubs on Monday, and he’ll join Triple-A as well. Mann, 26, has appeared in 89 games for the Dodgers’ Triple-A affiliate, posting a .943 OPS with 33 doubles and 14 home runs. The Royals believe he has a chance to help the club next year in a utility role.

“He’s a right-handed hitter with a simple approach,” Picollo said. “We think just because of that versatility, he can potentially help us.”

ETA: 2024

Jesus Rios, RHP, Royals Blue Dominican Summer League
Acquired from the Padres for Barlow

Notable stat: Rios signed with the Padres on Feb. 1, 2021, after pitching for Mazatlan in the Mexican League, where he allowed just one run in 11 1/3 innings. The 6-foot-1, 190-pound reliever has a fastball up to 94-95 mph and slider that has a chance to be above average. In 16 relief appearances in the Dominican Summer League, he has a 6.38 ERA.

Organizational fit:
Williams was the key piece in the Barlow deal, but Rios is a lottery ticket the Royals were happy to add to their system. He has a lot to prove still, but the Royals like the foundation.

“There are some spin metrics on him that we liked, so we thought it was a good second piece,” Picollo said. “He may stay in the DSL. We may bring him to Arizona. We’re not quite sure yet. We like the arm strength and ability to spin the ball.”

ETA: 2027

Derlin Figueroa, SS, Arizona Complex League
Acquired from the Dodgers for Yarbrough

Notable stat: Figueroa turns 20 on Sept. 7 and has played 31 games for the ACL Dodgers with a .748 OPS and 19 walks in 113 plate appearances (16.8% walk rate). He was signed by the Dodgers as an international free agent in 2021 out of the Dominican and has slashed .233/.355/.379 over parts of three pro seasons.

Organizational fit:
The Royals were blown away by Figueroa’s plate discipline for such a young age when they saw him in the Arizona Complex League this summer, and he fits right in with their hitting philosophy. They see him as more of a bat-first corner outfielder, and while he’s got a long way to go, his offensive upside is intriguing.

“If you look at his swing on video, he’s got a really good swing,” Picollo said. “There’s power there. … It was more of the swing and potential power when we saw him this summer.”

ETA: 2026