Top 30 Prospects: The Kansas City Royals

* This wraps up the Top 10 lists for all 30 organizations in baseball. FanGraphs is the only place you can get 300+ scouting reports free of charge, so I hope you enjoyed them.

Up next is the compilation list of the Top 100 prospects in baseball, which you should see next Monday. I’ll also be hosting a chat the same day, March 28, at 12:00 Eastern. It’s your chance to ask any prospect-related question that you’ve been dying to discuss.

The Kansas City Royals
2010 MLB Record: 67-95 (fifth place, AL Central)
Minor League Power Ranking: 1st (out of 30)
Click for: Last Year’s Top 10 Prospect List

The Prospects

1. Mike Moustakas, 3B
Acquired: 2007 1st round (California HS)
Pro Experience: 4 seasons
2010 MiLB Level: AA/AAA
Opening Day Age: 22
Estimated Peak WAR: 6.0

Notes: The top prospect for the top minor league system in baseball, Moustakas holds immense potential. The third baseman had a modest start to his pro career, thanks to a temporary hiccup in high-A ball (although he was there at a young age). He then exploded in 2011, reaching the potential that was expected of him since becoming the second overall pick during the ’07 amateur draft. Moustakas killed the ball in double-A with a triple-slash line of .347/.413/.687 in 259 at-bats. His power was off the charts (.340 ISO), and he also showed good control of the strike zone while posting a strikeout rate of 16.2 K% – which is good for a young power hitter. He even had the highest walk rate of his young career at 8.7 BB%. Upon a promotion to triple-A, his patience evaporated (3.4 BB%) but he still managed to hit .293/.314/.564 in 225 at-bats. The big knock on Moustakas is in the field. Despite a strong arm, he struggles with his range and foot work. He has the bat to move to first base, but Eric Hosmer will definitely have something to say about that. Moustakas’ 36 home runs and 124 RBI over the course of the full season is eye popping and he shouldn’t need much more than half a season in triple-A before taking over the hot corner in Kansas City.

2. Eric Hosmer, 1B
Acquired: 2008 1st round (Florida HS)
Pro Experience: 3 seasons
2010 MiLB Level: A+/AA
Opening Day Age: 21
Estimated Peak WAR: 6.0

Notes: An easy case could be made to list Hosmer No. 1 on this list but the edge goes to the slightly-more-advanced Moustakas. After repairing his eye sight after the 2009, in which he struggled, Hosmer – like a number of KC prospects – saw his value skyrocket with an outstanding offensive season. In 325 high-A at-bats, Hosmer took advantage of a .382 BABIP and hit .354 with a strikeout rate of just 12.0 K%. His power output was the one area that wasn’t outstanding, sitting at a still-more-than-respectable .191 ISO. Moved up to double-A, he hit .313/.365/.615 in 195 at-bats; his ISO rate jumped to .303. Hosmer saw his walk rate drop form 11.7 in high-A to 7.1 BB% in double-A. At the plate, he shows a quick bat and gets good rotation with his hips, but doesn’t use his legs that much. In the field, the prospect has the potential to develop into a good fielding first baseman and could even see time in the outfield, depending on the club’s needs (and possibly Mike Moustakas‘ development at the hot corner). Further, Hosmer’s strong arm would be wasted at first base. I would expect him to head back to the same level in 2011 with a quick promotion (May or June) to triple-A. He should take over the full-time first base job in KC in 2012.

3. Wil Myers, OF
Acquired: 2009 3rd round (North Carolina HS)
Pro Experience: 2 season
2010 MiLB Level: A-/A+
Opening Day Age: 20
Estimated Peak WAR: 5.5

Notes: Max Stassi (Oakland), Luke Bailey (Tampa Bay), Tommy Joseph (San Francisco), J.R. Murphy (New York AL) and Myers were among a strong crop of prep catchers in 2009, but the KC prospect has left the rest of the pack in his dust. Myers, though, has also seen a position change, which causes him to slide a bit down my rankings (along with some questions about his makeup). Defensively, it remains to be seen what type of fielder he’ll develop into but he does possess a strong arm. You cannot argue with his offensive potential, and he has more than enough skill to be a difference-maker in right field. In his first full pro season – and as a teenager – Myers reached high-A ball and looks poised to open 2011 in double-A. He began the 2010 season in low-A and hit .289/.408/.500, showing uncanny patience for a young hitter with a walk rate of 16.3 BB%. He does struggle to make contact with breaking balls at times while posting a strikeout rate of 22.7 K%. Moved up to high-A, Myers hit .346/.453/.512 in 205 at-bats, thanks in part to a BABIP of .411. He maintained his walk rate (15.0 BB%) and even cut down on his strikeouts (19.0 K%). He shows an incredibly quick bat at the plate and covers the plate well.

