I hate to burst the bubble of many Royals’ fans out there, but it appears the dynasty’s run has come to an end. The Royals don’t have the team they once had when they made the World Series in 2014 and 2015 and free agency is about to decimate their roster at the end of this season. Key players on the 2015 World Series Championship team like Eric Hosmer, Alcides Escobar, Mike Moustakas and Lorenzo Cain are all going to be free agents at the end of this season which will likely be far too big of a loss to overcome.
Fortunately, the Royals actually have some guys in line to replace those departing players. They have Ryan O’Hearn to replace Hosmer, Raul Mondesi to replace Escobar, Hunter Dozier to replace Moustakas and some combination of Alex Gordon, Jorge Soler and Jorge Bonifacio to replace Lorenzo Cain. Granted, the team will still be downgrading, but they might have a solid core to help build around for the next dynasty.
This is another one of my ongoing team prospect rankings articles. I have already talked about the top prospects in the Chicago White Sox, Cleveland Indians and Detroit Tigers systems and all the teams in the AL East. Later next week, I will be delving into the systems of the Minnesota Twins.
By the way, if you are interested in more MLB prospects columns, head on over to our 2017 fantasy baseball rankings dashboard. Throughout the offseason, you will find the rest of our team prospect breakdowns, fantasy baseball prospect rankings, tiered positional rankings, keeper values articles, and more - all in one easy place.
Kansas City Royals Top Prospects for Dynasty Leagues
Top Overall Talent: Hunter Dozier
Top Prospect to Debut in 2017: Hunter Dozier
There’s never been any doubt Dozier was going to be the top prospect in this system. Especially not after his extremely promising 2016 campaign. He bashed 23 home runs between Double-A and Triple-A while slashing .296/.366/.533 between the two levels. And though he did struggle at the big league level a bit, that should not dissuade owners from pursuing this bat. The Royals seem likely to start him in Triple-A to begin the year in the hopes he improves his defense and plate discipline, but there is no doubt he has a tremendous amount of dynasty value as the next Royals’ third baseman (Moustakas could be dealt at the deadline since his contract is expiring). Dozier is a potential .280 hitter with 20-30 home runs per season.
Top Prospect who won’t debut in 2017: Kyle Zimmer
Biggest Boom or Bust: Kyle Zimmer
I’m higher on Zimmer than most, I’ll admit it. A lot of people consider him to be a huge risk at this point. And looking objectively at him, it’s easy to see why. He’s 25 years old, has only a handful of innings at Double-A and has thrown over 100 innings only once in his professional career since being drafted fifth overall in 2012. But scouts will all tell you that when he takes the mound, few pitchers can match his stuff. He has an electric fastball/curveball combination, the kind you normally see in a future front of the rotation starting pitcher. His changeup and slider aren’t quite as good as his fastball or curveball, but both look like average to slightly above-average offerings. If he can stay healthy, he could be a future ace for the Royals. Who knows though if he will ever stay healthy.
Biggest Sleeper: Peter O’Brien
Another guy I’m quite high on, but others aren’t is Peter O’Brien. This is a guy who has had a really tough time in his professional career as he has never seemed to be given any time to settle in anywhere. He played in the Yankee organization for some time, was traded to Arizona where he was constantly being switched from catcher to outfield to first base and back to catcher and is now in Kansas City. Now with an American League team, he can finally put all his focus into hitting and become a designated hitter where his explosive bat could be quite valuable.
Top Prospect Hitters
Best Power Hitter: Peter O’Brien
Just to add a bit more onto that last graph about O’Brien, part of the reason why I like him so much is his insane power. If he were to ever play in a full 162 game season, there is no doubt he would hit at least 30 home runs per season. Some will complain that he strikes out too much, which I understand. But O’Brien reminds me a lot of Adam Duvall, a Quadruple-A hitter without much of a position to play who can hit for serious power despite poor plate discipline. I think Duvall should serve as an excellent comp for what dynasty owners should expect from O’Brien if he serves as the Royals’ DH in 2017.
Most Likely to Hit over .300: Hunter Dozier
As discussed earlier, there is no doubt Dozier is the best all-around hitter in the Royals’ organization. With that said, I don’t really foresee him hitting over .300. It’s just that he’s the most likely in this farm system to do it. Dozier has made strides in his plate discipline which will certainly help and he certainly has a quick bat, but scouts believe he will have a tougher time using all fields than some other prospects out there. This leads them to believe he is more of a .260-.280 hitter in the big leagues. Still, dynasty owners should be more than happy with that average if he can deliver the home run and RBI numbers.
