Every season begins the same for most prospects on major league rosters. It is all hoping for an eye-opening Spring Training performance so they can move up or finally make it to the big-league level. The Kansas City Royals have got a few players who are beginning to knock on the door, and some will be getting to Kauffman Stadium sooner than later. There are five players in particular that appear to be ready to make the biggest impact in the near future. There could be two of them in a Royals uniform this season, while the other three are progressing quickly through the minors. Here are the top five prospects in the Kansas City farm system going into the 2014 season.
Kyle Zimmer (P)
Zimmer is slowly moving up the ranks for the Royals, with stops in High-A and Double-A ball during the 2013 season. He did struggle in 2013 at the High-A, level but he pitched much better in Double-A at Northwest Arkansas. It’s going to take some work for Zimmer to make it to the bigs in 2014, but if injuries take a big hit on the rotation, there is no doubt that Zimmer could get the call. He has 31 starts under his belt in the minors with a 9-12 record and 3.71 ERA while averaging over a strikeout an inning. He is right at the top of the list of Kansas City prospects moving forward.
Yordano Ventura (P)
Like Zimmer, Ventura is just 22 years old, but he did make three starts for the Royals last season with an 0-1 record and 3.52 ERA. He was fairly effective in his first two starts, giving up just one run in each, before allowing four runs in four innings during his final outing of the year. Ventura could very easily find his way into the starting rotation to begin the 2014 season if the team wants to put Wade Davis in the bullpen. The talent is there, and obviously the Royals think more highly of Ventura than Zimmer right now for the big league roster.
Jorge Bonifacio (OF)
The 2013 season was interesting for Bonifacio. He hit .298 at three different minor league levels, but hit just four home runs after being an All Star for the Class-A Kane County Cougars in 2012. The 2014 season is one during which Bonifacio must make improvements if he wants to make it to Kansas City. He did hit .301 in Double-A in 25 games, so there is promise, and at just 20 years old, the youngster still has a few years of seasoning to go through. He will be in his fourth minor league year in 2014, however, so the team must hope he can make it to Triple-A by year’s end, if not a September call-up.
Sean Manaea (P)
Manaea was taken with the 34th pick in the 2013 amateur draft, and he didn’t throw a single pitch in the Royals organization last year. But he's still among they're strongest prospects on the strength of what he accomplished during his final year of college at Indiana State, going 5-4 with a 1.47 ERA in just over 73 innings while striking out 93 batters. He underwent hip surgery in June, which sidelined his development; expect Manea to will begin the 2014 season likely at the High-A level, but he will likely rise through the ranks fairly quickly.
Raul Mondesi (SS)
The son of former major leaguer Raul Mondesi, the younger version hit .261 in Class-A ball last season and is just 18 years old. He will be playing in his third minor league season in 2014, though, and is showing the potential to be the team’s everyday shortstop sooner than later. Mondesi needs to work on his batting average and plate skills, but he has shown some power, hitting seven home runs in 2013. He stole 24 bases last season, as well, so if he can continue to progress in 2014, we might well see Mondesi donning Royals blue sometime during the 2015 season.