4. Mike Montgomery, LHP
Acquired: 2008 supplemental 1st round (California HS)
Pro Experience: 3 seasons
2010 MiLB Level: R/A+/AA
Opening Day Age: 21
Estimated Peak WAR: 5.0

Notes: Montgomery is the top pitcher in the system, narrowly edging out John Lamb due to a longer period of sustained success. The lefty did struggle through injury issues in 2010, where the strained forearm  he suffered from can often be a precursor to Tommy John surgery. In Montgomery’s case, though, he had a healthy second half of the season and pitched OK in the Arizona Fall League. At double-A, he posted a 3.97 FIP in 59.2 innings of work. His control slipped a bit (3.92 BB/9) from its usual outstanding levels. Montgomery shows average to slightly-above-average ground ball tendencies. When healthy, the pitching prospect shows a 91-95 mph fastball, developing curveball and solid changeup. There is a little bit of effort to his delivery, but he repeats his mechanics well. Because of the lost time due to injury, Montgomery could return briefly to double-A but should move up to triple-A before too long. He has the ceiling of a No. 1 or 2 starter.

5. John Lamb, LHP
Acquired: 2008 5th round (California HS)
Pro Experience: 2 seasons
2010 MiLB Level: A-/A+/AA
Opening Day Age: 20
Estimated Peak WAR: 4.5

Notes: Lamb, 20, is preferred over Montgomery by some prospect watchers and, like with Moustakas and Hosmer, I cannot really argue with that way of thinking. Lamb, however, has less experience than his pitching mate and his stuff isn’t quite as good – nor are his ground ball rates. Despite those facts, he zoomed through the system in 2010 while playing at three levels (A-, A+ and AA). He spent the most time in high-A where he posted a 1.69 FIP in 74.2 innings of work. His walk rate sat at an impressive 1.81 BB/9 and he also missed a lot of bats (10.85 K/9). Lamb’s double-A numbers were not as bad as his 5.45 ERA might suggest. He did struggle with his control a bit more then at high-A (3.55 BB/9), and his strikeout rate dropped to 7.09 K/9; he was hurt when a high number of base runners came around to score (57.8 LOB%). Lamb’s repertoire includes a fastball that ranges anywhere from 88-94 mph while also featuring a changeup and curveball. He has a low three-quarter arm slot with a fairly easy delivery. His ceiling appears to be that of a No. 2 or 3 starter.

6. Jake Odorizzi, RHP
Acquired: 2008 supplemental 1st round (Illinois HS)
Pro Experience:3 seasons
2010 MiLB Level: A-
Opening Day Age: 20
Estimated Peak WAR: 5.0

Notes: The key to the Zack Greinke trade, Odorizzi went from being the No. 2 prospect in the Brewers system (behind the also-traded Brett Lawrie) to the No. 6 prospect in the Royals system, which underscores the depth that Kansas City has. The right-hander was one of my favorite prep pitchers available during the ’08 draft, so he’s a solid addition to the pitching depth. The Brewers organization was cautious with his development but Odorizzi could see his timetable accelerated now that he’s in a more aggressive organization. In low-A ball in 2010, the prospect posted a strikeout rate of 10.07 K/9 while also showing good control with a walk rate of 2.98 BB/9. His FIP sat at 2.93 in 120.2 innings. He has produced average ground ball rates in his career, but that matters less in KC because of the spacious ball park. Odorizzi’s four-pitch repertoire features an 88-93 mph fastball, a curveball, slider, and changeup. His ceiling is that of a No. 2 to 3 starter, and he could reach double-A in 2011.