Best Burner on the Bases: Marten Gasparini
As far as true burners go, Kansas City has very few if any. Gasparini is probably the closest to a true base stealer in the system. He swiped 14 bags across 111 games at Class-A in 2016 and 26 in 54 games at Rookie league the year before. While he does have the speed, Gasparini is currently a well below-average hitter. Sometimes the speed can make up for the inability to hit, but it doesn’t in this case. Gasparini can be ignored in dynasty leagues.
Top Prospect Pitchers
Strikeout Machine: Kyle Zimmer
As discussed earlier, Zimmer has one of the best one-two punches in the minors. He features a mid-90s fastball that demonstrates plenty of late life to go along with a hard-breaking curveball that has been near unhittable at times. Though Zimmer has shown difficulties staying on the mound for extended periods of time, when he is pitching, he has always shown a tendency to keep hitters from making consistent contact. If he does reach the big leagues, he looks poised to be a true strikeout machine.
Best Command: Alec Mills
Mills struggled with his command when he reached the big leagues, but that was really the first time he ever experienced any issues with walks. The highest walk rate he ever posted was a 7.6% rate at Triple-A in 2016 before he was promoted. At Double-A before he was sent up to Triple-A? 4.7%. Mills may not have the best array of pitches and he doesn’t have a super high ceiling, but his outstanding command and control helps maintain a high floor.
Top 10 Dynasty Prospects for the Kansas City Royals
1. Hunter Dozier (3B, MLB)
The hot corner is often a strong place for hitters, but Dozier looks poised to hit well enough to warrant owning.
2. Jorge Bonifacio (OF, AA)
Poor Bonifacio looked to have a legit shot at starting in right field at the start of 2017 until Jorge Soler came to Kansas City. But Lorenzo Cain is a free agent after 2017 which could theoretically open up a spot for Bonifacio. A decent comp for Bonifacio is actually Soler: .260-.270 hitter with the thunder to hit 20+ home runs.
3. Ryan O’Hearn (1B, AA)
O’Hearn exploded onto the scene in 2016 and has established himself as the front runner for the starting first base job in 2018 following Hosmer’s departure to free agency. O’Hearn can potentially hit 20-30 home runs, but his long swing is likely to result in high strikeouts and a low average.
4. Kyle Zimmer (SP, AA)
Zimmer has as much talent as any pitching prospect out there, but injuries hold him back substantially.
5. Chase Vallot (C, A)
Dynasty owners always have to be excited about catchers with power. He can hit 20+ home runs, but he requires plenty more development time before he is ready for the big leagues.
6. Peter O’Brien (1B/OF, MLB)
O’Brien is (for me) the next Adam Duvall: a Quad-A player who has enough pop to knock 30 home runs, but his poor plate discipline will result in a low batting average and lots of strikeouts.
7. Josh Staumont (SP, AA)
Staumont may have one of the best fastballs in the minors, featuring sinking life and frequently touching triple-digits. His secondary stuff leaves a lot to be desired, leaving many to believe he is a future reliever.
8. Alec Mills (SP, MLB)
Though he lacks any one explosive pitch, Mills has an all-around solid repertoire and well above-average control of his pitches. He looks like a future No. 3 starter.
9. Eric Skoglund (SP, AA)
At 6’7”, 200-lbs, Skoglund is a giant on the mound and has the frame to develop high-octane stuff, but he has yet to really demonstrate any dominant pitch. His control, deception and decent repertoire give him a high floor as a No. 5 starter.
10. Matt Strahm (SP, MLB)
Strahm made some serious progress in 2016 and started to look like a starting pitcher moving forward, but questions will remain if he has the delivery or array of pitches to avoid becoming a LOOGY.
There are actually on two guys on this list who aren’t expected to reach the big leagues this season: Kyle Zimmer and Chase Vallot. Ordinarily this would look like a treasure trove for dynasty owners, but they need to keep their expectations tempered. While Dozier, Bonifacio, O’Brien and O’Hearn look like starters (and could be if Hosmer, Moustakas and Cain are traded), they probably won’t be expected to have a starting role in 2017, perhaps with the exception of O’Brien who could the starting designated hitter.
As for the pitchers, unfortunately most of them appear set to become future relievers. And while that isn’t inherently worthless, only Staumont appears to have the stuff to be a future closer. I think Mills and Skoglund could both become big league starting pitchers as could Zimmer, only Zimmer appears to be anything more than a No. 4 starter (and Zimmer has his own problems). This is not a bad farm system for dynasty prospects, but you could certainly do better.