Dayton Moore's trades have significantly strengthened the Royals' farm system and added a quality group of arms to the low minors. There's finally some pitching depth the Royals' farm system which lacked pitching depth for a decade now. The Royals have a nice core of offensive players, so the Royals have the makings of a complete team in the near future. The Royals still have to improve their ability to develop pitching talent, as that remains a major problem in the organization that has yet to be addressed. Adding more pitching prospects to the farm system is one way to try and overcome the inefficiencies of the Royals' pitching development schemes. Moore says pitchers will spend more time at AAA and won't be rushed to the majors, so that should help the Royals develop young pitching. Moore is taking the organization in the right direction and the improvements to the farm system throughout his short tenure are pretty impressive. The addition of Hochevar spared the 2006 draft from being a disaster and added another impact player to the farm system.
1. Alex Gordon 22/3B: Gordon has become one of the top two or three prospects in the minors. His July numbers have been absolutely ridiculous, boosting his OPS to .963 and giving him 19 HRs overall. Gordon was recently on Baseball America's Prospect Hot Sheet and they said he was putting himself in consideration to be their No. 1 minor-league prospect next year. Gordon has no weakness and should be an All-Star third basemen in a couple of years. His recent surge will likely earn him a promotion and he could be on the Opening Day roster next year. He's just that good.
AA 371 ABs .313/.413/.553 30 2Bs 19 HRs 65 RBIs 55 BBs 79 SOs 20 SBs 3 CS
2. Billy Butler 20/OF: Butler hasn't shown as much power this year as he did in his previous two seasons. However, he has still hit 41 extra base hits, including 12 HRs. He's still very young, so he will get stronger physically and could eventually develop into one of the best power hitters in the game. He'll likely spend the rest of the year at AA and then most of next year at AAA. His defense has shown noticeable improvement this season, so given some extra development time it may become passable in the outfield.
AA 419 ABs .317/.374/.473 29 2Bs 12 HRs 78 RBIs 36 BBs 61 SOs
3. Luke Hochevar 22/RHP: Hochevar has sat out most of two minor league seasons holding out. Hochevar has 4 above-average pitches and a fastball that sits in the mid-90s and can reach 98 mph. He has the stuff to be a future No. 1 starter. He has been doing some conditioning on the side, so he should be in shape to head to Burlington fairly quickly. If all goes well, he should pitch in the Arizona Fall League and have a chance to reach the majors for good by 2008.
4. Ryan Shealy 27/1B:
Shealy has displayed very good power throughout his minor league career, hitting 25+ HRs in the past two seasons and continuing that pace this season. Shealy has been productive in his major league debut, hitting .320/.370/.470 in his first 100 ABs. Shealy is already 27, so he's pretty old for a prospect. Nonetheless, he should supply the power needed for a first basemen. His defense, however, is pretty shaky at first.
AAA 222 ABs .284/.351/.568 16 2Bs 15 HRs 55 RBIs 20 BBs 34 SOs
5. Justin Huber 24/1B:
Most Royals fans seem to have soured on Huber, but he's consistently put up very good numbers. His frequent injuries have set him back and he hasn't made enough progress defensively at first base. If he can play a serviceable left field, that might be his best ticket to the majors. He probably won't hit more than 20 HRs a year in the majors, but his on-base skills will make him a solid player at a corner position.
AAA 245 ABs .282/.358/.498 13 2Bs 12 HRs 27 RBIs 26 BBs 64 SOs
6. Tyler Lumsden 23/LHP:
Lumsden possesses two very good pitches, a mid-90s fastball and a slider. His command has shown improvements this season. Lumsden projects as a mid-rotation starter and could be in the Royals' rotation by 2007.
AA 9-4 2.69 ERA 123 2/3 IP 114 Hits 9 HRs 40 BBs 72 SOs
AA (Wichita) 3.00 ERA 6 IP 4 Hits 1 HR 3 BBs 6 SOs
7. Chris Lubanski 21/LF:
Lubanski has fallen from the #4 prospect to #7 not because his stock has fallen, but because the farm system has become much stronger. Lubanski has done very well for a 21 year old and has recovered nicely from a slow start. Lubanski has drawn 52 walks, giving him a good .358 on-base percentage. Lubanski still has pretty good speed, even though he isn't much of a base stealer. He doesn't have a very good arm, so he'll be in left or center field.
