2014 Kansas City Royals

C – Chad Johnson – LoA Lexington –  20 yo;  –  (2012 – 5th round) –
  • .233 – 4HR – 39RBi – 47R –  .325/.315/.640 slash  –  – PAG: 2.37
  • Baseball America -NR   –  MLB Pipeline-NR   –  Baseball Prospectus-NR
  • With Salvador Perez entrenched as Kansas City’s backstop for the foreseeable future (signed through 2016 with a club option – ’17 + ’19)  I don’t expect any Royals farmhand battling him for time anytime soon.  The Galesburg HS (IL) draftee Johnson could see a promotion to HiA Wilmington which could give him a production boost. 
1B – Ryan O’Hearn – Rookie Idaho Falls – 21 yo;  – (2014 – 8th round)
  • .361 – 13HR –  54RBi – 61R –  .444/.590/1.034 slash  –  – PAG: 4.75
  • BA-NR   –   MLB Pipeline-NR   –   BP-NR
  • With all of my PAG analysis complete for both the American and National League, the 6’3 – 200 lb. O’Hearn was as complete a no-brainer Organizational All-Star choice that I came across this off-season. O’Hearn’s 13 home runs ranked 2nd (to LoA 1B Frank Schwindel’s 20) among all UTR qualifying Royal hitters from HiA down through the foreign rookie leagues. Not only did the huge lefty lead the Chukars in eight offensive categories, he also lead the entire Pioneer League in runs(61), hits (90), ranked second in total bases (147) and ranked in the leagues top 5 in home runs, RBi’s, walks (39:59), SLG% and OPS.  One could make a case for 18 year old Samir Duenez as the systems top first base prospect however. He waves a premium bat for such a young age, yet I feel he was rushed up the ladder posting a 2.33 csPAG between LoA Lexington and Rookie Idaho Falls in 2014.  Duenez may be shifted to the outfield leaving room for O’Hearn, a Sam Houston State University grad, and 22 year old Frank Schwindel to battle each other for the systems first base supremecy. I love O’Hearn and would be shocked if he didn’t make every Royals top prospect list heading into 2015. 
 
2B – Ramon Torres  – LoA Lexington/HiA Wilmington – 21 yo;  – (2010 – International FA-DO)
  • .285 – 5HR – 34RBi – 60R – 20SB –  .329/.391/.720  slash  –  –  PAG: 2.62
  • BA-NR  –  MLB Pipeline (mid-season)/#18   –  BP-Prospect-NR
  • Torres doesn’t have loud tools. He’s a solid player across the board who’s seen time at third base, short stop and second in his five year career. His offensive profile fits best at second and the switch-hitter could see a rise in production with a repeat of HiA in 2015. 
3B – Hunter Dozier – HiA Wilmington/AA Northwest Arkansas  – 22 yo;  –  (2013 – 1st round)
  • .251 – 8HR – 60RBi – 69R – 10SB –  .350/.369/.719 slash  –  – csPAG: 2.88
  • BA/#7  –   MLB Pipeline(mid-season)/#4 –  BP/#6
  • The Stephen F. Austin State draftee is one of those prospects who you just have to trust that the numbers will come.  Dozier invaded both the Pioneer and Sally Leagues in 2013 to the tune of a 4.01 csPAG score.  After all, the hulking 6’4 – 220 lb. righty  brings an advanced bat, supreme plate discipline and growing power (only 8 home runs in 2014) to an organization that, other than major leaguer Mike Moustakas, lacks any true depth at the keystone. Dozier should be at or near the top of every Royals prospect list heading into 2015 and could compete for a major league time extremely short order. 
 
SS – Raul Aldaberto Mondesi  – HiA Wilmington –  18 yo;  –  (2011 – International FA signee-DO)
  • .211 – 12 3B – 8HR – 33RBi – 54R – 17SB –  .256/.354/.610 slash  –  – PAG: 2.56
  • BA/#3   –  MLB Pipeline(mid-season)/#1  –  BP/#2
  • Mondesi is a flagrant example of how we here at UTRMinors simply have to couple our work with professional scouting reports.  If you were to look strictly at Mondesi’s  fundamental statistics and PAG scores, you’d pass over him without flinching an eye lash.  Yet, upon reading scouting reports over his grace with the glove and advanced feel for the strike zone for a 17 year old kid  playing in HiA (the league average age five years his senior) you get the idea that Mondesi is something incredibly special just waiting to happen.  For all you dynasty participants out there, grab this kid immediately and wait patiently. When the 6’1 – 170 lb. short stop finally figures it all out, you’ll be sitting on a future top-10 short stop in all of baseball.  
 
