Featured Photo: Jeison Guzman, SS, Royals
State of the System
- Despite it being a tough year for the big league club, there was significant growth on the farm in 2018 for Kansas City. A stacked Class A Lexington club won the South Atlantic League championship, as C MJ Melendez, OF Seuly Matias, and 1B Nick Pratto all pushed themselves into Top 125 prospect consideration. The Legends’ roster was arguably the deepest of any team in A-Ball in 2018, considering the depth of pitching beyond “the big three” of Melendez, Matias, and Pratto: RHP Carlos Hernandez and RHP Yefri Del Rosario established themselves as prospects in the rotation, with RHP Janser Lara, RHP Collin Snider, and RHP Tad Ratliff forming a solid bullpen trio by season’s end. Adding to the team’s embarrassment of prospect riches this year, high-round 2018 draftees LHP Daniel Lynch and RHP Jackson Kowar joined the rotation later in the season.
- Known to have a high school preference in the draft, the Royals veered from their traditional course this June by selecting a college player with nine of their first ten picks. Kansas City picked six times within the draft’s top 100, selecting five consecutive college arms before popping OF Kyle Isbel at #94 overall.
- OF Khalil Lee was challenged with an assignment to Double-A in 2018, playing half the season as a 19-year-old. He showed less power than expected but displayed the same high-upside toolset that allowed him to burst onto the prospect scene in 2017. He looks like a piece of the rebuild in Kansas City, even if he’s more an everyday contributor than a potential Role-55 type. SS Nicky Lopez picked up where he left off in 2017, slashing .331/.397/.416 in 325 PAs at Double-A before earning a promotion to Triple-A Omaha. Lopez also looks like a potential everyday contributor down the road, and could reach the big leagues as soon as sometime next year.
- The lack of a surefire top 50 overall prospect–and the fact most of the top players in the system are below Double-A–is what separates Kansas City’s system from the best in the game. That said, the Royals improved their farm system as much as any club in 2018, amassing a very deep group of high-upside talents in the lower rungs of the pipeline. Especially considering their draft position and sizable amateur bonus allotments (domestically and internationally) in 2019, things are looking up at the minor-league level in Kansas City.
Jeison Guzman, SS, Royals (Class A Lexington, South Atlantic League)
Ht/Wt: 6’2”/180 lbs. B/T: L/R Age (as of September 1, 2018): 19y, 10m
The Royals inked Guzman to a hefty $1.5 million amateur bonus to sign him as a 16-year-old in 2015, the second highest bonus they gave out that period (behind only right fielder Seuly Matias’ $2.25 million pact). Guzman began the season in Extended Spring Training before slashing .283/.356/.368 in the Appy League, good for a recent call-up to Class A Lexington. I got game looks at him on Spring Training backfields this March, followed up by a recent three-game look at the end of July.
A physical shortstop who hits left-handed and is a double-plus athlete, it’s no wonder the 6-foot-2, 180-pound Guzman thrived on the Dominican showcase circuit. He’s loaded with tools and moves extremely well for his size, a 60-grade runner up the line with fluid actions and plus range at short with enough arm to remain on the left side of the infield. His speed shows up on both sides of the ball, and he swiped over 20 bags in less than 65 total games across two levels this summer. Guzman has the projection remaining to continue adding strength without bulking up and moving off the SS position. Offensively, he’s a contact hitter who doesn’t yet have the strength or approach to provide much home run power. There’s some bat speed, but his crouched stance and level path aren’t geared to lift the ball. Guzman shows the typical rawness of many teenage prospects playing against older competition, putting up worse AB’s against same-side pitching and less overall contact versus soft stuff.
Guzman is all projection, but the athleticism and physical frame have stood out to me across numerous looks. An entire year of full-season ball in 2019 will be a good test for Guzman, who right now looks like a Role 50/Extreme Risk type with everyday shortstop potential if he grows into enough offense. It’s tough to accurately forecast players this young and far away from the big leagues, but his athleticism, speed, and defensive ability give the floor of a utility player even if the bat doesn’t come around. -Adam McInturff
Andres Sotillet, RHP, Royals (High A Wilmington, Carolina League)
Ht/Wt: 6’1”/175 lbs. B/T: R/R Age (as of September 1, 2018): 21y, 6m
Signed as an 18-year-old from Venezuela in 2015, Sotillet’s $75,000 bonus looks like a steal. He has steadily climbed the lower rungs of the Royals’ system over the last three seasons, where his zone-pounding mentality has overwhelmed inexperienced low-minors competition.
His thick, broad frame holds velocity through outings and has the durability to eat innings. Despite length to his arm circle, Sotillet has a strong online finish that allows him to fill up the zone. The fastball ranged from 91-to-95 mph in my May look, sitting 92-93 with scrapes of 95 all game. His feel to mix grips is impressive, mixing both a four-seam and two-seam variant, the latter with average arm-side run. A 80-to-84 mph slider is a fringy pitch, showing average at times with plenty of slurves with gliding tilt. Similarly, his change is an inconsistent pitch, often overthrown in the high-80’s with infrequent glimpses of a playable third pitch when he can keep it in the 84-to-85 mph range. Sotillet’s control is his best attribute; he establishes strike one like a veteran pitcher, able to limit walks and throw strikes with an off-speed pitch (slider).
The durable frame, strike-throwing ability, and flashes of three pitches give Sotillet #5 starter upside. Both off-speed pitches will need to show more crispness and consistency to get there; if he doesn’t change speeds well enough to be a true back-end starter, his control and velocity still are enough to provide lesser value in a swingman or long relief role. -Adam McInturff
- Khalil Lee, OF, Royals (Double-A NW Arkansas)
- Jackson Kowar, RHP, Royals (Class A Lexington)
- Daniel Lynch, LHP, Royals (Class A Lexington)
- MJ Melendez, C, Royals (Class A Lexington)
- Nick Pratto, 1B, Royals (Class A Lexington)
- Seuly Matias, OF, Royals (Class A Lexington)
- Yefri Del Rosario, RHP, Royals (Class A Lexington)
- Carlos Hernandez, RHP, Royals (Class A Lexington)
More Royals Prospects
|Anthony Bender||RHP||High A||Wilmington||Video|
|Scott Blewett||RHP||Double-A||NW Arkansas||Video|
|Bryan Brickhouse||RHP||High A||Wilmington||Video|
|Gabriel Cancel||2B/3B||High A||Wilmington||Video||Report|
|Garrett Davila||LHP||Low A||Lexington||Video|
|Gerson Garabito||RHP||High A||Wilmington||Video||Report|
|Marten Gasparini||OF||Low A||Lexington||Video|
|Kyle Isbel||OF||Low A||Lexington||Video|
|Travis Jones||3B/OF||High A||Wilmington||Video|
|Rudy Martin||OF||High A||Wilmington||Video||Report|
|Marcelo Martinez||LHP||Low A||Lexington||Video|
|Juan Carlos Negret||OF||Rookie||Burlington||Video||Report|
|Charlie Neuweiler||RHP||Low A||Lexington||Video|
|Kort Peterson||OF||Double-A||NW Arkansas||Video|
|Emmanuel Rivera||3B/1B||High A||Wilmington||Video||Report|
|Walker Sheller||RHP||Double-A||NW Arkansas||Video||Report|
|Chase Vallot||C||High A||Wilmington||Video|
|Malcom Van Buren||RHP||Rookie||Burlington||Video|
|Jace Vines||RHP||Double-A||NW Arkansas||Video||Report|