7. Danny Duffy, LHP
Acquired: 2007 3rd round (California HS)
Pro Experience: 4 seasons
2010 MiLB Level: R/A+/AA
Opening Day Age: 22
Estimated Peak WAR: 4.0

Notes: As a member of the Royals, Zack Greinke had a well-publicized internal battle within himself over his desire to play professional baseball, which was similar to what Duffy faced in 2010, temporarily walking away from the game in spring training. The lefty eventually found his way back and played at four levels in 2010, reaching double-A. At the highest level, he posted a 2.80 FIP in 39.2 innings while showing good control (2.04 BB/9). Duffy also posted a solid strikeout rate (9.30 K/9). He has a four-pitch repertoire that includes a 90-95 mph fastball, a changeup, curveball and slider. The lefty has a clean delivery and little effort. At worst, he should develop into a No. 3 starter, and should return to double-A to begin the 2011 season.

8. Christian Colon, SS
Acquired: 2010 1st round (Cal State Fullerton)
Pro Experience: 1 season
2010 MiLB Level: A+
Opening Day Age: 21
Estimated Peak WAR: 3.5

Notes: The Royals nabbed Colon with the fourth overall pick in the 2010 draft and quickly signed him. It’s nice to see a player’s strong desire to start his pro career and Colon hit .278/.326/.380 in 245 at-bats at high-A ball. His ceiling isn’t the highest despite his draft slot, but he should develop into a solid player, just probably not a difference-maker. He doesn’t possess much power (10-12 homers) or game-changing speed (10-15 steals) and projects to be a No. 2 hitter who can do the little things well. He handled the bat well in his debut and struck out at a rate of just 13.5 K%. He didn’t walk much (4.8 BB%), though. Colon could stand to improve his weight transfer and timing a bit, which could help him add some pop to his swing. He also has pretty active hands. Defensively, there are questions about his ability to remain at shortstop, which hurts his overall value. If his range doesn’t cut it at his current position he’ll have to flip over to second base.

9. Chris Dwyer, LHP
Acquired: 2009 4th round (Clemson U)
Pro Experience: 1 season
2010 MiLB Level: A+/AA
Opening Day Age: 23
Estimated Peak WAR: 3.5

Notes: A big, strong pitcher, Dwyer projects to be a durable No. 3 starter. A fly ball pitcher, it would be nice to see him develop a pitch that can induce a few more grounders. He spent the 2010 season in high-A ball, but also made four starts in double-A and should return there in ’11. At the lower level, Dwyer posted a 2.70 FIP in 84.1 innings. He missed a lot of bats with a strikeout rate of 9.92 K/9 and showed average control with a walk rate of 3.52 BB/9. His control, though, has been inconsistent in his career. Dwyer suffered a back injury later in the season but is expected to be fully healthy in 2011. He has an 89-93 mph fastball and a plus curveball. His changeup is developing. Dwyer has a high arm slot and doesn’t have much effort to his delivery.

10. Yordano Ventura, RHP
Acquired: 2009 non-drafted free agent (Dominican Republic)
Pro Experience: 2 seasons
2010 MiLB Level: Rookie
Opening Day Age: 19
Estimated Peak WAR: 4.0

Notes: Just 19, Ventura dominated the rookie level in 2010 thanks to above-average control (2.91 BB/9) and an explosive repertoire that includes a 92-98 mph fastball. His secondary pitches (curveball and change) are works-in-progress. Ventura doesn’t have the best pitcher’s frame and stands just 5’11” with a slight build (160 lbs). He did a nice job of keeping balls-in-play on the ground (54 GB%) in 2010. His FIP sat at 2.88 in 52.2 innings, while his strikeout rate was 9.91 K/9. If the organization chooses to be aggressive (which isn’t really necessary with the pitching depth ahead of him), Ventura could open 2011 in low-A but he’ll likely begin the year in extended spring training before heading to an advanced rookie level club.

Top 3 Organization Bonus

11. Jeremy Jeffress, RHP
12. Brett Eibner, OF
13. Tim Collins, LHP
14. Aaron Crow, RHP
15. Tim Melville, RHP
16. Jason Adam, RHP
17. Cheslor Cuthbert, 3B
18. Salvador Perez, C
19. Robinson Yambati, RHP
20. Louis Coleman, RHP
21. Johnny Giavotella, 2B
22. Patrick Keating, RHP
23. Derrick Robinson, OF
24. David Lough, OF
25. Noah Arguelles, LHP
26. Jarrod Dyson, OF
27. Humberto Arteaga, SS
28. Crawford Simmons, LHP
29. Lucas May, C
30. Jeff Bianchi, SS

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Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospects, depth charts and fantasy. Follow him on Twitter @marchulet.

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