LF – Dominique Taylor – Rookie Burlington/LoA Lexington –  21 yo;  –  (2013 – 15th round)  –
  •  .298 – 7HR – 40RBi – 53R – 21SB –  .346/.434/.779  –  – csPAG: 3.04
  • BA-NR   –   MLB Pipeline-NR   –   BP-NR
  • The Frankfurt, Germany born Taylor looked to capitalize on a 2013 debut season in which he posted a 3.74 PAG for Rookie Idaho Falls; and my 2014 Kansas City Royals Breakout Prospect of the Year didn’t disappoint.  The former California University grad spent all but four games of the season in LoA Lexington leading the team in triples (5) and ranked second in stolen bases (18) behind infielder Carlos Garcia (31).  Taylor was rewarded with a Sally League All-Star invite and proceeded to take home MVP honors in what ended up being a 4-4 tie. I believe the Royals will re-assign the 6’1 – 190 lb. Taylor LoA Lexington to start 2015, but a promotion to HiA could happen quickly if Taylor carries over his momentum from 2014. 

CF – Bubba Starling – HiA Wilmington –  21 yo;  –  (2011 – 1st round)

  • .218 – 9HR – 54RBi – 67R –  17SB –  .304/.338/.642  –  – PAG: 2.65
  • BA/#8  –   MLB Pipeline(mid-season)/#13  –   BP/#8
  • I really struggled choosing my Royals Organizational All-Star center fielder.  To date, this was my toughest “cut” and it’s moments like this that define why Jim and I set out to create Under the Radar in the first place.  Since posting a PAG of 3.83 in his 2012 debut with Rookie Burlington, the 1st rounder out of Gardner-Edgerton HS (KS) has been in a deep downward PAG progression. He opened 2013 with LoA Lexington and finished the season with a PAG score of 2.90. A far cry from his stellar debut, but not bad for a 20 year old in LoA. Hoping 2014 would bring better fortune, the 6’4 – 180 pounder posted his worst season yet with a 2.65 PAG in 132 HiA games. That’s a 1.18 decline in the last two seasons.  Now, I’m not going on record to say I’m worried, but it is truly concerning that Starling hasn’t been able to piece together the bat skills that warranted being the 5th overall pick in 2011 over guys like Nationals 3B Anthony Rendon, Cubs Javier Baez, Astros slugger George Springer and Marlins pitching phenom Jose Fernandez. For the sake of a such a gifted player, I want to see Starling turn things around in 2015. However, if fellow center fielder Alfredo Escalera-Maldonado’s PAG progression gives me any indication, I have no problem promoting the fact that my work sorted him out as my [possible] 2015 Royals Breakout Prospect of the Year. 
RF – Logan Moon – Rookie Burlington  –  22 yo;  –  (2014 – 6th round)
  • .332 – 2HR – 24RBi – 23R – 16SB –  .357/.447/.804  –  – PAG: 2.95
  • BA-NR  –  MLB Pipeline-NR  –  BP-NR
  • It’s an absolute no-brainer that top prospect Jorge Bonifacio (#4/#7/#7) is the future in right field for the Royals. Even though he posted a struggling 2.38 PAG score for AA Northwest Arkansas, he possesses a five year career PAG of 2.93 which isn’t bad for a hitter poised to (possibly) repeat AA and maybe reach AAA in 2015 as a 21 year old. However, with our UTR criteria, I’m going out on a longer limb. I like what the 6’2 – 195 lb Moon brings to the table. In his debut, the Missouri Southern State University draftee collected 75 hits in 59 games (second in the Appy League) and ranked second in triples (5) and third in total bases with 101. He flashed a premium glove and smooth actions in the outfield. He does everything well and could be a nice sleeper heading into 2015. 
 

