Minor League of Interest – KC Royals

This is the fourth insertion of my series of looking at other teams minor league systems. I am reviewing stats first and then interjecting comments from various sites: Here are the Kansas City Royals affiliates. This review is reflective of data up to but not including June 1, 2015 :

Lexington Legends ( Low A – 21-30, last place in South Atlantic League Southern Division)

Alfredo Escalera Maldonado is a 20-year-old centerfielder.  He was hitting .291 (.347 OBP) with 7 home runs and 22 RBI along with 7 doubles and 2 triples thru 175 at bats.

Royals blog site “Pine Tar Press” said this about him : “As a player Maldonado shows a glimpse of plenty of tools combining speed with some pop while barreling some balls all in a profile that is currently playing centerfield. What he has in pop and speed he lacks in an approach at the plate often times expanding his zone and getting himself out, showing the youth one would expect in a 20-year-old playing against older competition.”

First baseman Ryan O’Hearn has hit 12 home runs and knocked in 27 while posting a .253 average and a .325 OBP thru 182 at bats. He is a 21-year-old 2014 draft pick from Sam Houston State ( 8th round). He led all Royals minor leaguers in batting average in 2014.

Blog site “The Kings of Kaufman” site had this to say about him: “Ryan O’Hearn certainly has a long way to go before he reaches the Royals. There will be other stops along the way, and it will be interesting to see how he fares playing in full season leagues. The next jump, from A to AA, will also be interesting to watch, as AA is traditionally the proving ground for those players who excel at the lower minors. Yet for the sheer power potential, O’Hearn is certainly going to be a fun player to watch as he progresses through the Royals system. He may not be the biggest name among the Royals prospects, but Ryan O’Hearn may well prove to be an impact bat someday. He is certainly too far away to project a major league arc, yet O’Hearn is worth keeping an eye on over the next few years.”

Pitching wise 21-year-old Emilio Ogando has a 2.75 ERA thru 36 innings having recently been converted to a starter with 3 starts in his 10 overall appearances.

Wilmington Blue Rocks ( High A – 28-23, 1st place Carolina League Northern Division)

22-year-old 1st baseman/catcher Frank Schwindel is hitting .278 ( .303 OBP) with 3 home runs and 22 RBI’s but also has 17 doubles in 187 at bats. He is a 18th round draft pick from 2013 from St. John’s University that hit 20 home runs at Lexington in 2014. This is what Royals blog “PineTar Press” says about him : “Schwindel shows good pop with but long-term he will likely need to stick behind the dish, improve his receiving skills to have a shot at the major league level.”

22-year-old Pitcher Cody Reed has a sparkling 1.75 ERA thru 49 innings including 7 starts with 51 k’s and only 13 walks

MLB.com believes he has a very high ceiling and says this about him : “Reed works with a 90-94 mph fastball that peaks at 96 and has some sinking and cutting action. His mid-80s slider can get sweepy, but at its best it features tilt and can devastate hitters. He has yet to show much feel for a changeup.
His ability to refine a offspeed pitch and harness his power stuff will determine whether Reed can remain in the rotation or will have to head to the bullpen.”

22-year-old lefty Eric Skoguld has a 2.30 ERA thru 54 innings with 44 k’s and only 8 walks, he was the Royals 3rd round draft pick in 2014. This is what MLB.com says about him : “His long frame prompts comparisons to Chris Sale, though Skoglund is a bit taller and skinnier and much more of a finesse pitcher. He had better body control than most 6-foot-7 pitchers, allowing him to throw three pitches for strikes.
Skoglund’s 88-92 mph fastball with life and his 77-82 mph slider are average offerings, while his fading change up could be in time. He uses his size and high three-quarters delivery to stay on top of his pitches and deliver them with steep downward plane. He has a ceiling of a No. 4 starter, perhaps more if he can add some strength and velocity.”

Double A – Northwest Arkansas Naturals ( 31-17, 1st place in Texas League North Division)

Baseball sites rank 22-year-old shortstop Raul Mondesi as the Royals top prospect and number 36 in overall baseball, he is currently at double A with a .263 average (.276 OBP) in just 14 games as he began the season on the injured list with a right elbow issue.

This is what MLB.com says about him:

“A switch-hitter with a line-drive stroke from both sides of the plate, Mondesi could grow into annual 15-homer power once he matures physically. He’s overly aggressive at the plate, a trait opponents will try to exploit. If he can develop more patience he can be a significant base stealing threat with his well above-average speed.

Mondesi is much more polished defensively at this point. He has classic shortstop actions and the range, hands and arm to make all the plays at the position. If he gets a chance to catch his breath and let his bat develop, he could blossom into Kansas City’s first All-Star shortstop since Kurt Stillwell in 1988.”

23-year-old outfielder Terrance Gore has 20 stolen bases while hitting .296 with a .402 OBP thru 108 at bats. He has been to the show primarily as a pinch runner and helped the Royals last season in that regard. His speed is an unteachable skill, and Gore is possibly the fastest individual playing professionally organized baseball right now even quicker than the Red’s Billy Hamilton. The problem is you can’t steal first base and he has to prove he can hit to make an impact.

22-year-old pitcher Miguel Almonte thru 40 innings, 10 starts posts a 3.83 ERA with 35 k’s but 17 walks. MLB.com ranks him as the Royals fifth best prospect and has this to say about him : “Almonte attacks hitters with two plus pitches with life, a 92-96 mph fastball with some run and a nifty low-80s change-up with sink. As good as those offerings are, his heater straightens out and sits up in the zone when he overthrows it and he tends to fall in love with his change-up. His curveball is more inconsistent and often lacks depth.

Though he doesn’t have an exceptionally strong build, Almonte has a quick arm and little effort in his delivery, so he should have the durability to be a starter. He fills the strike zone but, like most young pitchers, he’s still refining his command. Once he figures that out and further polishes up his curve, he’ll be ready to help Kansas City’s rotation.”

Triple A – Omaha Storm Chasers ( 26-26, 3rd place – Pacific Coast League – American Northern Division)

2014 first round pick 22-year-old Brandon Finnegan is on the Triple A roster working as a starter albeit he has spent time with the big club this year as a left-handed reliever.

MLB.com comments were as follows : “Though he’s just 5-foot-11 and 185 pounds, Finnegan has demonstrated the ability to sit at 93-95 and reach 98 mph with his fastball. His low-80s slider is a solid pitch, and his change-up is an effective third offering. While he does have some effort in his delivery that affected his command at times in college, he had no trouble filling the strike zone in his pro work.
It’s unclear what Finnegan’s long-term role will be. He has a deep enough repertoire and throws enough strikes to make it as a starter, though some scouts point to his size and mechanics and think he fits better as a late-inning reliever.”

24-year-old pitcher John Lamb has six wins and a 2.74 ERA thru 46 innings and 10 starts, at one point he was considered the top prospect in the Royals system but fell to an arm injury in 2011 and required Tommy John surgery. He has built his arm speed back up to average around 93 mph on his fastball and even has spent time on the big league roster this season.

The Royals system has been touched by the injury bug as second ranked left-handed 23-year-old pitcher Sean Manea has been shut down all season with abdominal and groin strain issues. Likewise third rated prospect 23-year-old pitcher Kyle Zimmer has been limited from bicep issues, he is currently on the Lexington roster but has only appeared in two games.

The Royals system certainly isn’t what it used to be but that is somewhat expected with most of their “prime time” players now on the big league club and performing very successfully.

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