For years, the Kansas City Royals were known for their farm system, consistently ranking among the top two or three farm systems in baseball. Many of the prospects in those systems have since graduated or been traded, but Kansas City is still well stocked in the minor leagues. With a pair of elite arms at the top, and a wealth of high upside talent in the low minors, the KC system is still among the top ten in all of baseball. Here are just the top 15 members of it. Special Thanks to David Hill, Co-Editor of the Royals blog, Kings of Kaufman for his invaluable aid in the completion of this list.
The Royals’ minor league teams are as follows
Triple-A: Omaha Storm Chasers (Pacific Coast League)
Double-A: Northwest Arkansas Naturals (Texas League)
High-A: Wilmington Blue Rocks (Carolina League)
Class-A: Lexington Legends (South Atlantic League)
Short-Season A: Burlington Royals (Applachian League League)
Advanced-Rookie: Idaho Falls Chukars (Pioneer League)
Complex-Rookie: AZL Red Sox (Arizona League)
Cameron Gallagher - C
Date of Birth: June 6, 1990
Height/Weight: 6’11″/210 lbs
Acquired: 2nd round of the 2011 draft
Analysis: How does a 20 year old catcher who hit .212 and showed no plate discipline or power last season wind up on a top 15 prospect list? Potential. Gallagher had been a well regarded prospect out of high school, getting an over-slot bonus in the second round of 2011, and has all the tools – glove and arm behind the plate, and potential to hit for both average and power – to succeed long term. But the young backstop has struggled with injuries and ineffectiveness since he became a professional, missing most of 2012 and half of 2013, and not looking particularly impressive when on the field. At 21, he still has ample opportunity to develop and show his meddle, but eventually the results will have to meet the projections.
2014 Prognosis: He’ll repeat Class-A next season, with a chance to make High-A Wilmington with some early season success.
Sam Selman - LHP
Date of Birth: November 14, 1990
Height/Weight: 6’3″/165 lbs
Acquired: 2nd round of the 2012 draft
Analysis: The good: 3.38 ERA, 9.2 K/9 in his first full season. The bad: 6.1 BB/9. Selman can miss some bats with his low to mid-90’s fastball and above average slider, but not enough to compensate long term for that level of wildness. He was able to be erratic and get by in High-A, but in the upper levels, hitters will simply lay off if he can’t hit the strike zone. The results would be devastating and unless improves his command, a move to the bullpen will have to be implemented.
2014 Prognosis: With his control issues, he’s liable to be eaten alive in Double-A, so I would expect him to repeat High-A
Christian Colon - 2B/SS
Date of Birth: May 14, 1989
Height/Weight: 5’10″/185 lbs
Acquired: 1st round (4th overall) of the 2010 draft
Analysis: Colon is fairly underwhelming for a former fourth overall pick. The now 24 year old middle infielder was supposed to be reach the majors and hit .280-.300 there shortly after being drafted but he ran into a wall in the minor leagues, hitting .257 in 2011, his first full professional season. His .274 average and .335 on base are fairly consistent with his career minor league numbers and what he’s liable to produce in the majors, while the 12 home run power is a surprise and probably the ceiling for the light hitting Colon. His biggest asset is that while he doesn’t walk at a particularly exceptional rate, he doesn’t strike out either, with his 9% k standing at less than one half the big league average.
2014 Prognosis: He’ll start the year in AAA but could make the majors at any point as a back up infielder.
Orlando Calixte - SS
Date of Birth: February 3, 1992
Height/Weight: 5’11″/160 lbs
Acquired: International Free Agent
Analysis: There’s a saying in the baseball community of the Dominican Republic, “you don’t walk off the island.” Orlando Calixte has clearly taken this to heart, as evidenced by his meager 42 walks and a .312 OBP last year. The free swinging approach has also led to his high strikeout totals – 131 this year, just under one strikeout for every four plate appearances. Still, Calixte has the tools and potential that merited him a million dollar signing bonus in 2009. He is a slick fielder with wide range, although he needs to learn how to make the routine play, and despite the meager home run totals, scouts like Jonathan Mayo project him for above average power.
2014 Prognosis: He will return to Double-A next season, where hopefully he’ll have better success channeling his tools into success at the plate.
Cheslor Cuthbert - 3B
Date of Birth: November 16, 1992
Height/Weight: 6’1″/190 lbs
Acquired: International Free Agent
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Analysis: Scouts love Cuthbert’s tools, with John Sickels giving him a chance to hit for above average power with a high on base percentage, while also playing at least average defense at the hot corner. The problem for Cuthbert, and the reason for his statistical struggles thus far is that the Royals have been way too aggressive with him. He played as the youngest player in the Carolina League in 2012 and was one of the youngest in the Texas League this past season. He was clearly not ready for High-A two seasons ago, having posted a .296 OBP there, and he wasn’t ready for Double-A in 2013, as he fumbled to a .215 average and a .279 OBP.
2014 Prognosis: Cuthbert will undoubtedly start next season as one of the youngest players in Double-A, and while he probably should spend the whole year, the Royals have aggressively promoted him in the past.