 

Top 5 Starting Pitchers – (Mention Points) / TPS
 
1. LHP Jonathan Dziedzic – (12) SP/TPS .091
  • 23 years old – (HiA Wilmington)
  • 13th round – 2013
  • 2-Time UTR Mention (April 11thMay 13th)
  • For a middle round draft pick, the Royals got aggressive with the lefty with an assignment to HiA by skipping LoA Lexington. He’s another one of those pitchers that have been featured during this series that doesn’t have the “pop” profile. Dziedzic has a low 90’s fastball and average secondary stuff that’s getting the job done. He earned a spot on the Carolina League All-Star team this past summer. 
2. RHP Glenn Sparkman (10) cSR/TPS .083
  • 22 years old – (HiA Wilmington)
  • 20th round – 2013
  • 5-Time UTR Mention (May 2ndMay 27thJuly 4thAugust 8thAugust 13th)
  • Sparkman excelled last season with Rookie League (Pioneer) Idaho Falls as a reliever and was given the opportunity to start in 2014. He also jumped over LoA Lexington and put up similar stats in 4-times as many innings with HiA Wilmington. He flirted with a no-hitter on July 4th. As a late round draft pick, Sparkman has planted his flag in the prospect map by displaying good command (25 BB / 117 K’s in 121 IP) and holding opposing batters to a .213 average. 
3. RHP Christian Binford (10) cSR/TPS .095
  • 21 years old – (HiA Wilmington / Double-A NW Arkansas / Triple-A Omaha)
  • 30th round – 2011
  • Ranked #10 by Baseball America / #8 by MLBPipeline / “On the Rise” by Baseball Prospectus
  • Drafted in the 30th round in 2011, to being ranked #10 by Baseball America is an unbelievable accomplishment and Royals picked the pockets of other MLB teams in getting the right-hander from Mercersburg Academy (PA). Another tall pitcher (6′ 6″) but with outstanding control, only 51 walks in 315.2 pro innings (1.5 BB/9). He’s been pitching to competition much older than the 21 year old that also included  four appearances at Triple-A Omaha. He flashed a low 90’s fastball with downward plane due to his height and a potential plus change-up. He’s preformed well at each level, so here’s another pitcher to add to your list. He should make a solid, dependable #3 starter.  
4. RHP Luis Santos – (9) cSR/TPS .119
  • 23 years old – (LoA Lexington / HiA Wilmington)
  • Undrafted – 2011
  • 2-Time UTR Mention (May 23rdJuly 7th)
  • Santos was dealt from he Pirates in the Vin Mazzaro trade back in 2012. Since being with the Royals, Santos has produced and  quickly reached HiA after pitching only 46 innings at LoA 
5. LHP Sean Manaea – (8) SP/TPS .070
  • 22 years old – (HiA Wilmington)
  • 1st round – 2013
  • Ranked 6th by Baseball America
  • Manaea made his debut this season and it was to be expected from the 1st round pick. He brings a 92-94 mph fastball, a slider with serious bite and a polished change-up. He had some minor control issues (4.0 BB/9 rate), but thats to be expected in his first season. The promising stat was the 146 strikeouts over 121.2 innings.
 
Top 3 Relief Pitchers – (Mention Points) / TPS
 
1. RHP Mark Peterson – (7) RP/TPS .094
  • 23 years old – (HiA Wilmington / Double-A NW Arkansas)
  • Undrafted – 2012
  • Peterson was in the set-up role back in 2012 with Appy League Burlington. He has molded into a strong closer since then with 18 saves in 36 appearances in 2013 at LoA to 25 saves between levels last season (45 apps.). He ripped off seven straight saves in mid-July with HiA Wilmington, on his way to a promotion to Double-A.
2. RHP Ali Williams – (6) RP/TPS .065 
  • 24 years old – (HiA Wilmington / Double-A NW Arkansas)
  • 34th round – 2011
  • Williams stats aren’t note-worthy, though he looked good in 12 appearances with Wilimington. He took his lumps at Double-A NW Arkansas, but the club sees something in the right-hander, giving him a roster spot in the Arizona Fall League., one of six by the Royals.
3. RHP Glenn Sparkman (6) cSR/TPS .083
  • 22 years old – (HiA Wilmington)
  • 20th round – 2013
  • 5-Time UTR Mention (May 2ndMay 27thJuly 4thAugust 8thAugust 13th)
  • Sparkman garnered one of the top spots above and then scored enough points in his 9 relief appearances to make this list. Solid prospect that should appear on some lists this Spring.
 