AA 393 ABs .275/.358/.476 27 2Bs 12 HRs 59 RBIs 52 BBs 87 SOs
8. Erik Cordier 20/RHP:
Erik Cordier's stock has risen incredibly throughout this season. Last season, he had some lingering leg injuries that kept him from pitching. Fortunately, he hasn't had any injuries to his great young arm. Cordier's fastball reaches 98 mph and his changeup and curve are excellent complementary pitches, giving him 3 potential plus pitches at the big-league level. He has the potential to be a frontline starter down the road and could move quickly through the Royals' farm system.
(Pio) 1-0 3.38 ERA 16 IP 11 Hits 0 HRs 3 BBs 19 SOs
Low A 1-1 0.95 ERA 19 IP 11 Hits 0 HRs 8 BBs 11 SOs
9. Billy Buckner 23/RHP:
Buckner finally mastered High Desert this season, putting together a good 3.90 ERA in 90 innings. However, he has struggled at Wichita. His strikeout numbers are very good, averaging almost one strikeout per inning. His command needs a lot of work, as he's walking about 5 batters per 9 innings. Buckner has an outstanding curveball and a good fastball. He projects as a No. 4 or 5 starter.
High A 7-1 3.90 ERA 90 IP 92 Hits 6 HRs 47 BBs 85 SOs
AA 2-1 6.96 ERA 32.1 IP 39 Hits 4 HRs 18 BBs 30 SOs
10. Jeff Bianchi 19/SS:
Bianchi has been extremely impressive when he's been healthy. He is dominating the Arizona Rookie League again, with a ridiculous 1.204 OPS. Unfortunately, his back injury continues to linger and he's been out for several weeks now and may need back surgery. Bianchi has the talent to be a 20/20 player, but he's going to have to overcome his injury problems.
AZL 42 ABs 4 2Bs 2 HRs 6 RBIs .429/.537/.667
11. Chris Nicoll 22/RHP:
Nicoll is putting together a solid season at Burlington. His command has been very good, averaging 2.5 walks per 9 innings. He's also averaging one strikeout per inning. Nicoll has a solid average repertoire and might add some velocity before reaching the majors. Right now, his projection is similar to Buckner's as a back of the rotation guy, the Royals' house speciality.
Low A 4-7 2.82 ERA 118 IP 92 Hits 12 HRs 33 BBs 118 SOs
12. Mitch Maier 24/OF:
Mitch Maier remains one of the best bets in the farm system to become a major-league players. He's an excellent defensive outfielder and one of the few outfielders in the organization with enough arm strength and foot speed to play rightfield. He's shown improved power this season, but will probably need to show more to become an everyday player. His defensive abilities and solid bat should make him at least a very good fourth outfielder.
AA 416 ABs .293/.343/.464 23 2Bs 12 HRs 68 RBIs 29 BBs 75 SOs
13. Daniel Cortes 19/RHP:
Cortes is having a pretty good season, particularly for a 19-year-old. He has a good sinker and slider combo, with a fastball that can reach the mid-90s. His K/BB ratio above 2 and low HR totals are promising. Cortes still has some projection remaining, but could eventually emerge as a mid-rotation starter.
Low A 3-9 4.01 107.2 IP 109 Hits 6 HRs 38 BBs 96 SOs
14. Brent Fisher 18/LHP:
Fisher has dominated the Arizona Rookie League for a second season in a row. Why he hasn't earned a promotion is a mystery. He has an outstanding K/BB of 5.4 and hasn't allowed many hits or HRs. He's a protypical lefty with a sinking fastball and a curve and neither pitch projects to be overwhelming.
AZL 1-1 2.18 ERA 41.1 IP 21 Hits 2 HRs 10 BBs 54 SOs
15. Luis Cota 20/RHP:
Cota has struggled at High Desert after a good season at Burlington last year. He's pitched better than his 7.10 ERA indicates. His K/BB ratio is pretty solid, although his command still needs some work. He needs to work on his secondary stuff, but his great arm gives him at least mid-rotation potential.
High A 4-10 7.10 ERA 104 IP 124 Hits 13 HRs 49 BBs 100 SOs