 
Top 5 TPS – Starting Pitchers
 
1. RHP Gerson Garabito – SP/TPS .061
  • 18 years old – (DSL Royals)
  • Undrafted – 2013
  • UTR Mention (June 7th)
  • Garabito made huge strides this season in repeating the DSL. He’s missed plenty of bats with 61 strikeouts in 49.1 innings and holding hitters to a .143 batting average
2. LHP Jorge Rodriguez – cSR/TPS .063
  • 18 years old – (DSL Royals)
  • Undrafted – 2014
3. LHP Sean Manaea – SP/TPS .070
  • 22 years old – (HiA Wilmington)
  • 1st round – 2013
  • Manaea made his debut this season and it was to be expected from the 1st round pick. He brings a 92-94 mph fastball, a slider with serious bite and a polished change-up. He some minor control issues (4.0 BB/9 rate), but thats to be expected in his first season. The promising stat was the 146 strikeouts over 121.2 innings.
4. RHP Brooks Pounder – cSR/TPS .076
  • 23 years old – (Pioneer Idaho Falls / HiA Carolina)
  • 2nd round – 2009
  • Pounders came to the Royals when they made a trade with  Pittsburgh in 2011. The right-hander mostly worked from the bullpen over three season with the Pirates. The Royals thus tried the former 2nd rounder as a starter at Kane County with modest success. The same could be said the following year with Double-A NW Arkansas. He began this season on the DL and only made 9 starts. Though Pounders is basically starting over with the injury set-back, he is a polish pitcher and can work with what he has. Just turning 24, he may end up being an organizational type that may see an occasional MLB spot start.
5. RHP Glenn Sparkman  cSR/TPS .083
  • 22 years old – (HiA Wilmington)
  • 20th round – 2013
  • 5-Time UTR Mention (May 2ndMay 27thJuly 4thAugust 8thAugust 13th)
  • Sparkman excelled last season with Rookie League (Pioneer) Idaho Falls as a reliever and was given the opportunity to start in 2014. He also jumped over LoA Lexington and put up similar stats in 4-times as many innings with HiA Wilmington. He flirted with a no-hitter on July 4th. As a late round draft pick, Sparkman has planted his flag in the prospect map by displaying good command (25 BB / 117 K’s in 121 IP) and holding opposing batters to a .213 average. 
 
 
Top 3 TPS – Relief Pitchers
 
1. LHP Timothy Hill – RP/TPS .052
  • 24 years old – (Pioneer Idaho Falls / LoA Lexington)
  • 32nd round – 2014
  • Possible late bloomer, Hill came from a NAIA college (Bacone, OK) where he led the conference in ERA, wins, and strikeouts. He had a good debut season with a 1.64 ERA and a 3.3 K:BB ratio. A late rounder and already 24 in his first year as a pro, Hill needs to be lights out to quickly advance.
2. LHP Matthew Strahm – cSR/TPS .056
  • 22 years old – (Pioneer Idaho Falls)
  • 21st round – 2012
  • Strahm is a winner and could be an arm to watch no matter if he ends up in the rotation or bullpen. He missed the 2013 season due to an undisclosed injury. While at a junior college in Kansas, Strahm led his team to the JUCO World Series and completed that season with 11 complete games, led the nation with 122 strikeouts with only 22 walks in 99 innings of work. he has a 92-93 mph fastball along with a hard slider and possible plus change-up.
3. RHP Ali Williams – (6) RP/TPS .065 
  • 24 years old – (HiA Wilmington / Double-A NW Arkansas)
  • 34th round – 2011
  • Williams stats aren’t note-worthy, though he looked good in 12 appearances with Wilimington. He took his lumps at Double-A NW Arkansas, but the club seen something in the right-hander, giving him a roster spot in the Arizona Fall League., one of six by the Royals.
 
 
 
 
2014 Breakout Grades
 
The following pitchers were chosen in early March. Their selection was based solely on their previous season’s TPS rating and using the UTRMinors.com criteria for those under the radar.
 
SP Greg Billo –  Oh Boy…..everything look right as rain to choose Billo as a breakout in 2014. He posted an outstanding 1.35 ERA in 2013 in 40 innings of work and a 38:13 K:BB rate with LoA Lexington. He made 13 appearances (10 starts) and registered a .074 TPS which ranked just below Kyle Zimmer and Yordano Ventura. This after Baseball America tagged him as the best control pitcher in 2012. In 2014, thats all in the rear-view mirror as Billo fell apart pitching at Double -A. The Royals sent him to the Angels for cash and the right-hander was assigned to HiA Inland Empire. Inland seen enough after 2 starts and Billo found himself in the Independent Leagues. Grade F
 
RP John Walter -Walter was drafted out of Penn State University and had two decent years serving as a closer at Rookie leagues Burlington, Idaho Falls and LoA Lexington in 2012 and last season. In those two seasons, the right-hander was nearly unhittable in posting a .117 batting average against in 2012 and .106 last season. That wasn’t the case in 2014 as Walter gave up 3 or more hits when pitching at two innings in 6 of his 30 appearances at HiA Wilmington. Grade C- 

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